My interest in the Middle Ages was awakened at a young age. Later on, it was further stimulated by playing computer games in a “medieval setting” and visiting medieval markets.
As cooking is one of my great passions, historical cooking during Living History events was a logical step for me. Today I am a member of the Swiss groups Comthurey Alpinum and the Company of St. George.
My interest lies in constantly trying out and experimenting with historical sources, which I find in the recipe collections of the High and Late Middle Ages. I attach great importance to the seasonal use of the ingredients.
‘Jerusalem dish’ from various cookbooks
At the beginning there is the almond milk:
Almond milk is ubiquitous in the written cuisine of the Middle Ages. During Lent, which lasted a good third of the year, almond milk was used as a substitute for animal milk products.
About the cookbook of Anna
The production of almond milk is not explicitly declared in the recipe “Jerusalem Speise”. That is why I have taken the recipe for almond milk from the doctor’s widow Anna Wecker’s cookery book „Ein Köstlich new Kochbuch Von allerhand Speisen/an Gemüsen/Obs/Fleisch/Geflügel/Wildpret/Fischen und Gebachens“ which was published in the 16th century.
Ein Mandelmilch mach alſo:ZV einer Maß Mandelmilch nim ein vier-ling eines pfunds/ oder ſo du ſie gern kraͤfftig haſt/andert halben/ gute ſuͤſſe friſche Mandeln/ die leg inheiß waſſer/ vnnd ſo bald ſie ſich ſchaͤlen laſſen/ ſozeuch jhnen die haut ab/ wirff ſie in friſch brunnen-waſſer/ laß ſie ein wenig ligen/ dañ waſche ſie ſchoͤnauß/ ſtampff oder ſtoß ſie inn einem ſteinern Moͤrſel/ mit einem hoͤl-tzenen ſtoͤſſel/ auffs aller kleineſt: (An etlichen orten hat man ſtein/darauff man ſie reibt/ iſt wol gut/ wo die ſeynd/ wann die aber nichtverhanden/ behuͤlff dich wie du kanſt/ allein daß du mit keinem eyſernſtoͤſſel ſtoſſeſt/ ſonſten wuͤrden ſie nicht allein ſchwartz/ ſondern auchbitter.) Jm ſtoſſen beſprengs mehr malen mit Roſen/ oder andermwaſſer/ damit du ſie durch zwingen wilt/ ſie werden ſonſt oͤlig vnndſchwartz. Thue jhm aber auch nicht zuvil/ dann wañ ſie zu naß wer-den/ laſſen ſie ſich nicht mehr klein ſtoſſen: Sie muͤſſen aber gar reinvnnd zart ſeyn/ es iſt ſonſten niche allein vnnuͤtz/ ſondern ſie gebenjhre krafft auch nicht wie ſie ſollen.Wiltu nun die zum kochen brauchen/ ſo nimb ein gut friſchbrunnenwaſſer oder Milch/ wie ſie von der Kuhe koͤmpt/ reibe dieMandeln im moͤrſel allgemach mit an/ leg darnach ein ſchoͤn weißtuch in eine ſchuͤſſel/ geuß die Mandeln darein/ reibs ein wenig miteim loͤffel hin vnd her/ faß das tuch zuſammen/ vnd winde ſie auß ſohart du kanſt.
Add a quarter of a pound to a litre of almond milk, or if you like them strong, one and a half good sweet fresh almonds. Put them in hot water and as soon as they are ready to be peeled, remove their skin. Throw them into fresh well water and leave them for a while. Then wash them out nicely. Mash or pound them very finely in a stone mortar with a wooden pestle. In many places you have stones to rub them on; that’s good where you have them. But if they are not there, help yourself as much as you can, except that you should not pound them with an iron pestle, otherwise they would become not only black but also bitter. While pushing them, sprinkle them several times with rose water or other water you want to float them with; otherwise they will become oily and black. But don’t take too much either, because if they get too wet, they won’t be able to be poked. But they must be very pure and tender. Otherwise, not only are they useless, but they do not give their strength as they should. Now, if you want to use them for cooking, take a good fresh well water or milk as it comes from the cow, grind the almonds in a mortar one by one, then put a nice white cloth in a bowl, pour the almonds in it, grind them a little with a spoon back and forth, hold the cloth together and unwind them as tight as you can.
Preparation Almond Milk
Since I prepared the almond milk at home in my modern kitchen and enjoyed all the benefits of the 21st century, my implementation looks like this.
- 200g almonds unpeeled
- 500 ml water
- very little salt
- 500 ml boiling water
Pour 500 ml of boiling water over the almonds and leave to stand until the white kernel can be easily pressed out of its shell.
Roughly chop the peeled almonds and then mix in a mixer together with 500 ml of water for about one minute on the highest setting.
Pour the almond water mass into a cheese cloth or nut cloth and press the liquid firmly out of the cloth.
bouch von guoter spîse (um 1350):
Mondseer Kochbuch (um 1450):
Ein muos.So du wilt machen ein guot vastenmuos, so nim bersige vnd dickemandelmilich drunder vnd suedez wol in mandelmilich vnd tuo dennezvcker dor vf. Daz muos sol heizzen von Jerusalem.vnd daz izzet man kalt oder warm.
Ain guot vasten muos ze machenNim bersige und dike mandelmilch und tuo zuker dar auf. Das sol haissen „Von Jherusalem“ und man ist es kalt oder warm.[Wie man] ein gutes Fastenmus machtNimm Barsche und dicke Mandelmilch und tu Zucker hinauf. Das heißt „Von Jerusalem” und man ißt es kalt oder warm.
- 200 ml Almond Milk
- 100g perch (Egli)
Since I didn’t want to throw anything away and I didn’t trust the mixture of fish and sugar at all, I worked with very small quantities. I put the rest of the almond milk in the refrigerator for modern use with coffee.
I also used white beet refinery sugar because I could not get local raw sugar.
Thick almond milk
I could have started with that, but the question was still to be answered, what is thick almond milk?
For this purpose I dared a little experiment with almond milk. I made a part of it as described above, but I did not force the mass of water and almonds through the cloth.
A second portion I prepared with very little water and I pushed this mass through my cheese cloth to see if this liquid would become thicker.
The amount of water had no influence on the consistency, but the amount of crushed almonds remaining in the liquid did. As a result of my two experiments I had a very thick almond milk with fine mixed almond residues and the thin almond milk without almond residues.
Variant 1 with thin almond milk
Variant 2 with thick almond milk
I also let the thick almond milk simmer together with the perch. Compared to variant 1, a clear difference in consistency was visible from the beginning. The almond milk thickened much faster. After 20 minutes cooking time I also finely crushed the perch pieces with a spoon. This portion I already added a lot of sugar in the pan and afterwards I decanted it into a bowl. In contrast to variant 1, the dish had already took a mush consistency in the pan.
What did it taste like?
I was very surprised at how incredibly delicious the Jerusalem Dish tasted. Almond milk with perch and sugar is something I will cook and eat again anytime. I liked the warm version better, my daughter (11 years old) liked the cold, more fluid food better.