Friday, January 11, 2013

SCA Recipe of the Day: Compost

"Ewww, he's making compost to eat? Gross..."

That's the typical response I've received when mentioning this years A/S entry for myself. People often mistake this for some kind of garbage recycling or other pile of junk, but it couldn't be further from the truth! This is another dish from Forme of Cury, my favorite resource when it comes to the 14t century it seems of late. While I decided not to enter this at a higher level this year, I did do some things different than last year.

The biggest thing is that this is my first self-redacted and self-translated piece, for many previous entries I've often worked from a redacted recipe that others have done for me. Doing the translation from middle English to modern English was a challenge, but a fun one! This is a dish that takes a day to prepare, as you are pickling the vegetables overnight, so make sure to prep this a day before to be ready in time to snack!

Tools Needed:

. Pot
. Towel you don't mind possibly ruining
. Spider or ladle
. sauce pan
. Measuring spoons
. Cutting board
. Chopping knife
. Veggie peeler
. Glass dish
. Large bowl


. 4 parsley roots (sub. for extra parsnips if you cannot find any good parsley roots at Whole Foods)   
. 8 parsnips (only 4 if you can grab some parsley roots!
. 1/2 tsp. anise seed
. 3 turnips
. 1 cabbage                                   
. 5 pears                  
. 1 cup vinegar
. 1 1/2 cup sweet wine
. 1/2 cup honey
. 1 Tbsp. mustard
. 1/2 cup currants (zante raisins)
. salt to cover
. cinnamon
. 1/2 tsp. fennel seed
. pepper
. saffron
. powder douce

Compost (from Forme of Cury) -

Take rote of parsel. pasternak of rasenns. scrape hem waisthe hem clene. take rapes & caboches ypared and icorne. take an erthen panne with clene water & set it on the fire. cast all þise þerinne. whan þey buth boiled cast þerto peeres & parboile hem wel. take þise thynges up & lat it kele on a fair cloth, do þerto salt whan it is colde in a vessel take vineger & powdour & safroun & do þerto. & lat alle þise thinges lye þerin al nyzt oþer al day, take wyne greke and hony clarified togider lumbarde mustard & raisouns corance al hool. & grynde powdour of canel powdour douce. & aneys hole. & fenell seed. take alle þise thynges & cast togyder in a pot of erthe. and take þerof whan þou wilt & serue forth.

Translation (as translated by myself) -

Take the roots of parsley and parsnip and scrape and wash them clean. Take turnips and cabbages and cut them up. Take an earthen pan with clean water and set it on the fire. Cast all of this inside. When they have boiled, cast pears in and boil them well. Take these things up and let it cool on a fair cloth, add salt when it is cold. In a vessel take vinegar and powdour and saffron and let these things lie there in all night or all day.

Take greek wine and clarified honey together with mustard and whole raisins and grind cinnamon powder, powder douce and whole anise and fennel seed. Take all of these things and cast together in an earthen pot. Take thereof what you will and serve forth.


1) Wash then peel all the vegetables and pears. It's important to give them a good wash, in case anything got on the goods before you purchased them!

2) Cut them all into bite-sized pieces, but keep the pears in a separate bowel with a little water and lemon juice to prevent browning. 

3) Parboil them until just tender, then add in the pears. Wait just a few minutes till the pears can absorb the water and become tender themselves.

4) Remove from the water with either your spider or ladle. Place the parboiled veggie/pear mixture on your towel, sprinkle with salt to cover and allow to cool. 

5) Put vegetables in large bowl and add pepper, saffron, and vinegar. Make sure the veggies have cooled before this step otherwise you may change the flavor of the final dish!

6) Let sit overnight in a cool place, covered. If you have kids or pets that might get into the mess, I recommend putting a lid on your bowl and keeping it in a high/dry place like a closet (it's where I keep mine!).

7) The next day, put the wine and honey into a saucepan, bring to a boil, and then simmer for several minutes. The idea here it to combine the flavors, not to damage the honey or wine with scorching so make sure to stir frequently.

8) Let cool and add currants and remaining spices. Mix well and pour over vegetables. Serve cold.

There are a multitude of items you can add to this dish, that blend well. I'm a fan of carrots and radishes, and they're a similar veggie to the parsnip so they taste great as well. If you want a sweeter pickle, go for more honey and spice, if you like the tart then I recommend cutting back on the fennel and douce.

If you try this, or have tried this before, leave a comment bellow and let me know what you think!