Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Honey and Juniper Stewed Crab Apples

I'm taking Old English right now and really enjoying the class. To celebrate the language and culture of the West Saxons, I decided I should bring some Saxon foods to class (I decided this a month or so ago but am actually doing it tomorrow). I had a lot of research to do because I wanted it to be as authentic as possible. Originally I planned to do sloe berries or plums, but that didn't really pan out. And then I saw some crab apples at the store and I got pretty excited because that's way better than plums and an equally appropriate choice (more so if you consider the season). I made some farmer's cheese and some sweet butter, and saved the whey and buttermilk to also bring to class. And then I worked on getting down a good bread that seemed to fit the descriptions I'd read. Lastly, the fruit. Can't have this type of snack or meal without fruit, right? I made everything mostly without modern conveniences, which means I cooked this over a fire. Unless you're just interested in cooking over a fire, this is fine for the stove top, although it won't get exact same smoke element. I think this can be fixed if you plunk in a couple drops of liquid smoke. But don't quote me on it.

I labeled this as vegetarian and vegan since it depends on your philosophy about vegan food and honey.

Anyway, This took a while to cook over the cooler part of the fire and I imagine it'll take a while on the stove as well if you want to do it really slowly to let the apples get soft and the flavors to meld. Hope you enjoy!

3/4 pound crab apples, cored and diced (but not peeled)
3/4 cup each: water, honey
5 juniper berries
pinch salt

Fire directions:

Put all the ingredients in a cast iron skillet, small Dutch oven, or similar. Put over the cool side of the fire and let cook about an hour to an hour and a half, until the water has pretty much cooked out and the honey and juices are tacky but not stiff. Carefully remove and discard juniper berries. Serves 2 if you're eating as much as I'd like to be, or up to 15 if you're using it just to spread on a slice of bread.

Stove directions:

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan, cast iron skillet, small Dutch oven, or similar. Turn burner onto medium-low and let cook about an hour to an hour and a half, until the water has pretty much cooked out and the honey and juices are tacky but not stiff. Carefully remove and discard juniper berries. Serves 2 if you're eating as much as I'd like to be, or up to 15 if you're using it just to spread on a slice of bread.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Venetian Hot Chocolate

I need to start this post by saying that the quantities are approximate. I mostly eye-balled this, with only a desire for delicious, thick, rich, almost pudding-like and slightly bitter hot chocolate in the Venetian style. This is what I got, and I'm really pleased. It's a very serious hot chocolate, with no whipped cream, marshmallows or frivolity. It's just good. It coats the tongue and burns slightly because I'm too impatient to let it cool enough. For me, it's what I need on a chilly evening. Especially with the risotto that doesn't seem to want to get done fast enough (always the problem with risotto I suppose). So, here y'all go - hope you enjoy!

1/2 cup cream
2 cups milk
1/8 cup vanilla sugar (or regular granulated)
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 - 1 1/2 cups grated chocolate or chocolate chips

Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan and put on the stove over medium heat. Heat until it starts to simmer slightly. Whisk continuously until it is thick and looks like it would be pudding if you added cornstarch. Serve with or without whipped cream (I go without). Serves 2 if you're greedy like I am, or 4 if you're normal with your hot chocolate.