Archive for August, 2015

Merguez Three Ways

My friend Jane came over to make sausages today. We decided to try two variations on the first recipe found here, plus the second recipe.

The first recipe calls for murri naqi, which is a medieval fermented barley paste. We used David Friedman’s recipe, found here, with a few changes. Because Jane is gluten-intolerant, we left out both the breadcrumbs and the wheat starch. I didn’t have anise, so we substituted fennel. I didn’t have carob or a substitute, so we just left it out.Quinces are out of season, so we used the equivalent weight of crab-apples instead. We decided to put in half the recommended amount of salt, as it seemed like too much (especially without the bread crumbs etc to bulk up the mixture).


Clockwise from top: crab-apples, nigella, walnuts, cilantro and mint (for the second recipe), celery seed, saffron, fennel seed (in the centre)

Our recipe for murri:

2/3 tsp nigella

1 1/2 oz crabapples, quartered and seeds removed

1/4 tsp saffron

3 Tbsp salt in 3 Tbsp honey

1/3 tsp celery seed

2 c water

1 1/3 tsp fennel

1/4 oz walnut

1 Tbsp lemon juice

We cooked the honey and salt in a saucepan, bringing it to a boil then turning off the heat three times; the mixture smelled scorched and was a dark caramel colour. We toasted the fennel and nigella in a frying pan, then ground it in a mortar with the celery seed and walnuts. Then we boiled all the ingredients except the lemon for about 2 hours, then squeezed the liquid out through a small colander and added the lemon juice. The result was a little over a cup of very salty but complex-flavoured murri.


While that was going on, we prepared the first variation of this recipe. Since murri provides the salt in the sausage, we decided to test the recipe using just plain salt.

Merguez first way (Mirkas):

1 lb lamb, of which about 1/3 was fat

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground coriander seed

1/4 tsp ground lavender

1/4 tsp cinnamon

We ground the lamb but chopped the fat into small chunks with a knife. Then we added the remaining ingredients, mixed them together and filled the sausage casings. (We forgot the pepper.) The sausage was quite tasty, and vaguely exotic compared to the northern European sausages I have been making up until now.

Merguez Second Way:

This recipe was identical to the first way, except we remembered to add 1/4 tsp pepper, skipped the salt and added 2 tsp of murri instead. This was divine! Our only disappointment was that we only managed to make six sausages. We have lots of murri left, and will be making this again as soon as we can acquire more lamb at a reasonable price.

Merguez Third Way (Mirkas with Fresh Cheese):

1 lb lamb (about 1/3 chopped fat and 2/3 ground meat)

1/2 c Bulgarian feta

1 extra-large egg

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground mint leaves and their juice

1 tsp ground cilantro and its juice.

Mix everything together and stuff into casings.

This was our least favourite of the three. Next time, we would use only 1/8 tsp cloves, as it overwhelmed the other flavours. We would also use a smaller egg, as it was very liquid (though it should cook up just fine now that it is in a casing).

Here’s how everything looked at the end:


Jane with (l to r) Merguez with salt, Merguez with Cheese, and Merguez with murri

We didn’t make any of the vinegar and oil (optionally with the addition of cilantro and mint juice and mashed onion) sauces to accompany the merguez, though I will try to make some to take to the grand taste-testing in November.


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My daughter is away visiting friends for a few days, so she has tasked me with her cleaning schedule. Bwahahahaha! That’s not likely to happen. I did, however, agree to do some decluttering. Clearly, the best way to do that is to start new projects right? I think so, especially since my mom is coming over to sew tomorrow, so I started some new sewing projects, too, instead of setting up current projects so we can work together. This post won’t be particularly medieval, as a result.

First up, I started processing the woad from my garden. So far, I have a lovely pot of blue-green goop. IMG_20150820_200116

I was supposed to be following the instructions here (http://www.woad.org.uk/html/extraction.html) , but I completely forgot to strain out the leaves before running the liquid through the blender. I have strained out the tiny bits now, so hopefully I’ll be able to recover the blue woad without too much green.

At the same time (which might explain the woad mistake), I made a jar of wonderberry jam. Wonderberries self-seed in my garden, and so far this year I have gotten three jars.

I still need to make about 10 lb of crab-apple preserves, and clean yesterday’s haul of elderberries. It’s too hot to make elderberry pie, and I’m not fond enough of jelly to use the berries for that.

Then it will be back to my sewing. I have been getting inspired by Makery’s Refashioners 2015 challenge (http://www.makery.uk/). So far, I have redone two shirts. This one is a boring men’s Gap shirt. I removed the collar, shortened the sleeves, and recut the hem so the front is shorter than the back. Everything is bound with bias tape.

Now I’m cutting down a bunch of T-shirts. But the pants I’m supposed to be working on? Not so much. And we won’t even mention my tablet weaving project (I set it up but I’m not happy with the size of the band, so I’m going to simplify the design), or the two tunics I have started to cut out many times, etc. etc.

But I will clear a few things out – really! I have until Sunday. That’s hundreds of minutes.

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I love chorizo, both the Mexican and the Spanish style, so I have been frustrated that I couldn’t find a medieval recipe. Finally, I went back to my big stack of notes accumulated months ago, and discovered the recipe below, though without any notes of where I had found it. A bit of searching later, and I came up with http://larsdatter.com/manual.htm#chorizo for the English translation, as well as a link to the Spanish version.  More officially, this source is “Manual de mujeres en el cual se contienen muchas y diversas recetas muy buenas (Manual of Women in which is contained many and diverse very good recipes) (1500) Harris, Karen trans. Self-published.”

Carne de puerco magra y gorda picada, harina muy cernida, ajos mondados, clavos molidos, vino blanco, sal la que fuere menester. Amasarlo todo con el vino y después de masado, dejarlo en un vaso cubierto un día natural. Y después henchir las tripas de vaca o puerco, cual quisiéredes, de esta masa y ponerlas a secar al humo.

Minced lean and fat pork meat, well-sifted flour, peeled (cloves of) garlic, ground cloves, white wine, salt. Knead everything together with the wine and after kneading it, leave it in a covered vessel for one natural day. And then fill the intestines of a cow or pig, whichever you want, with this mixture and leave them to dry in smoke. (Manual de mujeres, 1500)

I used 1 kg pork shoulder, 1 Tbsp white flour, 6 cloves of garlic, 1/4 c white wine, 1/8 tsp ground cloves, 20 gr salt (about 1 Tbsp), and 3/4 tsp curing salt #2. The curing salt is modern, but since these sausages are to be cold smoked and then eaten without cooking, I decided in favour of food safety.



The verdict? Okay, but I think I liked them better when I used a modern recipe and let them just hang for days, instead of smoking for a few hours. They didn’t have the fermented tang of the dry cured sausage. Also, I think a little more salt might have been nice (though more fermentation might have given the flavour I’m missing). I’ll try this recipe again when the weather is colder, and just hang to dry. Dry curing is definitely NOT something to try on a day like today, when it was above 30C, and felt like it was above 40C.

Also, this lady’s blog is pretty cool, even though she didn’t give the documentation for her version of medieval chorizo: http://www.medievalspanishchef.com/2010/10/afiler-de-cabeza-negra.html.

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I swore I was done with blood sausage, but then I came across these while hunting for a chorizo recipe:

Manuel de mujeres (1500) http://larsdatter.com/manual.htm#chorizo

Receta para hacer morcillas finas

     Pan rallado, almendras cortadas, piñones, clavos y canela molido, yemas de huevos cocidas, manteca de puerco fresca, sal la que fuere menester, azúcar derretido en agua de olor. Todas estas cosas amasadas. Y hecha la masa, henchir las tripas -que sean de las delgadas de vaca- de esta masa. Y tableadas las tripas, picadas con un alfiler; y puesta una caldera de agua al fuego, cuando hierva meter las tripas horadadas dentro, y dejarlas hasta que se paren tiestas.

Recipe to make fine blood pudding (this is actually a white pudding recipe)
Grated bread, sliced almonds, pine nuts, cloves and ground cinnamon, cooked egg yolks, fresh lard, salt which is necessary, sugar dissolved in perfumed water. Knead all these things (together). And when the mixture is made, fill the guts – which are the thin ones of a cow – with this mixture. And cut up the guts, prick them with a pin; and put a pot of water on the fire, when it boils put the guts in it, and leave them until the sound of the cooking has stopped.

Receuta para hacer un obispo de puerco

     Dos libras de puerco que sea de lomo y haya estado un día en adobo con la tripa. Lavadas después y picadas con una docena de huevos cozidos y con una libra de manteca. Y después de picado, echallo en una almofía y juntar con ello una docena de huevos crudos, y cuarta y media de clavos, y canela molida, y un poco de pimienta, y encorporarlo todo muy bien. Y desque encorporado, y puesta la sal que fuere menester, henchir la tripa dello y poner a trechos las yemas de huevos cocidas que quisieren.

Recipe for a pork blood pudding (the literal translation is Recipe for a Pork Bishop)
Two pounds of pork that is from the back and that has been for one day in a marinade with the guts. Then wash (the pork) and cut it up with a dozen cooked eggs and with a pound of lard. And after cutting it, put it in a still (bowl?) and add with it a dozen raw eggs, and a cuarta and a half of cloves, and ground cinnamon, and a little pepper, and mix it well. And once it is mixed, and the salt which is necessary has been added, fill the guts with it and insert at intervals the cooked egg yolks that you desire.

I can see this one looking a bit like human figures, with egg yolk heads and sausage meat bodies.

Both these recipes are quite rich and use lots of eggs, I don’t think they will freeze very well. Therefore, I’ll save them for a day closer to when I will be presenting all my sausages. In the meantime, I give you a lovely Spanish sausage stuffer:

Spanish sausage making bowl

The bowl is found at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. An inscription in Spanish on the rim of this bowl cites the name of its owner and alludes to its function, making it one of the most interesting surviving examples of late Hispano-Moresque pottery: “Esperança de Tierça, wife of Mig[u]el de Navarro, [and] keeper of the tripes in the town of Muel. Year 1603.” Inside the bowl is the name “Juan Escribano,” surely the craftsman. Tripe is pig intestine used for the casing of sausage. The casing would be fitted over the spout and the meat mixture in the bowl forced into it. The population of Muel consisted mainly of “moriscos” (Spanish subjects of Moorish descent) who made their living as potters. The town’s lusterware production stopped almost completely when the “moriscos” were expelled a few years after this bowl was made.

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Franconian Sausage

Franconian sausage, one of the bratwursts claiming supremacy as the oldest German bratwurst, has similar flavouring to the Nurnburger bratwurst (also from Franconia, and another contender) and the characteristic flavour comes from marjoram. It is coarsely chopped. I was unable to find a period source, but did find this recipe:

Cut the neck and the belly of pork and grind it into a bowl. Add some herbs including Macys (flower of the nutmeg), cardamom, Marjoram, a good pinch of salt and pepper, and mix it all with your hands.

2. Then add two eggs and mix it again, some milk and mix it one last time.

3. Pull over the bowl with the casings made of pigs gut. Pick one out and find the end of the skin. Then, take a funnel and slip the casing over the end in one deft movement. Stuff the casing with the mixture, before tying it off to make a sausage.

4. Once all the sausages are ready, fry them in a little oil in a frying pan. Serve them with steaming sauerkraut, mustard and a good bottle of beer.

Recipe from Georg Scharf (Butcher – Fleischer Fachgeschaft, Bischberg) http://www.pilotguides.com/recipes/tv-shows-planet-food-germany-recipes-franconian-sausages-sauerkraut/

For this recipe, I used a piece of pork shoulder (about 2 1/2 lb), about 1/2 tsp mace, the ground seeds from one cardamom pod, 1 1/2 tsp marjoram, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper, 1 jumbo egg and about 2 Tbsp milk.

Because of what I have been reading about Franconian sausage being one of the oldest known sausage types, and that it is a coarser sausage, I chopped all the meat with a knife. Otherwise, I followed the instructions exactly. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to chop the pieces finely enough, but they look exactly like sausages I can buy commercially, and the flavour was quite nice. Franconian sausages are supposed to be very long and the seem to be quite thin. I struggled to make mine as long and thin as the images I had seen. Perhaps lamb casings would have worked better, despite their tendency to fall apart on me. However, I did experiment with under-filling the casings, and that seemed to give a reasonably good effect.



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It’s apple season around here, and there are plenty of crab-apples free for the taking, so somehow a discussion of crab-apples turned into a plan to make verjus. Verjus, or verjuice, was an essential ingredient in European sauces in the middle ages. Though most commonly made of unripe grapes, crab-apples and other sour fruit were also used.

My friend Michelle, who gave me the apples, has previously made verjus in her kitchen aid. I decided it would be fun to try using mechanical crushers and juice extractors; luckily, my sister had these.

Step One: prop the antique apple crusher on two bar stools in the kitchen, with a large receptacle underneath, and fill the crusher with washed apples with leaves removed (stems too, if they come off easily).

apple crusher

Step two: using your mom and your daughter to help hold the crusher down, try desperately to turn the handle and send crushed bits of apple into the receptacle below, without spilling too much on the floor.

apples crushed

Step three: assemble the juicer and fill with crushed apples (translation – look up what all those little pieces that came with the juicer are for in a youtube video, search madly for some cheesecloth when you realize that the first instruction is to line the juicer with the stuff).

apple juicer

Step four: crank that puppy until your can’t go any further and you have a lovely bowl of juice. Be careful not to do your back an injury (same instruction as for step two). It turns out the juicer should have been bolted to something big and heavy, so Mom very helpfully held it steady and made sure the juice container didn’t fly across the room while I turned the crank.

apple juice


Tadaa! I have about four cups of juice that will be transferred to bottles to sit on my counter for 2-3 days. After that, the juice can be refrigerated for several months, or frozen.

Then it was time for the clean-up. Remember that apple crusher with the big spikes? It’s a royal pain to clean because it’s too big to sit in my sink for rinsing, and the spikes are time consuming to wash with a cloth.  The medieval method, which appears to have used a pestle and then squeezing the squashed fruit through a cloth, would have been less efficient for juice capture, but far easier to clean up.

Fabrication_du_verjus_BnF_Latin_9333_fol._83 (2)

Fabrication du verjus BnF Latin 9333 fol. 83



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7. Potage of a farced breast of Veal. Take a breast of Veal, open it at the nether end, make a farce with a little meat and suet, the crum of a loaf, and all kinds of good Hearbes, mince and season all; whiten this breast, and put in the pot with good broath; Seeth it with Capers, Succory or Herbes minced, stove your Bread, Garnish it if you will, and serve.

8. Potage of a Calfe’s head farced without bones. After it is well scalded, take up the skin thereof, seeth it, and when it is sodden, take out the bones, take out the brains and the eyes, for to set them in their place again; mince well the flesh with Beef-suet or Marrow, and raw yolkes of Eggs, for to thicken the farce, then set the brains and the eyes into their room again; When it is farced, sow it neatly up again, whiten it well in fresh water, and put it in the pot with good Broath; seeth it wll; and next, take some Calfe’s feet, and frie them into Ragoust, seeth them half in water, cleave them in the middle, and pass them in the pan with Butter or Lard, put them into your pot with some Capers; then stove your Bread, Garnish it with this head and feet with the Capers, and serve.

I’m afraid I can’t figure out how this works at all – I understand scalding and removing the skin, but how does one remove the bones once the meat is at least partly cooked? And where, exactly, does the stuffing go? The obvious place would have been where the brain was, but that gets stuffed back into the calf’s head. Perhaps the brain is what is mixed with the eggs and marrow to make the farce?

9. Potage of Lamb’s heads without bones farced. Do as with the Calfe’s head; after they are well scalded, take up the skin, seeth the, and when they are sodden, take the meat of them, and mince it with suet and Lard well seasoned according to your liking; Farce them with a piece of Liver, and of lights of Lamb, Beef-suet or Marrow, raw yolks of Eggs, parsley and fine Herbes, all well minced together, and whiten it, then put it in the pot with good Broth; seeth them well, and season them with fine Herbs; Stove your Bread, and Garnish it with the heads and Purtenances (inner organs, viscera), which you shall whiten if you will with yolks of Eggs allayed with Verjuice, and serve.

10. Potage of a joint o f Mutton farced. Take a joint or two of Mutton, take out the bones, and mince the flesh very small with suet and Lard, then farce the skin with it, and sow it up very neatly, so that the end of the knuckle be very clean, and all well seasoned with salt and spice according to your tast; put it in the pot, and seeth it well with a bundle of Herbes, Capers, and Turnips; Stove your bread, take up, and Garnish it with your Turnips, then serve.

11. Potage of Geese farced. After they are drest, take out the brisket, and farce them with what farce you will, then flowre them, and put them in the pot with good Broath; Stove your Bread and Garnish it with your Geese, with Pease, Pease-Broath, or what you will, and serve.

12. Potage of Partridges without bones, farced. Take out the brisket, and take some Veal or some Capon-flesh, mince it, and season it according to your liking with Salt and Spice, or fine Herbes; Farce your Partridges with it very neatly, put them in the pot with good Broath, and seeth them well with a bundle of herbes, stove your Bread, and Garnish it about the dish with Sparagus, and bottoms of Hartichoakes, then serve.

13. Potage of Turke farced. After it is well dressed, take out the brisket, and take some Veal and some Suet, which you shall mince very small; thicken your farce with Eggs, & mix with it some Beatilles (meatballs) or young Pigeons, raw yolks of Eggs, put it in the pot with good Broath, and seeth it well: put some Chestnuts in it, Mushrums, and Truffles; stove one loaf of Bread, and Garnish it with what is in your pot, then serve. For to make the bundle of Herbes, take Chibals. Parsley, and Thime, and tie them together.

cuisinier francois plate


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