tarts

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).

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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!

White Roman Tart ala Ouverture de Cuisine

 

I found the rough translation of Ouverture de Cuisine (1604) over at Medieval Cookery as I was researching some late-medieval/Renaissance fare, and I kindof fell in love with this cookbook. One of the top reasons being this tart.

The transcription by Thomas Gloning et. al reads:

Pour faire tourte blanche a la Romaine.

Prennez vne liure de blanc fromage de creme, puis prennez le blanc de six oeufs, & le battez longuement qu’il le face escumer dessus comme vne neige, & laissez vn peu reposer sans battre, puis prennez l’escume de dessus, & le iettés dedans le fromage, puis rebattés encor le blanc de rechef qu’ilface [>qu’il_face] encor escumer comme le premier, & iettés sur le fromage, & faictes encor deux ou trois fois ainsi, puis prennés deux onces de beurre fondu, vn peu de gingembre, vn peu de basilicque hasché, & faictes tourte, & cuire comme les autres.

The translation at Medieval Cookery falls in line with what I would expect from the transcription, with what I remember of French:

To make a white Roman tart.

Take a pound of white cheese of cream, then take the whites of six eggs, & beat then well until a foam forms on the surface like snow, & let a little stay in without beating, then take the foam from thereon, & cast it into the cheese, then beat the whites at the top until again foam forms on the surface like the first time, & cast onto the cheese, & make again two or three times as such, then take two ounces of melted butter, a little ginger, a little chopped basil, & make the tart, & cook like the others.

This reads to me like beautiful, light, and fluffy cheesecake. So, I made it. The first time I made it was at home, with a gluten-free pie crust to serve to friends, and the second time was at the July Althing in Port Oasis, with the assistance of three awesome folks!

The recipe is fairly straight-forward, but I did make a few changes to accommodate what I wanted this to be (– adding sugar, omitting butter, using Philadelphia cream cheese). I also didn’t have a controlled test oven — the first time, our power went out after this had been in for about 10 minutes, but sustained plenty of heat to finish baking at 40 minutes. The second time was with a convection oven, which I’m not so familiar with using, and I had to actively monitor and adjust temperature.


White Roman Tart

16oz cream cheese (2 bricks)
6 large eggs
3/4 c sugar
Grated ginger
Fresh basil, finely chopped
Prepared deep dish pie crush

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
  2. Cream the cream cheese and sugar in a food processor, until smooth.
  3. Separate the eggs — yolks into the food processor and whites into a separate bowl. Pulse the cream cheese mixture until the yolks are fully incorporated, then pour into a bowl. Fold in about 3 or 4 large pinches each of ginger and basil, then set aside.
  4. Use electric mixer or whisk to beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold this into the cream cheese mixture, then pour into the prepared pie crust.
  5. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until firm in the middle.
  6. For a more dense consistency like modern cheesecake, serve chilled. For a more custard-like consistency, serve hot.

Tartlets for Laurencia’s Vigil

I was honored to have Baron Janos ask me to contribute tartlets for Laurencia’s vigil at Ice Dragon. I’m not overly familiar with medieval English food, so I relied on recipes from the good folks over at Medieval Cookery.

Photo by Sir Ian
Photo by Sir Ian.

I made well over 10 dozen tartlet crusts using their recipe Short Paest for Tartes (A Proper New Booke of Cookery, 1575). The recipe calls for 1 1/2c flour, half a stick of butter, 2 egg yolks, 1/2 tsp salt, a pinch of saffron, and ~ 1/2c water. After rubbing the butter into most of the ingredients, add water until the dough just sticks together. Let it rest, roll it out, and fill your pan with the dough. What I failed to notice was that I’d grabbed the self-rising flour instead of the all-purpose, so my tartlet crusts got a bit fluffy..

..which nixed the Ember Day Tarts from my planned offerings. So I went with the other two I’d planned: Chardewardon and Mon Amy.

Chardewardon (various 15th century books) is a light custard made by creating a “pear sauce” (as you would applesauce), then adding egg yolks to thicken it. The recipe calls for one egg yolk per pear, softened by simmering in wine. I added ginger and cinnamon while the pears softened, strained the liquid off, then added yolks and half the amount of sugar the recipe called for and simmered until it thickened. I grew frustrated with this recipe because it didn’t thicken as I’d expected it to in the pot, but rather thickened and sat up after cooling in the fridge overnight. The resulting custard is light and refreshing, and I’ll likely make it again for feasts and non-medieval functions.

Mon Amy (A Noble Boke of Cookry, 1468) is, essentially, a medieval cheesecake, and I chose it for this reason — who doesn’t like cheesecake? The recipe is more complex than the chardewardon by far, and I’m going to fiddle with it for future use. It calls for making fresh cheese, which is then strained per usual, and though I was wary of this step, I followed it anyway, and was met with the issue I’d anticipated.. Fresh cheese, after having the whey strained, is hard and crumbly. It doesn’t melt well, in my experience, and is..chewy. Simply “whisking until smooth” isn’t feasible, so I poured my hot cream and fresh cheese into a food processor and pulsed it a few times until the big chunks were reduced to..smaller ones. I returned the mixture to the pot and followed the rest of the directions.. However, the cream, sugar, honey, and yolks only thickened enough to create something like a thick porridge of fresh cheese curds, and it carmelized a bit as I prepared my ice bath to cool the pot down. (I’d thought it had scorched and was about to cry until I tasted it. Thankfully it hadn’t!) I wasn’t happy, but let it settle in the fridge overnight, and what I awoke to was a very dense, delicious cheesecake-like custard that needed to be softened a bit with heat before I could really spoon it into the tartlet shells. It wasn’t a disaster, but I’m going to revise my own methods for this recipe before serving it again.