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.

Chicken with Almonds and Ginger

Reading (very) old recipes allows you to discover new combinations, techniques and flavors, or better said, discover forgotten combinations, techniques and flavors.

The University of Amsterdam is home to the Special Collections, the material heritage of the University. One of the collections is related to recipes, cookbooks, books on etiquette, nutrition, food et cetera. The oldest cookbook is Eenen seer schoonen ende excelenten Cocboeck, inhoudende alderley wel geexperimenteerde cokagien, van ghebraet, ghesoden, Pasteyen, Taerten, toerten, Vlaeijen, Saussen, Soppen, ende dier-gelijckeOock diversche Confeyturen ende Drancken, etc. by medical doctor Carel Baten (Carolus Battus) and was published in 1593. The book contains some 300 recipes for stews, roasts, poached food, pies, cakes, sauces and soup. It was published as an annex to his Medecijn Boec (medicine book). 

Luilekkerland

In 2018 Onno and Charlotte Kleyn published Luilekkerland (named after the painting by Pieter Bruegel de Oude). It’s a great book on 400 years of cooking in the Netherlands. They must have spent months at the Special Collections going through various cookbooks and manuscripts with recipes. They created ‘a magical mystery tour’ through the kitchens of the past.
In the book they describe one of the recipes of Carolus Battus: een sause op eenen gesoden capoen. Or in English: poached Capon with sauce. 

Capon is very expensive, so like Onno and Charlotte we go for chicken. Our recipe is for 2 chicken thighs, but we could also imagine making a roulade and then serving a slice of chicken roulade with the sauce.
The surprise is in the sauce: the combination of bread, ginger and almonds is tasty and complex. The sauce may appear to be filming and fat, but actually it’s not. The texture of the sauce is interesting as well: the bread will make the sauce a bit porridge-like and the crushed almonds prevent the sauce from being smooth.
Our version is a bit closer to 2022: we’re not the biggest fans of poaching and we don’t see the need for sugar in the sauce.

Wine Pairing

Best is to go for a white wine with a touch of sweetness, for instance a Gewürztraminer. This will combine very well with the somewhat unusual flavors in the dish.  If you go for a glass of red wine, then we would suggest a pinot noir, nice and earthy.

What You Need

  • 2 Organic Chicken Thighs
  • Chicken Stock and Optional
    • Leek
    • Carrot
    • Celeriac
    • Onion
  • Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • 15 grams of White Almonds
  • 1 – 2 cm of Fresh Ginger
  • 100 ml of Dry White Wine
  • Slice of Toasted Bread

What You Do

If your chicken stock needs a boost, then add the vegetables and let simmer for 15 minutes or so. Best is to make your own stock.
In a small skillet heat the butter and olive oil. Fry the chicken until nearly done. In parallel blender the almonds and the toasted bread. Grate the ginger. Add the white wine and the ginger to the mixture and blender. Add some stock and blender for a few seconds. Transfer the mixture to a pan and warm over medium heat. It requires attention, so keep an eye on the sauce and stir every minute or so. The sauce will thicken so you will probably need to add more stock. Transfer the chicken to a warm oven and let rest. Deglaze the pan with some stock and add this liquid to the sauce. Stir well. Now it’s time to taste and adjust. Remember the taste is new, so take your time. Serve the chicken with the sauce. 
We enjoyed the chicken as a main course with some Brussels sprouts, olive oil and nutmeg.

The 2022 Johannes van Dam Prize

Today the program of the 7th Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food closed with the Prize-giving ceremony of the 2022 Johannes van Dam Prize and the 2022 Joop Witteveen Prize. Previous winners of the prestigious Johannes van Dam Prize include Yotam Ottolenghi, John Halvemaan, Carlo Petrini, Alice Waters, Claudia Roden and Alain Passard.

Joop Witteveen Prize

The Joop Witteveen prize was awarded to Marleen Willebrands, Christianne Muusers and Alexandra van Dongen, authors of Het Excellente Kookboek van doctor Carolus Battus. This book focus on the culinary world of doctor Battus, who lived from 1539 until 1619. His cookbook was published in 1593.

Two publications were shortlisted: Dirk-Jan Verdonk, Dierloos: Een geschiedenis van vegetariërs en veganisten in Nederland and Ingrid de Zwarte, Hongerwinter.

Marleen Willebrands and Christianne Muusers
Marleen Willebrands and Christianne Muusers

Johannes van Dam prize

The 2022 Johannes van Dam prize was awarded to Belgian Chef Jeroen Meus. He is well known for his inspiring daily TV program Dagelijkse Kost (Daily Food). In this 15 minutes program he shares the fun of preparing food, for instance crumble pie with pears and raisinsmonkfish with a mustard crust or penne with chorizo and red bell pepper. His aim is not to cook on Michelin Star level, his aim is to help everyone prepare tasty, good food, every day of the week. His books and website (in Dutch only) support this goal in a very helpful way.

Professor Louise O. Fresco, President of the Executive Board of Wageningen University & Research and chair of the jury, emphasised that Jeroen has a true talent to bring food and people together. She also highlighted his passion to prepare good food, and the fact that he shares that passion not only through cookbooks, but also via social media and a daily show on television. She mentioned he is an inspiration to all of us who love to cook and enjoy food.

Jeroen thanked the jury and all those who supported him over the years. He mentioned that he shared the love for meatballs with potato mash and endive (Chicorium endivia) with culinary journalist and food expert Johannes van Dam. He promised to prepare this dish next week on television, as a tribute to good food and to the prize.

Chicken a la Carolus Battus

In the year 1593

The history of food is interesting for a number of reasons. Following old recipes provides you with the opportunity to discover new combinations, techniques and new flavors, or better said, forgotten combinations, techniques and flavors.
The University of Amsterdam is home to the Special Collections, the material heritage of the University. One of the collections is related to recipes, cookbooks, books on etiquette, nutrition, food et cetera. The oldest cookbook is Eenen seer schoonen ende excelenten Cocboeck, inhoudende alderley wel geexperimenteerde cokagien, van ghebraet, ghesoden, Pasteyen, Taerten, toerten, Vlaeijen, Saussen, Soppen, ende dier-gelijcke: Oock diversche Confeyturen ende Drancken, etc. by Carel Baten (Carolus Battus) 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, after all he was a medical doctor.

In 2018 Onno and Charlotte Kleyn published Luilekkerland; a great book on 400 years of cooking in the Netherlands. They must have spent months at the Special Collections going through various cookbooks and manuscripts with recipes. Many thanks for creating ‘a magical mystery tour’ through the kitchens of the past.
In the book they describe one of the recipes of Carolus Battus: een sause op eenen gesoden capoen. Or in English: poached Capon with sauce.
The short version: make a poaching liquid with carrot, leek, celeriac and onion. Add the capon and poach it until it’s done. In parallel combine old breadcrumbs with white almonds, white wine, ginger powder and sugar. Create a sauce by gently warming the mixture with some of the cooking liquid and serve.

Capon is very expensive, so like Onno and Charlotte we go for chicken. Our recipe is for 2 chicken thighs, but we could also imagine making a roulade and then serving a slice of chicken roulade with the sauce as a starter.
The surprise is in the sauce: the combination of bread, ginger and almonds is tasty and complex. The sauce may appear to be filming and fat, but actually it’s not. The texture of the sauce is interesting as well: the bread will make the sauce a bit porridge like and the crushed almonds prevent the sauce from being smooth.
Our version of the recipe is a bit closer to 2018: we’re not the biggest fans of poaching and we don’t see the need for sugar. Plus why use powder if you can get fresh ginger?

Wine Pairing

Best is to go for a white wine with a touch of sweetness, for instance a Gewurztraminer. This will combine very well with the somewhat unusual flavors in the dish. If you go for a glass of red wine, then we would suggest a pinot noir, nice and earthy.

What you need

  • 2 chicken thighs
  • Chicken stock and optional
    • Leek
    • Carrots
    • Celeriac
    • Onions
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • 15 grams of white Almonds
  • 1 – 2 cm of Fresh ginger
  • 1 dl of Dry white wine
  • Slice of toasted Bread

What you do

If your chicken stock needs a boost, then add the vegetables and let simmer for 15 minutes or so. In a small skillet heat the butter and olive oil. Fry the chicken until nearly done. In parallel blender the almonds and the toasted bread. Grate the ginger. Add the white wine and the ginger to the mixture and blender. Add some stock and blender for a few seconds. Transfer the mixture to a pan and warm over medium heat. It requires attention, so keep an eye on the sauce and stir every minute or so. The sauce will thicken so you will probably need to add more stock. Transfer the chicken to a warm oven and let rest. Deglaze the pan with some stock and add this liquid to the sauce. Stir well. Now it’s time to taste. Remember the taste is new, so take your time. Almonds? Bread? Hint of acidity? Ginger? Chicken? Overall? Serve the chicken with the sauce.
We enjoyed the chicken as a main course with some Brussels sprouts, olive oil and nutmeg.