Confits; Candied walnuts

(part of an ongoing series in which I share recipes presented at The Lay of El Cid hosted by Barony Bhakail)
If you want to make candied walnuts, make a cut at every part, that is, on each
side and at both ends. After that, soak them nine days and nine nights, and
every day change with cold water. Then scald them with a pot of boiling water,
and leave it a day and a night.
For two hundred fifty walnuts, take three pounds of honey and a pitcher of
water, and cook it enough so it becomes half a pitcher.
Then take them from the pot and put them in a basket to drain well for a whole
night, and then spread them out on a screen and put them on their ends; and
they should stay the whole night.
After that, take thirteen pounds of honey and the walnuts said above, and take
the honey and put it on the fire. When it boils skim it well, and put in the nuts,
and cook it so that the honey is sticky enough.
After that, take them out of the honey and a clove on one end, and on the other
end a pistachio nut, and on the sides a clove of ginger and a pine nut. Do all
of this with every walnut.
Put them in a sauce dish, and pour hot honey over them so they are well
covered.
8 oz walnuts
8 oz honey
4 oz water
1/4 tsp dried ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 oz pine nuts
2 oz pistachios
Place nuts in pot. Cover with water, rinse until water clears. Simmer in water
until soft and water discolors. Discard water.
Place nuts evenly on parchment paper, place in medium oven (300) and gently
dry without cooking nuts. Place honey and measured water in pot. Simmer
until reduced by half (use a spatula to gauge depth visually)
When the honey has reduced, fold in the cooked walnuts. When the nuts are
evenly coated, turn off the heat, add the pistachios and pine nuts. Fold in the
spices, then put the nuts into the storage jar. Cover them with the honey from
the pot.
NOTE This recipe relies on the salt of the pistachios for it’s seasoning. If you
have unsalted pistachios, you may wish to use a teaspoon of salt, applied to the
walnuts after boiling, before drying.
Santanach, Joan, trans. Robin Vozelgang. The Book of Sent Sovi Medieval Recipes from
Catalonia. First Edition. Barcelona, Spain: Barcino-Tamesis, 2008. 164-165. Print.

 

a single complete cabbage rollup, cut in half to display a delicate filling of nut loaf

the final product

“The Art of Cooking; The First Modern Cookery Book’

“the eminent Maestro Martino of Como”

as translated by Jeremy Parzen.

Not being a numbered book, this is the last recipe in the Riva del Garda section, on page 126. Unfortunately, there is no original in this book to refer back to, only an English translation.

I have a nice little head of cabbage, and thought it would be nice to make some stuffed leaves.

Cabbage, garlic

hazelnuts, walnuts

parsley, marjoram, mint, pepper, saffron*

fat*, eggs, cheese*

 

the raw ingredients for the dish, assembled

preparations commence

I used whole hazelnuts and did not blanche them. I strongly suggest blanching them. The skins were bitter in the dish, which was less of a good thing than anticipated.

First, I grated the cheese* into the bowl with  the herbs and seasonings. I had no parsley, but used fresh mint, dried marjoram, walnuts (also not blanched, though less of an issue, much less less manageable), eggs, fat, pepper, and garlic, but no saffron*.

a bowl containing only the dry seasonings and grated cheese

all measured and ready

After blanching the cabbage leaves in salted water and processing the nut based stuffing in the machine, I stuffed the cabbage like galumpkes rather than making a loaf.

a blanched cabbage leaf cradling a quarter cup of stuffing, waiting to be rolled up and steamed.

step one of rolling

(hmm, maybe I can do this as a slide show?)

Using the same pot I had blanched the leaves in, I steamed the stuffed cabbage rolls in about a half inch of the  salted water remaining from blanching the leaves.

Not having a lid for this particular pot, I used some foil to help hold steam.

a small pan with alumimum foil wrapped over it, in place of a proper lid

make-do lid

They took just under 10 minutes to cook, and only took a whole 10 minutes to assemble because I was taking pictures.

The flavor was pleasant, with the earthy nuts, bright seasoning, and sweet cabbage  leaves.

2 oz hazelnuts
2 oz walnuts
2 oz asiago cheese
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp marjoram (dry)
1 tsp parsley (dry)
a handful of fresh mint
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, whole, beaten
3 oz melted veal fat (book calls for minced)
3 cabbage leaves.

 

Ratings;

–         heavy on the costs from nuts

–         labor intensive; small batches in a food processor, someone has to blanch a   lot of leaves

–       Not clearly meat, but not vegetarian (can sub the fat, it just needs a little something to avoid tasting mealy and dry)

–        Needs wet cooking, so oven or large steamers

+        Fast

+        Minimal assembly fuss

All in all, this recipe is not worth making for more than 12 people. The main reason to invest in nuts is to provide an alternate protein, this is neither cost effective nor vegetarian enough to bother with.

I would make it for a picnic basket in a heartbeat though, it’s portable food, not gloppy, interesting flavors, and doesn’t require much in the way of effort to transport.

*I start with asiago then move sharper, saltier, or milder depending.

*My general rule with saffron is not to add it until I am using a dish regularly and have the recipe right where I want it, it’s much too dear.

*the recipe called for veal fat, which we actually had from a prior recipe. I used it rendered, what I had could not be minced as called for. Olive oil would work well, I do not think butter would be pleasant if this were intended as  a dish served cold.