How To Cook a Peacock:


Medieval Recipes
by Taillevent

One Recipe, Several Centuries


The idea of frying cream may be counter-intuitive, but - since Medieval times - it's endured. Fried cream is still a specialty today in places as different as Venice and Tennesee .

14th century: Taillevent -

Take cream and boil and then white bread broken into small crumbs and put it in the cream, or a large quantity of crumbled wafers and put with the cream. Take egg yolks stirred in with the milk and cream, and boil it all together. Add a large quantity of sugar, and salt to taste.

1705: Massialot - CUISINIER ROYAL ET BOURGEOIS (219-220)

Take about a pint of milk, boil it on the fire, and mix in four egg yolks with a little flour. Once it is well mixed, stir it all together on the stove until the cream is formed: put in a little salt, a little butter and some chopped lemon peel. Once it is cooked, flour your table and pour your Cream, so that it spreads out by itself: once it has cooled, it should look like a cooked omelette. Cut it into pieces, depending on the size you want, and fry them in good hot lard, being careful not to ruin them in the pan. Once it is browned, take it off; put powdered sugar and orange flower water on it. Lay it out in its dish, and having glazed it, if you wish, with a heated oven peel, serve it hot. You can also, when this sort of cream is spread out on the table, have hot butter in your frying pan, and fry it like an omelette. When it is browned on one side, pour it into its dish, and move it gently around in the pan, to brown it on all sides. Sugar it, glaze it and serve it hot once again, all as an Entrements.


253. To fry CREAM to eat hot.
Take a pint of cream and boil it, three spoonfuls of London flour, mix'd with a little milk, put in three eggs, and beat them very well with the flour, a little salt, a spoonful or two of fine powder sugar, mix them very well; then put your cream to them on the fire and boil it; then beat two eggs more very well, and when you take your pan off the fire stir them in, and pour them into a large pewter dish, about half an inch thick; when it is quite cold cut it out in square bits, and fry it in butter, a light brown; as you fry them set them before the fire to keep hot and crisp, so dish them up with a little white wine, butter and sugar for your sauce, in a china cup, set it in the midst, and grate over some loaf sugar.

1900: Bonnechère - LA CUISINE DU SIECLE (67)

Boil a large glass of milk with a little vanilla; mix the eggs with as much flour as they can absorbe, add four whole eggs and mix bit by bit with the glass of milk. COok this cream for twenty minutes, stirring continually with a wooden spoon, then put in a piece ob butter, a little sugar, a pinch of slat, let cook six more minutes, stirring the whole time; then put in four egg yolks, pour the cream in a dish, let it cool, cut into lozanges, dip these into the beaten eggs, then into bread crumbs and fy; serve, sprinkled with sugar.

1906: Richardin - L'ART DU BIEN MANGER (872)

Make a cream with a half-liter of milk, six egg yolks, 125 grams of powdered sugar and a spoonful of flour; mix it all well and cook it. Let it cool in a dish, cut into regular pieces, dip the pieces into an egg yolk and then in white bread crumbs. Fry and serve powdered with sugar.

A new collection of 18th century recipes is now available:

Serve selected dishes from a model Old Regime meal!


This pastry began, centuries ago, as a basic cheese cake but soon developed a characteristic three-sided form which typified it for hundreds of years. It seemed to be a specialty of St. Denis and is sometimes called 'Talmouse de Saint Denis'.

14th century: Taillevent -

Cut fine cheese in square pieces as small as beans. Soak the cheese well in eggs and mix all together. Soak the crust in eggs and butter.

1665: Bonnefons - LES DELICES DE LA CAMPAGNE (37)

You spread out under the roller a bit of puff pastry which will form a circle, in the middle of which you put a Cheese filling, and you close your dough at the top, giving it three horns, which is the shape of the Talemouse; nonetheless you leave a little showing in the middle, which will not be closed, so that it swells in the oven and takes on color while cooking.

1680: La Varenne - LE CUISINIER FRANCOIS (270-271)

Take for example soft cheese freshly made and not skimmed, about the size of two fists, a good handful of flour, the white and yolk of an egg, salt to taste: you can add about the size of an egg of fine cheese dry and chopped fin, or grated with the grater: put these things together, close this mixture in a base of fine dough, and give it the form of a three-horned talmouse, gild the talmouse and put it in an oven.
Note that you must not fill the talmouse completely, because the mixture inside will swell and spill out while cooking.

1705: Massialot - CUISINIER ROYAL ET BOURGEOIS (463)

To make talmouses, take nice fatty white cheese, and crush it well in a mortar, with butter the size of an egg, and a little pepper. Once well crushed, you must put in a handful of flour, a little milk and two eggs; and be careful not to knead the filling too much. Make a fine dough, and make from it little bases, depending on how big you want your Talmouses: put this filling on your bases, and lift the edges on three sides, like Priests' bonnets; pinching the corners with the fingers, so that they do not come apart while cooking. Gild them with a beaten egg, and cook them in the oven, and you can use them for garnishing.


Placenta triquetra, type of pastry which is made so. Crush in a mortar fatty white cheese with butter the size of an egg and a little pepper; then put in a handful of flour, a little milk and two eggs; do not knead the filling too much. Make little bases of fine dough .... Put the cheese filling on these bases, lift the edges on three sides, pinching the corner with your fingers; gild with a beaten egg and cook in the oven. The filling in these makes them a little heavy on the stomach.

NOTE: This version is clearly derived from the one above it, with minor changes - including the editorializing last line!

1814: A. Beauvilliers - L'ART DU CUISINIER (114)
without cheese

Make a standard royal dough [see below]. moisten with eggs, so that it is not too liquid; you will have rolled out puff pastry dough or its trimmings, about the thckness of a 30 sous piece; cut it into circles with a pastry cutter about 3 1/2" in size; lay out your mixture on these bases, and make of them a sort of tricorner hat; lightly gild it on top; put them in a somewhat brisk oven; once they are cooked, set out and serve them as hot as you can.

St. Denis style

Take a pound and a half of fresh white cheese; add a quarter pound of well-cleaned Brie cheese and a little salt; work all this by hand; add to this a handful of good flour, sifted: work it all again; put in a quarter pound of butter, melted: rework this mixture; cut and present your talmouses , as indicated in the preceding article; cook, and serve either as a buisson [pyramid of dishes] or entremets.

Royal Dough (111-112)

Put half a setier of water in a pot, about two ounces of butter, a pinch of fine salt, a peel of lime, essence or orange flower; put it all on the fire; take it all off when it starts to boil; having sifted the flour, put in as much water as it will absorb; knead your flour well, so that there are no lumps; put it back on the fire; stir it and set it to dry until it comes out of the pot and does not stick to the fingers; change pots; let it cool a little; put in two eggs, one after the other, until it sticks to the fingers, and use it for choux pastry, duchess-style breads, Mecca breads and for all the little entremets.

1900: Bonnechère - LA CUISINE DU SIECLE (237) [Talmouses a la Saint-Denis]

Take a handful of sifted wheat flour, 300 grams of fresh white cheese, 150 grams of cleaned Brie cheese, salt, knead it all, add 125 grams of melted butter, work it again with the eggs, lay out the dough, cut the talmouses, which you will cook with a brisk flame.


This name was given to a custard or a pastry - or a custard IN a pastry.(Variations: daryols or darioles of cream)

14th century: Taillevent - LE VIANDIER (23)

Crush up almonds, but do not strain them. Fry the cream well in butter. Sweeten well.

Even for the Viandier, this recipe is very succinct. Probably the above is intended as a filling for a pastry crust.

c. 1390: FORM OF CURY (82)

Take cream of cow's milk or almond. Add eggs with sugar, saffron and salt. Mix it well. Put in a box 11 inches deep. Bake it well and serve it forth.

NOTE: In the following recipes, the word 'crust' frequently corresponds to the French 'abaisse', an untranslatable term referring to rolled out dough.

1680: La Varenne - LE CUISINIER FRANCOIS (268-269)

Put in a basin or a pan for example the fourth of a litron [1 litron=1.7608 British pint] of fine flour, and the white and yolk of 2 eggs: knead these things together well with a spatula or a spoon, adding a bit of milk little by little, and salt as desired; because not much is needed; soak this flour or mixture well as if it was to make gruel; and when the mixture is well kneaded, add a pint of milk which must be well mixed with the above... and if you do not have cow's milk or that of any other animal, one can use almond milk in which case one must add a bit more flour.
The mixture being ready put a crust in a pie pan and the pie pan being in the oven, fill it sufficiently, with the said mixture; cook this in the oven, and when it is cooked and removed from the oven, slit a cross in it, without touching the crust, then put in the slit in the dariole a piece of good unsalted butter about the size of a walnut; a good eighth of a pint of powdered sugar with a little rose water then put your dariole back in the oven, so that the butter and the sugar melt, and flavor this pastry, which happens quickly, then take it out of the oven; ...

It takes about half an hour to cook a dariole or pie of a pint of milk.

When this dariole is done, you can add butter, sugar and rose water, as said above, otherwise you can simply sprinkle it with sugar and a little rose water.

1814: A. Beauvilliers - L'ART DU CUISINIER (144-145)

Make a crust of pie pastry the thickness of a line [1 line=a twelfth of an inch] and a half; cut it with a dough-cutter big enough that your little crusts spill over the molds of your darioles: give them the proper shapes on the point of your knife, and put them like that in these forms, wich you will have buttered; finish giving them their shape by introducing a bit of dough trim the dough spilling over the forms; for twelve darioles, put a tablespoonful of flour, six or eight macaroons or bitter marzipain. well crushed, a little salt, some orange blossom, and six raw egg yolks; knead all this with three "fish" [1 fish=1189 decimeters, or a quarter of a pint] of good milk: three quarters of n hour before serving fill your fomrs, being careful to stir the mixture; put good butter on it, the size of half a hazelnut, then cook them in the oven;: once they are cooked, take them out of the forms, lay them out on the plate, sprinkle them with fine sugare, and serve them as hot as possible.

NOTE: French macaroons are made with almond powder, not coconuts.


Press flaky pastry into small molds for paté in gravy; garnish them with a cream composed of 125 grams of powdered sugar, 60 grams of flour, all mixed with a wooden spoon with 6 egg yolks, a little orange water, 50 grams of melted butter and 2 deciliters of double cream.

Garnish the molds, sprinkle with a little powdered sugar and put them in a low oven for 25 minutes.


Using fine dough fill 18 small metal cups* as for patés in gravy, and put in each a little lump of butter the size of a hazelnut, then pour over it the following garnishing:

Put in a small casserole 30 grams of sifted flower with an egg; stir to make a sort of dough, then add six egg yolks, the same quantity of crushed macaroons, another egg, a grain of salt and 125 grams of powdered sugar. Shake the mix well and add a quantity of cream equal to ten full dariole molds, then add the desired flavoring, such as lemon, orange blossom , etc. To make darioles with coffee or chocolate, prepare the cream with the one or the other.

When these darioles are full, put them in a brisk oven; they must only bake enough to rise 7 millimeters above the mold; take them out then glaze them and serve them nice and hot.

*NOTE: I'm guessing a muffin pan would do the job, with proportions adjusted accordingly. JC

All translations copyright 2005 Jim Chevallier.
Please do not reproduce or post elsewhere without prior permission.

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