May dinner: The Classical Cookbook, Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger

The Classical Cookbook is one of the little treasures of my cookbook shelf, a collection of recipes drawn from ancient Greek and Roman sources and presented both in their original form and in kitchen-tested modernized versions. I’ve done several dishes out of this book before and they’ve always been interesting, so this month E and I dug in again and found a handful of new things to try.

E laid a nice table with a blue theme, including wooden trenchers and our Maho glass plates.

No dining couches, but few classical touches.

No dining couches, but few classical touches.

For a starter, I made honey-glazed shrimp, a Greek recipe.

Shrimp glazed with honey, fish sauce, and olive oil

Shrimp glazed with honey, fish sauce, and olive oil

The main course was a fancy Roman salad made with cold chicken and sausage along with nuts and cucumbers and molded in a shell of bread. Mine didn’t mold particularly well, but it still tasted good. The dressing was particularly interesting; made with honey, wine, mint, and coriander, it tasted quite unlike what we’re used to these days. I also cooked mushrooms to go on the side.

Chicken salad in a not-very-well-made bread shell

Chicken salad in a not-very-well-made bread shell

Mushrooms coked in honey and wine

Mushrooms cooked in honey and wine

Dessert was a pear patina. A patina is a Roman dish made with an egg base and various additions for flavor. Some are quite dense, like an omelet, but this one was a little lighter and more like a custard, flavored with pear and sweet wine.

Patina of pear

Patina of pear

I always set aside a full afternoon for these monthly dinners. Part of the fun of it all is spending three or four hours in the kitchen. I was surprised at how quickly all of these recipes came together. I was ready to serve dinner an hour earlier than I had been planning for. Fortunately, E was quite flexible and we went ahead and tucked into an early dinner.  We, quite properly, drank wine with our dinner.

A Greco-Roman dinner

A Greco-Roman dinner

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