Wednesday, June 25, 2014

To prepare sops with various dried fruits

Scappi: page 369 book 3 recipe 257

Get prunes and let them soak in warm water. After that cook them in white wine with sugar, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon ground together. When they are done, have slices of toast ready in dishes, and put the prunes on them with the decoction. Serve them hot with sugar on top.

You can also do dried visciola cherries or halved dates or dried figs the same way.

I have no amounts written down, mostly it was a test and see as we go. I used only enough liquid to cover the dried fruit. In my case I used figs. Cooked and boiled down in my pot. I served it with a dense bread instead of toast and it seemed to be fine. Though re reading this as I am typing it out I think I will use more liquid next time to make it less of a mash and more of a "soup".

Monday, June 16, 2014

Fresh Cheese

I have been experimenting with fresh cheese. No rennet, just an acid. No heat, just reaction. So simple a 7 year old can do it, and he has been assisting. I wanted at Double Wars to make a simple fresh cheese recipe to serve at the Laurel's lunch. My failure on that was detailed earlier, even though the Kefir like milk stuff made great cheese it just took longer.

So my recent experiments have been, a batch with lemon juice, a batch with balsamic vinegar and a batch with Brantwein vinegar. The last has sort of an apple vinegar taste but it is not from apples. In each I used 1 liter of mild and in everyone added a bit of cream. In the lemon I added 100 ml of cream, the balsamic had only 50 ml cream and the Brantwein had 200 ml. When I made it at DW I too added cream to the Kefir, I believe it was 200 ml or there about. In each one The initial mixture sat for a minimum of 12 hrs some longer.
The DW mixture never really got heavy and initially when put in the cheesecloth drained a bit white then moved to clear. The lemon in my kitchen fully separated, became heavy and drained clear. The balsamic didn't get heavy but drained clear and the Brantwein, never separated, never got heavy and has not run clear. In fact I needed to change cloths as the curds had not pulled together enough and has blocked the holes in the cheesecloth so it would not drain at all. Currently it is hanging in a new cloth. It is possible that with heat the barntwein would do better.

Taste: All but the brantwein has been tasted and they are all good, even my 7 year old like it. With added herbs it has been great. I think the vinegar base would be best with herbs and the lemon could be sweetened with honey or fruits. A simple but elegant addition to any table.

I will continue to experiment with non rennet and simple methods of making cheese. When I have gotten comfortable with them I shall endeavor to move on.

 Cheese update: The white balsamic worked fine, lovely cheese. The Brantweinessig, not a complete failure but super super soft still. No longer runny though. No hint of vinegar taste at all, super creamy.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Chicken fritters (aka medieval chicken nuggets)

 Scappi: page 498 recipe 141 To prepare fritters with chicken flesh
     When in a mortar you have ground up the breast meat of two chickens that have first been boiled, add in two pounds of bazzatto cheese*, half a pound of grated Parmesan cheese, three ounces of sugar, six eggs and half an ounce of cinnamon. Of that mixture make balls the size of a hard boiled egg yolk. Have pot on hand containing six beaten eggs with two ounces of flour and coat the balls in that one by one: just as soon as they are coated drop them into hot rendered fat and fry them. When they are done, serve them hot with sugar over them. You can do calf's and goat-kid's brains, boiled, in the same way.

What I did:

3 chicken breasts boiled
2 balls of mozzarella
1 small package of grated Parmesan cheese (forgot to look how much but roughly 3 Tbsp)
3 eggs ? they had double yolks so I am not sure how you would count that, and yes all 3!
1 Tbsp cinnamon (approximately)
1/4 cup sugar (Turbinado)

Not having my mortar and pestle with me I improvised. I had a large ceramic bowl and a wooden spatula. I first "chopped" up the chicken with the "blade" of the spatula getting it as small as I could and then began pressing and squishing it with the flat of it against the bowl. This was quite effective and I was surprised at just how very much so. I opened and drained the mozzarella and broke it up and approached it the same way I did the chicken. Add the Parmesan, cinnamon and sugar. Continue to mix by beating against the side of the bowl. When you have a mushy consistency and the cheese is fully incorporated add the eggs until it holds together. Roll into small balls the size of egg yolks. Dip and completely coat in a simple coating of eggs and flour the consistency of thick pancake mix. Deep fry until golden. I use olive oil as I had it on hand.

Notes: this was an experiment over an open fire, very tasty hot, warm and even cold. In terms of making it for a feast I can see where they would be able to easily made ahead and then reheated in an oven.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

1 day on an open fire

This year I attended Double Wars in Sweden as part of a "girls trip" trio :) It was a blast but meant that I did much less real cooking than I normally do. I did get creative with cous cous and roasting chickens but nothing too out of the box. I saved that for my 1 day.

I was asked by my laurel to cook lunch for the laurels that would be in attendance at the event, I gladly accepted the task and started searching for my inspiration. What I came up with was to roast a chicken in the manner that Scappi uses to roast turkey, Breseaola finished 2 ways, chicken fritters  and a dried fruit compost. I had pasta boiled in milk and a fresh cheese on the list as well but made an error in the grocery store (Swedish is not a language I speak) and was unable to complete those dishes, so I didn't.

My day was an early one, I was up at 8 am to prep some things and get the coals going, once they were hot I started wood on the side but knew the chicken would take longer so use charcoal to get it started.

My trouble with the fresh cheese and pasta started the night before when I opened the container to find I had purchased something that was closer to Keifir and not regular milk. I decided to try it anyway having read several things on line about using buttermilk and yogurt to make cheese. This simply took too long to drain and was ready on Thursday so I divided it and set chives to half and dill with thyme to the other half. A few people were able to try it on Friday at Hovdala and everyone who tried it responded well. This being the case though I could not see making the pasta as it would have been boiled in milk and this was not milk. So without stress or much ado I dropped the idea of making the pasta and began work on everything else.

The turkey process is described elsewhere on my blog as is the breseaola which was finished 2 ways, over the fire on the grill and in a pot with broth, grape must syrup and vinegar. The new dishes were the fig compost and the chicken fritters (which I will detail in further posts). The lunch was filled out with sliced bread and a platter with cut cucumber, grapes and sliced apple on it.

When collecting the leftovers I was asked if I would like to put them in the Laurels Prize Display and so I did. It was fun sitting with the food and having people taste it and getting to talk about it for a few hours :) I even got a few picky kids to try the "medieval chicken nuggets" and 1 came and got a second piece! My biggest surprise though was in the end when Mistress Helwig came to me to give me her prize for my display. She was impressed with my explanations and tastes. I was truly both shocked and honored to have been chosen by her.

I think I surprised another one of the laurels who remarked that they were impressed that I had taken on such an intimidating task when I said I didn't find the task intimidating at all. In fact I was quite relaxed. I didn't stress about the missing milk I just carried on with all the other dishes. The dish that caused me the most stress or worry was the whole roasted chicken and my biggest worries were that it would be dry, or over cooked on the outside and uncooked in the middle but as it cooked along the worry faded and I became very relaxed with it. I was proudest of the chicken fritters I did not expect them to be as wonderful as they were. Fresh and hot was the best, cooling down but still warm they were still tasty and even cold they were still palatable. A huge success in my book despite having only glanced through the recipe and mostly just winging the measurements.