Sunday, 29 August 2010

Hang On......'ve actually managed to make less that they did last time when you two weren't here!! Was the comment from Howard the fire warder around 3 this afternon. Fair enough from what I've been told about the last event it would seem that his observation was correct.....we managed to make virtually no complete dish today.....but boy did we talk!

Perhaps tomorrow we might manage a little more? Certainly planning discussions in the pub would lead us to say that we have the ideas, the willing, the equipment and the ingredients to do so, but no promises I'm afraid.

Tune in tomorrow to find out more.

BTW a big thanks to all the guys for making/letting Marc H and I take it easy today...if we were to be 100% honest then we probably shouldn't be back at work this weekend because neither of us is truly up to the physical work..the talking isn't a problem, just all the other stuff which we're having to call upon all the rest to do for us....picking, carrying, fetching and so on, so thanks to the guys for helping us to get back to work.....and thanks to those regular visitors who expressed their concern too....honestly, we will take it easy tomorrow and Monday....promise.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Formula 3 eh!

What did I say....more F3 than F1??

Looks like that decision may well come to haunt me this weekend....perhaps the search for paid web hosting will start a little sooner than ecpected?

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.


Sunday, 22 August 2010

Side Project #1

Have a little look to the right and you should see a button that will take you to the first of the side projects that have kept me distracted of late....a forum.

Why a forum? Well simply the suggestion was to have somewhere for chat, discussion and news that wasn't reliant too much on me getting my finger out and writing a blog post! Now I realise that the blog seems to be a fairly one way affair...lots of views but only the odd comment here and there, perhaps, the thinking goes, a forum facility would encourage a little more discourse. If nothing else, it will give the other team members who feel like contributing a platform to do so and to put their point of view across as well.

As with the Twitter feed, this is an 'as well' feature, not an 'instead of', so there will still be the usual inane rubbish here and via Twitter, but now with the added bonus of the forum arena too.

Pop over and have a look see, read the welcome posts which should help give you a few basic ideas and 'rules' then why not join up and introduce yourselves!

A few caveats and the like:

This is very much a trial run to see if it works or not...that's why the odd web sub-domain address, I'm trying this out with as little financial outlay as possible so am using a free web hosting service...if it takes off and become popular then expect to be notified of address changes and such like further down the road....because it is a free service, their customer support is more formula 3 than formula 1 shall we say and they have the occasional web outage...if you can't see the forum that's probably why and I'll endeavour to inform you via here and/or Twitter.

rules of the forum are simple...keep it clean, be nice, have fun!

I don't expect to have to moderate much, but if there is cause to do so moderation posts will be written in red to differentiate them from my own postings. Things we don't want are the obvious...personal attacks, flaming, junk posting....all the sort of thing that turns a forum into an unpleasant place to visit.

There are a number of measures in place to deter spam posting, but they won't be 100% effective I'm sure...if you see junk being posted, if it's anything like the junk the blog gets it'll be Chinese characters or trite platitudes that are html links to spurious web pages, then please report the post...there are buttons to report on every post or send me a PM or email via the forum.

When you sign up your first 3 posts are restricted and have to be approved by an administrator...well me really!...this is one of the systems to weed out junk posts, a little inconvenient I know, but worth it I think...please remember that although I keep unusual hours, I do live in GMT+1 so those of you in more distant climes (USA, Canada, Australia etc.) may have to wait a few hours to have your posts approved initially because I do have to sleep sometimes! will get an email from the forum when they are approved and posted. I will probably add a moderation team to help run the board and assist with initial posts, but details of that will come on the forum in the next week or so.

I think that's pretty much it for go and have a look, join up and say hello!


Friday, 20 August 2010


is what I've been....recovering from the stay in hospital, which has taken longer than I thought (still not up to full strength, it's amazing how much three little holes in your abdomen can set you back!), by a couple of side projects, but mostly with work.
With it being the summer holidays, people in the department are off on their jaunts which means that a lot more pre planning has to be done a lot earlier than usual.....the upshot being that the next three weekends are now planned and the shopping lists are in and approved, so fingers crossed I can now get back to the research, the side projects and of course the blog, which I am more than aware of having neglected again of late.

First things first..the side projects. At the moment they'll have to be a secret, one is strictly work related but both will I hope involve all of you in the near of them early next week if plans continue as they are at the moment.

Second, a heads up on the next weekend, the August bank holiday weekend... because I missed the last weekend, because it worked so well, because it is still barbecue season here and most importantly, because I had always planned it to be this way...we shall once again be looking at the recipes that I think would work well cooked on a grill/barbecue; in fact it will be the same recipes that I planned for the last event but as the guys were so short handed they didn't manage to cook.
On top of the cookery there will be another joust event happening in the East Front Gardens....Tudor period again unlike the one earlier this year...two competitions a day at 12.00 and 4.00, and remember that they are competitive, no pre staged black knight, Hollywood style hokum (no offence to our readers from the West Coast!). Plans are also in place for Jorge to be outside, talking about painting and the making of temporary items used at a joust...and Dave will be there too running the mini knights game...come along and join the combat before watching the 'real' thing!

Thirdly and in answer to Elise's question....what dishes are planned?

For the moment you'll just have to make do with the names and recipes will have to follow later on the list for talking about/cooking are...

Cormarye, Pompys, Samon rostyd in sauce, Sauce for peions, Wardons in syryp, Sauge, Aquapatys, Milk rostys, Alloes of beef, Chese tarts, Stekys of venson or bef, Browne fryes and Wardens in past.

To be honest I've no idea how many we'll get through, but that's the planned list that we have ingredients well as enough stuff to do a couple of other sauces and some of the dishes more than once.

Now I'll have to sign off as I'm starting to lose the plot..I'm writing this whilst working on one of the side projects too and now I'm getting a teeny bit confused with where I am with much for multi tasking!!
Will have to go back and read all the last posts to find out what I said I'd tell you but haven't


Saturday, 7 August 2010

Chinese Whispers, a second hand report on the action in the kitchens today, thanks to a brief phone call from Robin earlier this evening.
The plan for the weekend was to talk about cooking 'history food' at home today using a charcoal barbecue, because after all that's really what our charcoal stoves are...the idea being to give people a nudge this summer to try something that isn't just burgers, chops and kebabs....I despair at the lack of imagination we Brits have as a nation when it comes to using a charcoal grill to cook with. I'd sorted out a menu of dishes that can readily be cooked on a grill at home and when combined would make for a rather interesting summer party meal...especially when compared to the usual fare that ends up being cooked outside these days!!

Well obviously with me not being there as well as one other omission from the planned ranks due to illness that leaves the guys a little short handed compared to when the plans were put in place, so the last instructions were simple...use up the ingredients that can't be frozen easily and cook whatever makes your lives simple whilst staying within the remit of the theme.

So how has the day gone....quite well it seems, not that it should be a surprise in any way as the guys are perfectly capable of working without me being there. Apparently it wasn't too busy and they've all been chatting away nicely and keeping themselves occupied cooking some of the dishes that were planned...can't really ask for much more can you. They've also had a German magazine team round chatting to them and they'll be back tomorrow to take pictures, all part of a large article on the kitchens and the gardens I'm lead to believe...could be interesting and may well bump visitor figures along towards the start of Autumn, but who knows with these things.
I've been promised another phone call tomorrow at the end of the day for a final debrief which should help to confirm in my mind that we'll repeat this theme at the end of the month over the holiday weekend...unless something drastic happens between now and the end of next week when plans have to be in to fit around annual holidays within the department.

I'll post again tomorrow I think with stuff about the last weekend as I'm starting to drift off to sleep now!


Friday, 6 August 2010

And They're Off....

...well at least I can only assume that the rest of the guys are all set ready for this weekend of cookery as I'm sat here at home convalescing after the recent trip to hospital. It certainly feels more than a little odd being here knowing that I 'should' be at work, still the guys have the list of work that I had already planned and the ingredients to cook those dishes and I'm sure that they'll do more than OK without me there to nag them....and in all reality I'm not up to a full day of work stood in the kitchen at the moment...although some might say, no change from usual then.

I'm not expecting to hear from the kitchens this weekend (unless it goes monumentally wrong) so I won't be updating you on the progress, but I will aim to post tomorrow with the previously promised info' on the last weekend of cooking along with some stuff about what was planned for the next couple of days of cooking...but in all honesty I can't guarantee that what was planned is what will be actually cooked as the actual work load is up to the guys at the coal face so to speak.