14 January 2010

A&S 50: Food item seven: Spinach Tart Recipe

Spinach Tart, based on a 14th Century recipe
Redaction by Julia May, aka Samia al-Kaslaania
August 2009

After a few years of playing with ingredients, reading other’s redactions, and finding a few translations, the following recipe has emerged from my kitchen and has been approved by the Northshield Equestrians. Young beet leaves are difficult to find so I, like many others redacting this recipe, substitute spinach primarily. You could also use carrot greens, celery or lovage greens, or young sorrel, each with a different flavor. Dried chervil can be found at Pensey’s, and imparts an almost nutty flavor. Grains of Paradise, or Paradise Seed, can often be found at home brewing supply stores.

In the Middle Ages, this was probably a spring recipe eaten outside of fast days. It uses the first of the fresh greens the earth provides, along with milk (in the form of cheese and butter), which people relied on heavily during the period between end of winter and start of spring growth, and eggs which were an important protein staple of Medieval diets. --Samia

 Samia’s redaction (for a 9” pie pan)

6.5 oz spinach, washed and chopped
½ c parsley, washed and chopped
¼ c chervil, washed and chopped (or 1 T. dried)
6 eggs
11 oz, combined of two cheeses: Swiss and Romano-Asiago blend was very received
Powder fine to taste (below) (More than a teaspoon and less than a tablespoon)
Single pie crust

Preheat oven to 400 F. Pre-cook pie crust in pie pan for 10 minutes. Mix greens, cheese and everything else in a bowl. Reduce heat to 350 F, add filling to crust and bake about 40 minutes, or until the center is set.

Tip: leave the pie pan on the oven rack and add the filling in place. This avoid both handling the hot pan and sloshing the soupy mix.

Note: Buying a "bunch" of fresh spinach from the grocery store typically yields about 14 oz of spinach, so I usually just make a double batch for two tarts.

Source: Le Ménagier de Paris, J. Hinson (Trans.).
TO MAKE A TART, take four handfuls of beet-leaves, two handfuls of parsley, one handful of chervil, a bit of turnip-top and two handfuls of spinach, and clean them and wash them in cold water, then chop very small: then grate two kinds of cheese, that is one mild and one medium, and then put eggs with it, yolk and white, and grate them in with the cheese; then put the herbs in the mortar and grind them up together, and also add to that some powdered spices.

Source: Le Ménagier de Paris, J. Hinson (Trans.).
FINE POWDER of spices. Take an ounce and a drachma of white ginger, a quarter-ounce of hand-picked cinnamon, half a quarter-ounce each of grains[of Paradise] and cloves, and a quarter-ounce of rock sugar, and grind to powder.

Le Menagier De Paris is a medieval guidebook from 1393 on a woman's proper behavior in marriage and running a household. (Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_M%C3%A9n
agier_de_Paris/. Accessed August 31, 2009.)

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