Thursday, 26 August 2010

Barbecue Weekend!

So there I was trying to think of what to put in a new post tonight when what should flop into the inbox from Robert, but a mammoth posting about the last without further ado (but with a little judicious editing) I shall let Robert tell you all about it........

The first August weekend, and it was barbecue time! Lucky that the weekend turned out to be barbecue weather... not so lucky that we were down to six men. Especially unlucky for Marc H and Richard, who were invalided out owing to rather longer stays in hospital than either of them had expected. Both of them will be back next weekend, which is great news. What was lucky for the rest of us was that the weekend that they pulled a sickie was... barbecue time!

Often we are asked where the recipes we use can be found, and can they be made at home. Well they can, and done well, but without the obvious advantage we have of having a Tudor kitchen with an eight food spit and a range of charcoal stoves. Even without a Tudor kitchen, a lot of us do cook over charcoal; it's just that the kitchen has moved into the garden. If there is a man in an apron doing the cooking, either it's the Tudor kitchen, or it's a barbecue...

With that in mind, for August, we thought we would concentrate on small roasted dishes or ones cooked on gridirons. Thus, using only a tiny amount of lateral thinking, on skewers and, yes, on barbecues.

So, I was there, on the pad, with Robin and we were cooking cormarye and aloes of beef. This method of cooking was ideal for an under staffed kitchen, every ten minutes there was another thing cooking! It is interesting to go through complicated recipes, taking time to discuss them, and ending up with the finished dish... But this barbecue was great fun, it kept us on our toes, and it meant that most of the process could be viewed in one go.

Cormarye is great; pork slices marinated in red wine with coriander, caraway, pepper and garlic then roasted. One of our favourites, and prepared by Marc H the time before and frozen [Freezing is a great marinating method as the ice crystals that penetrate the meat take the marinade right to the centre and help to tenderize it as well...just make sure that you use the liquid to make a final sauce as freezing has the downside of releasing a large proportion of the minerals, vitamins and flavours from the meat itself! TC]. He didn't know of course that he wouldn't be there to cook it. Selflessly we cooked it for him, and ate it for him. Marinated pork wouldn't look out of place on a barbecue today, and that’s how we cooked our cormarye, on a grid over the charcoal stoves.

Stoves that were difficult to use on this occasion, as they were almost out all the time! What I mean is, unlike barbecues, our stoves are designed and made with efficiency in mind, and they have been made like that since Roman times. They have a tunnel to allow air in and ash out, which means that the cooks who originally used them didn’t have to keep stopping their work to empty the ash out, the air input also means that temperatures between 800 and 1000 degrees centigrade are easily achieved! Obviously, we like to show off our stoves, and how quickly they can boil a stew, or fry in a pan. This time we were cooking over embers, with only a few pieces of glowing charcoal in each stove, otherwise it was just too hot for barbecuing. Quite tricky, you have to keep your eye on it all the time!

The cormarye is fun to make, and feels modern, with the combination of pork and the spicy wine marinade. But this is a 'Forme of Cury' recipe, deep in the past. Our Tudor kitchen is at least two cookery movements past that. Perhaps pork became unfashionable; for whatever reason this tasty dish dropped out of the books for a while.

No such broken history with the other dish, 'aloes of beef', one of the few dishes that has an unbroken line from the late medieval to now.

At its simplest, an 'aloe' is a flat piece of meat, rolled up, with a filling and roasted, baked or stewed. An online search for beef or veal 'olives', the modern name, shows up a lot of examples and varieties. These may be summarised; beef, veal or mutton; baked roasted or stewed; with or without hard-boiled eggs and fruit. Broadly speaking, these categories have always defined the aloes/olives dishes.

On the barbecue weekend Robin was making the beef version and roasting them, not in front of the fire but over the charcoal stoves, and using metal skewers as mini spits, to show how suited they are to barbecue cooking; the answer; very much so!

We started with a familiar version from the fifteenth century; 'Allows de beef or de Motoun'

'Take fayre Bef... and kutte in the maner of stekys; than take raw Persely & Oynonys smal y-scredde & yolkys of Eyroun sothe hard & Marow or swette (suet) & hew alle this to-gedre smal: then caste ther-on poudre of Gynger & Saffroun... & lay hem on the Stekys al a-brothe ... then rolle to-gederys and putt them on a rounde spit & poste hem til they ben y-now: then lay hem in a dysshe & pore there on Vynegre & a lityl verious & poudre pepir ther-on y-now & Gyngere & Canelle & a few ylokes of hard Eyroun y-kremyd there-on & serue forth'

As we wanted to keep it simple, we left out the sauce, but I would like to make it sometime, as creamed hard-boiled egg yolks, vinegar, pepper and ginger sounds interesting...

The hard-boiled yolks used as the filling I thought was a bit odd, it looks good, but reminded me of when they were used in the fillings of some of the crustards and the like, didn't seem that useful somehow... Anyway, time to go to the 'Propre New Book' of 1545, as this is what we are concentrating on this year in the kitchen. 'To make a pye of alowes' so it's going to be the baked version. 'Take a legge of mutton and cutte it in thin slices, and for the stuffing of the same take percely tyme and saueri, and chop them small, then temper among them three or four yolkes of harde egges chopt small, and small reysyns, dates cutte with mace and a lytle salt, then laye all these in the steakes and then role them togyther' It then tells you to put them in the pie case, with a syrup.

So, much the same as before, but then baked and with fruit.
Let's go back, to 'Ancient Cookery', a collection of fourteenth century recipes. Here it is... 'Alaunder of beef'.
'Take leches of the lengthe of a spoune' that's useful... 'and take parcel and hewe smal, and pouder of pepur, and maree, and tempur hit togedur, and take lecches of beef, and rolle hom therin, and laye hom on a gridirne...' No hard eggs yolks or fruit, and it mentions a gridiron!

And the companion piece, 'Alaunder of moton. Take moton of the legge and seth hit tendur bi hitself, and qwhen hit is sothen take and braie hit in a morter, or hewe hit smal with a knyfe, and putte hit in a pot and boile hit with the same broth...' What, where are the rolls? Perhaps these recipes aren't as straightforward as they seem.

For instance, the normal definition of 'aloe' is the one given by Hieatt and Butler in Curye on Inglysch; veal birds, from the french for 'lark', this seems correct. Kitchiner in the 'Cook's Oracle' version uses a lark spit. However Austin (1888) quotes an early seventeenth century French/English dictionary; 'Aloyau de boeuf, A short rib of Beef or the fleshy end of the rib divided from the rest and roasted, a little piece of (roasted) beef, having a bone in it. Nowadays it translates as 'sirloin'. Austin was glossing 'Alowys' though...

The roll less mutton version also turns up in the 'Pynson' cookery book of 1500 as 'For to make Alawder de mutton... take the legge of motton and boyle tyll it be tendre by it selfe when it is soden braye the flesshe in a morter & alay it with the same broth...' The 'Napier' version, from a 1460's manuscript, similar to the one that 'Pynson' was based on, is much the same, of course. Interesting though that it is so alike the one from 'Ancient Cookery', 'seth' has been replaced by 'boyle', but the detail of boiling until tender, by itself is the same, does suggest they may have a common source. And what is strange is that the fifteenth century mutton recipe ' Allows de mutton' is what we would expect, rolling and hard boiled eggs and roast and all. Perhaps the 'Pynson' is becoming less useful the more we know about it...

Then the name changes to 'Olives', apparently (I have an old OED) the first usage was the english translation of Epulario from 1598 'To make Oliues of Veale or any other flesh that is lean', another from the same year '...that meate which we call oliues of veale.'. I would love to know if the first usage being from a translation is a coincidence. However I don't have a copy of the 'Epulario', (the translation is in print I believe), or know what the original italian word was... Can anyone help?

Once it becomes 'Olives', there is no stopping our dish, Gervase Markham in 1615 has two versions; the roast one; '...take a legge of veale and cut the flesh from the bones, and cut it into long thin slices, then take sweet herbs and the white part of scallions and chop them well together with the yolks of eggs' are these raw eggs...'then rowle it up within the slices of the veal, and so spit them and roast them' . Continues with a sauce made from verjuice, currants and spices.

And the other one, an olive pie '...take sweet hearbs as Violet leaues, Spinage, Sauorie, Endiue, Time, Sorrell... and if there be a Scullion or two amongst them, it will give the better taste; than take the yelkes of hard egs with Canell, Cinamon, Cloues and Mace... cut out long Oliues of a legge of Veale, roule up ...' The pie also has dried fruit, and a syrup made from claret, vinegar, sugar and cinnamon. And hard boiled eggs. And a whole load of butter... Interesting how the writer is so confident that you know what an olive is 'cut out long olives...', the aloe recipes explained what an aloe was.

Of course Robert May had a version, or three. The pie one has thyme, sweet marjoram, savoury, spinach, parsley, sage, endive, sorrel, violet leaves and strawberry leaves. The minced hard boiled eggs, of course, then currents, nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon, sugar and salt, raisins, gooseberries or barberries and dates, and that's before you put the olives in the pie; welcome to the restoration!

'Olines of Beef stewed and roste' is the rather confusing title our dish goes by in the household of Elizabeth Cromwell, or should we say court, because the book does! This is a strange book from 1664, restoration propaganda about the wife of Noll Cromwell, purporting, by publishing her recipes, to expose the... the... well not sure what they had in mind. Reminded me in a way of how people made fun of Mrs. Ceausescu, couldn't seem to work out whether she was too extravagant, or too parsimonious, in the end it was as if she was being criticised for not doing extravagance stylishly enough. And the olives are being drawn into politics, is it because it's beef not veal...

'Take buttocks of Beef, and cut some of it into thin slices as broad as your hand, then hack them with the back of your knife, lard them with small lard, and season them with pepper, salt, and nutmeg: then make a farcing with some sweet herbs, time, onions, the yolkes of hard eggs, beef suet or lard all minced, some salt, barberries, grapes, or gooseberries, season it with the former spices lightly and work it up together, then lay on the slices, and roll them up round with some caul of veal, beef or mutton, bake them in a dish in the oven, or roast them...' sounds rather nice, served on sippits with artichokes or potatoes, claret wine, and 'some sliced orange, lemon, barberries, grapes or gooseberries.'

So this is what the Cromwell’s were getting up to at Hampton Court in the 1650's, which is a bit strange as the above recipe is identical to Bob May's version from 1660...

I rather like this chasing a recipe forwards in time thing, but perhaps I had better stop now. Just wait until the Olive dishes hit the eighteenth century, I'm sure you can imagine what happens...

There is, in two days, another barbecue weekend, this time with Richard and Marc taking their rightful places in the kitchen. I, on the other hand, will be outside with Dave and Jorge, so anything can happen!


Thanks to Robert for that, so it looks like they found enough to keep themselves busy.....talking wise if nothing else....last event.

Pretty much as I mentioned the other day, its the same plan for this weekend and hopefully I'll be able to keep you abreast of things as the weekend progresses via posts here and possibly Twitter too...posts will have to wait until the end of the day as I'll be in costume working, but you never know I may be able to squeeze in the odd titbit here and there.

Don't forget if you are coming along on the weekend that there is a Tudor joust to see as well, twice a day, but I would also hope you appreciate that this is very much weather much as I would like to be able to say 'indoors if wet' that is, I am afraid, not the case!

This is also another opportunity to suggest the forum to you all....a small band of posters at the moment, but hopefully that will change in time...posts include 'TerryL' putting a load of images from the last year there that you might like to see (they are in the 'Cookery at Hampton Court' board) and 'digger' is doing sterling work posting links to online cookery and related books in German libraries over on the members boards...there are also starting to be some links appearing there to other websites and suppliers that may be of interest to readers of the blog.



terrylove said...

Mammoth post indeed. Also one that seems to actually be 2 or 3 posts that somehow merged. Started as a report of what was cooked last time and then got sidetracked by the history of one of the dishes... (not a criticism, I know EXACTLY how that works in the brain of the one doing the writing).

You, and Robert perhaps, to do more of the evolution of dishes and recipes as it's quite interesting, even to me. Perhaps a glossary (what does 'seth' mean, as it seems morph into boil in another recipe does it mean simmer?). Having the recipes typed out in a modern font helps a little but the spelling and usage (and some of the words) still leave me guessing at times.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the weekend, the weather forecast was for reasonable weather, but tht is subject to change depending on how the randon number generator they use at the BBC Weather Centre rolls the dice from day to day.

Elise Fleming said...

Robert asked about the Italian form of Epulario. It is up on Google Books. If I found the correct recipe, which I believe I did, the Italian says (to the best of my copying ability):

Per fare polpette di carne di vitella.

Per fare polpette di carne di vitella, ouero altra bouna carne magra. In prima togli della buona carne magra dalla coscia, e tagliala in fette luhge, e sottili, e bat tile ben sobra una tauola co- la costa del coltello, & togli fale e finocchio pesto, e pitartema, e ponilo sopa le dette fette di carne. Dipoi togli dil petrosillo, mazorana, & di buon lardo, et batti queste cose insieme co- un poco di buone specie, et dapoi distedile bene nelle dette fette. Di poi inuoltale insieme, & mettile in sopresso y spacio d’ un’hora, & poi ponle nel spedo a cuocere, ma guarda dinon la lasciare troppo seccar al fuoco.

It would therefore look like the word "polpette" was what came across as olives/aloes. Modern translation machines render "polpette" as "meatballs" which doesn't seem to fit the medieval description.

As a side note, sliced hard-boiled eggs are used in an Argentine dish where a large, flat piece of meat is rolled up with egg slices (plus spinach), cooked, and then sliced so that the egg yolks show off in each piece. I made a version many, many years ago and it was certainly tasty - and pretty.

Tudor Cook said...

Thanks for that it happens 5 minutes after posting that entry I also forund the Google books version and have sent the link to Robert....I think that we might expect some more on this from Robert now that he has that to work through as well ;o)

Perhaps when the next couple of weekends are done and dusted he'll get the chance to look at the topic again?

As you say, meatball doesn't really do it justice does it?

terrylove said...

OK, I fed Elise's Italian into Google Translate, it helps a bit

To make meatballs of veal.

To make meatballs of veal, Boun Ouèrè other lean meat. At first you take away the good lean meat from the thigh, and cut it into slices luhge, and thin, and tile bat well Sobra a co-tauola the coast of the knife, remove & carpentry and fennel, and pitartema and ponilo sopa those slices meat. Afterwards remove dil Petrosillo, mazorana, & good lard, et beat these things together a bit of good co-species, And afterwards distedile well in these slices. Afterwards inuoltale together & put them in y deleted, Spacio 's un'hora, & then PONL When shipping to cook, but it looks too dry Dinon leave the fire.

It's OK, I'll send out for pizza... ;-)

Elise Fleming said...

"To make Oliues of Veale or any other flesh that is lean, take the legge and cut it in long thin peeces, and beate it well upon a table with the flat side of a knife, then take Salt, Fennell, and Coriander seed, and lay them upon the slices or Peeces of flesh, then take Parsley, Margeram and lard, and bruse them together with some spice, and straw it upon the peeces of flesh, then roule them up together and presse them for the space of an hourse, which done, spit them and rost them, not suffering them to dry ouermuch."

There seems to be some discrepancy between the Italian and the English versions, so I'm not sure what liberties the 1590s translator might have taken. The Italian that I posted comes right after the Castilian recipe as does the English that I gave above.

terrylove said...

Ahhh, thanks Elise, that makes more sense to me now.

As for variations, it could be as simple as different cooks, different preference so no liberty taking involved. After all, these are recipes for food, not chemical formulas, (I have to tell myself that every time I get a cook book out - not often these days sadly - and start weighing and measuring to the last gram or drop, and exactly leveling off spoonfuls).