There are now pictures to go with this posting! Yay…plums are in season (or at least available now)!!!
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Quick update…the flu has struck in redaction land. While I do have several projects with pictures to post…things will have to wait a few more days. Sorry for the delays!
There is a bit of confusion when it comes to the term lozenges for Medieval Middle Eastern cooking. Per Rodinson
“: A dish found in every cookery book of the middle ages, called lozenges, losinges, lesynges etc. These different names ended up meaning, in French or neighboring languages, the geometric term losange or lozenge which displaced the word rhombus in Franc, England and, to a varying extent, other countries…It seems…that the origin of the word was the name of a widely consumed Arab dessert called Lawzinaj, a dish made with almonds, called lawz in Arabic….found the recipe translate in Latin and Italian cookery books from the end of the thirteenth and fourteenth century….round plates of sweets cut into rhomboids, which is easier then cutting into rounds. One of the most famous is Baklava. In modern Turkish, the word Baklava is used for rhombus as a geometrical shape. This shows that the name of a dessert can give its name to a shape…” (p. 210)
Lozenge can also mean a throat soother or even a type of breath freshener which is where this recipe is going. Another term for breath freshener is Pastille. However we are going to stick to the term lozenges.
Lozenges were used “…at the end of a meal, it was customary to clean the teeth with a toothpick and lozenges made from musk, sandalwood, amber, spikenard, cloves, aloe wood, roses, cinnamon, and the like were sucked in order to guard against bad breath.” (Zaouali, pp. 57)
There are no actual recipes listed for lozenges on how to make. This proved to be a small quandary until I came across a modern day recipe on how to make small hard cinnamon candies. The recipe was modified to what would have been on hand and probably used (spice wise) for taste.
1 ¼ cup sugar 2Tbs honey
¼ tsp ground cinnamon, cloves, mace, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, black pepper
¼ tsp whole anise seeds and whole lavender flowers
1 sheet wax paper
1 dull knife OR Pizza Cutter
The recipe for a breath freshener has intrigued me for some time, however there was not a recipe listed in A Baghdad Cookery, Medieval Arab Cookery, or Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World, I had to improvise slightly. The cookery books merely made mention that recipes were present at one point in some cookbooks listed under perfumes and were used at the end of meals to fresh the breath.
I found in a modern day cooking magazine (Savuor) the recipe for making cinnamon hard candies. The modern day recipe listed light corn syrup which is not period in any way shape or form. I substituted honey and came out with excellent results for a hard but flavorful lozenge. The spicing was a little different then that listed in Zaouali’s book. Several of the spices suggested were either cost prohibitive or not readily available. So I made a slight change in spicing to reflect ingredients on hand.
The 12X12 pan is a guess on my part. I do know that they had small pan or could have even used a small frying pan as a cooling tray. While wax paper is not period, a small rectangle of material could have been used as a lining. This lining is necessary so that the lozenges do not stick to the bottom of what ever dish is used for cooling the mixture.
Timing is critical. From start to finish the dish is roughly about 10 minutes. The final 3 when the honey mixture is cooling is the most important if lozenge shaped candies are to be formed. Prep the 12X12 pan first, by lining with wax paper and setting next to where the stove is.
Take all the spices and mix them up into a small bowl or ramekin and keep with in easy reach from where you will be cooking.
Next measure the sugar into a bowl. Finally get the honey.
To make the lozenges:
The honey is poured into a small cooking pot and heated. The sugar is then added to the honey and combined with a wooden spoon.
This mixture is heated till boiling.
No candy thermometer is used as they were not period. I tested the candy readiness of the honey/sugar mixture when stirring and by the boiling of the honey. When the honey and sugar started to boil furiously and small threads came from the wooden spoon after stirring, like so.
It’s time to turn off the stove, add the spice, stirring, then pouring the mixture onto a wax paper lined 12X12 pan.
The mixture will cool into candy hardness in about 4-5 minutes.
After two minutes start to test the hardness of the mixture.
When the knife can cut a line into the candy and the line does not immediately fill in, start to cut lines horizontal then vertically down to the wax paper. The candy will harden in a couple of minutes but still try to keep filling in the cuts. Don’t stop!!! Keep cutting the lines until the candy turns hard.
Once the candy hardens pull out the wax paper (or if you choose muslin cloth for the lining) and break of sections at a time.
Serve at the end of meals or for a uniquely spiced candy for yourself!
There are a couple of ways to make this. The period translations read:
Pickled lemons are done in the manner thus; Slice lemons. Sprinkle with salt. Drain of juice. Place in water or oil.
The lemon is split lengthwise and then filled with coarse salt. It is left thus for two nights and then kept in lemon juice covered with oil.
(Rodinson, pp. 144)
½ cup salt
Oil or water to cover
The first way to do this is to cut lemons in either round or length wise. When doing round cuts I remove the ends. When doing lenthwise cuts I leave the ends and the seeds (these will either be ground up if using a blender or pop out on their own if hand chopping).
Quartered…ok sixes or rounds. Either way is perfectly except-able. My preference is for rounds though I do not get as many pieces visually.
Once the lemons have been cut, place them in a large bowl. Toss the salt and the lemons together till all the slices are coated then leave to “juice” for 48 hours (roughly). after the salt has had it’s purgative effect, rinse off under water, draining the excess water thoroughly. Place the slices in a clean jar and cover with either water or olive oil. Do NOT cover with both. Really! As the old saying goes water and oil do not mix (and this would just be baaad for the lemons).
I used a jar I had on hand (artichoke hearts were really tasty!) for the lemon rounds and an olive oil.
Which ever method is chosen make sure the lemons are covered completely. The covering of the lemons, even though very acidic already, is necessary as there is the potential of mold growing on the fruit. Once the fruit is completely covered the chances is cut down dramatically.
If slices should become covered in mold, simply pull the offending pieces out of the oil or water and top off with a little more liquid. It has been my experience that the fruit can stay preserved this way for 1 to 2 years. (This may not be the average in every household) As with all non heated/sealed foods be cautious in usage. If you suspect some thing is off do not use.