Friday, July 22, 2016

Barley soup for George IV #FLRoyalFood

This final recipe for my FutureLearn course is actually from Week 4, not Week 5.  For some reason in my local area there was a dearth of barley when I went looking for it initially - just an empty space on the shelves! The soup is essentially barley and beef stock and some greens and seasonings. We know from preserved menus that this is something that George IV ate when he was confined to his rooms at Kew Palace and only allowed to eat with a spoon.


I added spring onions and baby bok choi for the onion and greens, and pepper, garlic and ginger for the seasonings.  The original recipe suggested adding a handful of raisins, but I added dried grapes which probably did not have such a strong flavour. And the verdict?  Well, it could certainly be eaten with a spoon and it was fairly solid and nourishing. It tasted pleasantly enough, but I think I would prefer some stronger tasting greens and perhaps more ginger or chilli.  But I guess it was meant to be invalid food.



1 litre beef stock
250 gr pearl barley
4 spring onions
1 head baby bok choi
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp crushed ginger
Handful dried grapes


Place the stock in a large pan suitable for making soup
Add the barley to the cold stock and bring to a boil
Reduce to a simmer and continue cooking for 45-60 minutes until stock is reduced and barley tender
Meanwhile chop the sping onions and bok choi
Crush the garlic and ginger
Remove the grapes from their stalks
Add the greens, garlic, ginger and grapes to the soup mixture
Grind some pepper on top
Stir to combine and simmer until the vegetables are cooked.
Serve with a spoon.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Stir-fried vegetables with pickled octopus

After all the rich and rather heavy royal food I have been cooking and digesting for a few weeks, I felt like something light and filled with vegetables. This stir-fry of vegetables and pickled octopus hit the spot exactly and emerged simply because the ingredients were on hand. I ate mine with gnocchi as I had a yearning for some, but it is great with rice or noodles or alone.


3 tbs extra virgin coconut oil
1 bulb pak choi
2 spring onions
1 carrot
1 flower cauliflower
2 cloves garlic
3 tsp chopped ginger
2 tsp Thai sweet chilli sauce
150 gr pickled baby octopus


Clean the spring onion and slice
Peel the carrot and slice
Roughly chop the pak choi
Break the cauliflower into bite size flowerets
Place the oil in a pan to heat
Add the vegetables and stir to coat with oil
Add the octopus and stir to combine
Crush the garlic and add
Chop the ginger and add
Add the chilli sauce and stir to combine
Stir constantly until cooked to a crunchy consistency
Serve with rice or noodles.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Curry of chickens, à l'Indienne #FLRoyalFood

This is another recipe inspired by the FutureLearn course. Apparently curries were much favoured in Victorian times and almost always on the menu for Queen Victoria's meals. We were given a recipe for chicken curry but were able to use a modern prepared curry paste as apparently in Victorian times cooks were faced with a bewildering array of proprietary curry pastes.  As my pantry seems to have an equally bewildering array, I just chose the first one that came to hand. The major ingredient listed for this curry paste is "spices", so I am none the wiser about its major components.

Proportions in the original recipe were a bit obscure, though they did call for two heads of celery and three onions. I used less of the onions and celery and more of the stock, garlic and curry paste. The extra stock and fewer vegetables as well as the fact that I didn't sieve the resultant sauce meant that my sauce was quite light.  It tasted very nice, but for the authentic look and taste I should have sieved (or food-processed) the sauce. Maybe next time.  However, the overall exoerience and taste was very pleasant, if not correctly authentic.


750 gr chicken thighs
2 onions
1/2 head of celery
2 cloves garlic
Clove powder
1 tbs flour
2 tbs curry paste
1 litre chicken stock


Melt butter in pan
Chop onions and parsley roughly
Add to butter and stir until coated
Chop parsley and add
Add mace and clove powder
Stir all to combine and continue cooking until the vegetables have softened
Add the curry paste and stir to combine, likewise the flour
Pour over the chicken stock and stir
Bring the mixture to the boil
Meanwhile chop the chicken thighs into bite size pieces
Melt butter in another large pan
Lightly fry the chicken turning regularly until the pieces are sealed
Add the sauce mixture to the chicken and combine
Bring to the boil and along to boil for a short period
Then reduce to a simmer and simmer until all is tender and the flavours are combined.  

Monday, July 11, 2016

Chocolate with almond, ginger and cayenne #FLRoyalFood

While I continue my hunt for stocks of barley for the Week 4 Barley soup experiment, here's another experiment in Georgian chocolate. Although I enjoyed the one I made last week, I really could only drink it as a special treat as I found it so rich.  This one is simpler with fewer flavours and no cream.  It is simply water, chocolate, almond meal, ginger and cayenne.  But what a delicious combination!  The chocolate does have some vanilla and sugar in it so that is part of the mix.  It is certainly a nice mid-morning drink for a chilly Melbourne winter day.


30 gr Lindt 90% chocolate (with sugar and vanilla)
1 tbs almond meal
1/2 tsp chopped ginger root
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 cup boiling water


Place the almond meal in a small dish
Add chopped ginger root
Sprinkle with cayenne
Stir to combine and leave to absorb flavours
Break the chocolote into pieces and set aside
Boil the water in a briki and turn down the heat
Add chocolate and stir until dissolved
Add the almond meal mixture
Stir to combine well
Whisk and pour into a teacup to serve.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Anne's "Georgian" chocolate

My Futurelearn course this week is focusing on the time of George I and one of the topics under discussion has been his personal chocolate maker and the role of chocolate, that exotic import, in royal and palace life. I have many pictures in my mind of languorous women in Georgette Heyer sipping chocolate in their beds of a morning, albeit maybe in the time of a later George.

Chocolate was often mixed with wine or port to make a drink and we were shown a demonstration of how to make that.  However, I explored a bit further and found various recipes made with water and/or milk (rather than alcohol) and spices.  I particularly liked one where the sugar was first soaked in rosewater. There are also examples of spices like cardomon and cayenne being used, and I may try a combination like that another time.

So this is just one I came up with as a result of my reading and using, on a whole, things I had in the house.  I did buy some chocolate! I got a Lindt 90% cocoa which had sugar and vanilla in it, so I didn't add sugar as would normally have been done in the time of George I. And I made it with a combination of water, rosewater and cream as I don't like milk. I used aniseed essence, but you could make it with ouzo though I doubt that it was drunk at the court of George I. I made it in my briki, but you could do it in a saucepan. Enjoy!


30 gr Lindt 90% chocolate (with sugar and vanilla)
2 tbs almond meal
1 tsp aniseed essence
2 tbs rosewater
1 cup boiling water
2 tbs thick cream


Place the almond meal in a small dish
Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg
Add aniseed essence and rosewater
Stir to combine and leave to absorb flavours
Break the chocolote into pieces and set aside
Boil the water in a briki and turn down the heat
Add chocolate and stir until dissolved
Add the almond meal mixture and stir
Add the cream  and combine well
Whisk and pour into a teacup to serve.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

"Elizabethan" vegetable tarte

A couple of days ago, I blogged about an Elizabethan pea tarte which I made for my current Futurelearn course. Whilst I liked the outcome, I have since reflected on what worked or didn't work and how it might be improved.  In this case, I chose to use a mixture of vegetables.  I put the vegetables (apart from the peas into the microwave at full pelt for one minute.  If you don't want to use a microwave you could steam them briefly.

I chose not to microwave the peas this time as I felt with the other recipe that modern frozen baby peas simply didn't need the extra cooking. So next time I make the pea tarte I won't do pre-cooking of the peas. I also chose this time to add the verjuice to the vegetables at the beginning and to have a closed pastry top and not to do two stages of cooking.  I found that this worked well and the vegetables probably stayed a bit moister.  But maybe this is my modern taste speaking.


Sweet potato
Green peas frozen
Unsalted butter
Puff pastry


Preheat oven to 180c
If pastry frozen, remove to thaw
Slice sweet potato into fairly thin rounds
Break cauliflower into small flowerlets
Place cauliflower and sweet potato in souffle dishes
Sprinkle with pepper, cayenne and cummin
Place in microwave for one minute
Remove from microwave and add frozen peas
Add about 2 tsp sweet i.e. unsalted butter to each dish
Sprinkle verjuice into each dish
Cut the pastry into size for each dish

Place the pastry on the top of each souffle dish
Cook in the oven for 45 minutes

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Elizabethan pea tarte

Week two of my Royal Food and Feasting Futurelearn course focuses on Elizabeth 1. One of the recipes is for a pea tarte.  This is my variant on the tarte. I prefer to minimize the amount of pastry I eat and tend to make my pies (aka Elizabethan tartes) in dishes with pastry covering the top rather than with the contents surrounded top and bottom with pastry. So this is my attempt at an Elizabethan green pea pie in that context.

Essentially the dish requires a hot oven, green peas, sweet butter, pepper, saffron, a bit of salt and pastry on top for the initial cook.  Then slosh a sprinkle of verjuice into the top and cook for a bit longer.  It's very simple but tastes great and you can certainly taste the difference with the verjuice. I was glad to pull out my Maggie Beer verjuice that I don't use often.


Green peas frozen
Unsalted butter
Puff pastry


Preheat oven to 180c
If pastry frozen, remove to thaw
Place frozen peas in microwave for one minute or steam briefly
Place peas in small souffle dishes
Sprinkle with pepper, saffron and salt
Add about 2 tsp sweet i.e. unsalted butter to each dish
Cut the pastry into size for each dish
Cut a cross in the centre of each piece of pastry
Place the pastry on the top of each souffle dish
Peel back the triangles of the cross
Cook in the oven for 30 minutes
Remove from oven and pour dash of verjuice into each pie through the hole on top
Shake to mix ingredients
Remove to oven another 15 minutes.


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