Probably one the most popular recipes from our feasts, Savory Toasted Cheese (or Savoury Tostyde Ches) is an excellent (if rich) side dish. It goes especially well with roast beef, as the sauce is equally as good with meat as it is with vegetables.
SOURCE: The closest period source I have for this preeminent SCA dish is actually The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie, Kt., Opened (1669). Edited by Peter Davidson & Jane Stevenson, Digby’s work is perhaps the most literate of 17th-century cookery books. He was a natural writer, as entertaining as instructive. Many of the recipes are for drinks, particularly of meads or metheglins, but the culinary material provides a remarkable conspectus of accepted practice among curt circles in Restoration England, with extra details supplied from Digby’s European travels. There is perhaps no work relating to cookery from the 17th-century that is more frequently quoted than this, and no title more familiar. 294 pp.
3 oz. Brie cheese
In a double boiler, melt the brie, butter, and cream cheese stirring constantly until smooth. In a separate pan, prepare the broccoli. Drain the broccoli and layer evenly on the bottom of a bowl or pan. Sprinkle with chopped ham. Pour blended cheese mixture over top of broccoli and serve hot.
There are several schools of thought regarding Savory Toasted Cheese. The most obvious thing you'll notice is that this recipe does not contain savory nor is it toasted! Having prepared this recipe numerous times, I find that adding crushed savory doesn't add (or detract) from the recipe in any noticeable way. So, I just leave it out. You could add 2 tsp. crushed/powdered savory if you wish to the recipe above. Don't add savory seeds! Again, it doesn't really affect the flavor but it does add little seeds that diners will invariably have to spit out.
The period recipe would have you layer the broccoli (asparagus is another fine alternate for the vegetable layer, but broccoli has more mass appeal) in a bread pan. After adding the cheese mixture, you can place it in a 350 degree oven for about ten minutes. This has the effect of partially "raising" and toasting the cheese. While I personally find this to be an extra added bonus to the overall appearance to the dish, it changes the taste little but does allow for burning. So, while I retain this flourish for making the recipe at home, I eliminate it from the mass production of the SCA kitchen.
Lastly, to remove the rind from the brie or not to remove the rind? That is a debated issue. I always cut off the rind while the brie is still hard from the refrigerator and only add the soft, cheesy core. Other cooks just lob the whole thing in to the double boiler and melt it in. Both are completely acceptable and I'd argue that leaving the rind on actually boosts the brie flavor somewhat. I have found, though, that, sometimes, the rind may make for extra lumps in the sauce while I like it to be especially smooth. Fully melting in the rind takes more time, effort, and constant stirring. A helpful hint is to let the ingredients melt fully in the double boiler while you attend to other dishes. Then, about 20 minutes prior to serving, begin stirring and fully blending the cheese sauce with a wire whisk. When the butter is completely blended, the cheese sauce is ready to serve.
As to ingredient flexibility, I always follow the ingredient ratio of 1:2:3 for the brie, butter, and cream cheese. You can add almost a third less butter and still get a fine flavor but the texture is much less creamy. The ham can be left out and many cooks don't use that embellishment to keep the dish vegetarian friendly. I cannot stress this enough -- Use only Philadelphia brand cream cheese. You'll be sorry (and have wasted your effort) otherwise.
Last modified on Wednesday, November 26, 2008|
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