Tudor Cooking: Tarte Owte of Lent

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…

IMG_2908
Tarte Owte of Lent (image by The Global Reader)

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

Instructions:

  • 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.

IMG_2911
A serving of the tart with cherry ginger jam on the side, and a simple salad (Image by The Global Reader)

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.

SubstandardFullSizeRender
Kitchen fireplace at Hampton Court (image by The Global Reader)

And finally, where Henry and his most honored quests would dine: The Great Hall. A tart very similar to this was probably served there!

IMG_2482
The Great Hall of Hampton Court (image by The Global Reader)

A Sweet Treat From Ancient Rome

I’ve had some spare time lately, so I’ve put it to good use and refreshed the blog. New design, new navigation, cleaned-up categories; it all works much better now.

A new category is Historical Dinners, and what fun that’s going to be! The Vikings, Ancient Egypt, Regency England, the last dinner on Titanic…the possibilities are endless. I needed something for people to actually look at when they click that link, so here’s a little something sweet from Ancient Rome to get this party started.

This is adapted from a recipe on Pass The Garum, a great blog about Roman recipes. Accessible, knowledgable, well-written; you should check it out for sure.

The recipe itself is quite easy and very tasty. If you like dates, you will love this. There were no specific measurements given, and since this is so simple it’s not a problem to just wing it. They will taste good no matter what you do.

Dulciaria (Little Sweets)

Ingredients:

  • Dried Medjool Dates
  • Pine Nuts
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Honey (I used Sage, but any flavor should work)
  • Sea Salt
Dulciaria Ingredients
Dulciaria Ingredients
(image by The Global Reader)

Instructions:

  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment baking paper
  2. Remove the pit from the dates
  3. Pulse the pine nuts lightly in a food processor*
  4. Add freshly ground pepper to taste and mix
  5. Stuff the dates with the pine nut/pepper mixture
  6. Lightly sprinkle the stuffed dates with sea salt
  7. Put honey in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a low heat. Remove from heat when the honey has thinned out and starts to foam
  8. One at a time, skewer the stuffed dates
  9. Tilt the saucepan so that the honey is deep on one side, and dip the date in so that it gets totally covered
  10. Place on cookie sheet to cool
  11. When done with all the dates, pour any extra honey over dates
  12. The honey will not really set up hard like candy – if you want a bit more of a bite to the texture, place dates in the fridge for awhile

*Note: a mortar & pestle would be a much better option for this than a food processor, but you work with what you have. Shopping list has been updated…

 

Dulciaria
Dulciaria
(image by The Global Reader)