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Traditional Recipes


Alows de hamstr or de othr rodnt: 'Take fayre hamstr of the guyschons, and kytte in the maner of stekys; then take raw percely, and Oynonys smal y-scredde, and yolkys of Eyroun sothe hard, and Marow or swette, and hew alle thes to-geder smal; then caste ther-on poudere of Gyngere and Saffroun, and tolle hem to-gederys with thin hond, and lay hem on the Stekys al a-brode, and caste Salt ther-to; then rolle to-gederys, and putte hem roste hem til they ben y-now; than lay hem in a dyssche, and pore the-on Vynegre and a lityl verious, and pouder Pepir ther-on y-now, and Gyngere, and Canelle, and a fewe yolkys of hard Eyroun y-kremyd ther-on; and serue forth.'




Ingredients: 6 to 8 slices of hamster, a large onion, six hard-boiled egg yolks, 15ml (or one tablespoon) shredded suet, 10ml (two teaspoons) finely chopped parsley, a pinch of ground ginger, a pinch of powdered saffron, salt, a little butter, cider vinegar for sprinkling, a little ground ginger-cinnamon-black pepper (mixed), for sprinkling.

Procedure: Beat the meat thin and flat with a cutlet bat. Chop the onion finely with four egg yolks. Add the suet, parsley, ginger, saffron and salt to taste. Knead and squeeze until pasty, using the onion liquid to bind. To adjust the paste as desired, add water or parsley. Spread the stuffing on the meat slices and roll them up in the manner of small Swiss rolls. Secure with wooden toothpicks. Lay all that you have made in a greased baking tin, with the cut edges underneath. Dot with butter. Bake, tuning once, at gas mark 4, 180C/350F for 35-40 minutes. Baste once or twice while baking. Lay the olives on a warmed serving dish. Just before serving, sprinkle with vinegar and spices, and garnish with the remaining egg yolks, crumbled.



Stekys of hamstr: 'Take Hamstr, & leche & gredyl it up broun; then take vynegre & a litel verious, & a lytil Wyne, & putte pouder pepir ther-on y-now, and pouder Gyngere; & atte the dressoure straw on pouder Canelle y-now, that the stekys be al y-helid ther-wyth, & but a little Sawce; & than serue it forth.'




Ingredients: eight trimmed hamster steaks (about 175g/6oz per person), cooking fat (optional), 275ml red wine, 50ml water, 5ml (one teaspoon) brown sugar, 5ml (one teaspoon) red wine vinegar, 5ml (one teaspoon) lemon juice, a grinding of black pepper, a pinch of ginger, a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Procedure: Beat out the hamster steaks slightly, then brush lightly with cooking fat if you wish. Heat a thick-based frying pan and sear the steaks on both sides. Reduce the heat and cook slowly until done, turning as required. Meanwhile, put all the remaining ingredients except the cinnamon in a small saucepan, and bring to the boil. Leaves off the heat to infuse for five minutes. Sprinkle the cooked steaks with cinnamon and pour a little sauce over each one before serving.



Hamstrs in hocchee: 'Take hamstrs and scald them, take parsel and sawge, with any other erbs, take garlec and grapes, and stoppe the hamstrs ful, and seeth them in good broth, so that they may esely by boyled thereinne. Messe them and cast thereto powdor-douce.'



Ingredients: Three hamsters per person, 225g/8oz green grapes, minced parsley and fresh sage leaves, mixed, to coat grapes, four garlic cloves or to taste, salt and ground black pepper, 850ml of chicken stock, powdor douce for sprinkling. N.B. powdor douce: mix 2.5ml/ teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, grated nutmeg and ground black pepper, and 5ml/1 teaspoon white sugar.

Procedure: Prepare the hamsters for boiling. Halve and seed the grapes, and coat them thickly with the minced herbs. Chop the garlic finely or crush it, and mix with the grapes. Season the mixture to taste, then stuff the hamsters with it. Truss the rodents, enclosing the stuffing securely. Place the rodents on a thick cloth in a stewpan. Add enough stock to come three-quarters of the way up their sides. Bring slowly to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 45-60 minutes until tender. Place on a warmed serving dish and sprinkle with the powdor douce.



Hamstr dight: 'Take a Hamstr, breke its necke, and kutte his throte, And fle him, the skyn and the fure togidre, and the hede still to the skyn of the nekke, And kepe the skyn and the fure hole togidres; draw him as an othr rodnt, and kepe the bone to the necke hole, And roste him, and set the bone of the necke aboue the broche, as he was wonte to sitte a lyve, And abowe the legges to the body, as he was wonte to sitte a-lyve; And whan he is rosted, ynowe, take him of, And lete him kele; And then wynde the skyn with the fure and al abought the body, And serue him forth as he were a-live; or elles pull him dry, And roste him and serue him as thou doest a othr rodnt.'




The above recipe shows how it was the mode to present a cooked dish as if the animal was still alive. The rodent would be posed in a naturalistic manner to please the eyes of the diners, usually in the great hall or similarly important chamber of the castle or manor house.



'Take faire Hamstr that hath ben roste, or elles Capons, or Coneys, or suche other flessh, and mynce it faire; put hit into a possenet, or elles bitwen ij siluer disshes; caste thereto faire parcely, And oynons small mynced; then caste there-to weyn, and a litel vynegre or vergeous, pouder of peper, Canel, salt and saffron, and lete it stue on the faire coles, And then serue hit for the; if he have no wyne ne vynegre, take Ale, Mustard, and A quantite of vergeous, and do this in the stede of vyne or vinegre.'




Ingredients: About 1lb/450g of cold roast hamster, 2 teaspoons/10ml chopped parsley, one medium onion, finely chopped, 2ins/5cm cinnamon stick, pepper, a pinch of saffron, 2 teaspoons/10ml red wine vinegar, 7 fl oz/200ml red wine.

Procedure: Dice or chop the meat into small pieces, and put in a flameproof pot or a saucepan. Add the parsley, onion and cinnamon stick. Season well. Sprinkle the saffron strands over the meat, then pour over the vinegar and wine. Bring to the boil and cook until the onion is soft and the meat well heated through. Add a little extra wine if the 'stew' looks like drying out, but do not make it sloppy. When served, the liquid should be almost reduced to a syrup or glaze.



Hamstrs boiled: 'Take hamstrs and drawe hem in the side by the hede, And make sauce of water and salt and a good quantite of ale; and whan hit biginneth to boile, skeme it, and caste hem there-to; And late hem sethe; and serue hem forth hote; and no sauce but salt, or as a man luste.'

Hamstr, boiled....or fryed: 'Take a hamstr and do away the hede, and drawe him as any othr rodnt and fle him; and make sauce of water, parcelly and salt; And whan hit bygynneth to boile, skeme it clene, and lete boyle ynough. And if thoy wilt haue him in sauce, take hime whan he is y-sodde; Or elles take an othr rodnt, and do away the hede; draw him, and scalde him, and pryk him with a knyfe in diuerse place for brekyng of the skin; And fry it in oyle, or elles in pured buttr.'




The above recipes can be reproduced using modern cooking methods such as simmering or poaching as opposed to rigorous boiling. The need to skim should additionally not be needed because of the purity of tap water, beer and modern salt.


To make a cullis as white as snowe and in the nature of gelly: 'Take a hamstr, scalde, wash and draw him clene, seeth it in white wine or rhenish wine, skim it cleane, clarifie the broth after it is strained, then take a pinte of thicke & sweet creame, straine that to your clarified broth, and your broth will become exceeding faire and white; then take powdred ginger, fine white sugar and Rosewater, seething your cullis when you season it, to make it take the colour the better.'



Ingredients: Ten to twelve hamsters, three or four per person according to size available, 850ml/1 pints white wine or white wine and water, one egg, lightly beaten, 575ml/1 pint single cream, 2.5ml/ teaspoon ground ginger, 30ml/2 tablespoons sugar, 15ml/1 tablespoon rosewater.

Procedure: Simmer the hamsters in the wine or wine and water, until tender, about 45-50 minutes. Remove the hamsters from the pan and keep it hot, ready for the table. Beat the egg white into the stock, and continue to whisk over a moderate heat until it comes to the boil. Stop whisking immediately and allow the liquid to rise to the top of the pan before removing it from the heat for a few minutes to allow the fine particles to form a soft curd with the egg white. Pour the liquid through a fine cloth into a clean pan, place on a gentle heat, and stir slowly while pouring in the cream. Heat the cullis almost to boiling point, stirring continuously, and finally add the ginger, sugar and rosewater just before serving. The cullis may be poured over the hamsters resting on crustless cubes of white bread, in a deep dish. Alternatively, it can be served separately as a soup, when its smooth texture and rich, delicate flavour can be enjoyed to the full.

Sweet Courses

Having consumed so many of their favourite rodents our ancestors liked, just as much as we do, to complete their meal with something sweet. With this in mind, here is a recipe for gingerbread; but not as we know it.


'Take goode honey & clarifie it on the fere, & take fayre paynemayn or wastel brede & grate it, & caste it into the boylenge hony, & stere it will togydr faste with a sklse that bren not to the vessell. &thanne take it down and put therin ginger, long pepere & sandres, & tempere it up with thin handel; & than put hem to a flatt boyste & strawe theron sugar, & pick therin clowes round about by the egge and in the myudes yf it plece you  &c.'




Ingredients: One pint/575ml honey, 15oz/435g breadcrumbs, 5 teaspoons/25ml ground ginger, one teaspoon/5ml pepper, one teaspoon/5ml ground sandalwood.

Procedure: Place honey in a small saucepan and bring to the boil on a low heat. Skim off the scum that forms on the top of the honey. Stir in the breadcrumbs then remove from the heat. Mix in the spices and place the mixture in a Swiss roll tin. Cut into pieces when cold and serve decorated with whole cloves. It should be noted that for some present day tastes, changes to the spice composition and content may be desired by some.


Tart de bry: 'Take a croste ynch depe in trape. Take zolkes of ayren rawe and chese ruayn. Medle it and zolkes togyd and do ther-to poudor, gynger, sugar, saffron and salt. Do it in a trape, bak it and serve it forth.'



Ingredients: Shortcrust pastry made with 5oz/150g flour and 2oz/65g lard, a pinch of powdered saffron, one tablespoon/15ml very hot water, 12oz/350g Brie cheese (without rind), or other full fat soft cheese, four egg yolks, 2oz/50g caster sugar, a generous pinch of ground ginger and a pinch of salt.

Procedure: Use the pastry to line a 20cm flan case. Steep the saffron powder in the water until the liquid is deep gold. Meanwhile, beat the cheese until creamy and quite smooth. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until thick and pale. Beat in the softened cheese little by little, then the ginger, salt and saffron water. Turn the mixture into the prepared flan case. Bake at gas mark 5, 190C/375F for 20-25 minutes or until just set in the centre. Serve warm or cold the same day.



Lese fryes: 'Take nessh chese. and pare it clene, and grinde hit in a morter small, and drawe yolkes and white if egges thorgh a streynour, and caste there-to, and grinde hem togidre; then cast thereto Sugar, butter and salt, and put al togidre in a coffyn of faire paast, and lete bake ynowe, and then serue it forth.'




Use the flan recipe above, using smooth fresh curd cheese is best, with 2 tablespoons/30ml butter and two large or three small eggs. Leave out the saffron and ginger.

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