Known World Party: 1001 Nights Wish List

Village scene from the 13th century Syrian manuscript "Maqamat (Stories) of al-Hariri"

We are going to try something a little different for the cooking this year by spreading the work around as much as possible.  Each person volunteers to cook, transport, and deliver 100 pieces of one recipe to me Friday at War. This way no one has to try and deal with a huge amount of food. The more people we get to cook, the better this party will be!

Here is the list of savory dishes for the Known World Party:

Sanbusaj- Crissy Brillant (Marcaster)

(Medieval Arab Cookery, p 379 The Description of Familiar Foods)
Samosas stuffed with finely chopped meat spiced with coriander, pepper, caraway, mastic and cinnamon, dried mint, and nuts

Another Sanbusaq- Vestilia (Darkwater)

(Medieval Arab Cookery, p 382 The Description of Familiar Foods)
Samosas filled with minced red meat spiced with pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves, fresh parsley and mint, and lemon juice.

Hummus Kasa- Mistress Roslyn McLaren and Household

(Medieval Arab Cookery, p 383 The Description of Familiar Foods)
Mashed chickpeas (not pureed!) mixed with vinegar, oil, tahini, mint, parsley, thyme, chopped green olives, walnuts, and chopped preserved lemons, spiced with black pepper, cinnamon, caraway and coriander. A delicious chunky cold salad.

Sanbusak Hamid (Sour samosas)

(Medieval Arab Cookery, p 386 The Description of Familiar Foods)
Samosas made with minced red meat mixed with fresh parsley, onions, mint, almonds or hazelnuts, saffron, lemon juice or vinegar.

Mujabbana- Giric/Geo (Wyvernwood)

(Anonymous Andalusian p 149)
Eggy pastry dough kneaded with cheese and fennel seeds and baked.

Toledan- Giric/Geo (Wyvernwood)

(Anonymous Andalusian p 150)
Puff pastry dough with cheese in the middle, sprinkled with anise seeds and baked.

Stuffed Eggs-Mistress Roslyn McLaren and Household

(Anonymous Andalusian p 52)
Hard boiled eggs, stuffed with the cooked egg yolks mixed with fresh cilantro, onions, black pepper and coriander.

Pickles! Mistress Maysun al-Rasheeqa and Mistress Aillegan (Meridies), Susan (An Crosaire)

No bawarid (cold appetizer) table was complete without a selection of pickles. Turnips, tiny eggplant, cucumbers, eggs, grapes, gourds, plums, carrots… all spiced differently to make a huge range of savory pickles. If you’re interested in making period pickles, let me know!

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Guest Post! A Snack Fit for a Qan– Mongolian Dried Beef

Please check out this fantastic recipe from Mistress Ailleagan, Meridies!

A Snack Fit for a Qan – Mongolian Dried Beef

By Mistress Ailleagan nas Seolta, OP

mka Rachel Strange

glenheather@knology.net

Premise

It is an ongoing process of mine to add to my collection of cookery texts from the Dark Ages and the Medieval era. Often, this requires that I borrow books through inter-library loan, as many of the texts I want are far outside my price range. I was especially happy when a copy of A Soup for the Qan (translated from a text written in 1330) arrived in this manner.

I was particularly excited when I saw this recipe:

This recipe is a culinary recreator’s dream – simple, just a few ingredients (that aren’t that unusual or difficult to obtain if you’re already into medieval cooking), and a straightforward preparation method. Best of all, it includes measurements!

Read the rest of the post here.

Looking for a few good Kampfrau

The Queen’s Luncheon is Wednesday of Gulf Wars. I want to throw down the gauntlet this year by doing the luncheon as a high-authenticity living history experience: cooking some of the food for the luncheon right there on the field in a period camp kitchen by women in appropriate period garb, so that the food, the kitchen, and the people all are from one time/place… a total immersion experience.

Get a tissue, honey... you're drooling.

Now, no high-authenticity event is ever perfect. That’s okay! We’re going to get as close as we possibly can.

What I’m looking for is 3-4 women who have (or can borrow) good Kampfrau garb, are available the day of the Queen’s luncheon, and either have experience with camp cooking or are willing to experiment with it. Only a few of the dishes for the luncheon will be cooked by you on site. The rest will be cooked at another kitchen on site to be determined.

Please share this post with anyone you think would be interested. If you’re interested, please leave a comment here with your email address, or email me directly at jimandandi AT cox DOT net.

Wishlist for the Queen’s Luncheon at Gulf Wars

Here is my wish list for the Queen’s luncheon. As I test recipes and get prices for all of the ingredients the menu will get heavily revised… this is a list of all of the dishes I wish I could do.

Out of Sabina Welserin:

Good marzipan (molded marzipan)
Bratwurst (hopefully homemade)
Pickled tongue, best made in January (Actually salted and smoked. I think I can get enough tongues for this)
Genovese tart (spinach & cheese tart)
Spritzgebackenes (funnel cakes!)
Bitter oranges in honey (candied orange peel)
Apple puffs (apple fritters)
Sour cherry tart
Cream Tart
Almond Tart (misleading title- this is actually marzipan beaten with egg whites, spread between wafers brushed with rosewater, and baked. A delicate little pastry, tough to do well.)

From Le Menagier

“Little cream tarts well sugared”
“fruit, claret, small pastries, wafers, pears, shelled nuts”
Cress and sorrel with vinegar (salad!)
Balls (meatballs roasted on a spit)
Mustard
Honey-nut sweets
Mushroom pastries
Green garlic sauce
Waffles with brie and wine
Hippocras, without fail

This would be a damn good feast! How am I going to narrow this down to a half dozen dishes? In my wildest dreams I’ll be able to set up a nice German camp kitchen like this, a little simpler, with a few women dressed in good LP German working garb. The funnel cakes, apple fritters, sausages and the meatballs could all be made right there as a living history/ high authenticity display. The pickled tongue, cream tarts, candied orange peel, honey nut sweets, sauces, and fruit tarts could be made ahead. Hmmm.

Gulf Wars XXI Known World Party- the Teaser

So, I’m the head cook/food coordinator the Known World Party at Gulf Wars XXI. That’s just a few months! The theme is 1001 Nights, which is brilliant, and this might be the first KWP to ever focus on documented medieval food.

This is one of those themes that is almost too easy to do medieval food for. There are so many translated manuscripts, so many redacted recipes, so much information available. Heck, there’s even an article by Charles Perry in Medieval Arab Cookery on “A Thousand and One Fritters: The Food of the Arabian Nights”!

Think of it. Whole lambs, roasting over spits in the fort, flames leaping merrily, slices piled warm on flatbread with creamy sauces and pickled onions. Huge trays of cheese-stuffed buns, grilled skewers of chicken, samosas filled with nuts and sugar, every kind of sweet pastry you can imagine. Listening to live Arabic music while sipping sweet mulled wine infused with warming spices. Exotic smells, sights, and sounds all around you.

I can’t wait.

There will be many more posts after the planning meeting at Winter ArtSci in January. Stay tuned.

Foods of the Medieval New World

My next full feast is a full year from now, Martinmass 2012. The theme of the event is Mayan, of course. It’s the End of the World! We’re going to have so much fun with the whole theme. Of course, I’m doing a Mayan feast…

Wow. I know a decent amount about modern Central American food, but nothing about pre-Columbian Mayan food culture. First I had to figure out what foods they did NOT have.

No wheat. No rice. No barley, rye, spelt, emmer, or buckwheat. Only corn and a little amaranth.

No milk. No cheese, cream, buttermilk, no milk products of any kind. The Mayans had very few domesticated animals, and zero milk-producing domesticated animals.

None of the common livestock. No cows, goats, sheep, camels, oxen, or pigs. Very few large mammals in Central America. This also means no familiar animal fats, no lard or sheep tail fat for cooking in. They mostly ate wild game birds, insects, reptiles, fish, and shellfish. They did eat the tapir, which is related to the horse though it looks like a pig, and monkeys. A single source so far says they also hunted wild deer and peccaries and possibly also ate dogs. As far as I can tell, bird eggs were also not a part of their diet but they did eat iguana eggs.

It’s difficult to even conceive of a cuisine based on what foods they had available, yet they did have a cuisine. They had a wealth of fruits and vegetables, including guava, yuca, sweet potato, avocado, chili peppers, beans, tomatoes, papaya, sopadilla, and pumpkins.

Some recognizable dishes and cooking methods that will make this feast much more approachable include tortillas, tamales, pozole, pipian sauce, and pit-roasting, called pib. And the feast must include cacao, of course.

This is going to be so much fun!

Laurel wreath earrings

I recently made a pair of “triple-faux” earrings for part of the new Laurel Bling for Fall Coronation. They mimic mid-16th century Mewari discs worn in stretch piercings. I used fimo clay to mimic a lac filling, and pieces of iridescent beetle wings to mimic green gems. I’ve never done anything complex with fimo before, but it was relatively simple.

Here are the whole wings being trimmed into leaf shapes with tiny embroidery scissors.

Iridescent beetle wing coverings, called elatrices, have been used in art and personal adornment in South Asia since at least the mid 17th century, which is the earliest extant use I have ever seen in India. The beetles these wing cases come from are called Iridescent Buprestids and are found all over Southeast Asia. I do not know if these wings were available or used in art in the mid-16th century,  but I had some, they’re beautiful, and they look very cool.

Here are the finished earrings!

I’m happy with the way they turned out. One more project crossed off the list!

Vigil Information

My vigil will be held Friday night of Trimaris Fall Coronation, held at 4H Camp Ocala in Altoona, FL, September 2nd.

I hope to be seated by 8pm. The vigil will continue until at least 2 am in order to receive everyone who wants to speak with me.

My goal as always is to promote medieval cooking in the SCA. Towards that goal, we will be having a potluck buffet table of medieval dishes during the vigil, concentrating on sweet dishes and snack foods. You can contribute a dish from any medieval manuscript or source, we are not concentrating on any specific region. If you would like to contribute a period dessert or snack food to the vigil buffet table, please contact THL Thalassia Hellenis.

I’ve been contacted by so many people who want to join me in 16th century Mewar for the elevation ceremony Saturday. I’m so honored! I’m putting together a new page with a “Basic 16th century North Indian” kit for men and women. Look for it soon.

I’m going to be a… what?

Turning and seeing my family there behind me...

They used the “Elizabeth is getting called up in Court” ruse again. It continues to work, which is probably why they keep using it. I was in the kitchen gathering all of the serving ware because I was supposed to be plating feast Sunday night and the Court herald came in to tell me that Elizabeth, may daughter, was getting called up and to make sure she was there and so was I. No problem, it’ll be early in Court business and I can get back in the kitchen afterwards.

Ha.

My husband and younger son had left site, we had run gate all weekend and my husband had to go to work. So Elizabeth and I went to Court and she immediately scampered off to see her friends and I tracked down my older son Alex. I sent Jebe around the other side of Court to keep an eye on Elizabeth so Alex could escort her up and I could take pictures. I was filthy and only wearing half my jewelry from breaking down gate, going to a meeting and a class, and then directly to the kitchen, with my dupatta wrapped around my waist.

Then Baron Rurik came over and grabbed my arm and then said “Come with me”. I resisted for a minute, not wanting to miss taking photos of Elizabeth getting called up, but he was very insistent, and hauled me up to the end of the processing aisle. Then they called up the Order of the Laurel.

I very clearly said “Oh Fuck.” I am beginning to understand this is a common and acceptable response in this situation.

Then I realized I still had my veil wrapped around my waist and executed some kind of split-second ninja move to get it off and wrapped properly, because going before their Majesties with my hair and face uncovered is Not Done.

The rest is kind of a blur. There was a lot of rushing noises, I was shaking like a leaf and seeing little stars. At some point the Queen said something like  “Do you?” and I pulled the veil away from my face and said “YES.” Apparently this was a very emphatic YES because everyone broke out laughing. Then it was all over and I turned around… and my husband Jim and all my kids were there kneeling in the aisle right behind me. There was lots of hugging and being passed around in the Circle… and then they hauled me out of there. I didn’t start crying until I called my Laurel, Mistress Maysun, and talked to my household in Nashville.

After that they started a drinking game around every time someone would come up and congratulate me, because once I started crying I had a hard time stopping. Every time I started crying, everyone would drink, and so would I. Needless to say, no one would let me plate feast (which was probably good, I was pretty tipsy by then) but we ended up sitting for feast instead, which was nice. After feast Jim and James actually did leave to go home, and I stayed for the rest of the event.

My vigil will be Friday evening of Fall Coronation, September 2nd, with the elevation ceremony Saturday morning at Their Majesties Duncan and Larissa’s final court.

It still seems a tiny bit unreal.

Jacobin Sops (That chicken on cheese toast dish from St. George’s)

I’m working on writing up all the recipes and details from feast last weekend before I forget everything, and I think this dish deserves its own post. This is one of the most well-received dishes I’ve ever served, and that’s saying something. Who doesn’t love shredded chicken on cheese toast soaked in gravy? I mean, really?

Jacobin Sops

for 100

From Du Fait de Cuisine by Chyquart

18. And to serve jacobin sops it is necessary that you have your fair capons and, according to the quantity of the feast, one or two hundred well fattened capons, and a great deal of other poultry to serve in default of the said capons; and they should be well and properly roasted. And when the well fattened cattle are to be dismembered take the marrow bones and wash them well and carefully, then put them in to boil in fair and clean cauldrons, and fair mutton therewith; and then afterward arrange that you have a quintal [about 110 pounds] of very good Crampone and Brye cheese and of the finest which can be found, and have the said cheese pared and cleaned well and properly, and then cut it very small. And let the said cook who is ordered to make the said jacobin sops take two or three hundred loaves of fine white bread and slice this bread in fair thin slices and roast them very well and cleanly without burning, and let them be browned, and then put them into fair and clean cornues — and you should have two fair, clean, and white boards to slice your said roasted bread for the jacobin sops; and then you should have your serving dishes of gold and silver and pewter lined up, and allocate your bread among your dishes well and gently and the cheese on top. And take your capons and dismember them, that is take off the wings and legs and take off the rump; and then take the white meat of the said capon and slice it very small, and this white of the capon scatter on top of your jacobin sops; and then afterward take the limbs of the said capons, that is the wings, legs, and rump, and put on top of your jacobin sops in proper order. And take care that your broth of beef marrow and mutton is good and sweet, and strain this broth into a large, fair and clean pot; and you should have a good bunch of herbs of sage, parsley, marjoram, and hyssop, and let them be well cleaned and washed, and put into your broth. And arrange that close to the dressing, where you arrange the said jacobin sops for serving, you have a good fire of charcoal under your pots in which is your broth so that it always boils; and with the said broth cover your said jacobin sops.

1.5 fat chickens per table= 18 chickens
Plenty of FRESH ONLY parsley, marjoram, oregano, sage
8 lb white cheddar
3 lb gruyere
1 lb stale loaf per table= 12 loaves= 8 slices per table
Salt & pepper

Roast all chickens. Strip the flesh and shred. Cut off the wing tips and keep separate. Make a strong stock with the carcasses.  Add herbs and plenty of pepper and thicken slightly. Cut each loaf into 8 thick slices, cover with cheese, broil until cheese is melted. Strew with chicken meat. At the very last minute, ladle stock over chicken and sops, then sprinkle with parsley.

These were the original instructions for the dish, which got altered in the moment. I was paranoid about the chicken being served hot, so we put it in the oven, covered, to warm. Then the chicken started drying out. We ended up combining the herbed gravy with the shredded chicken in the warmer. The shredded chicken absorbed all of the damn gravy by the time it was plated, so this dish did not turn out as “wet” as it ought to have been. Nonetheless, this was possibly the most popular dish at the feast. People raved over it.  We also got lots returned because it was served too late in the feast and the portions were way too large. This is probably enough to feed 200 people if served late in the feast.

Also, we reserved the wing tips to lay one on top of each piece at High Table as a way to make a more-medieval presentation, but the wing tips were buried and then forgotten about in the last minute rush.

A note about the broth:

Never ever will I buy nasty chemical tasting chicken powder again. Friday night we roasted the chickens, let them cool, and then stripped the carcasses of meat. The carcasses, necks, and skin were put in two large stock pots with plenty of salt, bay leaves and whole peppercorns. We brought them up to boiling and then left them simmering all night and through the morning.

Best. Chicken stock. Ever.

We strained the stock, discarded the solids, and then put it back on the stove to reduce in volume. I wanted very rich stock, the stock is the important flavor element in the pea soup and it makes or breaks the sops. I eyeballed the amount throughout the early afternoon until I had about the amount we needed for both dishes. We set the broth aside to cool and separate, and ladled off most of the fat, but not all! Fat=flavor, and this was fatty stock from the chicken skin. I’ll do it this way every single time from now on, because the pea soup and the sops were delicious.

A note about the cheese:

This recipe specifically calls for “Brye or Crampone” cheese. Ken Albala in Cooking in Europe 1250-1650 states that Crampone cheese is most similar to the modern French Cantal or Salers cheeses. I called every specialty cheese shop in Gainesville trying to order one pound of Cantal or Salers cheese to put on the sops for High Table, but no one could even order it. The next most similar cheese that’s accessible here is Gruyere, but Gruyere is very expensive. I ended up using a Cabot brand sharp white cheddar ($4.43/pound on sale) combined with a small amount of the $11 per pound Gruyere. Using really good strong cheese also means you need less of it for the same amount of flavor. Eventually I will find Cantal or Salers cheese, and then I’ll make Jacobin Sops again for a dinner party or something. Or I’ll just keep it all for me!

Serve more sops!