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.

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.

1 comment:

Liz said...

The hot lime relish sounds fantastic. I bet you I could find that locally and I think that's going to be applied to a baked chicken in the near future.

I still have a bag of parsnips in the fridge, but have not had the time to cook this recipe yet.