Some of the best dishes, I believe, come in the most untraditional and contradictory ways. For example, one of my favorite desserts is a souffle cake. It’s essentially a fallen-in souffle. “This dessert may look a little odd – but it’s delicious.” Same with the recipe I present to you this evening–a wilted salad. Even more so, a wilted dinner sized salad. For a carnivore-leaning omnivore like me, this seems just wrong. But strangely enough, this worked for me, and perhaps you might some value in it as well.

Wilted Mesclun and Chevre with Roasted Tomato and Bacon vinaigrette


3 cups mixed greens and 3 cups baby spinach combined in a large bowl
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced 1/2″ thick
4 strips bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 large heirloom tomato, cut in half
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1/4 cup combination of chopped parsley and thyme
3 ounces of crumbled Ile de France goat chevre plus extra for garnish

For the vinaigrette:

1/2 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
1/4 cup roasted tomato skins
3/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup walnut oil or olive oil
2 tsp honey
1 tsp dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
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The first time I tried goat cheese, I was a young professional working in South Denver. I had never really been invited to a “co-worker” lunch before, and I was very excited when my supervisor asked our group out to lunch. I remember, as I recall so many of my first experiences with food, the event clearly. So clearly, in fact, that many times I can conjure up the tastes from those experiences, which I could later replicate. This is one of those times. The place was Cucina Leone, a subtle, lovely restaurant I found out later has the best soup in the entire world when you’re sick. On the specials menu for lunch, there was a wilted salad.

“It’s a warm salad,” one of my co-workers explained. On it, it had roasted red peppers, spinach, caramelized onions, and something called chevre.

“What’s this chev–rrree?” I asked.

“CHEV-re. Goat cheese,” my supervisor declared.

“Ah,” I said suspiciously. “What’s cheese normally made from?” Yes, this was before cooking school and after graduate school. The only thing I knew was there was some difference between cheddar and mozzarella.

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Dearest readers (all 2 of you by now…),

It has been forever since I have posted, and you’re right, I’ve been dead.  But I’ve come back to life (much to the surprise of the mortuary scientist, let me just say no more on that) to tell you, I’m actually going to be updating this weekend!  I know!  Why, you may ask?  Well, to be honest, I was bribed.  I was bribed with free cheese. 

People give you stuff when you have a blog?

If there was any reason to have a blog, whether food or mechanical pencils, people give you stuff.  In this case, I received a goat cheese from Ile de France.  I thought it was a scam, but it wasn’t.  I thought some strange person was going to show up at my door with a baseball bat and say, “I got’cher chevre right here” but it wasn’t.  As a matter of fact, it showed up on time and in a nice little brown box.  Not only that, but it came in an overnighted UPS package with a little cold pack in it.  Cool!  Literally.

So, yeah… updating.  With a little nostalgic story and a recipe and everything.  You can still say I never gave you anything, though.

The holiday weekend brings thoughts of pork to the table. Personally, I think of hot dogs, and yes, while I occasionally wander to fancies of hamburgers on the grill, I return to pork. My favorite pork product is the tenderloin. Small and juicy, they are neither too sweet or too salty. I know many people cook ham over holiday meals, but I never understood why. Now I know. We can thank the old Norse God of agriculture, weather and (ahem) male fertility, Freyr, for this tradition. The ham over Christmas was a tradition for “Germanic peoples as a tribute… to boars, harvest and fertility.” (Source, wikipedia). For this week’s recipe, we pay our own tribute to Freyr; may it bring us a bountiful harvest and abundant fertility!

If you recall when we first tasted a recipe from De Re Coquinaria by Apicius, we also find Aresty’s Apician Ham and Figs.

289 Fresh Ham
Musteis petasonem

A fresh ham is cooked with 2 pounds of barley and 25 figs. When done skin, glaze the surface with a fire shovel full of glowing coals, spread honey over it, or, what’s better: put it in the oven covered with honey. When it has a nice color, put in a sauce pan raisin wine, pepper, a bunch of rue and pure wine to taste. When this sauce is done, pour half of it over the ham…

I’m saving the rest of the recipe to share later, but first, let’s get to the mods!

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In The Deipnosophistae, a second century BC cookbook written by Athenaeus of Naucratis, we find many references to [cheesecakes] … cheesecakes made of cheese and cheesecakes made of everything but cheese, cheesecakes boiled in oil and dipped in honey, cheesecakes devoted to Olympian goddesses surrounded with figures of lighted torches, and wedding cheesecakes baked over an open fire and drenched with honey…

Artemis P. Simopoulos

Furthering our culinary tour of Antiquity with the Deipnosophists as our guides, it turns out something modern was mentioned by all of the diners at the Banquet of the Learned: cheesecake. It’s no wonder how this combination of sweetness, cream cheese and eggs got to be so popular. Aresty writes, “The poor man probably hungered most for cheesecake.” The topic has been discussed time and again–everything from history and recipes to blogs and birthdays.

And at long last, after patiently waiting and researching and the making of cheese, I present The Deipnosophists’ Almond Cheesecake! The following recipe was mostly adapted from the New York Honey Cheesecake on the National Honey Board’s website. You can also find the exact methodology I used there.


4 pkgs (8 oz) cream cheese, room temperature (and if you’re one of the cool geeky kids, you’ve made some yourself…)
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup flour
5 eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp lemon zest, grated
1 tsp vanilla

For the topping:

1/4 cup roughly chopped whole almonds
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of fresh grated nutmeg

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Patience. I should work on establishing at least a passing relationship with patience. The more I read and prepare for these posts, the more I realize cooking takes a lot of work and … that word that begins with “p”. Patience. For example, the next journey just happens to be cheesecake. Out of all of my culinary skills, baking is the least of my talents. But cheesecake… is everyone’s favorite. Everyone knows it. Aresty writes, “The poor man probably hungered most for cheesecake.” Thousands of recipes. Thousands of years. Progress. Convenience. All so I can go down to the grocery store and pick up a block of Philadelphia cream cheese.

But no…

I’ve decided to make my own cream cheese. And not with cow’s milk, either. No. I’ve decided to make cream cheese out of goat’s milk. I’m bucking the system, I’m taking rennet into my own hands, I’m squeezing curds together, I’m raking in the molds! All right, I’m just making cheese for God’s sake. Thanks to Crystal Miller, mother of 8, wife to one.


Yield: approximately 2 1/2 cups

1 gallon goat’s milk (store bought cow’s milk will work too!)
¼ t. direct set mesophilic-m culture
2 T diluted rennet (add 1 drop of rennet to 5 T cool water)

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While I wait patiently for some items to come from, we’re going to skip ahead a few pages and maybe a century or so to Apicius’ time. According to our text, De Re Coquinaria is “the earliest cookbook in the strict sense of recipes.” Apicius was a Roman culinarian, gourmand and all-around banquet thrower, so it makes sense we would move from the banquet of the learned to banquets of the learned who actually wrote recipes down so people could follow them. The recipe I am attempting to re-create/modify is called In Pullo Elixo ius Crudum. Translated as “Boiled Chicken in rough sauce”, but Aresty calls it “Apician Dilled Chicken.” Other recipes from the cookbook can be found here.

A footnote in Book I of a translation I found posted by Bill Thayer from a publication of De Re Coquinaria by Walter M. Hill, states, “This [section] illustrates how sparingly the ancients used the strong and pungent laser flavor [by some believed to be asa foetida] because it was very expensive, but principally because the Roman cooks worked economically and knew how to treat spices and flavor judiciously.” Book 6 finds our short recipe:

235 Raw Sauce for Boiled Chicken
In pullo elixo ius crudum

Put in the mortar dill seed, dry mint, laser root, moisten with vinegar, fig wine, broth, a little mustard, oil and reduced must, and serve.Known as dill chicken.

Clearly, the original recipe offered ingredients, but no exact quantities. (I’m glad someone used to write recipes like I currently do…) But in this case, I will give you my even-more modernized version–with exact quantities.

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“For spring the chromius is best;
The anthias in winter;
But of all the fish the daintiest
Is a young shrimp in fig leaves.”
— Ananius from The Deipnosophists

The first recipe I come across in our textbook, “The Delectable Past” by Esther B. Aresty is called Shrimp in Leaves. She writes that it’s much easier to come across grape leaves, but I rarely do anything the easy way, so I attempt to find fig leaves instead. Come on… I mean, grape leaves are easy enough to find– the ubiquitous dolmade, for example. Those little tasty bits of rice and herbs wrapped up in a brined grape leaf? But fig leaves, therein lies a challenge!

According to The Produce Hunter, “the fragrance of Fig Leaves is reminiscent of coconut.” This, my friends, would make a natural match for shrimp, yeah?


Raw jumbo shrimp, shelled and vein removed
Canned grape leaves (1 leaf per shrimp), or fresh fig leaves
A marinade of 2 parts vinegar to 1 part oil
(for 20 shrimp: 2 tablespoons oil and 4 tablespoons vinegar)
Pinch of oregano in the marinade

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My search for fig leaves is so far fruitless. I’ve found brined grape leaves, brined vine leaves, dolmades, and lingerie. And I’ve been to an Indian market, a Mediterranean market, an Asian market, Whole Foods, Cost Plus World Market, and called the cheese importers and the Truffle. I am beginning to despair.

You may be wondering who’s this geeky girl behind such an ominous and pretentious name? Well, I’m really not quite as snobby as the title of this weblog seems. I am, in fact, quite a good cook, I gave it up as a profession and ran back into the comfort of office life. But I wanted a goal again… I wanted to feel myself coming alive again.

Inspired years ago by the Julie/Julia project, and having a fondness for old recipes and ingredients, I decided to embark on a similar task. I decided to attempt to cook all of the recipes from a 1964 book called “The Delectable Past” by Esther B. Aresty. I picked it up inexpensively at an old bookstore and immediately fell in love with it. Less like a cookbook and more like a tasting tour of a vast, impressive and rare cookbook collection, I was immediately inspired.

The recipes focus mostly on 16th through 19th century recipes along with a small brush on Antiquity and the Middle Ages. My hope was I would also be able to inspire other cooks along the way. Gems like “The Joy of Cooking” and “A Feast of All Seasons” have been passed down from one generation to another, and many recipes we still use today seem to be derived in some way by these recipes Ms. Aresty writes about in this book.

With that, thanks for visiting. Please enjoy your visual meal, and feel free to share any information which might help me on my journey.

Fish, to taste right, must swim three times – in water, in butter, and in wine. – Polish Proverb