I am thinking in advance about Sunday Supper.
What to do?
I have been looking through Apicius’ 2nd century work De re coquinaria for some hints about how to use all the broccoli that is coming in.
Also, I have a hankering for chicken. I want to use things that will be fresh from the garden.
Here is what I am thinking about.
From De re coquinaria, Apicius’ 2nd century cookbook in a modernized edition by John Edwards called The Roman Cookery of Apicius, I could make coliculi elixati, "Broccoli and Cabbage in Coriander Wine Sauce". This needs coriander, of which I have loads. There is nothing like the flavor of green coriander seeds! It also calls for onions, which are coming along nicely in the garden as well.
BTW.. elixo means "to seethe" and that coliculus is a variant of caulis whence our word cauliflower, it being that fine brassica – as Dr. Maturin might put it – of the world, as well as being an anti-scorbutic. I do need to fend off scurvy in my self and my guests.
Apicius lived during the reign of the Emperor Trajan. Perhaps you remember Pliny the Younger (+113) writing to Trajan (+117) to gripe about Christians and ask him what to do with them. Pliny to Trajan (ep. 10):
They also declared that the totality of their guilt or error amounted to no more than this: they had met regularly before dawn on a certain day to chant verses antiphonally amongst themselves in honor of Christ as if to a god, and also to bind themselves with an oath, not in a criminal conspiracy, but to abstain from fraud, banditry, and adulteration, to commit no breach of trust, and not to renege on a deposit. After completing this foolishness, it was their custom to disperse and reassemble later to take food of an common and innocuous type; but they had in fact given up this practice since my edict, issued on your instructions, which banned all associations. This made me decide it was all the more necessary to extract the truth from two female slaves—whom they call "ministers" (ministrae) —by means of torture. I found nothing but a degenerate sort of superstition carried to immoderate lengths.
Trajan was thought in medieval times to have been a good and just Emperor, which earned him kudos from Dante in Purgatorio X. That’s the canto which really draws the reader in. With the pilgrim purgatorians we are invited to sing the Sunday Vesper’s Canticle In exitu. Dante was inspired, of course, by Paul the Deacon’s Life of Gregory the Great in which the "Justice of Trajan" is recounted. In Dante’s universe, Trajan went to hell after his death, but the prayer of Gregory allowed him to come back to life, accept Christ, and then obtain salvation when he re-died. This is how Trajan winds up in the Paradiso.
Why am I writing about Trajan?
Let’s move to the main course.
This would pair up with a chicken recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Poulet Sauté aux Herbes de Provence Chicken sauteed with Herbs and Garlic, Egg Yolk and Butter Sauce.
The recipe calls for thyme or savory, I have both. There is a place nearby where I can get fresh eggs and probably a free range chicken.
I will need to buy fresh fennel, for the tops, and lemons. I have loads of parsely. Trying serving fresh raw fennel in small pieces with a dip of mayo, with a little glass of Martini "Bianco" for an appetizer.
The recipe as described in the book:
Basil, thyme or savory, a pinch of fennel, and a bit of garlic give this sauté a fine Provencal flavor that is even more pronounced if your herbs are fresh. The sauce is a type of hollandaise, as the herbal, buttery pan juices are beaten into the egg yolks to make a thick and creamy liaison. Serve this dish with potatoes sauteed in butter or potato crepes, broiled tomatoes and a chilled rosé wine.
If anyone wants to pitch in, feel free!
Okay…. I checked out the two variations of the potato crepes, they look great, but one has about a year’s worth of extra fat (using cream cheese, swiss cheese, heavy cream and butter) and the other looks… tricky, since it has none of those things. How to keep them from sticking. They are a little too hard, perhaps to keep warm at the end of the prep process… dunno. I could just make hashbrowns, no? I must think about this.