I’m just getting started with a really fun online class, A History of Royal Food and Feasting, a collaboration between University of Reading and Historic Royal Palaces.
I’ve been a history nerd most of my life, and I’ve always had a very soft spot for those most rowdy of English monarchs, the Tudors. All those good stories…and as luck would have it, the first week of this course is focused on foods that appeared on the tables of Henry VIII, so I’ve been super excited to dive right in.
The lesson focused on a savory cheese tart that was one of the first dishes served right after Lent, because it’s loaded with goodies folks had been denied for 40 days: cheese, cream, butter, eggs. You know, the stuff of life.
Very easy to make, and so tasty. It certainly isn’t low-calorie, but it is the definition of respecting high-quality ingredients in a very clean, simple way. This will be going into the regular rotation at my humble home…
Tarte Owte of Lent (Tart Out of Lent)
adapted from a recipe from Historic Royal Palaces
Ingredients: to make 6-8 portions
For the filling
- 1/3 pound Cheddar cheese (I used a really good Welsh Cheddar)
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1 medium sized egg
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Salt and pepper to taste ( I wanted this to be peppery, so I used a couple big pinches)
For the pastry case
- 1 package frozen deep-dish pie crust (2 crusts), thawed
- Egg yolks for glazing
- Chop or shred the cheese and then pound in a mortar
- Add cream, egg and butter and mix together to make a thick cream (about the consistency of Cottage Cheese – add more cream if too dry, more cheese if too wet)
- Season with salt and pepper to taste
- Butter a 9 or 10 inch tart pan
- Roll out your bottom crust, and press into prepared tart pan
- Fill with cheese, cream, egg and butter mixture
- Roll out the second crust, a bit thinner this time then fold out as a lid.
- Seal and glaze with egg yolks
- Bake at 375°F for 35-40 minutes, or until golden
- Allow to cool a little and serve
I served it with a simple salad of lettuce and mint (herbs were commonly used in salads during that period), dressed with oil and vinegar. I also put a little cherry ginger jam on the side of the tart. We learned in our class that Henry was particularly fond of fruit jellies and jams, and cherries and ginger were ingredients commonly encountered at his court. I also just got back from a trip to Northern Michigan (cherries everywhere!) and was thrilled to come across this wonderful stuff from a company called Cherry Stop while I was there. You should get some; nicely gingery, and not too sweet.
And to finish this up, I have to toss in some pics from my recent trip to Hampton Court.
An overcast, blustery day in late January. Hardly anyone there. My husband and I just wondered around, taking it all in. We even got to be alone with this crackling fire for a few minutes. Total and complete bliss.
And finally, where Henry and his most honored quests would dine: The Great Hall. A tart very similar to this was probably served there!