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From a now out-of-print publication called Early Period, issue #5, written and published by Rebecca and David Wendelken, original date unknown (circa late 1970s - early 1980s).
Warning: The information from the Early Period journal is based partly on the work of a modern author, Nicholas Tselementes (Greek Cookery. Divry, Inc.: New York, 1977). Tselementes provides no documentation for any of the recipes in this book. Readers desiring authenticated Byzantine recipes must keep this in mind.
Unlike the Romans or earlier Greeks, Byzantine cookbooks seem to be rare indeed. In fact, only very tempting references to Byzantine cooking are found tucked into diplomatic reports and biographies of the Imperial family. We know that the Empress Lupicina of the Danube Valley was a cook, and that Theodora, wife of Justinian, imported cooks from Persia, India, Syria and the Greek mainland to serve at her court.
In the 10th century Liutprand of Cremona, an ambassador to the Imperial Court, made disparaging remarks about resined wine and dishes cooked in oil, although he enjoyed some of the sauces and was impressed by the food at the Imperial table. He especially liked the roast kid stuffed with garlic, leeks and onions and dressed with "garon" sauce (probably a variety of the Roman "garum," that notorious fermented fish sauce).
What did their food taste like? We have a number of earlier Greek cookbooks, such as Gastronomia by Archstratus (5th century BC), and we know what Greek cooking is like now. To tie them together we have the work of such scholars As Nicholas Tselementes, who traced back to earlier times such dishes as Keftedes (meatballs made with grain), Dolmades (grain and/or meat stuffed into vegetables or plant leaves and cooked), Moussake (a layered dish of meat, cheese and pasta or grain), Yuvarelakia (meat and/or grain dumplings cooked in broth), and Kakavia, the Greek version of Bouillabaise. He also traced back to the ancient Greeks the making of white sauce - using flour and fat to thicken a broth or milk mixture. Although some of these dishes are now known to the world by Turkish or European names (even the Greeks call white sauce "bechamel"), their origins are Greek. We know they ate three meals a day - breakfast, midday and supper. They had many fast days. While the lower classes made due with what they could get, the upper classes were served three courses at their midday and supper meals consisting of hors d'ouvres, a main course of fish or meat and a sweet course. They ate all kinds of courses of fish or meat and a sweet course. They ate all kinds of meats including pork, and numerous types of fowl. They ate large amounts of fresh fish and seafood. There were many types of soups and stews and salads were popular. They liked a variety of cheeses and fruits were eaten both fresh and cooked. Fruits included apples, melons, dates, figs, grapes and pomegranets. Almonds, walnuts, and pistachios were used in many dishes as well as being eaten by themselves.
The recipes given here were created by taking modern Greek ones, removing or replacing non-period ingredients and attempting to reconstruct cooking methods. They are the types of dishes that would have been served by the common people or middle classes rather than to the Imperial household.
In the original recipe, the meat would probably be pounded or minced instead of ground. You can run your meat through a food processor for a more period texture. Mix all ingredients except barley and olive oil, season & refrigerate for an hour. Pinch off small pieces the size of walnuts, form into a ball and dredge in the barley flour. Heat the oil to a smoking point and fry the meatballs until crisp, turning constantly. Remove and drain on absorbent paper.
Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a skillet and add the onion and scallion and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Add barley, and brown slightly, stirring frequently, then add dill, parsley, lemon juice, salt and remaining olive oil. Stir well and add hot water. Cover and let simmer for five minutes. remove the grapeleaves from the jar and rinse. Line an enamel pan with a layer of leaves and set aside. To stuff the leaves, put a leaf on the work surface with the rough side up and the stem end toward you. Place a teaspoonful of barley mixture near the stem end. Using both hands, fold the part of the leaf near you up and over the filling. Then fold the right side of the leaf over the filling and then the left side and roll tightly and away from you, toward the pointed end. Place in the prepared pan with the seam side down. Continue until you have used all the ingredients. Place an inverted plate on top of the dolamades and add enough water to come up to the edge of the plate. Rub the chicken with additional lemon juice and garlic and place on top of the plate. Bring to a boil and then cover the pan, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 1/4 hours. Check to see that the barley is tender and the chicken cooked. Remove, cool and chill. Serve with sour cream or Avgolemono Sauce.
Beat the egg yolks for two minutes. Continue to beat and gradually add the lemon juice. Beat in the hot broth or boullion. The amount of liquid depends on how thick you want the sauce.
Cook the barley in salted water until done. Drain & set aside. Brown the ground beef and onions together. Sprinkle the zucchini with salt and let stand 10 minutes. Squeeze out the excess moisture. Add the zucchini to the beef and onions and saute a few moments longer. Mix half of the Feta cheese and the beef mixture with the barley. Oil a 9 x 12 x 3 baking pan with olive oil and spread the barley mixture over it. Make the white sauce by heating the olive oil in a heavy skillet. Stir in the flour and add the 1 cup of warm milk, stirring steadily to make a smooth sauce. Add the pinch of salt. Add the rest of the Feta to the sauce and stir. Pour the sauce over the barley, top with bread crumbs and bake at 350° F for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove and let stand 10 mintues before cutting.
Combine lamb, grated onion, chopped garlic, barley, chopped parsley, fresh mint or basil, dried oregano or thyme, salt and the slightly beaten egg. Mix well and knead for a few minutes. Shape into walnut-sized barrel or egg shapes and set aside. Bring the 5 cups of stock to a boil with the chopped onion, celery, and carrot. Add salt to taste. Add the "barrels" and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add the lemon juice and serve.
This is a fresh fish soup, which is improved by having as many different varieties of fish as possible. You can make it with salt or fresh water fish, but you will need at least 3 or 4 varieties for the best results.
Saute onions in oil until soft. Add fennel, herbs, wine and water and bring to a boil. Season with salt and simmer for 45 minutes. Pour stock through a sieve and squeeze out the juice from the vegetables and discard the fibers. Return to the pot and bring to a boil. (For a richer stock, ask the fishseller for the heads and bones from your fish and add them to the water for the initial boiling. Remove when you strain out the vegetables. Or you could add a bottle of clam juice instead of some of the water). Lightly salt the fish and let stand for 10 minutes, then rinse and lower into the boiling liquid. Lower heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add shrimp and scallops or mussels and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Toast the bread slices and place them in large soup plates or bowls. Place a variety of fish and some of the broth in each dish. You may also serve the Avgolemono Sauce with this.
Use equal weights of honey and sesame seeds. In a heavy skillet bring the honey to a very firm ball stage (250° to 256° F). Stir in the sesame seeds and continue cooking until the mixture comes to a bubbling boil. Spread the mixture 1/2" thick on a marble slab or tray moistened with orange flower water. Cool and cut into small diamonds or squares.
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