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Friday, June 1, 2012


Suffolk Wingfield (Tomb of John de la Pole, 
II Duke of Suffolk
The saracen "pillow" is portrayed in the 
family crest in honor of an ancestor/
crusader's service in the Holy Wars)
ME Teste de Tourk, Eng Turk’s head, a Saracen’s head, wild game pie. It is said that the recipe was brought to Spain from Samarkand (today part of Uzbekistan) by Henry III of Castile’s ambassadors who visited the area in 1403. This seems strange as it does appear in the British BL MS Add 32085 from the late 13th C. It consists of chopped ingredients such as rabbit, quail, partridge or pheasant stuffed in a pie shell and baked. During Lent fish was used. The lid is decorated like a head or other form. The English version is thought to be the descendent of the Arab and Hispano-Arab “money’s head,” which is a pie with sweet filling like the  “monkey heads” that existed in Sicily during Norman occupation in the 11th C, which coincided with their conquest of England. For the Hispano-Arab recipe see blog Bollo de Maimón, published April 2, 2012. The English pies had “black hair” or “turbans” and the face was tinted with pistachio nuts for the Turk’s complexion. This pie was used as subtlety during banquets and for Christmas to surprise and amuse the guests like peacocks dressed in their coats of feathers or boar’s heads breathing fire. Turk’s head was served during the first banquet Suero de Quiñones gave during his tournament in 1434. [Alonso Luengo. 1994:49; Anón/Huici. 1966:161:105-106; ES: Coquinaria. “Teste de Tourk.” May 26, 12; Hieatt. Cury. 1985:I27:I43:219; Hieatt. “Two Anglo-Norman.” 1986:865:870; and Villena/Calero. 2002:119]



Sometimes I Feel Like a (Pistachio) Nut

Photo by: Paul Frederiksen 
¼ c lard
1/3 lb minced veal)
1/3 lb streaky bacon
1 lb rabbit
1 lb  partridges, pheasants or pigeons
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp chopped tarragon
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 ¼ c dates
3/4 c chopped fresh cheese
1 ½ c chopped pistachio nuts
2 tbsp honey

dough for pasties or pie:
1 lb flour
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
6 oz lard
1 egg beaten

1 egg yolk for glaze

Red headed pie

Sprinkle rabbit and fowl with pepper and salt. Heat lard in a large frying pan and brown the meat, then cover and simmer until it is done (about 30 minutes). When it is done, let the meat cool until it can easily be deboned. Cut into large chunks. 

Steep the stoned dates 5-10 minutes in honey that is heated with 2 tbsp of water. Drain the dates, but keep the honey water. Cut the dates in quarters.

Put everything in a bowl: minced meat from rabbit and fowl, spices, cheese, dates, sugar and honey water, mix well.

Make dough mixing all the ingredients, kneading it well. Roll it into a ball and cover with a cloth. Let rise in a cool spot for an hour.

PREHEAT OVEN TO 400º F/ 200º C

Grease the pie tin and sprinkle with a thin coat of flour. Cut off 1/3 of the dough for the lid. Roll out the rest of the dough and place it in the pie. Place the stuffing in the tin. Put the pistachios on top. Roll out the dough for the lid and place it over the pistachios. Seal the edges by pressing the edges together. Cut three holes for eyes and a mouth in the lid of dough covering the pie.  Baste the dough with an egg yolk for a dark glaze.

Bake for about 40 minutes. Let cool 5-10 minutes before demoulding. Finish the decorating by applying food coloring paste with a small brush.

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