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Friday, July 29, 2016


"Half Roasted" Recipes Can be Spit Roasted
They are most juicy
Photo by: Lord-Williams
medio asado, cubilete (pudding mould),Cat mi-rost, mig-raust and mig rostit,  Ar thabal (tambour), Fr. Miroton, It timballo, Eng timbale, miroton, half baked. Actually, it is changing the cooking method once half cooked. This is one of the most select Catalan inventions and specialties from the 14th and 15th C that modern cookery has preserved completely in Italy, where always it has been adored.

This is a cooking procedure of half boiling and half roasting meat. Brown believes that is of Arab origin but became popular in Italy before it was adapted in Spain but Sent Soví calls for this process in preparing peacock, crane and other birds. It consists of boiling fowl or other food in almond milk seasoned with sugar and cinnamon and thickened with breadcrumbs. Normally, it is a sweet and sour dish with sugar and citrus fruit but Nola only adds sugar. In Catalonia it is roasted first and then boiled while in other regions it is boiled first.

Anón Al-Andalus has a recipe for boiling hen first and then roasting it. After cooking the fowl it is carved and served in soup bowls or timbales with almond milk and seasoned with a little sugar and cinnamon. On other occasions, it is served in a silver closed cylindrical vessel or one made of hard pastry, from which the word cubilete is derived.

Half Roasted and Ready to Carve
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Other recipes for timbales are made with fruit instead of fowl. One of Nola’s is a dessert consisting of pears instead of meat. He considered this one of the finest of medieval dishes.

According to Nola the three most principal dishes of his day were Peacock Sauce, Mirrauste and Blancmange. As per Rudulf Grewe in his study of Sent Soví, the Catalan mig (half)+ raust is from the German rost, i.e. miGreust.Fustuqiyya” or “Fistaqiya, a 9 C Arab recipe consisting of fresh green fava beans and lamb or mutton, which could be for forerunner of this as the meat was boiled and then fried.

Italians have done the same with macaroni. The dish evolved into a sharp onion sauce. Wine or broth replaced the almond milk and tomato sauce was added in the final stages. Today, it appears as a main dish of leftover beef, onions and gherkins or instead of using a pudding mold, fruit or fowl is cooked with Italian pasta. See moxi, carn a la sarraïnesca and manjar blanco.

[Alonso, Martín. 1982:Vol 2:D:2849; Anón/Grewe. 1982:II:64-65: LIIII:98:ftn 2
ES: Anon/Perry. Sep 5, 00:91; ES: Lord. La cocina. May 25, 06; Lladonosa.1992:139:158; Nola. 1989: xiii-1: xiiii-1: xlix-4: liii-3 etc; and Villena/Brown. 1984:207-208; Villena/Calero. 2002:42:ftb 113:105:117:27a; and Villena/Navarro. 1879:207-208]


For 5 servings 

Heating Almond Milk Mixture
Photo by: Lord-Williams
1 lb 4 oz almonds
1 slice of bread (2 oz) per serving
1 oz cinnamon
½ lb sugar
grease from boiling chicken

¼ c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon


PREHEAT OVEN 350 Fº/175 Cº

Roast chicken until half done, about 20 minutes.

Boil almonds in water. Peel them and toast them. Put them in a food processor and grind them.

The bowl can't be big enough
For this hummy dish!
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Soak a slice of bread in broth. Add this to the almonds and continue grinding. Strain them through a strainer that will leave the sauce thick. Heat this over a burner and add cinnamon. Mix well. Add sugar. Cook stirring constantly with a wooden stick or spoon until thoroughly dissolved.

Remove chicken from the oven and cut it into pieces. Put these in the almond sauce and gently boil the chicken until done.

Put pieces of chicken in soup bowls. Mix the sauce with the grease from boiling the chicken with the sauce and pour this over the chicken. Garnish with sugar and cinnamon and serve.

[1] As only one chicken was used, the quantities of the ingredients were cut in half except for the bread.
[2] One chicken was used instead.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


27 Blackbirds
Baked in a pie!
Photo from: Amy
L. Turdus merula, MEng. osel, ousel, Eng blackbird. In England the blackbird was the most expensive of small birds served in feasts and eaten by upper classes. "Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie" was not a nursery rhyme in the Middle Ages. Such pies were made throughout Europe. A huge empty pie shell was baked. Prior to serving it, small birds were inserted. When brought to the hall a knife was inserted to carve it. Then a flock of live birds flew out to the amusement of the guests. Dwarfs, too, might be 'temporarily incrusted.'

Male blackbirds are fascinating to watch in the spring. They mark their territory telling others of their species to stay away. They do not fight but rush and threaten each other. It is a battle of nerves until one of the rival’s backs off leaving an area with a food supply and a nest for the bird to provide all the female needs for reproduction.

The blackbird is the best imitator of songs in the European bird world. It has the richest melody and harmony. It lives all over Spain and England. Recipes for cooking blackbirds were not necessary from medieval times. Cooks over the centuries simply pop them into the frying pan. [Black. Food. 1986:11; ES: “Blackbird.” Nov 2, 03; ES: Oliver. Nov 4, 03; ES: Plana. “Mirlo.” Nov 3, 2003; Groundes-Peace. 1971: 118; and Sass. 1975:54]

Monday, July 25, 2016


Cherry plum/Prunus cerasifera
Photo from: Ewa
mirabalonoL. Prunus cerasifera (five species: myrobalana, bellerica, citrina, embilicos, indica), Ar. hîlaj,  OEng chiryse, cheryes, ceriseEng. cherry, myrobalan plum, cherry-plum. The tree is a native the Balkans and central Asia. It grows to 15-25’ in height and 15-20’ in width. It has purple leaves. The pinkish white flowers bloom in April. It produces a bland plum-like fruit that is 1” long, oval and meaty, with pit containing a stone.

Formerly these plums were used medically as an unguent or balsam for gout, as a laxative and to beautify the color of the cutis. Further, they were consumed to fortify the internal members, to arouse the senses, to create good feelings and to ward off melancholy.

Cherry plums
Photo from: collateral and incompatible
Citrina was used to purge cholera and to clarify the eyesight. Bellerica was consumed to purge phylem and reduce fever. Indus cured melancholy and severe cholera. It was thought good for leprosy and quatrain patients. Embilicos were eaten to purge the phylem and to comfort the brain. The Anón Al-Andalus provides two recipes for medicines using cherry-plums. One is for ringworm and jaundice and the other is a medicinal powder to clear the head and lungs of phlegm. (It is called for a third time as an ingredient for fish pie.) Perry, however, insinuates that this could be a transcription error but this fruit was used as a purgatory.

Today cherry-plums are consumed sparingly to alleviate some cancers. Eating too many can be fatal. They are used for tanning, dyeing and ink. 

[Anón/Huici.1966:144:97-98:513:279: 537:291; Alimentación. 1996:301-302; Curye/Hieatt. 1985:vi 59: 77 i:54 iii 33; and ES: Anon/Perry. Sep 5 00:Ftn 60]

The bottom layer of Almond Milk and Cherries
(note - it was not necessary to grease and flour the pie dish)
Photo by: Lord-Williams


½ c almonds
2 c broth
2 c cheeries stones removed or 1 (21) oz can cherry pie filling (not strained)
4 tbsp sugar[1]
1 ½ c breadcrumbs
salt to taste
1 tsp red sanders[2]

ground anise


Baked Cherry Pottage
Photo by: Lord-Williams

Peel almonds. Grind in food processor. Add broth grind again. Strain through a cheesecloth. 

Put the almond milk back into the food processor. Mix all the cherries with sugar. Add  part cherries and grind together with the almond milk. 

Pour this into a 9" pie dish. Cover with a layer of breadcrumbs. Cover this with the remainder of whole cherries and sprinkle with anise. 

Bake for ½ hour.

[1] The Medieval Spanish Chef's addition. Perhaps the originally recipe does not call for sugar due to the unavailability at that time.
[2] for color, which was not included for lack thereof but saffron or food coloring, today, could be a substitute but the Medieval Spanish Chef preferred the contrast of the white breadcrumbs with the red cherries.


Friday, July 22, 2016


Harris Red Gurnard
Photo from stephmcallister74
(fr. L. miluus), 1. Aspitrigla cuculus, Eng red gurnard. These spindle shaped saltwater fish are normally 25 cm long but can reach 40 cm. They are the smallest gurnards in Europe. They are red on top. The head and sides have silvery pink rows of large scales. As all gurnards, they have strong spines and protective bony plates on the head. The pectoral fins contain sensory organs, which are used to feel for food consisting of crustaceans, small fish and other invertebrates living at the bottom of the sea. The gurnards live in sand, rocks, mud, and gravel seabeds in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic to the west coast of Scotland, but are rare along the Norfolk coast. See milano real.

2. L. Milvus, Eng. kite. This bird of pray has a long tail, usually forked, and long wings. It has no teeth in the bill. It is prevalent throughout western and part of northeastern Spain but rare in England today. In medieval Al-Andalus, it was thought to be as noxious as the crow but eaten to cure mange
. See halcón.  

[Benavides-Barajas. Nueva-Clásica. 1995:199; ES: Aspitrigla cuculus. Dec 9, 02; ES: “Milvus.” Nov 29, 03; ES: “Red.” Nov 28, 03; ES: Trussell. 27 Nov 03; Gázquez. Cocina. 2002:234; Jutglar. 1999:179; OXF Eng Dict. 1989:VIII:Interval:469; Villena/Brown. 1984:34: 54: 83: 84:172; Villena/Calero. 2002:b and Villena/Saínz. 1969:139]

If you like fish, this is for you
If you don't like fish, you will break your rule!
Photo by: Lord-Williams

4 red gurnard/1 per person[1]
olive oil to seal
6 tbsp olive oil
zest from one orange

½ c fish broth
2 tbsp olive oil
juice from one orange

8 artichokes
2 ½ c mushrooms


Have the fishmonger scale and gut the fish and remove the head.

Wash the fish and pat dry. 

Mix 6 tbsp olive oil with zest from one orange. Let sit 1 minute and pour it over fish.


Put fish in oven. Pour 1 c white wine over the fish when half done.  Continue cooking until done.

Cut tops off of artichokes. Remove outer leaves. Boil in water until soft.  Remove from water and turn bottom sides up on paper towel to let the water run off.
Sautée onion. Slice mushrooms and add to the onion.  When the mushrooms are almost done pour ½ c sheery over them and add artichokes cut in half.

When the fish is cooked, remove from oven. Brush a coat of the sauce over it. Pour pan juices and sauce into a frying pan with the mushrooms. Fry until mushrooms are done. Add artichokes to heat.

Prepare a sauce combining 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 c fish broth using pan juices and juice from one orange.

Place the fish on a platter. Garnish with artichokes and mushrooms.

Serve immediately.

[1] For lack thereof turbot was used.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Foxtail Millet (Setaria italica)
Photo from: HEN-Magonza

L. Setaria italica, Eng. foxtail millet. It was cultivated in Asia, India and Indonesia by 6,000 B.C. at the latest and in Europe for the last 3,000 years. The plant has dense cylindrical, bristly flower clusters, resembling fox tails, and flat leaf blades. The seeds are small and pointed. When ground into flour, they become almost black. It is the only plant of its species with edible seeds. It is planted in March or April. As it grows, it is cut two or three times and new shoots appear. Today it is used as bird fed but in Medieval times it was feed to livestock as well. During famine, Spanish Christians and Hispano-Muslims made bread with it.

Peral Millet, 
which is peeled as opposed to bird seed
Photo by: Lord-Williams
When justifying the expulsion of the Moors from Spain in 1612 Father P. Aznar de Cardon wrote that Moors were different because they ate millet, see pan de mijo. Foxtail millet is confused with proso millet. All millets are referred to as “corn crops,” which misleads one to believe that American corn existed in Europe during the Middle Ages. Corn crops are not maize containing kernels but cereals or the grain of a cereal plant. They also include wheat and barley. See panizo.

[Barajas-Benavides. La Albambra. 1999:96-97; Castro. Alimentación. 1996:201:205:255-256:286; ES: Castro. “The Role.” Aug 3, 03; Gázquez. Cocina. 2002:69; and Sánchez-Albornoz. 2000:115]


Fried Millet Flat Bread
(which cracked)
Photo by: Lord-Williams

1 cup pearl millet 

¼ cup water

salt to taste

sesame seeds
ground anise
olive oil for frying


Preheat olive oil in a frying pan.

Take flour and, little by little, work in water to make dough by hand. Make a very thin circular disc with the dough. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and ground anise.

Fry immediately. When brown underneath turn over and brown the other side.

Continue making pieces of bread one by one and frying immediately to prevent the dough from crumbling or cracking. This does take practice.

The recipe states that the bread can be baked. The Medieval Spanish Chef's attempt resulted in bread as hard as rocks!

[1] This appears to be Bajri No Rotlo, an Indian flat bread. The difference is the Medieval Spanish Chef’s lack of experience in making it by hand.