Tag Archives: (culture) English

Recipe: Meatballs in Almond Milk Sauce

Recipe:  Pompys (Meatballs in Almond Milk Sauce)

(article published January 2017, The Phoenix, Barony of Sacred Stone)

The Early English Text Society is a wonderful resource for the SCA and numerous other historical groups for their interest in preserving and, more importantly, disseminating texts usually available only to specialized scholars.  Two fifteen-century cookery-books is an example drawn from sources from 1430 to 1450.


Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books. Editor Thomas Austin.  Oxford University Press: London, England. 2000 (unaltered reprint). from p.34

Original Entry

(thorn letter symbol replaced by [th])

Take Beef, Porke, or Vele, on of hem, & raw, alle to-choppe it ate [th]e dressoure, [th]an grynd hem in a mortar as smal as [th]ou may, [th]an caste [th]er-to Raw yolkys of Eyroun, wyn, an a lytil white sugre: caste also [th]er-to pouder Pepyr, & Macys, Clowes, Quybibys, pouder Canelle, Synamoun, & Salt, & a lytil Safroun; [th]en take & make smale Pelettys round y-now, & loke [th]at [th]ou haue a fayre potte of Freysshe bro[th]e of bef or of Capoun, & euer [th]row hem [th]er-on & lete hem sethe tyl [th]at [th]ey ben y-now; [th]en take & draw vppe a [th]ryfty mylke of Almaundys, with cold freysshe bro[th]e of Bef, Vele, Moton, o[th]er Capoun, & a-lye it with floure of Rys & with Spycerye; & atte [th]e dressoure ley [th]es pelettys .v. or .vj. in a dysshe, & [th]en pore [th]in sewe aneward, & serue in, or ellys make a gode [th]ryfty Syryppe & ley [th]in pelettys atte [th]e dressoure [th]er-on, & [th]at is gode seruyse.


Take beef, pork or veal, or all of them, and raw, all to chop it at the serving, than grind them in a motor as small as thou may, then add thereto raw yolks of eggs, with a little white sugar: add also thereto ground pepper, mace, cloves, cubeb (a spice related to pepper), powdered canella (cinnamon cassia – common modern cinnamon), cinnamon (cinnamon zeylanicum – often called true cinnamon, and very hard to get ahold of), and salt and a little saffron; then take and make small pellets round suitable (y-now means done, suitable or enough) and look that you have a fair pot of fresh broth of beef or of  chicken and you throw them thereon and let them seethe/boil until that they done, then take and draw up a thrifty milk of almonds with cold fresh broth of beef, veal, mutton or chicken and ally it with rice flour and with spices and at the serving lay these pellets five or six in a dish and then pour thin sauce on it and serve in or else make a good thrifty syrup and lay pellets at the serving thereon and that is good service.

My Interpretation (serves 4)


1 lbs of Beef, Pork or Veal or mixture thereof (ground)

1 egg yolk

1 tsp of sugar, ground pepper, ground cinnamon

½ tsp of ground mace, ground cloves, salt (and fresh ground true cinnamon or one “Red Hot” candy)

¼ tsp saffron

3/4 can of broth (chicken or beef)

4 cups of water

Almond Milk Sauce: ¼ cup almond milk, ¼ can of broth, 2 Tablespoons thickener of choice (rice flour, corn starch, wheat flour), spices as wished (likely similar to the meatball – but use the lighter colored ones for best color effect: mace, salt, true cinnamon, sugar)


  1. Take a saucepan large enough to hold the water and broth and still be 1/3 empty. Start boiling the water and broth.
  2. Take the ground meat and add egg yolks, and spices. Make into small meatballs.
  3. Once broth is at roaring boil, add meatballs carefully. Turn heat down to slow boil.  Cook until done – between 15 and 20 minutes.
  4. In frying pan, as you would make gravy, put in the almond milk, broth, thickener and spices. Sauce can be thin and runny, thick like heavy gravy, or syrupy.  You decide.
  5. Serve the meatballs and sauce together or separately. If together, meatballs are lightly (thrifty) coated with sauce, not swimming.


Recipe: Savory Toasted Cheese

Recipe: Savory Toasted Cheese

One of the favorite foods served in our shire (Shire of Iron Bog) is Savory Toasted Cheese.  A recipe can be found in Digbie, as most cooks call it, or, as it is more formally known,

The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Keneline Digbie Kc. Opened:  Whereby is Discovered Several ways for making of Metheglin, Sicer, Cherry-Wine, &c. together with Excellent Directions for Cookery As also for Preserving, Conserving, Candying, &c. Published by his Son’s Consent.  London, Printed by E.C. for H.Brome, at the Star in Little Britian.  1669.

Yes, that is the title as it appears on the title page.  You can see why cooks used the short title “Digbie”.  Although it was published in 1669, the recipes were drawn from notes made by Sir Kenelme Digbie during his life (1603 to 1665).  The Knight gathered recipes and other information as a hobby, including writing two philosophical treatises during one of his exiles from England (which happened periodically because of his Catholic beliefs).  Sir Keneline Digbie really was “Eminently Learned” and lived in England, France and Rome at different times.  He even spent time in the Mediterranean with a Letter of Mark, protecting his Crown’s interests on the sea-lanes.

The recipe as it appears in Digbie on p. 228 is:


Cut pieces of quick, fat, rich, well tasted cheese, (as the best of Brye, Cheshire, &c. or sharp thick Cream-Cheese) into a dish of thick beaten melted Butter, that hath served for Sparages or the like, or pease, or other boiled Sallet, or ragout of meat, or gravy of Mutton : and , if you will, Chop some of the Asparages among it, or slices of Gambon of Bacon, or fresh-collops, or Onions, or Sibboulets, or Anchovis, and set all this to melt upon a Chafing-dish of Coals, and stir all well together, to Incorporate them ; and when all is of an equal consistence, strew some gross White-Pepper on it, and eat it with tosts or crusts of White-bread.  You may scorch it at the top with a hot Fire-Shovel.

GLOSSARY: (from Lady Rosemary Willowwood)

Sparages:  Asparagus.  Also called “spear-grass” or “spargel”.

Collops:  A small piece or slice of food, especially of meat.

Gambon:  from old North French gambon, or ham, from gambe, leg.  In British usage, the lower end of a side of bacon.  Also called “gammon”.

Sibboulets:  translation somewhat uncertain.  Most likely related to “cibblings”, … the Welsh onion.  The Scots called this onion “cibol” with the “l” frequently not pronounced.  “Sibboulets” probably meant chopped or small cibols.  Like many other medieval words, there were as many spellings as there were spellers.

Fire Shovel: an implement almost like an antique soldering iron, heated to red-hot in the fire and used to toast surfaces of dishes where the whole thing could not be broiled.  Modernly called a “salamander”, IF you can find one!


Take a soft, but firm RICH cheese, such as brie or cream-cheese, and mix it in with butter in a bowl that has had asparagus, onions or meat mixed (or cooked) in it so as would have left a layer of gravy behind.  If you are an efficient cleaner and don’t have one about, you might want to incorporate some asparagus tips, onions slivers or bits of fatty meat like anchovies or bacon in the dish.  Just a little bit, mind, you want to enhance the delicate flavor of the cheese, not overpower it.  Melt everything together and let simmer awhile until it is of equal constancy.  Toss some white pepper on top, if you want, and serve it as a gooey, WARM mess with a crusty white bread.  Run it under a broiler once it is ready, if you want a golden toasted top.


Amounts – Most gentles within the SCA say take equal amounts of brie, cream-cheese and butter and melt all together and add some white pepper.  I have also seen 2 parts brie, 2 parts cream cheese and one part butter; OR 3 parts cream-cheese, 2 parts brie and 1 part butter (mixed with finely chopped onion); OR equal cream-cheese and brie and a little less butter, (say 1/3 less); OR each 8oz cream-cheese and brie, ½ pound butter and 1 pound bacon; OR 8 oz cream-cheese, 32 oz brie and 2 teaspoon of butter served over a green vegetable with final toasting under the oven broiler.  As no actual amounts are given, figure what works for you.

Bacon – Period bacon is closer to a Canadian Ham in character than American Bacon.

Cheese – Should be one that melts consistently, like brie or cream-cheese or a white cheddar.  A stringy cheese like Swiss cheese or mozzarella does not produce the right effect for this recipe.

Heating – A lot of modern recipes recommend that you warm up the cheeses and butter in the microwave.  Brie can get rubbery when heated in this manner, and the natural hotspots in your microwave can cause the delicate cheeses to scorch. Most people use a crockpot, bring the dish to potlucks without the toasting part, and serve the savory cheese with bread on the side while in the warm crockpot. The cheese does not look as appetizing as it cools.


Digbie, Sir Kenelm.  The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Keneline Digbie Kc. Opened:  Whereby is Discovered Several ways for making of Metheglin, Sicer, Cherry-Wine, &c. together with Excellent Directions for Cookery As also for Preserving, Conserving, Candying, &c. Published by his Son’s Consent.  London, Printed by E.C. for H.Brome, at the Star in Little Britian.  1669.

Petersson, Robert T.  “Digby, Sir Kenelm”.  Collier’s Encyclopedia.  The Crowell-Collier Publishing Company.  1965.

Webpage:  http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04792b.htm – Article on Sir Kenelm Digbie

Webpage: http://www.midrealm.org/middlebridge/archives/1997/199712/0030.html – Letter on [Mid] Savory toasted cheese (the variations) – Note as of 5/15/2019 the website is no longer responding.

Webarticle: “Then Serve It Forth: Savoury Tosted or Melted Cheese” by Lady Rosemary Willowwood de Ste. Anne

Webarticle: “The Stewpot Recipe Gallery:  Savoury Toasted Cheese” by Elaina de Sinistre

The Architecture of a Sonnet

The Architecture of a Sonnet

Both Italian Sonnets, also called Petrarchan Sonnets, and English Sonnets, commonly referred to as Shakespearean Sonnets, are fourteen lines of iambic pentameter, though their rhyme scheme differs due to the simplicity of finding rhymes in Italian verses the difficulty of finding rhymes in English.

Pentameter refers to the fact that there are 10 (pent) syllables (meter) per line.  Iambic describes the emphasis of the syllables to be alternating soft then hard.  A classic example of iambic pentameter is:

“But soft, what light through yonder window breaks”.

It would be pronounced:

“but SOFT what LIGHT through YONder WINdow BREAKS”.
1 2 3 4 5 6     7 8     9 10

Italian Sonnets are split into two portions: an octave rhymed abbaabba and a sestet usually rhymed cdecde, though cdcdee is also popular.  English Sonnets have a pattern of abab cdcd eded gg.  Because of the differences in patterns, the two forms of a sonnet create different ways the subject of the poem is developed, but in either case the theme was almost exclusively love, whether that love be sacred or profane.

Italian Sonnets proceed more smoothly than the English version with the opening octave introducing the subject and setting the scene while the sestet presents the conclusion, often expressing the poet’s feelings on the subject.  The natural pause between the two parts lends itself well to philosophic thought where two closely related ideas can be presented.  Normally the octave builds to a climax and the sestet diminishes to a quiet close.

With English Sonnets, the three quatrains each advance a different aspect of the same subject with the finishing couplet summing up the poem.  The slight pause at the end of each quatrain prevents the flowing rise and fall of the Italian Sonnet.

While solitary sonnets can be found, sequences and cycles of sonnets were often developed around a central theme and published as a unit.

The romance of sonnets have been around since the thirteenth century with the structure of the fourteen line iambic pentameter poem virtually unchanged except for a few minor adjustments due to language differences.   While the form seems very restrictive, it has produced as many different shades and expressions of feeling as the love it so often describes.



Sheehan, Terry.  “Italian (Petrarchan) Sonnets” (p. 45), “English (Shakespearean) Sonnets” (p. 46).  The Complete Anachronist #67:  Ars Poetica Societatias.  The Society for Creative Anachronism: California, 1993.

Brittain, Robert.  “Sonnets” (Volume 21 p. 213).  Collier’s Encyclopedia.  The Crowell-Collier Publishing Company: USA, 1965.