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.
‘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.’
Take flour and eggs & knead together / take figs, raisins & dates & put out the stones & blanched almonds & good powder & bray together / make coffins of the length of a span / put thy stuffing therein, in every cake his portion/ fold them & boil them in water & afterward roast them on a griddle & give forth.
Chelsea at “Inn At The Crossroads” writes: The leeks and salt pork cook until they are so soft that they almost melt, leaving the slivered almonds to make a textural statement. Each bite transitions from the saltiness of the broth, to the soft flavors of the leeks and pork, then ends with a strong nutty, crunchy finish. I’ve made it as in the original, but if I were to make it again, I might include a sprig or two of herbs for some added nutrients and complexity. It would also be tasty paired with a nice toasted slice of dark rye bread.
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.
Take eggs, and draw the yolks and white through a strainer, And take onions, And Shred them small. And take fair butter or grease, and scarcely cover over the pan therewith. And fry the onions together, then let them fry together a little while. And take them up, And serve them forth so, all broken in a dish.
These fish cakes are based on the osterhlaf (a seafood loaf). Salmon is mentioned by Ælfric (an English abbot, and prolific writer who lived around 955 to 1010) but other fish could be used. These are individual patties rather than one large loaf which is difficult to manage cooking on a modern cooker. The oatmeal gives them a light crunchy texture, quite different from fish cakes made with potato.
This is a standard dish appearing in many variations over the centuries. It makes a lovely side dish, especially with strongly flavoured meats. It was a symbolic dish in winter, a sign that spring would come. It later came to be served as a festival dish on Twelfth Night (5th of January).
This is the original recipe:
‘To make frumente. Tak clene whete & braye yt wel in a morter tyl the holes gon of; seethe it til it breste in water. Nym it up & lat it cole. Tak good broth & swete mylk of kyn or of almand & tempere it therwith. Nym yelkes of eyren rawe & saffroun & cast therto; salt it: lat it naught boyle after the etren ben cast therinne. Messe it forth.’
A Medieval fruit preserving method found on cookit.e2bn.org Dried apple rings were popular in the 16th century, as a way of storing fruit to last for the winter. Dried fruit could be soaked and used in puddings and sauces as needed.These keep very well and still make a nice healthy snack.
Feeling a little worse for wear after ringing in the New Year? Rolling out of bed with a banging headache and a mouth that’s dry as ash? Cringing as you scroll through Facebook and see photos of yourself dancing with a tie around your head at 2am?
Well, as you chug some water, and curse yourself for believing in your drinking and dancing prowess, here are a few hangover cures from days gone by, because people who partied like it was 1399 also needed a little help the morning after.
People have eaten a lot of soup throughout the ages, ever since they had made the first cooking pots that would withstand heat. In Tudor times, it was still the main part of an ordinary person’s diet. It was basically a vegetable soup, flavoured with herbs and thickened with oats.
Ordinary people would not have been able to afford much meat, so they would rely on this soup as their staple diet together with bread and cheese. Occasionally meat bones or fish would be added when available.
Take green peas, and boil them in a pot; And when they are broken, draw the broth a good quantity through a strainer into a pot, And sit it on the fire; and take onions and parsley, and hew them small together, And cast them thereto; And take powder of Cinnamon and pepper and cast thereto, and let boil; And take vinegar and powder of ginger, and cast thereto; And then take Saffron and salt, a little quantity, and cast thereto; And take fair pieces of pandemaine, or else of such tender bread, and cut it in fair morsels, and cast thereto; And serve it so forth.
The girl who runs Let Hem Boyle writes: Powder Fort also called powder forte, poudour fort, strong powder. Spice mixtures was very common in medieval cooking. “Forme of Cury” for example has lots of recipes that calls for powder douce or powder fort spice mixtures.
You will find lots of different versions of powder fort on internet and in books. The medieval recipes doesn’t usually tell the exact measures of the spices used in spice mixtures or what kind of spices to use. One way to look for the perfect combination of these spice mixtures is to read the recipes and collect the most suitable spices from other recipes in the same source. If you don’t have access to some of the spices, that doesn’t matter!
Mustard was much used by the Romans and later was very popular with the Anglo Saxons. It grew locally and so was cheap. It could be used to makes sauces for meat and fish as well as dressings for salads. It helped to preserve other foods as well as having healthy properties of its own.
The sauces were generally made from a mixture of ground mustard seeds, vinegar, wine and often honey, with spices or other flavourings added according to what people liked.
They could then be stored for several weeks. Mustard’s ‘hotness’ gets less after it is mixed and kept for a few days, which may account for the strength of the sauces often made – which would be much too hot for most of us today.