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Wednesday, August 31, 2011


"Lunch atop a skyscraper" 1932 - Color Version
Rockfeller Center 
this edition from FonwanChan
Photo by: Anonymous 

noonday meal, except in rural communities in Spain where it is midmorning lunch or a snack eaten between 10-11 a.m. by labourers. Lunch could consist of a piece of bread with lard for the poor. Workers, including women, prepared meals on the hearth at home and took them to the fields to warm up there or they prepared food on the location.  

In the Maragato Region in Leon, Spain, famous for its muleteers from time immemorial, carried lunch boxes wit h a shelf for coals underneath to keep their cocido warm. This consists of chickpeas, pork products, ossobuco, a piece of chicken, cabbage, carrots and today potatoes. At souks in Southern Spain, as in the streets of London, local vendors sold turnovers and pies to passers by. 

While in Jaen, Miguel Lucas Iranzo gave sumptuous banquets like the Earl of Warwick in England at the same time. Iranzo brought fresh fish from Seville and sacrificed numerous goats and sheep. Game was included on noble tables with many kinds of fowl especially in Cuellar (Segovia) where Beltran de la Cueva, the Duke of Alberquerque, maintained his palace. 

Cueva, Iranzo and Warwick were splendid. Being a gracious host was part of being a noble. Iranzo laid a spread outside his palace for commoners and the poor. Warwick gave his guests as much meat that could fit on their swords to take home. 

Nomadic shepherds in Spain normally cooked a lame lamb or mutton next to still waters for sheep only drink from stagnant water thus giving them time to prepare their traditional dish. [Fernández Muníz. 1994:186 and Pers. Memories. Slaughters Mostoles. 2000:2001:2003; and Misc. Reading]

Serves 2

Mujabbana Furniyya 
Cheese Pie from Moorish Spain
Photo by: zesterdaily.com

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


“Thanks to the grasspea,”
aquatint print by Goya showing the use of grasspea as a famine food but also highlighting its effects (crippled woman lying on the floor)
Photo by: w apedia.mobi
alverjón, chícharos, guijas, titos, L. Latyrus sativus, Fr. lentille d’espagne, gesse des bois, Eng. grass pea or chickling, a vetch. The peas are eatable but difficult to digest. Some eat this legume after boiling and frying it in oil with pork liver. It has been cultivated in arid and dry places in North Africa, India and southern Europe, except Almeria, but especially in the province of Ciudad Real during the Middle Ages. Like all legumes, it is planted after wheat. It is nutritive and consumed like fava beans and chickpeas in pottages and other dishes. The peas are ground into flour and used to make gachas for porridge or fried like breadcrumbs (migas). Traditionally, the gachas mentioned in Don Quijote are served for lunch during the slaughter even today especially in La Mancha. Avenzoar, however, warned that it can be harmful. If consumed frequently one’s muscles weaken. During famines, a constant diet of only grass peas can lead to lathyrism. Basically, this is a Vitamin A deficiency causing pain radiating to the legs, spasmodic contractions, muscular weakness and paraplegia. This has a tendency of becoming chronic. Its was so prevalent during the famine of 1811 that there is an a,quatint print of a woman crippled by the disease by Francisco Goya in his collection of “Disasters of the War“ in the Prado Museum in Madrid. As a result of the famine the post war period in Spain between 1940 and 1943, Spaniards contracted this disease until the sale of it was prohibited in 1944. Still today, many recall that life for those suffers was worse than death. [Cervantes. 1947: Ch XVII1143; Font. Plantas. 1999:262:384; Ibn Zuhr/García Sánchez. 1992:48; Misc. Conversations. Manuel María Vías Guitián. Nov 20, 02; and Pers. Memories. Slaughters Mostoles. 2000:2001:2003]

for 4 persons

Photo by: En la ribera del Drac

8 stripes bacon (preferably from the dewlip) or 1lb or ½ k of  dewlip cubed
1 pork liver (substitute: 4 chorizo sausage links)
4 garlic cloves
6 tbsp chickpea flour
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp caraway
1 tsp ground cloves
9 tbsp water
Salt to taste
1 ½ oz or 50 gr toasted pine kernels
1 c honey

Fry bacon and chorizo. Cut garlic cloves in half and fry in the grease from the bacon and chorizo. Slice chorizo and crumble bacon into bite size peaces. Mash the garlic in a mortar.
In the same frying pan add the flour, and spices.
Slowly add water, stirring constantly. Add salt and bring to a boil. Add the chorizo and garlic cloves. Decorate with bacon bites and pine kernels and serve with honey.

Monday, August 29, 2011


macerated or infused murri.

1. Fadalat indicates that macerated murri was prepared at the end of March in fair weather. The recipe calls for grinding whole barley grains, which have begun to germinate. The mass is kneaded into dough without salt and shaped into round balls. A hole is placed in the middle of each with a finger. Then they are wrapped in fig leaves and air dried in the shade for 20 days until the bran has turned into powder. These were stored in fig leaves until used as a condiment. Normally they were crumbled prior to adding to the recipe.

2. a variety of murri only made in Al-Andalus with the addition of grapes and aromatic herbs without bran, which Delgado claims is the murri naqi in the Anon. Andalus. Numerous recipes in this manuscript call for one or two teaspoons to be added to the dish while cooking. Delgado maintains that this consists of flour mixed with honey, ground raisins, other dried fruits and salt made into a loaf and baked in the oven. It is then stored until needed. The advantage of murri naqi is that it takes a little over three months at most between drying and macerating while macerated and fish murries take some seven months or more to prepare. It is thought murri naqicontinued to be used in Spain until the 17th C. See almorí, garum and liquamen. [Bolens. Cuisine. 1990:197;ES: Delgado. Oct 2, 07; ES: Anon/Perry. Glossary. Sep 5, 02;  ES: Lord. Culinary.Mar 4, ‘08; and Ibn Razín/Granja. 1960:156:26:216:27:287:28]

Concocted from David Friedman and Elizabeth Cook’s Cariadoc and Elizabeth's Recipes. 1988, 1990, 1992. 
and Lilia Zaquali’s Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World, U of California Press. 2007. pp 55-56.

Warming ingredients may be harmful to health.

Photo by: murrib.kl.JPG
10 lb wheat flour
10 lb barley flour
fig tree
bran powder
2 c honey
1 lb carob bean powder
6.6 lb salt dissolved in water
7 tbsp cinnamon
7 tbsp saffron
5 tbsp sage
7 tbsp fennel
5 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp nutmeg


If you do not live in a place with conditions like Murcia, Spain, go there in the beginning with the last solar days of March to stay until the end of autumn.  Find a place with access to a fig tree and well enough away from neighbors because this recipe stinks! Extreme care must be taken to wash hands and body before working with the required substances. Body odors transmitted to the ingredients can ruin the recipe.

Combine the flours. Add hot water. Knead well, roll into balls. Poke a hole in the middle of each.  Wrap in fig leaves. Powder them with bran and sun-dry for 40 days. Every dawn and sunset unwrap the balls, scrap off mold and split. Knead them. Powder them with bran and wrap in fig leaves.

When dry and black grind them.  Mix them with carob bean powder,  honey, salt,  herbs and spices.  Place this in air-tight jars with an equal amount of water and seal with animal hides.  Stir every morning and evening until the end of autumn.  During this period, every three days, add bread that has been slightly cooked, dried in the oven and grated. 

When all really stinks, strain and filter the mixture producing a dark bitter liquid, almost black. This is stored in a porcelain dish, which is glazed on the inside. This is considered the best batch. The residue is kept for preparing the next batch.  

Other recipes for murri can be found in almorí and almorí de pescado.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Roman Fish and Garum Factory, Museu d’Història de la Ciutat, Barcelona
Urns for making Garum
Photo by: Sebastià Giralt

muria, salmurea, (“sal” [salt] + L. murĭa [brine], Gr ál-myrís (salt murri), Armenian murya, Ar. murrī, Fr. almori, Eng. fish murri, salt murri, an inferior fish garum sauce or paste made with tuna which was sold at a price in between expensive garum and liquamen. In Spanish there was no translation for “liquamen.” Hispanos adopted the Latin word for brine “murri” or “salt murri.” It was an aromatic brine added as a condiment to food preparations and used to preserve foods like legumes, fruits, olives, and fish. The process took several months to prepare as the undesirable parts of fish were sun dried for exportation or to make murri in fish factories established at Spanish fishing ports adjacent to salt beds and rivers where catches were cleaned and prepared for salting. Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans exported garum, fish murri and salted fish to their homes while Iberians added murri to dishes they prepared. All murris were consumed as medicinal food as they were thought to cleanse and warm the stomach, which aided digestion. Occasionally, sumac substituted murri. Due to the rigorous restrictions of the Church, Christians adopted murri readily for a pleasant change in cuisine on fast days. Abu Bakr Abd al Aziz Arbulo wrote a treaty in Almeria titled “Murri al hut” (fish murri) between 1414 and 1425 which indicates that this garum descendant was used in Spain during this time at least. See almorí, almorí macerado garum and liquamen. [Alonso, Martín. 1994:I:A:275; Anón/Huici. 1966:94:65:316:176-177 Bolens. Cuisine. 1990:195-196; ES: Anon/Perry. Sep 5, 02; ES: Lagóstena. Sep 6, 07; ES: Lord. Culinary. Mar 4, ‘08; García Rey. 1934:140; Gitlitz. 1999:19-20; and Ibn Razīn/Granja. 1960:156:26]


anchovies – not for the squeamish
Photo by: spanishsauce.wordpress.com

1 lb mackerel (or other dark-fleshed fish)

1/3 c salt


Sun and 104ºF weather or a yogurt maker set at 104º C

Wash fish but do not gut them. Place a layer of fish in a bowl, cover with salt and add another layer until all the fish and salt used up. (If more salt needed it is better to have too much than too little.) Leave this in the sun for one hour until salt is completely dissolved. 

Thoroughly stir the mixture with a sterilized spoon and leave in sun for three months. If sun and hot weather are not guaranteed place in a yogurt maker and cover. Let it ferment for at least 5 days or until the fish flesh was completely dissolved leaving only the bones. The longer the fish are left to ferment the richer the sauce will be. Remove the bones and put the top layer into a sterilized jar with a sterilized spoon.  

Should the mixture become cloudy throw it out.

For more recipes of murri see almorí and almorí macerado. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011


bread garum. This was a mixture of rotted barley dough or rotten unleavened bread, herbs, spices and salt tempered with water. It was used often as a coating for fowl, as a paste to add to oil when frying and like escabeche to preserve foods. According to Perry, 30% of the recipes in the Anon Andalus call for one or two teaspoons of murri or macerated murri added while cooking. Perry states that murri naqi was unique in Al-Andalus, see almorí macerado. All murris were consumed as medicinal food as they were thought to clean and warm the stomach, which aided digestion. Due to the rigorous restrictions of the Roman Catholic Church, Christians adopted murri readily for a pleasant change in cuisine. Murri descendants continue today. Up to the end of the 18th C. bread garums were made in the shape of a tablet. Grain based sauce products containing glutamate have led to innumerable wheat based mixtures today called “Cenovis” by the Swiss, “Marmite” by the English and bullion cubes. Translators of Arabic manuscripts currently recommend the use of nuoc-man, soy sauce or Worcester sauce to substitute murri in medieval recipes. See almorí de pescado, almorí macerado, budhaj, garum,  liguamen and salsugo. [Alonso, Martín. 1994:I:A:275; Anón/Huici. 1966:1:15:12:21:73:52-53 etc; Bolens. Cuisine. 1990:191-195; ES: Anon/Perry. Sep 5, 02; ES: Eigeland. Apr 26, 05; ES: Lagóstena. Sep 6, 07; ES: Lord. Culinary. Mar 4, ‘08; García Rey. 1934:140; and Gitlitz. 1999:19-20]

BYZANTINE MURRI RECIPE - David Friedman posted in murri-msg - 2/14/08. Stefan at florilegium.org, Oct 24, 97.  

Recipe adapted from: Kitab Wasf, Sina'ah 52, p.56, Sina'ah 51, p. 65: Charles Perry tr.

Byzantine Murri
Photo by: Lord-Williams

3 tbsp honey
2/3 tsp nigella (also called kalonji, black onion seed; substitute cumin)
1 1/2 oz quince
1 1/2 oz bread or 1/3 c breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp saffron
1/2 c salt in 3 tbsp honey (1-2 tbsp salt is recommended)
1 tbsp wheat starch
1/3 tsp celery seed (substitute: celery leaves, not celery salt, too salty)
1 pint water
2/3 tsp anise
1/4 oz carob (substitute: bitter chocolate in powder)
1 tbsp lemon (1/4 of one)
2/3 tsp fennel (substitutes: anise seed, cumin, caraway or dill)
1/4 oz walnut


Cook the honey in a small frying pan on medium heat, bringing it to a boil then turning off the heat and repeating several times; it will taste scorched. The bread is sliced white bread, toasted in a toaster to be somewhat blackened, then mashed in a mortar. Toast the anise, fennel and nigella in a frying pan or roast under a broiler, then grind in a mortar with celery seed and walnuts. The quince is quartered and cored. Boil all but the lemon together for about 2 hours, then put it in a potato rice, squeeze out the liquid and add lemon juice to it; this is the murri. The recipe generates about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 c of liquid.  You can then add another 1/2 c of water to the residue, simmer 1/2 hr -1 hr, and squeeze out that liquid for the second infusion, which yields about 1/3 c. A third infusion using 1/3 c yields another 1/4 c or so.

This author's comments are in parenthesis above.
Normally instructions are to keep in an air tight container. It does not freeze in the freezer but it seems to be the most logical place to store it as it will be called for in so many Hispano-Arab recipes.

See Almorí de Pescado and Almorí Macerado for other murri recipes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


almojauanas, almójavanas, almojábena, (Hisp Ar.), Soriamojobábana, Ar. muŷabbanat or al-mojebene (mixture made with cheese), Eng. cheese pie, wafer cake or puffs (the forerunners of cheesecake and mantecadas [larded pastries]). These were common in Al-Andalus but the origin may be from Roman cookery. Today they are typical of the provinieses of Alicante, Murcia and Aragon. They are made on special occasions such as father’s day (on St. Joseph’s Day, March 19th), All Saint’s Day, November 1st, Christmas, weddings and baptisms. At first they were round like donuts and the size of a plate. The Fadālat recipe is for an oven baked cheese wafer cake using fritter dough and one type of cheese. The Anon Andalus recipes are baked or fried pies with cow and ewes’ cheeses, while Nola’s is fried cheese puffs combining goat and cow cheeses. Sent Soví has two recipes for cheese fritters. Now almojabanas are oblong like individual Spanish bread rolls, about 6” long and filled with flan or a cream. The South American version is made with corn flour, cheese, margarine, egg and sugar and looks like a hamburger roll. Puerto Rico has a different version made with rice flour. See mantecados, quesada, queimón and tarta de queso, which are actually cheese fritters. [Anón/Grewe. 1982:CLVIIII:174.CLX:174-175; Anón/Huici.1966:96-97:225-229; ES: Anon/Perry. Sep 5 00:120-121:127; ES: Carroll-Mann.Guisados 2-art. Jun 6, 01: ftn 107; ES: Bloch. Apr 4, 94; Gázquez. Cocina. 2002:266-267; Ibn Razīn/Granja.1960:79:23; and Nola. 1989:xlv-2]

For 10-12 donuts:

Photo by: es-la.facebook.com

3/4 c water
4 ¼ c white wheat flour
1 pinch of salt
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ginger
½ c olive oil
2 packages active dry yeast
¾ c milk
*6 eggs
½ lb cheese
½ c honey or 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp pepper


Preheat oven to 400º F.

Heat the water in a saucepan. When boiling, add the flour, salt and spices and beat until thoroughly mixed. Add the oil mix thoroughly. Add the yeast, mix thoroughly and make a ball out of the dough. Put it in a big bowl, cover with a cloth and let it cool and rise. When lukewarm and it has risen add the eggs one at a time. Do not add the next egg until well mixed. When well kneaded, roll out dough and cut into 20-24 strips 6” long and 1 ½” wide. Cut cheese into 10-12 strips the same size and place the cheese on top of half the strips of dough. Cover them with another strip of dough. Grease a cookie sheet and make irregular circles of dough with peaks. Bake 20 minutes.

When they have cooled, warm the honey and pour it over them or sprinkle with cinnamon and pepper.

*Fadalat does not call for eggs.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


OCast almondrote, OCat almadroc(h), almendoc(h), Cat. allmodrote, almadroch, almendroch, almodroch, Hisp Ar. almaţūg from Ar. matrūg or al-mojrot, L. ad-moretum (mortar), It. hipotrymma, Eng. mashed (in a mortar); an emulsifying cheese sauce. Basically, it is made with garlic, a yolk from a hard-boiled egg, lard or oil, spices, and grated cheese. Although the terminology is derived from Arabic, no recipe for almodrote appears in Hispano-Arabic sources. Apicius provides forerunners in his recipes for moretaria, herbs and spices mashed in a mortar with vinegar and hipotrymma, a condiment sauce in which the main ingredient is cheese. Sent Sovi and Nola’s almodrotes are garlic and cheese emulsified sauces. In Sent Sovi, it accompanies roasted chicken, pork or partridge while Nola and Villena state that capírotada is the same as almodrote as he uses the sauce as a cape over the meat. Navarro indicates that it can be made to accompany white sausage as well. It is similar to alioli as it is used to accompany meats, especially roast pork or fowl. There are several variations. Today, the sauce is popular on the Canary Islands, especially La Gomera where it is called almedroc, almogrote, mojo palmero or mojo de queso. They contain cheese, eggs, garlic and cayenne pepper. See alls esquesos. Anón/Grewe. 1982:CXXXXI:160-161:ftn 2:CXXXXII:161-162:Apè I:65:229 etc; Apicius/Flower. 1958:59; Baena/Dutton. 1993:586:754:v648; Delgado. 1985:24; ES: Brighid. Guisados 2-art. Jun 6, 01: 97:ftn 31; ES: Gázquez. “El prodigio”. Jun 1, 02; García del Cerro. 1990:23; Gitlitz. 1999:56-57; Lladonosa. Cocina. 1984:134:155; Martínez Llopis. “Prólogo” 1982:18; Nola 1989:xxii-1; Nola/Pérez. 1992:187; and Villena/Calero. 2002:60b]


For 4 persons

Cheesy Chicken
Photo by: Simply Frugal

2 lb whole chicken (Nola’s calls for partridge)
2 tbsp bacon fat
2 garlic heads
2 tsp olive oil
4 oz mature ewe’s cheese
1tbsp lard
2 egg yolks
4 tbsp mutton broth or **extra virgin olive oil
2 c mutton broth
8 slices of toasted bread
salt and pepper to taste
sprigs of parsley to garnish


Preheat oven at 350º F/190º C

After plucking the chicken singe the skin during the length of time it takes to recite the Lord’s Prayer (1 minute). Wash it, baste it with bacon fat and place it in a roasting pan.

Peel out layers of skin of the garlic head, leaving skins of individual cloves intact and the head whole. Cut ½” off the pointed end of the head, exposing the cloves. Place the heads in enough aluminum foil to cover them completely and pour ½ tsp of olive oil over each head. Recite the Lord’s Prayer again. Then pour another ½ tsp over each garlic head. Wrap them up in the aluminum foil and place them next the chicken in the roasting pan.

Roast the chicken, basting as necessary, and for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from oven but do not turn off oven. Unwrap the garlic and while cooling, carve the chicken.

Remove the skin from the garlic cloves, cut in half and purée them in a blender. Add egg yolks and grind. When all is well blended add grated cheese. Mix well and *4 tbsp warm but not hot broth (it should not melt the cheese) and mix well. Toast the bread. Soak it in broth in a deep plate. Place one layer of bread in an oven proof dish, then a layer of sliced chicken, followed by another layer of bread until dish is full or chicken and bread are used up. Pour the cheese sauce over this. Return to oven for about 10 minutes in order to serve warm. Garnish with parsley.

* For variations of this recipe see blog tltled capírotada for Sent Soví's #CXXXXI published September 8, 2012, another Sent Soví version, recipe #CXXXXII published February 11, 2012 and esparcita published April 25, 2014 for Villena's version.
**This sauce is good warm or cold. It can be used as a vegetable sauce or a salad dressing. If making a salad dressing, instead of broth add olive oil very slowly while blending the sauce as if making mayonnaise. It will keep refrigerated during one week.


Saber-toothed non-marsupial (Musk Deer)
Photo by: pengp-au

hierba de almizcle, almizclera, aguja de Nuestra Señora, hebra del moro, OCast almizque, almizcado L. Erodium moschatum, Ar. mĭsk or al’milhrâs, Sanskrit muska (testicle), Eng. musk, musky storkbill.  

1. an inspissated and dried testicular secretion emitted from the preputial follicles of the male musk deer L. Moschus moschiferus, of the gazelle family to attract the female. This is a reddish brown, aromatic, thick substance, like honey, when fresh. It has been called “the perfume of kings.” Today one follicle is worth $45,000. During the Middle Ages, it was extracted from the scent bags of the deer located behind the naval. 

La Celestina (the medieval Spanish Jewish witch doctoress), Fernando de Rojas published the dialogue in 1499,  describes it as a unicorn when actually it  has horns like other deer but it does have two protruding fangs as seen in the photo. She says that when the female is in heat the males become so excited the naval enlarges and hurts so much that they become furious. They do not eat or drink. They rub their bodies on tree trunks and sharp rocks until they have an erection (or find a Mrs.). She claims that hunters want to kill just before the erection which in fact is not so but she makes a good story. The entire follicle is extracted from the deer and it is sun dried or dried on a hot rock. Then musk deer inhabited central Asia, India, the Himalayas above 8,000 feet, China and Russia. 

Musk was exported to Arab countries. Romans and Arabs used musk in perfumes for its powerful, long lasting odor and aphrodisiac effects and in medicine as an anti-spasmodic and stimulant. Al-Andalus poets of the 12 C. lauded the smell of musk, comparing it with all intense aromas and perfume. Crusaders took it to England where it was added to sweat dishes such as custards with ambergris through the 17th C. (See ámbar gris.) 

La Celestina  instructs that it must be kept air tight iron or tin container in a closed space as the odor can easily penetrate the are in which it is stored if not. She used it to cure headaches, as a mouthwash for good breath, as a heart tonic imbibed and rubbed on the chest and to improve the memory. It does figure in the inventory of Ferdinand of Naples but not in Nola’s recipes. It has been discovered that musk is in the glands of alligators and crocodiles.

Musk (Mimulus moschatus)
Photo by: www.fs.fed.us
2. musk plants. These include those from the genus Mimulus moschatus, musk plant, Erodium, heron’s bill, and Muscari, grape hyacinth. Perry sites Huici as claiming that Anon. Andalus recipes calling for musk could be muscatel, musk-crowfoot or hollow-root but this is not stated in Huici’s translation. Their fragrance is similar to that of musk deer. It was extracted from plants only when real musk was not available. 

With the disappearance of the market for the deer’s follicle secretions, one today automatically thinks the plant is the real musk when actually it was only a substitute in medieval times, which according to Castro was grown in Sevillan gardens. Actually, it grows all over Spain and on the Balearic Islands in meadows and hidden spots. It is interesting to note that when included in meat recipes in Anon. Andalus it is dissolved in rosewater with camphor or ground with galingale. When added to sweets or syrups, it can be added with rosewater or alone but not with camphor or galingale. Castro claims that musk was basic in Andalusian cuisine. It was synonymous with luxury and exoticness. It has been known as a perfume and at times has been called the ‘Moor’s perfume’. 

Avenzoar claimed that as a medication it has two varieties: one hot and one cold. Both raise the spirits, augment strength and are recommended to absorb vapors that black bile forces up to the head], producing anxiety and nightmares. He used it to treat those suffering from obsessions, for the insane, to alleviate epileptics, to purify blood in the heart and to improve one’s consistency. 
[Anón/Huici.1966:50:40:88:62:203:128 etc; Bolens. Cuisine. 1990:213; Castro. Alimentación. 1996:295; ES: Anon/Perry. Sep 5 00:ftn 126; ES: Felter. “Moschus.” May 8, 03; ES: Lord Culinary. Mar 4, 08: ES: “Musk-Mallor.” May 8, 03; ES: “Muskdeer.” May 8, 03; ES: Shamsuddín. “Aromas.” Jul 23, 05; Ibn Razin/Granja.1960:52:21-22, Ibn Zuhr/García Sánchez. 1992:111; Laza, 2002:95; Nola/Pérez. 1994:37; and Pullar. 1970:82:255]

1 batch


Date and Nut Turnovers
Photo by: Max Falkowitz
**1 musk deer follicle with secretion
12 c whole-wheat flour
2/3 c gluten flour
2 1/2 tsp yeast
5 c hot water
2 teaspoons salt
2/3 c oils
2 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 lb dates
2 c blanched and chopped almonds
¼ c sugar
2 c honey
1 c pine kernels
1 c extra virgin olive oil
1 c chopped walnuts
a few grains of musk
¼ c rosewater

Preheat oven to 350º F


Mix seven cups of flour with the yeast and gluten flour. Stir until well blended.

Add the water and mix for one minute until the mixture is well coated and begins to resemble dough.
Combine the salt and oil, mixing thoroughly. Add lemon juice. Stir vigorously for one minute until all ingredients are well distributed throughout the dough.

Put in the remaining five cups of flour and beat vigorously for 6-10 minutes.

Rollout half the dough making a square the size of a serving dish.

Remove pits from dates, chop and knead until soft. Add almonds and honey. Knead until well distributed. Roll out half of this mixture making it the same size as the dough and about ¼” thick.

Put a sheet of baking parchment paper on a baking sheet. Put the dough on that. Put the date and almond mix on top. Fold the dough over to make a turnover. Pat it with oil.

When slightly brown put it on a serving plate and pour hot honey over it. Make holes in the turnover with the fingers to absorb the honey. Sprinkle with pine kernels on top and perfume with musk,
With the other half of the dough make flat cakes. Fill them with the rest of the stuffing. Fry them in extra virgin olive oil and place them on a serving dish and pour boiling honey with chopped walnuts over them. Dissolve what you can of musk in boiling rosewater and lightly sprinkle the cakes. Although the smell is lovely it is bitter.   

*See alcorza published on July 11, 2011 for a variation of the same recipe. Also, a similar recipe from Anón Al-Andalus was published on November 17, 2011 in ARROBA.
**Yeah, sure – Just joking.! I wouldn’t be sharing this recipe if I had $45,000!!! 

Monday, August 22, 2011


Jesus in Martha and Maria’s House
Luke 10:38-42
Painted by: Diego Velázquez

Hisp Ar al-mihräs, almihráz, Cast mortalio, Ar mihrās, MEng mortrews, Eng wooden, stone or metal mortar for mashing and grinding ingredients. The Dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy defines almirez is a small portable mortar while the size of a mortero is normal. In Middle English, the word means to finely ground and strained but the latter action is not always necessary as in Nola’s recipe: Potaje dicho morteruelo (Mortrews Pottage). Gourmet cooks in the Middle Ages used specific types of mortars such as bronze, copper, tin, stone, agate, ivory, glass, wood etc for specific ingredients. In the Maragato region of León, for example, a walnut mortar with a handle has been used to mash garlic for centuries. The earliest known mortar is from the African Neolithic site in the Sahara Desert in Mali, Northwest Africa between 8,500 and 6,500 years ago. Witches did not invent them to make their brews! Mortars are used for crushing coffee beans, peppercorns, other spices, herbs, fresh and dry plants, medicines, mineral stones, animal parts etc. When looking for an appropriate mortar one should consider the material whether it is porous, absorbs odors, stains easily, brittle or breaks with pounding and crushing. The size of the hand is important when choosing the pestle (dornillo). The circumference and weight should be comfortable. The weight is important. The heavier the mortar and pestle the faster the work will get done but the harder it is on the arm and wrist. Cleaning and storing can be important. Some materials are machine washable while others should never be washed with soap. Some are handsome for their colors and shapes and can be part of the decoration in the kitchen or elsewhere in the home. Others are big meaning they need more storage space. 

Metal and stone mortars should have rubber bottoms to prevent sliding and scratching the surface of the work area. Metal was the most common. Besides being used for grinding and mashing they were used also as musical instruments in the kitchen. Perhaps one should consider reviving this art! Iron is excellent for harder ingredients. It should be kept lightly oiled.  

Bronze and brass mortars began to appear in the 14th C. when bell founders began producing them and cannons. They should be kept lightly oiled. They are ideal for grinding spices. They have a way of coaxing out fresh tasting flavors. 

Wooden mortars are convenient for occasional use and they are decorative thanks to the beautiful grains and shapes available but are too light for the serious cook. They absorb odors and stain easily. They are good for grinding salt and pepper at the dinner table. They should not be used for items containing moisture such as garlic (except for those in the Maragato)! They are best for grinding soft materials such as herbs and, today, tomatoes. They are also good for mixing sauces and pastes. It takes longer to crush nutmeg and peppers in wooden mortars than in heavier mortars. The lighter wooden pestles, however, put less strain on the cook. It is recommended to only grind foods of the same flavor in them. Grinding rice in them until the rice is completely white cleans them. They should be kept lightly oiled with tasteless and odorless oil. Stoneware (ceramic) is brittle, stains and absorbs flavor in the unglazed interior. They need to be washed thoroughly and scrubbed with a nylon bristle brush to reduce this and then dried thoroughly. They are good for pounding substances into fine powders.  Porcelain is the least likely to stain. It is durable, easy to clean and dishwasher safe. It can be put under the broiler or in the freezer. It should not be glazed inside the hollow or at the end of the pestle. They are good for grinding food containing moisture such as garlic. They are also good for speedy grinding of seeds, spices, herbs, nuts and pills.  

Glass mortars are stain resistant but they are fragile. They should only be used for liquids, not for grinding. 

Granite has been used from time immemorial in Southeast Asia, Pakistan and India to make turmeric. As it is not brittle, it does not break with heavy crushing and grinding. As it is quite hard, it is good for harder and larger ingredients. Granite will absorb to some degree depending on the density of the stone. Too it may trap food in the pores. It is the second most popular mortar being almost nonporous, functional and durable.  It is good for making curry paste as the rough surface helps to grab substances to grind into a paste. It should not be cleaned with soap but with lemon juice. 

Marble is the favorite mortar for it’s all around use. Depending on the density of the stone, the resistance to absorption of moisture and odors is medium. Because the pestle is much heavier than wood it provides for effortless grinding or crushing thus getting the job done more quickly. See dornillo and morteruelo.

[Anón/Huici. 1966:55:42:267: 155:32:173: etc; Ares. “Las Comidas.” 1994:82; ES: Carroll-Mann. Guisados 2-art. Jun 6, 01:ftn 26; Ibn Razīn/Granja.1960:24; Nola:1989:xvii-5; and Sánchez-Albornoz. 2000:139:198]


Ceremonial mortar and pestle (Peruvian)
Photo by: saska01

baguette sliced and left uncovered for a week
½ c olive oil
1 c cured ewe’s cheese
1 sm leg of lamb or 1 lb lamb meat
6 rashers of streaky bacon
4 eggs
2 c ewes’ milk (substitute: almond milk)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
¼ c sugar
2 tbsp fresh cilantro
2 tbsp parsley

*a marble mortar is recommended but as seen above there are exceptions to every rule


Grate bread. Toast it in a frying pan. Shred the cheese and mix it with the bread. Cook the lamb in a pot with bacon. When cooked cut the bacon and the lamb into small pieces. Grind them in a *mortar. Mix the meat with the cheese and breadcrumbs and grind all in the mortar. Add one egg for each eater in the mortar.

Thin it with goat’s milk, Put all in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove it from the heat and let rest 10 minutes covered. Serve in individual bowls and garnish with cilantro an parsley.

Note: in previous recipes a food processor is called when the original recipe calls for a mortar. If one wants to be authentic a mortar should be used. Sometimes, however, it is more efficacious to go modern and use electric. 

Friday, August 19, 2011


OCat amidó, OCast. almydon, L. amylum, MEng amydon, Eng amylum, wheat starch. It is the starch extracted from wheat soaked in water until the grains are soft enough to peel and then they are sun dried. It was a dish that was eaten by the ruling class. Also, it was used as a thickener for sauces. During the Roman Period it was used as frequently as in medieval times. According to Gerard, Triticeum Amyleum, Amyleum Frumentum, a type of spelt or corn starch was cultivated especially for amylum pottages. The Count of Orgaz, in court of Charles I of Hapsburg, implanted the custom of eating it every Wednesday evening at the Royal Palace. As per Sent Soví and Nola’s recipes, it is a thick puree made with chicken broth and almond milk. It is almost the same recipe as blancmange in which starch is a basic ingredient. Then it was a dish served like a soup during the main course. Sent Soví adds sugar in his two recipes. Now it is a dessert. See alcandía and manjar blanco. [Anón/Grewe. 1982:C:130-131:CI:131; Anón/Huici.1966:47:38-39:360:197-198:367:201-202 etc; Castro. Alimentación. 1996: 296. Curye. 1985:169; Lladonosa. Cocina. 1984:149; and Nola. 1989:xxi-1:lxx-1]

For 4 persons

Photo by: chefinyou.com

4 c almond milk (see almejas for recipe)
½ c wheat starch
½ tsp crushed saffron
½ c sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp fresh ginger

Heat almond milk. Put a small amount of almond milk and slowly add starch into all is dissolved. Slowly add this to the rest of the almond milk. Dissolve saffron in 2 tbsp almond milk. Add it with sugar and spices to the rest of the almond and starch. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it starts to thicken. As soon as it begins to boil remove from heat. Pour into serving bowls and cover with a cloth. Let cool. Before serving sprinkle a little sugar and cinnamon over each bowl. (This recipe is almost exactly like blancmange served as a dessert today.) 

Thursday, August 18, 2011


 OCast almiba, almivar, Ar miba (syrup made with quince), Eng syrup. Sugar dissolved in water and boiled until it has the consistency of syrup; it is a sweet sauce or syrup for desserts. See arrope, jarabe, membrillo and sirope. [Baena/Dutton. 1993:586:748:v380; Corominas. Cast. 1980:I:A:192; and Delegado. 1994:25]

RECIPE FOR QUINCE SYRUP (yields 6-7 cups)
(A unique topping for all kinds of desserts, crepes, ice cream, pudding, apple strudle etc.)

quince syrup
Photo by: noddyboom 

4 ½ lbs quinces
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped lemon peel
1 ¾  lbs of sugar (just under 4 cups)


Wash quinces and towel dry to remove fuzz (similar to peach fuzz). Bring 6-8 quarts of water to a boil and add quinces. Simmer 10 minutes or until soft enough to peel and chop. (Quinces are much harder than apples.) Cool in cold water, peel and remove the core. Cut into quarters and cut those into slices 1/3” wide. Then cut into thin chunks, put in 6-8 quarts water with lemon juice and lemon peel. Add sugar. Bring to a boil. When briskly boiling reduce heat to medium, cover and cook 1 hour.

Cool for 30 minutes. Pour into jars. Let cool completely. Cover and seal the jars tightly.

Note: Like pears, quince turns pink and, depending on the recipe can turn red or dark red. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Almond bloom from the air
Photo by: Anthony Dunn
L. Amygdalus communis, var. dulcis,  prunus amygdalus dulcis, Eng. sweet almonds. Almond flowers blooming in January or February look like a blanket of fragrant snow covering the countryside as if there they were the result of last night’s storm. Almonds brought a rise in cultural traditions throughout the world. Romans gave sugared coated almonds to their friends and important dignitaries. During weddings, they were thrown at newly weds as a symbol of fertility. An old European tradition is to give sugar coated almonds wrapped in fine nets to wedding guests signifying fortune, happiness, romance, fertility, nutrition and health. Sweet almonds are used in food and medicine, for the richness of the oil content and nutritional value. During the Middle Ages, sweet almonds were used as today, but also to make almond milk especially in countries where more grain products were eaten than dairy, such as Spain as opposed to England. [Anón/Huici.1966:38:34:65:48:66:48 etc; ES: Grieve. “Almonds.” 1995; ES: Two. Feb 16, 05:Cxij:68:Cxv:68:Cxx:69 etc and Nola. 1989:xvi-3:xvii-2:xxi-1 etc]

Photo by: donpostre.com


1 lb almonds
1 lb sugar
1 tsp spikenard
1 tsp cloves
1 tbsp rosewater
¼ c wheat starch dissolved in 1 c rosewater


Chop almonds in food blender. (If being traditional and using a mortar, it should be stone or wooden.) Add sugar, spikenard and cloves >ground and dissolved in rosewate, camphor oil. Chop all in blender or mortar until smooth. Roll out and cut into shapes like donuts or other. Let stand to thicken.

Dissolve wheat starch in rosewater. Dip candies in wheat starch. After drying, if this coating is not thick enough repeat the processes. It could take as many as three dippings. Remove and let dry in the sun and serve. If sun is lacking place in oven on the lowest possible setting. This takes from 4-6 hours.

Ironically this sweet is named after al-Qahir bi’llahi (meaning"Victorious by the will of God"), Caliph in Bagdad >from 932-934. He became a total tyrant who even tortured his predecessor’s mother, who was his half brother, and this brother's children. He lashed out against supporters and enemies taking their money and even buried his nephew, the chosen successor, alive in a wall. (Walls were one meter thick.) His enemies took advantage of his being drunk on wine one night (the Umayyad Dynasty permitted consumption of alcoholic drinks), blinded him and imprisoned him for 11 years. He was released to beg on the streets wearing rags and wooden sandals never to eat a Qāhiriya again.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


new crop of almonds
Photo from: Marlis1
L. Prunus amygdalus var. amara, Eng. bitter almonds. Bitter almonds are distinguished from sweet ones because they are broader and smaller. Further, there is no doubt when tasted. They are too bitter to eat raw. They are poisonous but contain 50% oil. Long before the Christian era, Greece and Italy were cultivating bitter almonds to extract the oil because it was highly valued. The bitterness in the almond comes from prussic acid. Each almond contains 6-8%. Heating the almonds destroys this. After that, oil is extracted but it is expensive. It takes about 5 lb. of almonds to produce ½ oz of oil. Also, they yield a volatile oil, commonly called ‘almond flavoring’ or ‘spirit of almonds’. Primarily, this is used for culinary and confectionery flavoring. In ancient times, it was added as flavoring in food, burned in oil lamps, administered as medicine and added to table wines to give them their nutty flavor. Bitter almond oil, originally, came from North Africa (Barbary), which has been considered of the best. Southern France and Sicily too are famed for supplying the best oil. Medicinally, almond oil has an advantage over olive oil for the emollient qualities of the oil. With this, there is no danger of ill effects that could make it turn rancid. Emulsions, also, are prepared for bladder and kidney disorders. Further, the oil is used to soften and relax solids, allay acid juices and for bronchial diseases, especially for hoarseness and coughs, nephritic pains and constipation. In 1999, it was proven that a few almonds a day lower the blood pressure. Almond oil was a cure all from chapped hands to acne, as a skin cleanser and a painkiller. Almonds began as garnish, but by medieval times, they were finely ground and added to sauces as a thickener. Almond milk, made from bitter almonds, appears in various Hispano-Arabic and English recipes especially those for chicken. Almond milk is made by blanching them and soaking them over night. Then they are pounded into a powder and strained. It may be seasoned with rosewater. This can be drunk alone as a substitute for cow’s milk, served as a cold soup or made into a frumenty (see guisado de trigo or blancmange). For those who suffering from celiac disease, almond flour is the perfect solution as it does not contain gluten (like wheat) and the starch content is extremely low.[Anón/Grewe. 1982:LVI:100-101:LXI:105; LXIIII:107-108 etc; Anón/Huici.1966:38:34:65:48:66:48 etc; Castro. Alimentación. 1996: 276 ES: Grieve. “Almonds.” 1995; and Nola. 1989:xvi-3:xvii-2:xxi-1 etc]


(Note: Think what you like about the Middle Ages but there are no brooms in Broom Pudding! It is named for the color of the yellow broom blossom of the plant, which is the color one wants to obtain when adding saffron.)
Yellow Broom (the color wanted for the pudding)
Photo by: karen and mc


1 c ground almonds
1 c water
1 stick cinnamon
3 cloves
3 to 4 tbsp rice flour (made from grinding rice)
4 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. saffron ground
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup toasted pine kernels 


Grind almonds in a blender. Pour boiling water over the ground almonds and blend. Add cinnamon and cloves. Let stand for a half hour. Strain through a cheese cloth. Remove cinnamon and cloves and set aside. 

Chop raisins if big. Roast the pine nuts.

Put 1 tbsp almond milk in a pan and stir in saffron. When saffron is dissolved add the rest of the almond milk with sugar and the reserved cinnamon and cloves.  Add rice flour and mix well. Bring to the boil, keep stirring until the almond milk has thickened. This will take a couple of minutes.

Pour into a serving dish or individual bowls. Add raisins.  Sprinkle the pine kernels over the pudding just before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.