[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. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on t he PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

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Planning Food for Musicians

Part Five

Previously on Planning Food for Musicians ... the menu as it stands.

Another month and another Flintmoot and more Cooking with the kids. Nero and Bella had some left over shortcrust pastry, so pies or tarts seemed like a good idea. Two items from the menu jumped out at me.

Almond milk flans, from Du fait de cuisine, Scully edition. Scully's translation is:

Also, Almond-Milk Flans. Depending on the number of flans you will be making, get that quantity of almonds, have them skinned neatly and ground up well. Get very good clean water and have him strain his almond milk into a bucket or a two-handled pot which is good and clean, in an amount appropriate for the flans he is to make. Then get good starch, wash it in good fresh water and, when washed, put it into a fine bucket, then take your almond milk and pour it in to soak the starch, adding a little saffron to give it colour. Then straining that through a good bolting cloth into a good clean bucket, putting in a little salt and a great deal of sugar. When that is done, call your pastry cook for the pie shells to be made, and have put them into the oven for a little while to become firm. Then the pastry cook should have a good spoon of either wood or iron attached to a good stout stick to fill the shells of the flans in the oven.

This one was quite straightforward. I bought almond milk and we had the shortcrust pastry. The starch would have been wheat starch, amidoun (with the usual spelling variations), which is a little tricky to come by. I opted, therefore, for corn starch/corn flour, which is much easier to find (and cheaper), and a little wheat flour just for the wheatness of it. As usual, I omit the saffron.

These turned out quite nicely, and will do very well for the sideboard. We just made little shells in muffin tins, didn't bother to blind bake them, and made a mix of almond milk, sugar, starch, and flour. For about half a cup of almond milk, I used maybe a teaspoon of starch and half that of flour, and a couple of good spoonsful of sugar. In non-eyeballing-it units that's maybe 150 ml of oat milk and 3-5 grams of cornstarch. That's probably more than is really needed, I found a modern recipe that calls for about 25 grams of starch for about 700 ml of liquid.

In any case, a relative small amount of the liquid baked in a reasonably hot oven until the pastry browns slightly gives a good result. Almost a biscuit with a thin layer of almond gel on top.

We got this one right more or less out the gate.

Fresse, from Diuersa Ciberia, Hiett and Butler edition.

Anoþr met þat hatte fresse. Nym clanlyche frissiaus & soþþen grind in an morter, & soþþen nim milke of alemauns oþer of cou, & tempre wyþ ius of frissiaus; & soþþen do a lute bred of waste, & lye wel wiþ speces & ayren & icoloured wiþ saffron, & soþen dress.

This one is quite a bit trickier. Once you realise that fresse/frissiaus are strawberries, and soþþen is basically 'then' or next,' it becomes a little clearer. Something like: 'take clean strawberries and grind them in a mortar, then take almond milk or cow's milk and mix it with the juice, then add some bread, spices, eggs, saffron, and serve.'

We decided pretty quickly that although it doesn't explicitly say to cook it, we were going to, mostly because of the egg. (And I think it was intended to be cooked.)

This is one of those recipes where trying to find variations in other collections can be handy. And this is where Concordance of English Recipes, Thirteenth through Fifteenth Centuries by Constance B. Hieatt is handy. Hieatt lemmatises Fresse as Strawberry Pottage, and gives six versions. There's this one, two in Diuersa Ciberia (which is conveniently included in Curye on Inglysch), one is from Harleian MS279 (found in Austin's Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery Books), and two are found in a couple of British Library MSS (which are available in a Speculum article by Hieatt and Robin F. Jones called Two Anglo-Norman Culinary Collections Edited from British Library Manuscripts Additional 32085 and Royal 12.C.xii).

The BL Add. MS is, as advertised, in Norman French, and bears a close relationship to the one we're using.

E un autre viaunde, ke ad a noun fresee. Quillez nettementf reseus, e pus braez les; e pus pernez let des alemaundes ou de vache e destemprez le bien; e pus metez un [poi] de payn de wastel,e liez le bien espes e colurez le de seffran,e des oefs liez, e metez de freseus entirs.

The implication is that the 'dress' in our recipe means to put the whole berries on top of the pudding which was made with the juice.

The BL Royal recipe is quite close to the Diuersa Ciberia recipe we're not using, and both seem to be more of a sauce since they call for 'char grosse' and 'gret vlehs' ('great flesh') respectively.

The Austin is the odd man out. It is similar to ours, but adds extra fripperies - raisins, pepper, vinegar, and pomegranate seed garnish. It also omits the bread and eggs in favour of wheat starch or rice flour.

So what are we to make of all that? I think we can assume that cooking is intended, since it is intended to be firm. I think it is likely that the crushed berries are mixed with the eggs,milk, and bread and cooked, making essentially a bread pudding.

That was one of the two things we tried on the day. The other thing we tried was just using some bread as a base, and putting the rest of the mixture on top. Both were good.

Since we want something finger food-ish for the event, I think that what I'll do is the bread pudding option, with plenty of egg, so I get a reasonably well set dish, that can be cut into easy to eat portions. We may also end up with berries other straw, depending on what is available in September. C'est la vie.

Luddite'sLog, 6 May 2024
© 2024 Jeff Berry
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