Beet Green & Apple Pie or “A Frydayes Pye”

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I’ve talked before about cooking dishes for “in lent” and alternative thickeners but I thought this pie, “A Frydayes Pye” was interesting because it deviates in instruction from what I expect from a herb and apple pie.

I have the recipe for “Tarts of Borrage” on page 229 of my Big Buttes Book, and its different from the recipe below because it wilts, or blanches the herbs, and softens the fruit before they are baked. They are also baked along with egg yolks, which this recipe also doesn’t have.

I’ve combined the ingredients, and I started making this using a closed pie instead of an open tart so the greens wouldn’t dry out, and I felt it was more “coffin” as described in the original.

Well after 45 minutes it was a soggy wet mess. I opened the lids and cooked them uncovered for another 30 minutes to try to salvage them.

 

The greens did dry out with the open lid but it wasn’t unpleasant. My husband had thirds, so not a complete disaster.

My dog keeps trying to steal it, which is weird. He isn’t a table surfer, but he seems strangely motivated.

I consider the pie a failure, but luckily I have a husband (or a dog) who will hide the evidence. When reading through historic recipes, we don’t have the author’s notes or reasoning behind their decisions. We just have to try it as written and see what happens.

I also think that if I’d cooked them as smaller hand pies and on a higher heat it might not be as soggy. Also blanching the veggies and squeezing out the liquid would go a long way.

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A Fridayes Pye, without eyther Flesh or Fish. Wash greene Beetes cleane, picke out the middle string, and chop them small with two or three well relisht ripe Apples. Season it with Pepper, Salt, and Ginger: then take a good handfull of Razins of the Sunne, and put all in a Coffin of fine Paste, with a piece of sweet Butter, and so bake it: but before you serue it in, cut it vp, and wring in the iuyce of an Orenge, and Sugar. John Murrell A NEVV BOOKE of Cookerie (England, 1615)

Fennel and Leek Soup or About the aforementioned.

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So I was looking for medieval recipes (if I am going to cook with a cook book anyway…) for vegetables to use up some greens I had going off. I found this cute recipe below and since it called for cheap ingredients I already had in the fridge I decided to experiment with it.

I love that it calls for the fennel bulb not the leaves, since it is much easier to get the bulb here.

Anyone who cooks a fast soup knows about softening veggies before adding a broth. I wondered what adding water instead of broth would be like. I also wondered what frying fennel in lard would be like.

My daughter declares it “good” and that “it tastes like pho” which is her highest compliment. I think the flavours worked together and it would be even better as a campfire dish–which I will try at my next opportunity.

I think this was a dish meant for an invalid or for maybe winter. I am just tired and the air conditioner is set too high.

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 Take white fennel minced finely, and then fry it with a little of the white part of a leek minced finely, with egg or lard, and put in a bit of water and saffron and salt, and boil it, and put in beaten eggs, if you want. Anonimo Toscano, Libro della Cocina (late 14th or early 15th c.)  Ariane Helou’s translation

Ingredients:
* 1 heaping tbsp lard **
* 1/3 cup leek, a few inches of the white end, minced
* 1 cup fennel, white from the bulb end, minced
* 2 cups water
* 1 pinch saffron
* 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 egg, beaten

Directions

  1. Heat frying pan on medium-high, add lard to melt.
  2. Add fennel and leek, reduce heat to medium low, and stir to soften veggies.
  3. Pour fennel mixture into a sauce pan, add water and salt. Heat sauce pan on medium-high until mixture comes to boil.
  4. Add beaten egg into fennel mixture while stirring. Bring to boil a second time, then remove from heat.
  5. Serve hot***.

** Use vegetable lard or olive oil if making for a vegetarian. 

*** and with rice noodles if you want to take the pho thing a little too far. 

Creamy Bastard! or Creme Bastarde!

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I feel like I should put this blog through a pirate talk translator every time I read “Bastarde!” (arrr)

I’m looking for recipes for a SCA feast idea, an irreverent one, and the name (Bastarde! Arrr!) fits the bill but I have to try it.  It might be a bit labour intensive for a feast, but could be made in advance.

151. Cream Bastarde. Take the whites of eggs a great heap, and put it in a pan full of milk, and let it boil; then season it so with salt and honey a little, then let it cool, and draw it through a strainer, and take fair cow milk and draw it  withal, and season it with sugar, and look that it be poignant and sweet;  and serve it forth for a pottage, or for a good baked meat, whether  that thou will.

There are many different versions of the recipe online. From a whipped topping creaminess to a chunky tapioca texture. I think you get tapioca if you don’t draw it through a strainer twice or bring it to a boil too quickly.

I’m imagining a custard, with the sugar added at the end plus baking it, would thicken it enough.

Cindy translates heaps as “4” which could be a thing. You need one whole egg and 1 tablespoon of sugar to thicken 1 cup of milk. Extra egg white should make sure it thickens without the yolk.

If we don’t over bake it, it shouldn’t be rubbery, which egg yolks like to do.

Search for “diet custard” recipes if you want to explore other egg white custard ingredient ratios. The few I looked at put in heaps of whites.

Ingredients:
* 4 egg whites, lightly beaten
* 1 cup of whole milk + 2 tbsp
* 2 tbsp honey
* dash of salt
* 2 tbsp raw cane sugar

Directions:

  1. Put egg whites and milk into small, wide-bottomed, saucepan on medium-low and bring up to scald (bubbles forming on the outside of the pan, skin forming over the milk–I’m not using raw milk and I don’t want to burn it)  and then add honey. Stir until honey is melted and then remove saucepan from heat. Let cool until room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven until 350
  3. Pour cooled mixture through a wire strainer into a bowl. Add in 2 tbsp of milk and 2 tbsp of sugar and mix. Pour through a strainer back into sauce pan, or other oven proof dish.
  4. Bake until mixture firms up, approximately 30 minutes. Serve cool if you want it to thicken fully–serve warm if you cannot help yourself.  Its very sweet.**

** Serves 6 if people know how to share, realistically 2 (because the third is asleep).

That’s Not Lasagna or Lasagne in Lent

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I made “Its NOT Lasagna” for my family today. It looked like lasagna but it was gluten-free, nightshade-free  and cow’s-milk-cheese-free . They had two helpings of “Its NOT Lasagna” –if you could call the portion they took initially a serving. I used commercially available gf noodles, home made hamburger and pumpkin sauce, and three different kinds of goat cheese.

It could be argued that tomato sauce based lasagnas are not lasagna either if you are a big food history nerd, like myself. Which I did.

I’ve made a vegan lasagna from Libro de Cucina (14th century) before.

Walnut Lasagne
If you want to make lasagne in lent, take the lasagne (wide pasta noodles) and put them to cook (in water and salt). Take peeled walnuts and beat and grind them well. Put them between the lasagna (in layers), and guard from smoke (while reheating). And when they go to the table dress them with a dusting of spices and with sugarLibro di cucina

Ingredients
* 1 package of fresh lasagna noodles, or 1 package of dried cooked to soften
* 3 cups of walnuts, ground
* 1 cup raw cane sugar
* 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
* 1 tsp ginger, ground
* 1/2 tsp cloves, ground

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.

  2. Place a sheet of parchment paper in a lasagna pain or grease pan.

  3. Put a layer of noodles on pan, cover noodles with 1.5 cups of walnut meal. Cover the walnut layer with another pasta layer, and then repeat with 1.5 cups of walnut meal. Cover last layer with noodles. Brush top crust with oil or almond milk.

  4. Bake for 45 minutes, until  top is golden. Remove from oven and evenly cover top of pie with sugar and spices. Serve hot or cold.

  5. Optional, but not strict to original recipe, mix sugar or honey and spices in with walnuts to bake. 

There are other version from the 14th and 15th century, no tomatoes, just layers and cheese. Helewyse at medievalcookery.com compiled a fantastic list of different Italian recipes from the 14th-15th century. No tomatoes, but real lasagna.

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. 

Basil & Ginger Meringue or How to Make a White Roman Tart

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This savory tart should be fluffy not dense. If a dense tart was wanted the cook would use:

  1. egg yolks not whites and
  2.  hard cheese not creamed

All ingredients should be room temperature (except the melted butter).

The recipe calls for adding foam and carefully not adding the liquid left after beating. This liquid is water. With the creamed cottage cheese being so wet, the pie would take longer to cook or become soggy if more liquid was added.

The rest of the redaction choices are easy–the cook gives very precise measurements.

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To make a white Roman tart. Take a pound of white cheese of cream, then take the whites of six eggs, & beat then well until a foam forms on the surface like snow, & let a little stay in without beating, then take the foam from thereon, & cast it into the cheese, then beat the whites at the top until again foam forms on the surface like the first time, & cast onto the cheese, & make again two or three times as such, then take two ounces of melted butter, a little ginger, a little chopped basil, & make the tart, & cook like the others. Master Lancelot de Casteau, Ouverture de Cuisine (1604)

Ingredients:

  1. 1 lb cottage cheese, creamed
  2. 2 branches basil, stems removed, chopped small
  3. 1 tsp ginger, grated
  4. 2 oz butter, melted
  5. 6 egg whiles from small eggs (1/2 cup), whipped
  6. 1 deep dish pie crust

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350
  2. Pour cheese into large bowl, then cover with basil, ginger, and butter but do not mix. Then cover with egg whites and gently fold ingredients together. The basil will be bright green and show if the batter has been mixed together.
  3. Slowly pour batter into pie shell. Its ok if the mixture is taller than the crust, it is more or less the final height on the tart.
  4. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or meringue is browned and doesn’t have a liquid-jiggle in the middle when pan is tapped.
  5. Serve hot or once cooled.

Modern: make it in little ramkin dishes as souffles because OMG adorable. 

Stuffed Turnips or How to make a pudding in a turnep root

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I was talking about turnips with @glen_malley (as one does) and after the “turnips are not Rutabaga” comments decided to blog about it because I like clearing up confusion.

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One small rutabaga, and two large turnips to clear up confusion.

Over at Wikipedia says that rutabaga (Brassica napobrassicais a cross between a turnip (Brassica rapa subsp. rapa and cabbage (Brassica oleracea), and is commonly called ‘turnip’ to confuse people. Rutabaga has a stronger, sharp flavour, and the flesh is very hard, where turnip flavour is mild, and the flesh is softer.

Sappho, a poet from the 7th century BC, calls one of her lovers Gongýla, “turnip”.

I implore you, Turnip,
Show yourself to me!
Pick up your harp one more time
While the wings of longing hover around you.

Rutabaga, not so romantic. I looked it up.

The recipe I am doing likes the softness and blandness of the turnip. If you were to substitute an apple for the turnip it would dissolve into apple-squish before the pudding was cooked since the turnips are simmered.

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How to make a Pudding in a Turnep root. Take your Turnep root, and wash it fair in warm water, and scrape it faire and make it hollow as you doo a Carret roote, and make your stuffe of grated bread, and Apples chopt fine, then take Corance, and hard Egs, and season it with Sugar Sinamon, and Ginger, and yolks of hard egs and so temper your stuffe, and put it into the Turnep, then take faire water, and set it on the fire, and let it boyle or ever you put in your Turneps, then put in a good peece of sweet Butter, and Claret Wine, and a little Vinagre, and Rosemarye, and whole Mace, Sugar, and Corance, and Dates quartered, and when they are boyled inough, then willl they be tender, then serve it in. A.W. A Book of Cookrye (1591)

Ingredients:

* 4 turnips, pealed
Stuffing:
* 1/2 cup bread crumbs
* 1 apple, grated
* 1 tbsp currants
*  yolks from 2 hard boiled eggs
* 2 tbsp sugar
* 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
* 1/2 tsp ginger, ground
Broth:
* 2 tbsp unsalted butter
* 1/2 cup red wine
* 1 tsp rosemary needles
* 1 flake mace
* 1 tbsp sugar
* 1 tbsp currants
* 2 tbsp dates, quartered
* 1 tbsp grape vinegar

Directions

  1. Carve out an egg sized hole in your turnips removing about 1/4 cup of flesh. I used a grapefruit spoon but a Mellon baller or knife will work. If you slip and pierce the flesh a little don’t worry too much but try not to make any of the turnip-bowl walls too thin.
  2. Mix stuffing ingredients together with hand. Tightly stuff the stuffing into each turnip bowl.
  3. Fill a sauce pan half way with water. Bring water to a boil. Turn pot down to low to simmer  and add butter, wine, rosemary, mace, sugar, currants, and dates, then stir.
  4. Gently place the turnips stuffing side up in pot, simmering liquid should cover them. Cover pot with lid and simmer the puddings for 1 hour.
  5. Serve hot or cold.

Optional: You could make a sauce out of the cooking liquid by straining and adding more sugar but that isn’t mentioned in the original recipe.