Country #37: JAPAN!!!

I’m so excited about this next one that I’ve actually delayed digging in…why do some of us do those sorts of things to ourselves? Anyway.

JAPAN!!!

I admit to a life-long obsession with Japan. My dad lived there for a few years before he married my mom, and some of my earliest memories are the stories he told me about it. He was in Gunma Prefecture, up in the mountains…tales of hot springs, the shrines, the villages…pretty much set the stage for the best daydreams for an already day-dreamy kid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And yet, somehow, I still haven’t seen it all myself. That’s one of the reasons I’m so thrilled by Japan popping up as my pick now; 2017 is the year I hope to make the journey. An auspicious sign, yes?

Since speed is obviously not a thing with this blog, I might just linger here for awhile…

 

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Reading Portugal: Baltasar and Blimunda by José Saramago

What a beautiful, lyrical, strange, sad, piercingly funny experience this book is.
A week since I turned the last page, and I can’t stop thinking about it.

A love story, biting satire, melancholy musings on faith, loyalty, and the meaning of life. It’s all there. And a master writer like José Saramago makes it work. Hauntingly so. Go ahead, read it.

Enrique Casanova - Portugal Pittoresco
(Image by Creator:Enrique Casanova, Museu Imperial [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

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Country #36: Portugal

It’s all about Portugal right now. Winning Euro 2016, and now they are the country that jump-starts my reading adventures. It’s an embarrassment of riches, really…

So happy to be back! I’ve never really made up for lost ground in terms of cooking, and I’ve added a whole other layer here with Historical recipes (up next, an Elizabethan-era chicken dish), but whatever. Do you care? I don’t. Life is busy, this is all in fun, so let’s do what we do and not worry about the pace.

I’d very much like to visit Portugal. So, until then, I’ll get to know it a little bit better via words and food. And Vino Verde. Viva! Saúde!

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…

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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.

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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.

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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!

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