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VOL. 38 | NO. 3 | Friday, January 17, 2014

A bard by another definition is quite tasty

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It’s a new year. I think it’s time for learning some new cooking terms – in a manner of speaking. The more advanced our modern cooking and terminology becomes, the farther away we get from what our ancestors dished up. So this is a glimpse of the past. But don’t think this will be boring, or something you’ve heard before.

To make this more difficult, or fun, it’s in a puzzle format. I love making puzzles. Rule of thumb: The obvious is not always correct. Good luck.

1. A crumbly, non-gem-grade amber (tree sap) ground with sugar, melted until smooth and crystallized is called:

A: flute

B: ambared sugar

C: maple syrup

D: brown sugar

2. Ambergris is:

A: a European name for the vegetable Americans call eggplant

B: the edible internal organs of poultry (liver, heart, and gizzard)

C: a mixture of sugar and water simmered on the stove until amber in color

D: a substance formed in the intestines of a sperm whale and used for flavoring

3. A word meaning “to grind in a mortar” is:

A: pottel

B: toss

C: zest

Crème Fraiche

1 pint of heavy cream
2 tablespoons of cultured buttermilk

Combine the buttermilk and heavy cream in non-reactive container. Cover and allow to rest at room temperature until thickened to desired texture – about 12 hours. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

D: bray

4. A capon can usually be found in the frozen foods section of most supermarkets. What is it?

A: the dried unripe berries of a tropical shrub

B: a neutered rooster

C: a variety of custard pie

D: rendered chicken fat

5. To “bard” means:

A: to tie bacon or pork fat around a piece of meat or poultry before it’s roasted

B: a person who recites poetry

C: to make a mixture smooth by adding air

D: to cook something slowly in a covered pan using a small amount of liquid

6. True or false: Foods were frequently coated with real gold and silver leaf for show, and the gilding was also eaten.

7. A “porrect” is:

A: the innards of a deer or other large red-meat animal

B: a drink composed of hot curdled milk with ale, wine, or other liquid

C: a young leek or onion

Roasted Beet Salad

3 golden beets, trimmed and washed
6 red beets, trimmed and washed
1/2 cup of olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
5 tablespoons of crème fraîche (see recipe at left)
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons of minced shallots
4 cups of baby watercress
4 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup of toasted chopped walnuts

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Place the beets on a baking sheet. Coat with three tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover the baking sheet with aluminum foil and roast until the beets are fork-tender - about one hour. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel and cut into one-inch wedges.

For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, crème fraîche, remaining olive oil, dill, and shallots in a food processor, and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the beet wedges in a layer on a platter and top with the watercress. Garnish with the goat cheese and walnuts. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and serve immediately.

D: bread of the nobility - lighter, whiter and more pure

8. The term “sewe” means:

A: to sift three times

B: to mix thoroughly, which will lighten a mixture

C: a broth of juices from a cooked dish

D: rendered chicken fat

Today’s recipe is not so old or difficult to understand. And all the ingredients can be found at your local market.

It’s healthy and really tasty, so before you turn away because of “beets.” Give it a try, something new for the new year.


1. Ambared sugar. It’s sweet and has a fragrant and resinous overtone. It cannot be found today, to my knowledge, and is too expensive and too much trouble to make. Substitute crystallized flavored sugar.

2. Ambergris, which is very rare today, is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull grey or blackish color produced in the digestive system of sperm whales. This substance has also been used historically as a flavoring for food, and some people consider it an aphrodisiac. During the Middle Ages, Europeans used ambergris as medication for headaches, colds, epilepsy and other ailments.

3. Bray. Pottel is an old British measurement term equivalent to about a pint.

4. A capon is a neutered chicken. A dressed capon will usually be between five and eight pounds, and will serve eight. A flawn is a variety of custard pie.

5. This one is tricky. A bard is a poet. In cooking terms, however, it means to tie some type of fat (bacon or fatback) around what you are cooking to prevent it from drying out while roasting. It’s also a piece of armor used to protect or ornament a horse.

6. True. This tradition is maintained in some countries even today, and edible gold leaves can be found with a little searching. Want to try them for Valentine’s Day? Go to www.editablegold.com, where you can purchase gold and silver along with recipes.

7. A porrect is a young leek or onion; a scallion. A posset is a drink of hot curdled milk, and as far as the innards of the deer or animal, that’s affectionately called “numbles.”

8. Sewe is a broth of juices from a cooked dish. Temper means to sift well, and schmalz is rendered chicken fat. While schmalz can be purchased in any Jewish market, it’s easy to prepare fresh at home.

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