Apple Muse

Last night my house hosted a game night. The meme my roommate (also my trusted food tester) sent out sums it up pretty well. Hooray for our meme culture!

Anyway, the prospect of a game night got me thinking about what medieval dessert I could conjure up alongside the mulled wine my roommates decided to make. And for the first time in awhile I didn’t want to make something with pumpkin. And it led me here. Apple muse, it is!

The site describes it as a pottage — a think, blended dish that could be made from dozens of different ingredients in dozens of different ways (I like it already!).

Pottages were very popular and quite common, apparently, in medieval cookbooks. This particular recipe hails from 15th century England. Its class is “authentic,” but, truth be told, I have basically no idea what that even means. I guess that this particular Apple Muse recipe comes from a manuscript that was found by someone, somewhere entitled Potage Dyvers, which probably led to its “authenticity.” It means “Various Pottages.” Anyway, it didn’t take long to start getting heart palpitations just thinking of those classes I had to take to get my incredibly useful BA in English Language and Literature, wondering if I could follow only the Old English directions. Then I thought this would be the perfect way to retroactively fix the fact that I slept through the classes I was required to take on this. (Haha, just kidding, that never happened).

.lxxix. Apple Muse.—Take Appelys an sethe hem, an Serge hem þorwe a Sefe in-to a potte; þanne take Almaunde Mylke & Hony, an caste þer-to, an gratid Brede, Safroun, Saunderys, & Salt a lytil, & caste all in þe potte & lete hem sethe; & loke þat þou stere it wyl, & serue it forth.

Uh. Hm. The entire recipe is under one sentence, and I couldn’t even finish it.  Luckily, A Boke of Gode Cookery Recipes provided a translation.

“Take apples an boil them, and pass it through a strainer into a pot; than take almond milk & honey, and add, and grated bread, saffron, sandalwood, & a little salt, & put all in a pot & let it boil; & see that
you stir it well, & serve it forth.”

(Aside from the grammatical error, whew!)

Though Jews were mostly expelled from England a few hundred years before this recipe, I felt that I could justify its Jewishness with a couple rather simple explanations. Namely, rewriting the past. We’re good at this. We cannot and/or refuse to separate fact from fiction, fiction from fact. We literally feed off of storylines. We constantly watch what we eat in multiple ways, far beyond keeping or not keeping kosher. It is all bound up in our laws and our traditions. The story might not have been how we survived (manna in the desert), but it is most certainly how we have survived since. In Russian, to live and to survive differ by two letters, placed in front of the word. If you take those letters away, creating two letters, you get “you live.” Coincidence? Doubt it.

And, of course, there’s this insatiable need to expand our knowledge, of not only our history, but of the world. How else can we become a national unto nations? I mean, I struggle as much as the next person. Generally speaking, I really enjoy plopping on my couch with Thai take out for a Game of  Thrones marathon after work, but that is obviously fairly problematic if I actually want to learn something beyond modern pop culture and become a national unto nations. I don’t really know what that means, but I think about it a lot when I play Risk.

Also, some might ask (like my roommate) why one would want to make something from this time period (we have made some culinary progress since then, she said. Who knew?), and this location (notorious for less-than-awesome food), but I decided that with mulled wine, everything tastes good, and I wanted a culinary adventure. I also, of course, took the liberty of more or less making up the recipe, how many apples, how much almond milk, how much honey (I consider honey vegan – maybe I should have said that earlier now that I think about it – you can replace it with agave nectar, I’m sure), and other random delicious additions, like graham cracker topping, almond extract and pears. Next time, I’d love to top it with roasted and caramelized pears, too. Next time, next time.

Without further ado, I bring you Apple Muse, ala Rachel/The Heebavore.

Ingredients:

  • 10 apples, peeled and boiled
  • 2 pears, peeled and boiled
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp. almond extract
  • a few strands of saffron, spaked in 2 tsp. water
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 tsp nutmeg
  • graham crackers, to taste

Method:

First off, I discovered this helpful little apple peeling video on Food 52 (not vegan, but awesome).

Once the apples and pears are peeled and cut in half, boil them. While the fruit is boiling, put the saffron strands in a small bowl with two tsp. water, to bring out the flavor. They should be completely covered.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees now.

Boil until they are soft, a fork should go into the fruit very easily. Drain the water. Put the fruit into a different pot and mash until it as liquified as possible.

Run the mashed fruit through a strainer back into the original pot. Add the almond milk, honey (or agave nectar), almond extract, bread crumbs, spices, and salt. Bring the mixture back to a boil, medium-high heat.

Stir constantly. Add more almond milk if necessary. Then place the pudding into individual casserole dishes. Sprinkle graham crackers on top and a dash of cinnamon and set in the oven for approximately 20 minutes. And enjoy!

I insisted on playing this on repeat throughout the night. I’m sorry about that, by the way, to everyone there. BUT IT IS AWESOME.

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