Many years ago my wife and I started making turkey for SCA events, starting when someone told us that turkey wasn’t period. So of course we couldn’t let that stand and did the research. Now of course we were normally doing this for large events or for things where oven space was at a premium, or time at a minimum, so we’ve never been able to do it properly in a coffin. So I was very glad that the vote on my poll was for turkey, because this time I get to make it in a coffin.
This month the theme of Montengarde Culinary Night is “Italian Night”. I’ve been wanting to research mushrooms for a while and thought this was a good opportunity.
I love mushrooms, but there aren’t a lot of medieval recipes for them. In fact I’ve only found about a dozen recipes that call for mushrooms, only one English (to my sorrow), six Italian, four German, and two French.
I’ve seen what might possibly be mushrooms in period art, but on closer examination they are might just as easily be eggs:
This month the Montengarde Culinary Group is hosting a winter feast themed night. Since I’ve been wanting to do a hand raised pie for a while I figured this was a good occasion.
With that in mind I thought I’d do a minced meat pie. Yep, with actual meat. Though in the 16th century they’d just call it a Pye of Beefe. So I’m looking at six recipes from England in the 1590s.
Updated April 4, 2017.
I was inspired to look back at some of my coffin work by a question from Don Caiaphas. Wow, has it been six years since I did this at Tir Righ A&S? Ok, I think it’s time to go back to this, especially since I have a bunch of research that I did in 2013 on it and never got around to writing up.
Coffins, as discussed in my previous work, are a pastry case which has a bottom, sides and a top (with exceptions where referred to in the recipe) which is able to hold its shape without supports in the oven and can be filled with other items.
The earliest I’ve found a coffin recipe is in Fourme of Curye from 1390 and the recipes continue throughout the SCA time period all the way to the 17th century, though they change in composition.
You can call it caws pobi, cause boby, or even Welsh rarebit or Welsh rabbit. It’s the same thing. It’s the food spoken of in 1542 by Andrew Boorde: “I am a Welshman, I do love cause boby, good roasted cheese.” (Fyrst Boke of the Introduction of Knowledge, 1542). There are earlier references to it, but by the 15th and 16th century it was essentially the Welsh national dish (First catch your peacock: The classic guide to Welsh food, B. Freeman, 1996, p. 31). It even shows up on a list of dishes presented in the late 15th century at Pembroke Castle by the Earl Marshal (likely Henry Tudor before becoming king):
Ballock broth, Caudle ferry, Lampreys en galentine, Oysters in civey, Eels in sorré, Baked Trout
Brawn with mustard, Numbles of a hart, Pigs y-farsed, Cockentryce
Goose in hogepotte Venison en frumenty, Hens in brewet, Squirrels roasted
Haggis of sheep, Pudding de capon-neck, Garbage, Trype de mouton, Blaundesorye, Caboges, Buttered worts
Apple muse, Gingerbread, Tart de fruit, Quinces in comfit
Essex cheese, Stilton cheese, Causs boby
(Mediaeval Pageant, J.R. Reinhard, 1939, p. 42)[emphasis mine]
As Culinary Night is on March 14th this year we’re celebrating Pi day. In honor of that I’m making Daryoles. There’s some debate about this with some saying it’s a type of proto-quiche and others that it’s a proto-custard. I’m in the proto-custard camp myself.
Daryoles show up in English culinary books early, 1390s early. But by the 17th century they are synonymous with small custards, and by the 19th century they refer to a specialized mould for making custards.
In favour of the proto-quiche side there is cheese and meat in several of the dishes. But as you will see the major factor seems to be the sweetness.
Well after making this three times in the last year I should probably post it here.
Today’s comes from “The Good Huswifes Jewell” published in 1596. As far as I can tell the Turkey came back to Spain very early after discovering the New World; and by the 1530s it was common enough in England to be anecdotaly one of the king’s favorite meals. By the 1590s it begins appearing in cookery books.
(Note Sep 6, 2016: I have done more research on various types of coffins and you can see it here)
As promised a month ago, here is my documentation for late 14th and late 16th century coffins.
An examination of pastry coffins from the ends of the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. I am making coffins from two cookery books, one from 1390 (Fourme of Curye) and one from 1597 (The The Second part of the good Hus-wiues Jewell).
My goal here is to compare and contrast the earliest and the latest coffin recipes I have found and to see if their similarities will allow me to assume that they function as a baseline from which to measure other coffin recipes.
When I began this project it was because I had read in too many places that there weren’t any coffin recipes in existence, while others say that there aren’t any from before the latter part of the sixteenth century. I felt that as coffins are a key part of English cookery there had to be a few recipes somewhere. I examined fifteen Middle English and Early Modern English cookery books from 1390 CE to 1597 CE and found references to coffins in eleven of them. Of those eleven, six of them had actual recipes. In total I found fourteen separate coffin recipes.
Although there are a number of general similarities they are exceptional for how often they are not followed. Most of the coffin recipes seem to be prebaked, though there is the occasional exception, and some are baked half way, removed, filled and baked again. Most of them seem to have lids, though there is the occasional recipe without a lid. Many of them have the lid raised up by blowing into it. Some have the lid prebaked and a hole cut in it so a gelling agent (like eggs) can be poured into it. Some of the coffin recipes seem to be designed to be eaten, containing sugar or other flavorings,  some would probably taste very bad and so do not seem to be designed to be eaten. Most are baked, but some are fried. They seem to be used for all sorts of menu items including desserts. The biggest similarities I could find were: a coffin is a pastry case designed to hold other food for baking or frying, it is often prebaked, it often has a lid. The term “coffin” in this context means a chest, case or box, so I suspect it has more to do with the shape than anything else. Because of this I will use the term “coffin” to mean: a pastry case which has a bottom, sides and a top (with exceptions where referred to in the recipe) and that it will be at least partially prebaked so as to hold its shape.
For this entry I decided to compare the earliest and the latest coffin recipes; I will examine and redact the recipes from Fourme of Curye and The Second part of the good Hus-wiues Jewell and compare them.
More after the break: