Why Parboiling? or To Bake Wilde Ducks

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Parboiling is a technique where you place something in a pot of water, bring the water to a boil and then remove the item. Why would so many medieval recipes call for parboiling meat, especially poultry?

For things like hearts or livers, or wild game, it removed the “gamey” or “green” taste. For things like duck or chicken this isn’t necessary, they don’t taste “gamey” in a bad way.

Poultry is most often described as choleric, a hot dry humour. One of the symptoms of and abundance of choler is vomiting.

Vomiting is also one of the symptoms of food poisoning. If one first parboiled the poultry, then roasted it, you are more likely to get the bird up to temperature required for eating, than by roasting alone. Sometimes fire runs hot and will burn the outside before the bird is cooked, parboiling would help insure the duck is cooked through.

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To Bake Wilde ducks. When they be fair dressed and perboiled, season them with Pepper and Salt, a few whole cloves amongst them, and Onions small minced, and sweet butter, vergious and a little sugar. A Book of Cookrye (1591)

Ingredients
* 1 duck
* Pepper and salt to taste
* 1/2 tsp cloves, ground
* 2 onions minced
* 2 tbsp butter
*2 tbsp verjuice
* 1 tbsp raw cane sugar

Directions

  1. Place whole duck into a large pot and cover with water. Heat pot on high until pot comes to boil.
  2. Preheat oven to 375F.
  3. Sprinkle duck with lots of salt, pepper and cloves.
  4. Mix onions, butter and sugar and stuff into cavity (or combine into a paste and spread over duck).
  5. Bake duck for 1 hour 30 minutes (or until internal temperature is 185F, and wings should pull away when twisted).
  6. Serve hot with onion stuffing.

 

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.

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. 

 

 

Salmon Pastries or To bake a ioll of fresh Salmon

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I wanted to find a fish recipe to make for Christmas Eve, one of the few fish days that have continued to modern times.

The following recipe tells one to bake a salmon in the oven for 2 hours. I am making small hand pies and not an entire salmon. Salmon cooking times are usually around  4 to 6 minutes per half-inch of thickness–if you were not wrapping it in pastry. While high-quality salmon can be eaten raw, it is dry and chewy if over cooked. Its recommended that salmon be cooked until its temperature reaches 145 F.

To bake a ioll of fresh Salmon. TAke Ginger and salt, and season it, and certaine Corrans, and cast them about and vnder it, and let the paste be fine, and take a litle Butter and lay about it in the paste, and set it in the Ouen two houres, and so serue it in. The good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin  (1594)

Ingredients:

  • 1 100g piece of salmon per person
  • enough pastry to wrap each piece
  • 2 tsp of butter
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger, ground
  • 20 currents
  • pinch of salt

Directions
1) Pre-heat oven to 350.
2) Lay out pastry and rub it with butter.
3) Spread out 1/2 tsp of ginger and salt on top of the butter.
4) Put 10 currents down on one half of the pastry. Place piece of salmon on top of the currents, then place 10 currents on top of salmon.
5) Using water to stick pastry edges together wrap the pastry around the salmon.
6) Brush top of pastry with butter and then bake pastry for 40 minutes, until pastry is golden and internal temperature reaches 145. Serve hot.

Tart it up Week: Quince Tarts

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To make a quince tart. Take quinces and cook them well and strain it and put sugar, cinnamon and strong wine thereon.  Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin (1553)

Ingredients
* 3 cups quinces, peeled, cored, roughly chopped into large pieces
* 2 tablespoons cooking wine
* 1/2 cup of raw cane sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground
* 1 pie shell

Directions
1) Place quince chunks into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to boil on high and then reduce heat to low and simmer. Simmer fruit for approximately 30-60 minutes (quince is sometimes difficult) until fruit is easily broken with a fork.

2) Strain fruit through a colander or mash with spoon to puree.

3) Mix quince mash, wine, sugar and cinnamon together.

4) Preheat oven to 350C.

5) Once oven is hot, pour fruit mixture into pie shell and place in oven. Bake for 45 minutes, or until mixture is bubbling and crust is brown. Let tart cool before slicing.

Tart Week: Apple and Orange Peel Tart

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To make a tarte of apples and Orange pilles. TAke your orenges, and lay them in water a day and a night, then seeth them in faire water and hony, and let them seeth till they be soft: then let them soak in the sirrop a day and a night: then take them forth and cut them small, and then make your tart and season your Apples with Sugar, Synamon and Ginger, and put in a peece of butter, and lay a course of Apples, and betweene the same course of apples, a course of Orenges, and so course by course, and season your Orenges as you seasoned your Apples, with somewhat more sugar, then lay on the lid and put it in the ouen, and when it is almost baked, take Rosewater and Sugar, and boyle them together till it be somwhat thick, then take out the Tart, and take a feather and spread the rosewater and Sugar on the lid, and set it into the Orenges, Pilles Ouen againe, and let the sugar harden on the lid, and let it not burne.The good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin (1588)

So there is a redaction of this recipe already by Gretchen Miller. I am going in a different direction from where she went. I will put a top and bottom on my tarts and I won’t be using whole oranges.

Although I won’t be following the recipe literally, for example I will peel and core my apples instead of leaving them whole because it doesn’t actually say to cut them up, I think the important aspects–removing the bitterness from the orange peels, and giving the pie a layered look, and seasoning with the spice choices listed above–will be followed.

I am going to use orange peels instead of whole oranges for the title of the recipe is “tart of apples and orange peels” not orange slices. Although there are sweet oranges by 1588 in England but the most common are Seville oranges. These oranges are not very juicy, the ‘meat’ is rather stringy, and they full of seeds.

Soaking peels and simmering them in sugar-water is a way of taking the bitterness out of the peel. I am not sure that whole oranges, although they will soften when simmered, will sweeten cooked this way.

Orange peels can be made into marmalade using this technique (soaking the peels, boiling, rinsing in water, simmering in syrup.) If you really want to cheat prepared marmalade would totally turn this from a 3 day project to a 1 day.

Directions:

Day 1:
Ingredients: peels from 3 Seville oranges
Directions: Slice the peels thin, removing as much of the white pith as you can. Submerge the peels in water. If you leave them on the counter you can change the water as much as you feel like.

Day 2:
Ingredients: 2 cups of honey
Directions: Drain the peels and cover them with honey and an equal amount of water, then stir well. Put saucepan on a high heat until it comes to a low boil, and then reduce to low heat. Simmer for 2 hours. Cover pot and set aside for 1 day.

Day 3 (actual tart day!):
  Ingredients:
* 6 apples, peeled and sliced into thick rounds
* 1/4 cup + 1/2 cup + 4 tbsp raw sugar
* 1 tsp + 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
* 1 tsp + 1/2 tsp ginger, ground
* 1/4 cup butter
* pastry for top and bottom of pie
* 2 tsp of rosewater

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven at 350F
  2. Mix apples, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tsp ginger together.
  3. Drain orange peels. Mix peels, 1/2 sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp ginger together.
  4. In bottom of pie shell drop pieces of butter.
  5. Layer the pie with one layer of apple slices, then cover the slices with a portion of the orange peel mixture. Repeat, but make sure to overlap the apple slices with the bottom ones for more coverage. Repeat until you are out of fruit mixes and then cover pie with rest of pastry. Cut a few small slits in lid.
  6. Bake pie for 50 minutes.
  7. Mix 4 tbsp of sugar with the rosewater. Using a pastry brush brush top of pie with this ‘icing’. Return pie to oven for 10 more minutes or until pie is bubbling and a golden brown.

Tart it up Week: Peach Tarts

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To make all maner of fruit Tarte. You must boyle your fruite, whether it be apple, cherrie, peach, damson, peare, Mulberie, or codling, in faire water, and when they be boyled inough, put them into a bowle, and bruse them with a Ladle, and when they be colde, straine them, and put in red wine or Claret wine, and so season it with suger, sinamon and ginger. The Good Housewife’s Jewell (1596)

 

This ‘tart’ doesn’t actually say to place in a tart shell and bake. If you stop after mixing wine and sugar with the fruit you get a sauce where the sugar doesn’t quite fully dissolve. It tastes delicious, but the pie is the superior product.

Using a large-holed, pasta strainer to puree the peach meat instead of a food processor works really well. It also de-skins the tougher skinned fruit listed above.

Recipe:

Ingredients
* 3 cups peaches, stone removed, roughly chopped into large pieces
* 2 tablespoons dry red cooking wine
* 1/2 cup of raw cane sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground
* 1/2 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
* 1 pie shell

Directions
1) Place peach chunks into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer fruit for approximately 10 minutes, until fruit is easily broken with a fork.

2) Strain fruit through a colander. Place colander, with fruit still inside over a mixing bowl. Break-up fruit with ladle then let cool.

3) Once fruit is cold enough to touch, press fruit through colander with wooden spoon, or your fingers. This will break up the fruit, and remove the skin.

4) Mix fruit slurry, wine, sugar and spices together.

5) Preheat oven to 350C.

6) Once oven is hot, pour fruit mixture into pie shell and place in oven. Bake for 45 minutes, or until mixture is bubbling and crust is brown. Let tart cool before slicing.