Monday, July 27, 2009

Ember Day Tarts

This is the last of the recipes I worked up for a party a week or so ago. I wanted a pie that people who were vegetarian or Jewish could eat during the party. An herb, egg, and cheese pie seemed to fit the bill.

Ember Day tarts were pies in the Middle Ages that were eaten on non-meat days.

Ember Day Tart
Original Recipe
Curye on Inglysch
Page 136, Recipe 173

Tart in ymbre day. Take and perboile oynouns & erbis & presse out Þe water & hewe hem smale. Take grene chese & bray it in a mortar and temper it vp with ayren. Do Þereto butter, safroun & salt, & raisouns corauns, & a litel sugur with powdour douce, & bake it in a trap, & serue it forth.

Tart in Ember Day. Take and parboil onions and herbs and press out the water and chop them small. Take green cheese and grind it in a mortar and temper it up with egg. Add butter, saffron, and salt, and currants and a little sugar with powder douce and bake it in a trap and serve it forth.

To bake a pie in a trap is to bake it in a baking dish. Note the original recipe does not call for a crust.

1 lrg Onion
9 oz Spinach (Raw)
.75 oz Tarragon
2 oz Basil
15 oz Ricotta
3 Eggs
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Saffron
½ cup Currants
1 ¾ tsp Powder Douce
½ tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp Coriander
¼ tsp Clove
¼ tsp Nutmeg
¼ tsp Mace
[optional]Pie Dough (use the same recipe as in the pork tart)

Parboil the onions and herbs and drain well. These will need to have the excess water pressed out. Once the water is removed, chop the herbs and onions small.

Take the ricotta and put in large bowl. Break up into small pieces, then add egg and mix. Add herbs, salt, currants, and spices and mix well.

If you are using pie dough, roll out dough and place in pan. If you are not, you should liberally butter the pan.

Put herb and cheese mixture in pie shell. Bake at 350° 35-45 minutes until set.

I opted not to put the butter and sugar in the tart as I wanted something that was more savory than sweet and the butter and sugar were in the pie dough. I used pie dough to make this a little easier to serve and eat in a picnic setting.

The recipe calls for a fresh cheese. Most recreations of this recipe use farmer's cheese. I used ricotta cheese (another style of fresh cheese) instead because I wanted a little more moisture and creaminess than

Most Ember Day tarts I've had have spinach, onions, and parsley or just spinach and onions. They were good pies, but I wanted a little extra spark in mine. Tarragon and basil were just the trick!

While I only made two of these for the party, they really went over well. I never expected it would be so easy to get people to eat spinach! So much so, that I didn't get a piece of it for myself.

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