Golden Kedgeree / Gyllen Kedgeree

A British/Indian recipe found in “Robert Carrier’s
Kitchen Cook Book” published in 1980

Golden Kedgeree / Gyllen Kedgeree

In India, Kedgeree (among other English spellings) usually refers to any of a large variety of legume-and-rice dishes. These dishes are made with a spice mixture designed for each recipe and either dry-toasted or fried in oil before inclusion.

This dish moved to Victorian Britain and changed dramatically. In the West, kedgeree consists of cooked, flaked fish (traditionally smoked haddock), boiled rice, parsley, hard-boiled eggs, curry powder, butter or cream and occasionally sultanas.

I know I have posted at least two recipes for British kedgeree before, but there are great variations to the recipes for this dish and Robert Carrier’s is a very delicious one –Ted

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Medieval Monday – Savoury Rice Pudding / Velsmakende Rispudding

A rice recipe from 1390 found on theguardian.com
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Rice might be commonplace today, but once it was an expensive import found only on the tables of kings. This dish – unlike its modern cousin – is unsweetened and cooked with beef broth

Cookery writer Dorothy Hartley wrote in Food in England (1954) that “East End women make a rice pudding using broth … when cooked it is finished under the joint of Mutton.” This is very similar to the “Ryse of Flesh” recipe found in The Forme of Cury (1390):

Take Ryse and waishe hem clene. And do hem in erthen pot with gode broth and lat hem seeþ wel. Afterward take Almaund mylke and do þer to. And colour it wiþ safroun an salt, an messe forth.

The Forme of Cury, ed. Samual Pegge, c.1390

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Rice á la Soeur Nightingale / Ris á la Soeur Nightingale

A great breakfast recipe found on yourhomemagazine.co.uk
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NPG x82368; Florence NightingaleFlorence Nightingale was a statistician and social reformer who later became recognised as the founder of modern nursing. Popularly known as the ‘Lady with the Lamp’, Nightingale dedicated her life to helping wounded soldiers during the Crimean War.

Florence Nightingale enjoyed food, and it became one of her few pleasures when she began to suffer from ill health later in life. She was particularly fond of curry, which was the inspiration for this particular breakfast recipe developed in memory of Florence by Chef Charles Elme Francatelli.

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Medieval Monday – 5 foods You (probably) Didn’t Know Were Being Eaten in the Middle Ages

An article by freelance writer George Dobbs
found on historyextra.com
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Roast boars and flagons of wine might be what most of us (at least fans of René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo like me) conjure up when we think of medieval cookery. But contemporary sources suggest that our ancestors enjoyed a wide variety of cuisine, and were adventurous in their tastes, too.

Here is an article where freelance writer George Dobbs reveals five examples of commonplace courtly dishes that wouldn’t look too out of place on your dinner table today.

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Sweet and sour

Sweet and sour rabbit is one of the more curious dishes included in Maggie Black’s The Medieval Cookbook. Found in a collection of 14th-century manuscripts called the Curye on Inglish, it includes sugar, red wine vinegar, currants, onions, ginger and cinnamon (along with plenty of “powdour of peper”) to produce a sticky sauce with more than a hint of the modern Chinese takeaway.

The recipe probably dates as far back as the Norman Conquest, when the most surprising ingredient for Saxons would have been rabbit, only recently introduced to England from continental Europe.

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Pasta

In the same manuscript we find instructions for pasta production, with fine flour used to “make therof thynne foyles as paper with a roller, drye it hard and seeth it in broth”. This was known as ‘losyns’, and a typical dish involved layering the pasta with cheese sauce to make another English favourite: lasagne.

Sadly the lack of tomatoes meant there was no rich bolognese to go along with the béchamel, but it was still a much-loved dish, and was served at the end of meals to help soak up the large amount of alcohol you were expected to imbibe – much as an oily kebab might today.

In Thomas Austin’s edition of Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books, you can find several other pasta recipes, including ravioli and Lesenge Fries – a sugar and saffron doughnut, similar to the modern Italian feast day treats such as frappe or castagnole. The full edition, including hundreds of medieval recipes, can be found online through the University of Michigan database.

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Rice dishes

Rice was grown in Europe as early as the 8th century by Spanish Moors. By the 15th century it was produced across Spain and Italy, and exported to all corners of Europe in vast quantities. The brilliant recipe resource www.medievalcookery.com shows the wide variety of ways in which rice was used, including three separate medieval references to a dish called blancmager.

Rather than the pudding you might expect, blancmager was actually a soft rice dish, combining chicken or fish with sugar and spices. Due to its bland nature, it was possibly served to invalids as a restorative.

There were also sweet rice dishes, including rice drinks and a dish called prymerose, which combined honey, almonds, primroses and rice flour to make a thick rice pudding.

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Pasties

Wrapping food in pastry was commonplace in medieval times. It meant that meat could be baked in stone ovens without being burnt or tarnished by soot, while also forming a rich, thick gravy.

Pie crusts were elaborately decorated to show off the status of the host, and diners would often discard it to get to the filling. However, there were also pastry dishes intended to be eaten as a whole. In The Goodman of Paris, translated into English by Eileen Power, we find a recipe for cheese and mushroom pasties, and we’re even given instruction on how to pick our ingredients, with “mushrooms of one night… small, red inside and closed at the top” being the most suitable.

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Candy

Subtleties are a famous medieval culinary feature. The term actually encompasses the notion of entertainment with food as well as elaborate savoury dishes, but it’s most often used to refer to lavish constructions of almond and sugar that were served at the end of the meal.

These weren’t the only way to indulge a sweet tooth, however. Maggie Black describes a recipe in the Curye on Inglish that combines pine nuts with sugar, honey and breadcrumbs to give a chewy candy. And long before it was a health food, almond milk was a commonplace drink at medieval tables.

So what have we learned? From just a few examples it’s easy to see that, despite technological restrictions, cookery of this period wasn’t necessarily unskilled or unpalatable. It’s true that a cursory glance over recipe collections reveals odd dishes such as gruel and compost, which look about as appetising as their names suggest. But for every grim oddity there were many more meals that still sound mouthwatering today. In fact, many of our modern favourites may have roots in medieval kitchens.

George Dobbs is a freelance writer
who specialises in literature and history.