Who is Alice the Cook?

Alice the Cook

Alice the Cook

Alice the Cook has performed at various renaissance festivals and historical re-enactment shows as a cook who recreates recipes that have been used since the 1400s. She specializes in British, Irish, Scottish and Welsh cuisines, but has been known to explore French, Spanish, Italian, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisines as well. She has written articles for Renaissance Magazine and gives lectures on the use of herbs from the Middles Ages to modern times and how herbs were used to help the ailing.

She continues to test recipes in her kitchen. By using cast iron pots and wooden utensils, Alice the Cook prepares recipes in a traditional manner and even utilizes an outdoor fire pit.


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Cod Hash

Sometimes when performing cooking demonstrations, we need to alter our plans due to supplies, weather, or other situation that is thrown our way.  This past year, we ran into an issue with supplies.  We decided to do an improvisational recipe and it was a tasty success!  This was a change to a traditional dish and I liked it immensely and I hope you do too.


Cod Hash

Cod Hash

2 lbs of cod, cut into 2 inch by 2 inch cubes
1 medium onion or 1 leeks (a mild onion flavored vegetable), diced
1 lb of carrots, thick julienned (size of twig or finger, but not matchstick sized)
1/4 lb of sweet potatoes, peeled and thick julienned
1 lb of red potatoes, thick julienned
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 sprig of rosemary
Kosher or sea salt (to taste)
black pepper (to taste)
2 tbsp of olive oil

Over medium heat add the olive oil.  Once hot, add the garlic and onion or leek to flavor the oil.  Once sweated (becoming transparent), add the vegetables and stir constantly for 6 – 8 minutes. The vegetables should be nearly tender and add the fish; the fish will not take long to cook.  The dish is ready when the carrots and potatoes are tender.  Remove from heat and let it set for 2 minutes before serving.

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Applejack Pork and Potato Dauphinois

The potato, which was introduced to Europe in 1536, became very popular in various cuisines.  Over the last 473 years, the potato has become a very important crop in Europe and over the last nine years, the potato has become important through China and Southeast Asia.  Today, the potato has become one of the most versatile vegetables around.  Although a starch, it can be boiled, mashed, baked, grilled, broiled, fried, and riced.  It can be made into a gluten-free flour for breads and vegetarian thickener for stews and is even used in the medical industry to stop bleeding in accident victims.

The issue of Renaissance Magazine, I paired one of my easiest entrée recipes with one of the more complex side dishes.  Applejack Pork is one of my family’s favorite recipes.  Easy to make and always a crowd pleaser, it’s perfect for any potluck or historically accurate meal you may make.  For this particular meal, I would recommend pre-slicing the potatoes, placing them in cold salt water (kosher or sea salt), and pre-heating the oven before beginning the Applejack Pork.  This way, the potatoes and pork will get done together.

Applejack Pork
4 lb Pork Loin (can be larger or smaller)
Apple Cider (non-alcoholic)
10-12 Cinnamon sticks
Powdered Cinnamon
Powdered Nutmeg
4-8 Cored Harrelson or Braeburn Apples
Cooking time: One and a half hours

Take the pork loin and rinse with water.  Place in pot, fat side up, on top of the stove.  Fill the pot with apple cider so that it covers the pork loin.   Add all of the cinnamon sticks so that they are in the apple cider.  Sprinkle liberally with the powdered cinnamon and nutmeg.  Cover and cook on the stove top at medium to medium-high heat to poach the pork loin.

While cooking, you will want to check on the pot.  You want to make sue there is enough apple cider to keep cooking the meat and keep it moist.  After about an hour, add the cored apples to the pot Cook for another half an hour so that apples are soft and tender.

Pull the pork and baked apples from the pot and turn up the heat on the leftover apple cider and pork au jus to reduce to approximately 2 cups.   The reduction should be served with the pork loin like a light sauce and sprinkle lightly with powdered cinnamon.

Potato Dauphinoise
Preheat over to 350 degrees F
3 lbs of red potatoes, thinly sliced
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1 large garlic clove, halved
4 table spoons of butter
2 1/2 cups of heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the potato slices into a bowl of cold water to remove the excess starch.  Drain and pat dry with paper or cloth towels.  Take the halved garlic clove and rub the cut side around a wide, shallow, ovenproof dish or cast iron pot.  Butter or spray oil the dish/pot generously and blend the cream and milk together.  Cover the bottom of the dish with a layer of the potatoes.  Dot a bit of the butter and minced garlic over the potatoes and season with the salt and pepper.  Pour a bit of the cream and milk mixture over the layer.  Continue making layers until all of the ingredients have been used, ending with just a layer of cream.  Bake for about 1 1/4 hours. If the potatoes are browning too quickly, cover with a lid or a piece of aluminum foil.  The dish is done when the potatoes are soft and tender and the top is golden brown.  Serves 8

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German Pretzels with Handmade Mustard

German Pretzels

Fresh German Pretzels with handmade mustard

Fresh German Pretzels with handmade mustard

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
2 pkgs active dry yeast
3 tbsp butter
Coarse salt for sprinkling

Soda Bath
1/2 cup baking soda
2 quarts water

Dissolve yeast in the lukewarm water. Mix flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Form a well in the flour mixture then add the sugar to the center of the well. Pour the yeast/water mixture into the well. Let it rest for 15 minutes before mixing.

Add the softened butter to the mixing bowl and knead everything to form a smooth dough.  Add a teaspoon of water occasionally to get to the correct consistency. Remove the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough into twelve equal parts, then roll each piece on the table and taper the ends; make sure you don’t roll it too small as it will break.

Close-up of pretzel.

Place the pretzels without covering them in the fridge for about an hour. This helps build a skin that will absorb the dipping solution better and make a beautiful shiny crust.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Note: an authentic German recipe calls for a lye solution, but baking soda is a perfectly acceptable and widely used substitute.

Fill large pot 3/4 full and bring the water to a boil. Carefully and slowly add the baking soda to the boiling water. There will be a reaction when the baking soda hits the water and it will bubble furiously for a moment and then relax. Stand back a bit just to be safe.

Using a slotted spoon, gently drop each pretzel into the bath for 10 seconds, then turn over for another 10. Astrid called for a total of 10 seconds only. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Score the dough once to avoid cracking, sprinkle with coarse salt, and bake the pretzels for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Handmade Mustard Ingredients
1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (can be more or less depending on level of spiciness)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp horseradish (optional)

Simmer the mustard seeds, water and vinegar together for 20-30 minutes over medium heat.  The seeds should absorb most of the liquid and swell in size. Remove from the heat and add the cayenne pepper and turmeric (and horseradish) and place in a food processor until creamy (like peanut butter) and serve.

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Love and Romance – Tarts

September 14 and 15, 2013 was love and romance weekend at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. We played things up a wee bit and make two types of tarts and made a few other dishes too! Keep in mind that these are for two separate tarts (not combined) and you will want to divide up the crust in half to make two separate items. *Dairy free and Vegan substitutions are offered below

Pear Tart made September 15, 2013

Pear Tart made September 15, 2013

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp granulated white sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces (for a dairy free option, I use clarified bacon fat and for a vegan option I use coco butter)
1/8 to 1/4 cup ice water

Pear Filling:
3 medium pears
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp raw sugar

Raspberry Filling:
2 cups fresh raspberries
2 tbsp granulated white sugar
2 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp of fresh orange zest

Pear Tart DirectionsRaspberry Tart made September 14, 2013

Directions for the Pears: Core the pears and cut into 1/4 to 1/8-inch slices. In a large bowl toss the pear slices with the lemon juice.

Arrange the pears in a in a sunburst on the crust dough, leaving a 2-inch boarder. Fold the border over the filling. It will only cover the pears partially and does not need to be even. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and raw sugar.

Bake the tart for 15 minutes, and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, keeping the tart in the oven all the while, and bake for another 40 minutes, until the pears are tender and the crust is golden brown.

Raspberry Tart Directions:
Place raspberries stem side down until filled in and sprinkle liberally with the raw sugar and orange zest. Bake at 450 until the raspberries crust is done. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

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