Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dining with the Bard

Today is the birthday of William Shakespeare. I grew up reading his works, reading my first play, Romeo and Juliet, when I was in second grade. I was aggravated in high school how the teachers would read Shakespeare to us as a class, reckoning not mistakenly I'm afraid, that the average high school student would not be able to understand his writing. I read years later that reading Shakespeare to your infants would enable them to grasp him easier later. So, that's what I did. It must have worked, in some fashion at least; my kids look forward to attending the annual Shakespeare festival each summer. That sound you hear is me patting myself on the back for raising some spectacularly awesome kids.

In typical style, I knew I had to make something to celebrate. I have numerous period cookbooks to choose from, but wanted something relatively simple to make. That's why I settled on


1 c. Basmati rice
3 c. almond milk
1 c. cut up faux chicken
1/4 c. slivered almonds

In a pot add the rice and almond milk, and bring it to a boil. Add the faux chicken, cover, reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes. When done, fluff the rice, add the almonds and mix lightly to blend. Serve. Enjoy!

Blancmange is more traditionally a dessert type dish, and frankly, I didn't think the faux chicken added much to it. It has a lovely light taste, just a hint of sweet. I served mine right along with the other dishes and thought it was better that way.

The origin of the dish is obscure. The Danish, Anglo-Normans and the Dutch all had similar dishes from the time period. It was considered a common dish with the upper class during the Middle Ages. Chaucer even mentions the dish in The Canterbury Tales.

Why not make this dish as a part of your day's celebration of the bard. What? You don't have plans or know what to do? You can find lots of ideas here.

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