Holding your own

BYZANTINE FEAST

Want to hold a medieval feast? Sick of wearing dead animals and eating pig on a stick?! Want to impress your friends?!? Well the following is a menu and recipes for the Byzantine feast Miklagard et al gave at the 1996 NVG Gathering. Go ahead and try one or all of the recipes, you'll be pleasantly surprised*.

MENU

Fresh Oysters
Olives and Mintleaves and Kesseri
Chicken in Lemon Sauce
Salad Oxogarita
Tabahajah
Sweet Wine Cakes
Stuffed Dates
Greek Wine

RECIPES

Abbreviations
tbls: Tablespoon
tsp: Teapsoon

Fresh Oysters
3-4 oysters per person
pinch of pepper
pinch of ground lovage
2 egg yolks
1 tbls vinegar
1 tbls olive oil
1 tbls wine
1 tsp anchovy essence
1 tbls honey (optional)

Open the oysters as near as possible to the time of eating. They may be served raw, stewed, or baked then covered with the following sauce. Mix the pepper and lovage with the egg yolks, then add the vinegar, a drop at a time, to make a smooth mixture. Stir in the olive oil, wine, and anchovy essence. Honey may be added if you like. Mix all ingredients together thoughly and pour over oysters and serve.

Chicken in Lemon Sauce
1 kg chicken drumsticks (or 800g boneless breasts)
2 chopped onions
1-2 tbls oil
1 cup ground blanched almonds
2 cups chicken stock
1-1.5 tsp ground ginger
fresh ground pepper
salt
0.5 tsp pure saffron (threads) infused in 0.25 cup hot stock
juice of 1-1.5 lemons

Trim chicken pieces as necessary, pat dry. Heat oil in a pan (big enough to hold chicken in one layer). Lightly fry onions till soft, but do not allow them to colour. Add chicken pieces and slowly seal on all sides, again without browning. Place almonds in food processor, add hot stock and blend for approx. 2 minutes. Using a sieve, strain this almond milk over the chicken, pressing the almond residue to extract all the liquid. The almond milk should have the consistancy of thin cream; it will thicken during cooking. Add the ground ginger and saffron steeped in stock, together with a good grinding of pepper. Cover and simmer for 15min for breasts or 30min for drumsticks. Remove the lid and increase the heat to boil the sauce down to a thick, creamy consistancy. Add the juice of one lemon, taste and add more if necessary. The lemon flavour should be distinct but not overpowering. Check for seasoning and add a little salt if desired.

Salad Oxogarita
cos lettuce
chickory or endive
basil
cucumber
squill vinegar
garum (fish sauce)

Shred and mix lettuce, chickory and basil. Bathe cucumber in squill vinegar, then slice and add to the salad. Lightly splash the salad in 2:1 mixture of vinegar and garum (well mixed).

Tabahajah
250g lamb
pinch salt
1 tsp rue*
0.25 cup murri**
0.25 tsp coriander
pinch peper
60ml olive oil
1.5 tbls fresh coriander leaves
1.5 tbls mustard greens (leaves)
30g honey
0.5 tsp cinnamon

Beat the murri and honey in a bowl. Add the spices and stir well. Cut the meat into thin strips and marinade in this mixture for 1,5 hours. Chop herbs, removing stems. Heat oil in frying pan over a high heat until a few bubbles come up. Add meat and marinade and salt. Cook stirring for 15min until the saurce has reduced. Remove from heat and serve with fresh herbs on top.
Serves 4
* Rue is a herb that makes you throw up when eaten in quantity. Use with caution.
** You really don't want to know what this stuff is!
Sweet Wine Cakes
450g self-raising flour
1 tbls sweet white wine
pinch aniseed
pinch cumin
50g lard
25g grated cheese
1 beaten egg
12 bay leaves
Moisten the flour with the wine and add the aniseed and cumin. Rub in the lard and grated cheese and bind the mixture with egg. Shape into 12 small cakes and place each one on a bay leaf. Bake in the oven at 200oC for 25-30min.
Stuffed Dates
dates
shelled almonds, hazelnuts or pine kernals (one per date)
pepper
salt
2 tbls honey
Stone the dates and stuff with the nuts and a little pepper. Roll the dates in salt and heat the honey in a frying pan. Fry the dates briskly and then serve.

*No responsibility taken for anything that may happen to you if you try these dishes. Let me just say that no one has needed hospitalisation because of any of these recipes. Yet.

quarfwa@firstnet.com.au