Crawfish Tart

My apologies, there is again only time for a short recipe today. I might as well give up hope of returning to doing them daily. From the recipe collection of Philippine Welser:

57 If you want to make a crawfish tart

Take crawfish and boil them until they are done. Then remove the unclean parts, and then put them in a mortar and pound them small. Take half a semel loaf and sweet wine, the semel bread must be grated finely, mix it together and pass it through a cloth or a small sieve. Let it boil in a pan until it thickens and add butter, cinnamon, and sugar. Spread all of this on a tart base and let it bake for a quarter of an hour, then serve it cold.

This is not a complicated recipe, and it seems quite close to some crawfish dishes described in earlier recipe collections that are served as spoonable Mus. Interestingly, some of those recipes specify that the crawfish, whether cooked or raw, must be ground up with their shells which will be strained out as the mass is passed through a cloth. We tend to automatically assume the crawfish in this recipe are shelled, but there is really no reason to do that.

A tart of bread-thickened, sweet crawfish puree probably does not look all that appealing to modern diners. We may well be happier with the more sophisticated combination in the Kuchenmaistrey‘s pastries. But it shows how popular preparations could survive through several iterations, from a porridge to a tart in this case.

Philippine Welser (1527-1580), a member of the prominent and extremely wealthy Welser banking family of Augsburg, was a famous beauty of her day. Scandalously, she secretly married Archduke Ferdinand II of Habsburg in 1557 and followed him first to Bohemia, then to Tyrol. A number of manuscripts are associated with her, most famously a collection of medicinal recipes and one of mainly culinary ones. The recipe collection, addressed as her Kochbuch in German, was most likely produced around 1550 when she was a young woman in Augsburg. It may have been made at the request of her mother and was written by an experienced scribe. Some later additions, though, are in Philippine Welser’s own hand, suggesting she used it.

The manuscript is currently held in the library of Ambras Castle near Innsbruck as PA 1473 and was edited by Gerold Hayer as Das Kochbuch der Philippine Welser (Innsbruck 1983).

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