Bacon & Cheese snack

August 25, 2011

Lacking time to replenish the stores I looked into dishes that could be made with what I had in the larder. This forced me to yet again look into some of the simpler dishes. In the 15th century cookbook “Ein buch von guter spiese” a dish called a good pastry seem to indicate a dish that very well could have been served even at a common tavern. However, the line that stats that it should be served immediately suggests that it was rather something that was done at feasts with kitchen personell.

 

Ein buch von guter spiese, 1354”

 

Ein gut gebackenz ( A good pastry)
Rib kese. menge den mit eyern und scharbe gesoten spec dar zu. mache ein schoenen derben teyc . und fülle den kese und die eyer dor in. und mache krepfelin. und backe sie in butern oder in smaltze. noch der zit. und gib sie warm hin.
Grate cheese. Mix it with eggs and boiled small pieces of fatty bacon thereto. Make a fine dough and fill therein with the cheese and the eggs. And make small cakes and bake them in butter or in fat, near to the time (they are to be served), and give them out warm.

(http://cs-people.bu.edu/akatlas/Buch/recipes.html)

 

Though seemingly simple there are some points that require some extra thought in this dish. First is the mixture of eggs, bacon and cheese mixed into the dough or is it folded in. Secondly, what exactly is meant with a fine dough?

 

While the suggestion to bake the dough into a cake would suggest that it should be all mixed up and shaped like a cake, another possible suggestion would be to bake it more or less like a dumpling. Several Dutch recipes from the early 16th century suggests that one should fold the dough over a filling, very much like a modern small filled pastry. As I today had the fortune to have some assistance from two of the visitors I was able to experiment with three different ways of cooking this dish.

 

In order to try out how the dish appeared in the different guises we made three batches, one in which the bacon & cheese mixture was mixed out with a dough of wheat flour and water in order to make a small rounded cake.

 

In the second batch we just made some small dumplings in a water and wheat dough. Here I let the interpretation of a fine dough just refer to the use wheat flour.

 

A third way to interpret the dish was to make the dough fine and elastic with the use of some fat.

 

For the filling I used the cheese I had available, a traditional Swedish cheese, and a cold-smoked bacon that I gotten from my local deli. Though the bacon presumably could reflect what I could expect to find in the period, I am not entirely sure about the cheese. It is possible that I should have used a drier somewhat sharper cheese. Anyway, the mixture was made the same for all three varieties. The bacon was boiled and then chopped up in small pieces, and mixed up with an egg and a handful of cheese. [The repeated instructions to pre-boil the bacon, could indicate that it was a fair bit saltier than the ones we use today, that said a traditional bacon that is left to hang for a while will get dry and hard to cut up, why the pre-boiling could just be a way of making it easier to work with]

 

The three batches where then fried in butter, starting with the cakelike batch. This allowed for most of the milkproteins to be absorbed in the cakes, making the next few batches easier to deepfry.

 

While all three produced nice little pastries they turned out somewhat differently.

 

The cakebatch, appeared saltier and a bit heavier than the rest, giving it a feel of being more or less a beersnack. The first dumpling batch was far more balanced to the palate, if a bit undercooked and heavy in the dough. In the final batch we were able to make the dough somewhat thinner, which made the filling more cooked and the overall balance between dough and filling the most pleasant.

 

 

My assistants mentioned this cooking experience in the blog belonging to one of them

 

The pictures taken during that day by Caroline Ekberg will be put up on this entry once I reach my home computer.

Heathen peas

August 15, 2011

Due to lack of time and resources I decided that the dish of day should be a simple dish, why I settled for the sweet called heathen peas in “Ein Buch von guter spise”.

 

 

Heidenische erweiz Heathen peas
Wilt du machen behemmische erweiz. so nim mandel kern und stoz die gar cleine. und mengez mit dritteil als vil honiges. und mit guten würtzen wol gemenget. so ers aller beste hat. die koste git man kalt oder warm.
How you want to make heathen peas. So take almond kernels and pound them very small. And mix it with a third as much honey. And with good spices well mixed. So it has the very best. One hands this out greedily, cold or warm.
Though fairly simple, and only using a few ingredients there are still some questions to the actual preparation of them. Should only cold ingredients be mixed, should it be heated in some way or even caramelized? What spices ought to be used.
In the recipe we can find a few hints as to the preparation. The first is in the name Heathen Peas would probably suggest a middle east inspiration, though I must admit that while I enjoy middle east food, I have not familiar enough with cooking it. So here I am up for some suggestions as to possible sweets to be inspired from.
The second hint in the recipe is that it is handed out hot or cold. This would probably mean that even if the recipe do not say so the dish should be heated in some way. A possible interpretation of this could be the simple fact that in almost all medieval recipes you are assumed to have clearified your honey, that is boiling it and skimming of the proteins. This would give you a warm liquid honey to work with and would be enough to for some kind of sweets with the crushed almonds. However, the heating may also have referred to a caramelized dish.
I started by dividing my almonds into two batches, one that I would roast beforehand and one that I let be as it was. (This is merely based on my personal taste, as I prefer roasted nuts to raw ones) Since there was no mentioning of and I could not really se a reason to- I did not blanch and peel the almonds for this dish. Usually this is mentioned specifically in most dishes using almonds. All the almonds were then pounded thoroughly in a mortar, this is one of the parts in this recipe that is explicitly mentioned even though the rest of the recipe may be a bit brief.
In this dish the sprices are only mentioned as god spices, why the selection may be a bit difficult to make. To this one I chose to use the classical duo of ginger and cinnamon with and addition of long pepper. The longpepper has a nice aromatic taste that I find goes very well with honey, why I thought that it might have been a good addition to the sweet.
The spices were mixed with the pounded nuts and to this mixture I added about a third honey. The batch of unroasted nuts where then divided in two parts. In order to be able to mix the honey properly with the nuts, and to reflect a possibly clearified honey I heated the mixture in a pan. The second half of the unroasted nuts were instead heated for a bit longer until the honey was caramelizing.
The resulting mixture were then all rolled into small balls, even though the recipe do not state so, the name of the dish suggest that they should be made into small spheres. Though all were possible to shape it was the caramelized mixture that were most easily rolled – once it had cooled of a bit.
Also when it came to the taste I would say that the caramelized balls were the most delicious. In all cases the combination of sweet and hot blended together rather nice. After the initial experience of something sweet and nutty the rather aromatic heat of long pepper and ginger sneaked up on my tastebuds. I was quite generous with both long pepper and ginger though hinting of the heat of medieval gingerbread in this sweet.
While I found no actual difference between the roasted and the unroasted almonds, the caramelized mixture were the most pleasing from both a visual and culinary point of view, making it easier to both eat and serve. The nice sweet taste must have stood out during the 14th century, even though this cookbook uses a bit of sugar, so it is understandable that it was eaten greedily.
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