[Sca-cooks] Final thoughts from my Laurel's Prize Tourney entry

Michael Gunter countgunthar at hotmail.com
Tue Sep 11 08:50:07 PDT 2007

LPT is finally over and my display didn't do too bad. People
liked the documentation with the color photographs and
that I displayed the dishes in the pans that they were
cooked in.  It also helped that it tasted good.

The cheese was a total failure. Well, maybe not total. It
had good coloration was developing a nice rind. The interior
texture was very nice. Creamy, white, moist and soft. The
problem was that it was terribly bitter. After talking with a
couple of people who have worked with cheese I now
know the problem was because I added too much rennet
in trying to get the milk to curdle. The next time I'll add
a touch of yogurt or vinegar with a small amount of
rennet to avoid the problem. I will also treat the curd
more gently.

Egredouce was a surprising hit. I mean, it looked like
Cariadoc's quintessential "Medieval Brown Glop" but
it had a wonderful flavor. The bowl was empty by the
end of the day.

The Zervlat sausage was well received and was gone by
the end of the day. My one change would be to up the
fat content slightly although the leaner sausage was better
for sitting out at room temperature all day.

I made mustard from Le Menaigier de Paris where the seeds
are soaked in red wine vinegar overnight and then ground and
strained. After that I added nutmeg, mace, cinnamon & sugar.
After sitting for nearly 3 weeks it was wonderful stuff.

The stwd capon wasn't as popular and I'm not sure of the reason.
People that tried it liked it and it was shredded with the sauce on
the side for ease in sampling. Most of it was eaten and folks loved
how it was made, but I just didn't get the "Wow" factor I did
with some other simpler dishes.

The manchet loaf came out well with a nice thick and chewy
crumb. I did a major headslap moment just as I put the loaf into
the oven. I gave it a quick brush with milk to brown the top. And
then I realized I was making a manchet loaf and it should be as
white as possible. I, without thinking, fell into a modern mindset
to serve a browned loaf. Oops. But the interior was white as snow
and tasted very nice. Especially when sprinkled with a small pinch
of salt.
Two problems with the loaf were that it had risen oddly in the oven
and there was a split on the side and an air bubble had developed in
the top. One of the Laurels talking with me said she had watched
the cooks at Hampton Court make manchets as short cylinders and then
the top was dimpled with the thumbs. So, it appears I DID make the
loaf right because a "fix" had to be created. Now I know how to avoid
that problem next time.

The Makke was pretty popular. I had people try a bite first with the
beans alone and then with the caramalized onions to show the depth
of flavors from the beans. I wish I could have used favas and made the
dish "as white as any milk" but I used large red kidneys. It tasted very
good but was nearly black.

My Peasen and Compound Boiled Salad were also well received and
several people who said they didn't like peas or spinach wanted the

The lemon barley water was also very popular.

So, all in all, it was a success. People found period food was tasty
and learned a few things. They liked my documentation and presentation.
A couple of things I needed to do were because of my inexperience
in presenting an A&S. I was told I needed to provide and annotated
bibliography in addition to my references with the individual recipes. I
also needed to have a book clearly marked for commentary on the

Even though I was told that it looked very good, I wasn't happy with
the display in that it didn't have that professional garnished appearance.
I know the meal was for a rough dinner in the field but I just feel an
A&S should have that "Pop" factor. Also, my idea to have part of the
table set aside with the food served wasn't too bright. After a bit
it just looked like an old plate of food that wasn't eaten.

Overall it was a success. My Laurels were happy with me and some people
said they learned some new things and were inspired by my display to
try them for themselves. To me, that is the most important result of all.


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