Sunday, September 1, 2013

Tart in Ymbre Day (An Onion Tart)

At my daughter's behest, I returned to one of my favorite books, Pleyn Delit:  Medieval Cookery for Modern Cooks by Hieatt, Hosington, and Butler and published by the University of Toronto Press.

ISBN 0-8020-7632-7
Her desire?

Tart for an Ember Day

Take and perboile oynouns & erbis & presse out the water & hewe hem smale.  Take grene chese & bray it in a morter, and temper it up with ayren.  Do thereto butter, safroun & salt, & raisouns corauns, & a litel sugur with powdour douce, & bake it in a trap, & serve it forth.

This translates to

2 large onions, peeled and sliced or chopped
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp chopped sage (less if dried)
3 oz cream cheese  OR 1/2 cup cottage cheese
4 eggs
2 tbsp butter
pinch ground saffron
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp currants
1/8 tsp sugar
pinch each ground cardamom, mace
unbaked pie shell

Parboil the onions and herbs; add butter to thoroughly drained onions.  Blend the cheese with the eggs.  Add butter, and remaining ingredients and stir in the onions and herbs.  Bake in a 350 degree oven 30 - 40 minutes, until the filling is set and the pastry lightly browned.

Sans currants
The Free Dictionary gives this definition:

Em·ber Day  (mbr)
A day reserved for prayer and fasting by some Christian churches, observed on the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after the first Sunday of Lent, after Whitsunday, after September 14, and after December 13.

In the medieval era, it wasn't for fasting as much as it was for avoiding meat but dairy products were permitted.   This is a medieval vegetarian dish!

Credit Where It Is Due
My daughter shopped for, prepared, and cooked this entire recipe!

She makes her own pie crusts (see recipe below) which she then rolled out and patted into her pan.

"Parboiling" means boiling until barely tender, so she modernized the cooking of the onions by microwaving them for about 7 minutes after peeling them and cutting them in half.  Once they were cool enough to handle, she sliced them thinly.  The parsley was also microwaved for about a minute.

She blended the eggs and cheese by hand and noted that they would have blended better if the cheese had been warmed to room temperature.  Or perhaps they could have been mixed by a machine.  Once everything was mixed, into the crust it went.

It baked for 40 minutes and came out as per the recipe description.

Fresh out of the oven
However the middle was still pretty gooey (although set), so she put it under the broiler until the surface was bubbly and there was more browning.
Fresh out of the broiler
This looked much better and was cooked through.

The Verdict

This is tasty; much like a quiche.  The filling was a lot like creamy scrambled eggs with a herby, savory undertone.  I liked how the onions were just slightly crisp but not so much as to have a strong onion-y bite.  Some who tried it thought the onions could be cooked a little more.

Overall, a success!  It was good for dinner and the leftovers were good the next day for breakfast.  Paired with a salad (green at dinner or fruit at breakfast), it would be an excellent main course.  It could also be cut into little slices and served as an appetizer, although then I would chop the onions instead of slicing them.


The Pie Crust

She uses this recipe:

Please look at this website for the ingredients and instructions.  She loves it because it is so very simple to put together and works every time.  She just might have me converted!

Looks simple enough!
Those aren't hard-boiled eggs but spoonfuls of shortening

After the prescribed pulsing
Lovingly squeezed by hand

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