Herb Tart (with lots of sage)

There is only time for a quick recipe today, so I will pick up a loose end from the crafting meeting: The green tart from the recipe collection of Philippine Welser.

Our full spread: apple tart, grape tart, beef pastry, chicken pastry, raisin marzipan and green sage tart (foreground)

52 If you want to make a tart of greens (krautt dortten)

Take young chard (piesen) and all kinds of fragrant herbs, wash them, press them out well, and fry them in fat. Then put them into a bowl and grate good cheese into it as well as a wheaten bread. Put this in with the herbs and stir it together. Take eggs and a little cream, colour it yellow and season it with good spice powder. Stir it together well and make a base, put it into the tart pan and pour the filling on it. Cover it with another (dough) sheet and close it with a wreath (braided edge). Let it bake, but grease the pan with fat beforehand, then it will not burn. If you want it sweet, add sugar. When it has baked for a while, but a hole in the top and put in some sweet butter and put it in (repetition?). You can also bake this in an oven.

This was an improvised addition to the menu on realising we had a vegetarian in attendance. I abstracted some of the tart crust dough for it and raided my friend’s gharden and fridge for green herbs. There was no chard to be had, but plenty of sage, some parsley, rosemary, and odds and ends. I chopped all of it, added some firm, mild cheese, eggs, cream, and butter, and processed it all into a coarse mix. The seasoning I opted for was assertively savoury, with pepper, ginger, nutmeg and mace. That is probably not true to the original intent – Philippine Welser’s recipe book tends to serve herb tarts sweet. We did it to make it clearly a main course dish for those who did not eat meat. It turned out good – all ‘green tart’ recipes I have tried so far did – and I may try it or one of its companion recipes in the envisioned sweet version some day.

Philippine Welser (1527-1580), a member of the prominent and extremely wealthy Welser banking family of Augsburg, was a famous beauty of her day. Scandalously, she secretly married Archduke Ferdinand II of Habsburg in 1557 and followed him first to Bohemia, then to Tyrol. A number of manuscripts are associated with her, most famously a collection of medicinal recipes and one of mainly culinary ones. The recipe collection, addressed as her Kochbuch in German, was most likely produced around 1550 when she was a young woman in Augsburg. It may have been made at the request of her mother and was written by an experienced scribe. Some later additions, though, are in Philippine Welser’s own hand, suggesting she used it.

The manuscript is currently held in the library of Ambras Castle near Innsbruck as PA 1473 and was edited by Gerold Hayer as Das Kochbuch der Philippine Welser (Innsbruck 1983).

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