The Caer Galen Cooks Corner, with your host Alexandre d'Avigné


In Hot Water with Alexandre

Hey there, campers. First off today we get the terminology rant.

I hate the word "Feastocrat" it is an abomination and should be stamped out. Furthermore, it doesn't even really mean what people think it means. Feastocrat; rule by feasts. Not ruler of feasts any more than an autocrat is a ruler of cars. There are so many words that we could use instead. Cook. Cook is a good word. Head Cook. Chef. Head Chef. You get the idea. Abolish the F word. Thank you for reading, I feel better now.

Moving along, let's have a quick recap. Cooks Corner one was a basic menu plan, and number two was a couple of recipes and a really basic practically useless budget. We need a better budget. To get that we need better recipes. So, back to the menu.

Course one. We've already got our brawne and mustard, so next on the list is custarde, which I decided to make as a spinach pie. Looking at the "Booke of Cokerye" I find,

Take Spynage and perboyle it tender, then take it up and wrynge oute the water cleane, and chop it very small, and set it upon the fyre wyth swete butter in a frying panne and season it, and set it in a platter to coole then fyll your tarte and so bake it."

Sounds easy. I'm not sure. This one I want to try. The part that looks odd is the baking it. Will it hold together with only butter and spinach? It might after baking. Oh, well. I'd use frozen chopped spinach and for "season it" salt, pepper, maybe some garlic.

Next! Roast Capons in wine sauce, over soppes. This could be fun. For soppes I've found that grabbing the big round shepherds loaves and slicing them bottom and then toasting makes good trenchers. For sops, though, probably something smaller and more manageable will do. Toast it and arrange it around the edges of the chicken and sauce.

Roast chickens are easy, any old cookbook will tell you how to do that, just watch the spices. So we need a wine sauce. Harrumph. How do you like that? The "Boke" gives us the item in a menu but doesn't give us a recipe. What to do, what to do? I know, let's ask Hugh Plat! Blast! Hugh strikes out. What to do now. Try Kenelme Digbie! Why, because he's next to Hugh in my book, that's why. Nope, nothing in the index, despair! Wait. "To souce turkeys", sounds close, let's try it. A quick perusal shows that it is not exactly roast capons in wine sauce, but, you know, it looks pretty good, and, well, we didn't really have our hearts set on the first idea, did we?

"To souce turkeys"
Take a good fat Turkey or two; dress them clean and bone them; then tye them up in the manner of Sturgeon with some thing clean washed. Take your kettle, and put into it a pottle of good White-wine, a quart of water, and a quart of Vinegar; make it boil, and season it with Salt pretty well. Then put in your Turkeys, and let them boil till they be very tender. When they are enough boiled, take them out, and taste the Liquor; if it be not sharp enough, put more Vinegar, and let it boil a little; then put it in an earthen pot, that will hold both Turkeys. When it is cold enough,and the Turkeys through-cold, put them into the Liquor in the Pot, and be sure they be quite covered with the Liquor; Let them lye in it three weeks or a month; Then serve it to the table, with Fennel on it,and eat with elder Vinegar. You may do a Capon or two together in the same manner:"

Well, damn. That'll teach me to read the recipe all the way through. I don't want to pickle Turkeys, although it sounds interesting I don't want to experiment with this recipe on a feast. Note that, since this is a walk through my method, you get to see the warts and all. The fact that I typed in a useless recipe is a wart. Oh, well. Bag it and move along. Wine, of course, let's look in a French book.

You can't tell, of course, but I've been gone for over week. But I have the other book now. Ah, a whole section on Sauces in Le Menagier de Paris. Strike out! There and in a bunch of other places. So we have two choices: 1) bag the wine sauce, which is not a bad idea, or 2) improvise. There are several references to capon in wine sauce, so it must be fairly standard. Looking over the various recipes, one also finds that wine sauces tend to be similar. So, we could just improvise one of, say, equal parts wine and vinegar, with ginger and pepper mostly, and let it simmer. That seems to be fairly standard and sounds pretty good. We could thicken it with breadcrumbs (which I've never gotten quite right), to make it more of a gravy.

Next on the list is "Roast Beef with pepper and vinegar sauce, more soppes." Again, the roast beef part is easy. Having been all over hell and gone looking for sauce recipes, at this point I am inclined to say, let's do this for the bloody sauces:

Let's take the improvised sauce from above, reduce the ginger add more pepper and serve it with the beef. Let's take this random German recipe I found in "Daz Buoch von Guoter Spise" and use it for the chicken. It reads:

A good sauce
Take wine and honey. Set that on the fire and let it boil. And add thereto pounded ginger more than pepper. Pound garlic, but not, all too much, and make it strong and give it impetus with eggwhites. Let it boil until it becomes brown. One should eat this in cold weather and it is called Swallenberg sauce.

So, I'd say, oh, two to one, wine to honey to start and a hefty helping of ginger. I'd also probably add quite a bit of garlic, but that's just me. Some lightly beaten eggwhites, probably warmed before adding should thicken it a bit.

A final note on sauces: not everyone will like them, so serve them in separate dishes when possible. Furthermore, do not add gratuitous fat to them. Try to keep them as vegetarian as possible to provide some flexibility.

Next time, hmm, on to the second course I think.

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Comments are welcome.
Alexandre Lerot d'Avigné, Jeff Berry,

Copyright Jeff Berry
Originally webbed 4/25/94
Last modified 3/5/98