Thursday, October 18, 2012

Lancelot de Casteau, Crisp Tuna and Cremone Mustard

I think one of the coolest things about the remarkable explosion of e-information is the availability of texts.  Once upon a time at the very least you would have to go to a big city library or at worst to travel to far away places to be able to look at rare texts –– and you would have to have some academic creds to be able to do that.  For most of us this just couldn’t happen.  Now, these texts from all over the world are at your fingertips–– and what a world has opened before us.

Ouverture de Cuisine is such a book.  Just one copy of the book exists –– ONE.  It had been thought to be lost until the 1950s when one surfaced.  Until that point, it was a legend with attributions to its content throughout the centuries.  When you see it, you understand what all the hubbub’s about –– these recipes are gorgeous, and innovative.

My friend Ken Albala wrote about Lancelot’s recipes in his masterful Cooking in Europe, 1250-1650 .

Cooking fat by Pieter van der Heyden said Merica (c. 1530-1575) (this was in the article and I had to share… )
I asked Ken about him and he told me,  I think Lancelot is the sole example of late 16th and early 17th century cooking written in French. It is remarkably cosmopolitan, with recipes from England, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Portugal, even some delightful ravioli recipes and Italian Sausages. I seriously suspect he knew Scappi well since there are some recipes that appear to be adaptations. But overall I think in the early 17th c. Spain was dominant in cuisine, and you see that even here in capilotade, adobe, Oylla Podrida. This influence makes perfect sense since the area came under direct rule of Spain after 1555. So while it is not much of an indication of French cooking at all, it is virtually the only thing written in French between the mid 16th and mid 17th century.”

Lancelot de Casteau was responsible for the book and aside from a few spotty facts (he worked for a few bishops, was born in Mons, lived in Liège and died there in 1613) we know precious little about him. It seems he did well cooking for a succession of Bishops for some time and accrued property and some wealth but when his commission lapsed, so did his wealth.  In the end he was reduced to moving in with his daughter and son-in-law who supported him.

Lancelot’s claim to fame was a giant banquet for incoming bishop, Robert Berghes in 1557.  I read the particulars of the dinner on a site run by the Université de Liège   and Ouverture de cuisine lists the entire menu for which he was justly proud.

The dinner comprised 146 different dishes divided into four services.

The article points to the fact that his menu was a departure from 15th century menus in that it was not all roasts and was quite diverse… including vegetable dishes as part of the fare.  I think you’ll agree, it was quite a feast with a collection of butter sculpting centerpieces at the end that is mind-blowing (thank heavens it was done in December).  What follows comes directly from THIS translation of Ouverture de Cuisine

“THE BANQUET OF THE ENTRANCE of Monsieur Robert de Berges Count of Walhain, Esquire & Prince of Liege, made in the palace in Liege, the year 1557 in the month of December, as follows.

There was in the palace accommodation for fourteen plates of meat: the table of the Prince was of five plates.

The second table was of six plates.

The third table of three plates of meats.

First service.

Guinea fowl boiled with oysters, & cardoons, Spanish salad.
Roast bustard. Tart of blanc mangier.
Boiled leg of mutton.
Sweet kid, & roasted oranges.
Marrow of beef in pottage.
Suckling pies of partridges.
Fat roasted veal in adobe. Roasted heron.
Hare in pottage. 
Cold venison pie.
Roasted crane with olives. Boiled partridge
with capers. Roasted crane bird.
Roasted boar. Breast of veal
stuffed and boiled.
Roasted mutton & remorasque.
Boiled redressed veal. Roasted plovers.
Stag in pottage. Capon in Hungarian
pottage. Roasted water pegasine.
Little birds in pottage.
Roasted duck in dodine sauce.

Second service.

Roasted pheasant, royal sauce.
Fat roasted veal. Pies of kid.
Roasted stag. Ravioli of beef
marrow. Roasted hulpe.
Crane bird in pottage.
Roasted begasse. Capon pies.
Roasted bittern. Boar in pottage.
Roasted goat.
Creamed veal tart.
Roasted partridges in pine nut sauce.
Roasted hare.
Roasted swan in Cremonese sauce.
Roasted egret. Roasted wood fowl.
Blanc mangier ravioli leaves.
Roasted lepelaire. Redressed roasted veal.
Angry pie. Kid in pottage.
English pies.
Stuffed boiled pigeon. Duck in pottage.
Roasted cerselle. Redressed leg of
mutton. Roasted wild birds.

Third service.

Redressed wood fowl pies.
 Cold roasted bustard. Pheasant pie.
Molded blanc mangier.
Dressed, molded jelly.
Cold roasted wild swan.
Pork jelly.
Redressed partridge pie.
Cold roasted guinea fowl.
Partridge pie, roasted crane.
Oysters in pottage, pigeon pies.
Bologna sausage. Boar pies.
Mushrooms in pottage. Roasted stag.
Boiled sturgeon. Goat pies.
Leg of Mayence.
Boiled Boar hurres.
Heron pie. Boiled Potato.
Stag pies. Lace jelly.
Anchovies. Bustard pies.
Trout in adobe. Lobster.
Guinea fowl pie. Larded jelly.
Hulpe pie. Roasted oysters.
Bittern pie. English brenne.
Seulette in adobe. Duck pie.
Egret pie. Turbot in adobe.
Sturgeon cafiade. Hare pie.
Smoked beef tongue. Roasted
Boar. Red deer in adobe. Mushroom fritters,
Crane pie. Boiled piece of Boar.

All the cold roasted venison was with gilded feet, & all the redressed pies gilded, & carrying banners.

All the lords were defrayed, each came to the palace seeking their raw meat, & all that they had need, spices & sugar.

Fourth service.

Large gilded marzipan. Genua pie.
Liquid sweets. Sugared waffles
Quince pies. Roman pipes.
White marmalade. Clear white jelly
Pistachine. Royal tart.
Long pipes. Orange pie.
Almond lard. May butter.
Wafers. Clear red jelly.
Sugared almonds. Apple pie.
Candied cinnamon. Moustacholle.
Dried sugar. Bugnole fritters.
Sugar pies. Samblette.
Palamitte. Molded marmalade.
Cream tart. Fish preserves.
Orange preserves with flowers.
Ice jelly. Offal puffs.
Large sugared biscuit, Eel fritter.
Sugared crenelle. Large castelin.
Candied capers. Candied pears.
Snow on rosemary. Raw apples.
Anise. Parmesan. Hungarian candied 
prunes, puff cakes. Chestnuts.
Morquin. Rosquille. Biscotelle.

“There were four parks of two feet square, environed in a hedge of butter.

The first was Adam & Eve made of butter, a serpent on a tree, & a running fountain, with little animals all around of butter.

The second park was the love of Pyramus & Thisbee, the lion by the fountain, & the trees all around environed in a hedge of butter.

The third park the hunt of Acteon, & the nymphs with Diana at the fountain, & then of the little dogs of butter.

The fourth park was two wild men, who battled one another with the masses by a fountain, & little lions of butter all around: each park had four banners.”

You must agree, that is one heck of a blowout -- the butter parks are remarkable.

What to make from Lancelot’s book?   What brought me to his book in the first place was his recipe for the original ‘Mostarda” or in this case “Cremone Mustard” that caught my eye when I made Verdi’s salad.  It is a bit different from the modern version with orange marmalade, quince and the amazing rose addition.  I had to make it.  By using bought marmalade, it just takes a minute to do.  Quinces are lovely this time of year.  Whenever I buy them in the green market, other people huddling around the mostly  apples and pears vendor always ask me “what do you do with a quince?”  This is a perfect recipe for the fruit.

Once the mustard was made, I looked in his book for something to use it with. I decided to make “Tuna of another sort” or Tonine d'une autre sorte.  This is the original fish finger but terribly good and couldn’t be easier. The crispy mustard crust is genius and I loved the mustard as a dipping sauce as well –– gilding the lily.  Perfect.

Tunny of another sort

1 pound fresh tuna (I cut  a portion size of tuna into 3 pieces)
½ c flour
 (I added 1 t salt and ½ t pepper)
3 T mustard ( I used a spicy mustard for this)
1 c bread crumbs
4 T butter
Toss the tuna in flour on top and bottom. Spread mustard on the top of each slice. Press the bread crumbs into the mustard.

Fry the crumb side of the tuna first.  When done, flip to the flour side.  Serve with cremone mustard.

Tunny of another sort (original recipe translation)

Take slices of flattened tunny a half finger small, & dredge in flour on two sides, fry in hot butter, when frying one side put mustard that the slice will be covered in mustard, then have grated white bread, sprinkle thereon the slice, & press a little with the finger so that it will stick with the mustard, then turn the bread thereunder, & let it fry again along side the bread, & then serve three or four pieces on a plate.

To make Cremone mustard

½ pound of marmalade
½ pound of quinces
1 c of mustard (I hydrated dry mustard but jarred will do just fine)
reserved liquid from the quinces
1 -2 drops Aftelier rose essence or 2 - 3 t rose water

Combine all ingredients except the rose and cook for a bit to combine.  Add the rose to taste and then

Cremone Mustard, original recipe translation

Take half a pound of orange peels candied in sugar, half a pound of quince preserved in sugar or marmalade, & chop them all well together very small: then take half a pint of mustard well thick, then take melted sugar with rose water, & put therein some turnsole, & let it boil together to give good red color, & let it boil like syrup, & mix therein that which you have chopped, & mix the mustard with, put enough syrup, & serve in little plates three or four spoons for setting at the table with roasts."


3 oranges
4 c sugar
juice of 1 lemon, or t of citric acid
drop of Aftelier Petitgrain essence.

Take the skin off the oranges and cook in water till tender.  Chop into thin strips.  Over a bowl with a strainer, chop the oranges into small pieces and use a food mill to extract the pulp and leave the rough bits behind.  Put the accumulated juice and the pulp with the chopped peel into a pot with the sugar.  Cook for about 20 minutes.

Check the texture on a plate you have put in the freezer… put a spoon on the plate and see if the texture is right


2 quinces, peeled and cored and sliced.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Put the quinces in a pan with the sugar and water and cover.  Cook till done, 10 or 15 minutes… depending on how you like them.  Reserve the liquid.

Please go over to Amazon and look at Ken’s latest book,

It’s a blast to read and a lovely tribute to old school methods before every kitchen task involved an electrical appliance.

Lostpastremembered Note:

I will be off on a movie so will not be posting as regularly or visiting my favorite blogs as much as I'd like.

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Diane said...

Very interesting post and I will be off to follow your links.

I have lots of quince in the freezer so it will be interesting to see some new dishes. Also love tuna so this is something different as well.

See you when you get back from the movie. Take care Diane

ArchitectDesign™ said...

good luck on your new project - you will be missed but we'll keep checking in!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Another wonderful read, Deana and the tuna and mustard sounds wonderful. It seems they have been a perfect match for a long time!

Enjoy your work and the movie! I can't wait to hear about it.

Barbara said...

My mother used to make quince jelly, Deana, so I know how good they are. I love the idea of the mustardy/sweet dipping sauce.
Great post and as usual, I learned a lot.
Keep us posted on the movie work...

El said...

Honestly, you should write a book. Your knowledge of food history at this point is astounding!

Ken Albala said...

I admit to loving fish sticks, though haven't eaten them in years. These sound exquisite! Thanks for the shout out too!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Good morning Deana!

I was indisposed yesterday, teaching a PHYSICS CLASS...go figure, a French teacher, teaching middle school physics...our substitute system is worse than the ed. system itself!!!! come here and feast on the ideas, the past, the present possibilities. YOu have it all, and I used to wonder HOW IN THE HECK do you manage to do it all...the research, the shopping to find the right foods, then to cook and photograph AND THEN WRITE so eloquently about it all. I know now. IT IS YOUR POETRY. Stunning, captivating and true to your passion.

We benefit greatly from it! And thank you for coming my way to leave a comment. HAVE A SUPER DAY! Anita