Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Last Wife Of Henry VIII...Food For Thought

"The Last Wife of Henry VIII", by Carolly Erickson isn't the last book I have read, but it is the one that first came into my mind for the new Food For Thought series. This new site is the brainchild of Jain at Once in a Blue Moon. Jain has creatively combined her avid reading with food blogging. In her words, Food For Thought is "where pages from your book magically mix with the kitchen and your camera..." I have always loved reading historical novels as they bring history and people to life. "The Last Wife of Henry VIII" begins when Catherine Parr is a fresh 7 year old in the retinue of Henry's first wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon. As we move through Catherine Parr's life and loves, she watches the fates of Henry VIII's wives. They have been described, in order, as "divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived". Catherine Parr is the survivor, but mainly because Henry died during their marriage. Before their marriage, she rued his attention since it would almost certainly mean death and at the very least unhappiness if they married. They of course did marry, at Henry's request. There was never a choice when Henry wanted something or someone. The power and gluttony of Henry VIII knew no bounds as he changed the course of political and religious history. The marriage of Henry and Catherine Parr was celebrated in the extravagant and grand style of the King, with an underlying fear of her fate. Carolly Erickson tells this part of history as if she had been there to witness it all. I definitely recommend this book, as an escape read with the reality of history.The Kings court often celebrated with game and fish, served on large shiny silver trays. I made a Cornish Game Hen with a Rice Stuffing. I put in dried cherries, apricots and a peppery herb mix. The sweet fruit of the Queen and the peppery spice of the King mingle well together. And it had to have some wild rice, as well! I served it on a large silver tray with a reminder of the fate of previous wives in the background. And,'ll need a nice sharp knife for the carving. Cornish Game Hen with Rice, Mushroom and Dried Fruit Stuffing

1 1/2-1 3/4 pound Cornish hen, rinsed and patted dry inside and out

For the stuffing:

2 tablespoons brandy
1/4 cup dried and pitted, tart Montmorency cherries (unsweetened)

1/4 cup dried apricots, rough chopped in 1/4 inch dice

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 ounces Baby Bella mushrooms, wiped clean and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
3 cups cooked, mixed brown and wild rice
1/4 teaspoon dried herb de Provence
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon pink peppercorns*

1/16 teaspoon ground nutmeg

dash of cayenne pepper, (optional)

salt and pepper
*may substitute 1 teaspoon (or to taste), coarsely ground black pepper

Soak the cherries and dried apricots in the brandy until plump, about 2 hours.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onion, mushrooms and garlic. Saute until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are cooked, about 10 minutes. Add the plumped dried fruits into the mushroom onion mixture and stir. Cool to room temperature. In a large bowl mix all of the stuffing ingredients together and lightly stuff the inside of the Cornish hen. Place remaining stuffing in a medium baking dish. Put the hen on top and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and a little salt. Lightly cover any exposed stuffing with aluminum foil. Roast in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 1-1/2 hours, until the temperature if the hen is at 180 degrees (internal temperature) and it is golden brown. Check while roasting and cover any parts that are getting too brown with aluminum foil. When done remove from oven and let rest for about 10 minutes before carving.

Garnish with fresh cherries, apricots and fresh rosemary sprigs, if desired.

Serves 4.

Cornish Game Hen with Rice, Mushroom and Dried Fruit Stuffing recipe, click here.

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food with style said...

that was pure art... heart stopping, breath held, exquisite art... omg i am so in love with food for thought, watching others create these venues is beyond my wildest imagination... each photo is stellar, i love love love watching you create the drama from the kitchen, drawn from the pages... its tingling good for me...

i am adding this book to my wish list, i too love historical fiction, although i seam to read about italy most... and your meal, well dare i say it, fit for a king?

thank you sooooo much for sharing this i cannot wait to see what else you are reading, this has been such a regal presentation it will be hard to top~

La Table De Nana said...

C'est tellement beau Diane~ ! Bravo!Une vraie Scénariste!

Sarah said...

Another book I've added to my list. Your post on this is so moving. I've read Philippa Gregory's series on the wives of Henry VIII and loved each one. I know I will enjoy this one. I'm most impressed with your presentation of this review. I'm eager to see what else you share with us. Thanks for sharing your creativity! ~ Sarah

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Wow. I've not seen this type of presentation done before in a book review. Beautifully done. And the recipe sounds great, too.

Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen
Mystery Writing is Murder

Karen @ Mignardise said...

I've read a number of books about the wives of Henry VIII and even though I know the ending, they never fail to keep my attention. Haven't read this one though.

Great job!
My entry is in the oven.

Melanie said...

Beautiful! I love the color pop of the cherries against the golden brown of the chicken. Fantastic.

Mary Bergfeld said...

You've convinced me that this is a book that must be read. Your photos are just wonderful.

Mari @ Once Upon a Plate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rattlebridge Farm said...

Utterly beautiful. I am a major Tudor fan (not just the TV series). I am a groupie of the wives. I thought I had every book about Henry VIII, and I am thrilled to know about this one.

Cookin' Canuck said...

This photo is stunning! Funny - I just finished reading a fictional book (based on some general facts) that included Catherine Parr, Thomas Cromwell, and Henry VIII. Great recipe and review!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful photographs. I love how books, food and photos blend so well together. Now I am going to be down at the bookstore or library more often.

Mari @ Once Upon a Plate said...

Ooops, I goofed. Let's try this again ~

Historical novels are my favorites and you've especially piqued my interest with this one.

Your photos are so creative and breathtaking. The Cornish Hen recipe is truly a must make. Such a lovely presentation from the beginning to end. Good choice, and fit for a queen.

You are SO talented Diane! IT is always a pleasure to visit your blog. xo

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

I read your review with bated breath. Each photo, each word - a pure indulgence. You create suspense and drama in effortless, fluid strokes. Do you even know how wonderfully artistic you are? I paused at photos 4 and 6 for a good while. Danger, beauty and seduction captured in a frame! Either would make a perfect cover for a bestseller! Loved this post!

Zurin said...

What a beautiful review! loved every bit. Beautiful pictures indeed fit for a king and queen. I must read this book.

Linda said...

Fabulous post...
Love this book and your pics...beautifully done...
Historic novels are one of my favorites...

TasteStopping said...

You've definitely piqued my interest with this post, both in the novel and the dish. I remember my mother making cornish hens, and looking back it seems like a wildly elaborate dish for a schoolteacher who still rarely ventures into uncharted culinary waters. I also remember that I loved it for the wild rice stuffing. Thanks for bringing me back, and adding to my wish list of reads.

Anyway, I found you through TasteSpotting and am writing to say that if you have any photos that aren’t accepted there, I’d love to publish them. Visit my site (below), it’s a lot of fun! I hope you will consider it.


pam said...

Beautiful photos! Lovely post!

Sook said...

I love cornish game hen! This recipe looks fantastic!

Deana Sidney said...

How charming... I am loving the food and book tie-ins. So much creativity!

Kate at Serendipity said...

Oh, my. That knife. Cherry juice on it? Of course...

I think.


Kathy said...

Excellent post, A major Tudor history and Henry fan here too. I have not read her books though. Gregory, Maxwell and Weir I have. your photos are so perfect for this book review and I am drooling over the cornish hen. Kathy.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, I think I'm in love with your blog. History, food, romance, intrigue and beautiful photography! Consider yourself added to my blogroll, Madame!