a freshly baked pie in a pan. Covered in dried fruit in a geometric pattern, it is in a ceramic dish.

The Good Housewife’s Jewell

To make a veale pie.
Let your Veale boyle a good while, and
when it is boyled, mince it by it selfe,
and the white, by it selfe, and season it with
salt and pepper, cinamon and ginger, and
suger, and cloues and mace, and you muste
haue prunes and raisons, dates & currantes
on the top.

I used a prefab pie crust. There. I said it. I used a prefab, came in a box, frozen crust, leftover from my Mom’s thanksgiving baking, and I won’t do it again. It was a false expediency and unpleasant to work with.
That aside, the rest of the pie was pretty lovely.

We scored a nice ceramic pie pan from a clearance rack, and a breast of veal from a confused vendor, and the rest of the goods we had in stock. (I had the thought of tracking how long my staples last, but because we are feeding so few, I don’t think it would help anyone.)

The breast of veal went into a pot of water which seethed for about 30 minutes on low.
After the pink of it faded and it stopped looking raw around the bones, I allowed it to cool while I prepared the pie crust.
I opted not to blind-bake this crust, though I normally would. To blind bake, prepare a crust, place it in the pan, and bake til brown. Sometimes weights such as beans (cannot be reused for anything else) or specially made ceramic balls are needed to keep the shell from blistering or pulling away from the pan.

While this was happening, my dried fruits, which are very very dry, were soaking up some wine. I sliced the dates the long way to ensure they had no pits, as well.

I received a lovely new mortar and pestle, which made much shorter work of my whole spices than anything prior. The shape of the pestle is very aggressive. I actually achieved fully powdered whole cloves for the first time!

Then I began to prepare the meat. I boned the breast of veal as best I could, and rather than putting the meat into a grinder, I took two knives and whacked it methodically til it was fully minced. This process took about 10 minutes, mostly because I took my time and was very careful.

Unfortunately, my veal had very little fat. It’s so hard to get, and so expensive, that there was no way to source veal fat without some serious gymnastics.
I had to get some form of binder, carrier, and moistener into the dish without use of the fat which naturally would have come with a more appropriate cut, and chose egg whites. Therefore this recipe is a more distant adaptation.

1 breast of veal, about 2.5 lbs w bones
2 egg whites
1 tsp cinnamon
6 cloves
3 leaves of mace
½ tsp ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

½ cup gewurtztraminer (or what is on hand)
6 prunes
6 dates
1TBS raisins
1 TBS currants

1 pie crust
Heat oven to 350*
Place dried fruit in wine. Set aside.
Roll the pie crust into the pan. Cover with a dampened linen towel or plastic wrap.

Place meat in poaching vessel, almost cover with water. Simmer, turning as needed, til it no longer shows evidence of having rawness.
Remove from heat, allow to cool. (return bones to liquid to make broth after boning meat out, for another dish)
When the meat is cool, mince it or grind it.

a ball of chopped meat in a bowl. It is about the size of a grapefruit. Being parcooked, it is an unappetising color.

parcooked meat, hand minced.

Measure spices, grind or crush if needed, place in a bowl.
Add the egg whites to the same bowl, and whip until the spices are evenly incorporated.

two bowls, one of fruit in wine, one of careful, measured piles of spices in a bowl.

dried fruit soaking, spices ground and measured

Fold the eggs into the meat until evenly incorporated.

Place the meat mixture into the pie crust, and decorate with the soaked dried fruits. Feel the fruits as you go for pits.

Bake at 350* until your meat thermometer gives a 140* reading.

We had this pie with the pear dish posted last week, which was a nice match. (Good Housewife’s Jewell has an iteration called To Preserve Wardens.)
It held overnight in the fridge very well, and reheated admirably.

two slices of pie on plates to be served, the remainder of the pie in the baking pan.

The pie was aromatic and lovely.

This is an excellent picnic dish.

Robin, Vogelzang. The Book of Sent Sovi: Medieval recipes from Catalonia. Tamesis Books, 2008. 191. Print.

 

a poached chicken breast and white pottage in a brown bowl.

finally, my brown bowls look good!

For the next several months, I will be focusing on Sent Sovi, not only because I like it, but because I am working on a group project which it complements reasonably well.

Being that one of the most mentioned dishes across times and places historically was Blancmange, “white food,” I decided to bite the bullet and make this well known sick-person’s dish. It’s long been a shorthand for us that “white food” is food lacking in flavor or depth. While this is a very mild dish, it is not bland.

The translation of Sent Sovi I have has an appendix with supplementary recipes, one of which is Menjar Blanc, “White Dish.” The appendix is listed as “Missing recipes from the Sent Sovi tradition included in the Llibre d’aparellar de menjar.”

It is a fairly long set of explanations for the dish and a variant. The first version looked like fun to start with, and turned out a surprisingly pleasant dish.

We were both surprised by how much we liked this dish. It was more than a mere porridge, about the texture of fresh made polenta.

 

It was not sweet, nor was it salty, it was very very chickeny. We ate all of the chicken, saved the extra pottage, and agreed to add more chicken to it for lunch the next day.

stirring the hot pot so no lumps result

boiling newtonian fluid.

Recipe: Menjar Blanc

Summary: a White Dish

Ingredients

  • 3-4 chicken breasts (one per person, usually)
  • 1 cup soaked, skinned almonds
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4-1/2 c rice flour
  • 1 TBS sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 oven-worthy pot with a good lid

Instructions

  1. Set the oven to 350*
  2. Flatten the chicken breasts gently, try not to break them.
  3. a chicken breast sandwiched between two paper towels, on a cutting board, with a flattening mallet coming down to flatten them.

    using layers of cloth or paper cuts down on cleanup considerably, and also protects against tearing the meat.

  4. Blender the almonds with the broth, pour all of the result into the pot.
  5. Add the chicken to the pot.
  6. Simmer gently.
  7. When the bubbles begin to rise, make a slurry of one cup almond broth taken from the pot and the rice flour,
  8. add the slurry back to the pot.
  9. Raise the heat until a proper boil starts, then put the lid on and place the dish in the oven.
  10. About 15 minutes in, add sugar and salt, stir the contents, move the pieces of chicken about.
  11. Every ten minutes or so, stir. The dish will thicken when the rice flour is fully cooked, which is reasonably in tune with the chicken’s timing.
  12. Remove the lid for the last 10 minutes, or turn on the broiler, and allow the surface and edges to brown. The instructions are adamant about the browning being essential to the quality of the flavor.
  13. Serve.

Ratings

+uses broth from poaching prior chicken

+ skinless, boneless breasts are perfect.

+ mild, but fulfilling, easy to balance with other dishes.

+ can bake other things in the oven at the same time (350* is a standard baking temp)

– almond milk is time consuming to make, slipping the skins takes forever.

– needs both stove and oven time (unless I work out a shortcut)

– needs stirring and attention, particularly for browning at the end

Preparation time:

Cooking time:

Number of servings (yield): 3

My rating 4 stars:  ★★★★☆ 1 review(s)

 

 

 

 

The Good Housewife’s Jewel page 24

Dawson, Thomas. The Good Houswife’s Jewel. 2002. Lewes, East Sussex: Southover, 1996. Print. 1870962125

take a pint of white wine and a small quantity of water and small raisins and whole mace. Boil them together in a lttle verjuice, yolks of eggs mingled with them, and a peice of sweet butter. So serve them upon bread, sliced.

 

two thick slices of bakery bread on a plate, with a layer of chopped stewed meat, and liberally sauced with a yellow egg based sauce showing specks of raisin

definitely not finger food

While there are no instructions for the actual cooking of the feet in question, I have my preferred methods (slow braise, a lid, no salt or acid until the meat is tender, as it can be toughened by either).  Then again, I have no feet right now. I do have an oxtail, which is something of a scarce item in our freezer.   Though the tail cannot be sliced for an elegant service as the meat of a foot could, it has similar enough textural qualities as to be a fine substitution.

a plate with a packet of ox tail, surrounded by the spices, bottles, and butter needed for the dish. Not shown are the eggs.

Eggs are off camera

I set the tail to simmering on the lowest heat, and in a smaller pot, made the sauce separately.

While the meat was somewhat unappealing to look upon, the longer it cooked, the more unctuous it got. It smells lovely.

When the meat was completely cooked and soft, I removed it from the bone and minced it, knowing I could not get elegant slices.

I then placed it on the toasts to wait for the sauce and held it in a warming oven.

The only quantity given for this recipe is that pint of white wine. This leads to all of the other decisions for balance.

 

Recipe: To Boil Calve’s Feet

Ingredients

  • 1 calf’s foot or oxtail, simmered in water til tender, and sliced or otherwise prepared for service
  • slices of bread on which to serve the meat and sauce
  • 1 pint white wine
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 oz raisins
  • 1 teaspoon whole blade mace, intact (to be removed later)
  • up to ½ cup of verjus (taste as you go, it can go too sharp quickly)
  • allow to cool, then in a pan, blend
  • 3 egg yolks and 3 oz warmed butter
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. when the butter and egg yolks are gently warmed, stir in the wine mixture, off the heat. Be gentle, or the eggs will curdle.
  2. Folding the butter and eggs into the liquid creates an oily mass, and cooling the liquid then slowly beating the yolk in then adding the butter does similarly.
  3. Use your best judgement.

Variations

– a less well regarded food

– the sauce is unlikely to work in bulk, and is challenging even in small quantities

– the acid balance can be difficult, wine depending

+ sumptuous without being greasy

+ deep flavor

+ gives a side product of a lovely beef broth

+ Sophisticated enough for a nice appetiser.

 

Remember this is not a hollandaise… but all of the requirements for a hollandaise are there. The techniques required to make the creamy velvety sauce were not delineated until much later. There’s a fair amount of history available online and in books for emulsified sauces should you wish to find more information.

Because I did not wish to have a grease slick, I did stir the wine blend in to the butter, rather than pouring the butter overtop of the wine. I then folded in the egg yolks and warmed the sauce while stirring, It sure looks like a hollandaise.

a sautee pan filled with egg-yellow sauce with specks of raisin showing, and a little froth on top.

Runnier than a custard, the sauce uses wine and verjus where modern cooks would think to use lemon.

This also permitted me to taste the sauce as I built it to prevent adding too much acid and damaging the balance of flavors.

Now I had to decide whether I was going to follow the implication in the instructions and simmer the meat in the blended sauce, or read it the other way as an overlaid sauce.

Being that the meat I chose is quite unctuous and tender, and that the bread is rather stiff, I opted to pour the completed sauce overtop and serve the dish as sops.

It cannot be stressed enough that the success of this dish relies on a lower acid white wine, as too much acid will unbalance the dish. A highly gelatinous meat is also helpful to the quality and enjoyment of it, as fatty meat would lend a greasiness which cannot balance the egg-yolk sauce.

If you don’t wish to fuss about with wine specifics, go easy on the verjus and taste critically as you add the eggs and butter to the sauce, in order to bring the flavors into a bright, creamy balance.