Not really period: lemon Frangipane tarts

My Frangipane enthusiasm remains undiminished, and this weekend I decided to play with the flavors a bit. I added a bit of fruit preserves to the bottom of each tart — some quince, some tart cherry — and made the Frangipane with lemon juice and zest. I also went with a very rich modern pastry for the crust, and because I believe in gilding the lily I served them with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Although it’s not rooted in history, here is the recipe if you’d like to make your own.

Pastry:

  • 12 ounces flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 4 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix together the dry ingredients, then cut and rub in the butter until mixture is crumbly (looks like breadcrumbs or coarse wet sand). Add the water and mix gently to bring together. Divide into 8 pieces and roll out. Line 8 small (4″) tart pans or ramekins (as pictured here) with the pastry and trim the edges. (Mine slumped — leave a bit of overhang to prevent that.) Prick the bottom of each crust gently all over with a fork, then line each with parchment paper and fill with weights or dry beans. Blind bake for 15-20 minutes, until pastry looks dry all over.

While the pastry blind bakes, prepare the filling:

  • Optional: 8 teaspoons jam / preserves, set aside
  • 4 ounces sugar
  • 4 ounces softened butter
  • 4 ounces finely ground almonds / almond flour
  • Juice and zest of one medium lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • Pinch of salt

Cream together butter and sugar. Add ground almonds and salt and mix well — it should look pale and fluffy. Add the lemon juice and zest and eggs and beat enthusiastically until everything is well incorporated.

Once the crusts have come out of the oven and cooled enough to remove the weights and parchment, spread a teaspoon of jam or preserves in the bottom of each, then top with the almond mixture. Be careful not to overfill (hence splitting the recipe between 8 small tarts). Bake tarts for 30 minutes. Let cool prior to serving.

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Recipe: Frangipane Tart with Paest Royall

I am still proofreading and putting the final touches on the cookbook, and I’ve forced myself to stop putting new recipes in it. That doesn’t mean I’m not still testing recipes, though — for my own enjoyment, for future editions, because I sort of have an obsessive personality — and last night I was playing around with another version of Paest Royall, a 1545 pie crust recipe that I think every SCA cook has tried their hand at. I have started looking at post SCA period historical pastry recipes, which include quantities, and it’s been an interesting process. Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery (1796) happens to include a recipe for Royal Paste that I used as a starting point for this experiment. Of course, I needed something to fill the pastry with, so I made a batch of Frangipane with rose water for a more 16th / 17th century flavor profile. (Caveat: I have not thoroughly researched Frangipane, or come across a pre 1600 reference or recipe. Anyone have anything documenting its early history?)

It turned out lovely:

Recipe:

Preheat the oven to 350F.

For the pastry:

  • 1/2 pound flour
  • 1/4 pound butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 scant teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Several spoonfuls of water

All ingredients should be at cool room temperature. Mix the salt into the flour, then cut and rub the butter in until the mix resembles wet sand. Incorporate the egg yolks, then add water a spoonful at a time and mix gently until the pastry comes together. Form into a disc and set aside while you prep the filling.

Frangipane:

  • 4 oz finely ground almonds
  • 4 oz sugar
  • 4 oz butter, softened/room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T rosewater

Cream together first three ingredients, then gently beat in eggs and rosewater until filling is smooth and uniform.

Roll out the pastry thinly and line a tart pan, pressing into the sides of the pan and trimming the edges. Pour in the filling and spread evenly. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until puffed and golden brown on top. Let cool before serving.

An SCA Resume Template (for Arty People)

One of the tasks I give to my students and apprentices is to keep an updated resume. I have a specific format that I use for these that I really like. After attending a local get together tonight and talking about this with some other folks, it seems like this is a tool that other people might find useful. So, here are my suggestions of what to put in an SCA A&S resume:

Continue reading “An SCA Resume Template (for Arty People)”

I’ve been spinning

I’ve gotten pretty hooked on distaff spinning. Here’s my latest batch after plying, still on the niddy-noddy:

I keep meaning to do a longer write up on spinning but never getting around to it. The short version is, spinning with a distaff is FUN! Plus, super historical.

You can find some good distaff tutorials on YouTube, which I highly suggest if you want to try it out. I also learned a ton from this excellent blog post.

It’s also given me an excuse to buy new craft supplies! Yay! 😂

Eulalia’s Shamefully Easy Cheater’s Method for Zero Stress Vigil Snacks

This is not a post about how to recreate a complicated medieval meal, or a review of fancy heirloom stone-ground flours, or a story about doing something awesome and inspiring and historical. Rather, this is a post for anyone who is planning food for a vigil and who wants a great, crowd-pleasing spread that can be set up in a field or in a hotel room (so, when you don’t have access to a kitchen) with a minimum of misery while still maximizing the wow-factor. Basically, this is how to prepare vigil food that people will like and that is period-ish while relying almost exclusively on pre-made ingredients from Costco and Trader Joe’s. And now you know my shameful secret: I say I love cooking, but apparently if you ask me to do your vigil food I won’t actually cook a damn thing for you. (Okay, that’s not really true: I’ll probably bake some pies.) If that’s enough self-flagellation on my part, let’s begin.

MedievalSnax
“I can’t believe she got this marzipan at IKEA!”

Continue reading “Eulalia’s Shamefully Easy Cheater’s Method for Zero Stress Vigil Snacks”

I have an apprentice!

Tullia has officially graduated from my student to my apprentice! We had a brief ceremony at Collegium, exchanging words (and gifts) and then signing a contract.

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Photo by Maestra Raffaella di Contino, OP

I’m really excited to see where Tullia takes her research next. In addition to her All The Roman Things! adventures, she’s also been doing lots of cool (okay, mostly Roman!) jewelry.

We stuck with my persona for our ceremony. We did a contract that I very loosely based on some period apprenticeship contract examples that I was able to find online, which we read and signed (and then invited witnesses to sign as well).

[This post is still in progress, I need to find my copy of our contract and post the language of it here.]

Eulalia’s Words to Live By

Striving to be a Peer helped me become a better version of myself. I became more introspective and got better at asking myself tough questions. Through all that, I came to some pretty good rules for living. There are some great guides already out there about working toward Peerage; I don’t think this is that, necessarily… but it also probably won’t hurt. But more than that, these rules pretty much sum up my life philosophy:

Rule Number 1: Quit whining or fix it.

Everyone’s a critic and we all love to complain, me especially. When things don’t go the way I think they should, I have a lot to say about that (as you have no doubt observed if you’ve read any of my previous posts here). But complaining is easy; actually doing something is hard. I often use this rule as a metric to gauge how much I really care about an issue: Am I willing to take any action? If I’m not, it’s time to shut my trap.

Rule Number 2: Volunteers are heroes. 

Actually, this is kind of a corollary to that first one. Without getting too deep into the weeds, I have had my share of really unpleasant experiences as a volunteer in the SCA; if I were treated at work (where they pay me) the way I have been treated at events (where I was giving my time), I would not keep working there. As an organization, we have to do better. So, here’s my rule to live by: if someone is stepping up to do the work, you don’t get to criticize how they do it (unless you are, say, the branch seneschal or exchequer, and the way the volunteer is doing the thing is no good / very bad / omg stop). If you think something should be done differently, step up and do it.

Rule Number 3: Use your words.

This might seem like it contradicts the first two, but bear with me. Using your words doesn’t mean complaining or criticizing, but using direct, clear, effective communication to get your needs met. I will admit that I have shamelessly borrowed this guiding principle from Captain Awkward. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Advocate for your needs, and set boundaries; enforce those boundaries firmly and without drama when needed. When you have a problem with someone, speak to them directly or engage a formal dispute process by taking it to the appropriate people.

Rule Number 4: When in doubt, just be nice.

This one is pretty self-explanatory. I’m still working on it.

All of these rules stem from the same root: your words have power. Wield them carefully.

Bonus rule, just for those trying to become Peers: If you want to be a Peer, you probably shouldn’t badmouth Peers. This is really just a corollary of all the above rules, but I think it needs to be called out directly. Don’t tell everyone you know that [whatever Peerage order] is [a bunch of assholes, too stupid to see how great you are, not as awesome as they think they are, stuck-up, rude, out of touch, delusional, etc. etc. etc.] Listen, I get it: I know what it feels like to feel like no one sees you; but I also know that we do see you, and we hear you. I think that the hardest part of the quest for Peerage is that Peers are actually really good at making sure you don’t notice that they’re watching you. You are allowed to be human and you are allowed to get frustrated. But we are human too, and if a Peerage order’s strongest impression of you is something horrible you’ve said about them, that is not doing you any favors.

What about you, readers? What are your rules to live by? What guidelines would you give someone when it comes to the ill-defined parts of being a Peer?

Laurel Stuff: my Approach to Students and Apprentices, and my Apprentice Questionnaire

As I ramp up my involvement in the work of being a Laurel, I’ve been really enjoying developing formal and informal mentoring relationships. I thought I would share some of what I do that might be helpful to both peers and those interested in working with peers.

SCAheraldryRight now, I have a few people whom I think of as “associates” — we haven’t formalized our relationship, but I think they’re cool and I give them as much active help and advice as they’ll accept (and I have time for). (Conchobhar was strongly in this category, incidentally.) This might be help and advice around specific topics (how to do research, making pies, fire cooking) or it might be more general (demystifying the Laurels’ council, A&S competition coaching). Associates have no obligation to me, they’re just people I have taken a shine to.

Continue reading “Laurel Stuff: my Approach to Students and Apprentices, and my Apprentice Questionnaire”

Cookbook Progress Update

Since posting about the cookbook project back in January, some stuff happened that was really hard and sad and I’m still processing all of it. It definitely put a damper on my dreams of testing a recipe a week for the cookbook, but I’m finally starting to feel a little human again (ugh grief is dumb). I don’t know how many recipes I’ll be able to test and add to the cookbook, but I have managed to get a small handful together since January (and it’s not like I didn’t have lots of recipes ready to go back in January, either!)

So, there will be a cookbook, it will probably mostly look like the table of contents already posted (see link), but there will also be at least a few more recipes too! I still don’t have anything like pre-order details or even how I’ll be releasing it nailed down; I’m going to just have to take that as it comes.