Sunday, January 31, 2010

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.

1 comment:

CStanford said...

Looks tasty! I'm reminded of the book about spices that you lent me - have you found any ridiculously spiced recipes in the cookbook?