“The food presented in this course represents the foods of fall in a well to do abbey. The abbey gardens would be heavy with fruits and vegetables, the chickens would still be happily laying, beer would be ready for drinking, and the wheat turned to flour.
As our new Baron and Baroness consider their new station, the religious orders would have been called to give counsel. In this case, counsel is to share a fine, simple meal with friends and loved ones as often as possible.”
Due to some last minute changes, I couldn’t use the menus I’d printed and created, so I’ve included the text that had been intended for that use as well as new text discussing the items that were improvised the day of.
Gourdes Roasted and Mashed: mashed winter gourds and winter gourdes roasted with spices
Gourdes traveled to Europe first from the Silk Road and then from the New World as well — one of the most rapidly traveled vegetables. Winter gourdes of the 14th-century European court would have been thick-skinned, long-necked, and likely warty with a cream or golden colored flesh. European gourdes did not travel to the Americas, as it was already a gourd-rich environment. While occasionally historically appropriate vegetables may be found at Asian markets, food historian Lavada Nahon expresses that many mild-flavored, heavy-skinned new world gourdes match the profile sufficiently to use. Here we have chosen mild, local butternut squash.
Their preparation is basic and would have been plausible for anyone cooking over fire or with an oven. Ingredients: Butternut squash, butter, grey sea salt; butternut squash, olive oil, cinnamon, salt, pepper, clove, & ginger
Onion and Ground Pork Soup: onions, chicken broth, ground pork and spices
Onions have been used to flavor food from early times. This humble yet hearty vegetable is featured in this dish, flavored with chicken broth, ground pork, and herbs and spices. The recipe was created in a moment of necessity, as were many other recipes in history, and therefore the portions are unknown. However, the ingredients are those which would have been found in the fall in any well-stocked abbey, including ours. Served with white bread. Plain butter, honey butter, rosewater creamed cheese, and fruit spread provided by Master Godric from the dayboard largesse. Soup ingredients: Onion, butter, pork, soy and gluten-free chicken broth, salt, black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, apple juice, apple cider vinegar, fresh sage and parsley, grains of paradise, & turmeric. (Vegetarian soup contains no meat, meat broth or black pepper.)
Split Nuns: stuffed eggs with herbs and apples
These little eggs resemble nuns with browned, wrinkled faces staring beneath habits. Boiled and stuffed with yolk and many spices, then fried in butter, these eggs were clearly not simple food. Ingredients: saffron, cinnamon, ginger, sage, & parsley.
Epffelbolster (Apple Pillows): local apples fried in buckwheat beer batter
Apples cut thin as obleies (a sacramental wafer) or cut into slices of various sizes were battered, and fried. Ours use buckwheat, eggs, and beer made by Baron and Baroness Vey. Ingredients: apples, buckwheat flour, egg, homebrew IPA, & sugar.
http://www.medievalcuisine.com/site/medievalcuisine/Euriol/recipe-index/epffelbolster and http://medievalcookery.com/recipes/frutours.html
Poached Crabapples: in port wine, spices, and honey from the Royal Bee Preserve
Tiny and tart, crabapples are full of flavors and scents of the medieval kitchen. These locally picked crabapples are boiled in red port wine and water and are flavored with butter, ginger, cinnamon, clove, sugar, and honey processed by the Warden of the East Kingdom Bee Preserve. Ingredients: crabapples, port wine, butter, ginger, cinnamon, sugar, clove, & honey.
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So, sometimes you show up with great plans and they get thrown out the window almost immediately.…
That was the case with this meal. Upon arrival, I discovered that the dayboard was serving the same soup recipe that I had been planning to serve, Gourdes in Pottage. It’s not typical for a dayboard to have soup, so I hadn’t considered that it would be an issue. (And also, there were no stock pots available as a result.) A quick call to my husband got me very large stockpots from my mother and our food processor, which allowed for needed improvisation.
Since I had what I had, I altered my plans. The soup shifted to be onion soup with pork, chicken stock, and a lot of spices, some apple juice, apple cider vinegar, and fresh herbs remaining from the egg dish. I started it as quickly as I could with just onions in butter, so they could figure out what they wanted to become. My husband pureed the pork and it was added to the soup for a boost of flavor and body. Fortunately, the soup turned out golden, rich, and hearty, and though it wasn’t what had been planned it was a success. Even the vegetarian, allergy-friendly version (which had no added broths or meats) was a really solid soup.
The squash was cut and half of it was roasted with spices and the other half boiled and pureed with just butter and nothing else. It was served with fat crystals of salt sprinkled across the top. Fortunately, those two dishes worked well on their own.
The apples in dough fried far more slowly than I hoped, meaning that by the time things were just about done, I could walk the hall and present a single apple round to everyone. Those were a big hit, and next time I’ll make sure to be ready to push them out faster.
I am grateful for the cooking team who joined me in the kitchen, and especially my husband who gave up another activity to come and help me brain my way though what had been a very-well-planned-plan gone sideways. Thanks to him, Anya, and Alessandra, I could go to court and do my duty as baronial arts and sciences champion. Izzy and Melody came in and killed it, and were great at plating things up. Snarfi and Cormac sang and worked and brought joy and spirit to the room. Godric gave me his leftovers so I could improvise and include them in my meal so they’d not be wasted, like the butters. (I made croutons from some of the leftovers, to serve with the soup, but totally forgot to serve them!)
There were many things learned but also I realized that I have also LEARNED many things about being in the kitchen and that’s why I could pull out a soup that I didn’t plan that was still rooted firmly in history in flavor profile and style.
In all seriousness, it was exhausting and stressful and frustrating to discover this when I did, but I was also grateful that I hadn’t made everything in advance and I had the chance to make different decisions.
Here’s the info about the planned soup: Gourdes in Pottage: winter gourds with pork in gode broth. Gourdes traveled to Europe first from the Silk Road and then from the New World as well — one of the most rapidly traveled vegetables. Winter gourdes of the 14th-century European court would have been thick-skinned, long-necked, and likely warty with a cream or golden colored flesh. European gourdes did not travel to the Americas, as it was already a gourd-rich environment. While occasionally historically appropriate vegetables may be found at Asian markets, food historian Lavada Nahon expresses that many mild-flavored, heavy-skinned new world gourdes match the profile sufficiently to use. Here we have chosen mild, local butternut squash. Ingredients: Butternut squash, onion, pork, soy and gluten-free chicken broth, garlic, salt, black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, & egg; Served with white bread & creamed butter.