A Goode Soop
May 27, 2015 8:41 AM   Subscribe

Cooking In The Archives: recreating recipes from the Early Modern Peroid (1600s-1800s) in a modern kitchen. Not old enough? Then try some authentically medieval recipes.
posted by The Whelk (41 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
 
STEAK.
Take 1 good Steak and Peper it.
Peper it squarely.
Sizzle the Meat
posted by griphus at 8:48 AM on May 27, 2015 [27 favorites]


Nice counterpoint to this recent post. I'll have to try some of these.
posted by TedW at 8:49 AM on May 27, 2015


♪ We dine well here in Camelot, we eat ham and jam and Spam a lot ♪
posted by Fizz at 8:49 AM on May 27, 2015 [9 favorites]


I made some mead once, from a (basically) authentic recipe, but I didn't know how mead was supposed to taste, so I thought I had botched the job horribly -- the undrinkable mess that resulted was clearly a failure.

Found out later that I just don't like mead. :)
posted by Mogur at 8:53 AM on May 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


No joke griphus, whenever I think of a medieval recipe these days I picture the phrase It muſt sizzle!
posted by pziemba at 8:57 AM on May 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


griphus: "Sizzle the Meat"

. o ° (that's griphus. I know him.)
posted by boo_radley at 9:09 AM on May 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Still not old enough? Pass the garum.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:14 AM on May 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


Great finde.

Added to feedly.
posted by notyou at 9:18 AM on May 27, 2015


Now that I'm done riffing on stoned cats eating steak au poivre, I would heck of eat this orange custard pie. My gut instinct was "what, you can't make pie out of oranges", and then I thought about key lime and lemon meringue pie and then I was open to the idea and it looks amazing.
posted by boo_radley at 9:20 AM on May 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Maccarony cheese. I think I might just try this. I just need to find a salamander.
posted by Kabanos at 9:23 AM on May 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Does anyone have a recommendation for a good at-at-glance resource out there that shows all the different variations of weight/volume over time and region of common cooking measurement terms converted to the modern standards?

I assume those who did the research on these recipes included such calculations the best they could already. I may have missed any mention of it on the site, but I did not see one, and it would make a very interesting addition to the site's dictionary of terms as well.
posted by chambers at 9:23 AM on May 27, 2015


How did medieval cooks figure out oven temperatures though? I would normally assume it was a lot of trial runs, but who could possibly afford the waste of ruined meals?
posted by poffin boffin at 9:27 AM on May 27, 2015


Hat tip to a man of twists and turns who pointed me to the first blog.
posted by The Whelk at 9:27 AM on May 27, 2015


man am I craving orange puding and sack wine now
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:34 AM on May 27, 2015


Maccarony cheese. I think I might just try this. I just need to find a salamander.

You can also substitute gecko.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:34 AM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


How did medieval cooks figure out oven temperatures though? I would normally assume it was a lot of trial runs, but who could possibly afford the waste of ruined meals?

A lot of timing and heating stuff was rules of thumb, water dripped on a skillet to the distressingly common "hold your hand on the oven til it almost burns or you count to ten" type stuff, but there's also a LOT of recipes that just don't require exact temperature - look at all those soups and stews -- and I imagine a lot more eating of anything regardless of how it turned out.
posted by The Whelk at 9:35 AM on May 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't own a spit dog. Can I substitute with a child?
posted by joelf at 10:12 AM on May 27, 2015


How did medieval cooks figure out oven temperatures though? I would normally assume it was a lot of trial runs, but who could possibly afford the waste of ruined meals?

Ovens didn't get super-hot back then in the first place, I'd wager, because you're dealing with a cruder technology - and the way you adjusted temperatures was by moving something either closer to or further away from the flame. So this is probably something you could have adjusted "on the fly" while it was cooking - does it look like it's getting a little too brown a little too fast? Move it back a scoche. Is it taking too long? Move it closer.

Also, there are a lot of soups and stews and such, which are kind of hard to mess up, and are kind of flexible when it comes to being "done". A soup and/or stew are technically "done" when everything is soft and hot, but if you let it sit longer it gets yummier - but if you eat it right away it's still good. So there was a broad definition of "done", so the oven temperature could also be a little vague.

And then there are some things that you can tell whether they're done by just looking at them, so you could probably just throw it in the oven and then keep an eye on it, and if you had a hot oven it just got done sooner, is all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:14 AM on May 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm also strangely reminded of a quote from the recipe for Gumbo in Terry Pratchett's Nanny Ogg's Cookbook: "Gumbo is one of those dishes, like stew, where it's ridiculous to have a recipe. You just make it."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:16 AM on May 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


To add to what The Whelk just said, skilled fire tending was (and still is, of course) vital to proper cooking and a multitude of fire-related activities like blacksmithing, glass blowing, and pottery. There were all sorts of rhyming mnemonics about what wood to use when, what color the coals should be, the different temperatures copper vs cast iron pots and such need, etc.

This is all from a very vague recollection, though, from when I was reading up on blacksmithing when I was just a beginner 25 years ago, and there were several references to these cooking rhymes. I wish I could remember what the book was, or any of the rhymes at all, but they're out there somewhere.
posted by chambers at 10:19 AM on May 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well, if you had a good salamander, you could just tell it how hot to make the flames it was emitting.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:21 AM on May 27, 2015


BBC's The Kitchen Cabinet often features food historian Annie Gray, who often offers up perfectly peculiar recipes from the past that I immediately want to try. This week, she suggested a sort of ale bread pudding or beer-soaked grilled cheese sandwich that was apparently quite popular in old taverns among gamblers, so I immediately made one for myself.

Now all I want to eat is old-fashioned tavern food.
posted by maxsparber at 10:32 AM on May 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


Wow, love this. Thank you!

That "Maccarony Cheese" does look tasty and simple. No milk or white sauce!

And the "Herb Soop" has me looking up when the next farmer's market is open...
posted by dnash at 10:50 AM on May 27, 2015


My father has a cookbook of English cookery that is adapted from much, much older sources. The author claims that one of these old sources had a recipe for roast pork that started off "First chase thy Pigge about the yard until he doth lie down."
posted by KathrynT at 11:11 AM on May 27, 2015 [9 favorites]


This "Cheap Soupe" is remarkably similar to something my Mom always used to make, which in turn was based on a popular dish at a local Kansas City restaurant called "The Plaza III," where it was known as "Steak Soup."
posted by dnash at 11:39 AM on May 27, 2015


Still not old enough? Pass the garum.

Still not old enough? 3800 year old Sumerian beer recipe.
posted by jedicus at 11:57 AM on May 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


I watched one of those shows where people live for a while as people would have lived "back then". It was set in England in the 16th century.

They had a bread oven, and they'd build a fire inside it to get the stone lining hot, then sweep out the ashes and bake the bread. They closed the front by propping up stone slabs and filling the gaps with bread dough. The cook just stuck her hand in and tested the temperature by feel, but also knew that if the fire was of x size, and allowed to burn for y amount of time, the temperature would be right.

This method is apparently where the term "upper crust" came from: they sliced the bread horizontally. The lower crust would be dirty with ashes, and not fit for the lords table, where the upper crust was nice and clean, appropriate to be fed to the lord and master.
posted by disclaimer at 12:54 PM on May 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oven temp: My mother learned to cook on an old wood stove as a child, and she said that you learned how the correct temperature felt by sticking your hand in the oven. After a while you just knew when it felt hot enough for different foods.
posted by mermayd at 3:08 PM on May 27, 2015


disclaimer, was this the series you saw? I love that thing.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 4:31 PM on May 27, 2015


My father has a cookbook of English cookery that is adapted from much, much older sources. The author claims that one of these old sources had a recipe for roast pork that started off "First chase thy Pigge about the yard until he doth lie down."

So that the built up lactic acid tenderized the meat, I wonder?
posted by jamjam at 5:23 PM on May 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Salamander-broiler, I had the Roman Maccaroni for dinner, want to make that cherry tart with rose petals and ricotta. They seem to love ginger. I would also like to try the whole baked quinces in crust, it seemed like the recipe called for good ham and bone marrow to hold together the sugar and spice stuffing. Wow those quinces sound incredible.
posted by Oyéah at 8:57 PM on May 27, 2015


According to a cheap edition of Jane Austen's Emma I just read, most English families of the period didn't actually have ovens: if they wanted something baked they'd send it out. In fact, in some parts of Europe it had been illegal for peasants to have their own ovens!

Almost all homes have ovens nowadays, but that doesn't imply that our ancestors would have wanted one. Even today, ovens are most useful for risen baked goods like bread and cakes. But chemical leavening agents like baking soda weren't widely used until quite recently, and roasting was done on a spit or rack or just before a fire. Their main use for an oven was things like leavened bread which need an even temperature, and slow-cooked dishes that are wasteful to prepare on an open fire. But most historical and traditional bread recipes are for flatbreads, which can be baked on a griddle, on hot ashes, or on the inside wall of a chimney-like tandoor/tanur. So, while masonry ovens were certainly used, they can't have been as useful as their present ubiquity implies.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:13 PM on May 27, 2015


Yeah, food production is one of those things that really, really scales well and makes sense to have centralized kitchens - having your own oven in every single house is kind of new thing, you'd have carveries, delis, kitchen shops (where you could bring your own soup tureen or rent one) , and other groupish ovens for hire, most people at Versallies palace had take away roatissare chicken and vegetable broth for dinner.
posted by The Whelk at 9:22 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Versailles sounds unbelievably fascinating. I wish I knew more about it, but most of what I know actually comes from reading stories set in Versailles.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:03 AM on May 28, 2015


the distressingly common "hold your hand on the oven til it almost burns or you count to ten" type stuff

That was how my family was taught to make yogurt by my great-grandmother (or "Big Yiayia", as we called her). Since thermometers weren't on-hand, the way to tell the yogurt was the right temperature was to put your index finger in; you should be able to count to ten before it hurts enough to pull it out.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:32 AM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I literally can't tell if that's a joke or not.
posted by maxsparber at 8:38 AM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


It is 100% real I would never joke about yogurt
posted by Greg Nog at 10:42 AM on May 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Aren't you on your honeymoon?
posted by boo_radley at 11:39 AM on May 29, 2015


the correct term for a greek is YogurtMoon
posted by Greg Nog at 4:45 PM on May 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Just like that Echo and the Bunnymen song!
posted by boo_radley at 10:24 AM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


it's on the same greatest hits comp as Siouxsie And The Banshees' "The Yogurt Jar"
posted by Greg Nog at 10:28 AM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


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