To continue from the previous posts: Thanks to a most gracious hostess, I was able to hold a booksigning party to mark the launch of my Landsknecht Cookbook and prepare a Renaissance feast for the occasion.
First off: Yes, the English edition of the Landsknecht Cookbook is now available. You can order it directly from the publisher who will ship worldwide. I am hoping retailers in the US and elsewhere will also pick it up to bring down shipping costs.
To celebrate the occasion, I visited a group of medievalist friends in South Germany and brought some copies along to sign. These are the Kickstarter special edition which is currently shipping to subscribers and of which a few copies are still available.
And more to the point, we enjoyed a spread of Renaissance food that would have graced the tables of senior officers, and even that probably rarely. This is a sumptuous feast. We had deer in a pastry crust, crawfish pies, and a salad spread, and today, we will look at the game hens and the dessert.
Game Hens Cooked Two Ways
We had initially wanted to prepare quail, but then several lovely Cornish hens became available. However, I still wanted to try out the recipe I had found in Marx Rumpolt simply because it sounded so intriguing:
Poach the quail well/ that they are nearly boiled/ and pour a good beef broth over it/ Take spinach/ that is poached/ put it on the quail/ Also take browned flour in it/ and fresh unmelted butter/ also mace and whole pepper/ let it come to a strong boil together/ then it will be good and well tasting.
I am reading this as poached birds served in a roux-thickened sauce with spinach, and it sounded quite modern to me. The photo does not do the whole thing justice. It was absolutely delicious. Mace and pepper is the perfect complement to that flavour profile.
The other two birds, we roasted, basting with bacon fat and sprinkling with breadcrumbs as per the instructions in Marx Rumpolt. Pepper and fresh herbs for flavour went well, and they had everything except a good photo. I have no idea why I can’t make chicks look good in a picture.
And this is, of course, a recipe that is actually in the book: almond tart. This version is from Anna Wecker, but the principle is really the same as in that from Sabina Welser, and all the others.
Take half a pound of finely pounded almonds on the table for one tart. Beat four or five eggs very well and remove the birds (i.e. strain them), and take as much good skimmed-off cream that has been boiled before and cooled again. Also add rosewater and sugar and a little grated white bread, that makes it tender (lucker).
Make a pastry crust as you do all the time and shape it as you please, round or as a heart or however you can. After it is hard, fill in the stuff and bake it at a gentle heat from above and below. When it has firmed up and baked well, brush it with rosewater and strew a good amount of sugar on it, or make a paste from egg white, rosewater and sugar and spread it on it (the tart). Give it a good heat, then it rises and glistens like a marzipan, which you brush the same way. It saves sugar, and when the egg whites are well beaten, you may leave out the rosewater or use very little.
If you like, and if you can, you may cut a very tender lid that is very broad, or a nice rope (braided edge?). Make a dough from egg whites, sugar and rosewater and roll it out well. When the filling has firmed up, place the nicely cut (covering) on it and give it a good heat so that the cut parts stand out yellow and brown and the tart filling white. But it must be broad and cut differently than for other tarts.
And this way, you can also cover other tarts made with dairy products (milchspeiß). If you would make it for a sick person who must not eat milk, use as much almond milk with rosewater or another kind of boiled (i.e. distilled) water that otherwise serve for the need of the sick with the eggs, as much as you need, as always.
Of course I cannot resist tinkering with the recipe. This time, I added more cream to the filling to make it more liquid and white and added a thinner layer of beaten egg white. This became gratifyingly crisp and smooth and may be what was originally intended.
The tarts were certainly good, and more would have been consumed it we hadn’t already had so much food in the main course. We served them with fruit and cheese.