I have properly discovered what a wonderful resource Stefan’s Florilegium is. (http://www.florilegium.org/) It’s kind of the default go to web site for useful stuff about skills you might want to know about in the SCA, and you tend to hear about it early on. In the words of THLord Stefan li Rous (Mark S. Harris) “This is a collection of files that I have assembled from various sources since I first joined the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) in 1989. The information in these files comes from the Rialto newsgroup (rec.org.sca), the old fidonet medieval echo conference area, various mail lists and articles submitted to me by their authors.”
I had visited in the past, but without a clear project in mind I didn’t give it a lot of attention. With a project in mind it’s an absolute treasure trove – it turns out it has all sorts of great stuff about period food colouring, which I will be returning to in a follow up post soon. It also has proven to be a great resource for recipes for small treats to bring to a demo we’re going to in Athlone castle this weekend. I have already been working on a batch of candied peel, but I wanted something else to bring along too. These are some of the options I’ve chosen to look at
1) Marizan fruit. As I child I can remember making these with my mother, it was a bit of a fad in Ireland in the 70s/early 80s I think. I was surprised to see the entries about it and then realised the making of marizpan into fruit shapes is *incredibly* period. So I’m going to make a batch of fresh marizpan (recipe to be chosen this evening) and try out some shapes apples, oranges, pears, strawberries and lemons all seem safe options. I may have to resort to modern food colouring at this short notice, but I’ll keep you posted.
2) Heathen Peas as discovered in “Sweets and Treats of the 14C” by Lady Hauviette d’Anjou, chosen partly because I love the name and partly because they have potential to be yummy. I think I might add some more spices than just cinnamon though, and I’m thinking candied lemon peel could work quite well too, but they won’t be ready in time.
So take almond kernels and pound them very small. And mix it with a third as much honey. And with good spices well mixed. So it has the very best. One hands this out greedily, cold or warm.
In Lady d’Angou’s version she took 4 cups whole almonds and cup of honey and 2-3 tsp ground cinnamon. She coarse ground 3 cups of almonds and toasted them for 5 minutes then added 1 cup of finer ground almonds mixed with the cinnamon and then added the warmed honey.
“Keeping a bowl of warm water near by (to rinse your hands occasionally), take a generous pinch of the honey/nut mixture and roll into a 1 inch ball. Continue until all of the mixture is used. Keeps well in a cool place, sealed container. Makes approximately 90- 1 inch balls”
3) The other recipe that really took my fancy from the Florilegium was one for Fruta de Mazapan from “Three Spanish sweet dishes from de Nola ” by Vicente (Vincent Cuenca)
Fruta de Mazapan are a sort of Marzipan Rissoles
Take well ground white almonds; and while grinding them add sugar; and for a pound of almonds another pound of sugar; and grind it all together and while grinding sprinkle it with rose water, and it should be as well milled as possible; and then take very well sifted flour, and make a dough with eggs and lard; and a little white wine, and make some little cakes; and put the paste in them, and set a frying pan with lard, and when it is very hot toss in the cakes; and fry them with plenty of space between them and not too quickly; and then add honey and sugar and cinnamon on the plate.
His version is to take one pound of blanched almonds, one pound of sugar, ground together and moistened with rosewater. He makes a sort of pastry/dough with lard, flour, eggs and wine. Roll out the pasty, cut circles which are then filled with spoonfuls of marzipan paste and folded them over to make a crescent shape, sealed and fried until
golden, then drizzled with syrup of thinned honey mixed with cinnamon
on top. I think these sound fantastic, I’m looking forward to trying them, though I’m going to substitute butter for lard.
4. I want to make some biscuits too, I’ve a few shortbread type biscuit recipes I’ve found that I can have as an alternative to all the almonds. I have a large stamp to make them pretty, though I’m not sure how well it will transfer.
Update: the Heathen Peas are delicious!
The marzipan I made with equal quantity of freshly ground fine almonds and very fine sugar, mixed to paste consistency with a small quantity of lemon juice and orange blossom water. It’s tasty, but you wouldn’t eat a lot of it. I used modern food colour and don’t like the outcome much, I would have preferred to try beet, parsley and saffron, given more time. I’m given to understand the flavours don’t come through the essential marzipan.