Posts Tagged ‘Food’


Crumpets, Lemon Curd and Clotted Cream

   Posted by: anj68    in recipe

Despite this past weekend’s heat at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, my assistants and I made some beautiful wood-fired crumpets, lemon curd and clotted cream.  They are all fairly easy to make, but require some patience and time. 

4 cups of white bread flour
1 tsp of salt
2 oz of butter
1 cup of milk, warmed
1 tbsp of dried yeast
Corneal or flour
2 tbsp sugar

Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and rub in the butter.  In a separate bowl, stir in the warmed milk and yeast and add the sugar.  Wait two minutes before adding the yeasted milk into the flour.  Mix together to form a soft dough.  Need for 10 minutes until soft and silky.

Crumpets with lemon curd and clotted cream

Crumpets with lemon curd and clotted cream

Put the dough in a large clean bowl and cover with a damp cloth and let it rise for two hours until it has doubled in size.

After the dough has risen, roll it out until 2.5 cm thick and cut out the dough in
2 -3 inch circles.   Cover with a damp cloth for another 30 minutes and bake at 350 degrees.

These should only bake for 350 degrees.  First side bakes for 3 minutes. They are flipped and baked for another 4-5 minutes until they are golden brown. Serve warm.

Lemon Curd:
3 eggs
1 cup of white sugar
1/3 cup of lemon juice
¼ cup of butter
2 tsp of lemon zest

Whisk eggs, sugar, and lemon juice in a double boiler over simmering water until mixed well, then continue to stir until thick, 7 to 10 minutes.

Drain through a mesh sieve to get rid of lumps. Fold in butter until well incorporated. Mix in lemon zest. Cover curd and chill in the refrigerator until it has thickened, about 4 hours. 

Clotted cream:
1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1/3 cup of sour cream, room temperature
2 tbsp powdered sugar

Using a whisk attachment on the mixer, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Remove from mixer, and hand whisk in the sour cream and confectioners’ sugar until just joined. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

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Cooking with Cheese

   Posted by: anj68    in Food, history, recipe

Cheese has been traced to the Sumerians, Egyptians, and has been found throughout the world. Each culture has had its own version of cheese; in central Asia, cheese was made from yak milk. North Africans used milk from wild pigs and Europeans used milk from reindeer, water buffalo and mares. But it was the Romans who perfected the art and began to age their cheeses, preparing to send their product out to the marketplace.

Cheese pie served with fresh apple slices and blueberries

Cheese pie served with fresh apple slices and blueberries

Early cheeses were made from adding milk into a container made from an animal’s stomach. The stomach contains a natural enzyme called rennin and would cause the milk to curdle. When churned, the milk would be separated from curds and whey, which could be strained to create two milk by-products. The curds would be gathered and cooked to create cheese. Softer cheeses were cooked at a lower temperature and higher temperatures results in the harder varieties. Cheese makers would drain off any additional liquid whey, and then would salt and cut the hardened curd. The processed curd would be pressed into molds and would be further aged/cured in nearby caves or holes in the ground.

During the Renaissance, cheese was served as a dessert and was reserved for the middle or wealthier classes. The merchant/middle class would enjoy softer goat cheeses with grapes or figs and the wealthy would enjoy a cheese course, which was served before or during dessert.

One of the more popular desserts was the cheese pie. This dessert is very different than the desserts for modern palates; it is not sweet and, depending on the cheese, can be pungent. To offset its strong flavor the cheese would be served with fresh grapes or figs. Traditionally, pastry crusts were very hard and were used as a container for many types of dishes. The pie crust below is a modern execution of that recipe and creates a flakier and tastier crust.

Pie Crust Recipe:
2 cups of all-purpose flour
½ tsp of finely ground sea salt
½ cup of butter or lard, softened
¼ cup of cold water

Mix the flour and salt until well combined. Cut the butter or lard up into teaspoon chips and add it to the flour mixture.

Using a large fork, begin crushing the butter or lard into the flour and salt mixture. Begin adding the water at 2 tablespoons increments until a soft, non-sticky dough forms into a ball.

Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour or more before rolling out. This will allow the fat to combine with the flour and will create a flakier crust. While the crust “cures” in the refrigerator, you can begin making the filling.

Cheese Pie Filling Recipe:
1 cup of all-purpose flour
¼ tsp of salt
Pinch of black pepper
¼ tsp powdered mustard
½ cup of grated Gouda cheese (other “white” cheeses may be used as well).
2 egg yolks
¼ cup of lard or butter

Mix together the flour, salt, pepper, mustard. Add the butter or lard and begin to blend together with a fork. Add the cheese and egg yolks. If the filling seems too dry, add the water 2 tablespoons at a time until a thick cream is developed. Cover and let cool for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Roll out the pie crust into a 10” circle. You can use a plate to measure the circle. Place the pie crust into an 8” pie tin; there should be enough of the crust to go over the pie tin. Pierce the crust 6 times in the bottom of the pan; this will help the crust to cook evenly.

Move the cheese mixture from the covered bowl onto the crust and spread evenly. Roll the edges of the pie crust inward or crimp or pinch the crust; this will add a decorative element to the pie.

Set the pie into the oven to bake for approximately 12-18 minutes, depending on altitude. The crust edges should be golden brown. Let cool for 7-10 minutes before cutting. Serve with fresh figs, berries or apples and honey.

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Making Bread the Renaissance Way

   Posted by: anj68    in Food, recipe

During the Renaissance, bakeries were considered the epicenter of many larger towns.  The townsfolk would buy their breads on a daily basis and they could catch up on the news and gossip of the town at the bakery.  Unlike our modern bakeries with electrical or gas ovens, the bakers’ ovens were usually heated with wood or peat and were often built into the bakery’s architecture.

Rustic peasant bread before slicing

Rustic peasant bread before slicing

This past year, I became very familiar with the art of wood-fired baking. I had recently acquired a wood-burning oven to practice my baking skills.  The oven provided some fairly accurate experiences of working in a bakery during the Renaissance.  Each morning, I would heat the oven with birch and oak wood and would gradually warm up the oven.  Once the oven was hot enough, I had the option of pushing back the hot coals to keep the heat longer or rake them out to cool the oven faster and then bake directly on the oven’s stone hearth.

There were many challenges in baking with traditional methods.  From our modern perspective, the largest challenge Renaissance era bakers faced were the lack of prepackaged yeast.  Bakers would have to create yeast naturally or find another baker to purchase or acquire live yeast.  The live yeast was also known as wild yeast and grows naturally nearly everywhere, but it takes about a week to develop.

With patience wild yeast can be grown at home, but it takes a time.  Below is one of my traditional methods of growing wild yeast.

Recipe for Wild Yeast
Combine 1/2 cup unflavored yogurt and two tablespoons of flour in a clean bowl. Cover with a cloth and let it rest for 24 hours.

Peasant bread after slicing

Peasant bread after slicing

Remove any liquid that develops over the yeast.  Add two tablespoons flour and two tablespoons of water and stir every morning for a week.   Make sure that you are removing any extra liquid before adding more flour and water to the mixture.

If too much starter grows, throw away half and replace it with an equal volume of the flour and water mixture.  If bubbles develop, begin feeding the yeast every six hours with the flour and water mixture. Continue to pour off any water.   Feed the yeast with the flour and water mixture about an hour before you plan to use in a recipe.

A Traditional Bread Recipe
Now the yeast that is grown would be traded or sold to other bakers.  It can be messy and time consuming and the ease and the availability of dry yeast allow for tasty, and yet fairly easy bread recipes.  The recipe below is for rustic peasant bread and has been tested and written for modern ovens and equipment

Rustic Peasant Bread
1 package dry yeast
2 cups warm (not hot) water
1 tablespoon sugar
(honey was used during the Renaissance, but it doesn’t rise as much as using sugar)
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups flour
Melted butter

Place yeast, water, and sugar in a bowl and stir until dissolved.  The sugar will help feed the yeast and help the process along.

Blend the flour and salt together.  Add the liquid yeast to the dry ingredients and stir until well blended. Do not knead.

Cover with a warm damp cloth and let it rise until double its original size (approximately 1 hour).

Remove the dough from the bowl, divide it, and place in 2 rounds on a greased cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal; the cornmeal will help stop the bread from sticking to the pan. Let the dough rise an additional hour.

Brush top on dough with melted butter and bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Serve warm.

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Lobster with Brussel Sprouts

   Posted by: anj68    in Dairy Free, Gluten Free, recipe

On a whim, I cooked this dish up.  It is very reminiscent of a French dish I’ve enjoyed on the coast of France.  I hope you enjoy it.

Lobster with Caramelized Brussel Sprouts

Lobster with Caramelized Brussel Sprouts

2 raw lobster tails, shells removed and cut into 1” cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
8-10 fresh Brussel sprouts, cored and quartered (do not use frozen)
2 shallots, sliced
1 clove of garlic minced
1 pinch of dried red pepper
1 tsp of dried thyme
½  tsp of fresh lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste

Begin by heating up a large fry pan to medium to medium – high heat and then add the oil.   Begin by Brussel sprouts and keep stirring and shaking the pan, so that the oil completely covers the sprouts and they begin to cook evenly.  The goal is to have them cook quickly at a hot temperature as we do not want to overcook them, but to caramelize them.

After about 2 minutes, add the shallots, garlic, and dried red pepper.  Continue to stir or toss the ingredients and add the thyme, salt and pepper.  After about 4 minutes, the vegetables are starting to caramelize (the edges are browning).  Add the cut up lobster tail to the dish. 

The lobster tail will cook very quickly (2 minutes).  Once the lobster is done, remove the pan from the heat and serve, garnishing with the fresh lemon zest.

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Lemon Green Beans

   Posted by: anj68    in Dairy Free, Gluten Free, recipe, Vegetarian

Lemon Green Beans fresh from the pan.

Lemon Green Beans fresh from the pan.

2 cups of green beans, tips trimmed* (raw work best)
1/2 lemon, zested** and juiced
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil or use cooking spray
Sea Salt

Begin heating the pan to a medium-high heat and add the oil or cooking spray. Once hot, add the green beans and begin to sauté. They will cook very fast so after a minute, add the garlic and the zest. Continue to stir to avoid burning. Add the black pepper and salt. After about two minutes, the beans should be bright green. Add the lemon juice and let the beans steam and cook in the evaporating juice for about 30 seconds. The beans should be el dente (just done) and are ready to serve. 

* Asparagus, Chinese pea pods, zucchini will make excellent substitutions for this dish. 

**As a note: I do not use a traditional zester. I shave off the zest from the lemon with a sharp knife and then I begin slicing the zest into long, thin strips.

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