Sm-Roman-Rec-art - 9/25/16
"Some Roman Recipes" by Dame Desiderata Drake, OP.
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Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
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Some Roman Recipes
by Dame Desiderata Drake, OP
Easy homemade cheese, perfect base for lots of yummy seasonings, like moretum and hypotrimma. I got this recipe from Vrouw Lijsbet de Kuekere, who got it from http://www.cheesemaking.com/includes/modules/jwallace/onlinenews/feedbackpics/06_11/friends/pics/meidieval.pdf">this pdf about 14th-15th c cheese making.
You will need:
1 gallon whole milk
1 pint heavy cream
1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
1. Combine milk and cream in a large pot. Stir pretty much constantly while waiting for it to heat up on the stove. You want this mixture to come juuuuuuust to a boil.
2. Once it starts to boil, turn off the heat and slowly add the vinegar. Stir only a few times to distribute evenly, then leave it alone for 5-10 minutes.
3. Line a colander with the cheesecloth (you will want a lot of overhang). Pour the milk mixture into the colander. The curds will get caught in the cheesecloth.
4. Once cool enough to handle, tie up the ends of the cheesecloth and hang (I've hung it off the sink faucet, and I've also hung it off a hanger that was on a hook over the sink). The extra whey will drain. Leave this here for at least 1-2 hours.
5. Take cheese out of cheesecloth and empty into a bowl. If it is cool enough to handle, this is a good time to add seasoning. The cheese gets a little harder when you put it in the fridge, so to mix evenly, room temp is best.
Moretum (Garlic & Herb Cheese)
Came across a recipe for Cheese Round With Herbs in "A Taste of Ancient Rome" (I. Giacosa, p. 54). It is attributed as being part of the poem "Moretum" by Virgil. I have not read the poem, so I do not have any context for the quote below.
"Quattuor alia, apius, ruta, coriandrum, salis micas, caseus
Four garlic cloves, celery, rue, coriander, salt grains, and cheese."
Giacosa suggests using a soft cheese or farmers cheese, but gives no measurements for any of the ingredients. I decided not to use any rue, because I have read in several places that it's not exactly healthy for you. I'm honestly not sure exactly *how* bad it is for you, because the Romans used it a lot in their cooking. Maybe the rue of today is different than the rue of the ancients? I don't know, but better safe than have a lawsuit on my hands. I wound up using celery seed and dried parsley because I didn't have any fresh celery at the time.
I started off using ricotta, as I have heard it is similar to a soft farmers cheese, and added small amounts of each ingredient until I liked the flavor.
1 c. soft cheese (ricotta or fresh farmer's cheese)
1/2 T Minced garlic
1/2 t Celery Seed
1 T Dried Parsley
1/2 t Ground coriander
1/4 t Salt
Mix all together, except cheese. I use a mortar & pestle to get it all mixed well.
Then add cheese and mix thoroughly.
When using fresh farmers cheese, I usually drizzle in some olive oil to soften is up some more.
When making a lot of moretum, I forego the mortar & pestle and just put everything in a food processor.
Forcemeat Faggots (aka Meatballs)
"Forcemeat Faggots: you pound chopped meat with fresh white breadcrumbs soaked in wine, with pepper and liquamen; if you wish, you pound crushed myrtle berries with them. You shape the faggots with pine nuts and pepper placed inside. Wrap them in caul fat and roast them with Caroenum" Apicius, 2.1.7
I first read this and thought it sounded similar to meatloaf, mostly because of the ground meat and bread crumbs. I wasn't sure what caul fat was, and after asking a few people I determined that it's kind of like lacey sausage casing. Sally Grainger has a modern recipe for this in her book "Cooking Apicius". She suggests making them more of a burger size. Considering that I knew I had to feed around 300 people, I decided to go with a smaller meatball size and to skip the caul fat. I wound up having to make several substitutions. I could not find myrtle berries, but Grainer suggests juniper berries as a substitute. Liquamen is similar to garum, which is a fish sauce. I know there are a lot of fish allergies, so I just used sea salt instead. Apicius also calls for white wine, but again I know there are several people allergic to wine, so I used white grape juice as a substitute.
1 lb. Ground beef (or lamb)
2 cups Bread Crumbs
1/4 cup White Grape juice (or use white wine)
1/2 tbsp. Sea Salt (or 2 tbsp fish sauce)
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
6 Juniper Berries (or 10 myrtle berries)
Pine nuts (1-2 per meatball)
Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.
Combine mix bread crumbs with grape juice. Combine with ground beef. Mix thoroughly until mixture is pretty smooth
Combine peppercorns and juniper berries in a mortar until well ground. Add salt and grind some more.
Add peppercorn/juniper berries/salt mixture to ground beef mixture, and mix thoroughly.
Take 1-2 tbsp of mixture and form into a ball. Press 1-2 pine nuts deep into the meatball (If you leave the pine nuts on top, they will fall off during baking). Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Continue making meatballs until mixture is gone.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until meatballs are no longer pink inside.
Posca is an Ancient Roman drink very similar to sekanjabin, frequently mentioned as something soldiers drank, and as an ingredient in cooking. Soldiers would carry Posca with them, and add it to water when they found it. The vinegar would act as a disinfectant, making the water safer to drink. In its most basic form, it consists of vinegar (most likely red wine vinegar), and water, though honey and herbs and spices were sometimes added.
I experimented quite a bit with the ratios of vinegar and water, but my sweet tooth was not happy until I added the honey. Lots of honey. I added the mint and coriander to make the drink even more refreshing on a hot summer day.
(makes enough for 4-5 gallons of water)
1 1/2 cup Honey
1/2 cup Vinegar (Red wine vinegar, White wine vinegar, or Apple Cider vinegar)
1 T Ground Corriander
Mint to taste
Put all ingredients into sauce pan, and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat and let cool.
Store mixture in glass bottle or other sealed container.
For one glass:
Add 1-2 T to 12-16oz of water and stir.
For 5-gallon water cooler:
Fill water cooler with 4-5 gallons of water.
Pour in entire Posca mixture (2 c.).
Make sure lid is sealed on cooler, and shake cooler to mix.
"The dishes for the first course included… some small iron frames shaped like bridges supporting dormice sprinkled with honey and poppy seed." – Petronius, Trimalchio's Feast, The Satyricon.
I have seen and heard many references to Romans eating dormice. And I have seen many different recipes online for this, some of them getting quite complicated. I decided to make mine super simple. Brushing the chicken with olive oil before baking gives the chicken skin a wonderful golden brown color when cooked, and makes the skin a little crispy.
Chicken thighs and drumsticks
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees F.
Leave skin on chicken pieces. Rinse and pat dry.
Place chicken pieces on greased baking sheet or baking dish.
Brush chicken pieces with Olive Oil.
Bake chicken until skin is crispy and juices run clear (about 40 minutes).
While chicken is baking, warm honey in small pan, until it is thin and runny (do not boil).
When chicken is done, brush each piece with honey and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
Copyright 2015 by Jennifer Drake. <desiduck666 at yahoo.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, please place a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.