I have been cooking medieval and renaissance food since I found the Society for Creative Anachronism at the age of 17.
I have always cooked my own versions of recipes, rather than using other people's interpretations, and here I intend to share the results of my work, hopefully also sharing with you the great love I have of cooking.
Today I went shopping and bought myself a few small things. I had been eyeing off some small serving bowls in one of the shops in town, but decided they were far too expensive to indulge in.
But today I went into one of the shops near my work, and found these rather sexy spoons. I have long contemplated those elegant canapes served in spoons, but all the spoons I have seen are too big to actually eat from. By the time it is loaded up with the canape, noone can fit it in their mouth! But these stylish spoons are just right, and I can't wait to play with them!
I also bought the plate that you see the spoons displayed upon - cost me the princely sum of 3chf!
I sent in this food blog to blog-appetite, but haven't seen myself on the list yet... watch that space!
One of the things I whipped up for the dinner on Saturday night was Basil butter. It barely rates a post, being so very simple, but is a lovely addition to any dinner, so I guess worth sharing. Basil butter 100g salted butter 8 basil leaves
Heat the butter in a small saucepan until only just melted: do not allow to boil! If you don't have a small mixer/blender, finely chop (or grind in mortar) the basil leaves and add to the butter. Spoon into a soft iceblock tray and place in freezer until cold and stiff. Pop out of mould and serve, ideally with fresh hot bread. This herb butter can be made with any fresh herbs.
6 ripe tomatoes 1 cucumber (peeled and seeded) 1 onion drizzle of white wine vinegar salt & pepper tabasco
Place the tomatoes in a bowl and pour boiling water over the top. Allow to sit for a minute then pull out with tongs. The skin will have split, so you can easily peel the tomato. Peel the cucumber, cut into quarters lengthways and slice out the seeds. Peel and roughly chop the onion.
Put all these in a deep sided bowl or jug and blend until smooth. Add salt & pepper, vinegar and tabasco to taste. If you find the soup a bit lacking in taste (if the tomatoes weren't as ripe as they could be), you can add a good splash of tomato juice. Chill thoroughly before serving.
2 avocadoes lemon juice 300 mls cream mayonnaise
place the avocado meat in a jug. Add a tablespoon of mayonnaise, and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Blend till mixed then pour in the cream. Blend until smooth and then put into ice-cream machine. Store in freezer. Remove from freezer 10 minutes or so before serving to allow it to thaw enough to permit scooping.
Serve bowls of gazpacho with a scoop of avocado icecream.
Tonight was one of our grand foodies nights, but this time with a slightly sorrowful feel. Our dear friend Ugly Fruit is leaving us, so this was a farewell feast.
Sadly three of our fellow foodies couldn't come, which left us as a dinner for four with food for seven! Still, we did our best to bid farewell to our friend in style. The menu for the evening (photos and recipes for my bits to follow) ended up being:
- Gazpacho with avocado icecream - Texmex cornbread - fresh basil butter - Vietnamese grapefruit and chicken salad - San choi bau - Lime and hazelnut cheese-cake - deconstructed strawberry cheese cake (the photo will explain)
An amazing meal, and a fitting farewell to a dear friend. We will of course, continue to have our foodie nights, and invite our friend to come along via computer!
Steam the snow peas until they turn bright green. Put the liquid ingredients together and shake until well combined. Toss the sesame seeds among the snow peas. Add the dressing to the salad about 20 minutes before serving.
This is a perfect picnic dish: portable, attractive and delicious!
1 loaf of bread (choose one that is qiute deep) Marinated grilled aubergine Marinated grilled courgette Artichoke hearts Sundried tomatoes Mozzarella cheese (feta is also good) mushrooms Olives
Slice the top of the loaf of bread and set aside. Dig out the centre of the loaf. Starting with the cheese, cover the bottom of the inside of the loaf. Layer each of the ingredients into the loaf, with layers of mozzarella between every few layers of other ingredients. (drain the liquid off the ingredients before using!) Lay the top of the loaf back on. Wrap firmly in plastic wrap. Lay a wooden board on top and then place a few full tins of food on top as a weight to press down the loaf. Allow to sit for a few hours The different layers will all press together and the flavours will merge into a delicious whole. You can take the loaf as is to your picnic, slice and enjoy the impressed looks on your friends faces!
250g plain flour 3/4 tsp salt 3 tsp sugar 180 g chilled butter, cubed 2 egg yolks 4 tbsp chilled water
10 or 11 medium sized apricots (I used nine but think at least one more would be good) 200g ground hazelnuts 3 tblspn brown sugar 70g butter 6 chunks of glace ginger
Method - pastry
Place flour, salt, sugar and butter in a bowl. Wash hands in cold water and pat dry. Rub the butter into the flour until the mix resembles fine bread crumbs. Add the egg yolk and mix with a wooden spoon to combine ingredients. Add the water a 1/2 tablespoon at a time, until the pastry begins to come together. Don't use all the water unless needed; stop adding as soon as the pastry is combined. Again, chill your hands (unless you are fortunate enough to have cool hands) then bring the pastry together and knead briefly to make a smooth round.
Roll out and lay into a lined tin (I use silicone paper). Chill, line with paper and pour in dried beans or pie weights. Bake in a 200c oven for around 20 minutes until crisp and golden. Allow to cool.
Method - Filling
Combine brown sugar and hazelnuts and sprinkle to cover the bottom of the shell. Press apricot halves into the nuts. Scatter finely chopped ginger across the tart, then dot with pieces of butter. Bake in a slow oven until apricots are soft. Serve hot or cold.
I had a wonderful time at the picnic. I was unfortunately late due to meeting another friend, and this meant that I didn't get a chance to properly meet everyone, and even worse, they were all full and couldn't eat much of the food I prepared! But I was not alone; there were heaps of left overs and I have a sneaking suspicion that I have come back with more food than I brought. It certainly was a magnificent spread!
Here are my contributions (recipes in next post)
Meditteranean stuffed loaf Japanese styled snow pea salad Followed by a hazelnut, Queensland ginger and Apricot tart
How does linguine with asparagus, tuna and fresh lemon juice sound? I got all inspired to eat fish tonight, and whipped up the following experiment.
Recipe for one
1 organic lemon 1 small tin tuna in spring water 50grams dried pasta - Linguine 1 small bunch of thin asparagus salt and pepper to taste parmesan cheese
Snap the bottom off the asparagus stalks. The bottoms can go into the pot of water in which the pasta will be cooked (never hurts to add a bit of extra flavour eh?). While the pasta is on the boil, cover the asparagus and cook in the microwave (2 minutes on high). If you prefer you can steam the asparagus, one way or another, cook until bright green but still crunchy.
Drain the pasta and discard the asparagus stems. Stir the tuna and asparagus through the pasta, season and plate. Squeeze the lemon juice over the top, and for some extra oomph, add a tiny bit of the zest of the lemon shredded finely.