Sunday, May 3, 2009

Did the Romans enjoy the lovely roundness of flavour that is now known as Umami? While I have not come across the name they used for the flavour sensation (probably "MMMMMM") the product they used was Garum. Garum is the crushed and fermented innards of fish in brine. Garum combined with wine, vinegar, black pepper and/or oil was used in recipes from main courses to even desserts.

Try this (I owe you a picture):

Ambrosia Trifle


1 quart whole milk
8 eggs (beaten)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 vanilla bean split
1/2 tsp fish sauce

Heat milk in heavy duty saucepan over medium low heat, stirring constantly until milk comes to a near boil. Gradually (temper) pour into eggs and sugar that have been combined (Not too soon though, as the sugar will cook the eggs) Return to pan stirring constantly until mixtures becomes thickened. Add fish sauce . Strain, especially if using vanilla bean. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla (or cook split vanilla bean with the milk from the start.) Plunge contain holding the custard into an ice bath. Continue to cool with cling film touching the surface in the refrigerator.

*Fruit mixture:

1/2 cup honey
2 roasted pears ( peeled and diced)
1 c. grapes (halved)
2 oranges, supremed
2 cups cherries (pitted and halved)
1 c. flaked coconut
1 c. yogurt
1/4 tsp. fish sauce

*Pound Cake:

1 3/4 c. (230 grams) cake flour, sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup (226 grams) (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup (200 grams) superfine, or castor sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Zest of a lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter or spray with a pan spray, a 9 x 5 x 3 inch (23 x 13 x 8 cm) loaf pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and butter or spray the paper.

In a large bowl, sift together twice, the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until creamy and smooth. Gradually add the sugar, beating continuously on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (this will take about 5 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. After about five minutes the batter should be light in color and fluffy in texture. Then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. You will notice that the batter will look curdled. Don't worry as the batter will come together again after you add the flour mixture. Add the vanilla and lemon zest, if using, and beat until incorporated.

*1 pint heavy (double) cream whipped and sweetened with 1/4 c. confectioners (Icing) with 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract (the real stuff.)


In a trifle bowl layer fruit, pound cake sprinkled with port, custard and whipped cream.

The following recipe is taken from Around the Roman Table. I will endeaver to make this recipe soon, maybe you can beat me to it:

Nut Tart
400g crushed nuts—almonds, walnuts or pistachios

200g pine nuts
100g honey
100ml dessert wine
4 eggs
100ml full-fat sheep's milk
1 teaspoon salt or garum

Preheat the oven to 240°C/475°F/Gas 9.

Place the chopped nuts and the whole pine nuts in an oven dish and roast until they have turned golden. Reduce the oven temperature to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Mix the honey and the wine in a pan and bring to the boil, then cook until the wine has evaporated. Add the nuts and pine nuts to the honey and leave it to cool. Beat the eggs with the milk, salt or garum and pepper. Then stir the honey and nut mixture into the eggs. Oil an oven dish and pour in the nut mixture. Seal the tin with silver foil and place it in roasting tin filled about a third deep with water. Bake for about 25 minutes until the pudding is firm. Take it out and when it is cold put it into the fridge to chill. To serve, tip the tart on to a plate and pour over some boiled honey.

Some informative Umami links:

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