Savory Toasted Cheese on your favorite Brassica
Brassica is a genus of plants that include many of those cultivated in medieval Europe and today. In particular, one species, brassica oleracae, is our main green vegetable in all of its wondrous variants. Cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, cauliflower and collard greens, among others, are all variants of this same species of plant. Cabbage, broccoli, and kale were definitely available to the medieval German cook. Cauliflower was bred in Cyprus and the seeds were sold throughout Europe by the 16th century, so at leas the wealthy would have had access to it. Pick your favorite brassica and put some cheese sauce on it! We made broccoli since this feast is so full of cabbage elsewhere.
- A (patient) helper
- 2 stovetop burner spots
- Small cookpot
- Cheese stirring tool (wooden spoon is okay but a silicone spatula is better)
- Medium cookpot with lid
- Cutting board
- Cheese knife
- Paring knife
- Drain bowl for under the colander
- Medium bowl for vegetable prep
- 8 Tablespoons butter
- 8 ounces Brie (cubed)
- 12 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese
- Brassica of choice
Cut brie into small (approximately 1-2″ square) chunks, including the skin.
Cut butter and cream cheese into similarly sized chunks.
Place pot on the stove and turn the burner to medium. Add brie, butter and cream cheese.
Stir cheese sauce mixture continuously until all three are melted and thoroughly combined. It’s important to keep stirring so as not to burn the sauce.
Prepare your brassica of choice in your preferred method. Broccoli and cauliflower can be cut up and steamed in a pot. Kale could be chopped up and sauteed in oil or butter.
Buying Brie in small rounds can give you a safer cheese, as the unbroken “skin” of the solid round protects the innards from outside influence for many a day when compared a wedge that was cut and then repackaged in the store. You do get less soft cheese by volume this way, but it’s all being melted in a pot so that’s mostly moot.
As with cheesecake, buy brands other than Philadelphia cream cheese at your peril. Is it magic? Is it a remarkably persistent patent? Who knows? But there’s nothing else behaves quite like it.
Savory toasted cheese is not a German recipe, but comes from a 17th century English cookbook. However, it is a very popular recipe at SCA feasts that is worth learning to make. Here is one redaction. As this author mentions, the step of “toasting” the cheese in the oven is often skipped during SCA feast preparation. We also have another dish, the armored turnips, that involves cheese toasted in the oven, so a preparation variation made sense here.