A Summer Tarte

This is another one of those great recipes we found in a medieval cookbook, originally published in 1393.  I plan my kitchen garden based on the fresh herbs I needed to make this.  

TO MAKE A TART (TOURTE), take four handfuls of beets, two handfuls of parsley, a handful of chervil, a sprig of fennel and two handfuls of spinach, and pick them over and wash them in cold water, then cut them up very small; then bray with two sorts of cheese, to wit a hard and a medium, and then add eggs thereto, yolks and whites, and bray them in with the cheese; then put the herbs into the mortar and bray all together and also put therein some fine powder. Or instead of this have ready brayed in the mortar two heads of ginger and onto this bray your cheese, eggs and herbs and then cast old cheese scraped or grated onto the herbs and take it to the oven and then have your tart made and eat it hot.

The Goodman of Paris

One thing to note here is that it has been my experience that when older manuscripts mention beets, they are speaking of the greens if they don’t qualify using the roots. I mostly base this on looking at the context of most receipts and how much my family cooked with beet greens. I don’t think we grew chard but would have to confirm that with my mother.

This is also kind of an odd receipt in that it doesn’t specify to blanch the greens first, but I decided that it might be one of those things they just assumed you knew to do. Far too much liquid cooks out of the fresh greens for this to set up properly if you don’t.

1/2 pound of greens – chopped and blanched
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 c fresh chervil or chives
2 Tbsp leaves chopped fresh fennel leaves
5 eggs
6 oz of parmesan cheese (or hard white cheddar)
6 oz of mozzarella cheese (swiss)
1/2 tsp ginger or galangal
1/2 tsp salt
9″ pie crust

  1. Place your pie crust in a 9-inch pie pan.
  2. Tear up greens and blanch them in boiling water. Lay them out on cheesecloth and roll them up in it to squeeze out the excess water.
  3. Mince the fresh herbs finely.
  4. Mix the fresh food in a mixing bowl with the cheeses. What I am trying to indicate in the directions is that you use one hard cheese and one softer cheese. It really does not matter what kind of cheese you use, as long as you stick to that.
  5. Then blend the eggs up and pour them over this mixture.    
  6. Stir it altogether well and pour it into the pie crust.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees until set in the middle.  
  8. Check it after 30 minutes.

The Goodman of Paris Eds. G. G. Coulton and Eileen Power. Trans. Eileen Power. London: George Routledge & Sons, 1928 p. 278.

Published by Stephany Riley Hoffelt

If you want to read more about me, it's on the website www.domestic-medicine.com

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