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Wednesday, April 23, 2014


The Beauty of Emeralds Takes Away the Breath of All Beholders!
Photo by: Lord-Williams
emerald. A precious stone which Villena recommended to be worn in a ring on the ring or baby finger while serving meals or eating as a protection against ills, poison and polluted air. It was thought to ward off evil sorcery. Avenzoar claimed it fortified the mouth and stomach, stopped vomiting and reanimated the system. If poison is swallowed he recommended the weight of nine grains of emerald be embibed in a drink to stop the action of the poison. If worn as a ring it scared away poisonous snakes. See manos, comer con. [Ibn Zuhr/García Sánchez. 1992:123:150; and Villena/Calero. 2002:16:11a]

Friday, April 18, 2014


Avila, Spain Medieval City Walls
Author Showing How Weights Chained to Walls Worked
for People with Scruples!
Photo by: Beatriz Cabrera
escrúpulo, OCast & Port escrópulo, Eng scruple. One scruple weighed one dinar (coin), 1,198 miligrams or 20 wheat grains. See dinero. [ES: Carroll-Mann. Guisados 2-art. Jun 6, 01:96:ftn 12; and Nola/Pérez.1994:82:196]



½ oz cinnamon
1/ 8 oz cloves
1 lb sugar
½ oz ginger

For Dukes with Scruples
(Sugar, Cinnamon, Ginger and Cloves)
Photo by: Lord-Williams
While listing the above ingredients, Nola states that cloves are not included when preparing Duke’s Powder for lords. He continues that ginger can be added “for the ‘passions of the stomach.’”

Concerning apothecaries weights, they are measured in the following manner: one pound is twelve ounces; one ounce, eight drachmas; 1 drachma, three scruples; on the other hand, the clearest way of understanding this is: one drachm weighs three dineros, scruple weighs one dinero, and a scruple is twenty wheat grains.[2]

[1] In her footnote 12 of  ES: Guisados1-art - 6/6/01, Lady Brighid ni Chiarain states that “Barbara Santich suggests that this recipe title is a misnomer, and an indication of Italian influence on Catalan cooking. A very similar blend of spices — minus the sugar -- is found in an anonymous Venetian cookbook of the late 15th century. It is called specie dolce, ‘sweet spices’. Several recipes in that cookbook call for dishes to be topped with sugar and unspecified spices before serving. Santich theorizes that specie dolce was the spice blend, which was sprinkled with the sugar. The Italian name specie dolce, ‘sweet spices’, may have been mangled in translation to become the Catalan polvora de duch, "powder of the duke".

Which came first the chicken or the egg? The 14th C Catalan Sent Soví manuscript recipe #CCXX, p 216 is for “Duke’s Powder,” naming the same ingredients as Nola including one pound sugar and with the addition of galingale and cardemoni (apparently a tropical fruit).

[2] In her footnote 12 of  ES: Guisados1-art - 6/6/01, Lady Brighid ni Chiarain explains: “There seems to have been some differences between Catalan and Castilian measurements. The Libre del Coch specifies that a drachm weighs 2 diners, whereas the Spanish versions say that 3 dineros weigh a drachm. Both sources say that a diner/dinero weighs the same as a scruple.”

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Scorpion Fish Wings Spread
Photo from:divemasterking2000
escórpora, escorpena, escorfeno, escorpina, cabracho, rascacio, L. Scorpaena scorfa (Cast cabracho), Eng large scaled scorpion fish (Mediterranean), S. atlantica (Cast escórpora), Eng scorpion fish (Atlantic) or L. porcus (Cast rascacio), Eng small scaled scorpionfish. The long scaled scorpion fish has up to 45 scales on its lateral line. It can be anywhere from bright red to reddish brown in color. It has a big head. It has venom spinal glands making it very difficult and dangerous to handle.

In the 15th C they were known only in the Mediterranean, living around rocks or at the bottom over sand or mud. With the increase in earth temperatures today they may migrate as far north as Cornwall, England.

The identification of this fish has caused much debate. Pérez claims it was indefinable while Carroll-Mann concludes it is the red scorpion fish. Authors do not agree on the species of this fish. As the red scorpions are telescopic in size they are caught only by mistake in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, it hardly seems likely that it would be mentioned as food.

All three species are similar in appearance. Large-scaled scorpion fish have the tastiest meat, but the stock made with them is even better. Soups produced with the meat of this fish, especially in fishermen’s ports, are famous for their flavour and quality. Puddings and pies also are made with them.  The fish should be boiled. Great care must be taken when cleaning it as it is very bony. Further, although the fish is dead, it is still poisonous until boiled. If one is pricked by it, it could be fatal.

The family name of this fish comes from the Greek “skorpis”, indicating that their poison is as toxic as that of the scorpions of the desert. The spikes on the tail fin are connected to poisonous glands. A sting from these fish causes increasingly excruciating pain around the wound, somewhat like a wasp sting but much worse. During the first hour it increases. The victim suffers nausea, vomiting, fever, vertigo, cold clammy sweating and insomnia. After about an hour, the pain somewhat subsides. The next day the wound becomes insensible, black, tense, thick, hard and gangrenous. Today these stings are treated immediately with antibiotics, in the Middle Ages death was frequent.

A Pity Sea Bass had to be Used
But No one was Poisoned!
Photo by: Lord-Williams
The bodies of the three types of these rockfish are thick and compressed. The heads have spikes and prickles. The eyes are large. Their mouths are oblique, with slender teeth. The colors range from brownish-black to red, orange or yellow, which camouflage them perfectly among the rocks and algae when sedentary or swimming. All eat twice their size in weight daily. The large-scaled scorpion is about 50 cm long, the short-scale 30 cm and the small red scorpion fish about 20 cm. long. The small-scaled and the large-scaled scorpion inhabit the Mediterranean and the Atlantic from England to Senegal. Today, small-scaled scorpions also live in a part of the Black Sea [Corbera. 1996: 128-132; ES: Carroll-Mann. Guisados 2-art. Jun 6, 01:ftn 141; ES: Zammit]



1 c chestnuts
¼ c almonds peeled and fried
3-4 lbs large scale scorpion fish[1]
4 c fresh parsley
4 c mix herbs (basil, oregano and celery leaves were used)
¼ c chopped onion
1 garlic clove mashed
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
¼ c olive oil

Simpler than Making a Salad!
Photo by: Lord-Williams
¼ c raisins with the chestnuts and almonds
juice from1lemon



Make slits like a cross in each chestnut. Roast them in the oven for about ½ hour until the skins open and the insides are tender. Remove from oven. Let cool long enough to skin. Coarsely chop leaving 2 whole chestnuts for garnish.

Peel, fry the almonds and coarsely chop except for a half dozen almonds set aside for garnish.
Nola states that this fish is not good except in casserole or boiled. To roast it, clean and wash it. If thick or large, cut it into pieces.
a Dainty Good Friday Dish for Your King!
Photo by: Lord-Williams

Remove stems from herbs. Put the leaves in a food processor and chop them. Mix them with the onion, garlic, salt, pepper and the olive oil. Smear the bottom of a casserole with half the olive oil. Put the herb mixture in the casserole like a bed. Add the fish. Pour the remaining olive oil over it. Roast uncovered for ½ hr hour until almost done. Cover the fish with almonds, chestnuts and raisins. Sprinkle with juice from one lemon. Return to oven for 5 or 10 minutes until fish is tender.

[1] Sea bass was used, as scorpion fish was not available at this time.

Monday, April 14, 2014


It is Customary to Scald the Dead Animal
With Boiling Water
After Removing or Singing its' Coat
Photo by: Lord-Williams
 to scald in boiling water. [ Ibn Razīn/Granja. 1960:
6:19; Anón/Grewe. 1982:X:69:XI:70:XXXXI:84 etc; Nola. 1989:xv-1:xvi-1:xxii-1; and Nola/Pérez. 1992:196]



2 lbs goat or other meat to be roasted
¼  c grease
1 egg
½  tsp cumin
1 garlic clove mashed
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
½ tsp freshly chopped rosemary

1 c raw almonds
1 c raisins
This Roast is Slit in Half and Spread Out
Photo by: Lord-Williams
¼ c lard 
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves


The original recipe calls for roasting a goat in its skin, which is scalded in boiling water. Today’s palates will find that too strong. It is advisable to use a skinned animal instead. Further, as goat is difficult to find another type of meat may be used. [2]

The Stuffing is Spread on the Meat
Then the Meat is Rolled, Tied and Put on a Spit
Photo by: Lord-Williams
The recipe continues to instruct that the guts of the animal should be removed and it should be stuffed. No ingredients for stuffing are indicated.

For the stuffing: Blanch almonds, peel them and coarsely chop them. Remove seeds from raisins and cut them in half if large. Mix them with 2 tbsp grease, cinnamon and cloves. Stuff the roast with this and tie it closed. 


To attempt to reproduce this recipe, the meat should be roasted on a spit. When tender, add a little salted water and grease it with a stick, covering it to prevent it from burning as is done with pork.[3] When half roasted paint the skin with eggs beaten with seasoning[4] and cover it with a chicken feather[5] as is done with pork.
A Nice Presentation when Carved
Photo by: Lord-Williams

[1] This is the same stuffing as that used in the blog titled enlardar published March 21, 2014.
[2] Beef  was used.
[3] This should be done every ½ hr.
[4] The seasoning is the Medieval Spanish Chef’s addition as they are not specified in the original recipe.
[5] A paintbrush was used.

Friday, April 11, 2014


An Escabeche Served Warm
Photo by: Lord-Williams
OCast escabechye, OCat escabeyg, scabeig, Cat escabey, Hisp Ar al-mujalaal, Ar. assakaŷ (ladle for liquids), Per. Ar. sikbâj, sikbāŷ, (pronounced “iskebech” which means a “vinegared” dish), Eng. escabeche, souse, marinade or pickle sauce to preserve food primarily fried fish. It appears that sikbâj is restricted to pickled meats, while escabeche is the pickle sauce used to preserve any food including vegetables and fish. This was adapted from Persian cookery in Al-Andalus, which in turn is the same process used by Apicius. If chamomile was added, it lacked acidity. When vinegar was not available, acid fruit like apples, quince or pomegranates was added. Today´s equivalent would be fish with tartar sauce.

Turnips preserved in honey and vinegar, with or without myrtle berries or mustard and salt. It should be noted that quince was used in escabeches instead of American products as the tomato today.  

The English had similar marinades but were most noted for chutney (ME compost), a relish or preserve made with honey, vinegar, fruits, root vegetables and spices. See adobo, carne en escabeche, manzanilla and Sent Soví. [Anón/Grewe. 1982:CCII:205-206:CCIII:207:CCIIII:207 etc; Anón/Huici. 1966:43:36-37:103:157:124:194; Apicius/Flower. 1958: I:xxiv:55; Benavides-Barajas. Nueva-Clásica.1995:17; ES: Anon/Perry. Sep 5, 02:22:ftn 11:44:ftn 52:51:ftn 67:63; ES: Nola/Carroll-Mann. Guisados 2-art. Jun 6, 01:ftn 96; Lord. Hispano. May 24, 06; Nola. 1989:lxv-3]

Frying Breaded Fish
Photo by: Lord-Williams


For the escabeche:

1 garlic clove
1 slice of  bread crusts removed
½ c vinegar
12 hazel nuts or 4 walnuts
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
5 tbsp hot water
salt to taste
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg

For the fish:
¾ lb fish filets[1]
salt to taste
¾ c flour
1 egg beaten with  seasoning such as saffron, garlic, ginger, rosemary and cumin
olive oil for frying


A Religious Fish Day Made a Luxury!
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Peel garlic and mash it. Soak bread in vinegar. Put all the ingredients except for the filets, flour and oil for frying in a food processor. Blend well.

Dip fish filets into flour and turn them to cover both sides. Lightly fry them in olive oil. When done remove the filets and excess oil. Add the sauce from the food processor and bring it to a boil. Add more water is necessary.

Taste and rectify if necessary by adding more vinegar and/spices.

Pour this over the fish. The recipe does not indicate whether it is to be served hot, cold or at room temperature

[1] Sea bass was used.