The Cook-A-Long is a virtual kitchen for Medieval and Renaissance Cooking enthusiasts in the SCA. Each month a period recipe will be posted in the original language (when available) and a translation. All cooks are encouraged to try their hand at redacting and preparing the monthly dish and post his/ her results to the blog. If you are interested in becoming a participant in this cook a long, or would like to submit a dish for the month please send an e-mail to valkyr8 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

On ye dyshes served vpon Saint Nicholas' day.

I had myself a simple little period meal tonight, ostensibly for celebration of ST. Nicholas' Day, but really for testing out how well they'd work out cold--Boar's Head is coming and I'm beginning to think about the lunch and supper I'll pack. The 2 redacted dishes are:

"Turnips are hard" from Le Menagier:

TURNIPS are hard and difficult to cook until they have been in the cold and frost; you remove the head, the tail and other whiskers and roots, then they are peeled, then wash in two or three changes of hot water, very hot, then cook in hot meat stock, pork, beef or mutton.

Item, in Beausse, when they are cooked, they are sliced and fried in a pan, and powdered spices thrown on.

(from David Friedman)

and Shrimps:

Shrympes. Take Shrympes, and seth hem in water and a litull salt, and lete hem boile ones or a litull more. And serue hem forthe colde; And no maner sauce but vinegre.

(FROM Two 15th Century Cookery Books)

As you can see, 2 very simple recipes. The meal was rounded out with an apple, and orange, and a sour-dough roll I'd made earlier in the week.

As the shrimp were already pre-cooked, all I had to do there was let them defrost and then try them lightly salted and in several different vinegars. The two best vinegars were the cider vinegar I'd received from a friend and the fabulous, traditionally made, 18 year-old balsamic vinegar that I have. The salt and cider vinegar was probably closest to a period combination, but balsamic made right is also okay, it just isn't very likely on an English table unless it had been given as a gift. To the best of my knowledge, balsamic is mostly referred to in Italian records of the era. I confess I ate the shrimps with the balsamic vinegar, though, as it was brilliantly tasty.

The commercial vinegars I had were so strong that they really overpowered the shrimp. I'd probably water them down in future.

The turnips were also easy. As I am not fond of boiling things in multiple changes of water, and I did not want to deal with the bitter issue via salting the water (I inevitably oversalt), I cooked them in one wash of water and included one small potato. I don't know what magic that potato works, but it did draw out most of the bitter.

I then followed the instructions for frying them, and sprinkled them with a commercial blend of spices called "Chai." Cinnamon, sugar, ginger, cardemon--nice sub for powder douce. The turnips pretty much outshone the spice blend--I would have to use a much heavier hand with the spicing to have the spices really noticable. Salt helped, too. I enjoyed them and will likely make them again, working out the recipe a little more exactly. I liked it far better than I have ever liked armored turnips.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

No broccoli. Just frozen green beans, mixed vegitables, and plain, canned chick peas.

Where oh where has everyone gone? Can we try a new recipe? Anyone have some suggestions regarding what they'd like to try? Think of what's still available at the farmer's market. Think of a food type we haven't cooked yet. Think about something you'd wish a feastocrat would try. Think about backwards redacting a dish you love to something recognizable to the period palatte....

Make suggestions, and then we'll get our Fearless Leader to pick. We can't keep improving our food choices iffen we don't cook. :-)

I just had the pleasure of a trip to Jamaica. We stayed at an all-inclusive resort, which meant that we had a lot of food available to us, and I was looking forward to trying all sorts of things.

Unfortunately, what I discovered was that all-inclusive means that there will be a lot of foods familiar to the clientele and only a few of the local dishes. Worse, all of the foods that were supposed to be familiar to the tourists were just a little off. Now, at first, when I tried the things that were supposed to be for the various sorts of New World Spanish peoples, it was all off from what I tend to think of as Mexican or Cuban or Brazillian foods, so I thought, perhaps this is more like what that food tastes like in it's home nation, rather than the americanized versions I am accustomed to. But then I tried the General European cuisines and the General American cuisines, and those were all off, too. Believe me, I know what pancakes, french fries, and peanut butter are supposed to taste like. And, oh my god, I never thought I'd say something like this, but landlocked Wisconsin has better sushi than the specialty asian restaurant at the resort. I was very sad about the fish pretty much across the board. Nearly all of it was chicken-fried. Take chicken, lamb, pork, beef, and chicken fry it all, and pretty much it starts to taste the same all the time.

The things that were really delicious were the Jamaican dishes. Jerk chicken, ackee and saltfish, sweetsop/soursop, breadfruit, curry goat. Things I never learned the name of, because someone would put it in front of me and dare me to eat it--which I would. And anything involving the fruits. The best kiwi's ever. A "fruit smoothie" made from cucumber and ginger. The fresh tropical fruits were always available and delicious, no matter how tired I got of the buffet.

I could go on at length about this issue, because food is one of my favorite things, but this is a blog about period foodways. So, what is my point here?

This type of cookery is one way in which we challenge ourselves to better foods. We grabbed some prunes and some wine and we found a sauce/pie filling that even the most die-hard non-period-food eaters would gobble up. What else is out there waiting for us to find it? We are really limited by what we find in the grocery store. What's in-season now that we can redact and discover all kinds of tasty goodness instead of eating mixed vegetables again? Earlier this year, I harvested the new dandelion leaves from my back yard and cooked 'em up. Free produce. I used a period recipe for greens (which is to say originally used here), and they were quite good. I'd like to see the tide for this blog ebb in for a while. I like to see how people would interpret things differently. :-) What food experiences have you had recently that make you long for something a little better? And how can we all help with that?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

To coeke scallops in ye way of Le Menagier

Since returning from Pennsic, I've been running along with my hair on fire as a result of being st00pid busy. I did, however, get a chance to redact a recipe:

SCALLOPS. Note that scallops which are heaped up and hold together in a pile without scattering or leaving, and are red and of lively colour, are fresh: and those which do not hold together and are separate and of dull or dead colour, are from an old catch. Pick them out, then wash thoroughly in two or three good hot waters, and then do it again in cold water, then dry on a towel briefly at the fire, and fry in oil with cooked onions, and then sprinkle with spices and eat with almost clear leaves, wheat sprouts or sorrel sprouts or leaves of (all-heal?, sainfoin?) or (wild chicory?, barberry?)

The recipe is so simple that I'm going to leave it to any who read this to try their own proportions and procedure. I note, however, that using one of the typically-available packages of scallops produced an amount that was really only suitable for a side dish. Scallops, of course, are rich and mild and expensive in this day and age. Thus, they work well as a side dish, and this was served up as a complement to whole wheat pasta and vegetables that had been sauteed in olive oil. MMmmmMMMmmmmmm.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pennsic Cupboard 1

Pennsic is coming, and one of my A&S projects is very involved in period foodways for Pennsic.  I thought I might share some of the things I've been looking up and considering in order to have a more period food/persona appropriate eating experiance.

1. TI recently ran a series of articles on food while travelling, supporting the idea that it's period appropriate to buy ready-made food. So I shall not feel the least bit bad in purchasing food from the food vendors at Pennsic, although picking out actually period dishes may be something of a challenge. Hmmm. 

2. Locally grown, seasonal produce: Here is a link to a locally grown farmers market; a local food co-op;  and the Google search for places where at least some organic foods can be found if you don't want to go all the way to Pittsburgh.

3. The Pennsic Cupboard: foods I will bring with me, that I prepped previously. Unfortunately, I did not get to prep as much as I would have liked, and, even more disheartening, all the recipes I redacted for the project got trashed in a power surge, so I have to start over. I had hoped to have a recipe book for myself when I got to Pennsic, even if I couldn't get everything all canned/frozen. Well, that's okay. I'll shop wisely, experiment with what I have to hand out there, and do the best I can. And for heaven's sake, I am primarily a scribe. I'll buy myself a notebook and write it all down in that! No worries about power surges there!

I have a request to those who are going to Pennsic. While out there, do your best to think about period foodways and bring back a little write up about your experiences. I would love to read about other people's experiments and experiences, and I will certainly be preparing a conversation about my experiences for you! :-)

TTFN, Merouda

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Experiments with two cheese tarts

For those who may be interested I posted my results of my cheese tart experimentation this weekend at my other blog. Torta Bianca and Crustless "Sienese" Tart

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Another Cheese Attempt

I finally got around to trying the Cook-A-Long recipe for May...a soft cheese. I don't understand enough of the chemistry that goes into making cheese so I tried the original author's recipe as I wasn't brave enough to test a new cooking method and one that didn't have the safety net of portions. It actually isn't really difficult overall it is just somewhat time consuming and you have to really pay attention. I didn't understand what the instructions meant by how much of a curd needed to form before I stopped adding vinegar and I didn't find anything on the internet. I got a pretty soft crumb to my cheese so it doesn't hold together real well. I mashed it up into molds because my patties weren't holding together and I thought I remember reading somewhere that cheeses and butters were sometimes molded in period.

I didn't really like the ginger/honey combination for flavoring. In looking at some of the period recipes I have found I am surprised they didn't mix savory ingredients with their cheeses. Ginger, Cinnamon, Honey, Mace, and Pepper seem to be the common additives. I am also somewhat curious as to how it would work with the ale I see in a lot of recipes but I am not sure I am brave enough to mess with a formula that I know works until I have tried it a few times.

I believe I am going to take Merouda's suggestion of making the cheese into a tart because I think it would work really well. I have found a few interesting cheese tart recipes and one of them is crustless and uses almonds which sounds very yummy. I will share my results if I manage to make it work and I hope to try that this weekend. Actually, I spread some of the cheese on a piece of bread and covered it in the conserve I also made and it was mighty tasty.

All in all it wasn't nearly as terrifying of an experience as I thought it would be. I am very boring in my personal tastes I guess because for me my favorite cheese is a smoked mozzarella--salty, smoky, and yet simple and creamy. This wasn't quite to my tastes but I am definitely excited about experimenting.

I also wonder how this cheese would work in place of the goat cheese in a recipe I have for herb encrusted goat cheese.

I am thinking of hosting a cooks day at my place again after WW and having people make cheese and cheese based recipes.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Queens of Compote

A trip to the local farmer's market yielded a quart of strawberries that, after a day or so in the fridge, showed some quick signs of wiltage. Hm. Well. What do my period cookbooks say about preserving strawberries? The berries got tossed in the pot with a little too much water and wine. Such is the trouble with period recipes... not so much with the guidance regarding amounts. A few stalks of rhubarb from my garden fixed the issue, but then my compote was not, to the best of my knowledge, period-like anymore. Nonetheless, it was delish.

Sarra also had the same bright idea. And she did a better job. Her description is here:

Yay Sarra!

Friday, June 13, 2008

On ye vse of a yeast.

This was my Joy of Period Cooking day last weekend, when the rains were moving in and my basement was flooding. There are several wonderful things there, as you can see, and not one of them is a thing I am displeased with, although there are lessons in learning not to fool one's self into expecting vegan, non-soy substitutes to taste like the things they are replacing. You have to expect tasty but different.

Anyway, what's up there is a Lenten feast: a loaf of sourdough bread, my final redaction of a period crepe that is sans eggs and sans baking soda/powder, a mushroom tart that is very vegan, and loverly Lentan apples royal.

Finding an adequate cheese and egg substitute for the mushroom tart was tough, and I'll talk about that some other time. What I really want to talk about are the crepes.

See, I love pancakes. And waffles. MMmmmMMMmmmmMMmmm. Period pancake or waffle-like dishes exist, but they are sooo egg dependent that I can't have them. After looking and looking, I finally found 2 recipes that, bashed together, would create a period like crepe that I could eat.

But it would take a while for me to figure it all out. Some of the wrong paths:

1. The best of the "Flour and Yeast Only" pancakes I tried, a la the Dutch "Pancakes in Lent" recipe. The period receipt suggests a kind of pan-baked bread, but that's not what I was looking for. This was plain old sourdough poured straight to the pan. It was not bad tasting, but kind of gummy.

2. A more traditional sourdough pancake, sans egg, with a commercial egg replacer. Kind of salty.

3. A modern vegan pancake spiced like a period crepe, a la Good Huswifes Jewell. Tasty but not what I am looking for.

4. The squished up mess that was almost what I wanted. Tasty but, eh, squished. And leavening agents were no help. But was good! Changed the proportions and got what I wanted. Yum!

The period like crepes I made combine the two recipes. It's plausibly period rather than a period redaction. It's the sourdough, almond milk, apples royal, the spices, and flour enough to make a thin crepe batter.

Yum. :-)


This is the cheesecake I made from the green cheese I'd made earlier in April. We ate about half of it for 35th Anniversary, and the rest I saved in the freezer for Border Skirmish.

Alas, since flooding has taken out the event, I won't be defrosting it. Maybe it will make a nice brekkie at WW. It's good but a little odd plain; with a small spread of the elderberry jam I made to go with it, it's unbelievably delicious and not odd to the modern palate at all.

I essentially followed the recipe over at gode cookery. It did not need any modification, since it used egg whites, but I think that the next time I try it, I'll see if it can be made without eggs at all.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Crepes, wafers, et cetera

Gentle friends,

I was making waffles for my lovely Michael and my lovely Baby K yesterday, thinking about how much I miss them (waffles, not Michael and Baby K). There are plenty of vegan pancake recipes on line that I can modify away from soy based products, and a few medieval or renaissance "pancake/waffle" type receipts on line that do not use milk and can be modified away from the use of eggs, but the problem is that both sets of recipes rely on something I don't want in my redactions -- either it's eggs, or it's baking powder.

There is a nice redaction of a 14th c. crepe at the Thorngrove table, and a nice redaction of a late 15th, early 16th c. wafer at Coquinaria. I've seen the pancake redaction at Gode Cookery and the wafer redaction at Medieval Cookery and both redactions go with eggs. So what I am hoping for is that the fine readers of this blog can suggest medieval crepe, pancake, waffle, wafer recipes. I just want to see as many recipes of this class as possible before I start working on a redaction that will avoid eggs & baking powder. It's going to have to be a plausibly period dish, I guess, as I doubt there is a perfect lenten pancake out there. :-)

Meanwhile, off to beg for a sourdough starter.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

On the making of cheese

Just a quick review

1. Milk on the boil.

2. Curds draining and whey reducing. I decided to try for gjetost rather than ricotta with the whey.

3. Whey boiled down to the stage where the whey sugars are carmelizing--what you use to make gjetost.

4. And the three fresh cheeses. Kiernan helped me mix it up in the final stages; he enjoyed that, but he wouldn't taste it. Alas, 5 year olds are so picky. :-)

I'm going to cut and paste commentary I've made elsewhere about this project here, because I should have been in bed an hour ago.

1. From the persona diary:

On ye day of St Vincent Confessor, I set to making cheese according to ye fashion of ye receipt sent to me by I know not whom, 7 it made a simple fresh cheese of a mild sweetness et flavor, and though it is good enow, it is my desire to add to it more sweetness or make of it a cake yt might serve vpon a banquet table, thinking the cheese might be improved by more honey or ginger.

2. From a letter to the CAM list:
I noted that your vinegar was not as strong as that which is commercially produced; it took about a cup, cup and a half of it to make the cheese curds start forming, when the expectation was that it would only take 1/3 to 1/2 a cup. Nonetheless, the flavor of the cheese was just fine and I was glad to have the opportunity to experiment with vinegar that was not the carefully controlled science in a bottle we usually get at the grocers.

And lastly, writ new for this journal, the gjetost was a fun experiment; there is no period evidence for gjetost that I know of*, but I grew up eating it and so that's what I wanted. The boiled down whey does in fact taste like the whey food product I remember. What was problematic, however, was that the recipe I found on the web only went as far as boiling down the whey to the right stage. Real gjetost requires further preperation, so what I actually have is a brittle lump of whey candy. Miguel says it tastes like peanut brittle without the peanuts. The uneaten portion of the cheese is now waiting in the freezer for my traveling lunch at 35th Anniversary; I may experiment with using it in a cheesecake recipe. I think that next time I might use the whey for breads that I can freeze. The whey candy is well and fine, but a nice bread could freeze well and work for a couple of traveling lunches.

*If you know of evidence for reduced, caramelized whey food product in period, please share.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Tusser in April

Hello, everyone, Merouda here.

As I have previously posted, one of my A&S 50 projects is to do something from Tusser each month, in part, to help me understand the agricultural flow of the year. We've not got a recipe for April up yet, but I wanted to invite y'all to do the April Tusser task with me, particularly since I know at least one of you is interested in the same project.

There it is, some of the ingredients I bought to make cheese. Cheese making is the April Tusser Task. I will be using someone else's redaction, found here, because I simply do not have time to experiment with cheese recipes.

I was kinda sad when I got to the store and discovered that the local dairy didn't have any product in there, so I got the best, freshest milk they had. The cider vinegar is a gift to me from Gwynedd merch Megan o Fon; she made it from her own apples. I'm excited to try this.

I also wanted to share a store I found in Wauwatosa, called Oro di Oliva. It's not as spectacular as Vom Fass in Madison, but it is a good place to sample a variety of olive oils and balsamic vinegars that those of us in Milwaukee can reasonably get to. I walked out about $60 lighter, with an 18 year old balsamic, a black current balsamic (which is so flavorful that a couple of spoons in a pitcher of water would make a delicious drink), and a basil olive oil. I could have easily spent more. Since going over to a semi-vegetarian and then to a piscetarian diet, I cook with A LOT of olive oil, but store boughten stuff just isn't as nice (as noted in the parsnip redaction below). Now I have these oils/vinegars to add flavor, and, I mean, they have FLAVOR--far more powerful than any flavored vinegar or oil I've ever made. I expect these bottles to go a long way.

Meanwhile.... April recipe? Someone?

Monday, March 31, 2008

To make a pie of parsnips another way.

Greetings from Merouda.

I tried this recipe thrice, and I think it still needs a little work to make it something that I would eat on a regular basis. It's like the classic "armored turnip" in that all the components are things that I like, and the recipe itself is always worth eating, but there just has to be a way to put it together that I will like more.

The first thing I did was salt lemons. Some long time ago I'd read about salting lemons in a way that would make them usable by the next morning, so I made 2 batches--an overnight batch, and a more traditional, takes-a-month version.

Attempt #1:

I peeled, chunked, and boiled a pound of parsnips. While that was preparing, I chopped a medium yellow onion and fried it to translucence in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. I then mixed the the cooked parsnips, the onions, a tablespoon of chopped mint, 1/2 a lemon that had been salted overnight, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg and a teaspoon of pepper. I dumpd this into a pie crust I'd prepared, drizzled more olive oil over the filling, and popped it into a 350 degree oven. About 1/2 way through the cooking time, I added enough sangria to cover the bottom of the pie.

I found that the flavors did not mix really well; there would be a minty spot, and a very salty lemon spot, and a bland spot. I also noted that the wine only flavored the bottom 1/2 of the pie, so the pie had two distict flavor layers, with the wine sopped layer being tastier, to me.

Attempts #2 & #3

The second attempt included 2 pounds of chopped, boiled parsnips, one large onion sauteed in 1/4 c olive oil to translucence. Pretty much the same so far, eh?

However, I used the month-long salt-preserved lemon. This was noticably diferent than the overnight version. The skin becomes very translucent, and the salt is so powerful that you have to rinse the excess. Further, I threw the rinsed lemon, a fistful of mint, 1 t of nutmeg, and some freshly ground pepper into a 1/2 c of olive oil and whirled it to teensy bits in a blender. I then took about 3/4 of the boiled parsnips and mashed it with the olive oil-spice blend. I mixed in the onion and poured it into the pie crust. I then sprinkled more nutmeg and pepper over the parsnips, put on the top crust, and popped it into the oven to bake. Once again, about 1/2 way through the cooking time, I poured in my favorite red cooking wine, sangria.

Since I still had some leftover parsnips and some leftover crust, I tried mixture #3. This time, instead of lemons, I used an Asian indian condiment called "Hot pickled limes." It is exactly what it implies: limes that have been brined, then preserved in oil with chillies. It's very odd on its own, but when mixed into things, it's very nice. This I folded over into a pasty; I, too, thought more crust might change the balance of the dish.

Regarding version #2: I knew that mashing all the ingredients together would make for a more even flavor. What I was not prepared for was the way the flavors kind of disappeared. Things I'll do diferently next time: 2x the onion, lemon, mint, pepper. I'm not huge on nutmeg, so maybe only 1.5x as much. And I will mix the wine in from the get-go; trying to pour it through the holes in the top crust didn't work at all. On the other hand, the pastry recipe baked up well in the frying pan (this is a 16th c. style pottery fry pan I bought from Eadric), particularly since the pan was well-oiled from frying up the onions, and I was able to slide the thing out intact for a standing pie. Yay. I've been trying to figure out how to do that without making an inedible crust. Problem now solved.

Regarding version 3: This was my favorite version. Of course, it's also the version with the non-period condiment. However, it does suggest that making a similar condiment with the ingredients for this recipe would likely work well, especially since the oil will be far more nicely flavored. I think that this is the primary problem I am having with this dish; olive oil provides the right mouth feel, but not the flavor of butter. If I want this pie to be tasty and work for me, I'm going to have to get a more flavored oil and use a larger proportion of the flavoring ingrediants.

Hmm. Off to invent the perfect lemon/mint oil-based condiment.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Pie of Parsnips

I was somewhat skeptical about this recipe only because it didn't seem like something that would appeal to my own particular taste preferences but part of this experience is trying new things.

I started by peeling and dicing the parsnips and putting them into water to boil. I decided to season them as they were boiling so that the flavor would be more incorporated so I added some salt, pepper, and about a 1/4 tsp of nutmeg. While that boiled, I zested a lemon and brined the peel in salt water and lemon juice. I had forgotten to salt my own lemons ahead of time and hadn't located any commercially. This may have overall impacted the final product. Once the parsnips were cooked I removed them from the heat and drained them before mixing in onions fried in butter, the brined lemon zest, and the mint. I baked this in a crust made of butter, flour, salt, and water for about 45-60 minutes at 375 degrees F. I didn't have any wine on hand either so there again I missed a step which may have impacted the overall product.

Having tasted the pie I am still not particularly crazy about it. There are definitely a lot of flavors going on...the onions and nutmeg added some sweetness, the parsnips seemed sweet and woodsy at the same time but had an interesting bite to them. The lemon and mint kept hitting me at different points throughout. Part of my opinion may have been changed by the ingredients I didn't have access to while I was making this. I also wonder if this would work better as pasties rather than a whole pie so that all the flavors sort of come together at once in a more concentrated way rather than in a larger pie. I am also thinking that pairing this with a creamier dish or a spicy meat might complement it. Overall it was an interesting experience and I am glad I gave it a try.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

March Recipe: A Pie of Parsnips

Haue millons at Mi[c]helmas, parseps in lent:
In June, buttred beanes, saueth fish to be spent.
With those and good pottage, inough hauing than:
thou winnest the heart, of thy laboring man.

Greetings from Merouda, guesting as the recipe-picker this month.

As some of you know, I am very interested in persona pursuits. Something I have been doing recently to help me understand the seasonality of one's life in period is perform some little task or another as mentioned in Thomas Tusser's Hundred Points of Husbandry, a poetic guide to good farming practice written near the end of period (first published about 1557). For the cook-a-long, I thought it might be fun to do a little something in line with this guide. I also wanted to choose a side dish, as we haven't really done that yet, and I wanted to choose a recipe that did not involve the usual poudre douce-type seasonings.

The above passage, from the "March" section of Tusser's work, suggests our recipe, with its instructions to serve parsnips in Lent.

My desire to do something a little different with the spices led me to this recipe:

To make a pie of fresh Parsnips. Take the parsnips well washed, & put them to boil until they are cooked, then take two or three chopped onions & fry in butter, a salted lemon in pieces, nutmeg, & pepper, a little chopped mint, & put all together in the pie, & butter enough.

Note it is necessary to cut the parsnips into pieces, when the pie is half cooked put therein a little Spanish wine.

This is from Ouverture de Cuisine, published in France, in 1604 (the translation is at Medieval Cookery). While the publication of the book is slightly post period, the recipes shared by this French master cook were developed in the course of his career--in the late 1500's.

I can think of several different ways I might like to try this, and I am very excited to see what you come up with!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

February: Lenten apples

I decided to try frying the apple dish in oil, without the fish shell. In theory it should work, with enough ground almonds to hold everything together.

I started with frozen Regent apples, thawed them and ground them in my blender to the cosistency of chunky applesauce, about 2 cups.

To this I added 1/4 c. of sugar, 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1/4 tsp of ginger. 2 3/4 c ground blanched almonds, or enough to make a thickish dough. (I had to add some wheat flour to make the dough thick enough, about a cup.) I think that I would have had a different consistency if I had started with fresh apples and I probably should have drained the crushed apples thouroughly by placing them in a clean cloth and squeezing out the excess. I fried the dough in small balls in veggie oil, couple of minutes per side. I think you could also use animal fat.

The orginal recipe is not very specific as to the shape of the dough during frying, but there are countless recipes for dumplings and fritters so I thought a small ball would work well. It's about the size of a donut hole. Rolling the fried dough in sugar really adds to the flavor. Num!

I didn't do as good grinding the almonds so there are largeish bits on ocassion, which isn't horrible, but I think it should be a bit more consistantly ground. Manthra had a suggestion of using Almond Flour from Bob's Red Mill, which I think is a great solution.

Catching Up: Plum tart

This is my redaction of the December recipe for Plum Tart.

For the first recipe: I started with dried plums. 1, 10 oz package and added about 1 1/2 c. wine (burgundy) and placed it in a heavy pan over medium heat until the plums were softened, about 30 minutes.

For the crust: I used 2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, 2 eggs beaten, and approx 1/4 cup water to make a thick dough. This was enough for 2, 8" pie crusts. I rolled it out, as a normal pie crust. the dough was very springy, more like a bread dough. I lined my pie plate and crimped the edges as you do.

The prunes soaked up the majority of the wine so there was nothing to strain. I mashed them slightly with a wooden spoon into a thick paste. To this I added 2 beaten eggs, 1/4 c sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon and scraped the mixture into the crust. I folded the edges of the crust over the filling and baked it in the oven at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

For the second recipe I used dried plums as well, cause that's what I had. I will try it again with fresh. I used the same crust as for the first tart. I lined a baking pan with the dough and sprinkled cinnamon sugar over the bottom. I cut the dried plums in half and lined the bottom neatly. Over this I sprinkled more sugar and cinnamon and dotted the top with 2 T of butter. It too was placed in the over for 350 for 40-45 minutes.

Well I know why they would use fresh plums for this version of the tart because I now have a dry, crunchy prune tart.
Yummy.....or not. Oh well. Soaking the prunes to plump them could have solved the problem if I was stuck using dried fruit again. The crust turned out really nice for this dish, although a bit on the stiff side, and I think the crust would work well to make small turnovers since it is quite strong, almost like a pasty.
The eggs I used were from a local couple in WI and they are on the small end. Some have a greenish hue, but I'm not sure which chickens lay that color eggs. They are wicked cute.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

It's a fish, really it is...

I tried the "fish" recipe today. I was inspired by Ealasaid's fish from Coronation, and thought I would try to make one that looked like that. I'll admit based on the above picture, it doesn't.

Here's what I used:

6 small apples, various varieties, peeled, cored and chopped (it seemed to make 3-4 cups of apple bits)
1/3 cup almonds, chopped fine
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
pinch saffron

Pie crust (I used commercial pie crust)

Here's what I did:

Cut up apples and chopped almonds. I also don't have a mortar and pestle big enough to put apples in, so I tried several options. I put them in a big bowl and used a potato masher, but it didn't do much. I tried a meat tenderizer hammer, which also didn't do much. I added a little bit of water, and got wet unsmashed apples. I put all of the apples into a plastic bag, and tried with the tenderizer hammer again, which seemed to work, until a corner of the bag broke, and the one bit of apple that smashed flew everywhere. ::Sigh:: So, I decided they were smashed enough. I added the spices a little at a time until they tasted right. I thought I might need more sugar, but realized the apples were sweet, and 1 tablespoon was enough. I also like ginger, so I added more than the cinnamon.

When all the ingredients were mixed, I made half of the pie crust into an oval. I mounded the apple mixture in the middle. I added the other half of the crust on top, and shaped it into a crescent.

I decorated the "fish" by cutting sort of scale-like pattern into the body, washed it with a saffron tinted color, and sprinkled it with sanding sugar in an attempt to make the scales sparkle. I baked it in a 350 oven for about 35 minutes, until it was golden brown.
We tasted it at room temp, and two of us thought it was very good. One of us did not like the almond bits in it, but he doesn't like nuts that much anyway. It did not, however, look like a fish, or come off of the cooking pan easily, so it looked worse after I put it on the plate.
Things I would change:
-Make my own crust. I don't like the flavor of the commercial one any more.
-Spend a little more time on the shape, and make the extremities (in this case the tail) out of crust without filling.
-I would like to try fresh ginger, as opposed to dried, to see how it changes the flavor.
-More finely chop the almonds. The chunky bits gave a good flavor, but were a little disconcerting.
Things I liked:
-While more color would be nice, and you can't really see it in the picture, the textured crust was nice and tasty.
-Ratio of ginger and cinnamon. I liked ginger and apples.
-Chunky apples. I liked the texture.

Monday, February 11, 2008

In Space, No One Can Hear You Eat Pie.

My version of the flan.

Who's going to try the apple taco? :-)

(Helmet is Michael's, a reproduction of the Battlestar Gallactica helm ;-)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

My experiments this month...

Flowyns in Lent:
I pre-baked the crust a little longer than I should have and so that got a little too dark. I am glad I did though as I think it would have been a soggy mess otherwise. I also used a crust I like because it is very flaky but it's puffiness meant that it loses it shape when made as a shell or in shaped forms. I will go another direction next time I try this.

This recipe took some experimentation and I am not sure I achieved exactly what the recipe was aiming for. I continue to not like dates or figs very much but the almond paste and crust were lovely.
Fake Fish:
I really enjoyed this recipe. I don't have a mortar and pestle large enough so I had to be creative wish some of the tools in my kitchen. I also decided to use the ground nuts remaining from the strained almond milk so as not to be wasteful. About 10 minutes before this finished baking I brushed on an egg wash with crushed saffron to give it a nice golden color. I was going for a catfish shape for the fish as that is the heraldry of the local group.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Fish from Coronation

I believe this dish was made by Mistress Ealasaid for the A&S Competition at Hagan and Ellis's Coronation, but I may be remembering wrong. The filling was a flavorfull apple with dried fruits and spices, quite lovely.

I'd be interested in hearing more about the decorating techniques.

Happy Lent. Except, of course, Lent is not about happy.

First time I ever tried to decorate my food. I need practice, but it was the most fun I had today. :-)

This is a redaction of, of course, the Fish Pie.

I'll tell you what I did if you tell me what you did. ;-)

Fish Pie!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Specialty Store: Vom Fass

I was taken to a new place full of culinary goodness on 1-27. The place is called Vom Fass, which roughly translates to "from the barrel". As the name suggests the store originates in Germany and specializes in selling specialty oils, vinegars, liquors, scotch, pretty much anything aged that you can drink or cook with.

I purchased 2 types of oils (Thistle and Madonia Olive oil) I purchased 2 balsamic vinegars as well (an Apple blend and a Lemon and Ginger blend). You get to go around the whole room and try all the oils and vinegars and the Scotch (but the employee serves you)! It was a lot of fun and I could see myself buying lots at this store! Everything was highly tasty!

February Recipe: 2 Lenten dishes

Both dishes looked like a lot of fun so I made both of them the February recipe. You can cook one or another or both, whatever you choose.

Flownys in Lente

PERIOD: England, 15th century SOURCE: MS Douce 257 CLASS: Authentic
DESCRIPTION: Almond Cream Custard Pie

For to make flownys in lente, tak god flowr & make a god past; & tak god mylk of almandys & flowr of rys other of amydoun & boyle hem togedere that they be wel chariand. Wan yt is boylid thykke take yt vp & ley yt on a feyre bord so that yt be cold, & wan the cofyns ben makyd tak a perty & do vpon the coffins, & kerf hem in schiueris; & do in hem god mylk of almandys & fygis & datys & kerf yt in fowre pertys, & do yt to bake & serue yt forth.

- Austin, Thomas. Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books. Harleian MS. 279 & Harl. MS. 4016, with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1429, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS 55. London: for The Early English Text Society by N. Trübner & Co., 1888.

Fake Fish and Calf's Ears
The original text as given in the manuscript. KANTL 15, vol.1, recipe 64.

Om gheuormde wijs te maken in die wasten ende oeck calfsoeren.
stoet jn enen mortijer vijf of sees appellen schon gheschelt sonder kersel huijs ende doter jnne van ghestoten amandellen of gheroost pepercock met een luttel sofferaens ende backt dese jn olye of mackt groten wijs backse gheuerwet ende van gheghat jnden ouen
Item calfs oeren maeckt aldus nempt gheplet deck sausijer ronde maeckt dat dobbel ende dan slaet die tve langen eynden te samen ende dan nempt scherp eynde tussen tve wijnhgheren ende steckt jrst dat runt ende en luttel daer nae met allen ende als dit stijf is nempt dat wijt ende doet daer jnne vanden vorseyde stof sonder sieden ende dijnt dat.

To make formed fish during lent and also calf ears

Crush in a mortar five or six apples, peeled and cored. Add sugar, ginger and cinnamon, and add some pound almonds or toasted gingerbread with some saffron. Bake this in oil. Or make a big fish: bake this in the oven, painted and with some holes in it.

Calf ears are made thus: Take the flattened dough, rounded like a saucer. Make it double, and take the two long ends together. Then take the pointed end between two fingers, and put first the rounded end in [the boiling oil], and shortly afterwards the whole. Take it out when it is crunchy, and put some of the afore mentioned stuffing in it without boiling [it], and serve it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

February recipe ideas

I decided that January was simply going to be a wash and not stress about it and move onto February. Anyone have any dishes that they would like to suggest? Any culture/ time/ food stuff?

Please make suggestions in the comment section.



Sunday, January 6, 2008

Alinore's redaction - Stwed Beeff

I spent most of last week pondering the idea of the plum mixture used in the plum tarts tweaked slightly to be used as a sauce for meat. I thought it would be exceptionally tasty, and so I did a little searching around Gode Cookery to see if there were any recipes there that agreed with me. I found this recipe for Stwed Beeff.

I had all the ingredients but the currents, and I decided that dried plums would be just as lovely in this dish. I had planned to be using my oven all day, and this looked like the kind of dish that would be improved by low, moist heat cooking, so I decided to use my crock-pot for this.

I diced up an onion and put it in the bottom of my crock-pot mixed with half a cup of fresh loosely chopped parsley. In a separate pot I took 2 cups of red wine and added 1 cup of chopped dried plums, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. cloves, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 long pepper cone and 1/4 c. sugar and boiled it down to a syrup. I decided to use long pepper rather than regular pepper in this dish because I thought the floral notes in it would accent the fruitiness of the plums. I browned a couple pounds of beef short ribs in some olive oil, then placed them in the crock-pot, pouring the syrup over the top. About 5 hours later, I decided that they were tender enough and sliced the meat from the bones. I strained the sauce and spooned most of the fat off the top, then reduced it to about half and poured it over the meat.

I thought it was extremely tasty. I think this sauce may become a new staple around our house for pouring over roasts when you want a slightly different flavor. It wasn't overly spicy and the fruit and wine blended together with the meat and onions to make a rich thick sauce that was very lovely.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

To prepare a plum tart to be served vpon Twelfth Night

Bonjour, c'est Merouda. There you have it, my little 12th night feast. Food fit for a noble in my dining room. The picture's a little blurry, of course, because I was taking it by candlelight. The food was very good. The meal consists of:

Meatballs, Chicken, Armored Turnips, Artichoke hearts, Beets, Yogurt, Strawberry preserves, Raisins, Almonds, Plum tart, and washed down with a Riesling. It sounds like a lot, but I was careful to serve myself only tasting portions of most of it, as one would expect a 12th night feast to have a lot to taste. :-) And yes, I was in period-style clothing. I'm home alone tonight, all my holidays sucked at some level or another, and I wanted at least one fest my way.

The meatballs started out as Poume d'Oranges but as I found I didn't have this and didn't want that, it morphed so many ways that I couldn't list out a redaction if I wanted to. The only thing I wanted to note was that this was the first time I ever followed the instruction to boil a meatball and then bake it. Yeah. Dry. Very dry. I won't do that again, I don't care how medieval it is.

The armored turnips? I've done this dish a bunch of different times, usually following one of the many redactions on the web. I have yet to find a redaction that I really like. I'm thinking, I should like it: I like turnips. I like cheese. I like the usual array of spices. But no, nothing yet. Most of the redactions I have seen feature cheddar, so this time I tried a mix of Parmesan and Swiss, and stuck with freshly ground pepper for the spice, as I had over-salted the parboiling water. I liked this version best, but still feel like this dish just is not as good as it should be.

And the last of the dishes that I actually want to discuss is, of course, the plum tart.

Note the heraldic decoration on the pie! This is the badge of Sept Pendray. If you look at the first picture in this article, you can see a tile decorated with a colored version of the badge. Next heraldic food experiment; colored pie crust.

Delish, delish. Has passed the Miguel-san test, which surprised me a little, since he wouldn't even try Tarte of prunes, included in the entry here. This time, however, I had to chase him away, because he was ready to sail into the filling with a spoon.

I worked according to the first recipe cited in the December recipe entry. There are at least 3 egg yolks in this recipe, and that's three too many for me. Here's my redactions and my experiments!

18 or so prunes
1.5 cups red wine plus extra as needed.
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 t cinnamon
1 t oatmeal
commercially prepared pie crust without egg

Simmer the prunes in the wine upon the stove until the prunes are plump and soft. Mash the plums into the wine, then stir in sugar and cinnamon. Taste, add a little more sugar, wine, cinnamon if you think you need it--we were fine with 1/3 c sugar and 3/4 t cinnamon, and I had added wine as needed to keep the total liquid at about 1.5 cups. When you have it to your taste, turn off heat and quickly grind 1 teaspoon of oatmeal with a mortar and pestle. Add to syrup/mashed plum mixture to thicken it up a little, return to heat briefly if needed.

Regarding the crust: I searched carefully through the pie crusts at my store. All of them were made with unreasonable amounts of animal fats, so the best I could do was choose something egg-less and not the same brand I bought last time (with its fat content so high that the quiche crust tasted like grease). The receipt could be understood as enclosing the pie in a double crust, but I didn't understand it that way, I thought it could also be said to be decorated. I was also very interested in the possibility of using this recipe as a traveling dish, so I decided to use 1/2 of the top crust to make a sort of turnover. I used the remainder of the top crust to decorate the pie. The seeblatt crust, empty pie crust, and filled turnover all went into the oven at the same time, and all cooked up pretty well. I poured the filling into the baked crust, slipped the seeblatt into the middle, and It Was Finished.

I haven't eaten the seeblatt-decorated pie yet, but the turnover was just wonderful. I would say that it would be an excellent period sweet for a tourney dinner.