Cheese and Onion Tart or Tart On Ember-day

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Tart on Ember-day. Parboyle onions, and sauge, and parsel, and hew hom small, then take gode .fatte chese, and bray hit, and do therto egges, and tempur hit up therwith; and do therto butter and sugur, and raisynges of corance, and pouder of ginger, and of canell; medel all this well togedur, and do hit in a coffyn, and bake hit uncovered and serve hit forthe. Richard Warner, Antiquitates culinariae(1791) Ancient Cookery 1425

Ember-day is a fast day the observant Christian medieval person would follow. It wasn’t fast that meant no-food, but fast meaning no meat. If you are looking for vegetarian recipes “ember” or “in lent” are useful terms to know.

Often you see this recipe with the typo “fauge” instead of “sauge” throwing all sorts of confusion into the mix. There is no herb ‘fauge’ (probably) but there are calligraphy ‘s’ that looks like ‘f’.

Onions being dry and hot of course respond well to being parboiled. It also takes away some of the cooking time and bitterness of the onions. When chopping the cooked onions be careful, they are very slippery*. If you chop them before parboiling you will add a lot more moisture to the pie unless you drain them really well.

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Ingredients
* 4 onions, peeled
* 1 tsp sage
* 1 tsp parsley
* 300 ml soft goat cheese
* 4 eggs
* 1/4 cup butter
* 2 tbsp raw cane sugar
*  2 tbsp currants
* 1/2 tsp ginger, ground
* 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
* 1 deep dish pie crust

Directions:
1) Place peeled onions into a sauce pan and cover with water. Bring onions to rolling boil. Remove from heat and drain. Let cool before chopping each onion into small pieces (makes about 3 cups of chopped onion)

2) Preheat oven to 350.

3) Mix chopped onions, herbs, cheese, eggs, butter, sugar, currants and spices together. Use the herbs and currants to gauge when it is evenly mixed.

4) Pour onion mixture into pie crust and bake for 1 hour, until pie is golden brown, and middle is cooked. Serve hot or cold.

* yes I cut myself chopping the onions. 

The Tale of Two Tarts – Pear tarts three ways

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dsc_0483Sometimes you find two recipes that are fairly similar but with small differences. Like the two recipes that are back to back in A  BOOK OF COOKRYE :

To bake small meats.
Take Egges and seethe them hard, then take the yolkes out of them and braye them in the morter, and temper them with Creme, and then straine them, and put to them Pepper, Saffron, Cloves, Maced, small raisins, Almonds blanched and small shred and grated bread.
Take Peares also sodden in Ale, and bray and straine them with the same Licour, and put therto Bastard and Honny, and put it into a pan and stir it on the fire til it be wel sodden, then make little coffins and set them in the Oven til they be hard, and then take them out againe, and put the foresaid licour into them and so serve them forth.

To make small bake meats of Sirup and Peares.
Take Peares and seethe them in Ale, then bray them and straine them and put Sanders to them and Ale, with the spices aforesaide, and the Coffins in likewise ordered, and so put in the sirup. A.W. A  BOOK OF COOKRYE (1591)

The first “to bake small meats” recipe is pretty straight forward, a honey sweetened pear puree tart with a thick cream sauce that uses all the things to thicken the sauce. The second tart is less clear. Instead of simmering the pear mixture its baked, with a ‘sirup’. Its not clear what the ‘sirup’ A.W. is talking about here.

The manuscript has ‘sirip’ listed in four other places:

“…put in some sirup of vergious, and some sugar…”

” …take Claret wine, Vergious, Rosewater, Sinamon, Ginger and Sugar, boyle them togither, laye your Pig flat like a Fawne or a Kidde, and put your sirup unto it…”

“…and make your sirrop half with rosewater and half with that liquor & put double sugar to your Orenges, and when your sirup is halfe sodden…”

“To make sirup of Violets. … and put to them so much rosewater as you think good then let them boyle altogither untill the colour be forth of them, then take them of the fire and straine them through a fine cloth, then put so much Sugar to them as you thing good…”

So the ‘sirup’ in the second recipe can be three things:

  1. the cream sauce from the first recipe.
  2. sugar + the cooking liquid
  3. sugar + rosewater and cooking liquid

It cannot be verjuice + sugar because I said so.

So a mad scientist er a medieval recipe enthusiast googles the recipes to see what other people have done, and as of today I found nothing for either recipe. The other option open to the cook is to try the variations and see which tastes better.

Makes 37 tarts

Recipe 1 Pear Puree (for both tarts):
* 3 cups of chopped pears
* 500 ml (1 can) light-coloured beer

  1. Place chopped pears in small sauce pan. Cover with  beer. Simmer for 1 hour on medium.
  2. Strain fruit but reserve the cooking liquid, you will need it.
  3. Smash batches of fruit with mortar and pestle with a small splash of cooking liquid and then force through colander with potato masher and/or wooden spoon. This will remove most of the skins.
  4. Should arrive at 2 cups of pear puree.

Pear Tart #1 (To bake small meats)

Ingredients:
Cream sauce:
* two egg yolks, cooked
* 1/2 cup cream
* 1/4 tsp each, pepper, mace, cloves
* 1 pinch saffron
* 1 tbsp raisins
* 2 tbsp almond meal
* 3 tbsp bread crumbs

tart filling:
* 1 cup of pear puree
* 2 tbsp white wine
* 2 tbsp honey

12 small tart shells

Directions

  1. Make cream sauce: Take 2 egg yolks and mast in mortar and pestle, adding cream slowly. Stir the liquid in the mortar, and slowly pour through a colander into another bowl. Add spices, raisins, almond meal and bread crumbs into cream mixture. Stir well and set aside.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  3. Place pear puree, wine and honey into sauce pan and brig to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Place 1 tbsp of pear mixture into each tart shell.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes, until tarts are brown.
  6. Place 1/2 tbsp of the cream mixture on each hot tart, spreading it out with a knife or spoon. Make sure there is at least 1 raisin on each tart.
  7. Serve once cooled.

Tart #2 (To make small baked meats of sirup and pears)

Ingredients:
* 1 cup of pear puree
* 1/4 tsp each, pepper, mace, cloves
* 1 tsp saunders
* 1/4 cup + 1/2 cup of cooking liquid
* 1/2 cup raw sugar
* 1 tsp rosewater
* 25 tart shells

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Mix pear puree, spices, saunders and 1/4 cup cooking liquid.
  3. Put 1/2 tbsp of pear mixture into each tart shell.
  4. Mix 1/2 cup cooking liquid and raw sugar together in sauce pan, heating gently to dissolve sugar.
  5. Put 1/2 tbsp of syrup onto 12 of the filled tart shells.
  6. Mix rosewater into rest of syrup. Put 1/2 tbsp of the adulterated syrup onto the rest of the filled tart shells.
  7. Baked for 35 minutes until tarts are brown.

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Authors notes:

  1. The rose water ones taste better than the ones without. Who knew?
  2. The option of putting the “cream sauce” on the second kind of tart and baking it was gross. I’m not including a recipe here. 
  3. None of the above recipes tasted of pear. 

 

 

Quince Tart without a cover

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This is a slightly different tart from the Quince Tart from last week. I still had quinces left over from Sauce Madame to use up. Really I still have sauce madame to use up too, the recipe makes a lot of sauce.

This recipe calls to mix quince and apple (or pears) . Quince are pretty high in pectin so I am not sure if it is a flavour suggestion or a pectin suggestion, although it would help a tart without eggs slice more easily.

According to Know Your Humours web site by Agnes de Lanvallei quince are cold and dry, apples are moist, wine is hot and dry, sugar is hot and moist. If you were cooking to balance humours this combination makes sense as well. Wardens are also moist.

If you are exploring quince, A Book of Cookrye by A. W has several different variations on quince tarts and pies to try.

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Tartes of quinces without covers. Straine your quinces with some wine, when they be boiled tender, and an apple with them, or two or three wardens, straine them and season them with Sugar, sinamon and Ginger, and so make tarte without a cover. A Book of Cookrye by A. W. (1591)

Ingredients
* 3 large quince, roughly chopped
* 1 large apple
* 1 cup white wine
* 1/2 cup raw cane sugar
* 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
* 1 tsp ginger, ground
* 1 tart shell

Directions
1) Place quince, apple, and wine in a sauce pan and then add enough water to cover. Place pot on medium low and simmer contents for 1 hour, or until quince are soft enough to break apart.
2) Strain off the water, then set fruit and strainer aside to cool enough to handle.
3) Force cooled fruit through the strainer into a clean bowl, leaving behind the skins and cores in the strainer. I use a potato masher to help force the fruit through. This will create a smooth fruit slurry with the fruit expelled from the bottom of the strainer.
4) Preheat oven to 350.
5) Mix sugar and spices in the quince-apple paste. Pour mixture into tart shell and bake for 1 hour or until tart is brown and mixture is thickened . Serve once cooled.

Blood Cake for Halloween!

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I was looking through past blog articles for a recipe and discovered that in the Beans and Thickeners article I mentioned that blood was also used as an egg replacer but I’d leave that recipe to Halloween.

Well I said I’d do it so here I go.

Blood pancakes (also known as Blodpannekake, Veriohukaiset, Blodpannkaka) are a traditionally served food from all over Northern Europe. The modern blood pancake recipes I found have molasses or a savoury component such as onions added to the mixture. I couldn’t find an early English recipe for griddle fried blood cakes even though they are certainly a traditional food.

The following recipe is an unsweetened baked blood cake recipe from Forme of Cury.  I’d serve this simple cake with syrup, fruit compote, or with fried onions, as is done with the above traditional pancakes. The recipe is similar to bannock, but without any rising agents.

When cooking with blood to substitute for eggs use a ratio of 1/3 cup of blood for one egg, or 1/4 cup of blood for one egg white. I used pre-clotted blood from Asian grocery, if you have fresh blood add oatmeal 1 tbsp at a time until the dough is thick not runny.

Blood can be used as a colouring agent in recipes or as the sticky ‘egg wash’ for breading fish.

Also, blood is supposed to be easy to digest.

Pie with pig’s blood 
Take blode of swyne, floure, & larde idysed, salt & mele; do hit togedre. Bake hyt in a trappe wyt wyte gres. Forme of Cury, 14th century

Ingredients:
* 1 cup pigs blood, strained
* 1 cup flour
* 1/4 cup lard
* pinch of salt
* 1/4 oatmeal
* bacon fat to grease pan

Directions
1) Preheat oven to 350F
2) Mix together blood, flour, lard, salt, and oatmeal. Kneed together with hands so that batter is an even burgundy or pink throughout.
3) Grease cake or pie pan. Pour batter into pan then press it flat.
4) Bake cake for 45 minutes, until bread is dry to touch, its hard to see ‘browning’ with such a dark cake.

Confession: I used gf flour so I could try it. Its really good. Is there nothing lard can’t make delicious?

Aquafaba!? Or how to redact a recipe

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I am researching chickpea recipes. I like chickpeas. I found this delightful recipe:

“Gloves,” that is ravioli.

Take white chickpeas, well softened in water; boil them well, then take them out of the water, minced finely and mix them with said water, and strain them; and with this strained water dilute the flour as you like and fry it on a low fire with lard and oil, and put some honey on top.

Another preparation.  Dilute the flour with eggs, then make some gloves or other shape, as you like: set them to cook well in a pan with hot lard or oil.An Anonymous Tuscan Cookery Book

LOOK AT IT!

So simple but it has inspired 4 days of chasing other recipes and facts so I am doing a whole blog post on just the process of redaction and will do the full recipe once I have bought dried chickpeas to play with.

The questions that this recipe inspired:

Q1: Is that a 14th Century vegan egg-replacement recipe? 

Yes. The second half of the recipe “another preparation” covers that question. I believe that this is a recipe to make your own Aquafaba, which is a trendy ‘new’ ingredient.

(to do: find other medieval examples of legumes used as egg replacement)

Q2: Are there simple crepe/pancake/flat bread recipes that are simple flour plus egg or liquid?

Yes. I look at modern examples:

Q3: Could that be using chickpea flour as the ‘flour’ in the recipe?

Maybe?  They had access to many different kinds of flours in the 14th Century.

Breadcakesandale has a list (although not a historic timeline) of different flours.

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Wikipedia lists a lot of flours too. It discusses chickpeas being a neolithic crop so I am pretty comfortable declaring chickpea flour as a possible option for this recipe. [wikipedias course: Zohary, Daniel and Hopf, Maria, Domestication of Plants in the Old World (third edition), Oxford University Press, 2000, p 110]

Q4: If the recipe had chickpea flour (like you are wishfully thinking) would it work in this recipe?

Yes it would work. Modern examples of chickpea flour flatbreads:

Ok I didn’t find chickpea flour and aquafaba together in a crepe or pancake–chickpea flour has a strong flavour, which is my reasoning behind not combining them.

Q4: What will be your approach? 

One cup of dried chickpeas will grow to about 2 1/2 cups. Soften chickpeas in water overnight. Strain chickpeas and discard the soaking water. Bring chickpeas to boil in enough water to cover, then reduce to simmer for ~1 hour. Start checking the chickpea progress at about 35-40 minute. The chickpeas have to be soft.

Take cooked chickpeas and reserve cooking liquid. Chop up chickpeas roughly. Pour chickpea meat back into chickpea cooking water.

Strain the chickpeas out using a strainer, this should take care of the chickpea skins and give you a nice chickpea milk.

Mix one cup of (chickpea and other experiments) flour with one cup of chickpea milk, or less depending on what sort of consistency you want.

Fry in lard or bacon fat in a medium-hot frying pan.

Serve covered in honey.

Q5: When will you make this? 

I will make this over the next few days.