Once again it's time for . . .
This episode again entitled Alexandre in Hot Water
Well, friends, the last four columns have been a great deal of fun (at least for me), but the astute observer will note that tended towards the vague and theoretical. A phone call from the 12th Night Autocrat reminded me of my nominal purpose. Or, to put it another way, reality suddenly intruded.
This is not all bad, as it does remind us that we do live in the real world, and as Cooks we shall be forced to deal with things like this.
The chat was most illuminating, and resulted in a modified menu!
Course One (Mini course 1) Below the Salt: Brawne and mustarde A Tarte of Spinage Chicken Pies A starch to be named later and a first round draft pick. Above the Salt adds: A Tarte of Artichokes Roast Capons in wine sauce, over soppes. Course One (Mini course 2) Below the Salt: Roast beef with pepper and vinegar sauce, more soppes Leche Above the Salt adds: mutton pies Course Two Below the Salt: Game hens with various sauces A few game meats Quiche with onions and maybe peas Above the Salt adds: Salmon More game meats For dessert: Apple Fritters GingerbreadThe discerning reader will note that we are now short recipes for:
Salmon will be easy enough, for me at least. Let me digress a bit. Thanks. I am a firm believer in the theory that you should not cook stuff you don't like, since you won't be able to tell if it is working properly. Therefore, I don't cook fish. The autocrat wants fish and, knowing this quirk of mine, has offered forward a recipe. Thus, as far as I am concerned, that part of the menu is done.
A Tarte of Artichokes. I served this once at a feast and it went over tolerably well. Of course, I no longer have any idea as to where I got the recipe (it was out of a period cookbook, though, you may rest assured!) Let's glance about and see what there is to see. Hmm, no luck. I'll try again when I get home.
Well, since I'm working against a deadline, let's take a whack at gingerbread. Hugh Plat to the rescue with two recipes!
22. To make Ginger-bread
Take three stale Manchets, and grate them: dry them and sift them thorow a fine seive: then adde unto them once ounce of Ginger being beaten, and as much Cinamon, one ounce of Liquorice and Anniseeds being beaten together, and searced, halfe a pound of sugar; then boil all those together in a posnet, with a quart of claret wine, till they come to a stiff paste with often stirring of it; and when it is stiffe, mould it on a table, and so driue it thin, and put it in our moulds: dust your moulds with Cinamon, Ginger, and Liquorice, being mixed together in fine powder. This is your Ginger-bread vsed at the Court, and in all Gentlemens houses at festival times. It is otherwise called dry Leach.
23. To make dry Ginger-bread
Take half a pound of Almonds, and as much grated cake, and a pound of fine sugar, and the yolks of two new laid eggs, the iuice of a lemmon, and two grains of musk: beat all these together til they come to a paste: then print it with your moulds: and so dry it vpon papers in an ouen, after your bread is drawn.
I think that I favor the second recipe. So let's take a look. Almonds, I think ground would work best, but slivers would probably be ok. Anything larger wouldn't beat together very well. Grated cake. Given the amount of sugar already going in, I think we must be talking about some sort of plain cake. I would advise just making a simple cake and letting it dry. Digby provides several recipes, most of which are flower, sugar, salt, cream, butter, eggs, spices. Eggs and lemon are obvious. Musk, my dictionary says, is either actual musk or any of a number of herbs with a similar aroma. I trust it is the latter. Being something at a loss as to where to find such things I imagine I will do without.
Well, that's all the time for today. Next time, some more recipes and results of another taste test or two.