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Friday, October 24, 2014

GARBANZOS WITH 13TH C HISPANO-ARAB RECIPE FOR CHICKPEAS

Fresh Chickpeas
Photo from Katherine Martinelli
OCast. garuanzos, garvanços, chicharo (in Roman times) Cat ciurons, L. Cicer arietinium, Ar. himmaş, humaiş (little chickpeas), MEng chyches, Eng. chickpeas. They grow best in predominantly muddy areas with plenty of sun. The Arabs brought them to Spain from the Orient, supposedly to the city of Cartagena in southwestern Spain.

Unlike the Romans, who laughed at anyone eating them, the Spaniards are said to have incorporated the chickpea readily into their cuisine “to keep the wife at home.” It was thought that chickpeas augmented sexuality by increasing the multiplication of sperms, maternal milk and menstrual periods, which of course left the wife very busy indeed.

Although the 13th C Hispano-Arab cookbook refers to it as an item only eaten by the poor, Arabs refuted this theory recalling the legend in “The Perfumed Gardens.” There, Abu el- Heidja in a single night “deflowered” eight virgins after a dinner of meat, onions, chickpeas and camel milk. Fadalat, the other  surviving 13th C Hispano-Arab culinary manuscript, provides three recipes for chickpeas.

The dried chickpea, being as hard as a bullet, is not edible until it has soaked overnight in water and then cooked for a long period of time. Reputedly the best chickpeas in Spain are those with brown specks and the tastiest are those from Valdeviejas, a town adjacent to Astorga. Those from Quintanilla de Somoza and Piedralba de San Cristobal (Leon) are reportedly as soft as pork fat once boiled briskly. In Astorga, highly regarded are those from Manjarín and Valle Oscuro, which are grown in predominately muddy soil. Further, planting and harvesting must be taken into account for the chickpea to “have a nice face.”

Dried Chickpeas
Photo by: Lord-Williams
There is a proverb in La Maluenga: “On St. Mark’s Day (April 25th), the chickpea is not born or sown”. It is planted between the middle of January and the later part of April, before St. Mark’s Day. Harvesting commences in the beginning of May. The chickpeas served with cocido are brought to the table in separate earthenware dish in Leon but elsewhere in Spain all the ingredients are served on the same platter.[1] Spanish Jewish Sabbath stews frequently included chickpeas.

In England, chickpeas are planted in September and October to prevent frosts from hurting the plant. Generally, they are boiled although there does exist an English medieval recipe called chyches, which calls for roasting chickpeas in ashes and then boiling them with spices, saffron, garlic and a little oil.

Chickpeas are used for fodder as well as human food as in southern Europe, Africa and Asia.  See cocido, cocido maragato and  puré de garbanzos. [Ares. “Comidas.” 1994: 85-86; Camba. 1995:46; Curye. 1985:73:114:178; ES: Benavides-Barajas. “Cocina.” Sep 29. 01; ES: FAO ¨Ch 28.¨Feb 2, 98; Gázquez. Cocina. 2002:67; Montoro/Ciceri. 1991:201:l.48; and Nola/Iranzo. 1982:169]

RECIPE FOR DRIED CHICKPEAS ADAPTED FROM IBN RAZÍN/MARIN 
SECCIÓN NOVENA, CAPÍTULO SEGUNDO, SOBRE LOS PLATOS DE GARBANZOS #2. RECETA DE GARBANZOS SECOS, p 280

Boiling Chickpeas
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Ingredients

1 c dried chickpeas
1 onion chopped
1 tsp white pepper corns
6 sprigs cilantro
1 tsp mashed saffron
1 tsp murri[2]
¼- ½ c vinegar

Preparation 

Wash chickpeas and put them in water to soak over night. The next day, strain and rinse the chickpeas. Put them in a pot and fill it with enough water to be 2” above the chickpeas. Add the onion. Put the pepper corns and cilantro in a spice bag. Close it tightly and put it in the pot.  Dilute mashed saffron in a little water and add it to the pot.

A Universal Dish for All - Jews, Christians and Muslims
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Bring it to a boil and simmer for ½ hr or longer depending on the chickpeas. When tender strain and discard the water and spice bag. Put the chickpeas back in the pot and add murri and vinegar. Mix well, cover and let sit covered for 15 minutes.

Taste for vinegar. Dependig on the strength of the vinegar used and personal tastes the amount can be adjusted by adding more vinegar or water to delute it if too strong. Served in a bowl.

Lime vinegar can be used instead of common vinegar and onion.


[1] See the three blogs titled Cocido published between March 20, 2013 – March 25, 2013 for récipes.
[2] See blog published August 25 2011 titled almorí for recipe.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

GARAM MASALA WITH THE MEDIEVAL SPANISH CHEF'S BASIC RECIPE - ESSENTIAL IN MEDIEVAL SPANISH COOKERY

Cinnamon Stick, pepper corns, mace, cloves and cumin
Basic spices for Garam Marsala
Photo by: Lord-Williams
OCast pólvera dulce (sweet powder or sweet ground spices), OCat pólvores de duc, Hindu garam masala (from garam ["hot"] and masala [mix]), Marrocco ras-al-hanut, Eng garam masala.  By the 15th century, it was known in Catalonia, Valencia, the Balearic Islands and Napoles (then under the rule of Aragon). It is believed that it was also recorded an anonymous Venetian cookbook from the late 15th century where they are identified as specie dolce (sweet spices).  

Although now bought in prepared form in supermarkets, any wealthy medieval household it could make it by finely grinding spices. Each family had its own recipe but basically it is a mixture of cardamom seeds, a cinnamon stick and black pepper, cumin, cloves and a pinch of nutmeg. It can be stored in an airtight container up two months. Sugar could be added. Today, chili and paprika may be added. It is used to season meats and vegetables. It is often sprinkled over a dish before serving.

Nola gives two recipes for this spice mixture. Although Nola titles the first one Poluoza de duque  Pérez changed the title to:  Especias de ipocras, “ is basically a garam masala variation used when in making hipprocas with  ½ red wine and ½ white wine white, see hiprocrás. Spices include cinnamon, cloves, ginger and sugar. The second recipe, which is titled Poluoza de duque de otra calls cinnamon, cloves, sugar and ginger.

Garam Masala Spices Ground
Photo by: Lond-Williams
Hieatt points out that this is an example of how people in medieval times did not “drown” food in spices. Very little of each ingredient is used and measurements were dependent of the dish being prepared. It must not be forgotten that spices were for the rich and even for them, they were expensive. Further, it was considered an art to season food is to enhance the taste. Drowning it with spices any dish from any period in history. 

[Anón/Grewe. 1982:CCXX:216: Apè III:236ES: Carroll-Mann. Guisados 2-art. Jun 6, 01: ftn 9; ES: Fàbrega. Jan 20, 12; Glos. May 23 03; ES: Lord-Williams. Medieval. Cardomomo. Aug 16, 12; ES: Lord-Williams. Medeival. Escrúpulo. April 18, 2014; ES: Wikipedia “Garam Masala.” Oct 9, 14; “Glossary.” The Congo.  Dec 27, 03; Hieatt. Pleyn.1976:xix; Nola.1989:xiii-1:xiii-2; and Nola/Pérez. 1994:185:191:206]

ONE OF THE MEDIEVAL SPANISH CHEF’S BASIC GARAM MASALA RECIPES

Ingredients

Garam Masala Sprinkled on Beef Before Serving
Photo by: Lord-Williams
1 tsp cardamom seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 tso white pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg

Preparation

Grind all the spices together. Store in an airthight container. Use for seasoning meats and vegetables. This will keep at room temperature for two months.




GARAM MASALA WITH A BASIC RECIPE

Possible Spices for Garam Masala:
Cinnamon, Long Pepper, Nutmeg, Cloves and Cumin
Photo by: Lord-Williams
OCast pólvera dulce (sweet powder or sweet ground spices), OCat pólvores de duc, Hindu garam masala (from garam ["hot"] and masala [mix]), Marrocco ras-al-hanut (top of the shop, meaning mixture of the best spices a seller has to offer), Eng garam masala.  By the 15th century, it was known in Catalonia, Valencia, the Balearic Islands and Napoles (then under the rule of Aragon). It is believed that it was also recorded an anonymous Venetian cookbook from the late 15th century where they are identified as specie dolce (sweet spices).  

Although now bought in prepared form in supermarkets, any wealthy medieval household it could make it by finely grinding spices. Each family had its own recipe but basically it is a mixture of cardamom seeds, a cinnamon stick and black pepper, cumin, cloves and a pinch of nutmeg. It can be stored in an airtight container up two months. Sugar could be included. Today, chili and paprika may be added. It is used to season meats and vegetables. It is often sprinkled over a dish before serving. When frying breaded onion rings, add a teaspoon of garam masala just before removing the end of cooking time for a real treat!

Ground Garam Masala to Keep on Hand
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Nola gives two recipes for this spice mixture. Although Nola titles the first one Poluoza de duque  Pérez changed the title to:  Especias de ipocras. “ Basically a garam masala variation used when in making hipprocas with  ½ red wine and ½ white wine, see hiprocrás. Spices include cinnamon, cloves, ginger and sugar. The second recipe, which is titled Poluoza de duque de otra calls cinnamon, cloves, sugar and ginger. as well

Hieatt points out that this is an example of how people in medieval times did not “drown” food in spices. Very little of each ingredient is used and measurements were dependent of the dish being prepared. It must not be forgotten that spices were for the rich and even for them, they were expensive. Further, it was considered an art to season food to enhance the taste. There was a protocol for adding one spice at a time to "build" garam malasa. Not all the spices were dumbed into a food processor as today. They consisted of gringing one indredient or all separately and then combining them little by tittle to the flavor the right touch. Drowning foods is a misconception of the Middle Ages. "Too many cooks spoil the pot" and too many spices ruin it no matter what the period in history. 

[Anón/Grewe. 1982:CCXX:216: Apè III:236;
ES: Carroll-Mann. Guisados 2-art. Jun 6, 01: ftn 9; ES: Fàbrega. Jan 20, 12; Glos. May 23 03; ES: Lord-Williams. Medieval. Cardomomo. Aug 16, 12; ES: Lord-Williams. Medeival. Escrúpulo. April 18, 2014; ES: Wikipedia “Garam Masala.” Oct 9, 14; “Glossary.” The Congo.  Dec 27, 03; Hieatt. Pleyn.1976:xix; Nola.1989:xiii-1:xiii-2; and Nola/Pérez. 1994:185:191:206]

ONE OF THE MEDIEVAL SPANISH CHEF’S BASIC GARAM MASALA RECIPES

Ingredients

1 tsp cardamom seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 tso white pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg

Preparation

Grind all the spices together. Store in an airthight container. Use for seasoning meats and vegetables. This will keep at room temperature for two months.




Monday, October 20, 2014

GAÑIVETE WITH 13TH C RECIPE FOR BOILED AND FRIED CARROTS


canif1
Photo from: Dominique Montestier
Fr. canif, ganivet, canivet, Eng. penknife, pocketknife, paring knife, a 25 cm curved knife. It can be used to slaughter animals. Villena gives detailed instructions on its use in carving. He instructs, for example that when preparing trout, first the head is cut off with a small gañivete. The small knife is used to slit open the side and remove the bones starting from the tail, the bones are plucked out with the tip of the knife.

Villena also explains that it is used to cut bread and to skin fruit. The skin of truffles is removed with this knife. It is used to skin carrots and when preparing thistle and atrichokes.  [Covaarrubias. 1998:627:a:50; and Villena/Calero. 2002:23a: 38a-38b:39b:40a etc]

CARROTS ADAPTED FROM IBN RAZÍN/MARIN SECCIÓN SÉPTIMA, CAPÍTULO TERCERO, SOBRE LOS PLATOS DE ZANAHORA, p 277

Preparing Carrots with a Paring Knife
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Ingredients

2 lbs carrots[1]
salt to taste
1 c olive oil for frying
½  c vinegar
1 garlic clove mashed
1 tsp caraway

with the addition of:[2]
¼ c honey
2 tsp Duke’s Powder[3]


Ganrish:
1 tbsp brown sugar


Preparation

A Typical Sweet and Sour Medieval Dish
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Cut off the tips and the bottoms of the carrots. Then cut them into thirds without skinning. Clean them and slice them lengthwise. Put then on boiling water with salt. When tender remove them and dry them. Fry them in a frying pan with olive oil. Then add boiling vinegar, mashed garlic and  caraway.

If following the Medieval Spanish Chef’s additions: Add the honey and Duke’s Powder. Mix all ingredients well. Before serving sprinkle with brown sugar.


[1] Orange carrots were used as white carrots were not available. White carrots would be more in keeping with the period.
[2] The following ingredients were added by the Medieval Spanisih Chef as the recipe tends to be insipid.
[3] See blog titled escrúpulo published April 18, 2014.

Friday, October 17, 2014

GAMONÉU, ASPHODEL CHEESE

Bombus's landing on asphodel flower
Photo from Rovanto
This blue cheese is lightly smoked before placed in caves to mature naturally. It is one of the most popular Spanish cheeses. It is named after gamón, the common name in Spanish for asphodel, an herb of the lily family baring small white or yellow flowers that is abundant in the regions where the cheese is made in El Cornión Mountains in the western part of Picos de Europa, Asturias.

During spring and summer, nomadic livestock graze in the pastures of these highlands. The cheese is made only when the herds are in these mountains, i.e. from May through September. Unlike most other blue cheeses except cabrales cheese, this is made from a mixture of the morning and evening milking’s of cows, ewes and goats. The measurements do not depend on cups, but the yield of the animals.


El Quesu Gamonéu
Photo form: Desdeasturias.com

The next morning as much whey as possible is removed from the curds produced from acid coagulation. The whey is expelled after pressing for several consecutive days. Coarse salt is then sprinkled on the cheeses and they are left for two to three weeks on wooden racks to air and absorb the smoke from ash trees inside the hut where the herdsmen live. During this time the cheeses acquire a toasted chestnut color.

Then they are taken the natural eaves or caves in the mountainside facing north and having a constant temperature of 12-15° C and 90-95% humidity for two months. Here Penicillium roqueforti, the principal agent for maturing, takes over until the rind has developed a thick coat of variegated grayish-greenish-reddish moldy down.


Gamoneo del Valle
Photo from: Martñi Vicente 

The cheeses are cylindrical shape and weigh two to five kilos. When cut, the cheese is crumbly but dry and has a slightly piquant flavor. It is a soft cheese spread on bread or beaten with cider. There are so many uses for cheese. There is no one recipe. In medieval times, it was fast food carried in saddlebags along with bread and sausages while riding on horses and mules throughout Spain. See cabrales. [Garcí
a del Cerro. 1990:182; González de Llano. 1990:141; Inventario. 1996:264-265; and Misc. Conversations. Concha de Tielve. 4-5 Jun 03]