Mushroom Sauce

If you want to make a sauce of mushrooms that are boiled, pressed, and fried with oil, make the sauce like this; take onion, parsley, vinegar, and spices, and mix it with vinegar and a little water. Make pieces of the mushrooms, to fry, or serve with a fried mixture, and then put them in their sauce, or serve them grilled with salt and oil.

(part of an ongoing series in which I share recipes presented at The Lay of El Cid hosted by Barony Bhakail)

12 oz mushrooms, cleaned
2 cups water
2 oz olive oil, divided
½ oz (1 Tbs) salt
3 oz onion, minced
3 oz parsley, fresh
4 oz red wine vinegar

(thyme, savory, black pepper, or garlic would all go well with this dish)

Place clean mushrooms in pot with water. Add half of the olive oil and the salt. Simmer until mushrooms are cooked through. If water boils off, add more.

While mushrooms simmer, mince the onions, chop or scissor rinsed parsley. Prepare and measure all spices and seasonings.

Don’t add the seasonings yet

When mushrooms are cooked completely, drain water through strainer into one bowl.

Chop mushrooms very coarsely.
Add remaining oil to pan, return mushrooms, without liquid, to the pan. If needed, add small amounts of oil, but be cautious. They are spongy and can get too oily rather easily.

When mushrooms are fried, remove them to the second bowl.
Place the onions, parsley, ginger, pepper, and vinegar into the pot, and cook them through.
The onions will become transparent.
Add the mushroom broth, to the spices and oil, bit by bit. The goal is to reduce it slightly, but not to deplete it completely, while cooking the seasonings gently through.

When the sauce is reduced, return the mushrooms to the pot. Give them a quick toss, taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.

This is an excellent accompaniment to a red meat dish, filling for a turnover, salad topping, and accompaniment to a plate of cheese.

The type of mushrooms chosen affects the dish. Reducing the cooking liquid affects the density of flavor, so it is better to be parsimonious with the spices.

Serves 4

Santanach, Joan, trans. Robin Vozelgang. The Book of Sent Sovi Medieval Recipes from Catalonia. First Edition. Barcelona, Spain: Barcino-Tamesis, 2008. 76-77. Print.

Comer Higos a la Francesa:, To Eat Figs in the French manner

Rupert de Nola, Libre del Coch; Lady Brighid ni Chiarain, trans.

After a year and a half of stuff you probably don’t want to hear about, I am back. We are mostly unpacked, and have found a lot of the things needed for cooking.

My books are finding their ways back to the shelves, and I am making spice blends and big batches of stock and fat broth again.

We have fresh stores of almonds and cubebs, the garden is alive with dill, rue, and lovage.  The apple trees were taken in the storm, the pear will be harvested one last time before that tree too must make way. It has not been stable without the apples to support it.

Last November, I was honored to prepare the food for a performance of The Lay of El Cid hosted by Barony Bhakail. It was a delightful day, with songs and laughter, heartfelt performances, and the most marvelous kitchen staff. It was a magical day. If you were there, thank you.

We served a variety of dishes, from a relatively broad selection of books. The event setting was intended as being the Court of Alphonse X, which gave me quite a bit of excitement in selecting a balanced menu. I used a number of influences, and had a tremendous amount of help in the year leading up to it.

These recipes have been printed in a small booklet which was present at the event. I do not anticipate editing them further, nor adding photographs until I cook them as part of our regular menu.

If you have used the booklet, I welcome your comments as each respective recipe is posted, unless you prefer to email me.

This dish, a fig compote, is a pleasant condiment for a pork or ham dish, an accompaniment to cheese, a salad adornment, even a dip for apples. It is easily made from dried figs, and can be pressure canned for picnics. I love the stability and versatility of this dish. It can be prepared, put into a feast basket to supplement a meal, and be forgotten until needed, or wrapped prettily as a guest gift.

The Recipe

 Take dried figs, the sweetest that you can get, black and white, and remove the

stems and wash them with good white wine which is sweet; and when they are

very well-cleaned, take an earthenware casserole which is big enough, which

has a flat bottom, and cast them inside, stirring them a little; and then put this

casserole upon the coals, and well-covered in a manner that it is stewed there.

And when they are stewed, and they will have absorbed all of the moisture of

the wine, stir them a little, and cast fine spice on top of them; and turn them,

stirring in a manner that incorporates that spice in them; and then eat this

food; and it is an elegant thing; and it should be eaten at the beginning of the

meal.

My adaptation

8 oz dried figs

8 oz water or dessert wine (sauternes)

4 oz ordinary white sugar

1/4 tsp canela cinnamon ( or simmer with a cinnamon stick )

1 pinch of salt

Soak figs in water for one day

Reserve water.

Place figs in the pot on stove in the same water, boil.

Add sugar, simmer until dissolved and figs are fork-tender.

Add a little more water if not covered.

Taste, refrigerate overnight.

Remove stems from figs,

Place figs in processor, beat up well.

Add a bit more of the cooking water if too stiff.

Add cinnamon if you opted not to simmer with a stick.

Place in jars, refrigerate.

Makes a pint.

Note: Lemon peel, nutmeg, or black pepper would be pleasant in this dish.

 

 

Gear: Measuring spoons

Saucepan

Spatulas

food processor (really vital, it would be a bear without the help of good staff)

pint canning jar and sealing lid

 

 

Libro de Guisados. Carroll-Mann, Robin. N.p.. Web. 14 Oct 2013.

<http://www.florilegium.org/?http://www.florilegium.org/files/FOODMANUSCRIPTS/

Guisados1-art.html>

I think you may forgive me for terseness, the power is uncertain as I write.

a finished dish of chickpeas, pale against a dark bowl.

Serve in heavy pottery, to hold the heat.

Tender chickpeas, intended as fresh, new, uncooked, undried field produce, to be cooked in almond milk and seasonings.

 

I used canned chickpeas for lack of access to fresh ones, home-made almond milk, a poached onion, marjoram, savory, parsley, ginger, salt, and verjus.

bowls containing chick peas, a poached onion, almond milk and spices. Verjus and olive oil in bottles, and a pile of herbs and  salt.

the onion was simmered through beforehand.

It was a quick throw-together. Unfortunately, round one is kind of bland and un-interesting, as chickpeas flavor and almond milk’s flavor don’t do much to help each other out.

I’ll play with  a few other processes and get back to you.

in other news, it held for three days, and was perfectly pleasant cold

a pot of simmering almond milk with the chickpeas, to which a pile of minced herbs has been added but not yet stirred in.

be cautious not to burn or scorch

.

– boring

+ vegetarian,

+quick

+ cheap.

 

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

Mushrooms are some of my favorite things. This is one of my favorite ways to eat them.

The instructions start with a parcook of mushrooms, the instructions are similar to modern ones.

a black pan with a tangle of slender pale mushrooms simmering

a little water, a little oil. The water boils off, the mushrooms fry instead of burning

If you want to make sauce of mushrooms that are boiled, pressed, and fried with oil, make the sauce like this:

My preferred way of cooking things like mushrooms is to put them in a pan with enough water to get them cooking, and enough oil to fry them, so they cook enough to not absorb the oil they will then fry in. It works really well.

After instructing on seasoning, the book tell us to make pieces of the mushrooms to fry, or serve with a fried mixture, and then put them in their sauce, or serve them grilled with salt and oil.

the same mushrooms, a few minutes later. Herbs and an onion have been added, the heat has been turned off

waiting for them to cool

This to me implies that the mushrooms can be served as a mince, a hash, a sauce, or served as a side dish in a more whole nature.

My decision is to cook the mushrooms with the seasonings, mince them, and stuff mushroom caps with the mushroom mince, then bake them. It’s a side dish, an hors d’ouvre, and a treat.

mushroom caps stuffed with minced mushrooms, ready to be plated.

mushrooms do deserve to be the star of the show once in a while.

 

Recipe: Sent Sovi Mushroom Sauce XVII

Ingredients

  • 1 pint mushroom caps, stems separated
  • 1/4 cup stems and mushrooms
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 sprig marjoram
  • 1 sprig parsley
  • 1/4 tsp mace
  • 2 Tbs onions, minced
  • 1/8 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the stems and ugly mushrooms into a pan with the water and olive oil, simmer until the water is gone. When the water is gone, the frying begins, and stirring must commence.
  2. Mince the onions, marjoram and parsley, toss them into the pan with the spices at about the same time the water boils off.
  3. After the mushrooms are showing good color and the onions are cooked through, put in the wine vinegar with a little more water, to make sure it distributes, this will be boiled off as well and we want everything to have the brightness it adds.
  4. When the mushrooms are fully cooked, preheat the oven to 400 ( I make this as a side dish, so there’s usually a roast already in there. Just use whatever temperature it needs to be, and keep a sharp eye on them.)
  5. Mince the sauteed mix as soon as it is cool enough to handle.
  6. Place the hollow caps into a small, shallow baking dish or pan, and tuck some of the minced mixture into each one.
  7. Put a little water into the baking dish, just enough to barely cover the bottom, and if you like, place some loose foil overtop, in order to allow some steam to form and assist the cooking.
  8. When the caps are cooked through, the dish is done. It’s not the most elaborate, it doesn’t have the overwhelming richness of many modern versions, but it is intensely mushroomy, it’s vegetarian, and it’s easy to make ahead.
  9. The minced mix could be used in a number of ways, such as a tartlet filling, a kebab, or a hand-pie.

Variations

– not as rich and intense as most modern variants

– slightly fussy

+ tasty

+ veggie

+ shares an oven well

+ keeps well, reheats well.

Preparation time: 45 minute(s)

Cooking time: 45 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 2

Mushrooms, how I love them! Tender and tasty, it’s hard for me not to love a mushroom.

 

I fell for the funghi on a road trip with my Mom many years ago. We stopped at a country club, and split an appetizer of mushrooms in a red wine sauce for lunch.  Phenomenal. The real revelation with that dish was the idea that a button mushroom can be every bit as lush and complex as any other variety, if treated well. This recipe does treat them well.

The trick with this book is to be aware that the translator/transcriber used modern weights and measures rather than the historical ones, which can lead to misperceptions of balance. Of course, like most recipes, measures are not given for each step, so it’s more directly about portion and proportion.

(please check http://www.medievalcookery.com/helewyse/Lost_in_Translation.html for more information, the author of the page as done some excellent work breaking down the specifics of this particular title)

 

This recipe, sops of field mushrooms, calls for cooking in a casserole or ceramic pot. I did manage to scare up a ceramic pot, and can attest that it cooked rather similarly to a cast iron dutch oven, but the flavor was perceptibly different when cooked in each. The tight lid is the trick, to hold in steam and re-baste the mushrooms.

 

all ingredients and required dishes measured and in individual containers. Sliced mushrooms, chopped mushrooms, herbs, spices, water, verjus, and the ceramic pot

an old-style pyrex oven/stove pot with a glass lid would be perfect if you want a sense of what ceramic would do.

The instructions call for soaking the mushrooms in order to clear them of sand. Most modern farm mushrooms do not have this issue, but soak them anyhow in order to give them the moisture boost which will help them create the wealth of sauce which is the hallmark of the dish.

 

Ceramic pot containing mushrooms which have sweated down to about 1/4 their original size, in a vessel designed to trap and save steam. The contents of the pot are about 40% liquid at this stage. Very steamy environment, be careful when removing the lid to not get scalded.

Open the lid away from you, lots of steam.

An oddity is the guidance to grind a quarter of the mushrooms, and allow them to macerate with a very small amount of spinach tops. I handled this by making a spinach dish at the same time, and simply stole a little of the spinach.

 

cooked mushrooms on thin toasts with plenty of liquid. It is monochrome to a point, and could use some fresh herbs both for color and scent

an appetiser.

Seasoning is light, but the book does suggest the flavor be “tangy” with spice and verjus.

Recipe: to prepare sops of field mushrooms.

Ingredients

  • 48 ounces of mushrooms, set aside 12 ounces
  • an ounce and a half of wilted or thawed spinach
  • 1 oz olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp saffron
  • 1 TBS minced herbs (I used garlic chives)
  • 4 oz verjus

Instructions

  1. Make sure mushrooms are clean, allow to soak and drain if needed.
  2. Slice any larger than a walnut.
  3. Mince, grind, or otherwise reduce the 12 ounce portion of mushrooms.
  4. Fold minced mushrooms with spinach, set in a small bowl with some water.
  5. Set the heat on medium, put the pot on the heat, and add the olive oil.
  6. Put the other 36 ounces of mushrooms in the cooking pot, put on the lid.
  7. Check the pot every 5 minutes, there will be a lot of steam and a lot of liquid developing in the pot.
  8. When the mushrooms are reduced to about half the size, fold in the minced mushroom-spinach blend, the spices, herbs, and half of the verjus.
  9. Fold the contents of the pot, put the lid back on.
  10. After another 5 or so minutes, taste and adjust seasonings, allow to simmer for another 5 minutes
  11. Double-check seasonings, and turn off the heat when you consider the balance correct.
  12. Slice some bread rather thin, and toast it in a dry pan.
  13. Lay the toasts on plates
  14. Put mushrooms with a good amount of broth on the toasts and serve

Notes

– Mushrooms are not universally loved

-spice balance can be slightly fiddly -requires a good pot

-calls for a small amount of spinach, requiring extra planning

+requires checking in somewhat regularly, but not constant attendance

+simple assembly +Easily made in advance

+Leftovers easily converted for future use; can be frozen as-is, can be sauteed down into another dish, added to soup,

folded into a meatloaf. Not a lot you can’t do with this one.

Preparation time: 5-15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 45 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 2-4

 

The yard has finally gotten with the program and begun to offer mint. It is spring, and we will be eating more green things. Yay!

It took a little doing, but I found a recipe that intrigues me in Apicius (Grocock and Grainger edition) which called mostly for ingredients we have. Apicius leans on several things we don’t keep for a variety of reasons, but this one lined up pretty well

This is another of those “problem” recipes in that the title calls for lentils, but the recipe does not. I opted to make the dish twice; once with and once without.

The next instruction called for “soda” in the English, but “nitrum” in Latin. Nitrum can be found described as salt, as a toxic salt, saltpeter, baking soda, nitrogen, and a number of other useless things. My impression, based on my understanding of Roman water transit and storage, is that something alkaline added to water helps soften beans, keep dishes cleaner, and otherwise make life more digestible. It is possible, and this is conjecture, that the instruction is to add something to the water as we modernly might add baking soda to soften beans, but it might be simple table salt as well.

Being that I know my lentils cook well in my water, I added salt for flavor, but did not add soda.

 

cooked peeled chestnuts, uncooked lentils, bottles of vinegar, fish sauce, honey, and oil, herbs and spices

What color bowls would have looked better?

I have precooked chestnuts. They are peeled, they are tender, and I am happy with their texture and ease of preparation. The lentils used are French green lentils, though brown flat lentils would have made more visual sense.

I cooked one cup of lentils in water with a little salt, and set them aside. After bringing the heat up on the chestnuts in water, I added the honey, vinegar and liquamen (I use an anchovy-based fish sauce), and allowed the pot to simmer until the chestnuts showed their readiness to fall apart. Then, with my pestle, I began to crush them.

Two things happen here. The “lentil” reference begins to make sense; it looks just like Dal, and the hot pan contents want to try to kill the cook. Be careful with splashing, it takes very little pressure to crush the chestnuts, which are now simmering in liquid honey. Boiling honey hurts a lot.

Chestnuts are very very starchy, so the pot thickened quite fast. I did add a little more water to the pot so it would not stick and burn.

In the “chestnut only” version, I crushed them as completely as I could allowing the pot to thicken as it could. In the “with lentils” variety, I first crushed them about halfway, until they looked like chopped walnuts, and served them alongside the lentils, then for the second portion, I crushed them further and folded the lentils in.

chestnuts in a pan, partly crushed.

ready to either be served or crushed further.

How do I post three images across? I’d like to make this tidy.

On tasting, I added a little more vinegar and a little more liquamen, then dropped the heat and folded in the mint and spice mixture.

I do not cook with rue, it’s one of the ones the herbalists warn about, and I do not wish for a bitter taste at this time. If I wished to enhance the bitterness, I would add a dandelion leaf , and if I wished to enhance the herbal note, I would add tarragon. I was holding the dandelion and put it back, it did not appeal at the moment. On the other hand, I did use pennyroyal, which is also an herb of concern. I grow it and like it, but do not usually feed it to others.

One of the spices called for is “laser”, which according to research seems to be most functionally similar to asafoetida. I like asafoetida. It ties together well with the fish sauce and adds a subtle note of character to a dish when used sparingly. If you have not used it, it’s interesting to play with, it’s the resin of a form of giant fennel. Too much of it can be quite appalling, a small amount can add an oniony note.

The oil added in cooking was far more utilitarian than the one I garnished with. The final oiling kept the top of the portion from drying out, and added another lovely layer of flavor.

Lentils served alongside chestnuts in a ceramic bowl.

one way to serve the dish

a thick porridge of chestnuts in a pottery bowl, showing fine flecks of fresh mint

I did not share this bowl.

Recipe: Apicius 5.2.2

Summary: Lentils, Chestnuts

Ingredients

  • 8 oz lentils.
  • 8 oz chestnuts, cooked and peeled (available in bags, jars, or frozen, or you might prefer to do the work)
  • 16 oz water
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp coriander
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida
  • a small bunch of mint, about ¼ cup fresh
  • a couple of leaves of rue, or a dandelion leaf, or a little tarragon, if you wish
  • 1 TBS olive oil (for cooking)
  • 1 TBS honey
  • 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 2TBS liquamen/fish sauce
  • 1 tsp olive oil (for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Simmer the chestnuts prepared chestnuts in water with salt.
  2. Place spices and herbs into mortar and pestle, or spice grinder, and make small. You should have about 2 tablespoons when it’s all chopped up.
  3. Add honey to the simmering chestnuts.
  4. Once the honey dissolves, add the vinegar and fish sauce. Continue to simmer.
  5. When the pot begins to look cloudy, add the cooking oil and start crushing cautiously. You may choose to only break the nuts, or you may prefer to mash them as I did.
  6. Watch for sticking and add more water if needed.
  7. Taste for balance, add more of what your palate thinks it needs. Mine needed another splash of vinegar.
  8. Add the herbs and spices, fold in.
  9. Stir until it feels a little stiff but not too stiff, and plate.
  10. Pour a little of the garnish quality oil overtop, and serve.
  11. Add lentils, or serve alongside lentils, or add to lentils and fold in, or forget lentils entirely, as it makes sense to you.

Preparation time: 30 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 2

 

Ratings:

+Mostly cheap and easy ingredients

+Low-stress cooking,

+Flexible recipe, tasty when served a variety of ways

-really needs the liquamen (vegan substitute; kelp and soy sauce)

-relies on a variety of seasonal herbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.