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. 

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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.