Today's research snippet: A couple of Medieval recipes today. The first uses rabbit, but I've made it with chicken and it works very well. It's a variation on the sweet and sour theme. The second is a form of medieval cheesecake that is rather yummy, especially when served with sharp flavoured mixed berries or cherries.
Egourdouce: Translated for the modern cook and to be found in the Medieval cookbook by Maggie Black. British Museum Press:
6 wild rabbit joints - or chicken joints.
3 medium onions
75g/3oz of lard or pork dripping
2oz of currants
10 fluid oz/275ml/1 and 1/4 cups red wine
25ml/1floz/1/3 cup red wine vinegar
15g/half ounce granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon ground ginger
salt to taste
breadcrumbs for thickening - optional
Preheat the oven to 230/450/gas 8. Peel the onions and put them in a pan of cold water. Bring to the boil on top of the stove and cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain. Chop and set aside.
Arrange the joints in a roasting pan and smear with the lard. Put the pan in the oven and sear the meat for 15 mins until well browned. Or you could brown in a frying pan on top of the hob. Add the chopped onions and the currants for the last few minutes and turn them in the fat.
While browning the meat, mix together the wine and vinegar and stir in the salt, sugar and spices.
Pour off any excess fat in the pan and then pour the wine mixture over the meat and onions. Reduce the oven temperature to 180/350/gas 4. Cover the roasting pan with a lid or foil and cook for 35-40 mins until the meat is tender. Uncover and baste occasionally with the wine mixture. Shortly before serving, stir in breadcrumbs to thicken if you so desire.
Torta Bianca - written down by chef Maestro Martinohttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martino_da_Como
The recipe can be found in The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy (has some English ones too) by Odile Redon,Francoise Saban and Silvano Serventi - University of Chicago press
1 and 3/4 cups/250g/ 80z flour
9 tablespoons/125g/40z butter
1/3 cup of water - enough water to bind the pastry basically
Pinch of salt.
10 oz/300g of cream cheese softened
6 egg whites
scant 2/3 cup/125g/40z sugar
9 tablespoons/125g/40z of softened butter
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup of milk/quarter of a litre
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of rosewater.
Make the pastry by rubbing the fat into the flour until it looks like sawdust and then bind with water.
Preheat the oven to 425/220/gas 6
cream together the sugar, ginger, cream cheese and butter. Add a pinch of salt. Whip the egg whites briefly with a fork, just enough to break them up and beat into the cheese mixture. Beat in some milk until the mixture has the consistency of thick cream.
Roll out the dough and line a deep 8inch 20cm tart tin. Line the pastry with foil or greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans or beads and blind bake for 10 mins. Remove from oven, remove the lining and filling. Return to oven and bake for a further 5 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 375/190/gas 5. Pour the filling into the partially baked shell and bake for about an hour. Keep an eye on the top and if it is browning too fast, cover with a sheet of foil. When done, remove from oven and sprinkle with sugar and rosewater.
Today's photo - a 14th century flesh hook for lifting meat out of a cauldron.