Saturday, February 21, 2009
My daughter's fourth grade class was holding a medieval feast this week. They'd prepared for months, making goblets, reliefs of castles, swords, writing biographies of their own characters, and they were all pumped. As excited as 20 9-year olds could be - picture a lot of jumping and smiles. At any rate, some of the parents were to volunteer to cook medieval recipes that the (wonderful) teacher had chosen over the last few years of doing this integrated project.
By the time I got to the folder outside of the room there were only two recipes left. I took them both. Mulled cider and buttered wortes. Wortes? What on earth was that? I was comforted slightly by the butter, because we all know that it can only improve upon other slightly less tasty ingredients. However, after reading the recipe I realized that this was going to be a wonderful dish. One that I would surely make in my own kitchen, 600 years later.
Wortes are apparently greens, anything from the cabbage family. I used two very large (earthbound farms?) containers of organic baby spinach, three leeks, 1/2 cup of chopped dill and about 6 or 8 green onions. Lightly boiled them all in very salted water for approximately 5-8 minutes, drained them and then added one stick of butter to the top of the hot greens. A whole stick?!? you say, well it was a lot of spinach. And it was BUTTERED wortes. Plus I thought if there's anyway to get 9 year olds, who are normally afraid of all things green, to eat spinach this is the way. But here's the kicker, the best part of the recipe. These wortes were to be mixed iwth diced bread or croutons. Now, when I hear the work crouton, my mouth waters, so I knew this was how I was going to kick this medieval recipe up a notch (my apologies to E). I diced a whole loaf of Zingerman's farm bread, tossed it with olive oil, fresh thyme and kosher salt, and roasted them for 10 minutes at 425 degrees conv. I'll admit it was hard to stop popping these suckers into my mouth while they cooled. Luckily I had the bowl of greens waiting patiently for their sponges so I enforced self-control.
This was to be served the next day at lunch for said medieval feast. So I bagged up the cooled croutons and the greens separately. Right before serving they were tossed together, and the warm buttery sauce soaked into those delicious croutons. It was really a great dish, enough so that I have since done some research on other recipes from the 1500's and have vowed to try them out in the near future. Only I'll have to come up with more enticing names for sure.