Spiced cherries

Spiced cherries

The Royal Anne is the cherry that gives the best results in spicing. Put the cherries into a stone jar or porcelain pan. Heat one quart of good cider vinegar with two coffee cups of sugar; put into a muslin bag one teaspoon each of various spices, heat with the vinegar and sugar to the boiling point, then pour over the cherries and let stand over night. Repeat this a second time. Then put the cherries in glass bottles or jars, heat the vinegar a third time, pour over and seal. Fine with meats. Prunes are good spiced by this recipe, but the skins of the prunes must be pricked with a fork to prevent bursting.

From: Jennings, Linda Deziah (compiler), Washington women’s cook book. The Washington Equal Suffrage Association, 1908.

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Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
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Newsletters: 8 Sept, 2010

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 8 Sept, 2010. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

Cooking, and reading about cooking
I don’t have any questions to answer this week, which means I get to pick something from my own collection. If you enjoyed the medieval recipes I shared last spring, you should find these classical Greek and Roman reconstructions interesting too.

Cheese and sesame sweatmeats
(Globi, from Philoxenus and Cato)
1.25 c. milk
2 Tbsp. semolina
3 Tbsp. honey (divided)
4 oz. ricotta cheese
.75 c. lightly roasted sesame seeds (divided)
olive or vegetable oil for deep-frying
Bring the milk to a boil and sprinkle the semolina over it, stirring constantly. Cook briefly but do not let it burn. Allow to cool slightly, stirring occasionally, until it forms a firm paste. Add 1 Tbsp. honey and the cheese; mix well and stir in the sesame seeds. Heat oil in a deep-fryer or saucepan until a little of the mixture dropped into the oil rises and begins to color. Form mixture into balls between two spoons and drop into the oil 2-3 at a time. Turn occasionally until they are golden-brown on all sides; lift from the oil and drain on paper towels. Warm the remaining honey and toss the cooked balls in it, then in the remaining sesame seeds. May be served hot or cold.

Garlic cheese
(Moretum, from a poem attributed to Virgil)
2 bulbs garlic (very roughly, 15-25 cloves)
8 oz. Pecorino Romano cheese
1 large handful cilantro
2 tsp. chopped fresh rue
2 heaped tsp. chopped fresh celery leaf
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
Peel and roughly chop the garlic and herbs; grate the cheese. If you are grinding by hand, start with the garlic and salt and break it down to a pulp, then add the cheese and herbs. When you have a smooth mixture add the liquids and mix well. If you are using a food processor, process all the solid ingredients into a smooth mixture, then add the liquids. Chill. Serve with a crusty loaf as a snack.

Both recipes this week are from: The classical cookbook / Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger. J. Paul Getty Museum, c1996.

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Newsletters: 24 Aug 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 24 Aug 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the belly
Tomatoes are native to central America and were cultivated by the Aztecs. They belong to the nightshade family, which also includes chili peppers, potatoes, and eggplants. This may be why people in some places and times have been leery of eating them. Tomatoes are rich in vitamins A, C, and K, potassium, manganese, and the anti-oxidant lycopene, which gives them their red color. Other flavinoid compounds in tomatoes are good for the eyes. Tomatoes are also helpful against urinary tract infections, skin ailments, diabetes, thrombosis (blood clots), inflammation, and hypertension. Cooking tomatoes actually makes the lycopene more accessible, especially when eaten with a little fat or oil — so it could be argued that spaghetti is a health food (I’ll take any excuse I can get).

In the kitchen
With much less fanfare than the carrots, apricots, and blueberries, the humble cabbage has arrived at the market. As far as I’m concerned, the only thing to do with cabbage is shred it and fry it up in bacon fat, but many people prefer to make it into cole slaw or sauerkraut.

Sweet and sour cole slaw
6 c (1 lb.) red or green cabbage, shredded
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt or 1 tsp. table salt
1/4 tsp. celery seed
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 c rice wine vinegar (use cider vinegar if making ahead)
pepper to taste
Toss all ingredients but oil, vinegar, and pepper; let stand in a colander 1-4 hours, until cabbage wilts. Discard drained liquid and remove to bowl; add oil and vinegar and toss to coat. Season to taste. May be refrigerated, covered, up to 2 days.
Variation: add 1 tsp. curry powder, 1 peeled, chopped apple, and 1/4 c raisins with the oil and vinegar.
From: The best recipe / by the editors of Cook’s illustrated. Boston Common Press, c1999.

Mixed pickles (aka Compost)
2 lb. mixed parsley roots, carrots, radishes, turnips, peeled, thinly sliced
1 lb. white cabbage, cored and shredded
1 lb. hard eating pears, peeled, cored, and chopped
6 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. saffron strands
2 c white wine vinegar, divided
2 oz. currants
2.5 c fruity white wine
6 Tbsp. clear honey
1 tsp. French mustard
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. anise seed
1/4 tsp. fennel seed
2 oz. white sugar
Slowly bring root vegetables and cabbage to a boil in a large pan of water; add pears. Cook until pears start to soften; drain and spread in a 2-inch layer in a shallow, non-metallic dish. Sprinkle with salt, ginger, saffron, and 4 Tbsp. vinegar. Cover and let sit 12 hours. Rinse well and add currants. Pack into sterilized jars, leaving at least 1 inch headspace. Bring wine and honey to a simmer; skim. Add remaining ingredients, including the rest of the vinegar. Reduce heat and stir without boiling until sugar dissolves. Return to a boil and pour over vegetables, covering them by 1/2 inch. Cover with vinegar-proof seals.
From: The medieval cookbook / Maggie Black. British Museum Press, c1992.

Cabbage the Athenian way
1 small white cabbage, finely sliced, washed, drained
2 heaped tsp. chopped fresh green coriander in oil
2 tsp. chopped fresh or dried rue
3 Tbsp. honey vinegar
2 pinches asafoetida powder
salt
Toss cabbage with coriander, rue, and honey vinegar. Sprinkle with asafeotida powder and salt.

Honey vinegar
1/2 c honey
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Bring honey to a boil and skim. Add vinegar; continue boiling until it reduces a little.
From: The classical cookbook / Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger. J. Paul Getty Museum, c1996.

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Newsletters: 29 June, 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 29 June, 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the belly
Fresh strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin c (1 cup supplies 140% of the RDA), fiber, folate and potassium. They have been linked with lower blood pressure and may help against cancer, memory loss, diabetes, gout, constipation, and sluggish liver. They contain flavinoids that help cholestrol from damaging artery walls, and antioxidants that also have anti-inflamatory properties. They’re even good for the eyes. The Romans acknowledged the medicinal properties of strawberries, and Native Americans treated digestive complaints with strawberry leaf tea.

Although strawberries have been eaten in Europe since ancient times, the modern commercial strawberry is a mix of varieties from the Americas and Europe. Defining “berry” popularly, the strawberry is the world’s most popular berry (defined technically, the banana is the most popular, and strawberries aren’t really berries at all).

You can find more info at World’s Healthiest Foods and Organic facts.net.

In the kitchen
As I promised (or threatened) last week, I checked Dalby and Grainger for pea recipes, but they only give one. However, I found two medieval recipes in good ol’ Pleyn Delit, so you still get historic pea recipes this week.

Vitellian peas
8 oz. marrowfat or other dried peas, or substitute 1 lb. fresh fava beans
3/4 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
2 tsp. chopped lovage or celery leaves
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 egg yolks, cooked
3 Tbsp. honey (+ more to taste)
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
2/3 c white wine
1/3 c white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Soak peas overnight in cold water, strain, and cover again with cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, 1 to 1.5 hours, adding more water if needed. Drain and beat (or puree in a food processer) until smooth. If using broad beans, boil 4-6 min., until tender, drain and puree. Pound ginger, lovage, and pepper in a mortar. Add egg yolks and pound until a smooth paste forms. Stir in honey and fish sauce until smooth. Flush out the mortar into a saucepan with the wine and vinegar; add oil and simmer gently for a few minutes. Add the peas and reheat. Add more honey if desired.
From: The classical cookbook / Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger. J. Paul Getty Museum, c1996.

Grene pesen (Green peas)
3 lb fresh shelled peas, or 20 oz. frozen peas
1 c beef broth
2 sprigs parsley
a few leaves of fresh mint, or 1/2 tsp. dried
1-2 fresh sage leaves (1/8 to 1/4 tsp. dried)
sprig of savory (1/8 to 1/4 tsp. dried)
1 slice bread, crusts removed
Boil peas about 12 min until almost done (less for frozen). Blend herbs and bread with enough broth to moisten. Drain peas and add about 1/2 c to the herbs; blend into a smooth, fairly thick sauce, adding more broth as needed. Gently reheat remaining peas in this sauce

Pois en cosse (Peasecods)
2 lb. young peas in the pod, untrimmed
2 Tbsp butter
salt to taste
Boil peapods in salted water 10-15 min., until done. Stir in butter and serve.
From: Pleyn delit : medieval cookery for modern cooks / Constance B. Hieatt, Brenda Hosington, and Sharon Butler. University of Toronto Press, c1996.

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Newsletters: 1 June, 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 1 June, 2011 (there were earlier ones, but this is the first to include non-market information and recipes). View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the flesh
Raw rhubarb is a good source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, mandanese, and vitamins c and K. It is a traditional remedy for indigestion, and has been linked to lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It also has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties. Some claim that regular doses of rhubarb extract will diminish hot flashes.

Rhubarb is related to buckwheat, thrives in cold climates, and is native to western China, Tibet, Mongolia, and Siberia. Look for deep red stalks, which will be sweeter and richer, that have been pulled rather than cut; but whatever you do, don’t eat the leaves!

In the kitchen
There’s something about spring and beginnings that makes me want to play with historic recipes. Here are some comparatively recent ones I found in the historic cookbooks at the State Library (yes, they’re still open to the general public, at least for now…).

Rhubarb Conserve
1 lb. rhubarb, washed and sliced
2 c sugar
1/2 c raisins
Juice and grated peel of 1 lemon or 1/2 orange
Sprinkle rhubrab with sugar. Mix with remaining ingredients and let stand a half hour to draw the juice. Bring slowly to boiling and simmer until thick, about 1/2 hour. Let cool and seal.
From: 28 delicious ways to serve Sumner hot-house rhubarb. Sumner Rhubarb Growers Association, [1930]

Chili butter
1 Tbsp. chili sauce
2 Tbsp. butter
toast round
thin slice liver sausage
paprika
Mix chili sauce and butter. Spread on toast round, top with liver sausage, and sprinkle with paprika.
From: Yum-yum recipes. Compiled and pub. by the Tonasket Civic League, 1938.

Lettuce cocktail
1 crisp head lettuce, cut fine with scissors
4 Tbsp catsup
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
4 hard boiled eggs, shredded
4 Tbsp. vinegar
3 Tbsp. sugar
4 small onions, shredded
salt to taste
Mix lettuce, eggs, and onions. Melt butter and allow to cool; add catsup, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, vinegar, and salt. To serve, pour sauce mixture over lettuce mixture and chill in cocktail glasses.
From: Yum-yum recipes. Compiled and pub. by the Tonasket Civic League, 1938.

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Newsletters: 2 June, 2010

Partly for fun and partly to avoid work, I thought it would be interesting to republish the less ephemeral bits of some old newsletters. Besides, why should recycling be limited to stuff? In an attempt to retain some seasonality here, I’ll be posting them at what I calculate to be the opposite time of year as the original post — so if this blog turns out to have any readers in the southern hemisphere (and if there is anyone, please drop me a line to say hi and make my day, I’m at TTCFMweb[“at” sign]gmail.com), they should be just about in the right season for you.

Some of the recipes will have already been posted here once, but they’re on a different context here. Besides, as I already mentioned, I’m avoiding work this winter.

Oh, and please be assured, I will be writing new posts this winter as topics occur to me (or are suggested by readers, hint, hint), so there will be some fresh info showing up as well.

So here we go. Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 1 June, 2011 (there were earlier ones, but this is the first to include non-market information and recipes). View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

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I got rushed and forgot to put [a recipe] in last week, so I’ll send two this week. They’re from Pleyn delit, a classic book of medieval recipes interpreted for the modern cook. The first is fifteenth century English; no date is given for the second, Middle Eastern one. Enjoy!

Buttered Wortes (buttered greens)
2-3 lbs beet greens, spinach, or other greens, plus some parsley
2-3 leeks
2 Tbsp (or more) butter
4-6 slices bread, diced and lightly toasted
Blanch greens and leeks in a large pot of boiling, salted water for 3-4 minutes, no longer. Drain in a colander; squeeze out excess water with a potato masher or broad spoon, then chop roughly by running a knife through the mass in the colander. Combine with butter and 1/2 cup fresh water in a pan; stir, cover, and leave over very low heat for another five minutes. Salt to taste and serve mixed with the bread cubes.

Isfanakh Mutajjan (fried spinach)
2 lbs fresh spinach, washed and trimmed
2-3 Tbsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp salt
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tsp)
1/4 tsp each ground cumin and coriander
pinch ground cinnamon
Parboil the spinach in a large pot of salted water for 2-4 minutes. Press out excess water and chop the spinach roughly. Stir-fry in the oil until fragrant, adding the spices towards the end; or put in a heavy saucepan or casserole with the oil and spices, stir, and leave to cook over very low heat another 10-15 minutes; or cook, covered, in a low oven 15-20 minutes (or microwave 3-4 minutes if that doesn’t seem too weird).

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Spiced grape juice

3-4 lbs. white grapes, or a combination of white, red, and purple grapes*
water as needed
generous 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick
4 cloves
1/4-inch piece of long pepper**
dash nutmeg
9 cardamom seeds
1/4 tsp. grains of paradise**
1/4 tsp. chopped ginger

Wash and stem grapes. Place in a kettle and add enough water to keep grapes from burning. Slowly heat grapes, occasionally mashing and stirring, until they start to simmer. Simmer grapes (still mashing and stirring occasionally) until soft and starting to burst, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a jelly bag or several layers of cheesecloth and let juice drain into a kettle or bowl (I have found that cheesecloth laid over a steamer basket fitted into a good-sized kettle works well). Leave to drip several hours, then squeeze bag or cheesecloth to express any remaining juice. Discard skins and chill juice at least 24 hours to allow lees to settle.

Pour off juice, either being careful not to disturb sediment or filtering through a coffee filter. Adjust the amount to about 750 ml. (3-3 1/4 cups). Place all spices except ginger in a mortar and grind coarsely; add to juice along with ginger. Return juice to refrigerator and let sit; taste just before bedtime and make any adjustments in spices you think necessary (remembering that spices will grow stronger); add sugar or honey if you want (not recommended); let sit at least overnight. At this point it’s ready to drink.

If you’ve made enough to can, strain juice through another coffee filter, a tea towel or similar cloth (remembering that the juice will stain), or a layer or two of good-quality paper towels to remove spices. Bring juice to a boil and pour into sterilized jars, leaving at least 1/4-inch headspace. Process in boiling water 5 minutes for quarts or smaller. If you can this in jelly jars, you have nice individual drinks that don’t have to be refrigerated, although you’ll want to pack a can opener in that lunch.

Adapted from: To the king’s taste / Lorna J. Sass, in an attempt to mimic the muste served at the Bors Hede.

Juicing and canning instructions from the National Center for Home Food Preservation

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*It is possible to use bottled grape juice for this recipe, but juice from concentrate is significantly sweeter than juice that has never been concentrated — so much so that I cannot recommend it. If you can find bottled juice that is a mix of from-concentrate and never-concentrated, you can try adjusting the sweetness by adding the acid blend used in winemaking (I have not had good results from trying this with juice that is all from concentrate, however).

**Try Buck’s or Penzey’s for the more unusual spices; grains of paradise can sometimes also be found among brewing and winemaking supplies.

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Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.