Recipes

Ale and Onion Soup

One of my go-to recipes for sideboards and lunches is an ale and onion soup; in fact, it’s appeared at almost every sideboard I’ve cooked. It became my go-to because not only is it a solid vegetarian option, but it also really translates well to the modern palate; we commonly eat one form of it as French onion soup. I originally found a recipe for it on Gode Cookery, then modified it to my tastes from there. I always omit saffron due to cost, add minced garlic, and use stout or some other dark beer instead of ale. These are my personal preferences for this soup, and I always serve it with crusty bread.

The original recipe from Gode Cookery:

Oyle soppes. ¶ Take a good quantite of onyons, and myce hem, noyt to smale, & seth hem in faire water, And take hem vppe; and then take a good quantite of stale ale, as .iij. galons, And there-to take a pynte of goode oyle that is fraied, and cast the onyons there-to, And lete al boyle togidre a grete wile; and caste there-to Saffron and salt, And þen put brede, in maner of brewes, and cast the licour there-on, and serue hit forth hote.

– 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.

The Gode Cookery Translation:

Take a good quantity of onions, and mince them, not to small, & boil them in fair water, And take them up; and then take a good quantity of stale ale, as 3 gallons, And there-to take a pint of good oil that is fried, and cast the onions there-to, And let all boil together a great while; and cast there-to Saffron & salt, And then put bread, in manner of brews, and cast the liquid there-on, and serve it forth hot.

As for a recipe — I’m not sure I’ve ever made a small batch of this soup, and I always buy the giant bulk bag of onions for a feast, because I use a lot of them… So the rough recipe follows as such:

Ale and Onion Soup

Ingredients:
Lots of sweet yellow onions, finely sliced
Minced garlic
Butter or canola oil
4 bottles of dark beer
6-8+ boxes of broth
Sage
Salt
Pepper

Directions:
Peele, halve, and thinly slice onions. Sautee with minced garlic in butter or canola oil, then add beer and broth. (Vegetable broth if offering to vegetarians, otherwise use beef broth.) Add salt, pepper, and sage to taste. Serve hot with bread and butter.

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Chicken, Bacon, and Grape Pie

The second pie/tart I taught at the September All Thing in Port Oasis was also from Sabina Welserin’s cookbook. I made this tart in hand-pie form several years ago and was pretty impressed with it, so I decided to give it a go again for this kitchen. I used chicken thighs instead of small birds, added ginger, and cooked it all in white wine before putting it between short paest crusts. The next time I make this, I think I’ll make a wine sauce with drippings to pour in the crust’s slits when I pull the pie to do the egg wash on the top crust.

98 If you would make a pastry with small birds

Take a plentiful number of birds and make a layer of birds and a layer of bacon slices, until the pastry is filled. Also put a few grapes into it. And let it bake a little and put a small drop of good wine thereon and then it is ready. If you have no fresh butter, then use beef suet.

Chicken, Bacon, and Grape Pie

Ingredients (for 2 pie fillings):
~2lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Butter
White wine
Salt
Ginger
2 handfuls grapes, halved
1 package bacon

Trim excess fat from chicken thighs, then roughly chop thighs in halves or thirds. Butter pan over medium heat, add chicken, salt, and ginger to taste. Brown  on both sides, then add white wine and simmer. When liquid is mostly gone, remove chicken, then add grapes and a few slices of bacon. Cook grapes until the bacon is lightly cooked, but still tender, then set both aside. Cook the rest of the bacon until tender. Arrange chicken in a layer on the bottom of the prepared pie crust, then a few small pats of butter on top, then grapes, and cover with bacon. Pour wine drippings over it all, then cover with top crust. Serve leftover bacon to kitchen staff. Bake at 350*F (for 10 minutes in a convection oven); remove to put egg wash on top crush, then finish (for another 5 minutes in a convection oven).

An Apple Tart

Yesterday I was invited back to the Shire of Port Oasis to teach another hands-on cooking class at their September All Thing. This time, we made two tarts from Sabina Welserin’s Cookbook: 79 An Apple Tart and 98 If You Would Make A Pastry With Small Birds. Together, my Happy Kitchen Helpers™ and I made short paest crust and filling for four pies, which we ate with the rest of the shire at the end of the day.

I made two slight modifications to this recipe, neither of which are uncommon for this cookbook: I added ginger and cooked the apples and raisins in wine, both of which I will definitely do again.

 

79 An apple tart

Peel the apples cleanly and take out the cores, chop them small and fry them in fat, put raisins, sugar and cinnamon therein and let it bake.

 

An Apple Tart

Ingredients (For 2 pie fillings):

1 bag of Gala apples
4 handfuls raisins
Cinnamon
Ginger
Butter
White wine
Light brown sugar

Peel, core, and chop apples into thin slices. Butter your pan, then add in half of the apples, 2 handfuls of raisins, cinnamon, ginger, and white wine. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until apples soften. Set these apples aside in a mixing bowl, then make your second batch. Combine the two with light brown sugar to taste, then set aside to cool. Pour into prepared pie shells, add a top crust, and bake at 350*F. I baked mine for 10 minutes in a convection oven, then pulled them out to put an egg wash on the crust, then finished for another 5 minutes.

Sabina Welserin’s Herb Tart

The Shire of Port Oasis held an Althing this summer where I taught a hands-on class on how to make two tarts: the White Roman Tart from Ouverture de Cuisine and Sabina Welserin’s Herb Tart (133). One was a given, and the other, a gamble.

133 An herb tart

First, take a small handful of hyssop, mint, chard and sage. There should be three times more of chard than of the other herbs, according to how large one will make the tart. Take clarified butter and fry the herbs named above therein, take raisins, small currants and sugar, as much as you feel is right. Take then eight eggs, beat them carefully into that which is described above and make a pastry shell with an egg and bake it slowly.

My Happy Kitchen Helpers™ helped me de-vein the chard and chop the herbs for this tart, and they were gracious enough to stand around the kitchen, chat with me, and listen to me blather on about my love of Sabina Welserin and general medieval and renaissance cooking for awhile. At the end of it, this tart was savory, but on this go-around needed salt, because that was the one addition I’d forgotten for this recipe. It’s definitely different than our modern palate prepares us for, but the Shire was very gracious — and since both tarts were finished by the end of the day, I’ll call it a success worth sharing.

I actually don’t have a specific redaction for this recipe — the one listed above is easy enough to follow: Chop chard, mint, and sage (omitting hyssop because it’s not easy to come by here), fry in butter with spices (and salt!). Add in raisins, currants, and spices, then let cool. Beat eggs and cream, mix together all ingredients, pour into prepared pie shell, and bake at 425*F until done. ..Maybe I should make a better recipe for this, but it was pretty standard as far as pies go. And, with the permission of Lady Kismira, some photos!

To make Dutch rice

While on my quest for a rice dish to accompany my stuffed cabbages, I couldn’t find many recipes that weren’t sweetened, and I had really been wanting savory rice for this menu. The recipe I settled on (and ultimately omitted the sugar from) was from Gent KANTL 15, a late 15th century/early 16th century Dutch cookbook, as translated by Christianne Muusers.

2.145 Om rijst te maken

Men moet rijst nemen en week het goed en droog het bij het vuur. Dan moet men een grote aardewerken pot nemen die schoon is. Dan moet men die in het vuur zetten met vleesnat dat niet te zout is en dat de pot niet al te veel vult (?). Schuim dan als het dik is af, en dan moet men de kruiderij erin doen. Dat is suiker, gember, kaneel, saffraan [en] langepeper. Dit is rijst op een vleesdag. Is het een gerecht op de visdag, dan moet men amandelmelk nemen in plaats van vleesnat. Vertrouw op uw smaak. Voor elke gelt [vocht] een half pond rijst en een half pond suiker.

2.145 To make rice

Take rice and steep it well and dry it near the fire. Then take a large, clean earthenware pot. Then put it in the fire with meat stock that is not too salty and does not fill the pot too much (?). Remove the froth ehan it is thick, and then add the spices. That is sugar, ginger, cinnamon, saffron and long pepper. This is rice on a meat day. Is it a dish on a fish day, then one must use almond milk instead of meat stock. Trust your own taste. For every gelt [liquid] a half pound rice and a half pound sugar.

I boiled 1 part white rice in 2 parts beef stock with drippings from the meat mixture I’d prepared for the stuffed cabbages, ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper. I omitted saffron and long pepper due to cost, opting for black pepper as a substitution for long pepper, though I know the taste is much different, due to it being on hand.

Stuffed Eggs, in a French Style

While browsing through Ouverture de Cuisine, I found another recipe for stuffed eggs and decided to add it to the menu with the stuffed cabbages. I substituted the raw egg yolks for mayonnaise for a smoother, creamier consistency, and skipped the sweet and sour sauce.

As an aside, as I look at this transcription, I realize that there’s not much more I can add to or otherwise modernize here; stuffed/deviled eggs don’t get much easier than this. I always make egg-filling to taste, so the best I can advise is to have fun!

To make stuffed eggs.

Make to boil eggs hard, & cut them in two pieces: then take the yolks out of both sides, & chop very finely with parsley, marjoram, a little salt, & put therein the yolks of raw eggs, chop it well together: then refill the whites with this: afterwards frying them in butter, then make a little batter thereon, that is sweet & sour, & serve so.

Stuffed Cabbages

Next up is stuffed cabbages from Ouverture de Cuisine!

I initially went searching for this recipe when this year’s Scarlet Apron Cooking Challenge theme was announced — modern family dinners presented in a medieval fashion. The first thing that came to mind was a traditional Polish dinner: stuffed cabbage rolls, noodles or rice, and mushrooms of some sort. My research lead me to Ouverture de Cuisine and The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi, but I was struck with inspiration while reading. While Scappi’s cookbook did indeed have cabbage rolls, why in the world should I stop there when both cookbooks had recipes for whole stuffed cabbages?

To make a stuffed cabbage.

Take a red cabbage that is not too large, & put it to boil whole sweetly, & leave it so a long time that you can open the leaves the one behind the other, while the leaves of the cabbage are large like a fist, cut that out, & put chopped meat therein that it will be arrayed like the other meats with eggs & spices, & then layer the cabbage with the leaves all around, that it will be well bound, & put it to cook, sausages with, or that which you want.

Though Scappi is specific about boiling his stuffed cabbages in meat broth or water, de Casteau is more vague. I took the opportunity to boil it as I prefer: in beef broth, red wine, apple cider vinegar, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. For the first boil, I let it go for about 20-30min at a full boil while I prepared a meat mixture of ground beef, garlic, and onions with sage, cinnamon, salt, and pepper, bound after cooling with egg. This meat mixture is the base of my meatballs, and I figured would be suitable for a trial run of this cabbage.

And then the fun began..

Peeling the outer layers was tricky at first, but the closer I got to the core, the cooler the cabbage became, and I was very surprised that it was still cold at the center. I carefully cut the heart of the cabbage out, then replaced it with a large handful of ground beef mixture.

After folding the first layer of leaves back over it, I put in another layer of meat, folded the next layer on, and put in the last layer of beef before folding the rest of the leaves back. I wrapped the whole cabbage in twine, then set it back to boiling for another 20-30 min in the wine and vinegar that I’d refreshed with a bit more of all ingredients.

The result was beautiful and tasty. It was a bit of a pain to cut and serve, so perhaps decorative pennants on skewers may be part of the serving plan next time.