[Sca-cooks] Favorite Healthy period dishes, recent study on vitamin absorption

lilinah@earthlink.net lilinah at earthlink.net
Mon Aug 14 19:25:47 PDT 2006

>So what are people's favorite healthy/healthier dishes?  I know a lot of
>people like the mixed green sallets and the roasted or baked herbed chickens.

Sallats go over very well here in The West. I just salt *very* 
lightly, toss with just enough decent olive oil to coat the leaves, 
and add a splash of red or white wine vinegar.

Vegetables go over well here, too. For example, most spinach dishes 
are quite popular. And asparagus (when affordable - and it's grown 
locally) is quite popular - there are a number of similar recipes - 
from Apicius to Martino and Platina - that involve cooking the 
asparagus until just tender, then tossing with olive oil and wine 
vinegar or lemon juice, and a little something else, depending on 
time period. Simple, healthful, and almost modern :-)

There's also the local Boar Hunt standby, which is boned legs of 
pork. The skin is removed, but kept wrapped around the meat. Between 
the meat and the skin we slather lots of mashed garlic. Then we 
re-tie the skin around and roast until done, removing the skin before 
slicing and serving. Fat cooks out into the pan and the meat is very 
moist and tender. This is not truly period, but more peri-oid. It is 
excellent served with a selection of sauces, and delicious eaten 
without sauce.

I find that there is not a lot of butter in most Medieval cooking, so 
that's not much of an issue. And I have served a limited number of 
cheesy recipes - many i've cooked have been based fresh white cheese, 
like ricotta - although artery cloggers like Tarte de Brie (filling 
is brie, butter, saffron) or Crustade Lombarde, which is an egg 
custard tart with dried fruit and spices, are served occasionally. 
But they're so rich it only takes a sliver to satisfy, and they are 
in courses with other foods not fatty foods, so one rarely wants to 
eat a lot of them.

For dayboards, i do like to make tarts that contain eggs, cheese, 
herbs, and green vegetables. A slice can be nearly a whole meal, 
served with fresh fruit and salad.

I have to say, however, that there is a significant degradation in 
taste, texture, mouth feel, flavor, and other qualities of many 
dishes when made with low fat milk or yogurt, rather than with whole 
milk or whole milk yogurt. And many places in period would not have 
used cow's milk, but rather sheep's, which is healthier. But i can't 
get sufficient quantities of sheep's milk at prices i can afford to 
make it worth using in a feast for health reasons.

I did send small containers of goat's milk yogurt and sheep's milk 
yogurt around in a recent class i taught on 15th c. Ottoman cooking, 
so the attendees could taste the difference compared to cow's milk 
yogurt. Of course, they were made of pasteurized milk, which they 
didn't have in "period", and it can taste significantly different 
from unpasteurized.

>What's your experience with using whole grains?

Grains aren't eaten in quantity at feasts here, although i serve one 
in each course. I have generally had to discard large quantities of 
relatively inexpensive dishes of grains and lentils, although people 
seem to like rice, which i have cooked more than once.

When i could get barley grits i used them for that Roman polenta-like 
dish - made with flax seeds and coriander seeds - which was quite 
popular. But i can't get barley grits in shops around here anymore, i 
can get them only if i order a case directly from the manufacturer, 
and that's enough for many many feasts. The Ancient Greek chickpea 
dish i made went over well. Both recipes at:
Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita

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