Medieval Monday – Gridle Bread / Takkebrød

A recipe for ale rised bread found on CookIt!
Medieval Monday – Gridle Bread / Takkebrød

Bread was part of the staple diet in Medieval times. And this is a simple risen bread which uses ale (the yeast in the ale) to make the bread rise. The ale is warmed to activate the yeast.

Many early breads and biscuits were baked on flat metal pans, much as earlier peoples had cooked on flat stones. The heat from the griddle cooks the food.

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The Early History of Barbecue

Part of an article by Meathead Goldwyn posted on amazingribs.com

Contrary to mythology, barbecue was not an American invention. Barbecue is older than homo sapiens and anthropologists even think that it was mastery of fire that permanently altered our evolutionary path and it is this primeval link that makes us still love cooking over open flames.

Around one million years ago Homo erectus, the homonid just before Neanderthal man, first tasted cooked meat.

The Early History of BarbecueNobody knows for sure, but here’s how I think it happened: A tribe of these proto-humans were padding warily through the warm ashes of a forest fire following their noses to a particularly seductive scent. When they stumbled upon the charred carcass of a wild boar they squatted and poked their hands into its side. They sniffed their fragrant fingers, then licked the greasy digits. The magical blend of warm protein, molten fat, and unctuous collagen in roasted meat is a narcotic elixir and it addicted them on first bite. They became focused, obsessed with tugging and scraping the bones clean, moaning, and shaking their heads. The sensuous aromas made their nostrils smile and the fulsome flavors caused their mouths to weep. Before long mortals were making sacrifices and burnt offerings to their gods, certain the immortals would like to try their heavenly recipes.

Cooking makes it easier for animals to extract energy from food. That meant that there were more calories available for larger brains, which of course was an evolutionary advantage. It also took much much less time to eat, leaving time to hunt, socialize and form tribes and communities, and procreate.

Evolution favored traits that enhanced the ability of these early homonids to hunt and eat cooked meat: Smaller hips and flatter feet for running speed, better hand articulation, communication skills, and smaller jaws. Eventually they learned to domesticate dogs to help with the hunt, and then they learned to herd and husband the animals that tasted best. The family circle and tribal structure evolved so that men became hunters and women became cooks. Ergo, the first pitmasters were probably women.

The Early History of BarbecueIn 2007 Israeli scientists at University of Haifa uncovered evidence that early humans living in the area around Carmel, about 200,000 years ago were serious about barbecue. From bone and tool evidence, these early hunters preferred large mature animals and cuts of meat that had plenty of flesh on them. They left heads and hooves in the field. Three of their favorites were an ancestor of cattle, deer, and boars. From burn marks around the joints and scrape marks on the bones, there is evidence that these cave dwellers knew how to cook.

Early barbecue cooking implements will likely never be found because they were probably made of wood. The first meats were probably just tossed into a wood infereno.

They quickly learned that the food tasted better if the food was held above or to the side of the fire. According to barbecue historian Dr. Howard L. Taylor, the first cooking implements were almost certainly “a wooden fork or spit to hold the meat over the fire.

Eventually they built racks of green sticks to hold the food above the flames, and learned that the temperature was easier to regulate and the flavor better if the if they let the logs burn down to coals before the meat was put in place.

The Early History of BarbecueSpit roasting is common around the world and for many years was the major barbecue cooking method. Baking an animal, vegetables, or bread in a hot pit in the ground was also an early development. Wooden frames were later used to hold meat over the fire, but they often held the meat well above the fire to keep the wood from burning, which resulted in the meat cooking slowly and absorbing smoke. The gridiron [similar to a grate on a modern grill] was developed soon after the Iron Age started, which led to grilling as we know it. Iliad, Book IX, Lines 205-235 and The Odyssey, Book III, lines 460-468 mention spits and five-pronged forks used to roast meat, basted with salt and wine at outdoor feasts in ancient Greece. Such feasts at the end of a battle or long march were common throughout history.” Below is a grill from the Stoö of Attalus Museum in Athens in a photo by Giovanni Dall’Orto. It is estimated to be from sometime between the 4th and 6th century BC.

The Early History of BarbecueSmoked foods not only tasted swell, they kept longer. We now know this is because there are antimicrobial compounds in smoke, because smoke drove off flies, and because slow smoking dehydrated foods and bacteria need moisture to grow. In the days before refrigeration, smoking, drying, and salting meat were clever strategies for preserving perishable foods. This allowed hunting tribes to make a kill and, unlike other animals, they did not have to gorge themselves before the prey spoiled. If they were migratory, they could smoke, dry, and salt foods and take it on the road with them.

Medieval Monday / Middelaldermandag – Frumenty

A medieval lunch/dinner recipe found at CookIt!
Medieval Monday /  Middelaldermandag – Frumenty

Frumenty was a staple food for thousands of years. The earliest versions were probably made by early farming communities with dried grains. Frumenty was still being commonly referred to in Victorian books, although it had fallen out of favour as a dish by then. There are many versions of frumenty including a winter dish often served at Christmas. This festival dish was made with milk, eggs, currants and saffron.

Before potatoes became a staple food, frumenty was served as the carbohydrate part of the meal. Roast and boiled meat, fish and game were all served with frumenty through the Middle  Ages and into the Tudor and Stuart periods.

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Medieval Monday – Apple Puffs / Eplemosdessert

A Stuart era dessert/snack recipe found on CookIt!
Medieval M0nday - Apple Puffs / Eplemosdessert

In Stuart times, cooking methods were much as they had been for centuries.  Most food was still cooked over open fires, outdoors as much as possible, otherwise the houses became filled with smoke and the danger from fire was much greater.

Spit roasts were improved and became easier to use, otherwise trivets for frying and cooking pots for boiling were the main cooking methods.

This recipe is simple but nutritious, using eggs and apples, both of which were easily obtained in the countryside where most people still lived. The addition of raisins and ginger (both imported from abroad) were too expensive for most ordinary people, and used sparingly even by the better off.

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Medieval Monday – Pork with Pine Kernel Sauce / Svinekjøtt med Pinjekjernesaus

A medieval Roman recipe found on CookIt!
Medieval Monday – Pork with Pine Kernel Sauce / Svinekjøtt med Pinjekjernesaus

This recipe illustrates the Roman love of dishes that could be dipped into sauces. A vast array dishes could be served in bowls and platters. Meat would be carved into small pieces, so that each guest only picks what he needs and dips the meat into the accompanying sauces served in little bowls.

The meat would be cooked over a raised brick hearth, on top of which was a charcoal fire. The meat was placed in a pan on a tripod placed over the fire or cooked directly on a grid. Also used were frying pans (pensa), deeper pans (patella and patina), mixing bowls (mortaria) with a spout for pouring.

The recipe given here is not meant to be cooked in a modern kitchen but on an open fire or on a charcoal grill. Roman cooks judged quantities by eye so measurements are not given. Apicius provides the ingredients for the sauce, this then accompanies pan- fried meat.

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The History of Pizza

The history of pizza begins in antiquity, when various ancient cultures produced flatbreads with toppings.

The History of Pizza

The word pizza was first documented in AD 997 in Gaeta and successively in different parts of Central and Southern Italy. The precursor of pizza was probably the focaccia, a flat bread known to the Romans as panis focacius, to which toppings were then added.

Modern pizza developed in Naples, when tomato was added to the focaccia in the late 18th century. However, pizza was mainly eaten in the country of Italy and by emigrants from there. This changed after World War II, when Allied troops stationed in Italy came to enjoy pizza along with other Italian foods.

Origins

Foods similar to pizza have been made since the neolithic age. Records of people adding other ingredients to bread to make it more flavorful can be found throughout ancient history.

The History of PizzaIn Sardinia, French and Italian archaeologists have found bread baked over 7,000 years ago. According to Professor Philippe Marinval, the local islanders leavened this bread.

The Ancient Greeks had a flat bread called plakous (πλακοῦς, gen. πλακοῦντος—plakountos)which was flavored with toppings like herbs, onion, and garlic.

In the 6th century BC, the soldiers in Persian King Darius I armies baked flatbreads with cheese and dates on top of their battle shields.

The History of PizzaAn early reference to a pizza-like food occurs in the Aeneid (ca. 19 BC), when Celaeno, queen of the Harpies, foretells that the Trojans would not find peace until they are forced by hunger to eat their tables (Book III). In Book VII, Aeneas and his men are served a meal that includes round cakes (like pita bread) topped with cooked vegetables. When they eat the bread, they realize that these are the “tables” prophesied by Celaeno.

Some commentators have suggested that the origins of modern pizza can be traced to pizzarelle, which were kosher for Passover cookies eaten by Roman Jews after returning from the synagogue on that holiday, though some also trace its origins to other Italian paschal breads. Abba Eban has suggested that modern pizza “was first made more than 2000 years ago when Roman soldiers added cheese and olive oil to matzah”.

The History of PizzaOther examples of flatbreads that survive to this day from the ancient Mediterranean world are focaccia (which may date back as far as the ancient Etruscans); Mankoucheh in Lebanon, coca (which has sweet and savory varieties) from Catalonia; Valencia and the Balearic Islands; the Greek Pita; Lepinja in the Balkans; or Piadina in the Romagna part of Emilia-Romagna in Italy.

Foods similar to flatbreads in other parts of the world include Chinese bing (a wheat flour-based Chinese food with a flattened or disk-like shape); the Indian paratha (in which fat is incorporated); the Central and South Asian naan (leavened) and roti (unleavened); the Sardinian carasau, spianata, guttiau, pistoccu; and Finnish rieska. Also worth noting is that throughout Europe there are many similar pies based on the idea of covering flat pastry with cheese, meat, vegetables and seasoning such as the Alsatian flammkuchen, German zwiebelkuchen, and French quiche.

The History of PizzaIn 16th-century Naples, a galette flatbread was referred to as a pizza. Known as the dish for poor people, it was sold in the street and was not considered a kitchen recipe for a long time. This was later replaced by oil, tomatoes (after Europeans came into contact with the Americas) or fish. In 1843, Alexandre Dumas, père, described the diversity of pizza toppings. An often recounted story holds that on 11 June 1889, to honour the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, the Neapolitan pizzamaker Raffaele Esposito created the “Pizza Margherita”, a pizza garnished with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, to represent the national colours of Italy as on the Italian flag.

The History of PizzaPizza is now a type of bread and tomato dish, often served with cheese. However, until the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, the dish was sweet, not savory, and earlier versions which were savory more resembled the flat breads now known as schiacciata.Pellegrino Artusi’s classic early-twentieth-century cookbook, La Scienza in cucina e l’Arte di mangiar bene gives three recipes for pizza, all of which are sweet. However, by 1927, Ada Boni’s collection of regional cooking includes a recipe using tomatoes and mozzarella.

Text from Wikipedia

Medieval Monday – Pokerounce

A historic sweatmeat recipe found on Cook It!
Medieval Monday – Pokerounce

A medieval sweetmeat to be eaten at the end of a meal. Sugar was an expensive luxury so honey sweetened foods were popular. The range of imported spices used would still have made this an expensive dish. Galingale is an aromatic spice, a little like ginger, but worth using if you can get it.

This dish is not unlike modern honey dishes which you might know, such as baklava.

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Tart in Ymber Day / Terter for Emberdagene

A fasting tart recipe found at Let Hem Boyle
Tart in Ymber Day / Terter for Emberdagene

In the liturgical calendar of the Western Christian churches, Ember  (Ymber) days are four separate sets of three days within the same week — specifically, the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday — roughly equidistant in the circuit of the year, that are set aside for fasting and prayer. These days set apart for special prayer and fasting were considered especially suitable for the ordination of clergy. The Ember Days are known in Latin as the quattuor anni tempora (the “four seasons of the year”), or formerly as the jejunia quattuor temporum (“fasts of the four seasons”).

The four quarterly periods during which the ember days fall are called the embertides.

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Pumpes – Meat Balls / Kjøttboller

A historic dinner recipe found on CookItPumpes – Meat Balls / Kjøttboller

The original recipe:

‘Take fayre buttys of vele and hewe hem,and grnd hem,and wyth eyroun(eggs); caste powder pepyr, gyngere, safroun, galingal and herbes also raysonys of coraunce. Sethe in a pan wyth fayre water. Than putte it on a spete round and lete hem rosty. Serve hem forth.’

Pommeaulx (abridged)

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Eat Like an Egyptian

An article by Stephanie Butler publised on
history.com october 2013
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Archeological discoveries have told us much about how ancient Egyptians worshiped, celebrated and mourned. But these scientific finds have also provided tantalizing clues about how–and what–this complex civilization ate. From grains like emmer and kamut to cloudy beer and honey-basted gazelle, this week’s Hungry History focuses on the meals of ancient Egypt.

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Bread and beer were the two staples of the Egyptian diet. Everyone from the highest priest to the lowliest laborer would eat these two foods every day, although the quality of the foods for the priest would undoubtedly be higher. The main grain cultivated in Egypt was emmer. Better known today as farro, emmer happens to be a fairly well balanced source of nutrition: it’s higher in minerals and fiber than similar grains. Breads and porridge were made from the grain, as well as a specially devised product that modern-day archeologists call “beer bread.”

Eat Like an Egyptian_02Beer bread was made from dough that used more yeast than normal breads, and it was baked at a temperature that didn’t kill off the yeast cultures. Brewers crumbled the bread into vats and let it ferment naturally in water. This yielded a thick and cloudy brew that would probably disgust our modern palates. But it was also nourishing and healthy, and filled in many nutritive deficiencies of the lower-class diet.

But ancient Egyptians did not survive on carbohydrates alone: Hunters could capture a variety of wild game, including hippos, gazelles, cranes as well as smaller species such as hedgehogs. Fish were caught, then salted and preserved; in fact fish curing was so important to Egyptians that only temple officials were allowed to do it. Honey was prized as a sweetener, as were dates, raisins and other dried fruits. Wild vegetables abounded, like celery, papyrus stalks and onions.

Eat Like an Egyptian_01

Although no recipes from the times remain, we have a fair idea of how the Egyptians prepared their food thanks to dioramas and other objects left in tombs. Laborers ate two meals a day: a morning meal of bread, beer and often onions, and a more hearty dinner with boiled vegetables, meat and more bread and beer. Nobles ate well, with vegetables, meat and grains at every meal, plus wine and dairy products like butter and cheese. Priests and royalty ate even better. Tombs detail meals of honey-roasted wild gazelle, spit-roasted ducks, pomegranates and a berry-like fruit called jujubes with honey cakes for dessert. To top it all off, servant girls would circulate with jugs of wine to refill empty glasses: the perfect end to an Egyptian banquet.

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Medieval Monday – Almond Milk / Mandelmelk

A staple medieval recipe found on mediumaevum.tumblr.com
Medieval Monday - Almond Milk / Mandelmelk

Almond milk was a staple of the medieval kitchen. It was used in a wide variety of dishes as a substitute for milk or cream, especially on “fish days”, when the church placed restrictions on what foods could be eaten (the most prominent of which were the days during lent). Fortunately, almond milk is quick and easy to make.

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Grilling Tips from the Ancient Greeks

Article by Stephanie Butler posted on history.com in 2014

Love to grill? Well, you’re not the first. In fact, the Greeks beat us all to it by more than 3,000 years. Recently, archeologist Julie Hruby of Dartmouth College presented her research findings about how exactly the ancient Greeks used their grills at the Archeological Institute of America’s annual conference in Chicago. Hruby’s research centered on her work with ancient souvlaki trays and griddles from Mycenaean-era sites in Greece.

Souvlaki tray
Souvlaki tray

In years past, everyday objects like cooking pots were often thrown away at architectural sites, in favor of more glamorous items like vases or jewelry. But Hruby decided to take a second look at the trays and griddles to help solve some long-standing archeological mysteries. For starters, scientists knew the souvlaki trays would have somehow held skewers of roasting meat. But they didn’t know if cooks rested the meat directly on the trays over the fire, or if the trays were meant for hot coals with the meat placed on top. And the griddles, presumably for bread baking, had one smooth side and one side pocked with small holes. What would be best for baking?

To solve these problems, Hruby turned to an unlikely source: ceramicist Connie Podleski at the Oregon College of Art and Craft. Hruby and Podleski mixed their own American clay to imitate the rough, gritty Mycenaean clay. They then fashioned new souvlaki trays and griddles to the exact specifications of the originals, and put them to the test over an open fire.

Griddles
Griddles

The results of this ingenious experiment answered all the scholars’ questions. When meat skewers were placed directly on the trays over the fire, the thickness of the tray resulted in uncooked souvlaki. A much tastier result occurred when hot coals were shoveled onto the trays, and the skewers placed directly above. Essentially, according to Hruby, the trays were portable barbeque pits, “perhaps used during Mycenaean picnics.” As for the griddles, Hruby found that baking bread stuck much more readily to the smooth sides of the utensil than the hole-marked side. This led her to believe that the rough surface could have served as a primitive nonstick pan, as the holes also result in a more even dispersion of oil across the cooking surface.