All the Almond Cheeses

We have already looked at many recipes for almond milk cheese. The Mondseer Kochbuch has several more of different kinds.

37 How you can prepare a cheese of almond milk

Take almond kernels and make them fine (blanch them) in boiling water. Pick out the largest and pound the best in a mortar. As they begin to oil (feisten), sprinkle on cold water and mingle them with cold water to an even thickness and press (thwing) them through a cloth. Return the kernels to the mortar, pound them, and press (ring) them out again. Pour all of it into a pan and hold it over the fire. Add to it an eggshell full of wine and stir it well so it boils up. Then take a sackcloth, lay it on clean straw, and pour the milk onto it until (before?) it boils over. Make cheese of what remains on the cloth. If you wish to make butter from it, let a little saffron boil with it, and serve that.

65 A cheese (ziger oder schotten) of almond milk

Take almond kernels and pound them in a mortar. And boil up the almond milk and pour it on a nice cloth, and place a container (schaf) underneath it and let it cool. Invert (slach) it on a serving bowl and stick almond kernels into it, strew sugar on it, and serve it.

66 A cheese (kes) of almonds

Take almond kernels and pound them. And take the milk and boil it up and pour it out on a cloth and let it cool, and lay that into a cheese strainer (kes nappff) and prepare a cheese. Lay it on a plate and strew it with sugar. This is called an almond cheese.

67 How to prepare a wel (weck? – breadroll) of almonds

Take almond kernels pounded into a milk and boil it and pour it onto a cloth and let it cool. Make what remains into a breadroll (wechen) and put it on as serving bowl, and pour almond milk underneath it. Strew sugar on it and serve it.

98 Almond cheese

If you wish to have an almond cheese, you must have isinglass and you must have 1 ½ libra of almonds to a dish. With the almonds, you do this: Grind them finely and pass them through a white cloth, and you shall boil one lot of isinglass in water, and you should pass the isinglass through with the almonds and the boiled water, but the (almond) milk should not boil. Make it sweet with a vierdung of sugar and form (schik) it into a cheese. Take a glazed bowl (verglast reinlen) and put the milk into this. Thus is turns hard. And let it stand for a while, thus it becomes a cheese. And add sweet almond milk to it. You can well cut it into quarters, that way the milk gets inbetween, and stick it with almond kernels and serve it.

The variety in a single source is interesting. recipe #37 is almost certainly a way of acid-coagulating almond milk while #98 is a straightforward jelly. With the others, it is hard to say what holds them together. The unusually precise figures in #98 – one and a half pounds of almonds, a quarter pound of sugar – give us a reasonable chance of replicating the taste.

The Mondseer Kochbuch is a recipe collection bound with a set of manuscript texts on grammar, dietetics, wine, and theology. There is a note inside that part of the book was completed in 1439 and, in a different place, that it was gifted to the abbot of the monastery at Mondsee (Austria). It is not certain whether the manuscript already included the recipes at that point, but it is likely. The entire codex was bound in leather in the second half of the fifteenth century, so at this point the recipe collection must have been part of it. The book was held at the monastery until it passed into the Vienna court library, now the national library of Austria, where it is now Cod 4995.

The collection shows clear parallels with the Buoch von guoter Spise. Many of its recipes are complex and call for expensive ingredients, and some give unusually precise quantities and measurements. It is edited in Doris Aichholzer’s “Wildu machen ayn guet essen…” Drei mittelhochdeutsche Kochbücher: Edition, Übersetzung, Quellenkommentar, Peter Lang, Berne et al. 1999

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