Recipes: Feast (with production notes)

Feast

1st Service

Soupe of New Peas
For 8

2 lb frozen green peas
5 c rich chicken broth
1 onion
Salt & pepper
3 slices of bacon, fried
2 thick slices of homemade bread

I made my own chicken stock by keeping the carcasses from the chickens I roasted for the Jacobin Sops and letting them simmer all night in huge pots with the onions. Then I reduced the stock down to approximately what I needed for the soup and the sops. It worked tremendously well.
Take homemade stock with cooked onion and frozen peas and combine in a blender. Whirl until completely smooth. Put in a pot. Cut the bacon into small pieces and fry until crisp, reserving the bacon grease. Cut the bread into fingers about 2″ wide and fry the bread in the bacon grease until browned. Heat the soup until hot but do not boil. Pour into bowls and garnish with bacon and croutons. To serve this is a more medieval manner, use salt pork and pour the soup OVER the croutons and salt pork. (Soupe=soppes, get it?)

Mushroom tarts
Detailed instructions in this post.

Cress and mint with vinegar for 100

6 boxes of fresh spinach
6 bunches of fresh watercress
3 bags of fresh mint
White wine vinegar
Olive oil
Good Kalamata olives

It’s a salad. Tear everything up, make a vinaigrette, toss it at the last possible instant, add salt & pepper. This was a bit too much salad for the number of people, I could’ve done with 4 boxes of spinach and a higher ratio of fresh watercress and mint to spinach. Always buy the best olives you can afford! I also added a few halved hard boiled eggs to the salads because I had eggs left over from breakfast.

Steamed mussels

2 mussels per person
2 bunches fresh parsley, chopped
1 bottle of verjuice white balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

I purchased frozen vacuum-sealed par-boiled mussels on the half shell. That way I didn’t have to worry about dead or alive mussels and only had half of the shell waste and bulk. I steamed the mussels directly from frozen until piping hot, then sprinkled them with fresh parsley, a little white balsamic vinegar, and salt & pepper on the serving platters. They were absolutely delicious.

Sausages

I purchased 30 pounds of pork sausages, half mild italian and half bratwurst. They were seared on the flat top and then put in electric roasters with a leftover bottle of red wine vinegar, some white wine vinegar, and water to simmer until feast. We kept popping breakers in the kitchen (electric roasters pull a LOT of juice) so the roasters had to be put in the feast hall. This was a very popular idea, since when everyone walked in the hall smelled like fresh baked bread and cooking sausages. Better than some nasty scented candles any day!

2nd Service

Roast beef

I purchased 30 pounds of whole boneless sirloin tip roasts from Wards. Qaratai cut them up into slightly smaller hunks of meat, roasted them at 500 degrees until the outsides caramelized, and then turned the ovens down to 350 and roasted them until they reached temp for medium-rare. They turned out perfect, rare in the center and medium on the ends. He let them rest for about 30 minutes then sliced them as thinly as possible. We served them over a small amount of sauteed baby vidalia onions, which I had purchased from the farmer’s market to supplement the leeks.

Green garlic sauce

WHITE OR GREEN GARLIC SAUCE For Birds Or Beef. Grind a clove of garlic and white untoasted bread-crumbs, and soak in white verjuice; and if you want it green for fish, grind in some parsley and sorrel or one of these or rosemary.

1 lb very stale hearty bread, ground into crumbs
3 heads of fresh garlic, cloves peeled and roughly chopped
2 large bunches fresh French sorrel (I used a mix of French and red sorrel, since that’s what they had at the Farmer’s Market)
1 bunch parsley and any leftover parsley stems
Verjuice and salt to taste

Again, no verjuice, so I ended up using white wine vinegar and a bit of water. This is supposed to be herbal and sharp, but I ended up adding just a teaspoon or so of sugar to compensate for the difference in sweet/sharp between white wine vinegar and verjuice. This sauce would’ve been 100x better with verjuice. Chop all the greens well, combine everything in the food processor, and process until you get a smooth sauce. It was sharp, rich, garlicky and delicious with the beef.

We did serve manchet rolls but I’m not posting the recipe I used. It was way too complicated for a feast and my math was wrong. Use any good white bread recipe you’re familiar with, or look for “water rolls” recipes. I know that people do not really appreciate fresh bread at feast, I almost always bake the bread for feast from scratch because it’s so much cheaper that way. Not really for any other reason. 25 pounds of flour is $8. 200 rolls would’ve cost closer to $30 or $40, and they wouldn’t have been as good.

3rd Service

Taillis for 92

TAILLIS to be served in Lent. Take fine grapes, boiled milk of almonds, scalded, cakes and crusts of bread and apples cut in small cubes, and boil your milk, and saffron to give it colour, and sugar, and then mix it all together until it is stiff enough to be cut. It is served in Lent instead of rice.

24 cups of water
3 lb almonds
About a teaspoon of Saffron threads, ground with a few teaspoons of sugar
4 c sugar
4 c dried sour cherries
6 lbs of stale white bread, ground into crumbs

Make 24 cups of rich almond milk using about half of the sliced almonds. Pour the almond milk into a large saucepan. Add the saffron-sugar, the rest of the sugar, and the dried cherries. Simmer until the almond milk is thoroughly yellow and the sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool slightly, then pour into a large bowl. Add the almonds, then start adding breadcrumbs a little at a time and stirring them in. When you can’t stir it with a spoon any more, cover and put in the fridge overnight.

The next morning, take the pudding out. Start adding more breadcrumbs and kneading them in with your hands until it reaches a moldable consistency similar to cold cookie dough.  Cut into 12 equal portions and roll into logs. Roll each log up in wax paper and put back in the fridge for at least a few hours. Before the feast, take the puddings back out, slice them into serving pieces with string, and roll them back up in the wax paper so when it’s time to plate, each platter gets one log and it’s already sliced.

Cherries are only mentioned two places in Le Menagier, in a menu when they wanted cherries but none were available, and in a must sauce where three varieties of cherries are listed. I was planning on using apples and raisins in the dish (that’s how it was tested by Malore Fiscaldi, who did a great job) but Sams Club had dried cherries on sale and I thought cherry-almond would be a little more appealing.

This was one of those funny dishes. The people who liked it, LOVED it. It was a rather heavy dish for so late in the feast. The portions were way too large. If you make this dish, I would halve the above recipe for 100 and serve it in thin slices. It’s very, very rich but not very sweet.

Jacobin Sops

This deserves its own post.

Pears in Spring from Le Menagier

Pears, at the beginning of the season, that is in October and November, provided they are of the new crop, are hard and tough, and then you must cook them in water: and when they are choke-pears, in order to make them have a good colour, put some hay in the pot they are cooked in, and after that bake them; but later, when they are withered and mouldy from the damp weather, you should not cook them in water at all, but simply on the grill; that is in February and March.

50 pears, cut in half
Lots of melted butter
Poudre forte: Ginger, 4 ounces; cinnamon, three ounces and a half; round pepper, one ounce and a half; long pepper, one ounce; nutmeg, two ounces; cloves, one ounce; grains of paradise, galangal, of each one ounce.

I did not have galangal, long pepper or grains of paradise, so those were left out and black pepper substituted for long pepper. Then I mixed this with twice the same volume of sugar, which was still quite strong. We cut the pears in half lengthwise, barely cored them, dipped the cut sides in melted butter, then dipped them in the poudre forte mixture. They went back in the fridge until it was time to bake them. They were baked on big sheet pans at 400 until barely fork-tender. These are one of the best feast dishes! It keeps warm forever, the prep is minimal and fast, it’s relatively cheap and people love it. The trick is getting to pears to be spicy and not too sweet.

Waffles with Brie

Already have their own post too!

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