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Napoleonic Day
FOOD

The characters we meet in the Ties of Blood series certainly enjoy their food - when they can get it! Here are some of the things cooked and eaten in the books. The recipes aren't classics but have proved tasty and enjoyable to make when prepared for the mess here at Bicorn headquarters.


CALDO GALLEGO

For a moment his mind pictured the civilised meal he had shared with this man in the late summer heat of Andalucia, not many weeks before. Now he was being given stew by a bandit captain in the freezing cold in the middle of nowhere.

‘There you are,’ Rico said. We call this caldo. Go on, you will enjoy it. It is potatoes and green winter things with a little ham and paprika to warm you. Here, I will pour you some cider.’

from ALONE WITH GLORY

Galicia is in the north-west corner of Spain. It is a tough, remote region where the people have a reserved character and speak their own language. Eating and drinking are of prime importance to the people, whose cuisine reflects the mountains and rugged coastline of their land. Caldo Gallego is a soup perfect for the colder days in this green corner of Spain.

CALDO GALLEGO

Ingredients:


250 g dried white beans
Ham knuckle or shank
Chorizo, sliced
500 g peeled, chopped potatoes
500 g chopped cabbage/green vegetables
Teaspoon Paprika powder
Seasoning to taste

 
Method:

Soak the beans overnight in cold water
Put beans and ham in 2 litres of fresh water
Boil the ham and beans, then simmer for an hour or so
Take ham off bone, chop and return to pot
Add potatoes, greens and chorizo
Add seasoning and paprika
Cook for another half hour

serves 4


SALT COD AND POTATO
 

... on this occasion she had shown her scorn for their French guest by serving only local food - in fact a fine, mouth-watering feast of caldo verde soup, salt cod and potato and a good feijoda kidney stew. The Frenchman, properly in thrall to his belly, had been genuinely pleased

from THE COLOUR OF BLOOD


The Portuguese claim there is a cod dish for every day of the year. Salting fish was the ideal way to preserve it and bacalao is a firm Mediterranean favourite.



SALT COD AND POTATO


Ingredients:

2 pieces of salt-cod
500g sliced potatoes
500g spinach
I chopped onion
finely chopped garlic
250g grated sheep or goat's cheese
cup of fish or vegetable stock
olive oil
flour for coating
seasoning

Method:

Soak fish for 24 hours, changing water twice.
Cook onions and garlic in oil until soft.
Add spinach, season and remover from heat
Cook potatoes in oil, then place in oven-proof dish
Put spinach on top
Fry floured fish in oil (just to seal)
Place on top of spinach
Add stock and dress with cheese
15 minutes in oven at 220C

serves 4


TRIPAS O MODO DO PORTO


Isobel, unused to this reserve in him, nodded and served herself a small portion. the stew was indeed very good, just the right combination of tripe, calves' trotters and sausage

from THE COLOUR OF BLOOD


Tripe is a hugely popular dish in Porto. The legend behind its significance is told in the book. Older British people know about tripe from the war years, when offal wasn't rationed.
Here is a version for hardy souls to try...


TRIPAS O MODO DO PORTO

Ingredients:

200g white beans (or a tin of cannellini beans!)
ham hock or pig's trotter
500g honeycomb tripe, chopped into 2cm squares
100g chopped chorizo
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 carrots, chopped 
chopped garlic
tin of chopped tomatoes
olive oil
chopped parsley
tablespoon each, cumin and paprika
2 bay leaves
seasoning

Method:

Soak beans day before if using dried white beans.
They will need cooking for 2 hours next day before adding as instructed

Simmer ham hock/trotter for 2 hours
Add tripe and simmer for 2 hours further
Remove meat, cool and take ham off bone
Add tripe to (cooked) beans in pot, continue simmering
Fry onions, carrots & garlic until tender
Add cumin and paprika
Add sausage, ham and tomato
Simmer for 5 minutes
Add onions etc to pot with tripe and beans
Simmer for 30 mins
Season at last minute and garnish with parsley
Serve with country bread

serves 4


RABBIT STEW

There was an appetising smell from the rabbit stew that had served for Crosse's dinner and would later make his supper.

from THE BIRD-SWINDLER'S FRIEND (short story)


Rabbits formed a necessary part of the countryman's diet. At war, too, "coneys" were a welcome addition to the often unreliable ration of beef or pork.


RABBIT STEW

Ingredients:

225g
derinded streaky bacon, diced
1 jointed rabbit
450g
diced swede
450g sliced carrots
1 medium onoin, sliced
salt & papper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
25g flour

Method:

Place
bacon, rabbit and vegetables in a large pan
Season with salt & pepper
Just cover with cold water
Bring to the boil, put lid on and simmer for 1 1/2  hours until rabbit is tender
Blend flour with a lttle cold water to thicken
Stir well into the pot and bring to the boil stirring gently all the time
Add parsey, and season to taste

serves 4


HUEVOS FLAMENCOS

He was even happier when they were presented with a dish of baked eggs with potatoes and sausage...

from ALONE WITH GLORY

Huevos flamencos (or a la flamenca) is a tradional dish with, guess what, many regional variations. It is actually a brilliant way of using up leftovers, after Sunday lunch, say - yes, sprouts do work! Slightly nearer the tradition any leftover ratatouille makes a good base for a delicious egg dish.
Here is a recipe a bit nearer to the Spanish...


HUEVOS FLAMENCOS

Ingredients:

100g chorizo
50g bacon bits
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 onion chopped
small tin chopped tomatoes
half red pepper chopped
medium potato, chopped and cooked
4 eggs, separated
black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
pinch of salt and sugar

Method:

Gently sweat the bacon, onions, red pepper and garlic in a frying pan
Add the chorizo, tomato and potato, warm through
add seasoning
Place in cazuela or pasta dish
Cover with whites of eggs
Bake in oven for 15 minutes at 200C
Add yolks and continue to cook to your preferred state of runniness...

serves 2

PORTUGUESE BREAD SOUP


There was a discarded wine tumbler on the floor, together with an empty bown. The boy had fed him bread soup, enlivened with a little cod-fish.

from A DIFFERENT KIND OF WAR

Bread soup is a popular Portuguese dish even today, but it was widely made in the poorer parts of the country during our period. The fish Diamante would have used would probably be prepared dried cod. You could maybe try some prawns if you have no bacalao to hand. Ciabatta has a good consistency for this - a couple of days old.

PORTUGUESE BREAD SOUP

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil
10 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
litre of water
4 eggs
half a stale loaf (ciabatta or similar country bread)
Cup of spring onions, chopped
20 prawns, peeled and de-veined
chopped coriander
piri-piri sauce and seasoning

Method:

Gently fry garlic and onions in the oil
add the water  and bring to simmer
add the eggs (2 or 3 minutes - how you like your eggs poached!)
with a minute to go add the prawns
remove from heat, add coriander and season to taste
pour gently onto chunks of bread

serves 4


CHANFANA

One of the Frenchmen, less than happy to have been captured, had grudgingly told them the pot contained a dish called chanfana. It was essentially goat stewed in red wine...


from THE HARDEST FIGHT

Chanfana is a Portuguese dish, often served at Christmas-time or for celebrations. Traditionally it is made with goat, but lamb will do just as well. Be careful to get rid of any scraps of bone when chopping the meat.


CHANFANA

Ingredients:

leg of lamb, bone-in, 7/8lbs
4 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped
Bulb of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 onions, chopped
bottle red wine
2 bay leaves
coarse salt
tablespoon paprika
few drops hot pepper sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil
parsley chopped

Method:

Remove excess fat from lamb and chop into 6 pieces. Prepare marinade by bunging everything except the parsley into a large casserole. Soak the meat for 24 hours, turning occasionally. Don't put it in the fridge, but leave in a cool place. Cook, lid on, for an hour at 200 C, then 2 hours at 180C. Garnish with parsley and serve with boiled potatoes or rice.

serves 6


OLLA PODRIDA

'There is a battle, do you think, Captain?' Isobel Truelove asked, helping Tom to another dish of olla podrida, a hearty Castilian stew of ham, sausage, vegetables and chickpeas. It was more simple fare than the conde was wont to serve, but nonetheless welcome to the famished engineer.

from THE BLAST OF WAR

Olla Podrida is a traditional Castilian stew and is mentioned in Don Quixote. You can put in almost what you want, but chickpeas and pork products are pretty essential. Olla is pot or pan and here Podrida means strong, so almost hot pot!


OLLA PODRIDA

Ingredients:

One and a half cups of dried chickpeas (tin ok for speed)
Pig's trotter
500g pork spare ribs
150g smoked bacon (bacon bits are fine)
2 chorizo sausages (or 4 of the little ones!)
Black pudding (small one chopped, or 3 of the large slices, bite-size)
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped fine or crushed
2 bay leaves
seasoning

Method:

Soak the chickpeas overnight. Put in casserole/pan with pleanty of water and add trotter, ribs, bacon and bay leaves. Bring to the boil and simmer for on hour. Add the sausage and black pudding, onion and carrots - another half hour. Add the garlic. Remove ribs, trotter (and bay leaves!). Take meat off bone and cut into bite-size chunks. Return to stew. 15 minutes more, season to taste (careful with the salt!) and serve. If you leave it and warm thoroughly next day it will taste better.

Serves 6


CHESTNUT SOUP

An Andalucian by birth and habit, at first she had found the Galician diet strange but she had becomes used to the chestnut soup, sardine pasties, lampreys in breadcrumbs, gooseneck barnacles, boiled octopus, pork and turnip tops...

From THE DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT

Chestnuts have been cultivated in north-western Spain for centuries - the trees valued both for their fruit and their excellent timber. Chestnuts are a favourite autumn delicacy and make a splendid, warming soup!

CHESTNUT SOUP

Ingredients:

500g cooked chestnuts (you can buy these from supermarkets)
150g chorizo, chopped into nuggets
Large onion, chopped
2 fat garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 chillis, finely chopped
Carrot, sliced
Half-tin chopped tomatoes
Chopped thyme
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Litre of water
Parsley for garnish
Seasoning

Method:

Colour the chorizo, onion and carrot, then add garlic, chilli, tomatoes and thyme. Simmer for 30 mins, then add the chestnuts and water and simmer for another 20 mins. Use smasher or old-fashioned spud masher to blend it. Season, add garnish and serve with crusty bread.

Serves 4

COQ AU VIN


Grouchy was a fiecely loyal follower of Napoleon and he was intent on fulfilling his orders to the letter. He would chase down the Prussians and push them back towards their homeland.
Following soup and a perfectly acceptable coq au vin he was settling to a dish of wonderfully juicy strawberries when an officer came in to tell him he could hear gunfire away to the west, somewhere south of Brussels...

From A BATTLE LOST AND WON

Known as a bistrot favourite, this dish only became widely known in the 20th Century, but most French regions will have had their traditional variations, using the local wine.

COQ AU VIN

Ingredients:

Large chicken cut into ten pieces
200g lardons (smokey bacon is fine)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Litre of your favourite red wine
3 sliced carrots
3 sliced celery sticks
300g small button/chestnut mushrooms
18/20 baby onions or shallots
3 bay leaves
Chopped thyme
2 tablespoons of plain flour
Chopped parsley for garnish
Seasoning

Method:

Boil off the wine to remove alcohol, let it cool and marinate chicken and vegetables for 24 hours. Colour the chicken in oil in large casserole. Set aside chicken and add vegetables, bacon and cooking herbs and sweat for a few minutes. Add flour to thicken. Slowly pour in wine, stirring all the while. Return chicken pieces and simmer for half an hour.
Season to taste and garnish with parsley.

Serves 4


BEEF STEW


It was severe weather indeed which would keep a gentleman from inviting guests to enjoy his cook's efforts a putting together a little turtle soup, some pickled tuna, swordfish steaks, ragoo of mutton, salmagundi, beef stew, poule au pot, plum duff, good Cheshire cheese and a few dozen of port wine.

From TAKE, BURN OR DESTROY

In this instance, Robert Blunt was on a ship which had touched at Madeira so we can give the dish a Mediterranean character rather than sticking with carrots and potatoes.

BEEF STEW

Ingredients:

1k shin beef (or similar marbled cut) cut in chunks
3 tablespoons flour
oil or butter for casserole
half-litre of beef stock
tin of beer (not lager!)
2 onions, chopped
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs of thyme
2 medium carrots cut in chunks
red pepper cut in chunks
stick of celery cut in chunks
olives if you like them
seasoning

Method:

Toss the beef in seasoned flour. Heat oil or butter in casserole. Brown meat, careful not to steam it. Set aside. Add more fat if necessary and cook onions. put meat back with herbs, add beef stock and beer. Bring it to the boil then let it simmer for two hours. Add the rest of the vegetables and give it another hour. If you can leave it 24 hours it will be all the tastier!
Enjoy with crusty bread or make some mash if you can't live without your spuds...

Serves 6


SPICED LAMB WITH FIGS AND CARROTS

He had the Truelove family's most valued servant with him, a mute North African who, in addition to being a formidable protector, was an accomplished cook. He would handle no swine or shellfish, but he had contrived a superb dish of lamb and dates, roast tomatoes flavoured with saffron, and spiced carrots, followed by fruit and sweet pastries.

From THE BLAST OF WAR
 
This is the delicious kind of dish often called (and cooked in) a tagine. The version here is simplified and can be made in a casserole or large pan. You can get the meat ready prepared from your butcher, as it takes a while to get the lamb off the bone and as much the fat off it as you prefer.

SPICED LAMB WITH FIGS AND CARROTS

Ingredients:

1k shoulder of lamb cut into chunks
2 onions, chopped
oil for casserole
4 cloves garlic, chopped
small amount root ginger, chopped
tin chopped tomatoes
100g dried dates/figs/apricots (choose your favourite!)
100g trimmed chantenay carrots (or sliced sweet potatoes)
teaspoon each cumin, ground coriander, paprika
pinch of saffron soaked in half litre of water
honey to taste
100g blanched almonds toasted
fresh coriander to garnish

Method:

Heat the oil and gently cook onions, adding ginger and garlic. Add lamb a few pieces at a time, browning. Stir in the spices. Add tomatoes and water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for an hour and a half. Add the carrots and simmer for further half hour. Season and add honey to taste (should be sweet!). Garnish with almonds and coriander. Serve with rice or couscous.

Serves 4




© Peter Youds 2008