A Lenten Feast in 2021

Today, a trip down memory lane. Back in 2021, I had made plans to get together with some good friends and cook a historical feast for Easter. In the end, COVID restrictions made the physical meeting impossible and we developed an alternative plan: I came to visit those with the biggest kitchen to cook, and we packed the food in family portions that people picked up and/or brought to each other. Then we shared our bounty via zoom.

It was a mixed experience; I especially missed the camaraderie of cooking together. But it remains an unforgettable occasion. We had a Lenten feast on Easter Saturday and a full Easter spread on Easter Sunday. This is the Lenten spread:

Salmon with sweet mustard sauce (from the Innsbruck MS)

147 Take sturgeon or salmon or river sturgeon. Soak them in water for one night. Wash them and cook them almost done. Let them cool, scale them with a knife, Cut them into thin slices. Make a good pepper sauce or, if you would eat them cold, a sweet mustard sauce with spices. Pour it over them and serve that and do not oversalt it.

I am not entirely certain whether this recipe refers to fresh or preserved fish, but we used a chunk of fresh salmon and, as we served it cold, mustard sauces. A pepper sauce would be prepared by seasoning the fish broth and thickening it with breadcrumbs. The cooked fish would then be served in the hot sauce.

Cooked salmon, cooled and ready to be portioned

There are a multitude of recipes for sweet mustards in the German corpus, but we did not use a specific one. Instead, I prepared one sauce with pears and mustardseed, another milder one with made mustard and honey. Both were good, but the honey mustard proved far more popular.

Pear mustard (left) and honey mustard (right) to go with the salmon

Fisch im Kaschanat (from Balthasar Staindl)

cxiii You eat those cold. If you have fish such as sturgeon, bass, ash, pike, salmon or whatever fish it may be, take boiled fish and lay them in a bowl or a pewter platter. When they are cool, pour vinegar on them all around and chop onions very small. Strew that over the pieces, and also add parsley and other good herbs and also add it to the fish, this way they firm up nicely and are good to eat. If fish is left over at any time, you may treat it this way, or if you had fish you could not keep (store), you boil them nicely and lay them in a glazed pot. And on each layer of fish, you put a layer of strewed onion and chopped green herbs if you can have them. And pour vinegar on it. Such fish may be stored eight or ten days. They are nice and enjoyable to eat. You may always take of them and keep the rest of them in the Kaschanat.

I have no idea what a Kaschanat is or where the word may derive from, but the dish is excellent. A similar recipe already occurs in the Kuchenmaistrey. We did not preserve entire fish in order not to overtax the weirdeness tolerance of the children at the table. The result was nonetheless very satisfying.

Fish im Kaschanat, after a night of steeping

Fish sausages (from Balthasar Staindl)

cxvi Take the flesh of a fish and chop it small. Then take a fresh egg or two, depending on how (much) the fish is, break them into it, stir it, not too thin, add raisins and season it with good mild spices. And if you serve a large fish like a pike or others that you serve like this, fill it with this mixture and do not shut it up. A little of this mixture goes into a sausage. Tie it shut at both ends and (see) that the gut not be torn. Then take good, clear pea broth, lay the sausages in it, let them boil. Also put the dumplings of this mixture in with the sausage, or separately, so that(?) they have boiled for a while in the pea broth. Make a yellow sauce as one does for fish and let the sausages and dumplings cook thinly as you do fish. […] The take the sausage and cut it in slices and lay it with the fish cooked in sauce, and similarly the dumplings, also lay them there. This is a courtly dish. […]

cxvii Chop the fish finely and take the crumb (molen) of a manchet loaf and also chop it into that, but not half as much as the fish. When it is chopped up, add nicely selected raisins, also chop it into that, season it with cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, salt in measure. Now take little skewers about a thumb’s ell long, and moisten your hand in clean water. And shape it around a skewer in the measure as a sausage is, not too long, because it does not hold up. Lay it in proper heat by the embers (supported) on both points and always turn it. As it hardens, lay it on a board with its skewer, grasp it with one hand and draw out the skewer with the other. Thus the sausage stays on the board. See that it looks like a sausage, boil it in pea broth as abovementioned, then lay it in a sauce. […]

Making fish sausages without sausage skins is much more difficult than doing the same with meat, and we found it impossible to source the casings at the time. But it worked, in the end. we went with grilling them because I did not trust them to hold together adequately in hot water, and they were quite tasty. But they do not look like much.

Fish sausages (without casing) and roast millet on skewers

To go with the fish, we served roast millet, an artful dish described in a number of recipe collections, mainly cursorily:

Roast millet (from the Innsbruck MS)

If you would roast millet on a spit. Take millet and groats, break eggs into it so that it becomes thick. Cut it out (of the pot), roast it, and brush it with egg. Serve it with other sauces.

Millet porridge with eggs firms up very nicely. Spread out in a shallow bowl (as is described by Anna Wecker), it can be sliced into solid chunks that can then be spitted, basted, and grilled. I am not convinced this improves the flavour, but we did it.

And for dessert, we had sausages and fried eggs. Well, almost.

Fried eggs and sausages in Lent (from Balthasar Staindl)

xii Take blanched almonds and a little white bread, grind them in a mortar, make eggs from that and colour them in the place (of the yolk) and lay them in a pan. Pour oil on them and fry them that way it becomes like fried eggs. Or shape them into eggs and cut them lengthwise and colour them in the place where the yolk is to be, and lay them in a bowl as otherwise hard-boiled eggs. For vinegar, pour on a good wine or a Reinfal or Muscatel, cut green herbs over it and serve it.

xiii Make it thus: Chop figs and almonds together, add a little bit of cherry sauce and raisins, shape it between the hands on a floured board in the shape of sausages. Draw the same sausages though a batter (‘apple batter’ i.e. batter for apple fritters), fry them and serve them on green potherbs.

Lenten sausages and eggs. Yes, they could have looked nicer. It was the first attempt

On the whole, it was a very satisfying meal. The Sunday one, though, easily overshadowed it.

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