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eG Foodblog: Eden - Italian Renaissance Banquet in Seattle


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[These are mostly pretty normal sounding dishes, but an earlier course calls for battered & broiled sows udders, entrails with parsley and spices, and marrow pastries...

im wondering whether sows udders arent just another way (possibly a more accurate one actually) of saying pork belly?

does anyone have any info on this? i will try to dig up some of my food history books and see if there is anything definitive on this. will report back if i find anything.

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im wondering whether sows udders arent just another way (possibly a more accurate one actually) of saying pork belly?

I try really hard not to make absolute statements when it comes to food history - the only people who know what they ate with total certainty are long dead after all - but I'm pretty certain from my reading that this dish is specifically made from the "girly bits" of female pigs. A 1598 Italian-English dictionary specifically describes the dish in question as "a kind of meate made of the paps of a sow, powdered and broiled".

edited for clarity

Edited by Eden (log)

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Wow, 1 oz of cinnamon is a lot of cinnamon!  What the heck is must?

You know, as long as I've known you, I had no idea you were so deep into this stuff.  It's utterly amazing.

I usually try not to "geek out" on people who aren't into this. When my friend David (a fellow researcher & my cowriter on a couple articles) and I really get going Bill runs screaming from the room (he says he doesn't scream, but I know his eyes roll back in his head :raz: )

Must is Wine Must, which can be either the juice pressed from wine grapes (pre fermentation) or a mix of the juice with the skins pulp etc. i.e. raw wine. In the case of italian Renn. cooking it generally refers to a reduced wine must also known as saba or sapa. You can find very nice Saba here in the US at some specialty Italian Import shops (like DeLaurenti's here in Seattle) but the good stuff is quite pricey. The cheap stuff tastes a lot like concentrated concord grape juice for kids. I'm using an actual (albeit fairly cheap) saba in the dressing for the carrot salad because it's going out uncooked, but for the pizza where it's mixed in with a bunch of other ingredients & baked I'm using middle eastern grape molasses.

What is "chicken on a raft"? That just looks like bread toasted in the broiler with cheddar and mozzarella cheese to me (or is that an egg in the middle, or white cheddar?).

Back to the pickled peaches, what is "savory"? Summer savory?

yes, summer savory. and to answer another question we're probably going to use good local frozen peaches, there were a few peaches left in the market on sunday, but probably won't be by the end of this week.

Chicken on a raft in my family (I've heard other opinions) is a piece of toast with a hole ripped out of the middle that you pour an egg into & then fry up. I like to add a little cheddar, Bill prefers his with just salt & pepper.

Time to go play with the ferrets & tuck in for the night...

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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Bill reminds me that I was going to show you a piece of our kitchen schedule.

gallery_28660_3710_105079.jpg

we'll post a big copy of this on the wall of the kitchen so everyone can see what still needs doing, and check things off as we go along. The color coding is used to keep an eye on equipment bottlenecks so we don't try to fit too many things into the ovens or on the stoves at one time.

For the recipes, rather than doing all the expansion by hand we have a proprietary database that expands our recipes & creates shopping lists as well as pricing/budgeting for us. Back when it was first written there was nothing that could do everything we needed available to the general public. I gather there are some professional tools these days that are comparable, but now all our recipes are in here so switching would be a hassle.

Here's the pizza recipe in final form:

gallery_28660_3710_51375.jpg

you'll notice that there are notes specific to this years banquet tucked in there because we'll subtley change how we do a dish each time depending on the kitchen we're working with, and other resource limitations, so rather than making a new version of the recipe each year we just add in little notes like "Banquet 2006 - Eden will have the rosewater spritzer, don't do this by hand!" or whatever...

Oh and I meant to clarify, this is a team effort. the research and menu creation was totally my baby & I'm certainly a major portion of the kitchen planning team, but I'm not alone in this, in fact on Saturday itself, another person will be the actual "Kitchen Head" and in charge of wrangling the staff, keeping us on time etc.

I can do all of that but I don't actually enjoy it nearly as much as the research & planning bits, so I'm passing off to another team member who has more patience than I in this arena (thank goodness!) I'll move into a more consulting role at that point since I have direct familiarity withall the recipes as well as the big picture plan. My friend Melinda however will be the one to say "start the pizzas cooking now" and have to be nice if some helpful person slices the onions in the wrong shape (definitely not my strong suit...)

Our group has been cooking banquets like this for almost 30 years (I'm a johnny-come-lately at only 15 or so) and we have a lot of experience working together and making great food.

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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Did you eat the ginger cheesecake for dinner? How did you like it?

Is must the same as vincotto?

actually that photo is from a recipe testing night a couple months back, but it's absolutely stellar.

In this case yes must & saba are the same as vincotto. (But when used as winemaking term it's not.)

Now I'm really really turning in for the night, really :biggrin:

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Wow Eden. How nice to see your name up in lights this week. What an amazing and interesting blog. Thanks for sharing, especially during such an amazingly busy week.

Oil and potatoes both grow underground so french fries may have eventually invented themselves had they not been invented -- J. Esther
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Eden, this is utterly fascinating. Please write as much as you like about the historical backgrounds of this dinner and your interest in food history, I'm sure lots of readers are interested!

The dinner sounds like an enormous undertaking. Lots of good luck and thanks for taking on blogging as well to share all of this with us, it's hard work!

edited to add: that saba stuff has popped up in 3 different places the last week. I wonder if this means something! I should go and buy some (not that I know where to get it..)

edited to add something else: that really is a very cute ferret. I hope the sick one is alright now?

Edited by Chufi (log)
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Bill reminds me that I was going to show you a piece of our kitchen schedule.

gallery_28660_3710_51375.jpg

Does someone convert the recipe further? For example, 18-3/4 teaspoons is a lot harder to measure than 6 Tb plus 3/4 teaspoon. Or 1/4 cup plus 2 TB plus 3/4 teaspoon. :blink:

I bet Tammylc would have a FIELD DAY with that program!

Edited by daniellewiley (log)

Danielle Altshuler Wiley

a.k.a. Foodmomiac

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What is "chicken on a raft"? That just looks like bread toasted in the broiler with cheddar and mozzarella cheese to me (or is that an egg in the middle, or white cheddar?).

Chicken on a raft in my family (I've heard other opinions) is a piece of toast with a hole ripped out of the middle that you pour an egg into & then fry up. I like to add a little cheddar, Bill prefers his with just salt & pepper.

We call it toad in the hole!

A huge proportion of dishes both sweet & savory are finished with a sprinkling of rosewater and sugar, Rosewater also becomes an integral part of more dishes such as the Biscottini I'm serving in the final course - rosewater is the only liquid, and the result is a delicately perfumed and yet not excessively rosey confection.

I was wondering: Did they use so much rosewater because it was somehow "preserved" water, and therefore safer?

Liz Johnson

Professional:

Food Editor, The Journal News and LoHud.com

Westchester, Rockland and Putnam: The Lower Hudson Valley.

Small Bites, a LoHud culinary blog

Personal:

Sour Cherry Farm.

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Please to be providing the history lesson... :biggrin:

...and, if you can, a shot and description of the kitchen in which all this action will take place. I can't imagine a domestic-sized kitchen turning out all this.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Does someone convert the recipe further? For example, 18-3/4 teaspoons is a lot harder to measure than 6 Tb plus 3/4 teaspoon. Or 1/4 cup plus 2 TB plus 3/4 teaspoon.  :blink:

I bet Tammylc would have a FIELD DAY with that program!

I just grabbed that one quickly. usually we'll go through the program right before printing and have the database adjust the fields that have annoying quantities into something more reasonable Tbsp or cups or Dozens etc. but a couple of them always slip by us so we also have a few measuring tools that show up to about 120 tsps on the side :biggrin:

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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Please to be providing the history lesson...  :biggrin:

...and, if you can, a shot and description of the kitchen in which all this action will take place.  I can't imagine a domestic-sized kitchen turning out all this.

no no, we're doing the majority of the cooking onsite where they have a commercial kitchen. (the pre-cooking stuff is happening here at my house, but it's fairly contained.) There's a picture of the stove area for the kitchen upthread somewhere, here's the backside of that room with the main sink area (there's another big sink area in the back room!)

gallery_28660_3710_270337.jpg

the commercial dishwasher is just to the left of the sink you see in this photo. Did I mention that I love this kitchen :biggrin:

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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None of my food this week is photogenic (except the ice-cream (more of which later today)

Last night I did not have my camera with me because we were just going to tango class, but after dancing we were ravenous so we stopped & grabbed dinner at The Chile Pepper, a good but very unsung restaurant in the Wallingford neighborhood.

Here's my leftovers, which I'm having for breakfast:

gallery_28660_3710_212292.jpg

Chille Relleno made with red ancho chile :wub:

I'm not a big Relleno fan normally. I like them, but I don't go out of my way... This is special. the dark fruity flavor of the ancho chile against the cheese inside is so wonderful. My mom comes up to visit from california maybe every other year & this is one of the absolute MUST stops while she's here...

Oh, Bill had their Mole Poblano which has absolutely no detectable sugar, it's so dark & complex - yumm!

I'll be gone most of the morning/early afternoon shopping, catch y'all later

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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Wow, 1 oz of cinnamon is a lot of cinnamon!  What the heck is must?

You know, as long as I've known you, I had no idea you were so deep into this stuff.  It's utterly amazing.

I usually try not to "geek out" on people who aren't into this. When my friend David (a fellow researcher & my cowriter on a couple articles) and I really get going Bill runs screaming from the room (he says he doesn't scream, but I know his eyes roll back in his head :raz: )

Must is Wine Must, which can be either the juice pressed from wine grapes (pre fermentation) or a mix of the juice with the skins pulp etc. i.e. raw wine. In the case of italian Renn. cooking it generally refers to a reduced wine must also known as saba or sapa. You can find very nice Saba here in the US at some specialty Italian Import shops (like DeLaurenti's here in Seattle) but the good stuff is quite pricey. The cheap stuff tastes a lot like concentrated concord grape juice for kids. I'm using an actual (albeit fairly cheap) saba in the dressing for the carrot salad because it's going out uncooked, but for the pizza where it's mixed in with a bunch of other ingredients & baked I'm using middle eastern grape molasses.

What is "chicken on a raft"? That just looks like bread toasted in the broiler with cheddar and mozzarella cheese to me (or is that an egg in the middle, or white cheddar?).

Back to the pickled peaches, what is "savory"? Summer savory?

yes, summer savory. and to answer another question we're probably going to use good local frozen peaches, there were a few peaches left in the market on sunday, but probably won't be by the end of this week.

Chicken on a raft in my family (I've heard other opinions) is a piece of toast with a hole ripped out of the middle that you pour an egg into & then fry up. I like to add a little cheddar, Bill prefers his with just salt & pepper.

Time to go play with the ferrets & tuck in for the night...

I am so excited to see your chickne on a raft. i have never met anyone else who had these growing up. We called them nest eggs and the round circle of bread that ws removed was perfect for sopping up the egg yolk.

Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you and be silent. Epicetus

Amanda Newton

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Eden, I use MasterCook all the time to "expand" recipes and it works great. The only thing I find is that it's really good to go easy on the spices when making large multiples of recipes. Salt and spices do not always expand in a linear way, so I've learned to start with about half and taste/add until it's right.

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That program is cool. Do you have to adjust the internal quantities by hand ? (I notice that only ~ 2.5 t of the 2/3 cup of rosewater is actually called out in the instructions).

We called those "goldmine sandwiches", and fried up the center circle of bread alongside.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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:biggrin: Great to see you blogging this week, Eden! I knew you were into historic cooking/recipes, but this feast seems amazing!

I grew up with the eggs too. We called them "egg in a hole," and always dunked the circle into the egg. :wub:

Cheers,

Carolyn

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

J.R.R. Tolkien

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:biggrin: Great to see you blogging this week, Eden!  I knew you were into historic cooking/recipes, but this feast seems amazing!

I grew up with the eggs too.  We called them "egg in a hole," and always dunked the circle into the egg.  :wub:

Cheers,

Wow there are a TON of names for these I hadn't come across before, ("toad in a hole" I knew) I particularly like Kouign's "goldmine sandwiches", and shellfishfiend's "nest eggs" are very cute.

I agree that it's nice if you can toast up the center to dip in your yolk, but I always end up eating it while I'm waiting for the rest to finish cooking :laugh:

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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Eden, I use MasterCook all the time to "expand" recipes and it works great.  The only thing I find is that it's really good to go easy on the spices when making large multiples of recipes.  Salt and spices do not always expand in a linear way, so I've learned to start with about half and taste/add until it's right.

Actualy the top of all our recipes has a big warning to start at about 60% on the spicing & work up from there for just this reason (I cut it from the screenshot). We've found that produce also does not scale up well, particularly when your initial recipe calls for 5 apples or 6 leeks, the resulting 120 leeks are always too many, plus the produce guys HATE when you ask for things like that rather than by weight.

We are trying to convert all new recipes to weight based instructions wherever possible, but people can be very set in their ways...

We also have a note at the top of each recipe that says to stop and read the entire recipe before you do anything - you can guess how well that works in practice :wacko:

My problem with Mastercook last time I looked at it was that it didn't do pricing. Of course that was probably 10 revisions ago. Also our program breaks the shopping list into some pretty amazing detail: how much of an ingredient will be used in which recipe, and the expected price per lb (or whatever) as well as when & where that item was last priced.

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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That program is cool. Do you have to adjust the internal quantities by hand ? (I notice that only ~ 2.5 t of  the 2/3 cup of rosewater is actually called out in the instructions).

you just caught me being lazy in my recipe writing. Notes like that are supposed to read "2.5 tsp in original" so that our cooks can figure out which entry for rosewater they're looking for fairly easily. The program can't mess with the internal recipe text only the quantities.

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Welcome to my first banquet crisis: Trader Joe's is out of the frozen artichokes that my roasted baby artichoke recipe is based around :shock: (ALL the local trader joe's stores AND their warehouse are out)

I've grabbed some frozen artichokes from the QFC to see if they behave the same. they cost notably more of course, and are cut slightly differently, which may mess with my portioning :angry: (I'll be staying up late tonight making a test batch)

We actually found that for this recipe the frozen worked better than fresh, because the baby chokes you can get here are still fairly tough (not like the fabulously tender ones I've had in Italy) and the frozen ones are soft all the way up the leaf...

Keep your collective fingers crossed for me.

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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Very little from this later era has been translated into English thus far,

though I hear that a Scully translation of Scappi is in the pipeline (yay!)

next the menu...

From what I"ve been told, its only a partial translation..only selected

recipes. why?? If you are geek enough to want the book, you want the whole

book!

How/where did you find all of these books? What fun! I've been collecting

odd, old Italian cookbooks and they are really addictive. A fully open

window into understanding another time and culture.

I use inter-library loan extensively. There are a lot of university libraries out there with reproductions & transcriptions of obscure historical manuscripts, if you know what you're looking for to ask. (I send my ILL librarians a box of chocolates every year at the holidays because they do amazing amounts of work for me!)

Being in Italy you might be able to find a book called L'arte della cucina in Italia edited by Emilio Faccioli. It contains partial transcriptions from a huge collection of Italian cookbooks & manuscripts ranging from the 13th to the19th centuries. From there you have titles & bibliographic info to try & track down the originals.

There's also a lot on the web these days. Thomas Gloning's online bibliography is a great place to start.

Oh and Hathor, since Gelato was already out of season for your blog, here's a Seattle gelato case :smile:

gallery_28660_3710_1106.jpg

I meet with different friends a couple times a week to practice our Italian (use it or lose it!) and one of the cafes we frequent sells gelato as well as coffee. Gelato is always in season in my world :biggrin: (FYI that's from Cafe Van Gogh, which serves Procoppio's gelato) I had limone, with a little lemon seed hiding in it just to prove it was made form the real thing...

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:biggrin: Great to see you blogging this week, Eden!  I knew you were into historic cooking/recipes, but this feast seems amazing!

I grew up with the eggs too.  We called them "egg in a hole," and always dunked the circle into the egg.  :wub:

Cheers,

Wow there are a TON of names for these I hadn't come across before, ("toad in a hole" I knew) I particularly like Kouign's "goldmine sandwiches", and shellfishfiend's "nest eggs" are very cute.

I agree that it's nice if you can toast up the center to dip in your yolk, but I always end up eating it while I'm waiting for the rest to finish cooking :laugh:

We (I, only, now) call them "One eyed Jacks" and invariably ate the fried toasted middle bit of bread before serving them to whomever. With sausage or bacon...

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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