Le Viandier

Yesterday Chris picked 10 kg of tomatoes from the polytunnel

and today we gleaned 12 kg of wayside apples.

So I need to start looking up recipes using these ingredients. Fortunately I’ve found one for tomato and apple chutney, which, since I love chutney, is great. I also came across an easy one for Dutch apple cake. It came out fabulously so here’s the recipe. It uses cups, which is annoying for Europeans I know, but is actually a very effective system when you don’t possess working scales, like we haven’t for, well, years! The official cup measurement is pretty much a teacup or small mug, so use that if you don’t have the exact US version.

Here’s my slightly tweaked version:

2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 eggs

1 cup oil (I used a mixture of olive and sunflower)

4 cups diced apple

Mix the dry ingredients together then add the eggs, oil and apple. Pop in a baking tin and cook for 50 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees F, gas mark 4, moderate oven).

It’s delicious!

On the subject of recipes, France is famous for cooking, as everyone knows, and its very first famous cookbook dates back to the 14th century. It was called Le Viandier. Viande then meant food of any sort, and not just meat as its modern meaning  is. It was written by Guillaume Tirel, otherwise known as Taillevent, who lived somewhere between 1310 and 1390. He was a kitchen boy for Charles IV, a cook for Charles V and then master of the kitchen stores for Charles VI. He probably wrote his recipe book for Charles V in the 1370s. It was extremely successful, and afer printing was introduced, went through 15 editions between 1490 and 1604.

It’s been translated here. Do have a look as it’s a fascinating insight into medieval life. To tempt you further, here are a couple of recipes. First up, hedgehogs!

Hedgehogs: Take raw meat chopped as fine as possible, Digne raisins and crumbled harvest cheese, all mixed together with Fine Powder. Have some mutton rennet stomachs, scald and wash them very well (not in water so hot that they shrivel), fill them with the chopped meat, and stitch them with a small wooden skewer.

Subtle English soup: Take cooked peeled chestnuts, egg yolks cooked in wine, and a bit of pork liver. Crush everything together, soak with a bit of lukewarm water, and sieve. Grind ginger, cloves and saffron (to give colour), and boil together.

Sadly neither of them call for tomatoes or apples so I won’t be making them just yet!