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From the desks of Vatel, La Varenne, and Company


C_Ruark
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OK, I have made the first dish from Charles Perry's new translation of the 13th century Kitab al-Tabikh (The Book of Dishes), more commonly known as "A Baghdad Cookery Book". It is a very important work as it influenced the food of the Middle-East and Europe for hundreds of years. Todays culinary movements will have to survive to arond 2300 to make a similar impression.

The recipe I decided on was Limuniyya (Lemon dish), as I have a personal like of sour dishes an this particular dish is one that was copied into early Europian culinary texts.

Basically it is a very mild stew of lamb and veg, flavoured with spices and thickened with almond milk and mastic. I haven't cooked with mastic before, so I was quite surprised (stupidly) by its effect on the stew. It is a famous thickening agent, but I wasn't expecting the alteration it made to the mouthfeel of this dish. Essential it made the dish feel 'modern' as so many processed foods are thickened with similar gums. I know that mastic is now rarely used in Arabic savoury cooking, has anybody come across it's use?

The spices from the top clockwise: Ginger, coriander, mastic, cinnamon (actually cassia), black pepper.

gallery_1643_978_187390.jpg

The finished dish.

gallery_1643_978_778028.jpg

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Looks wonderful!

I must get around to trying this dish as I have very much enjoyed both the medieval Spanish & medieval Italian dishes that were copied from it. Of course it's hard to go wrong with lemon chicken isn't it :rolleyes:

I have used mastic (also in early middle eastern cookery) exactly once.

I found it just disgusting tasting - along the lines of asafoetida/hing only stronger. One friend said it reminded her of pine-sol it was that bad...

I should add however that our mastic was in these little round amberish grains and probably older than rocks. Yours besides being a much larger piece also looks much lighter in color which makes me wonder if mastic perhaps goes off as it ages?

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...
eGullet member Lisa Grossman (Balmagowry) co-wrote a historical recipe book based upon meals/food mentioned in the Patrick O'Brian series of Aubrey/Maturin novels.  The setting of the books is in the British Navy in the early 19th century. 

It's a fun read with some very odd dishes.  I gave it as a gift to a friend who  actually made a very bland cornmeal dish from the book. 

"Lobscouse and Spotted Dog "

Toliver,

Thanks for the book title. It's on my shopping list.

Thanks!

~ C

Edited by C_Ruark (log)
"There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic." - Bourdain; interviewed on dcist.com
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Catching up with this thread made me remember that a few years ago I transcribed Edward Kidders "Receipts of Pastry and cookery for the use of his scholars", which is circa 1720-40. It was done from the scanned pages of the student manuscript copy at U.Penn.

It has been languishing on my hard drive, although I always intended to make it available to anyone studying it or just interested.

I have now given it its own home at http://www.kidderereceiptsofpastry.blogspot.com/

Edited by The Old Foodie (log)

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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A very interesting book, I have a facsimile  of the book, I especially like the pies and the illustrations of what they should be shaped like. See Ivan Day link for more information.

Ivan Day

Adam: Thanks for the link to Ivan Day's site -- it's remarkable.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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A very interesting book, I have a facsimile  of the book,

Ivan Day

First, I love books - but for research, some electronic searchability is very efficient. Best is to have both.

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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  • 2 weeks later...
Catching up with this thread made me remember that a few years ago I transcribed Edward Kidders "Receipts of Pastry and cookery for the use of his scholars", which is circa 1720-40.  It was done from the scanned pages of the student manuscript copy at U.Penn.

It has been languishing on my hard drive, although I always intended to make it available to anyone studying it or just interested.

I have now given it its own home at http://www.kidderereceiptsofpastry.blogspot.com/

Brilliant post Janet!

Thanks,

~C

"There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic." - Bourdain; interviewed on dcist.com
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You probably already know <a href = "http://staff-www.uni-marburg.de/~gloning/kobu.htm">Thomas Gloning's site</a> on Cookery and dietetic texts from the Middle Ages to 1800.

Transcriptions of some good stuff there, in several languages.

Have any of you food-history experts and enthusiasts been over to the thread on <a href = "http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89895&hl=" >Shoo-fly potatoes</a> ?

They seem to be a mystery - but there are an awful lot of you eGulleters in the USA, so you should be able to tell me some more about them!

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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I've just completed the recipe archive for my blog - a motley lot of recipes from over the centuries, many from sources that you will be familiar with. If you feel like browsing they are on the Companion site to the "real" blog <a href="http://companiontotheoldfoodie.blogspot.com/2006/07/recipe-archive.html">HERE</a>

Edited by The Old Foodie (log)

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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I've just completed the recipe archive for my blog - a motley lot of recipes from over the centuries, many from sources that you will be familiar with. If you feel like browsing they are on the Companion site to the "real" blog <a href="http://companiontotheoldfoodie.blogspot.com/2006/07/recipe-archive.html">HERE</a>

You are a Saint, J! Many thanks (again). I'll ante up, hopefully, soon.

~ C

Edited by C_Ruark (log)
"There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic." - Bourdain; interviewed on dcist.com
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I was having fun rummaging through the recipes you've posted & came accross one of my favorites from Digby (1669):

Savoury Tosted or Melted Cheese

Cut pieces of quick, fat, rich, well tasted cheese, (as the best of Brye, Cheshire, &c. or sharp thick Cream-Cheese) into a dish of thick beaten melted Butter, that hath served for Sparages or the like, or pease, or other boiled Sallet, or ragout of meat, or gravy of Mutton: and, if you will, Chop some of the Asparages among it, or slices of Gambon of Bacon, or fresh-collops, or Onions, or Sibboulets, or Anchovis, and set all this to melt upon a Chafing-dish of Coals, and stir all well together, to Incorporate them; and when all is of an equal consistence, strew some gross White-Pepper on it, and eat it with tosts or crusts of White-bread. You may scorch it at the top with a hot Fire-Shovel.

This recipe is one of the best "leftovers" dishes I know. Basically an early fondue, it's perfect for using up little bits of cheese that are lying around the house. You toss in some bacon, maybe a little sauteed spinach, whatever you've got & presto yummy cheesy goodness on toast. :wub:

Here is just one possible variation:

Digby's Savory Melted Cheese

1/2 lb Cheshire cheese sliced/crumbled into smaller bits for easy melting

7 tbsp. Butter

1 lb fresh asparagus - break off the woody bits at the bottom

1/4 c. chopped onion

1 pinch white pepper

1/2 loaf of crusty French bread

-place half of the butter in your fondue pot, add the chopped onion followed a minute or two later by the asparagus.

-sauté' the asparagus and onion for two more minutes (asparagus should not be too soggy)

- pull out asparagus (not onion) & set aside* or eat now.

-add the rest of the butter and the cheese, and stir constantly over a low heat, melting the cheese, until you reach a smooth consistency.

-sprinkle on a pinch of white pepper.

-meanwhile chop bread into either fondue sized chunks or into 1x1x4"ish strips (assuming 4" as the height of your bread) for hand dipping.

-Dip the bread (with a fondue fork or by hand like nachos) into the cheese sauce & enjoy.

Serves four. (Thin with more butter if you prefer a less thick cheese goo.)

*dip in finished cheese goo - very tasty!

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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You are a Saint, J! Many thanks (again). I'll ante up, hopefully, soon.

~ C

Hmmm. Not so sure about wanting to be a Saint. Unless saints get unlimited chocolate and champagne in Heaven, in which case, I'll agree.

Seriously, this food history is fun, isn't it? I'm always happy to find historic recipes of a particular kind for any of you - I'm not sure what sort of resources you all have. I have access to EEBO and the Thomson-Gale database of 18th C books as well as a goodly collection of pdfs, online links, facsimiles, and dirty old books.

I was having fun rummaging through the recipes you've posted & came accross one of my favorites from Digby (1669):
Savoury Tosted or Melted Cheese

Cut pieces of quick, fat, rich, well tasted cheese, (as the best of Brye, Cheshire, &c. or sharp thick Cream-Cheese) into a dish of thick beaten melted Butter, that hath served for Sparages or the like, or pease, or other boiled Sallet, or ragout of meat, or gravy of Mutton: and, if you will, Chop some of the Asparages among it, or slices of Gambon of Bacon, or fresh-collops, or Onions, or Sibboulets, or Anchovis, and set all this to melt upon a Chafing-dish of Coals, and stir all well together, to Incorporate them; and when all is of an equal consistence, strew some gross White-Pepper on it, and eat it with tosts or crusts of White-bread. You may scorch it at the top with a hot Fire-Shovel.

This recipe is one of the best "leftovers" dishes I know. Basically an early fondue, it's perfect for using up little bits of cheese that are lying around the house. You toss in some bacon, maybe a little sauteed spinach, whatever you've got & presto yummy cheesy goodness on toast. :wub:

Here is just one possible variation:

Digby's Savory Melted Cheese

1/2 lb Cheshire cheese sliced/crumbled into smaller bits for easy melting

7 tbsp. Butter

1 lb fresh asparagus - break off the woody bits at the bottom

1/4 c. chopped onion

1 pinch white pepper

1/2 loaf of crusty French bread

-place half of the butter in your fondue pot, add the chopped onion followed a minute or two later by the asparagus.

-sauté' the asparagus and onion for two more minutes (asparagus should not be too soggy)

- pull out asparagus (not onion) & set aside* or eat now.

-add the rest of the butter and the cheese, and stir constantly over a low heat, melting the cheese, until you reach a smooth consistency.

-sprinkle on a pinch of white pepper.

-meanwhile chop bread into either fondue sized chunks or into 1x1x4"ish strips (assuming 4" as the height of your bread) for hand dipping.

-Dip the bread (with a fondue fork or by hand like nachos) into the cheese sauce & enjoy.

Serves four. (Thin with more butter if you prefer a less thick cheese goo.)

*dip in finished cheese goo - very tasty!

Eden - that variation sounds fantastic. Anything with spruegrass and extra butter sounds good to me. I'm always mildly surprised that modern chefs dont take more inspiration from the past.

One of my many, many projects has a title something like "The almost certainly true history of Welsh Rarebit". So many projects, so little time.... I'm sure you all live the same story.

Janet

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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