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Outlanderday Cooking: A bit of Rarebit!

Ahhhh Well, here we are on the final episode of this first half the season of Outlander… feeling a wee bit sad about that and the fact that it will be a verra long wait till spring when they return to us! I have gotten used to this little routine of Outlanderday cooking, and apparently so have some others in my home? There was a rather disappointed question from one of them recently…”So, does this mean you won’t be cooking on Saturdays, we were just getting used to it!” Well, not wanting to disappoint my family, and also not wanting to give up this new routine… I want to reassure all that I will still do some form of Outlander Cooking on Saturdays! There are, after all, quite a few books and Novellas that cover a wide variety of cooking styles! Theresa over at Outlanderkitchen.com  has so many recipes and ideas that I am quite sure I can keep us well fed until Spring.  When I mentioned this there was a sigh of relief… I’m thinking it was more because they were worried that I might try the more ancient medieval cooking of the Vikings with their return in January! Rest easy, I am not going to force those meals upon us, well not right now anyway? I may explore some of the more ancient styles and methods of cooking but am really not sure I’m up to actually eating them! For one thing, I do not have the required cooking utensils?

Viking food supplies

Viking food supplies

Viking cooking utensils

Viking cooking utensils

Viking cooking utensils

Viking cooking utensils

 

So, I do believe that I shall leave the Viking cooking to these more qualified women!

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I think I will join Lagertha on her quest instead!

http://www.history.com/shows/Vikings

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Ummmm and just in case anyone is wondering… I will follow Rollo (Clive Standen) where he chooses to go? Hopefully he will take me to France this year? Before Scottish Highlanders, there were Viking Warriors!

Clive Standen as Rollo Clive Stanton as Rollo

 

Ohhhh ummmm ahhhh where was I? So sorry for that minor lapse and digression from our  topic, I just got carried away with daydreams of Rollo! Now, back to our current subject, Outlanderday Cooking!

 

Since tonight is the finale and of course this also a marathon to watch, I really do not want to be stuck in the kitchen all day? Because of that, I am going as usual with Theresa’s most excellent suggestion for tonight’s meal. She suggests Scottish Rarebit   http://outlanderkitchen.com/2014/09/24/scottish-rarebit-outlander-starz-episode-108/ and I agree with her choice!  As a child, we often ate a version of this, though we referred to it as Whelsh Rarebit? I remember once asking my Father why it was called Rarebit and his response was “Well, because back in the old days, if you were lucky there might be a rare bit of meat but probably not?” He did explain too that it was also called Whelsh Rabbit and this was what you eat when you didn’t snare the rabbit!

welshrarebit

Alright, Dad’s explanations and jokes aside, here is a definition of Whelsh Rarebit:

Welsh rarebit (spelling based on folk etymology) or Welsh rabbit  is a dish made with a savoury sauce of melted cheese and various other ingredients and served hot, after being poured over slices (or other pieces) of toasted bread, or the hot cheese sauce may be served in a chafing dish like a fondue, accompanied by sliced, toasted bread.  The names of the dish originate from 18th-century Great Britain.  Welsh rarebit is typically made with Cheddar cheese, in contrast to the Continental European fondue, which classically depends on Swiss cheeses.   Various recipes for Welsh rarebit include the addition of ale, mustard, ground cayenne pepper or ground paprika  and Worcestershire sauce. The sauce may also be made by blending cheese and mustard into a Béchamel sauce[ or Mornay sauce. Some recipes for Welsh rarebit have become textbook savoury dishes listed by culinary authorities including Escoffier, Saulnier  and others, who tend to use the form Welsh rarebit, emphasising that it is not a meat dish.

 

I like Theresa’s reasoning for this type of meal in some tribute to Frank Randall, who is now a bachelor busy trying to find his lost wife and too busy or frustrated to put a lot of focus or attention into meal preparation?

Outlander_Cast_Frank_420x560 claire and frank8 Frank Randall OUT_108-20140518-EM_0812.jpg

I am in somewhat the same circumstances tonight… my usual dinner and viewing partners have deserted me and it will be just me at a table for one tonight. It’s also my Dad’s Birthday.  Though he’s been gone now for 20 years, there are so many times,  like yesterday when I read the Rarebit suggestion at Outlanderkitchen.com, that he shows up looking over my shoulder and I have to smile with him at his jokes! So, it felt somewhat fitting to make the Rarebit for him tonight.

 

Here are a few old versions of the simple recipe!

Recipes for rarebit

 

The version we used to eat was more like this?

welshrarebit2 welsh rarebit

 

Besides the recipe posted on Outlanderkitchen.com, I have found a few others that are similar to what I grew up eating.

The Pioneer Woman website has a great explanation and recipe: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/09/welsh-rarebit/

Foodnetwork’s Alton Brown also has an excellent version! http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/welsh-rarebit-recipe.html

 

From Traditional Scottish Recipes:

http://www.rampantscotland.com/recipes/blrecipe_toasted.htm

Traditional Scottish Recipes

 – Toasted Cheese

More usually associated with the Welsh than the Scots, Toasted Cheese is also called Welsh Rarebit.

Before the days of grills and modern cookers, the cheese was melted in front of the fire and bread was toasted on both sides with butter spread on one side and the melted cheese poured on top. Sometimes beer, pepper and salt were mixed with the cheese.

In 1747 a cookery book gave a recipe for “Scots Rabbit” or Rare Bit as bread toasted on both sides and a slice of cheese, the same size as the bread, also toasted on both sides and laid on the buttered bread. The same book had “Welsh Rabbit” made in the same way but with mustard rubbed on the cheese. “English Rabbit” on the other hand had a glass of red wine poured over the toast before the cheese was added. Take your pick!

 

 

 

I purchased some Artisan Cheddar Cheese Garlic bread, which I will use for the toast, and I also have added some meat to my menu! In honor of my Dad, because he loved his bacon so much, I got some bacon ends and pieces to fry up along with it! Now, it will be a table for two in front of the television tonight… Dad and I will enjoy the dinner and the show together. I know he would actually like the show because he was a huge fan of history!

Previous Outlander post: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/26/outlander-both-sides-preview/

Previous Outlanderday cooking: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/20/outlanderday-cooking-wine-and-wedding-feasts/

 

 

 

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Outlanderday Cooking: Comfort food!

Previous Outlander post: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/12/outlander-musings-and-preview-of-episode-6/

 

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Tonight’s episode, The Garrison Commander, brings us the evil that lurks within men’s souls and the darkness of Black Jack Randall’s heart and mind. In order to get through this episode, you will most likely need much strong spirits and some soothing comfort food to ease your own heart and soul!

 

The British feast on fine dining fare while others would have no appetite while wondering what their personal fates might be?

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Because I am anxiously awaiting this episode with much trepidation and some fear, I am going with some food that I am sure will comfort me.  I have not planned some awesome or elegant feast for this evening but rather have decided on a simple dish of comfort food that gives me a fond memory of home and childhood. I grew up in Minnesota, which some consider the original home of the Hotdish and potluck… Green bean casserole and Tater Tot Hot dish!  Well, fortunately for us, the Scots and the Sassenachs did have a form of this comfort food.  Sheperd’s Pie or Cottage Pie was it.  Of course, during early years, while the Sassenachs may have had potatoes, many of the Highlanders might not have had them. They might have used the usual replacement fare of mashed turnips instead, or put a pastry crust atop of it?  For our purposes, we do have access to potatoes so we will use them!  The difference between Sheperd’s Pie and Cottage Pie is the meat used for the dish. Sheperd’s pie uses minced lamb while Cottage Pie uses beef for the filling. 

 

 

shepard-pie shepherds-pie-2

I am trying to keep note of what they may or may not have had available during this early time period when researching recipes. I have found a number of recipes for the Sheperd’s or Cottage Pie and need to note here that these recipes all use a few items that probably would not have been used during the 1740’s. They most likely would have had some form of this dish but one ingredient listed in the recipes would not have been used by the majority of common folk.

History of the tomato in Britain

Tomatoes were not grown in England until the 1590s.  One of the earliest cultivators was John Gerard, a barber-surgeon.   Gerard’s Herbal, published in 1597, and largely plagiarized from continental sources,  is also one of the earliest discussions of the tomato in England. Gerard knew the tomato was eaten in Spain and Italy.  Nonetheless, he believed it was poisonous (in fact, the plant and raw fruit do have low levels of tomatine, but are not generally dangerous). Gerard’s views were influential, and the tomato was considered unfit for eating (though not necessarily poisonous) for many years in Britain and its North American colonies.   By the mid-18th century, tomatoes were widely eaten in Britain, and before the end of that century, the Encyclopædia Britannica stated the tomato was “in daily use” in soups, broths, and as a garnish. They were not part of the average person’s diet, however, and though by 1820 they were described as “to be seen in great abundance in all our vegetable markets” and to be “used by all our best cooks”, reference was made to their cultivation in gardens still “for the singularity of their appearance”, while their use in cooking was associated with Italian or Jewish cuisine.

 

With that little fact of the tomato noted, I will still use the bit of tomato paste called for in the recipes. If you wanted to omit the tomato, you could leave it out and go with more of a meat gravy option instead?  I am providing you with two versions of the recipe that I’ve found. The first, of course, is the one from Outlanderkitchen.com! Sheperd’s Pie from Echo in the Bone: http://outlanderkitchen.com/2012/04/16/shepherds-pie-from-an-echo-in-the-bone/. 

 

The other recipe is from Traditional  Scottish Recipes: http://www.rampantscotland.com/recipes/blrecipe_shepherd.htm

Shepherd’s Pie

In a land where sheep were a main food supply, it is not surprising that mutton and lamb form the basis of many Scottish dishes. Here is the traditional “Shepherd’s Pie” – the variant based on beef is usually called “Cottage Pie”.


Ingredients:
Minced lamb – 450g (1 lb)
Potatoes – 700g (1½ lb)
Large onion
Mushrooms – 50g (2 oz)
Bay leaf
2 Carrots
Plain flour – 25g (1 oz)
Tomato puree – 1 tbsp
Butter – 25g (1 oz)
Milk – 4 tbsp
Lamb or beef stock – 300ml (½ pint)
Cheese – 50g (2 oz)

Method:
Dry fry the lamb with the chopped onion, bay leaf, sliced mushrooms and diced carrots for 8-10 minutes. Add the flour and stir for a minute. Slowly blend in the stock and tomato puree. Cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens and boils. Cover and simmer gently for 25 minutes. Remove the bayleaf and place in a 1.7 litre (3 pint) ovenproof serving dish.

At the same time, cook the potatoes in boiling water for 20 minutes until tender. Drain well, mash with the butter and milk and mix well. Spread on top of the mince mixture and sprinkle over with the grated cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 200C/400F (Gas Mark 6). Serve hot with green vegetables.

 

I am going to use the ground beef as lamb is far too expensive for my limited budget!  As I already mentioned, I will use the tomato paste, and I am going to use the parmesan cheese  potato topping that Theresa suggests, courtesy of Chef Gordon Ramsay… I will just cross my fingers and be glad that he won’t be inspecting my version and evicting me from his kitchen! No, they would not have used parmesan cheese either, but it sounds delicious and I do love Parmesan cheese so we will splurge on this luxury! One slight change to the recipe is that I will add some peas to the filling because that is the way we are used to having our Cottage Pie! Hmmmm is Gordon already cringing at my hotdish?!  Acchhh Gordon, just be happy that I’ve not chosen to top it with Tater Tots!

gordon-ramsay2

 

Ahhhh Now, our main meal is set, an all in one easy to accomplish hearty dish that will make us feel warm and full of love in contrast to the cold hatred of Black Jack Randall! One other thing that is a true comfort food for many is the traditional Apple pie. Theresa at Outlanderkitchen.com has an excellent recipe for it here, Governor Tryon’s Humble Crumble Pie:  http://outlanderkitchen.com/2012/08/29/governor-tryons-humble-crumble-apple-pie/

Dutch apple pie Dutch Apple Pie2

 

I am in agreement with Theresa on preferring  crumble topping rather than the two crust pie. I am going to make a slight variation on her recipe though as I am not really fond of the nuts in the topping. So, I will leave those out and replace them with some toasted oatmeal sprinkles instead.  I am going to top it with some fresh whipped cream instead of Ice Cream.

 

Since our dinner for tonight is fairly simple and does not require a great deal of advance preparation, I had time this morning to make a trip to my favorite place to shop.  Normally, grocery stores and grocery shopping are pretty low on my list of enjoyable activities… but one exception is a visit to my favorite market, Berkeley Bowl! 

http://www.berkeleybowl.com/

Berkeley Bowl Market Berkeley Bowl

 

This is one market place that I truly find enjoyable, even if I have little cash or don’t really need much!  I love just wandering through there and seeing the glorious wide variety of food stuffs that they offer, at fairly reasonable prices too. It’s one of those places that you can find just about anything you might need from any culture or region of the world… the only down side is of course, you always seem to find something that you realize you must have or try once seeing it there! It has a homey, comfortable feel to it and the staff is always helpful and friendly.  The majority of their fresh produce, meats and dairy products are all local so it makes you feel good about your purchases too.  They offer everything from fresh organic produce, an on site Butcher- though the ground lamb was still a bit too expensive for me to consider it this time, a great dairy section where I can find such things as the fresh cream… or even simpler, a jar of Clotted Cream. For those who are not quite so adventurous in their cooking skills or their time limits, they have a fantastic Deli with wide selections of pre-packaged meals and foods. What I love the most about them is the fact that their selections of food items are wide enough to enable one to do all of their shopping there even on a limited budget. This is in contrast to say, Whole Foods, or Trader Joe’s where it ends up extremely expensive for a family on any sort tight budget do all of their shopping at that store.

 

I always find a few extra splurges to try on my trips there and today was no exception to that! Today’s splurges were:

Organic butter with sea salt in a nice ceramic crock for future uses! McClelland’s Dairy is a local dairy here.

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Some fresh made scones from a local Bakery, SconeHenge. Yes, I could have baked my own… but sometimes it’s just a treat to get the pre-made ones and these are soooo good! Along with these, I also picked up an Artisan flat load of herb bread which tastes wonderful with the fresh butter and a little spread of herbed goat cheese which I also picked up today!

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The scones taste delightful with these two additions!  The clotted cream is a British import but the fruit spread is from a local grower!

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The last splurge for the day was my daughter’s idea.  She and my son enjoyed the Cider I bought a while ago so much that she decided to try another one!

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Now, it’s time to go enjoy the afternoon and get ready for the evening’s viewing. We’re all prepared now for what ever depravity and darkness Black Jack Randall throws at us tonight. We will survive and console ourselves with the comfort food!  I hope you’ve enjoyed the kitchen today and the shopping excursion!