Irish Boxty

Boxty is basically potato pancakes. It is a traditional Irish potato dish which is quite easy to make. The name comes from the Gaelic “Bacstai”. An old Irish poem says:

Boxty on the griddle, boxty in the pan,
If you can’t make boxty, you’ll never get a man.

Boxty is an excellent way to use left-over mashed potatoes. Basically it consists of equal parts of raw potato, mashed potato and flour:

1 cup grated raw potato
1 cup mashed potato
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk

Grate raw potatoes and mix with the cooked mashed potatoes. Add salt, pepper and flour. Beat egg and add to mixture with just enough milk to make a batter that will drop from a spoon.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a hot griddle or frying pan. Cook over a moderate heat for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Serve with a tart apple sauce.

If you’re feeling very Irish, serve with fried bacon, fried sausage, fried eggs, fried black pudding, fried bread, and fried soda bread.

Irish Boxty

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Boxty is basically potato pancakes. It is a traditional Irish potato dish which is quite easy to make. The name comes from the Gaelic “Bacstai”. An old Irish poem says:

Boxty on the griddle, boxty in the pan,
If you can’t make boxty, you’ll never get a man.

Boxty is an excellent way to use left-over mashed potatoes. Basically it consists of equal parts of raw potato, mashed potato and flour:

1 cup grated raw potato
1 cup mashed potato
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk

Grate raw potatoes and mix with the cooked mashed potatoes. Add salt, pepper and flour. Beat egg and add to mixture with just enough milk to make a batter that will drop from a spoon.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a hot griddle or frying pan. Cook over a moderate heat for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Serve with a tart apple sauce.

If you’re feeling very Irish, serve with fried bacon, fried sausage, fried eggs, fried black pudding, fried bread, and fried soda bread.

 

Chadō (茶道): The Way Of Tea

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The Japanese tea ceremony, also called the Way of Tea, is a Japanese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha (抹茶), powdered green tea.

In Japanese, it is called chanoyu (茶の湯) or sadō, chadō (茶道), while the manner in which it is performed, or the art of its performance, is called (o)temae ([お]手前; [お]点前).  Zen Buddhism was a primary influence in the development of the Japanese tea ceremony. Much less commonly, Japanese tea practice uses leaf tea, primarily sencha, in which case it is known in Japanese as senchadō (煎茶道, the way of sencha) as opposed to chanoyu or chadō.

Maidstone Biscuits

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This is a very simple recipe for a crunchy almond flavored biscuit from the Middle Ages.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons chopped, blanched almonds
1 teaspoon rosewater (or substitute) *

Cream the sugar and butter together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Stir in the rosewater and almonds. Fold in the flour to form a stiff dough. Form pieces of dough into balls about the size of a golf ball in your hands and flatten them onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees. When baked the biscuits should be golden brown in color.

* It was traditionally flavored with rosewater, which is still available in specialty food stores. If you can’t obtain rosewater, you can use vanilla or even orange extract instead.

Fruit and Mutton Pie

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Leaf lard pastry dough
3 cups cooked mutton or lamb, cut small
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup mixed peel
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
5 medium cooking apples, peeled and chopped
1 level tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
salt and pepper

Leaf lard pastry dough

Ingredients

  • 2½ cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (unsalted butter, in tablespoon-size pieces)
  • 8 tablespoons rendered leaf lard, in tablespoon-size pieces *
  • ½ cup ice water plus 1–2 tablespoons more as needed
  • Flour for rolling out dough

* Leaf lard is available at most butcher shops, some farmers’ markets, and also Online.

Directions

  • Add all ingredients except the ice water to a large bowl.
  • Quickly mix the mixture together with your hands or a pastry blender with an up and down motion, until the ingredients appear like cracker crumbs with lumps the size of peas.
  • Sprinkle ice water over the mixture and stir lightly with a fork until a handful of dough holds together. Add more water as needed.
  • Divide the dough in two and make two discs about 5 inches across.
  • Wrap the dough in two plastic wrap packages, and chill for about an hour.
  • Take out the dough and allow to warm slightly  until they feel slightly soft to the touch and easy to roll out.
  • Unwrap one and place it on a well-floured board or pastry cloth.  Sprinkle some flour on top. Hit the dough with your rolling pin several times. Turn it over and hit the other side.
  • Sprinkle more flour onto the dough as needed to keep the pin from sticking, and roll the crust out from the center in all directions.
  • Roll the dough until is is approximately 1 to 2 inches larger than your pie pan, brush off the extra flour.
  • Lay the dough in the pie pan carefully.  Don’t worry if the crust has cracks or even a small hole. Brush a little water where it needs to be patched and glue on the patch piece.
  • Put the filling in the pie and repeat the process with the other piece of dough.

Note: You may add a teaspoon or two of sugar if you prefer a sweeter dough.

Fruit and Mutton Pie

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a pie dish with two thirds of the pastry, reserving one third for the lid. Fill the pastry case with layers of mutton and apples. Season as you layer and sprinkle sugar, nutmeg and chopped prunes on each layer. Roll out the pastry for the lid and press onto lower pastry to seal. Put slits in the pastry lid with a sharp knife to let out the steam. Bake for 10 minutes then turn the oven down to 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

Roman Beets & Chicken

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Marcus Terentius Varro (116 – 27 BC), a Roman scholar, recorded this recipe for Beets with Chicken. It tastes pretty good, but be prepared, as the chicken comes out beet colored:

10 small beets
1/4 cup mead or sweet white wine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lb cooked chicken pieces

Wash and peel whole, small beets and put them into a saucepan. Add mead or sweet wine, olive oil, and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, add chicken pieces, and cook until done.

Ancient Greek Food: Sesame Honey Candy (Pasteli)

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In Greek: παστέλι, pronounced pah-STEH-lee

In markets these days you can find sesame honey bars. The main difference is that the ancient Greeks did not have refined sugar. The sugar used today helps to harden the bars and make them crunchy. The ancient version was chewier, but simple to make with only two ingredients: sesame seeds and honey.

Warning: The quality and taste of the honey will have an effect on the final product.

Pasteli can be eaten as a candy at any time, or as an energy booster, and it is a wonderful accompaniment to tea.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups honey
  • 3 cups hulled white sesame seeds
  • Optional: 1 strip lemon peel (about 1/4 x 1 inch)

Steps:

  1. In a saucepan, bring honey and lemon peel, if using, to a boil. Add sesame seeds, stirring continuously and continue to cook while stirring to mix completely and thoroughly. When the seeds are fully mixed in and the mixture has boiled again, remove from heat. Remove lemon peel and discard.
  2. Place a piece of baking parchment on a cool work surface and spread out the hot mixture thinly and evenly (about 1/4 inch high).
  3. When the pasteli cools to room temperature, refrigerate on the parchment paper (it doesn’t need to be covered). Chill for at least 2 to 3 hours.
  4. With kitchen shears, cut the pasteli together with parchment paper into small pieces, and serve.
  5. To eat, peel off the parchment paper. Store in the refrigerator.

Asbusas (Ancient Egyptian Cookies)

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Abusas are an ancient Egyptian cookie:

2 lbs semolina (this is cream of wheat)
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 pound butter
16 ounces of plain yogurt
slivered almond halves

Bring all ingredients to room temperature. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and semolina (cream of wheat). Rub the butter into this mixture by hand until very well blended. Add the yogurt and mix with your hands until the dough feels smooth. If it feels dry add one tablespoon of water at a time until a firm dough forms.

Butter a 13x9x2 inch pan and pat the dough into the pan. With a sharp knife slice the dough in 2 x 2 inch squares. Press one almond half onto the surface of each piece. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Falafel (Ta’amia)

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Ta’amia was very popular with the Ancient Egyptians and continues to be popular in the middle east today. It was made with fava beans, but these can be substituted with chickpeas to make the well known version of Ta’amia known as falafel.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fava beans or chickpeas soaked overnight and drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 1-2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1-2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • A pinch of salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Sesame seeds to coat the cakes
  • Olive oil for frying

Preparation

  1. Ensure the beans are soft and remove their skins. Mix the beans together with all of the ingredients except the oil and sesame seeds and either mash or blend them in a food processor until you have a thick paste.
  2. Set the paste aside for 30 minutes to allow the flavours to set.
  3. Knead the mixture and form into small round cakes about 2cm thick.
  4. Sprinkle each side of the cakes with sesame seeds and shallow fry in hot olive oil for two to three minutes until golden brown.
  5. Serve with flat bread and lettuce tossed in olive oil, lemon juice and pepper. Alternatively you can also serve with a tahini dip.