[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook or Livejournal. (Although he did succumb to the lure of Google+.) He hates cell-phones.

Tailliz de Karesme - Talliz for Lent
14 April 2011

[Slice of Tailliz] Lent always meant fasting, but what exactly "fasting" meant, varied over the years. For much of the middle ages, it meant no meat, no eggs, no dairy. Which left fish, often a great deal of fish, grains, fruits and vegetables. Since the rules said you had to avoid meat and dairy, not that you couldn't eat stuff that simulated meat and dairy or that tasted good, medieval cooks got creative.

Tailliz de Karesme, often translated out as something like "Tailliz for Lent," is a perfect example. It is a sweet dish, much like a bread pudding, and one that utilizes that great medieval Lenten liquid, almond milk. The recipe I'm starting with is from Le Viandier de Taillevant, a 14th century French recipe collection,1 and it looks like this:

Tailliz de Karesme. Prenez amendez pellees et broyez tres bien en ung mortier, puis ayez eaue boullue et reffroidiee comme tiedde et deffaictes les amendes et coulez parmy l'estamine, et faictes boullir vostre lait sur ung petit de charbon; puis prenez des eschaudez cuitz de ung jour ou de deux et les tailliez en menuz morceaulx come groz dex; puis prenez figues, dates, et raysins de Daigne et trenchez lesdictes figues et dates commes les eschaudez et puis y gettez tout et le laissiez especir comme Frommentee; et mettre du succre boullir avec; et fault mettre boullir une onde ou deux ledit lait d'amendes; et pour luy donner coulleur convient avoir du saffren pour le coulourer comme Fromentee; et qu'il soit doulx salé.
[Figs, dates and raisons] The first portion, up to "ung petit de charbon;" is instructions on how to make almond milk. The rest, freely translated from the Old French reads:
then take biscuits a day or two old, and cut them into pieces like large dice; then take figs, dates and raisons of Digne, and cut the figs and dates like the biscuits and put them all together and let them thicken like Frumenty; and put some sugar to boil with it; and boil an ounce or two of almond milk; and to give it good colour have saffron to color it like Frumenty; and it is salted lightly.
Frumenty, at least in this time and place, has the texture of a thick custard, and is bright yellow.2. That gives us an idea of the texture we want. We could debate for ages about what exactly "eschaudez," often translated as "biscuits," are. However, that is a debate for another day. For this modern-day version, I decided to use almond biscotti, since they are easy to find, and the flavor matches well with the almond milk. Sometimes I will make my own almond milk, but I used commercial in this recipe, both because I was pressed for time and because I didn't want to have to come up with something to do with the leftover almonds - like make another Gluttony the Seahorse.

Tailliz de Karesme/Tailliz for Lent

[The Biscotti] Toss your biscotti, figs, dates and raisins into a pot. Add some almond milk and sort of squish everything down. Turn the heat onto medium and begin to heat the mixture. Add more almond milk as needed, but go slowly, you want it to be thick - Le Menagier's version wants it thick enough to cut. Keep an eye on it as well, since you don't want it to burn, so stir often.

Meanwhile, put a bit more almond milk into a pan with the saffron and simmer until it has a good color. You could also use a microwave for this step.

[The mixture]

Add the saffron infused almond milk and stir again. The total time is perhaps twenty minutes, certainly not much more. Bear in mind that it will set up a little more as it cools. Transfer it to a loaf pan and let it cool. Devour.

Since the biscotti are already fairly sweet, I didn't feel the need to add anymore sugar. Likewise, I didn't feel like I needed to add salt since both the biscotti and the almond milk had salt in them. If you make your almond milk from scratch, you might need to add a pinch of salt.

[Tailliz in a loaf pan]


  1. The Viandier of Taillevent, edited by Terence Scully.
  2. Le Ménagier de Paris, previously mentioned on this site, has a recipe for Frumenty, which uses 100 eggs per gallon of milk, or something like a dozen per pint.

© 2011 Jeff Berry
The Aspiring Luddite