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.



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.

Smoking – the return

July 31, 2010

Though I am mostly waiting for a good occasion to cut open most of the meats in order to see how the rest of the smoking had gone, I decided to try out a small additional smoking project. When visiting the nearby cheese-farm Aalan, I realised that one of their cheeses, which is a neutral goats cheese, would taste even better with a nice smoked exterior. When mentioning this to the couple who runs the farm, I was promptly given a cheese to try out.

When I returned to the longhouse, I cut a way the wax and placed the cheese in a small linen bag. This bag I hung near the fire, with the hopes once more that it would be enough to impart some flavour and preservation to the cheese.

As the weather turned out to be somewhat better up here, that is no rain and above 12 degrees Celsius, I was prompted to once again move my cooking experiments outside. Though the weather was nice, it was still quite windy and the smoke was almost rolling along the ground, so I tried to hang the bag low in the direction of the wind, although it was admittedly difficult to control.

After a few days cooking the cheese has a dry yellowish outer surface. I’ll probably bring it down to the festival and keep it in the smoke there before tasting it.

A simple cheese

June 5, 2010

The finished cheese

A rather common activity with kids in Swedish museums is to make what is often called “skörost”, that is to boil soured milk until it curdles and then separate curds and whey. The remaining curds are filtered and then mixed with salt and whatever herbs one has available. Although the quite common use of this dish, I decided that it could be interesting to test using a soapstonevessel.

In the pot I poured about 1 litre of soured milk (kultur mjölk) this I brought to the boil, and afterwards let it simmer for quite some time, the result was rather small curds, and as I let it simmer for a while a not to sour whey. After the whey had reduced some I took the curds up and pressed out the remaining whey using my hand. Almost identical to what you may see in some medieval images of cheese making the whey poured down on the floor – to the joy of any pets if we had kept any in the house.

The result was a rather dry mass of cheese, slightly sour with a taste of the leek and salt used. Although the method works quite well, I would like to see if a better texture can be achieved by just letting simmer just below the cooking point. If that would be the case potboilers may be a far better options for making this kind of simple cheese, as observed by Jacqui Wood (Wood, Jacqui, 2001, p. 96-97).

Wood, Jacqui 2001, Prehistoric cooking