Stuffed Eggs à la Carolus Battus

The very first recipe in the very first cookbook in Dutch is for stuffed eggs. The book Eenen seer excellenten gheexperimenteerden nieuwen Cocboeck (which would translate into something like A very excellent new cookbook with full proof recipes) was written by medical doctor Carolus Battus and published in 1593. The book contains some 300 recipes for a range of food and drink. It was published as an annex to his Medecijn Boec.

The term ‘full proof’ in the title is slightly inaccurate: Carolus Battus doesn’t mention quantities and it’s also unlikely that he, as a very important doctor in Antwerp and later Dordrecht and Amsterdam, would have had sufficient time to actually prepare the dishes mentioned in his book. 

2021

In 2021 Marleen Willebrands and Christianne Muusers published a book on the life of Carolus Battus, his books and his recipes. The book was awarded with the prestigious Joop Witteveenprijs. It’s beautifully illustrated, well written and it contains a wealth of background information plus photo’s that show the facsimile of the 1593 publication. Historian Alexandra van Dongen contributed with a chapter on 16th century ceramics and etiquette.

Their book gives a wonderful insight in 16th century food, which obviously is very different from today’s food. Sugar is often used (see for example the recipe below for stuffed eggs) as are raisins and fruit preserves. The focus is on meat, obviously. Vegetables (other than asparagus and artichokes) are seldom on the menu.

The book also includes suggestions how we, in the 21st century, could use the recipes from 1593. The book offers modern versions of recipes for onion soup, for sausages with pork meat and fennel seeds, for chicken with bitter orange, for buttermilk cheese etcetera. The fun of this section of the book is that it enables you to taste the flavours of the 16th century, without having to search for alternative ingredients.

Two Recipes

Earlier we prepared his Poached Chicken (originally Capon) with Almond Sauce.
His recipe for stuffed eggs is relatively simple:

  • Boil the eggs
  • Remove the yolk
  • Blanch and finely chop rosemary and marjoram
  • Mix sugar, cinnamon-, mace- and ginger powder
  • Use a fork to combine the egg yolk, rosemary, marjoram, sugar, cinnamon, mace and ginger
  • Stuff the eggs
  • Fry the eggs in brown butter (!)
  • Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

We enjoyed the stuffed eggs with a glass of rosé. The taste was very pleasant and the combination of the herbs and spices worked very well. Frying the eggs was a bit tricky but 3 minutes in a non stick pan worked well.

Our 2022 version:

  • Boil the eggs
  • Remove the yolk
  • Finely chop fresh rosemary and marjoram
  • Grate some fresh ginger
  • Use a fork to combine egg yolk, rosemary, marjoram, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger
  • Stuff the eggs
  • Fry the eggs in butter and serve.

Het excellente kookboek van doctor Carolus Battus uit 1593 (Dutch only) is available via the usual channels and your local bookstore for € 29,95.


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