Sunday, January 31, 2010

Paris Pie

Medieval cooks did not boil or simmer.
They "seethed" things.
What a great verbal image!
I seem to recall that medieval/early modern London
had a "Seething Lane"
(and may still for all I know),
doubtless the place where meats and pottages and so on
were cooked.
Anyway, I "seethed" my ground beef
in broth,
and then drained it,
reserving the liquid:

The Pleyn Delit book recommended that the liquid be chilled enough to skim the fat off. It took awhile to cool down. I had time to make the pastry crust while I did it. Being out of white flour, I used fresh-ground whole wheat flour, which works well for medieval cooking anyway. It was the first time I had used wheat flour in the Joy of Cooking pate brisee recipe (which is the only kind of pie crust I can manage to make work- basically using chilled butter and a food processor), and it worked just fine. In fact it was delicious.
The chilling process was taking so long, that's when I decided to use my extra pie crust scraps to make the Chicken Pasties Lombard (which weren't originally on the menu, but hey, I had chicken breast tenders in the fridge and turkey bacon in the freezer and even Real Lemon concentrate in the fridge too, so I was all set for ingredients.)

Speaking of ingredients, here's back to the ingredients
for the Paris pie:

Basically, "seethed" hamburger,
beaten eggs,
(one white reserved to brush on the pastry)
and chopped raisins/spices ready to add to the liquid.
Once de-fatted, I reheated the liquid, added the other stuff,
and cooked for a few minutes.
It was supposed to thicken a bit.
Mine did not thicken appreciably
(maybe it was because I was just using hamburger
instead of a mixture of meats??)
Anyway, I added 1 slice of bread crumbled fine
to bulk it out a bit
(like a meatloaf)
before putting the filling in the pie shell:

I brushed the top with egg white
and baked it for an hour at 350F.

The butter pie crust tends to sag at the edges
and puff in the pastry
but, as I noted, it tastes very delicious
(pretty nearly anything with butter is delicious).
The pie was good,
but still quite a mess.
Think "sloppy joes" in a pie shell.
I wonder if I need more egg binder--
or maybe less liquid--
when I try it again.

Medieval (Inspired) Dinner

Lately I have been fascinated by medieval cookbooks.
One in particular has proved extremely entertaining reading:
Pleyn Delit: Medieval Cookery for Modern Cooks, eds. Constance B. Heiatt, Brenda Hosington, and Sharon Butler, 2nd ed. (University of Toronto Press, 1996.)

This weekend I decided to try a few of the recipes,
though I admit I did not always follow them 100%
(for one thing, I didn't want pork in my squash soup;
for another I could not find currants at the store
and I substituted raisins).

Anyway, after an evening of cooking,
I ended up with a nice sampler dinner:
squash soup
dressed salad greens
Chicken Pasties Lombard
Paris pie
rice pudding

I know, if I were really "authentic"
I would not have a fork laid at the table.
There's authentic and then there's inconvenient,
so I used my fork.
Also, "authentic" would have required ale or wine.
But sparkling cider is more to my taste.

A few notes on what is what.

The squash soup was basically onions, chicken broth and baked butternut squash, cooked and pureed, with a little powdered ginger added. (Fresh is better but I was out.)

The idea of salad is debated, as near as I can tell,
with plenty of claims in the literature that
"only peasants ate vegetables"
countered by claims that vegetables simply weren't noted in cookbooks or feast menus as they were too common for remark and everyone must have known how to cook them anyway.
I did borrow some salad ideas from Pleyn Delit,
using parsley and radish leaves in addition
to the usual lettuce.
I didn't even know you COULD eat radish leaves.
They aren't too bad!

The Chicken Pasties Lombard are basically chicken breast tender strips
dipped in an egg yolk/lemon juice/spice batter
and wrapped about with (turkey) bacon
before wrapping in a wheat pastry crust.
That was probably my favorite.
I'd definitely make it again.

The Paris pie was interesting.
Basically a kind of ground beef filled pie with seasonings.
Not too bad, actually.
For more details on this pie, see my next post.

The rice pudding was made with almond milk and honey.
It's a tad bland.
I think if I make it again I will add a little more honey
(the recipe said sugar, but I am trying to avoid refined sugar.)
I topped it with powdered cardamom,
because I do not like cinnamon on rice pudding.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Gorgeous Winter Day

It just couldn't be prettier.
This is the kind of snow I like--
picture perfect,
(And gone soon, I hope!)

Growing Up- and Up

Holy Cow!
This kid won't be 12 until March...
and he's already 5'8"!
He just towers over me.

So, if I manage to retain Favored Aunt Status,
in a few years I won't need a stepladder--
I'll just get Ethan to lift everything for me!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Morning Scripture Study at Bear Lake

It's nice and cozy, visiting my parents at Bear Lake.
This is the only 4 day weekend I will have all semester,
so I'm glad I was able to spend part of it up here.
We are reading the Old Testament this year,
and the chapters full of begats are much more interesting
when read in convivial company.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Comforts of Winter Camping

This weekend was the annual OAC snowshoe campout.
Comforts included a fire,
hot food:

And ye olde comfort station:

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Snowshoeing in the New Year

This is Mill Creek Canyon's Desolation Trail.
There was plenty of snow on New Year's day so we talked the kids into coming along on a short snowshoe trip.
Of course they grumbled some,
and wanted to rest a lot,
and goof off:

Here's our group.
My brother Theo thought it would be amusing to pose as if his pole was up his nose.