Once again it's time for . . .

The Caer Galen Cooks Corner, with your host Alexandre d'Avigne

Well, the cards and letters have not been pouring in. Then again, neither have nasty phone calls or letter bombs, so I'll keep writing.

Last time I said we'd move onto the second course, and so we shall.

As a refresher, the second course was:

Game hens, those are trivial to cook and left as an exercise to the reader. As for sauces, well, waste not want not, so let's serve some more of the sauces from the first course. And, to add spice (so to speak) let's browse the books again for one more.

Hmm, the "Booke of Cokerye" has a note about Sorrel Sauce, "Take Sorell, grynde hem small and draw (strain) him through a streynoure, and caste thereto salt and serve hit forth" attributed to Austin. Sounds good. I wonder if we can get Sorrel, I've never looked. Let's assume we can. The "Booke" itself then says "Take sorel sauce a good quantite and put in Cinomone and Suger, and let it boyle and powre it upon the soppes and then laye on the chekins."

Well, I think it sounds like it would go great with the game hens, so let's make it! I'd experiment with quantities until it tasted right, and would use wine and water to wet it rather than vinegar, since that would mask the taste.

Tarte. Quiche I think, and a vegetarian one at that. So, use your favorite quiche recipe and stick in a variety of period vegetables. Spinach has been done, so leave it out. Onions are good. Maybe broccoli, I think it's period but don't quote me. Hey, here's a tarte recipe that calls for borage, maybe try that.

"Take borage floures and perboyle them tender, then strayne them wyth the yolckes of three or four egges, and swete curds, or els take three or foure apples, and perboyle wythal and strayne them with swete butter and a lyttle mace and so bake it."

Cool. So take the borage and parboil it. Mix it with cheese of some kind. For "swete curds" I'd use a moderately soft cheese or mix. The character of this dish will depend on the cheese used. I might mix cream cheese, jack and mozerrella for a blander taste. Swiss would be good but isn't exactly "swete."

I might add in a salad to this course just to even out the vegetables and because we can. An interesting idea sometime might be to try a feast without taking advantage of modern availability of ingredients. For instance, fresh greens would probably not be available in January. My guess is that this would make for fairly boring winter feasts, so I would be inclined to try it in the summer or fall.

Next up, fritters. You wouldn't think it would be hard to find a fritter recipe, but it was tricky. Here is the one I found in The Harleian MS.

"Longe Fretoure.-Take Milke,an make fayre croddes ther-of, in the manner of a chese al tendyr; then take owt the whey as clene as you may, & putte it on a bolle; then take yolkes of Eyroun & Ale, & menge floure, & cast there-to, a gode quantyte, & draw it thorw a straynoure in-to a fayre vesselle; then take a panne withe fayre grece, & hete it on the fyre, but let it not boyle, & then ley thin creme a-brode; then take a knyff, & kytte a quantyte ther-of the borde in-to the panne, & efte a-nother, & let 8t frye; & when it is brownne, takeit vpee in-to a fiayre dyssche, and caste Sugre y-now ther-on, & serue forth."

Hmm, well, let's see here. Mix up egg yolks, ale, and flour. Then I start to lose this one. At a guess, add the whey to that mix then fry it on up, but I'm not sure about the bit with the creme and stuff. Fortunately, I have another recipe.

"Fretoure.-Take whete floure, ale yest, Safroun, & Salte, & bete all to-gederys as thikke as you schuldyst make other bature in fleyssche tyme; & then take fayre Apples, & kut hem in manerof Fretourys, & wete hem the bature up on downne, & frye hem in fayre Oyle, & caste hem in a dyssche; and caste Supre ther-on, & serue forth."

Well, that is pretty straight-forward. Flour, yeast and salt. Now since it doesn't say what liquid to use, I'll make an executive decision and go back to the previous recipe. I'd say milk. Or even, skim milk to more accurately model whey (unless you can score whey somewhere). Water would work, but I'd guess milk would give a better flavor. Maybe I'll look at some modern recipes for comparison.

Aren't modems wonderful? Here I am at home with all my modern cookbooks. Louis Diat in "Gourmet's Basic French Cookbook" says that fritter batter is 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon melted butter beaten with an egg. Add 1/2 cup flat beer. Put in a warm place for 1-2 hours. Fold in a stiffly beaten egg white before use.

So, we can see the references to ale are still in use. Actually, I meant to say that ale or beer would make a good liquid, too, since it is both yeast and liquid. So, if you simply leave out the eggs Louis' recipe is pretty spot on. Add apples and fry.

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Comments are welcome.
Alexandre Lerot d'Avigné, Jeff Berry, nexus@panix.com

Copyright Jeff Berry
Originally webbed 4/25/94
Last modified 3/5/98