Recipe Review Time! With Alexandre "Spicy" d'Avigne

What with time on my hands for a change, and even more shockingly time on Louis-Phillipe's{Louis-Phillipe Mitouard, then editor of the Dorinda} , we had a chance to run some of these recipes through a taste test.

We tried the Brawne. I didn't find collars and so ended up with a cheap-o pork roast. I double checked some recipes and decided that 400F was a better temperature than 375F. It also turns out that an hour and a half was needed for the roast I had. The results was tender and somewhat bland. This was acceptable since it was to be accompanied by the mustard. For a feast I would be inclined to get a boneless roast rather than try to cut it off the bone as I did at the taste test.

To make tender and delicate brawne:Hugh Plat's "Delightes for Ladies":

13. To make tender and delicate brawne.
Put collars of brawn in kettles of water, or other apt vessels into an oven heated, as you would for household bread; cover the vessels, and so leave them as long in the over as you would doe a batch of bread. A late experience amongst Gentlewomen far excelling the old manner of boiling brawne in great and huge kettles. Quare if putting your liquor hot into the vessels, and the brawn a little boiled first, by this means you shall not give great expedition to your work.

Brawne after Hugh Plat
Take a medium size pork shoulder and place it into a dish. Cover it with water. Bake it at 400F for 90 minutes or so until done. If the roast is thicker, it will take longer to cook, if small less time. Slice thinly and serve with mustard.

The mustard was adequate but not exceptional. A suggestion was made that a more strongly flavored vinegar (I used white wine) would improve it, and I tend to agree. Rough measurements were also made.

Mustard Meale:Hugh Plat's "Delightes for Ladies":

25. Mustard Meale
It is usual in Venice to sell the meal of Mustard in their markets as we doe flower and meale in England: this meale, by the addition of vinegar, in two or three daies becommeth exceeding good mustard; but it would be much stronger and finer, if the huskes or huls were first divides by searce or boulter: which may be easily done, if you dry your seeds against the fire before you grinde them. The Dutch iron hand-mils, or an ordinary pepper-mill, may serve fro this purpose. I thought it very necessary to publish this manner of making your sawce, because our mustard which we buy from the chandlers at this day, is many times made up with vile and filthy vinegar, such as our stomacks would abhorre, if we should see it before the mixing thereof with the seeds.

Mustard after Hugh Plat
Begin with as much vinegar as you wish to have mustard. Add either dry mustard or ground mustard seeds to taste. Let is sit a couple of days to mellow. A rough ratio is 3 tsp mustard to 1/4 cup vinegar. I used white wine, I would suggest perhaps a cider or some other more strongly flavored vinegar.

The Tarte of Spinage was also tried, and while tasty did not cling together as well as could be hoped. I suggest an egg to add body.

To Make a Tarte of Spinage:"A New Booke of Cokerye":

Take Spynage and perboyle it tender, then take it up and wrynge oute the water cleane, and chop it very small, and set it upon the fyre wyth swete butter in a frying panne and season it, and set it in a platter to coole then fyll your tarte and so bake it."

Tarte of Spinage after A new Booke
Thaw a pound or so of frozen spinach. Fry it up with butter, salt, pepper and garlic to taste. When it is well and truly covered in the hot butter, transfer it to a pie shell and bake it for 10 minutes or so at around 400F. If a firmer texture is desired, a lightly beaten egg may be added after the frying but prior to the baking.

The final dish we tried was the fritters. I liked them quite a bit, the others thought they were allright as well. The only correction to the recipe was to increase the beginning amount of flour (which was an error I made in copying the recipe in the first place.) I used Guiness as advertised and it worked well.

Fritters: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."

"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 Sugre ther-on, & serue forth."

Fritters after the Harleian MS
Mix 1/2 flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 cup flat beer of your choice (I'd recommend something with a little kick to it - Guiness maybe.) Add flour to it until it has the appropriate texture for batter. If you wish add a little milk as well. Cut up apples, not Red Delicious, into slices, or for a change, core them and slice into rounds. Slather them well in the batter and fry in hot oil. Sprinkle with sugar, and serve while warm.

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Comments are welcome.
Alexandre Lerot d'Avigné, Jeff Berry,

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