Eating Medieval: Brie Tart

I'm very excited to bring you the first episode of Eating Medieval.  Today's collaboration is with Kathy Opie, writer and cook/baker extraordinaire.  Learn more about Kathy at the end of the blog.  She and I have collaborated--and we expect to continue doing so--on exploring the world of medieval cuisine, such as Shawn, Niall, and all the medieval cast of The Blue Bells Chronicles would have experienced.  I like research, and Kathy likes cooking, so I research and send the recipes to her, and she will be preparing them, and telling us about them!

Of course, with modern ovens, controlled temperatures, and timers, the results may not be exactly as they would have been in Niall's time.  Then, for instance, baking time (so my sources tell me) might be given in recipes as, "Bake for long enough to say fifteen Hail Marys."  Some people say Hail Marys much faster than others, so it would be interesting to know what kind of consistency cooks then had.

For each of these blogs featuring Kathy and medieval cuisine, I'll give you the recipe, along with her take on preparing and eating it.  I found this recipe in Fabulous Feasts: Medieval Cookery and Ceremony by Madeleine Pelner Cosman.

Here's Kathy's take on...

Medieval Brie Tart
1 8 inch unbaked pastry pie shell or 12 individual unbaked pastry shells I inch in diameter
1 lb brie cheese with rind
6 egg yolks
¼ tsp ginger
1 tsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp saffron (this is very expensive $20 for .03 oz which is about ½ tsp)
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp white sugar
½ tsp cinnamon

The Baking, with Kathy's Comments

Bake pastry shell blind to harden for 10 minutes at 425 degrees. Cool. Reset oven to 375

I used my favorite pie crust recipe :

1 ¼ c flour
3 Tbs sugar
¾ tsp salt
1 stick of butter cubed into pea sized pieces
1 ½ Tbs of very cold Crisco
2/3 c ice water

Mix ingredients until grainy with hands. I find if I dip my hands in ice water they blend the
dough better. Remember not to overwork the dough or it becomes tough.
Roll the dough into a ball. Flatten the ball with a floured rolling pin on a floured flat surface like a countertop or kitchen table.

P1000428.jpgOnce you have your dough rolled out in a circle about 10 inches in diameter use your spatula to lift half the dough off the counter and on top of itself.  Place the the pie pan on the space where just lifted the dough.

Lift the folded dough into the pan.

Unfold the pie crust so the entire circle of dough covers the pan.

Crimp the edges.

Bake as directed.

Remove rind from chilled cheese and cut the rind into small pieces with a moistened knife.

Set aside the brie cheese and let it sit out at room temperature for at least one hour until it
is softened.

P1000429.jpgBeat softened brie cheese, yolks, brown sugar, saffron (these spindly purplish red rare spice threads harvested from the precious Spanish violet crocus stigmas need to be crushed into a powder. I find the base of a spoon or flat of a knife works best. This spice has an aromatic exotic earthy scent.)

Beat softened brie cheese, yolks, ginger, brown sugar, saffron, and salt until smooth. Pour into
pastry shell.

Strew cut rind evenly over the surface of the pie.
Combine cinnamon with white sugar and sprinkle around pastry edge.

Bake until set and golden brown, about 30 minutes at 375 degrees. If you make individual tarts,
bake for 12 minutes or less. Serve warm or cool.

Reactions From Kathy's Family:

P1000431.jpgEven though I told my husband and sons that saffron was the rarest of spices and the spice of kings they said it tasted like cedar decking and refused to try anymore. I had to agree it is an acquired taste.

I served the brie with homemade raspberry jam, golden apples, carrots, and assorted crackers.

And, Dear Readers, I hope that some of you will want to try this at home...yes, you may try this at home!  If you do, please come back and let us know how it went, and what you thought of it.  If you'd like to try some recipes out and have the results and your thoughts on it posted here, please write me at and I'd love to host more people.

Also on the subject of writers and cooking, I'll throw out advanced....very, very advanced notice here about the newest project of the Maple Grove Night Writers, my writing group.  The ten of us will be putting together a cookbook compiled of recipes our characters would typically eat or prepare.  Shawn will certainly include some of his favorite barbecue recipes--although it's important to remember that Shawn doesn't believe in measuring.  He simply has a knack for throwing in the right amount.  Amy, having been raised in a well-off family on the east coast will have some very different recipes that she's used to.  Niall and Allene will contribute a few medieval meals, and Hugh, who's been living out in the forest...well, his contribution will most likely involve one of the recipes in the book least likely to be tried by readers!

Apart from my characters, there will be Lyn Miller LaCoursier's Lindy Lewis, who travels the country one step ahead of the insurance investigator with her million dollars in a shoebox; John A. Stanton's Buck Davies, the down on his luck diver who pursues his dream of buying a used submarine to start a tourist business but instead finds himself pursued by the navies of the world; Judith Granahan's Ginger who will have to pull herself from her gin bottle to read the recipes she makes; Ross Tarry's action heroes; Janet Kramer's Maggie, who is busy searching for the Sion Grail in France; and many other characters among our twenty or so published books.
We are excited about this new adventure.  It will take several months at least, but look for the new book to be announced here and on my facebook page.  (If you haven't, sign up to get updates.)
And now....

A Little About Kathy
Ever since I can remember, I was either grasping a pencil to scribble down an idea or a spoon to stir up something to eat.

Now that I am a “grown-up” I find the best of times are spent feeding and entertaining family and friends, gathered around the kitchen table, barbeque or picnic blanket sharing ideas, laughing at a story or even crying over some difficult news. Along the lines of “Food For Thought” I dreamed up “A Little Something to Chew on.” I hope to combine my love of writing, cooking, and discussing life with others in a blog-site where all three ideas can ebb and flow together in a beautiful and interesting art form. When you visit my site it’s like visiting your family kitchen where you’ll get delicious cooking ideas, some of my published pieces(and in the works) to mull over and read and ideas from video interviews, pictures, links and quotes that you can ponder leaving more enlightened and reflective than before.

Kathy is the author of Little Red Wagon Full of Hope: Tips for Caregivers.  Watch for further information at her site, A Little Something to Chew On, and at her Facebook Page.

~ ~ ~
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If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
Tonight's Author Reading and Food
Bough Cake: the Best
Shawn's Meatloaf
OR other posts filed under FOOD AND FEAST or MEDIEVAL RECIPES


  1. Thanks for the Brie Tart! I would liked to have been able to see the pictures without having to create an account.
    LOVED the Family reaction!!

    'S docha leam seĆ²claid!

    1. Hi, I'm not sure why the pictures aren't showing up. I don't think you should need an account to see them. Thanks for stopping by! Let me know if you try making it!


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