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 Dish of the Day

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Vizzer
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 29 May 2016 - 14:34

Oak Apple Day is one of those dates the marking of which seems to have fallen by the wayside in England and in our own lifetimes too. I remember in about 1982 spending a pleasant afternoon with friends in the village of Marholm (Soke of Peterborough) where the pub and green were decked out in bunting and garlands and with some people dressed up in 17th century clothing.

No apple pie for pudding today, though, because a) it's too early in the season (except for last year's Bramley's maybe)* and b) the 'oak apple' isn't a fruit at all but is a wasp lava's gall which, incidentally, was a main ingredient of ink for a couple of thousand years and, therefore, central to the development of human education and communication.

*Co-incidentally Oak Apple Day was removed from the list of public holidays in 1859 at precisely the same time that Henry Merryweather was developing the Bramley apple cultivar which would first go on sale in the 1860s. The name 'Bramley' is perhaps the least deserving of the various candidates for the naming of that apple. Matthew Bramley was merely the owner of the tree from which Merryweather had taken cuttings. The apples could conceivably be called 'Merryweathers'. Or better still they could be called 'Brailsfords' or 'Mary Anns' after Mary Ann Brailsford the girl who originally planted the pips and tended the seedlings in 1809.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 29 May 2016 - 22:25

Vizzer wrote:
Oak Apple Day is one of those dates the marking of which seems to have fallen by the wayside in England and in our own lifetimes too. I remember in about 1982 spending a pleasant afternoon with friends in the village of Marholm (Soke of Peterborough) where the pub and green were decked out in bunting and garlands and with some people dressed up in 17th century clothing.

No apple pie for pudding today, though, because a) it's too early in the season (except for last year's Bramley's maybe)* and b) the 'oak apple' isn't a fruit at all but is a wasp lava's gall which, incidentally, was a main ingredient of ink for a couple of thousand years and, therefore, central to the development of human education and communication.

*Co-incidentally Oak Apple Day was removed from the list of public holidays in 1859 at precisely the same time that Henry Merryweather was developing the Bramley apple cultivar which would first go on sale in the 1860s. The name 'Bramley' is perhaps the least deserving of the various candidates for the naming of that apple. Matthew Bramley was merely the owner of the tree from which Merryweather had taken cuttings. The apples could conceivably be called 'Merryweathers'. Or better still they could be called 'Brailsfords' or 'Mary Anns' after Mary Ann Brailsford the girl who originally planted the pips and tended the seedlings in 1809.


 Vizzer,

as usual the "Continentals" don't know a lot of British history. So I did a quick research...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonagold
In Belgium my preferred "eating" apple is the "Jonagold" and it is Always on the market in big quantities while I suppose it is a Belgian product...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oak_apple
And from this wiki:
"Oak Apple Day (or Royal Oak Day) is a former public holiday in England on 29 May that commemorated the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. The popular name refers to the event during the English Civil War when Charles hid in an oak tree. The commemoration persists in some areas today, although festivities have little to do with the Restoration."

"*Co-incidentally Oak Apple Day was removed from the list of public holidays in 1859 at precisely the same time that Henry Merryweather was developing the Bramley apple cultivar which would first go on sale in the 1860s. The name 'Bramley' is perhaps the least deserving of the various candidates for the naming of that apple. Matthew Bramley was merely the owner of the tree from which Merryweather had taken cuttings. The apples could conceivably be called 'Merryweathers'. Or better still they could be called 'Brailsfords' or 'Mary Anns' after Mary Ann Brailsford the girl who originally planted the pips and tended the seedlings in 1809."

Never heard from the "Bramley" apple
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bramley_apple
But the wiki didn't say on the first sight that it is a sour apple only for consumption in preparations?
http://www.orangepippin.com/apples/bramley

My preferred "eating" apple on the Belgian market is "Jonagold" and it is most available on the market while I suppose it is Belgian product.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonagold

But if it is available I prefer even the Jonagored while it isa bit sharper in taste than the Jonagold.
http://www.tilkensfruit.be/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=87&Itemid=69&lang=en
And this site contrary to wiki who said about the Jonagold that it came from the US:
"The Jonagored is a colour mutation of the apple cultivar Jonagold, discovered by the Belgian arboriculturist Jos Morren from Halen in Limburg. He discovered this variety by chance after one branch in his orchard produced particularly red apples."
BTW they all said to me till now that Jonagold was a Belgian invention... Wink
http://www.devosgroup.be/en/producten-appels

And a general link on apples:
http://www.frutas-hortalizas.com/Fruits/Types-varieties-Apple.html

Your friend, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Mon 30 May 2016 - 1:27

PaulRyckier wrote:
Never heard from the "Bramley" apple ... it is a sour apple only for consumption in preparations?

Hello Paul

yes - the Bramley is sometimes referred to simply as 'the cooking apple'. It is indeed very sour. You really wouldn't want to eat one raw for pleasure. As an aside (and in something of a role reversal) Irish growers have adopted the English Bramley and taken its sourness to a even higher level. So much so in fact that Ulster's 'Armagh Bramley' now has protected geographical indication status as produce.

Quote :
as usual the "Continentals" don't know a lot of British history.

This is slightly ironic because Charles II and his younger brother James, Duke of York actually spent much of their exile in the 1650s in Breda in northern Brabant, then part of the Spanish Netherlands.

P.S. I'm not familiar with the Jonagold or the Jonagored varieties. Most of our imported apples tend to come from France, Holland, America, Chile, South Africa and New Zealand. Strangely (as despite being located between France and Holland) very little Belgian fruit seems to come our way. But I'll try and look out for them.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Mon 30 May 2016 - 18:33

Thanks for the explanations and the comments, Vizzer.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 2 Jun 2016 - 19:59

2 June 1953 - The Coronation of Elizabeth II.

With strict food rationing and austerity still in place for the British population, the coronation banquent could hardly be a sumptuous feast. The result therefore was suitably lean and austere, but it included a (now) well-known and memorable dish, 'Coronation Chicken'. Originally intended as a salad dish to be served with watercress, lettuce, or cold rice, it is mostly known these days as a standard lunch-time sandwich-filler. 

As a Buckingham Palace Press Statement of 25 May 2003 explains: "Coronation Chicken was invented for the foreign guests who were to be entertained after the Coronation. The food had to be prepared in advance, and Constance Spry, who also helped with floral arrangements on the day, proposed a recipe of cold chicken in a curry cream sauce with a well-seasoned dressed salad of rice, green peas and mixed herbs. Constance Spry's recipe won the approval of the Minister of Works and has since been known as 'Coronation Chicken'."

Constance Spry's recipe was not published until 1956. The original calls for grilled chicken pieces in a sauce of puréed fried onions with curry paste, tomato puree, red wine, bay, lemon juice and apricot puree folded into whipped cream and mayonnaise, served chilled as a salad with watercress.

Here's the first published recipe, as given in the 'Constance Spry Cookery Book' (1956):

CORONATION CHICKEN

Ingredients (serves eight):
2.3kg (5lb) chicken
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small, finely chopped onion
1 tbsp curry paste
1 tbsp tomato puree
100ml red wine
1 bay leaf
½ lemon juice
4 finely chopped apricot halves
300ml (½ pint) Mayonnaise
100ml (4 fl oz) whipping cream
Salt and pepper
Watercress to garnish

Instructions:
Skin the chicken and cut into small pieces and grill it until cooked.
In a small saucepan, heat the oil, add the onion and cook for about three minutes, until softened.
Add the curry paste, tomato puree, wine, bay leaf and lemon juice.
Simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes until well reduced.
Strain and leave to cool.
Puree the chopped apricot halves in a blender or food processor or through a sieve.
Beat the cooled sauce into the mayonnaise with the apricot puree.
Whip the cream to stiff peaks and fold into the mixture.
Season, adding a little extra lemon juice if necessary.
Fold in the chicken pieces, garnish with watercress and serve.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 8 Jun 2016 - 19:56

A day late, sorry, and a bit brief ... but,

7 June 1867 - the banquet of the Three Emperors. Tsar Alexander II, the Tsarevich (the future Alexander III), and Kaiser Wilhelm I of Prussia, accompanied by Prince Otto von Bismarck dined at the Café Anglais, whilst they were all in Paris for the Universal Exposition (the 1867 World Fair).

The whole point of the event, from the point of view of the host (the German Kaiser) was that absolutely no expense was spared.

Accordingly the resulting menu was:
 
Potages:

Impératrice
Fontanges
Releves:

Souffle à la Reine
Filets de Sole a la Venitienne
Escalope de Turbot au Gratin
Selle de Mouton Purée Bretonne
Poulet à la Portugaise

Entrees:

Pâté Chaud de Cailles
Homards à la Parisienne
Sorbets au Champagne
Canetons a la Rouennaise

Rôts:

Ortolans sur Canape
Aubergines à l'Espagnole

Entremets:

Asperges en Branches
Cassolette Princesse
Bombe Glacée

VINS:
Madere Retour de l'Inde 1810
Xeres Retour de l'Inde 1821
Châteaux d'Yquem 1847
Chambertin 1846
Châteaux Margaux 1847
Châteaux Lafite 1848


Needless to say these are all very, very classy, time-consuming and expensive dishes. The wine list also is to die for. The cost per person has been estimated at about €8,000 at today's prices although it is difficult to calculate as some ingredients, for example the ortolans, are no longer, at least not legally, available. The whole banquet apparently lasted about eight hours. The dishes on the menu are all from the classic French repertoire, and for most of them, the recipes can be found in the Larousse Gastronomique. Should you want to mark the day with a bit of fancy cookery, one of the simplest dishes, and the only eponymous dish mentioned, is the Potage Fontanges. This is a soup of peas and sorrel and was named after Mlle de Fontanges, Marie Angelique de Scorailles, one of the mistresses of Louis XIV.

From Larousse:
 
Potage Fontanges.
Prepare 6 cups (1 ½ litres) of Purée of fresh pea soup, dilute it with a little consommé and add to it 4 tablespoons of a chiffonade
[leaves rolled up like a cigar and then cut across to make thin ribbons] of sorrel cooked in butter until soft, and some chervil leaves. This soup is sometimes thickened with a liaison of yolks and cream.

I would love to expound upon the Tsar's fear of the assassin's bomb, the Bombe Surprise served, the special anti-assassin champagne bottles, and the 'complaint' about the foie gras .... but alas I have no time as I have to cook for my own guests.

Although ce soir they're only getting Poulet Catalan à la Maison.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Tue 14 Jun 2016 - 13:51

14 June 1800 - The Battle of Marengo, and so today's dish is Chicken Marengo.

According to the popular story, this dish was first made after Napoleon defeated the Austrian army at the Battle of Marengo south of Turin, when his chef, Dunand, foraged in the town for ingredients (because the supply wagons had not kept up with the army). Dunand created the dish from what he had managed to gather: a chicken, a few eggs, some crayfish, tomatoes, bread and olive oil, to which he supposedly added the crumbs of broken biscuit from his own haversack and the last drops of brandy from his flask. According to legend Napoleon enjoyed the dish so much he had it served to him after every battle, and when Dunand was later better-supplied and substituted mushrooms for the crayfish and added wine to the recipe, Napoleon refused to accept it, believing that a change would bring him bad luck.

This colourful tale, however, is almost entirely myth. Dunand did not enter Napoleon’s service until a year later: in 1800 he was working as a private cook in Russia. It has also been pointed out that tomatoes would probably not have been in season in northern Italy in June, and that the local cuisine tended to cook with butter, so olive oil would not have been a common local ingredient. Furthermore it is actually known what Napoleon ate on the evening after the battle of Marengo. That night he dined, most sumptuously, in the company of his senior officers, on supplies from a local monastery, the Convento del Bosco, after General Kellermann with a squad of cavalry, had persuaded the abbot to "donate" the entire contents of his monastic cellars and larders. When Kellermann belatedly arrived back in camp he was apparently less than pleased to find that all the fine food that he had intended for his own supper had been hijacked by Napoleon’s aides de camp.

But here the story gets even more convoluted. Napoleon, who of course was originally Corsican, was indeed partial to typically Mediterranean style, chicken-seafood-tomato dishes, along the lines of chicken provençale or paella (this is well recorded). After entering his service in 1801 Dunand accompanied Napoleon on the invasion of Russia and it seems that on the eve of the battle of Austerlitz (1805) problems of food supply did mean that Dunand was unable to serve up the Emperor’s usual comfort food: his so-called "lucky" dish. On the plains of central Europe it is indeed highly likely that Dunand had been forced to substitute mushrooms for the crayfish and red wine for the tomato sauce, but nevertheless he was duly chastised and humiliated for this failing. The tale that Dunand cobbled together - not then but in embroidered hindsight some years later - is the popular story of Chicken Marengo, and it is this version, probably further enriched with each retelling, that he eventually told to his buddy, the famous chef Marie-Antoine Carême, when they were both living in Paris during the 1820s. This is almost certainly how the story got to be recorded in the 'Larousse Gastronomique' (although Carême had already noted the impossibility of Dunand being present in Italy in 1800). The first published recipe for the dish was written by Carême himself and interestingly this version does substitute mushrooms for the crayfish, probably because Carême thought this was a more "classically French" combination of flavours (although in other recipes he was himself guilty of some even more bizarre combinations of ingredients).

However the "original" dish - whatever one takes that to be - may well have had the crayfish. As noted above, mixing meat and shellfish, although generally considered a bit unusual, is a feature of southern French, Provençale/Catalan cuisine, as well as that of Corsica. Combining poulty with freshwater crayfish is also a speciality of the Jura and Savoie regions on the French/Swiss border, and Dunand was in fact originally Swiss. Ironically also, it does seem likely that Napoleon probably ate chicken and crayfish after Marengo – just not in the same dish - as they are both recorded as being amongst the local delicacies that Kellermann had plundered from the monastery.

It certainly appears that Dunand did invent the dish - just not at the time and place he claimed - but he was careful to craft his apocryphal story for plausibility. The subtext here is of course that according to the classic standards of the time which defined which flavourings did, and didn't, go together, chicken marengo was a bit of an embarrassment to any self-respecting French chef. Under normal circumstances Dunand wouldn't have been caught dead serving anything so outlandish. It probably wasn’t just the somewhat incongruous combination of the chicken, whole eggs and crayfish, but also that the dish was not constructed artistically nor moulded into some pleasing neoclassical form, but rather it remained, rather too obviously, a rustic peasant dish.

But in any case it seems that at Austerlitz Napoleon demanded his familiar dish of chicken, eggs and crayfish, which he had himself associated with his victory at Marengo, and he had already made it clear that what he had in mind was something like chicken provençale with which he was familiar. Dunand, proud haute-cuisine chef that he aspired to be, was stuck with the job of making it, and faithful stewards are not in the business of disobeying imperial commands. Nevertheless Dunand had his dignity as a chef to uphold, and so it seems he told all his friends that he had improvised an amusingly eccentric dish for the emperor out of battlefield scroungings, and so they could all laugh it off as a grand joke.

As said above, many recipes for chicken Marengo of practical necessity replace the freshwater crayfish with saltwater prawns or langoustines, or even omit the crustaceans entirely and replace them with mushrooms, but then they often try to tart it up with slices of truffle, whole morilles and black olives, or shavings of proscuitto ham. It is supposed to be a bit like a paella - where again the whole spirit of the dish is to use whatever you have to hand - but to remain in keeping with the "original" I do feel that chicken Marengo really should have whole poached or fried eggs on top, and be accompanied by, or even served over, toasted or fried slices of robust pain de campagne ... certainly never with rice.



Personally I don't understand why chicken, crayfish and poached egg is thought to be an incongruous combination, but then the local paella here is usually made from rabbit, globe artichokes, sausage, mussels and ordinary garden snails.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 16 Jun 2016 - 10:20

16 June 1904 – the day in the life of the fictitious character Leopold Bloom as described in James Joyce’s 1922 novel 'Ulysses'. Accordingly today is Bloomsday.

"Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods’ roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine."

Just to get the day started how about a full Irish breakfast with some of Mr Bloom's favourite mutton kidneys? The following is taken from 'Cassell’s Dictionary of Cooking', published by Cassel, Petter & Galpin Ltd., London & NewYork, 1883:

Mutton Kidneys, Bread-crumbed. — Take three or four mutton kidneys, cut them open from the rounded part without separating them; take off the thin skin, and pass a small skewer through the points and over the back to keep them flat. Dissolve an ounce of butter in a frying-pan, dip each kidney in this, and afterwards strew some finely-grated breadcrumbs over them. Broil them over a clear fire for six minutes, three minutes each side, and dish them neatly on a hot dish. Probable cost, 3d. each. Sufficient for two or three persons. 

Or if that doesn't appeal then you can always just have a pint of Guiness.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 24 Jun 2016 - 18:40

24 June 1509 – the coronation of Henry VIII and his queen Catherine of Aragon.

Henry VII had died on 21 April and Henry VIII had married Catherine in a private ceremony at Greenwich on 11 June 1509. Catherine was 23 years of age: the king was just days short of his 18th birthday. Then two weeks later on Midsummer's Day, Sunday 24 June 1509, Henry and Catherine were anointed and crowned together in Westminster Abbey. The coronation was followed by a magnificent banquet in Westminster Hall, as recounted by the Tudor chronicler, Edward Hall:

"When the ceremony was finished, the lords spiritual and temporal paid homage to the king and, with the queen’s permission, returned to Westminster Hall – each one beneath his canopy – where the lord marshal bearing his staff of office ushered all to their seats. Each noble and lord proceeded to his allotted place arranged earlier according to seniority. The nine-piece table being set with the king’s estate seated on the right and the queen’s estate on the left, the first course of the banquet was announced with a fanfare. At the sound the duke of Buckingham entered riding a huge charger covered with richly embroidered trappings, together with the lord steward mounted on a horse decked with cloth of gold. The two of them led in the banquet which was truly sumptuous, and as well as a great number of delicacies also included unusual heraldic devices and mottoes.

How can I describe the abundance of fine and delicate fare prepared for this magnificent and lordly feast, produced both abroad and in the many and various parts of this realm to which God has granted his bounty. Or indeed the exemplary execution of the service of the meal itself, the clean handling and distribution of the food and the efficient ordering of the courses, such that no person of any estate lacked for anything."

And here they are depicted at their coronation with their personal badges: the Tudor rose over Henry and the pomegranate over Katherine:



As David Starkey says in 'Six Wives – The Queens of Henry VIII' (2003), Catherine’s choice of the pomegranate, "was a tribute to her parents' decision to add the pomegranate to the Spanish coat of arms in a punning reference to the conquest of Granada. (The wordplay does not really work in English. But it is clear in a Romance language like French, where the name of the fruit and the city is the same: grenade.) But there were other layers of meaning as well. In classical mythology the pomegranate is the symbol of Proserpina, the queen of the underworld, whose return to earth each spring heralds the reawakening of life after the death of winter. Christianity borrowed this idea, like so much else, and turned the pomegranate into a symbol of the Resurrection. Finally it represented the two, opposed aspects of female sexuality. These derived from the fruit's appearance. The outside is covered in a hard, smooth skin. But the inside (always revealed in Catherine's version of the badge by a cut in the surface of the fruit) teems with a multitude of seeds, each surrounded with succulent, blood-red jelly. The hard exterior suggested chastity; the teeming interior fertility."

Pomegranates were far from unusual in Tudor England but they were nevertheless expensive and prized mostly for their decorative ruby red fleshy seeds. In Catherine’s Spanish homeland pomegranates were much more common and, influenced by Moorish cuisine, were often used not just as an edible decoration but also for their sweet-sour juice, particularly in fancy desserts and in sauces to accompany roast meat.

The following are a couple of contemporary recipes from the 'Libre del Coch' which was first published in 1520 in Barcelona, in Catalan - a language related to, but distinct from, Spanish. The author, was given only as "Maestre Robert", who identified himself as the cook to "Ferrando, King of Naples". The book was extremely successful: in the 16th century it was republished four more times in Catalan, and ten times in Spanish. The first Spanish edition, in 1525, entitled 'Libro de Cozina', called the author Ruperto de Nola, and he has been referred to by that name ever since. However the author's identity and nationality are still matters of speculation. He may well have been Catalan, since he wrote in that language, but if "de Nola" was truly his surname then he may have been an Italian, from the city of Nola in the province of Naples. The king "Ferrando" that he claimed to have served was probably Ferrante I, King of Naples from 1458-1494. After Ferrante’s death the kingdom became the point of dispute between the King of France, Charles VIII, and Catherine of Aragon’s father, Ferdinand II of Aragon

These two recipes are both from the first 1520 edition in Catalan (the shorthand notations of the original manuscript have been expanded out in these transcriptions).

Alcero para perdius: o: gallines de ast - Ametles belles e blanques pedras e picar les has be en vn morter: e quant sien ben picades destempra les ab suc de magranes agres: e apres met enlo morter sucre poluorizat canyella e gingebre: perquela sua color e sabor vol tirar casi canyella e no la cal passar pernengun cedaç: E vet asi tot fet.

Sauce for Spit-Roast Partridges or Hens - Take fine white almonds and grind them well in a mortar. And when they are well pounded, blend with the juice of sour pomegranates. Then add to the mortar powdered sugar, cinnamon and ginger, because in the colour and flavour cinnamon should predominate. And this sauce does not need to be strained.

... and ...

Salcero de such de magranes agres - Pendras vna taça de grans de magranes agres e traune lo such molt be: e apres pendras vn fetge de gallina que sia rostit: e piquel be en vn morter ab vuyt rouells de ous e quant sia ben picat passau per estamenya e com fer a passat metra ho en vna olla o cassola de terra: e pendras tres onçes de canyella picada e destemprada ab lo dit such e metras hi quatre honçes de sucre: e apres met ho al foch sobre les brases e coga fins ques comens a espessir: e aquest such es bo per tota volotarie en loch de salsa de pago: es fet molt prest.

Thin sauce from the juice of sour pomegranates - Take a cup of the seeds of sour pomegranates and thoroughly extract the juice from them; and then take a roasted hen's liver, and grind it well in a mortar with eight egg yolks; and when it is all well-ground, strain it through a woollen cloth; and when it has been strained, put it in the pot or an earthenware casserole.  And take an ounce of cinnamon, or cast in the spice according to the quantity which you desire to make, and let it be ground and blended with the said juice; and cast four ounces of sugar on it, and then set it on a fire of coals and cook it until it begins to thicken; and this sauce is good for all fowls in place of sauce for peacock; and it is made very quickly.

As the second recipe states this is a good sauce to go with all fowls including peacock … and peacock was almost certainly on the menu at Henry and Catherine’s banquet. According to Christian mythology, derived from mangled ancient Greek/Persian legend, the peacock was a symbol of royalty, immortality (or at least long-life), rebirth, and the resurrection … so eminently suitable for a coronation banquet ("The King is dead: long live the King"). Accordingly a roast peacock was a traditional showy dish for English coronations: "pokokkys" are listed as one of the principal centrepiece dishes at the coronation banquets of Henry IV, Henry V and Henry VI … so it is a good guess that it featured on the top table for the feast for the eighth Henry. The usual way to present it was as a "peacock enhackled", that is roasted whole and then the head, skin and plumage put back onto the cooked bird.

Here’s an English 15th century recipe for roast peacock (Harleian MS. 4016, circa 1450):

Pecok rosted. Take a Pecok, breke his necke, and kutte his throte, And fle him, þe skyn and the ffethurs togidre, and the hede still to the skyn of the nekke, And kepe the skyn and the ffethurs hole togiders; drawe him as an hen, And kepe þe bone to þe necke hole, and roste him, And set the bone of the necke aboue the broche, as he was wonte to sitte a-lyve, And abowe the legges to þe body, as he was wonte to sitte a-lyve; And whan he is rosted ynowe, take him of, And lete him kele; And þen wynde the skyn wit the fethurs and the taile abought the body, And serue him forthe as he were a-live; or elleȝ pu him dry, And roste him, and serue him as þou doest a henne.


A peacock enhackled, from 'The Romance of Alexander the Great,' Paris circa 1500.

This is from a history of Alexander the Great so the lady bringing in the roast is probably supposed to be one of the wives or daughters of Darius, or maybe the Bactrian princess Roxanna. But at Henry VIII's coronation dinner the bird would never have been brought to table by a woman.

If you are having trouble getting hold of a whole peacock, the pomegranate sauce should work equally well accompanying roast pheasant, guinea-fowl or chicken. Just don’t be tempted to try putting the raw skin back onto the cooked bird.

Vivat Rex! Vivat Regina!


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 6 Jul 2016 - 13:20

6 July 1685 – The battle of Sedgemoor, the last full-pitched battle on English soil (if one discounts several skirmishes during the Jacobite rebellions), fought between James, Duke of Monmouth, the illegitimate son of Charles II, and the forces of his uncle King James II. To cut a long story short, the duke lost the battle …. and eventually his head.

The Duke of Monmouth survived the battle (throughout the brief conflict he'd stayed in the rear and had never put himself in any particular danger) and, abandoning his soldiers, immediately fled intending to try and get away back to France. But he was pursued by government forces and within a couple of days was cornered, betrayed, and eventually flushed out from his final hiding place in a muddy irrigation ditch. After two days on the run he was scruffy, hungry, and disguised in peasant clothes. His pockets were found to contain stolen peas (he'd been seen nicking them from the adjacent field), as well as his Garter Badge which did rather give him away .... as did him promptly bursting into tears and then blubbing a confession to everything. He was escorted to London for his inevitable rendez-vous with Jack Ketch, the state executioner. So one could do something along the lines of pease-pudding or pond pudding (a traditional Sussex dish). But instead I suggest that popular Victorian dessert, Monmouth pudding, despite it being named, not for the hapless duke himself but rather after the Welsh town of his titular dukedom. There is something horrifically symbolic about a pale ball of a pudding with a slash of vivid red at its base … contemprary accounts say that it took half a dozen blows of the executioner's axe to finally sever the duke’s head.

From 'Warne’s Everyday Cookery', published London, 1872:

Monmouth Pudding.
One pint of boiling milk; bread; three ounces of bread; peel and juice of one lemon; three eggs; a quarter of a pound of butter; two ounces of sugar; a little jam.
Pour the boiling milk on the bread, let it stand till tolerably cool; then add the juice and grated peel of the lemon, two ounces of sugar pounded, the eggs well beaten, and the butter dissolved; put in a layer of raspberry or strawberry jam at the bottom of a dish, pour the pudding over it, and bake it.

If you don’t fancy that delicious, although perhaps rather tasteless dish (after my comment about the duke’s demise), you could go for Sedgemoor Cakes. These are actually scone-like biscuits which are traditionally made throughout Somerset at Easter. The following recipe is from Florence White’s 1932 book, ‘Good Things in England, - A Practical Cookery Book for Everyday Use – containing traditional and regional recipes suited to modern tastes contributed by English men and women between 1399 and 1932’.

Sedgemoor Easter Cake
This was sent in by Mrs Wyatt of Huish Episcopi, near Langford on behalf of the Women’s Institute, and was exhibited at the first English Folk Cookery Exhibition, 1931.

INGEDIENTS :
Flour ½ lb; butter ¼ lb: caster sugar ¼ lb; currants ¼ lb; mixed spice ½ teaspoon; ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon: egg 1; brandy 2 tablespoons.

METHOD :
1. Rub the butter into the flour.
2. Add sugar, currants, spice and cinnamon.
3. Well beat the egg and mix with the brandy, and then mix with the dry ingredients.
4. Roll out about half an inch thick, cut in rounds, bake in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 14 Jul 2016 - 10:04

14 July 1790 – The first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, and so the occasion of the one-off Fête de la Fédération.

The violent events of the summer of 1789 are generally seen as the start of the French Revolution, and the anniversary of the overthrow of the Bastille is still remembered as France’s national day. This simplistic view however rather forgets that by the first anniversary of the celebrated storming of the Bastille, matters throughout France had largely calmed down and that Louis XVI was still on the throne, albeit as a constitutional monarch, governing through the new representative National Constituent Assembly. Indeed at this early stage of the revolution many people, both in France and abroad, considered the country's period of political struggle to be already over.

Accordingly 14 July 1790 was made the occasion of the Fête de la Fédération - a massive festival and celebration to be held throughout France, but with the biggest event taking place on the Champ de Mars just outside Paris. Here, in a hurriedly constructed stadium (largely built by voluntary labour): firstly a catholic mass was celebrated by Talleyrand, bishop of Autun; then the popular General Lafayette as captain of the National Guard of Paris took an oath to the new constitution; followed by King Louis XVI himself; and then Marie-Antoinette. After the official celebration, there followed a huge four-day popular feast … the principal stadium at the Champ de Mars alone provided free food and wine to about 100,000 people (and remember this was just one year after the bread riots that had in part prompted the civil unrest that had directly led to the assault of the Bastille).


14 July 1790, la Fête de la Fédération ..... looking rather like a 1930s Nuremburg rally.

The events of the Fête de la Fédération all passed peacefully enough and provided a powerful, if illusory, image of national unity after the divisive events of the past year. But by the second anniversary (July 1791) the King and his family were under house arrest in Paris, the National Assembly was becoming increasingly hard-line republican having been purged of those with monarchist sympathies, the clergy had been forced to swear an oath recognising the state’s authority, in all matters, to be above that of the Pope … while at the same time soldiers under the direct control of Gen. Lafayette (he was there and gave the order) had opened fire on an unarmed civillian demonstration who were petitioning for the monarchy to be abolished, on the same Champ de Mars (Le Champ de Mars Massacre du 17 juillet 1791).

And so there never got to be a second Fête de la Fédération.

Last year for dish of the day I suggested a very plebeian all-potato menu from Mme Mérigot’s cookbook ‘La Cuisinière Républicaine’ (The Republican Cook) published in 1794, by which time the revolution had moved into a more extreme phase. But for this year I propose something representative of the ancien regime … and what better cookbook to consult than ‘Le Nouveau Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois’ (which appeared in English just a few years after its initial publication with the title, ‘The Court and Country Cook’).



This weighty two-volume work was written by François Massialot and first published in 1691, but was so comprehensive and influential that long after Massialot’s death numerous reprints and revised editions continued to be produced throughout the eighteenth century. François Massialot had worked his whole life as a professional cook, principally for the royal court where the new French haute cuisine style was developed, and his popular cookbook packaged that knowledge for the bourgeois affluent upper middle class. When he wrote the first edition Massialot was cooking for Louis XIV, the Sun King, but the court was so conservative and bound in tradition that his recipes were still in regular use, unchanged,  in the days of Louis XVI.

So what to choose for today's dish amongst the many hundreds of recipes?

The French gourmet Grimod de la Reynière was 30 years old when the Bastille was stormed. He was then living in Lyon but returned to Paris in 1792 on the death of his father. Despite his known monarchist sympathies he managed to avoid the guillotine as he was liked by Danton and Robespierre … and these same influential connections also saved his mother who had actually been condemned to execution but was reprieved at the last minute. He died on Christmas Day 1837 by which time the monarchy had been restored. In about 1820, looking back on the events of the revolution with evident relief that it was finally all over, he wrote with his customary sardonic wit: “If it had lasted any longer, we might have lost the recipe for fricassée of chicken”.

And so here’s Massialot’s recipe for chicken fricassée:

Poulets en Fricasée au Vin de Champagne (translated from the French edition of ‘Le Nouveau Cuisinier Royal et Borgeois’ published by Joseph Saugrain in 1748, volume 2, page 246):

Take your chickens, gut them, and remove the skin. Cut the legs beneath the joint, and the little tips of the wings, remove the thighs, and chop where the bone meets the thigh, and remove the bone. Place the thighs in water, remove the wings and the stomach, then clean the rest of the carcasse, and cut it all around. Wash the chickens two or three times in water, and blanch them on the stove. Being blanched, place them in cold water, and clean well over a sieve or on a plate; place them in a casserole with a little melted lard and a bit of butter and a bouquet garnis, an onion stuck with two or three cloves, some small mushrooms, some truffles cut in slices, and some cockscombs seasoned with salt. Put the whole mixture in an oven, being cooked, sprinkle with flour, and pass two or three times on the stove, and moisten with a little bouillon. Boil two glasses of champagne, and put into the fricasée, and let cook on a low fire. Mix two or three egg yolks with a little veal stock, and a bit of parsley. When the fricasée is done, reduce a little, mixing the liason you have prepared with the egg yolks and veal stock. Being mixed, see that it has a good flavor, and dress properly in the plate in which you will serve it, and serve hot as an entree or hors-d’oeuvre.

Bon appétit et vive la France!


Last edited by Meles meles on Sat 23 Sep 2017 - 22:22; edited 5 times in total (Reason for editing : It's Grimod de la Reynière, not Grimond)
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 14 Jul 2016 - 12:33

Unfortunately I have been unable to find what courses and food were served for this French Revolutionary dinner which rook place at the Royal Hotel in Birmingham in 1791 and resulted in 4 days of rioting;


Priestley Riots 1791




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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 21 Jul 2016 - 13:28

21 July 1969 – "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind". As Neil Armstrong stepped onto the dusty surface he was the first person to be able to directly verify that the Moon wasn’t in fact made of green cheese.

References in English to the Moon being made of green cheese go back at least as far as the fourteenth century and mirror numerous similar fables and myths in other cultures. Many of these folklore tales include the idea of some gullible soul being fooled by the moon's reflection in water being mistaken for a round of cheese just under the surface, such as in the story of the moonraker. This tale, which dates to before 1787 (the date of Francis Grose’s 'Provincial Glossary'), goes that some local people in Wiltshire had hidden contraband barrels of French brandy from customs officers in a village pond. While trying to retrieve the barrels at night, they were caught by the revenue men, but explained themselves by pointing to the moon's reflection and saying they were trying to rake in a round cheese. The excise men,  thinking they were simple yokels laughed at them and went on their way. But, as the story goes, it was the moonrakers who had the last laugh.

The term green cheese does not refer to the colour, but to the newness of young, fresh cheese with its mottled and slightly lumpy appearance, reminiscent of the full Moon. As Andrew Boorde noted in his 'Dyetary' (1542): "Grene chese is not called grene by the reason of colour, but for the newnes of it."

Green cheese also at times refers to an inferior sort of cheese made from skim milk or whey – good whey being said to have a greenish hue. John Twamley in his dairying manual, 'Dairying Exemplified' (1784) explains at one point in his cheese-making instructions:

"When the Whey is of a white colour the Curd is not fully settled, &; if it is so to any great degree, the Cheese is sure to be sweet, and in that case you are sure to cast away a great part of what should be Cheese, for the Whey thus put away would neither turn to Butter nor Cheese, though of a considerable substance, remaining of an undigested nature; If you pursue the method I have laid down, you will always find the Whey quite green, which is the colour it ought to be of."

Finally of course, cheese can be made green by the addition of herbs. Here is a nice recipe from, of all things, an animal husbandry book with the full title of: 

THE MODERN FARRIER
OR, THE ART OF
PRESERVING THE HEALTH
AND
CURING THE DISEASES
OF
HORSES,
DOGS, OXEN, COWS, SHEEP, & SWINE.

Comprehending
A GREAT VARIETY OF
ORIGINAL AND APPROVED RECIPES;
INSTRUCTIONS IN
HUNTING, SHOOTING, COURSING, RACING &; FISHING
AND A SUMMARY OF GAME LAWS;

With an enlivening Selection of the
MOST INTERESTING SPORTING ANECDOTES.
The whole forming an invaluable and useful Companion to all Persons
concerned in the Breeding and Managing of domestic Animals

by A. Lawson, 1828

"Green cheese is made by steeping over night in a proper quantity of milk, two parts of sage with one of marigold leaves, and a little parsley after being bruised, and then mixing the curd of the milk thus greened, as it is called, with the curd of the white milk. These may be mixed irregularly or fancifully according to the pleasure of the operator. The management in other respects is the same as for common cheese. These are mostly made in Wiltshire."


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 21 Jul 2016 - 13:42

21 July 1796, Robert Burns dies in Dumfries.

A different take on Haggis;

Haggis Bhajis
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 27 Jul 2016 - 9:39

27 July 1794 (or 9 Thermidor An II according to the French Revolutionary Calendar) - The so-called Thermidor Reaction. This was a coup d’état within the French Revolution against Maximillien Robespierre and other leaders of the Jacobin Club, who had come to dominate the Committee of Public Safety.

The revolt was successful and Robespierre and several others were arrested and executed the following day, thus ending the most radical phase of the French Revolution. Within hours of the executions the Thermidorians set to work in the National Assembly to create a conservative republic, free of centralised power, rigid control, and contrived religious and state terror, which had all been the hallmarks under Robespierre and the Jacobins. But ultimately in its short 15-month life the Thermidorian regime was unpopular with most people as it failed to address their grievances or improve their lives. It lacked great leaders, had a disastrous economic policy which caused widespread food shortages, and failed to introduce any long-lasting legislation, and so it formed a sort of desultory interregnum between the Terror of Robespierre and the rise of Napoleon.


The arrest of Robespierre and other leading members of the Committee of Public Safety at the Hôtel de Ville in Paris.

There can’t be many dishes named after dates in the Revolutionary Calendar but there is Lobster Thermidor, which seems to be an eminently suitable dish of the day.

Legend has it that Napoleon I named the dish after the month in which he was first served it but that is almost certainly false. A dish of that name doesn’t appear anywhere before the 1890s, by which time Napoleon was long dead and the revolutionary calendar long since abandoned. It seems that the dish was first created - either at Maison Marie or the Café de Paris, (both famous Parisian restaurants) – in about 1880 and then some ten years later it was named in honour of Victorien Sardou’s 1891 play "Thermidor", which was indeed set against the tumultuous political events of July 1794.

The eponymous lobster dish has enjoyed a much longer popular run than the controversial play. "Thermidor" was first staged on 24 January 1891 at the Comédie-Française, followed by another performance on the 26th. But at the second performance a large group of radical Republicans had infiltrated the audience and noisily protested against Sardou’s criticism of Robespierre, disrupting the play, tearing up their seats, throwing things at the stage, and shouting threats against Sardou’s life. The performance was abandoned and eventually the police were called to restore order and clear the theatre. The government of President Carnot, already nervous of civil unrest, promptly prohibited the play from being performed in all state-funded venues, and it wasn’t performed again until 1896.

Here’s a simple version of the recipe for Lobster Thermidor, from the 1907 English edition of Auguste Escoffier’s 'The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery'.

Lobster Thermidor
Split the lobster in half lengthways, season and gently grill, then remove the flesh from the shell and cut into fairly thick slices on the slant. Place some Sauce Crème [basically a béchamel sauce thicked with egg] finished with a little English mustard in the bottom of the two half shells, replace the slices of lobster neatly on top and coat with the sauce. Glaze lightly in a hot oven or under the salamander [ie a grill].

That’s a fairly basic recipe. My 1985 Sainsburys 'The Fish Recipe Book', by Marika Hanbury Tenison (with the bargain price of 85p) adds a few drops of Worcestershire sauce, some Tabasco and a glug of medium-dry sherry to the basic sauce mix, then tops it all with some breadcrumbs and freshly grated parmesan cheese, before toasting under the grill, … but I haven’t yet had the occasion, nor the lobster, to try it out.



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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 28 Jul 2016 - 11:27

28 July 1794 - Following the events of the previous day, Maximillien Robespierre and several other leading members of the Committee of Public Safety were executed by the same guillotine to which they’d sent about 17,000 others. Robespierre himself had been shot (or had attempted suicide) during his arrest and was barely conscious as he was carried up the steps for his final appointment with "the national barber". His death marked the end of the most radical phase of the revolution, a period known simply as the Reign of Terror. Under the Thermidorian Regime émigrés started to return to France and nobles came out of hiding. Whether as catharsis or in a need to reconnect with other survivors of the Reign of Terror many of the surviving bourgeois and nobility greeted the new regime with an outbreak of excessive luxury, decadence, and even silliness. Several fashionable sub-cultures emerged.

Firstly there were the Muscadins (literally "musk-perfume wearers"), perfumed, dandyish, anti-Jacobin Parisian street gangs, formed for the most part of middle-class youths, the sons of "minor officials and small shopkeepers". Despite their foppish, even effete attire and mannerisms, these jeunesse dorée ("gilded youths") violently cleared Paris of the remaining Jacobins and sans-culottes. From them developed the more aristocratic Incroyables ("incredibles") and their female counterparts, the Merveilleuses (literally, "marvelous women", or roughly "fabulous divas") all with their eccentric costumes - the women dressed in almost transparent dresses and carrying elaborately embroidered reticules, the men with enormous lapels on their jackets, wide trousers, huge cravats, and often monocles or thick glasses - and both sexes making extravagant use of perfume and jewellery, and affecting lisps and odd mannerisms.

As the émigrés returned, restaurants and theatres reopened, and the social scene exploded in a frenzy of dinners, parties, banquets and balls. One might say that some of the old joie de vivre started to come back into Paris …. except that isn’t really an appropriate term as there was an almost universal macabre fixation with death.

The fashion of the time was for women’s hair to be very short so as to expose the back of the neck, in emulation of the cropped hair of those condemned to the guillotine. Sometimes the hair was actually cut short but more often it was brushed up and forward and secured with elaborate pins or combs. Both men and women took to wearing a ribbon around the neck (somewhat like a choker), typically in red, purple or black, in mimicry of the bloody cut of the guillotine’s blade. Popular designs for jewellery and fabrics often included motifs such as skulls, coffins and even the guillotine itself. There were also (supposedly - contemporary evidence is rather sketchy), "bals des victimes" … balls, banquets and parties to which one could only get an invite if one’s close family or friends had been executed during the Reign of Terror

      

Left: Two Muscadins (1795), carrying their "constitutions" (cudgels), by Louis Alexandre Eustache Loursay.
Right: Paris Ladies in their Winter Dress (1799), by George Cruikshank. Admitedly this is a caricature but note the almost transparent dresses, and hence the need for the reticules, exposed necks and busts, and the red neck ribbon.

One who was in his element in such an environment was the decadent gourmand, Grimod de La Reynière, who I mentioned in relation to the choice of dish for 14th July.



Alexandre-Balthazar-Laurent Grimod de La Reynière, to give his full name, was born into a wealthy Parisian family on 20 November 1758. His father, Laurent, was a bourgeois financier, while his mother, Suzanne de Jarente de Senar, was from an old aristocratic family. They lived in a very grand house on the Champs Elysées where they entertained a great deal and were judged to have one of the best tables in Paris. But Grimod was born with severely deformed hands (on which he later wore artificial prostheses) and so as a child he was generally kept at home and out of sight. Nevertheless despite this cloistered childhood, he received a good education, eventually earning a law degree from the University of Paris. He started his career as an attorney, supplementing this income by writing critical reviews of theatre productions which he published himself in a series of pamphlets called "Le Censeur Dramatique".

By his mid twenties, perhaps in rebellion at his closeted childhood, he had earned a reputation as something of a rake, and in particular had became infamous for his lavish, but outlandish and somewhat decadent, dinner parties. Once when his parents were away, he held a feast mocking bourgeois morals, and had a live pig, dressed up in his father's clothes, seated at the head of the table. His parents returned unexpectedly while the dinner was still underway and were understandably horrified … while his highly amused friends duly spread the scandal around Paris. Following this debacle his parents obtained a "lettre de cachet" from the king (an arbitrary royal order which could not be appealed), which exiled him from Paris, effectively putting him under house arrest and confined to a monastery near Nancy for over two years. While there, he dined at the (lavish) table of the abbot and with his lordship’s encouragement and guidance became a keen and informed gastronome. After that, with a little money from his parents, he opened a high class store in Lyon selling spices, drugs, perfumes and other expensive condiments. He was still in Lyon when the French revolution started in Paris.

His business didn’t prosper during the rigours of the Revolution and so he returned to Paris in 1792 on the death of his father. He gradually became reconciled with his mother, particularly after his connections in high places (Danton and Robespierre liked him) saved her from the guillotine. After the execution of Robespierre, he again began hosting dinners at his mother's house, and in the spirit of the times these were often staged as mock funerals. The dinner invitations were lined in black, the side buffet would sometimes be arranged on a coffin, table decorations were funeral wreaths, and very often the dishes served would be coloured black, or be clever word or visual puns on the theme of death.

The Revolution had marked a new beginning for many others too. Grand chefs for the aristocracy, now without employers, found a new audience in the unwashed public, and in Paris new restaurants opened in large numbers. Seeing an opportunity Grimod became the first professional restaurant critic and proceeded (1803-1812) to publish an annual restaurant guide "L'Almanach des Gourmands" - a sort of Michelin Guide.

Although he had survived the Revolution Grimod managed to incur the displeasure of Napoleon (who considered him decadent, corrupt and anti-republican) and so in 1812 it was with no great surprise when very few of his friends, when informed of his sudden death and invited to a memorial dinner, dared to show up. Those who did were ushered through a dark entry way past a black draped coffin into a brightly lit room in which was a full table, at the head of which was a cheerful and very much alive Grimod. In fact it was his mother who had recently died, and so having inherited the remains of the family fortune, he had decided to quit Paris and retire. He left Paris and finally married his long time mistress, Adèle Feuchère, an actress who he’d met in his twenties and who had born him at least one child. They moved into self-imposed exile in an aging chateau at Villiers-sur-Orge outside Paris. Here he lived until the ripe age of 80, alternating a happy gluttony with long restorative walks in the French countryside. He died on the evening of Christmas day 1837.

But returning to the events just after the execution of Robespierre, taking a cue once again from Grimod de la Reynière , and in the spirit of a Bal des Victimes, I suggest that a suitable dish of the day really needs to be funereally black.

Black olives, boudin noir, caviar on black rye bread, pasta cooked in squid ink perhaps with morilles or trompettes de la mort mushrooms, civet de sanglier aux pruneaux slow-cooked in red wine, black morello cherries dipped in dark chocolate …. all seem suitably dark to fit the bill. Or how about one of Grimond de la Reyniere’s own specialities: venison in chocolate. This dish is mentioned in his writings although he doesn’t include any specific recipe. Nevertheless what he ate was probably similar in spirit to Mexican beef molé, ie beef in a traditional chocolate and chilli sauce. Incongruous as it seems, dark bitter chocolate does actually complement strong meaty flavours very well.

Venison with red wine and chocolate sauce.

INGREDIENTS
4 pieces venison tenderloin, ~200g each
Salt and pepper.
Olive oil for frying
40g butter
100ml port
50ml red wine
350ml beef stock
20g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), grated

METHOD
Season venison pieces
Heat a little olive oil in an oven-proof frying pan over a high heat.
Sear the venison pieces for 1 minute on each side.
Add butter to pan before placing in oven for 5 minutes (medium rare), remove and cover with tin foil. Rest in a warm place while you make the sauce. (You will need the pan and juices for the sauce.)
Place the venison pan over a medium heat, deglaze with port and red wine.
Reduce liquid by half before adding beef stock.
Reduce liquid again by half before whisking in butter.
Finally, whisk in chocolate immediately before serving. Season to taste.

Serve with mashed potatoes and spiced braised red cabbage.



Last edited by Meles meles on Sat 23 Sep 2017 - 21:49; edited 6 times in total (Reason for editing : typos & it's not effect but affect a lisp)
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 28 Jul 2016 - 12:21

That dish really needs some purple majesty mash to complete the funereal colour scheme.





i hope you will try lobster thermidor some time. Lidl's £5 frozen Canadian lobsters work surprisingly well in that if it's the cheesy/breadcrumb version you are making.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 28 Jul 2016 - 13:53

Excellent post, MM. The Dish of the Day messages are always good, but today's was particularly interesting: I really enjoyed all the information about the bizarre fashions.

I wonder whether these styles were commented on and copied in London by the members of the English fashionable élite?

I seem to remember in The Scarlet Pimpernel that Lady Blakeney, née Marguerite St Just, the beautiful and witty French wife of Sir Percy Blakeney (who, before marriage to her eccentric English aristocrat, had been a successful actress at the Comédie Francaise) was regarded with much suspicion in London - both for her supposed Republican sympathies and for her early and enthusiastic adoption of the outrageous new styles of dress (which suited her very well as she had a superb figure).
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 28 Jul 2016 - 14:44

Temperance wrote:

I wonder whether these styles were commented on and copied in London by the members of the English fashionable élite?

Regency fashion, as for example described in Jane Eyre, certainly seems to have followed the French fashion: for women, simple, light cotton dresses descending to above the ankles, with an exposed bust (although in England dresses were never actually transparent ... and they were never truely transparent in France either*), plus shorter hair brushed forward or to the side to expose the neck ... and for men knee breeches replaced by (very) tight trousers, as per the Muscardins, and short-cut jackets with wide lapels, as per the Incroyables. All in all I think that the Regency style, well at least for women, was a lot simpler, lighter and freer than anything that had gone before or after ... such as the tight corsets and heavy gowns that had been the fashion directly before in the Georgian period, or the huge cumbersome hooped-petticoats and layered crinolenes of the following Victorian era.

When did the choker (much in vogue in the late 19th century) start to become fashionable? I wonder if it actually evolved directly from the neck ribbon of the "Bals des Victimes" ... although didn't Anne Bolelyn wear something very similar to hide a prominent birthmark ... or am I succumbing to the modern fictional portrayals of TV and film?

Edit:

* PS - I rather suspect that all the contemporary comments about the dresses being transparent, see-through, or "made of wind and air" (a contemporary description), were just the slightly-shocked and faux-scandalised reactions of a few against the new lighter, freer, less-cumbrous style of women's dress ... that in itself reflected the new status of women in post-revolutionary France. The Revolutionary Constitution had made women equal to men under law, and divorce (as well as marriage) had been taken out of the control of the catholic church and made civil matters (and in divorce either partner could initiate proceedings). Also, considering some of the vociferous debates that are still on-going over 200 years later, it is interesting that under the same constitution male homosexuality was decriminalised, even in the army and navy. Thus in France, in the last few years of the 18th century, there was a huge wave of sexual liberalisation. Some contemporary commentators inevitably saw these changes as an attack against nature, foresaw dire consequences with the deterioration of accepted public morals, and ultimately predicted the collapse of civillisation ... but in the end it wasn't such liberalisation that brought the First Republic to an end.


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 28 Jul 2016 - 15:08

As a slight tangental[does this word exist?] question, isn't all this on neck ribbons or chokers leading us along a bloody [sorry, pun intended] odd road?
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 28 Jul 2016 - 21:05

Temperance wrote:
Excellent post, MM. The Dish of the Day messages are always good, but today's was particularly interesting: I really enjoyed all the information about the bizarre fashions.

I wonder whether these styles were commented on and copied in London by the members of the English fashionable élite?

I seem to remember in The Scarlet Pimpernel that Lady Blakeney, née Marguerite St Just, the beautiful and witty French wife of Sir Percy Blakeney (who, before marriage to her eccentric English aristocrat, had been a successful actress at the Comédie Francaise) was regarded with much suspicion in London - both for her supposed Republican sympathies and for her early and enthusiastic adoption of the outrageous new styles of dress (which suited her very well as she had a superb figure).

 I join Temperance, Meles meles.

This is an excellent post. I enjoyed reading it and really read it all from A till Z...
Yes that's history as it has to be tought...

Kind regards from your friend, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 28 Jul 2016 - 22:12

MM wrote:
When did the choker (much in vogue in the late 19th century) start to become fashionable? I wonder if it actually evolved directly from the neck ribbon of the "Bals des Victimes" ... although didn't Anne Bolelyn wear something very similar to hide a prominent birthmark ... or am I succumbing to the modern fictional portrayals of TV and film?



Off-topic, but as this is your thread and you asked the above question, I think it is OK for me to reply!

Anne Boleyn did indeed wear a sort of choker - which featured a large gold "B". It is mentioned here:

http://psjewelers.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-history-of-choker-necklace.html

One hostile witness, reporting to the court at Brussels, claimed that at her coronation Boleyn had an ugly "swelling" in her neck - possibly a goitre - that had to be concealed, but the delicate piece of jewellery she often wore as a choker (shown below) would hardly hide such a problem. I think it more likely that having, as was also reported, an elegant "long" neck, she wore the famous "B" choker to show this off. Chokers are not easy pieces to wear - an elegant neck is essential!

Will say no more on this thread, but the history of jewellery (and fashion) would make a fascinating topic.


Copy of a portrait - original was possibly by Holbein, painted around 1534.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 7 Aug 2016 - 11:16

7 August 1594 – The Battle of the Ford of the Biscuits during the Irish rebellion against Tudor rule.

The English authorities in Ireland had demanded the formal submission to the Crown of all the Gaelic lords, and the introduction of English law to replace Brehon Law. In Fermanagh, Hugh Maguire, the Lord of Enniskillen resented the introduction of English law which reduced his overlordship over his weaker neighbours. He rebelled and promptly proceeded to sack the lands of his neighbours. The government responded by sending a loyalist force under the Marshal of Ireland, Sir Henry Bagenal to confront the rebels.

In February 1594, the loyalist army captured and garrisoned the Maguire’s stronghold of Enniskillen. Maguire agreed to submit and an agreement was brokered by he leading Gaelic lord of Ulster, Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone. However the peace did not last long and Maguire laid siege to Enniskillen in June 1594. A relief force was promptly despatched to bring supplies to the stranded garrioson. On August 7 the advancing loyalist relief force was ambushed at the Arney River by the Irish rebels led by Maguire himself. The government force was well and truly routed and would have been completely destroyed had not the rebels fallen to plundering the supply wagons ... and the sight of the scattered supplies floating down the bloody river gave the event the name of the 'Battle of the Ford of the Biscuits' (Béal-Átha-na-mBriosgadh).

The 'biscuits' were of course not chocolate-digestives, ginger-nuts nor custard-creams, but the traditional military campaign ration of hardtack or ships' biscuit, made from just flour and water, with no fat, so as to have a long storage life. The basic method of manufacturing such biscuit didn’t change for centuries although here's a description of the manufacture of hard biscuits for the Royal Navy in the early ninteenth century by which time some degree of mechanisation had been introduced (from William Burney’s ‘A New Universal Dictionary of the Marine’ , London, 1815):

"The process of biscuit-making for the navy is simple and ingenious, and is nearly as follows: A large lump of dough, consisting merely of flower [flour] and water, is mixed up together, and placed exactly in the center of a raised platform, where a man sits on a machine, called a horse, and literally rides up and down throughout its whole circular direction, until the dough is equally indented, and this is repeated till the dough is sufficiently kneaded.

In this state it is handed over to a second workman, who, with a large knife, puts it in a proper state for the use of those bakers who more immediately attend the oven. They are five in number; and their different departments are well calculated for expedition and exactness. The first man on the farthest side of a large table moulds the dough, until it has the appearance muffins, and which he does two together, with each hand; then delivers them over to the man on the other side of the table, who stamps them on both sides with a mark, and throws them on a smaller table, where stands the third workman, whose business is merely to separate the different pieces into two, and place them under the hand of him who supplies the oven, whose work of throwing or chucking the biscuits on the peel must be performed with the greatest exactness and regularity. The fifth arranges them in the oven, and is so expert, that though the different biscuits are thrown to him at the rate of seventy in a minute, the peel is always disengaged in time to receive them separately.

So much critical exactness and neat activity occur in the exercise of this layout, that it is difficult to decide whether the palm of excellence is due to the moulder, the maker, the splitter, the chucker, or the depositor; all of them, like the wheels of a machine seeming actuated by the same principle. The business is to deposit in the oven seventy biscuits in a minute; and this is actually accomplished with the regularity of a clock; the clack of the peel, during its motion in the oven, operating it like a pendulum. The biscuits thus baked are kept in repositories, which receive warmth from being placed in drying lofts over the ovens, till they are sufficiently dry to be packed into bags of an hundred weight each, and removed into store-houses for immediate use.

At Deptford, the bakehouse belonging to the victualling-office has twelve ovens each of which bakes twenty shoots daily; the quantity of flour used for each shoot is two bushels, or 112 pounds; which baked, produce 102 pounds of biscuit. Ten pounds are regularly allowed on each shoot for shrinkage, &c. The allowance of biscuit in the navy is one pound for each man per day; so that, at Deptford alone, they can furnish bread, daily, for 24,480 men, independent of Portsmouth and Plymouth." 


So for dish of the day here’s a recipe for "Sea-biscuit", but which, despite the name, is most certainly NOT like the military staple (from The Art of French Cookery, Antoine Beauvilliers, 1827):

Sea-biscuit – Biscuit de Mer.
Take half a pound of sugar and half a pound of flour, mix in a bason with a little lemon grate and four eggs; mix them with a spatula to make rather a liquid paste, but if too much so add flour and sugar, or if too firm, add an egg: the cases must be the size of half a sheet of paper folded in, with the sides much lower than those made for the gros biscuit à couper: put the pâte into these cases, and set them in a hotter oven than for ordinary biscuit; when enough, take them out, and cut them in pieces the length and thickness of the little finger, and put them upon a copper leaf, on the side that has been cut, that all sides may be equally coloured.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 7 Aug 2016 - 22:25

Meles meles,

thank you very much for these as usual interesting messages about dishes and history.

I read this one again with pleasure, especially the historical part.

Kind regards from your friend Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 14 Aug 2016 - 19:24

14 August 1941 - signing of the Atlantic Charter in Little Placentia Sound off the coast of Newfoundland (75 years ago).

American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt aboard the USS Augusta guested British prime minister Winston Spencer Churchill who had come off HMS Prince of Wales for the occasion. The dinner menu had salad with sliced strawberries and orange segments for starter, then baked chicken and dressing* as the main course, followed by chocolate ice cream, sauce and thick cream** for dessert.

Each course is pretty strait-forward and self-explanatory in terms of preparation so probably doesn't warrant the posting of a recipe as such. And any of the courses could serve as dish of the day. (In our house we had green salad and fruit earlier today for example.)

*In Newfoundland, stuffing for poultry is known as 'dressing'.
** Thick cream is a Newfie dairy product which finds itself somewhere between double cream and clotted cream. It's marketed to mainland Canada as 'crème épaisse'.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 17 Aug 2016 - 13:35

17 August 1579 – Elizabeth I met the Duke of Alençon in secret at Greenwich Palace while he was being seriously considered as a potential husband ... and indeed perhaps as a future king of England.

François, Duke of Alençon (and later Anjou), was born on the 18 March 1554, the youngest son of King Henri II of France and Catherine de Medici. His three brothers all became kings of France – Francis II, Charles IX and Henri III – and he was heir to the French throne between 1574 and his untimely death in 1584. At the age of eight he contracted smallpox which stunted his growth and left him with a pitted face. He also seems to have had scolliosis (like Richard III) which gave him the appearance of an unusually short torso in relation to his leg length. His short stature combined with his scarred face made him an object of ridicule amongst his own family. In short his parents considered him the runt of the litter ... but that he could still be diplomatically useful.



In 1572 Catherine de Medici had offered Alençon as bridegroom to Elizabeth I to replace Henry, Duke of Anjou, who had now made it clear that he was no longer interested in marrying the 38-year-old queen of England. Catherine was eager to gain England’s friendship, but although the new match was seen to be politically advantageous, Elizabeth was unimpressed by Alençon’s youth (he was then just 17), his stature, and their religious differences. However Sir Francis Walsingham did manage to persuade the Queen to at least consider the match and so she agreed to go ahead with the preliminary negotiations.

True to form Elizabeth let the marriage negotiations drag on and on, although she did correspond secretly with the Duke by letter. In 1579 a frustrated Alençon, now the Duke of Anjou, sent his personal representative, Jean de Simier, to England to woo the Queen on his behalf. Simier was his Master of the Wardrobe and was described as "a most choice courtier, exquisitely skilled in love toys, pleasant conceits and court dalliances", and it was his mission to prepare Elizabeth for the Duke’s advances. Although Simier had a somewhat dubious past (he was rumoured to have murdered his brother), his wooing on the Duke’s behalf worked on Elizabeth, who called him her "Monkey" (a play on his name Simier), gave a grand ball in his honour, and requested that he be at her side as often as possible. Expensive gifts were exchanged. It all looked like Elizabeth was serious about the Duke (or at least in the form of his monkey, Simier) and was indeed considering marriage,  although it is difficult to discern whether she really was taken with Simier and the Duke, or it was simply an effort to make her long-time favourite, Robert Dudley, jealous (in which it certainly succeeded).

Simier, happy with how things were going, presented Elizabeth’s Privy Council with a draft marriage treaty in March 1579 but although he was confident that it would be accepted there were objections to the Duke’s Catholic faith and the simple fact that he was French. Elizabeth professed to be keen on the marriage but opposition from her councillors stalled negotiations.
 
On the 17 August 1579 the Duke arrived secretly at Greenwich to visit the Queen and court her himself. The couple dined together that night and whilst he lacked physical attraction he seems to have won Elizabeth over with his ready wit and easy charm. Elizabeth declared that "I have never in my life seen a creature more agreeable to me", and the French ambassador reported that "The lady has with difficulty been able to entertain the Duke, being captivated, overcome with love. She told me she had never found a man whose nature and actions suited her better." She certainly seemed blissfully happy with the Duke and hated being separated from him: she flirted, she called him her "Frog", and they exchanged love tokens. But the Duke’s visit was suddenly cut short when he received news of a close friend’s death in France, and on the 29th August he left Greenwich to travel to Dover. He wrote four letters to Elizabeth before he'd even set sail and then wrote three more letters when he arrived at Boulogne, and with his letters, he sent a jewel, "a little flower of gold, with a frog thereon, and therein [a miniature of] Monsieur".

Was Elizabeth in love or was it in part an act? Although sympathetic to the Huguenot cause, as heir to the French throne it would have been difficult for the Duke to renounce his Catholicism, while in England memories of Elizabeth’s Catholic sister Mary and her marriage to Philip of Spain would also have caused difficulties. Elizabeth was probably past childbearing age, and had no clear successor. If she died while married to the French heir, her realms could fall under French control and Walsingham raised the spectre of religious riots in England in the event of the marriage proceeding. At last, considering the overwhelming opposition of her advisors, Elizabeth pragmatically judged the union not a wise one. She continued, however, to play the engagement game, if only to warn Philip II of Spain what she might do, if it became necessary. But finally the game played itself out and the marriage proposal was formally dropped in 1581. A year later the Duke, while fighting to regain control of his Flemish territories, fell ill with "tertian ague", malaria, and he died on 10 June 1584, aged just 29.

Elizabeth had called the Duke of Alençon her "Frog" in gentle mockery of his long legs and short torso, but was it also a reference to his French origin? When did the French start being generally referred to in a derogative way as Frogs? Nowadays the consumption of frogs' legs is often equated with French cuisine (as well as that of South-East Asia and China) but in fact it is also traditional in southern Spain (Andalusia), northern Italy (Lombardy and Venezia) and down the western side of the Balkans (Slovenia, Croatia, Albania) to northern Greece (Epirus). I can find no evidence, but I would not be at all surprised if, like snails (wallfish), frogs were not also eaten in Britain, especially in times of dearth or during Lent, perhaps where they are abundant in low-lying marshy areas such as the Somerset Levels, or the East Anglian and Lincolnshire fens. Does anyone know if there is a tradition of frog consumption anywhere in England?

Anyway in memory of the Duke of Alençon’s brief dalliance with Elizabeth here are some contemporary recipes for frog ... taken from 'Opera dell’arte del cucinare' (1570) by Bartolomeo Scappi, (2008 English edition by Terence Scully). Scappi was the personal cook for both Pope Pius IV and Pius V, so clearly in 16th century Italy frogs' legs were by no means solely rustic nor plebian fare.
 
Frogs - their size and season.
Frogs are small tail-less animals, green and yellow in colour, with white bellies. They live in fresh water and swamps, and have a variety of cries. They are very plentiful in Italy, especially in Lombardy and around Bologna, where you can see them carried along in sackloads on carts.
This little animal has a large liver from which pies can be made. Its season runs from May until the end of October. This is the time of verjuice (green grape juice), so while grapes are green, frogs are in season.

To fry and serve frogs in verjuice.
Cut off the frog’s head, which has a large mouth, and the ends of its legs up to the first joint. Soak in fresh water for eight hours, changing the water from time to time. This purges and deflates them and blanches the meat. Take them out of the water. To fry, fold the legs under, or cut off the thighs and remove the thigh bones, then dip them in flour and fry them in oil. Serve hot with a little pounded salt on top.
Once they are fried they must never be covered or kept for very long as they become tough and lose their goodness. They can also be fried with cloves of boiled garlic and parsely. Serve with garlic, parsley, pepper, and pounded salt, which is how Pope Pius IV of happy memory used to eat them in 1564, served by me.
After frying simply in flour they can also be conserved in fresh verjuice and egg yolks, and served hot or cold as you like. Or they can be fried and served with fennel leaves, basil, garlic cloves, breadcrumbs soaked in verjuice, salt and pepper. Or cover with garlic sauce and hazelnuts in the Milanese style.



As live in France I can readily get frozen frogs' legs from the local supermarket, although personally I find their taste rather bland and insipid. Bartolomeo Scappi's suggestion for frog liver pie might well have more flavour but frankly it doesn't sound that appetising. Besides, with all the pressures on them, from over harvesting and land reclamation, to global warming and exotic disease, I feel frogs currently need all the help they can get, which certainly includes leaving them the use of their back legs.


Last edited by Meles meles on Sat 23 Sep 2017 - 20:49; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : typos)
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 17 Aug 2016 - 21:00

You seems to have quite a "bagage" of history in both French and british history, Meles meles.
Again a splendid story. And I have even the impression that you grow each day better and better in your narrative...I read the whole message with great interest...

Kind regards from your friend Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 17 Aug 2016 - 21:27

Meles meles, and on your question I found this:
http://allaboutfrogs.org/weird/general/frenchfrogs.html


And on the "toads" on the Clovis banner I found this:
http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/fr_frnk.html


Your friend Paul...
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 21 Aug 2016 - 13:22

Thanks for those links Paul (regarding why the French are called frogs) ... some interesting suggestions although a couple of them do sound rather implausible.

And in part in answer to my own question, about the culinary use of frogs in Britain, I did find these two references. Firstly from 'The Country Housewife and Lady's Director' (1728) by Richard Bradley (Bradley was the first Professor of Botany at Cambridge University and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He had a particular interest in cultivating new exotic food plants, such as pineapples and kidney beans, and was the author of several books and articles on horticulture, in addition to his thoroughly down-to-earth cookbook aimed, as it says, at the wives of farmers and minor gentry).

Frogs, a white Fricassee of them. From Mr. Ganeau.
Take large Frogs, and cut off the hinder Legs, strip them of the Skin, and cut off the Feet, and boil them tender in a little Veal-Broth, with whole Pepper, and a little Salt, with a bunch of sweet Herbs, and some Lemon Peel. Stew these with a Shallot, till the Flesh is a little tender; then strain off the Liquor, and thicken it with Cream and Butter; then serve them hot with the Cream, and some Mushrooms pickled, toss'd up with the Sauce, they make a very good Dish, and their Bones being of a very fine Texture, are better to be eaten than those of Larks. But we have in many Places an Aversion to them, as, in some others, some People have to Mushrooms.

Frogs, in a brown Fricassee. From the same.
Prepare the Frogs as before, and flour them well; then put them into a Pan of hot Lard, and fry them brown. Then take them and drain them from the Liquor they were fry'd in, and make a Sauce for them of good Gravey, some Lemon-Peel, a Shallot or two, some Spice beaten, a bunch of sweet Herbs, an Anchovy, some pickled Mushrooms and their Liquor, and some Pepper and Salt. Toss up these, thick with Butter, and pour the Sauce over them, putting first a little Claret to it, and some Lemon-Juice. Garnish with broiled Mushroom-Flaps, and Lemon sliced.


.... note Bradley's comment about how the English generally have an aversion to eating frogs, and also note that both his frog recipes were provided by a Mr Ganeau, who I suspect was probably French.

Similarly Robert May's huge cookbook 'The Accomplisht Cook', (1660) includes only one frog recipe, and this probably comes from the days of his formal cookery training, which he completed in Paris in about 1620. Frogs' legs were very much in fashion in 17th century Paris and Alexandre Dumas (of 'The Three Musketeers' fame) recorded in his 'Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine' (posthumously published in 1873) that in the 1600's a man from the Auvergne region made "a most considerable fortune with frogs, sent to him from his region, which he fattened and then sold to the very finest restaurants in Paris."

From 'The Accomplisht Cook', by Robert May, 1660:

To bake Frogs.
Being flayed, take the hind legs, cut off the feet, and season them with nutmeg, pepper, and salt, put them in a pye with some sweet herbs chopped small, large mace, slic't lemon, gooseberries, grapes, or Barberries, pieces of skirrets, artichocks, potatoes, or parsnips, and marrow; close it up and bake it; being baked, liquor it with butter, and juyce of orange, or grape-verjuyce.


... Robert May does however provide another culinary use for frogs. In his suggestions for "Triumphs and Trophies in Cookery, to be used at Festival Times ....", he outlines a grand dinner in which a flour-paste ship fires real cannons, a model castle explodes and an edible stag made of sugar and marzipan bleeds Claret, "being done with admiration to the beholders", and he then presents two blind-baked pies "where lifting first the lid off one pye, out skip some Frogs, which make the Ladies to skip and shreek; next after the other pye, whence come out the Birds, who by a natural instinct flying in the light, will put out the Candles; so that what with the flying Birds and skipping Frogs, the one above, the other beneath, will cause much delight and pleasure to the whole company."

.... Yup, squashed frog underfoot and the smell of burnt birds' feathers should really make for an unforgettable dinner party!


Last edited by Meles meles on Sun 21 Aug 2016 - 15:04; edited 5 times in total (Reason for editing : typos, toujours les typos)
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 21 Aug 2016 - 14:16

Meles meles wrote:


.... note Bradley's comment about how the English generally have an aversion to eating frogs, and also note that both his frog recipes were provided by a Mr Ganeau, who I suspect was probably French.

...
Could this be a mis-spelling of the gentleman's name?





I'd better find me coat ...
Sorry for this untimely interference when Paul's away.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Sun 21 Aug 2016 - 15:27

It's many a year since I had frogs legs and I agree that they are pretty tasteless which is probably why the recipes you quote have so many other flavourful ingredients. Indeed all three sound quite appealing if it were possible to lay hands on any ethically reared and dispatched froggies but I believe that most available today are from Bangladesh and animal welfare isn't a consideration in their production. I've just realised that it's a few years since the cat has brought a frog home and I have had to chase it round the garden before returning it to the pond in the park. Not all were rescued though; once when moving a pile of papers in the spare room, out fell a mummified frog.

However, given that like everything else that's a bit bland, they taste rather like chicken, it might be worth experimenting with (decent) chicken or perhaps rabbit but again there's not a lot of wild rabbit in the shops and many of the farmed ones have welfare issues as well.
'Skirret' I had to google but I see it's a close relative of parsnip so that means all the other ingredients are obtainable quite easily here, even barberries these days.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Mon 22 Aug 2016 - 11:16

Frogs' legs seem briefly to have become a fashionable dish in London society after Escoffier served them at a grand soirée held in honour of Edward VII at the Savoy Hotel in 1908. Escoffier called his dish "Cuisses de Nymphe à l'Aurore" (roughly, Thighs of Dawn Nymphs), and despite the preposterous name, Nymphs' Thighs became the surprise culinary hit of the season. Escoffier cooked his French-supplied frogs in a court-bouillon with herbs, and when cooled they were decorated with tarragon leaves, then set in a clear chicken jelly, and finally served with a chaud-froid sauce coloured red with paprika. Again, even Escoffier felt the need to bump up the flavour of the rather bland meat by combining it with spicey and aromatic ingredients.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 2 Sep 2016 - 11:05

2 September 1666 – The Great Fire of London starts.

Shortly after midnight in the early hours of Sunday 2nd September fire broke out in Pudding Lane and over the following three days spread rapidly across the city. Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary (2 September 1666):

"Some of our mayds sitting up late last night to get things ready against our feast to-day, Jane called us up about three in the morning, to tell us of a great fire they saw in the City. So I rose and slipped on my nightgowne, and went to her window, and thought it to be on the backside of Marke-lane at the farthest; but, being unused to such fires as followed, I thought it far enough off; and so went to bed again and to sleep. About seven rose again to dress myself, and there looked out at the window, and saw the fire not so much as it was and further off. So to my closet to set things to rights after yesterday’s cleaning. By and by Jane comes and tells me that she hears that above 300 houses have been burned down to-night by the fire we saw, and that it is now burning down all Fish-street, by London Bridge. So I made myself ready presently, and walked to the Tower, and there got up upon one of the high places; Sir J Robinson’s little son going up with me; and there I did see the houses at the end of the bridge all on fire, and an infinite great fire on this and the other side the end of the bridge; which, among other people, did trouble me for poor little Mitchell and our Sarah on the bridge. So down, with my heart full of trouble, to the Lieutenant of the Tower, who tells me that it begun this morning in the King’s baker’s house in Pudding-lane, ….."

Thomas Farriner (or Farynor) the King’s baker, together with his family and household (all except a maid servant who panicked and so got left behind to become the first casualty of the fire), escaped over the roofs to a neighbour’s house. Faced with the enormity of the resulting damage Farriner understandably protested his innocence, as Pepys later described (24 February 1667):

"Asking Sir R Viner [nephew of Sir Thomas Vyner, the Sherriff of London] what he thought was the cause of the fire, he tells me that the Baker, son and his daughter did all swear again and again that their Oven was drawn by 10 a-clock at night. That having occasion to light a candle about 12, there was not so much fire in the bakehouse as to light a match for a candle, so as they were fain to go into another place to light it. That about 2 in the morning they felt themselves almost choked with smoke; and rising, did find the fire coming upstairs – so they rose to save themselves; but that at the time the bavins [faggots of dry brushwood used to fuel the oven] were not on fire in the yard. So that they are, as they swear, in absolute ignorance how this fire should come – which is a strange thing, that so horrid an effect should have so mean and uncertain a beginning."

Although it seems almost certain that the fire did start downstairs in Farriner’s house, he wasn’t entirely responsible. Fires, sometimes severe enough to destroy whole streets of buildings, were not uncommon in the city. In addition to numerous bakers’ ovens there were blacksmiths’ forges and bell/gun foundries; there were warehouses full of timber, tallow, pitch and turpentine; domestic cooking was done over open fires or braziers; and lighting was provided by rushlights and candles. Moreover the summer had been exceptionally hot and there had been little rain for months, so the city's mostly wooden buildings were tinder-dry. Despite all the official records agreeing that the fire started on his property, Thomas Farriner didn't get the blame. A French catholic clock-maker admitted to starting the fire by putting a burning torch through a window at the bakery, but he was considered mad and his claim was not widely believed, with even Thomas Farriner testifying that the man's description of what he'd done didn't match the layout of his house. However bowing to the popular demands for a scapegoat the poor Frenchman was nevertheless hanged for his "crime".


The Great Fire of London by an unknown artist painted circa 1700.

Farriner is always described as the King’s Baker, rather than Court Baker or Baker to the Palace of Whitehall, and so it seems probable that his business was not the provision of regular loaves but of special stuff for the exclusive use of the royal family: brioche buns, fine white rolls, delicate pastries, spiced cakes, sugar biscuits and fancy tarts. Accordingly something like these might well be the sort of thing that he’d been baking just before the fire, from ‘The Closet of Sir Kenelme Digby Opened’, by Kenelme Digby (1669):

Small Cakes
Take one pound of very fine flower [sic] and put to it half a pound of sugar. Add one pound of currants well washed. When your flower is well mixed with the sugar and currants, you must put in it a half a pound of melted butter, three spoonfuls of milk, with the yolks of three new-laid eggs beat with it, some nutmeg; and if you please, three spoonfuls of Sack.
When you have mixed your paste well, you must put it in a dish by the fire, till it be warm.
Then make them up in little cakes, and prick them full of holes. Bake them in a quick oven unclosed. Afterwards sprinkle them with sugar.
The Cakes should be about the bigness of a hand-breadth and thin; of the cise [sic] of the Sugar Cakes sold at Barnet.

Alternatively for a dish-of-the-day, one could choose to reflect the place where the fire started: Pudding Lane. But what sort of pudding to make? In the 17th century pudding still meant a basic mix of blood and oatmeal boiled in a suitable bag such as an animal’s stomach or intestines, or a tied up in a cloth (with a similar etymology to the French boudin). Pudding Lane is located between Eastcheap where there were abattoirs and the river Thames. According to the Tudor chronicler John Stow, it was named "pudding", meaning offal, after the blood trickling down the gutter and the entrails that were dropped in the street as they were taken to be disposed of via the river. In Stow’s words ('A Survey of London', 1603):

[it is] "… commonly called Pudding Lane, because the Butchers of Eastcheape haue their scalding House for Hooges there, and their puddings with other filth of Beastes, are voided downe that way to theyr dung boates on the Thames."

So to accompany the small cakes one might like to have some blood (or black) pudding. Here’s a suitable 17th century recipe for black pudding from Robert May’s ‘The Accomplisht Cook’  (1660):

To make blood Puddings
Take the blood of a hog, while it is warm, and steep in it a quart or more of great oatmeal groats, at the end of three days take the groats out and drain them clean; then put to these groats more then a quart of the best cream warmed on the fire; then take some mother of time, spinage, parsley, savory, endive, sweet marjoram, sorrel, strawberry leaves, succory, of each a few chopped very small and mix them with the groats, with a little fennel seed finely beaten, some peper, cloves, mace salt, and some beef-suet, or flakes of the hog cut small. Otherways, you may steep your oatmeal in warm mutton broth, or scalding milk, or boil it in a bag.

Robert May's pudding mix was then cooked in a shallow dish before an open fire, but the mixture could be boiled in a cloth bag, or stuffed into a sausage skin to make something more closely resembling a modern black pudding and so suitable for grilling, baking or frying, which is what Alexis Soyer’s 'A Shilling Cookery for The People' (1845) suggests:

Black Puddings, broiled. Make about six or eight incisions through the skin with a knife, in a slanting way, on each side of the pudding; put it on the gridiron for about eight minutes, on rather a brisk fire, turn it four times in that space of time, and serve it broiling hot.
I should recommend those who are fond of black puddings to partake of no other beverage than tea or coffee, as cocoa or chocolate would be a clog to the stomach. In France they partake of white wine for breakfast, which accounts for the great consumption of black pudding. Now really this is a very favourite dish with epicures, but I never should recommend it to a delicate stomach.

..... I’m intrigued by his assertion that the French drink white wine at breakfast, and although being rather partial to black pudding (as well as French boudin noir, which generally has a softer, less crumbly texture) I don't see why one has to have the excuse of drinking wine before having a lovely slice of black pud' fried ... and not just at breakfast.


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 2 Sep 2016 - 19:56

As usual, all interesting stuff you write about, Meles meles.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 7 Sep 2016 - 14:25

7 September 1812 - The Battle of Borodino.

This was the largest and certainly the bloodiest battle of the Napoleonic wars (the combined armies numbered about 250,000 men and there were at least 70,000 casualties) and whilst a French tactical victory it was a rather Pyrrhic one. The defeated Russian army retreated into their vast hinterland to replenish manpower and supplies, but the French, with their massively over-stretched supply lines, were forced or lured on, to push the final 100km to take Moscow. However when they got there they found the city largely abandoned, emptied of essential supplies, and partially destroyed by the retreating Russians.


'The Battle of Borodino' by Peter von Hess, 1843.

So for dish of the day I propose Borodinsky bread (бородинский) supposedly named after the battle itself …. although as is so often the case various inter-twined legends have arisen and it is not entirely clear how the modern dish relates to the original event.

One of those that fell at Borodino was the Russian General Aleksandr Tuchkov and it is he, or rather his wife/widow, Margarita, that is most often associated with the legendary origin of Borodinsky bread. One variant of the story says that on the eve of the battle she, wishing to cheer the troops under her husband's command, made a batch of the familiar Russian rye bread, adding wild coriander seeds which she had gleaned that day. Sour rye bread had certainly been a Russian staple for centuries but common sense says that it would have been logistically impossible for even the most caring and skilled general’s wife to have made rye bread for many thousands of troops (a few select officers, perhaps, but that is not the legend.) 

Another slightly more plausible variation says that after his death and unable to find her husband’s body on the battlefield, she established a convent close to where she assumed he’d died, cut down by French grapeshot while defending a vital redoubt. In mourning she retired to this convent and as abbess came up with the recipe in his memory: black in colour and containing round coriander seeds to represent the deadly grapeshot and musket balls which had killed her husband. But whilst she did indeed establish a convent close to the site of the battle, there is no record of the bread connection.

Indeed there is no record of the name, Borodinsky bread, before 1920 and the modern recipe was not recorded in print before 1933 when it was listed in a Soviet inventory of standard recipes, as a name for a variety of bread then being baked at Moscow Bakery No. 159 which was operated by two Latvian bakers: comrade Spredze and comrade Zakis. It seems likely that the name, at least in its modern usage, first appeared sometime after the 1917 October Revolution, and that it was chosen, deliberately, as being both suitably patriotic and politically sound.

Today the recipe for Borodinsky bread is defined by Russian Industrial Standard, ГОСТ 5309-50, which states that it is made from a mixture of no less that 80% by weight of a whole-grain rye flour with about 15% of a second-grade wheat flour and about 5% of rye, or rarely, barley malt, leavened by a separately prepared starter culture, by diluting the flour by a near-boiling (95-96°C) water, and adding the yeast after cooling the mix to 65-67°C, but then mostly inoculated by the previous batches of dough instead of the dry yeast. It is then sweetened and coloured with beet sugar molasses, and flavored with salt and spices, of which the coriander seed is required, and caraway is optional, but still quite popular.

If any of you are keen bread makers and would like to try and make an authentic Russian Borodinsky bread, the following general recipe is taken from the booklet 'Household Bread' (Moscow, 1991) based on the industrial standard. The amounts, reduced from larger quantities, are only approximate, and it is assumed that an active sour starter is ready.

1. Put 2 cups of whole rye flour (finely ground is easier to knead) in a mixing bowl and pour half a pint of nearly boiling water over the flour. Add 1 teaspoon of ground coriander seed and 4 tablespoons of malt syrup. Mix thoroughly and let cool to around 30°C.

2. When the mixture is at about 30°C, add 1/2 cup of the sourdough starter. If the starter is too weak to raise the dough, you could add commercial yeast also at this point. Let this mixture sit for 10-12 hours at around 30°C.

3. Add 2 teaspoons of salt to the mixture and mix well. Add 1 cup of whole wheat flour and mix. Continue to add rye flour (around 3-4 cups) until it can be kneaded without too much sticking. Sprinkling the surface with cold water or a little vegetable oil helps hasten this process. Shape and smooth loaves, using water (typically 2 small loaves from this quantity).

4. Prove the shaped loaves around for 1 1/2 to 2 hrs, or until it doesn't rise anymore.

5. Bake at around 165°C for 2 hours.

As such Borodinsky belongs firmly in the family of sweet rye breads. As any Russian knows it should have a very dark, almost black top although the crust on the sides is very thin so the dark bit doesn't distract from the overall flavour of the bread and indeed the very dark top crust is often cut off. By tradition soup is always served for lunch at the Russian dinner table, and Borodinsky bread fits in perfectly with the taste of the most common of Russian soups, borscht, made from either red cabbage or beetroot, which is also sweet and sour, so their flavors complement each other perfectly. It’s also not bad when served as a snack with vodka, especially in combination with caviar, or Russian herring fillets in a their usual salty/vinegary marinade that also typically includes coriander seeds.



But if dark rye bread with borscht or picked fish seems too Russian for your palate, I can suggest another soup which, although in the French style, is named after another Russian general who also fell at Borodino. Pyotr Bagration, the general who commanded the left flank, died of wounds on the field (he's the chap in white, expiring heroically at lower left in the above painting) and ultimately had several dishes named after him. These became standard items on European menus for decades despite Napoleon’s rather damning comment about him: "The man is an absolute fool who has not the slightest idea how to command an army." Certainly however Gen. Bagration was well known for his extravagant dinner parties, their legendary status being assured when Tolstoy chose to write about them in 'War and Peace'. 

Fish Soup; so named from Prince Bagration
(Potage de Fillets de Poisson à la Bagration)

Prepare a good consommé, make a quenelle of soles with crayfish butter, trim in escalopes the fillets of a sole, perch, and carp, and throw a little salt over them; an hour afterwards wash, drain, and place them in a sauté-plate, mark [make?] an essence with the bones and trimmings of the fish, squeeze it through a tammy upon the escalopes of fish, and boil them slowly for ten minutes, then pour the liquor from them to the consommé, and clarify it as usual; reduce it one fifth, then pour it into the tureen upon the escalopes and quenelles poached in consommé, six roes of carp boiled in water with salt, and fifty tails of cray-fish (using the shells for the butter), some chervil blanched, two parsley roots cut in small pieces, and stewed in consommé, and the flesh of two lemons cut in thin slices and blanched, carefully withdrawing the pips

(From, 'The Practical Cook, English and Foreign', by Joseph Bregion, 1845)


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 7 Sep 2016 - 15:05

The recipe for Borodinsky bread seems very close to that staple of Danish and perhaps Norwegian as well, the rye bread.

Among my mother's recipes there are few for that, and I helped her make quite a few of these with sourdough in her latest years, and continued for some time following that. Now, alas, too seldom.

I must say, though, that the preference here - where I live and certainly personally - is not so much for the sweetish breads, more for those where the saltish ones.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Mon 12 Sep 2016 - 14:26

12 September 490 BC – The Battle of Marathon.

In response to Athenian involvement in the Ionian revolt (which had been crushed in 494 BC), the Persian empire of Darius I attempted to subjugate Greece. In 490 BC Darius sent a naval task force across the Aegean to capture the Cyclades, and then to make punitive attacks on Athens and Eretria. Reaching Euboea in mid-summer after a successful campaign in the Aegean, the Persians proceeded to besiege and capture Eretria. The Persian force then sailed for Attica, landing in the bay near the small town of Marathon. The Athenians, joined by a small force from Plataea, quickly marched to Marathon and succeeded in blocking the two exits from the plain, thus preventing the Persians moving inland.

The Athenians also sent a runner, Pheidippides (or Philippides), to Sparta urgently requesting aid. After Athens Sparta was the most powerful city state in Greece, and due to their tough military upbringing and frugal lifestyle the Spartans were notoriously tough soldiers. Although the average Greek was probably no great gourmet, even he shuddered at the diet of the Spartans whose ‘black broth’ was infamous throughout the civilized world. Athenaeus tells the tale of a citizen of Sybaris (whose citizens were known for their luxury and gluttony – ie typical sybarites) who was invited to dine in the Spartans’ public mess hall and who, as he lay on the hard wooden benches and ate a frugal meal with them, remarked:

"Naturally Spartans are the bravest men in the world and do not fear death. Anyone in his senses would rather die ten thousand times than live miserably on this sorry diet."

No contemporary recipe for ‘black broth’ (melas zomos - μέλας ζωμός) exists but it is thought to have been made from pork (or more probably pork offal), pigs’ blood, salt and vinegar - the vinegar likely being used to prevent the blood from clotting as it was brought to the boil - and so the result was a smooth, thick soup, containing small pieces of meat. Blood soup is still made, particularly in parts of eastern and northen Europe, Spain, central and south America, China, and south-east Asia. Probably the closest to the Spartan dish is the Fillipino dish ‘Dinuguan’.

Dinuguan - Pig's Blood Soup

INGREDIENTS
1 pound pork shoulder, cubed
1 pound pork large intestine, cleaned and chopped
2 cups fresh pig's blood
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup vinegar
1 long chili pepper, sliced diagonally
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons cooking oil for sautéing

In a medium pan, sauté the garlic and onion on the cooking oil. Add the pork and cook for 3-4 minutes until lightly browned. Add the vinegar and water, and bring to a boil without stirring. Turn the heat down and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Mix in the the chili peppers and the pig's blood, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with white rice or puto (sticky rice cake).



Unfortunately the Persians had invaded during the festival of Carneia - a sacrosanct period of peace - and so Pheidippides was informed that the Spartan army could not march to war until the full moon rose: thus Athens could not expect reinforcement for at least ten days. Having received the Spartans’ reply, and no doubt fortified with a few helpings of black soup, Pheidippides set out again on the long road back to Athens.

Meanwhile at Marathon the Athenians stoically confronted the massive Persian army. The Athenians and their Plataean allies numbered about 10,000 men while the Persians had perhaps 35,000 troops plus at least as many sailors who acted as a military reserve. The stalemate lasted for five days during which the Greeks could do little but watch the enemy while steadily munching their military rations of flat (emmer) wheat bread and barley gruel (writing in the 2nd century AD, the Greek physician Galen commented that, while barley gruel had always been a staple of Greek armies, it was generally considered to be punishment rations for Roman legionaries). These simple grain-based meals would have been enlivened with dried figs, pickled olives, goats' cheese, dried/salted fish (Aristotle reckoned that the best preserved anchovies came from the seas off Cape Sounion and the Bay of Marathon itself), and maybe a small honey cake or two that had been lovingly baked just before the army’s departure by a doting mother, worried wife, or anxious lover.

Reading contemporary accounts about ancient Greece, one often comes upon references to 'honey cakes' or 'cakes' in general. These would have most likely been flat biscuit-type 'cakes', made from barley meal and honey, but no ancient recipe has survived. This is again because there probably was never a need to write the recipe down: these cakes were known to all and the art of making them was passed down from mother to daughter from an early age.
 
However one recipe has survived from the 2nd century AD. Julius Pollux was an Alexandrian grammarian and sophist who taught at Athens where he was appointed professor of rhetoric at the Academy by the Roman emperor Commodus. Pollux was the author of the Onomasticon, a Greek thesaurus or dictionary of Attic synonyms and phrases, arranged not alphabetically but according to subject-matter. It supplies in passing much rare and valuable information on many points of classical antiquity - objects in daily life, the theatre, politics and quotes from numerous fragments of lost works. Pollux describes a variety of flat cake that does not match the recipes known for cakes in ancient Rome as these often included cheese. This recipe is simpler, much more basic, and might well have been Hellenic in origin, and as such could have been considered exotic enough to the ancient Romans for Pollux to include it in his writings. 

Translated into a modern style Pollux’s recipe for Greek honey cakes is this:

200 g barley flour
100 ml water
3 tbsp clear honey
2 tbsp olive oil 
 
Place the flour in a bowl, add the honey and olive oil and mix. Pour in the water little by little and continue mixing until a good dough is formed. Cool this for about ten minutes. Tip the ball of dough onto a floured surface and roll out as thinly as possible. Cut the dough into rounds and place on a greased baking tray. The original recipe says to bake the cakes in a very hot oven (say about 200°C) for 15 minutes. Transfer the browned cakes to a wire rack and allow to cool. The advantage of honey is not just its sweet taste, but its ability to keep pastry fresh for a long time, as it is an excellent liquid absorbent. 


A female baker taking bread or cakes from the oven. Early 5th century BC.
Found at Tanagra north of Athens.

On 12 September (according to the modern Julian calendar) the Athenians attacked. That it was the Greeks who started the battle is clearly attested in Herodotus and other sources, despite the continuing standoff being in the Athenians' favour since every day brought the date of the anticipated Spartan arrival nearer. It seems that their attack was prompted by the Persians reloading some of their cavalry back onto the transports, probably intending to ship them round the Greek flanks to attack from the rear. The Greek phalanxes advanced in close order, passing through a hail of arrows but largely protected by their shields and armour, and then they charged the last 100m or so at a run. The Athenian wings quickly routed the inferior Persian levies on the flanks, before turning inwards to surround the Persian centre which had been more successful in holding their line against the thin Greek centre. The battle ended when the Persian centre broke in panic and they fled to their ships. The Greeks pursued them and managed to capture seven ships, although the majority were able to launch successfully.

According to legend poor Pheidippides was again despatched, this time to run to Athens with the news of the victory, which he did: arriving in the city he declared "Joy - we won!" ("χαλάζι - νικῶμεν"), before he collapsed and died (at least that's how Lucian recorded the story in the 2nd century AD), and it is this tragic/heroic feat that is supposedly commemorated in the modern road race. The tale is however almost certainly a myth.  Herodotus says that immediately after the battle the Persian fleet sailed off around Cape Sounion heading directly towards Athens. The Athenian army, realising that the city was still under threat, promptly marched off as quickly as possible and they arrived back at Athens in time to prevent the Persians securing a landing. Seeing that the opportunity was lost, the Persians turned about and returned to Asia.

After the victory a grand festival of the "Agroteras Thysia" (sacrifice to the Agrotera) was held at Agrae near Athens, in honour of Artemis Agrotera (Artemis the Huntress). This was in fulfilment of a vow made by the city before the battle, to offer in sacrifice a number of goats equal to that of the Persians slain in the conflict. The number was so great that it was decided to offer 500 goats yearly until the number was filled. Xenophon, notes that in his time, 90 years after the battle, goats were still being offered yearly.

Goats were actually more significant gastronomically as providers of cheese, but they were regularly eaten after sacrifice (in classical Greece meat was normally only eaten after religious sacrifice and accordingly did not feature greatly in most people's diet - a far cry from Odysseus and his gluttonous feasting on venison and wild boar). Goat meat was good only at certain ages or at certain times of the year, often having a rank taste or smell at other times, but it was considered highly nourishing. There is a story of a Theban athlete who ate little else and out-performed all his contemporaries, though they all laughed at him because of the rank goaty smell of his sweat (as told by Cleitomachus of Carthage).

Here’s a simple ancient Greek recipe for goat, from Nicander’s [i]Georgics:

"But when you prepare fresh-killed kid or lamb or even chicken as food, put some fresh wheat grains, crushed, in a deep pan, and stir up together with fragrant oil. When the stew is boiling, pour it over [the roasted meat] and cover it with the lid, for when so treated the heavy meal swells up. Serve just warm, with [flat] breads to use as scoops"


A priestess prepares to sacrifice a young goat ... the God in question will get a third (not necessarily the best bits, and most of this will eventually be given away to the poor); the priestess will take a third for her own use (although she is expected to provide for all the novices, acolytes, and other temple servants in her charge); and the patrons who have provided the offering will get the final third, to take home and eat or distribute as they wish.

.... And for a vegetable to go with the above roast kid with bulgar wheat, then what better than crunchy and aromatic fennel bulbs, whether braised, baked or roasted? Fennel in Greek is μάραθο (maratho) and it seems to have been the original inspiration for the name of the ancient town and the adjacent bay of Marathon: wild fennel presumably once grew there in abundance.


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 14 Sep 2016 - 8:45

While the rest of us squabble, MM quietly posts brilliantly researched stuff like the above.

I found the details in his last post really interesting, although the recipe and picture made me feel sick. But what must be admitted is that I have made myself ill by refusing to eat meat, eggs or dairy produce - no B12 in my diet has caused a serious deficiency that has mucked up my entire system. The recipe for Pig's Blood Soup is particularly revolting, but my doctor would probably recommend it as an ideal medicine to supplement his treatment. No wonder the Spartans were bursting with energy. Was it Napoleon who first observed that an army marches on its stomach - fights on it, too, I suppose. Made me think that some research into the diets of nations that have been successful in war and conquest could be interesting. Grain-eaters v. carnivores - who are usually the winners who take all? They say the British Empire was built on bacon and eggs for breakfast - not to mention all the roast beef consumed in our island. Lots of B12 there - no wonder the Brits ended up ruling a quarter of the world.

I am having injections to restore my strength and am also forcing down dessicated liver tablets. I may even eat an egg today. But watch out all who attempt to cross me in future: I could turn into a nasty, vicious fighter by the end next week - unlikely for a peaceful gruel and honey-cake person, but you never know.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 14 Sep 2016 - 11:37

Temperance wrote:
No wonder the Spartans were bursting with energy. Was it Napoleon who first observed that an army marches on its stomach - fights on it, too, I suppose. Made me think that some research into the diets of nations that have been successful in war and conquest could be interesting. Grain-eaters v. carnivores - who are usually the winners who take all?

Actually Temp, I believe the Spartans, like all the ancient Greeks, were not at all big meat eaters. Greece didn't have huge tracts of pasture land to devote to stock raising, while sheep and goats were more valuable for their wool and cheese. So the ancient Greek diet was based on grains (emmer wheat and barley); pulses (chickpeas and beans); lots of fruit, olives and vegetables; cheese and fish (a good "Mediterranean diet"). Moreover eating meat was viewed as slightly barbaric, and the slaughter of an animal was accordingly usually only done, with reverance, as part of a religious sacrifice to both honour the Gods and the animal itself. Meat was really something that was consumed only at times of festival, although when a creature was slaughtered, again out of honour for animal, all of it was eaten, nose-to-tail, with nothing wasted. Hence the Spartan's blood soup, and their famous sausages (which were recognised as being very tasty). I have a book about food and diet in ancient Greece and that estimates that the average Greek citizen probably only ate a few pounds of meat annually. Fish and seafood, which were much more readily available, and so widely and regularly eaten, were not subject to the same religious strictures (it's not really practical to perform a live sacrifice of a fish), and I don't think game was either, although boar, deer, hares and wild birds would not have been that readily available to most Greeks.

Hope you recover soon, and remember dairy products, such as a nice Greek cheese, are also rich in vitamin B12.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 14 Sep 2016 - 12:07

MM wrote:
...it's not really practical to perform a sacrifice of fish...


No, the ritual slaughter of a sardine wouldn't really impress anyone, would it?

I shall adopt the Greek diet at once. I like their yoghurt with honey and nuts on it.

I shall also offer up my Holland and Barrett dessicated liver tablets to the gods - they're welcome to them.

PS I'm actually a bit disappointed - I quite fancied turning into a fearsome, Spartan female before whose wrath even nord would quake. ONLY JOKING!! Actually, were the Spartan women scary too, or did they have to be submissive like all the other Greek women (except that prostitute one whose name I can't remember).
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 14 Sep 2016 - 12:41

I'm scraping around in the barrel of my memory ... but didn't the other Greek states view the women of Sparta as having scandalously more freedom than they allowed their own women folk, and accordingly the Spartan women had a reputation for promiscuity and for bullying their husbands? Although that might have come about from the time the Spartan army was away for a number of years (and here I really am scratching about to remember ... were they perhaps fighting in Sicily?) and when they eventually returned they were surprised to find numerous swarthy newborn babes and young children in their homes ... their wives having turned for consolation to their helot slaves. Certainly unlike in other Greek states where women were supposed to not be even seen, never mind heard, the women of Sparta were state-educated, and could own and inherit property independently of their husbands.


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 14 Sep 2016 - 16:06

MM wrote:
...the women of Sparta were state-educated...



That explains a lot. Clearly, uppity, state-educated women have been a menace since the very olden times; and with a bowl of that dreadful pig broth inside them - well, the mind boggles.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Wed 14 Sep 2016 - 17:19

Smile

Not only that but I think part of a Spartan girl's compulsory education included a physical excercise regime (ie school PE) which was designed to make them, "every bit as fit as their brothers", not so much so they were good at fighting of course, but so they could raise lots of babies. So not only were Spartan women state-educated and bolshy, but they were all jolly sporty too!

No wonder the men from all the other Greek states rolled their eyes, whilst secretly thanking the Gods their own women weren't like that.

EDIT

According to wiki:

"All Spartan women, not just the richest, would have taken advantage of helot [slave] labour to perform the domestic tasks that elsewhere in Greece would have fallen to free women. Activities such as weaving which were considered women's work elsewhere in Greece were not considered fit for free women in Sparta. Therefore, women were more preoccupied with governance, agriculture, logistics and other sustenance tasks."

So yes, it seems that these bossy state-school women, between making jars of blood soup and honey cakes for sale at the WI fete and organising the sports day, would have been dominating the village council and running the local school's parent-teachers association ... and all the while encouraging their sons to go off to war (Plutarch relates that one woman upon handing her son his shield instructed him to come home "either with this, or on it"). I rather feel that life in ancient Sparta must have been really miserable if one was a weedy, geeky, sensitive, non-sporty and perhaps rather cowardly boy.


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 15 Sep 2016 - 0:06

i have been trying to find a clip of Michael Scott (Classicist and the thinking woman's Gerald Butler) tasting blood broth made by a group of Spartan re-enactors. He did not enjoy it but I couldn't kelp wondering why they didn't bung it into a cow's stomach and boil it since it's basically sloppy black pudding.

This delightful bronze running girl is thought to be a Spartan woman, it's one of those images that seem to utterly transcend time and culture.



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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 15 Sep 2016 - 0:15

Possibly on her wedding day; or so the ritual has been described. Quite a violent affair so some have written.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 22 Sep 2016 - 11:21

A day late, sorry ....

21 September 1558 – Charles V, King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor, died at Yuste in western Spain. He was 58 years old.

Largely through inheritance he’d acquired vast territories and at its height his Empire stretched the length of South America up to the Caribbean and Mexico, and into what is now California, Texas and Florida; it included the whole of Spain, the southern half of the Italian peninsular, the Netherlands, Flanders, and Burgundy; it covered a huge swathe of land in Middle Europe encompassing Germany, Austria and Bohemia; and it also included numerous isolated colonies and islands in South-East Asia and out into the Pacific. It was the first empire on which it could truly be said that the sun never set.

Along with his territories Charles had also inherited the congenital Habsburg jaw: his lower jaw protruded beyond the upper which meant his teeth didn’t meet and so he had trouble chewing, and accordingly he frequently suffered from indigestion. But for all his troubles with eating he nevertheless loved good food. He was known for his voracious appetite especially for meat, game, seafood and alcohol, and although his physicians repeatedly recommended a strict abstemious diet, he largely ignored them. He suffered from gout, a term then used to describe a number of symptoms including kidney aches and painful joints, but even then was known to be associated with the consumption of rich food, excessive alcohol and a sedentary lifestyle. He may well have also developed diabetes, liver and cardiac problems. His suffering, which began when he was just 28, limited his ability to write and travel, and eventually caused him to partition the empire and finally to give up the throne in 1556 (his younger brother Ferdinand got the Holy Roman Empire and his son Philip II inherited the Spanish Empire including all the lands in the Americas, the Netherlands and Italy).

This is Charles as a young man, it's quite a flattering portrait but the protruding lower jaw is still evident - after his mid-twenties he always had a beard which largely obscured the defect.



And here is Titian's famous portrait of Charles at the 1548 battle of Muhlberg (when he was 48 years old). Titian employed quite a lot of artistic licence - although Charles was present at the battle, he was so crippled by an attack of gout that he arrived, not on a warhorse but carried in a litter, and he spent the entire conflict well behind the lines confined to a chair with a well-padded footstool.



Charles retired to an opulent villa built next to the monastery of San Jerónimo de Yuste, where he had ramps installed so he could be pushed around in a wheelchair which allowed him, most importantly, to be able to attend mass.  And there he spent his days, hunting and fishing (when his gout allowed) or just reading and eating. Against the advice of his physicians he continued to dine on all the things he loved: venison, oysters, eels and potted anchovies were particular royal favourites (and he’d managed to obtain a Papal bull from Pope Julius III granting him a dispensation from obligatory fasting, even on Holy days). On the evening of 20 September he dined outside on a dish of eels, was promptly taken ill of a fever, and died early in the morning of the 21st, "as the clock struck two … and with the name of Jesus on his lips".

There was inevitably a suggestion of poison and suspicion immediately fell on the royal cook, but an investigation quickly showed the man to be completely loyal and neither was it found possible for poison to have been introduced by anyone else. It seemed simply that the Emperor had finally succumbed to years of bad diet and ill-health. He’d been suffering from “bad digestion” for three weeks before his final demise, which might suggest a cardiac problem, although the description that he was feverous on his last night rather suggests it was something other than a heart attack or stroke, and malaria had been rife in the region that summer.

Before his body was interred in a tomb within the Escorial monastery in San Lorenzo, one of his pinky fingertips was cut off as a religious relic. The mummified morsel has been held for centuries at the monastery in a red velvet-lined box. Recently the Spanish church has been persuaded to allow the finger to be studied and even gave permission for a tiny bit to be taken for analysis. Examination with X-ray and electron microscopy showed the finger joint to be infiltrated by the characteristic needle-shaped crystals of uric acid, thus proving that the Emperor suffered painful gout, and indeed the condition was so severe that the finger joint was largely destroyed by crystal-packed growths (trophi). A further study on the preserved finger also confirmed the presence of malarial plasmodium parasites in his blood and so rather than his death being due to what he’d eaten, whether that evening or during the previous five decades, it may well have been an attack of malaria that finally finished him off.

The Emperor’s last meal is often said to have been an eel pie although contemporary accounts more often describe it as a torti (tart) or pastel (pastry). In the 16th century a pie typically meant a dish baked in a strong hot-water pastry crust (as a means of preserving the filling) and so when reheated and served the filling was scooped out and the thick pie crust discarded (to be given away as alms to the poor, or ground up for later use as a thickening agent). A torti or pastel however implies a more delicate construction in which the pastry crust was intended to be eaten along with the filling. So it would appear that what Charles ate most probably resembled a typical Spanish empanada.

Here’s a suitable 16th century Spanish recipe for a meat or fish filled empanada, translated from the 1529 Spanish edition of Ruperto de Nola’s 'Libro de Cozina' (Book of Cooking):

EMPANADA DE CARNE O DE PESCADO
 
"You must take meat or fish, and give it a boil.  But if it is meat, boil it more than the fish.  And when it is well-boiled, take it from the fire and put it in cold water.  And then make the empanada.  And put in the meat or fish which is cut into small pieces, as big as two fingers, or even smaller.  And put them in the empanada, and then go to the oven and make a vent hole on top of the lid of the empanada so that it can breathe, or else it will burst in the oven.  And when you put the meat in the empanada, also put fine spice with it.  And if it is fish, use a good deal of pepper.  And if it is meat, use a good deal of spice; and a little before it is time to remove the empanada from the oven, put into the vent hole some eggs beaten in a dish with verjuice or orange juice or rose-scented white vinegar.  And then return it to the oven for the space of a Paternoster and an Ave Maria.  And take it out and put it on the table."

…. I like the way that in the days before domestic clocks were common, the cooking time is given in terms of the time to recite the Lord’s Prayer or an Ave Maria. My mother similarly reckoned that four verses of 'Onward Christian Soldiers' was correct timing for a soft-boiled egg, although I always felt she took the hymn a bit too andante ... I preferred the pace more andante moderato and the yolks accordingly just a bit runnier.


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 22 Sep 2016 - 22:38

Splendid history, dear Meles meles.

And all that about our Charles V from Ghent (Carlos I for Spain)...
Because he was so prominent present in the Low Countries I did of curse a lot of research about him.

And to come back to Yuste and you will not believe it, but on a French messageboard in a thread about Charles V someone asked living in the neighbourhood of Yuste if he not descended from a Flemish accompagnion of Charles V to Yuste.
And I found it...I found it!...
http://passion-histoire.net/viewtopic.php?f=53&t=36021&start=30

Betorki,

j'ai trouvé que le docteur Henri Mathys était avec lui. Aussi un autre Brugeois (inhabitant de Bruges) était aussi en Espagne et visitait Charles: son ancien médécin ordinaire: Cornelis van Baersdorp.
https://www.google.be/?gws_rd=ssl#q=cor ... el+v+yuste
http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornelis_van_Baersdorp
Après deux heures de recherche...quand je ne le trouve pas immédiatement, je suis poussé, presque obstinément, de chercher plus en détail ...et j'ai trouvé ça:
http://www.dbnl.org/arch/buhr001gesc04_ ... c04_01.pdf
F.C. Bührmann 1868
https://www.yumpu.com/nl/document/view/ ... bestand/65
lire page 61
je traduis du néerlandais:
son cour de serviteurs existait encore toujours d'une cinquantaine de personnes, avec l'exception d'un Allemand,d'Espagnols, de Néerlandais et de Bourguignons...
Luis Mendes Quyada: major dome
2 inhabitants de Bruges: Willem van Male son sécrétaire
Hendrik Mathys son docteur
un mécanicien (les horloges de Charles etc) un ami d'antan? Juanelo Torriano
son confesseur: Juan Regla

Bonjour!
Remercie pour votres réponses.
PaulRychier: Mon seconde nom de famille est "Mateos". Mon grand-père (le père de ma mère) était "Mateos", il avait les yeux gris claires. Je crois que le nom de famille "Mateos" a pu devenir à travers du temps d'un ancien "Mathaus" ou "Mathys".
Mon grand-père habitait au nord de Cáceres (Extremadura), près du Yuste (lieu de retraite de Charles V). Je crois que les soldats qui portait Charles V ils se sont restés en Extremadura.
Je suis très curieux avec ce thème parce que quoique je suis né en Espagne j'ai une façon de vivre le plus semblable au nord d'Europe; par exemple, je me lève très tôt, je déteste me coucher tard.
Cordialement,
Betorki.

And al that after nearly 500 years...


Cordialement, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Thu 22 Sep 2016 - 23:11

Have to say Meles meles there was one word that i didn't understand and it was "empanada"
And on the net I found of course the pictures,
but also the translation: pawned, in debt, bitter. It is then the female from "the in debt one"? Wink
And still some difficulties: In Dutch they translate it as "pastei"
http://www.jamiemagazine.nl/recepten/bakken/pastei-recepten/index.html

While for empanada I found this:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/chicken-empanadas-recipe.html
For me some will call it a wrap but we call it in our local dialect a "flap" a bit I think as in the English flap. Some food flapped together in a "flap"...?
My question: How does your "empanada" looks like? Wink

Your Belgian friend, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 23 Sep 2016 - 9:21

Salut Paul,  ... The name "empanada" apparently comes from the Spanish verb "empanar" meaning to wrap or enclose in bread.

I don't know what a 16th century empanada looked like but the ones made around here (I'm in southern France but there is a lot of Spanish, or more strictly Catalan, influence in the region) look rather like Cornish pasties, ie a circle of pastry folded over the filling and then crimped along the edge to make a chunky semi-circular "pie" that can be eaten with the hands.



I've seen it suggested that the empanada evolved from the Indian somosa, being introduced into Iberia by way of the Portuguese colony of Goa, but it seems to me that such a simple dish was probably invented independently numerous times around the world: empanadas, somosas, cornish pasties, turn-overs etc are all basically the same design.


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 23 Sep 2016 - 11:49

Sorry to hear Temps has been unwell - though I'm somewhat late saying this.  I haven't foresworn eggs and dairy yet - though I'm not one of those vegetarians that only eats cheese made from vege rennet and eggs with a bit of salad.

MM, I remember my mother making apple turn-overs.

Anybody ever hear anything from the other MM (Minett)?  She seems to have disappeared.  Did she think commenters were too rancid in the way they treated Richard III - though he still has his champions (our recently suffering Temperance for one).

Edit for clarity - actually I DO only eat cheese if it's made with (or at least the label says) it's made with vegetarian rennet - what I meant to say is that there are some people who call themselves vegetarians but they stick to cheese and eggs largely for their protein.  I do eat other things.  I want to improve my cooking habits - I CAN cook but sometimes I take the lazy way but I've been bothered by an allergy (and as far as I can tell the cat is clear of "jumpers") and the doctor said there's not much to be done for it except take antihistamines.  I looked online (though I realise there are some iffy remedies online) but there were quite a few YouTube videos saying to cook from scratch.  I nearly fainted this evening and had to grab some nearby railings but whatever it was seemed to pass as quickly as it came on.  I'm having a blood test for rheumatism factor on Monday - all those things are to do with a sub-par autoimmune system I think, though of course I'm not twenty-something anymore.


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day   Fri 23 Sep 2016 - 12:09

Oh, I'm not really suffering, LiR - others here, like Paul and Caro, have had/are having a far, far tougher time. My problems are all self-inflicted injury and so I, like Charles V, really deserve no sympathy!

My diagnosis has a splendid name though: megaloblastic anaemia - nothing to do with iron deficiency - just lack of B12. Left unchecked though it can get very nasty and some sufferers end up with Megaloblastic Madness - honestly! Vegans get it a lot and often go quite potty. That explains an awful lot! I think Megaloblastic (or Megalobalistic as my friends are calling it) Madness sounds like a sale in a carpet warehouse - It's Megaloblastic Madness! Everything Must Go!

Anyway, probably explains why I've been so touchy recently.

Minette has disappeared. I think she got married and lived happily ever after, poor Richard quite forsaken.
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