Cooking with Venutius

Arcturus’ cook Venutius is adventurous …
as all good cooks are, despite Arcturus’ protestations to the contrary.

Below, Venutius shares one of his many recipes.
Try it if you like … but beware of the garum.

By Venutius

I am to provide you with some recipes. I am a chef; I do not record what I create. But I will do my best from memory. And if you fail the first time, do not despair. Many do not have the gift. A word of caution—the Dominus—he insists on plain food. I am a slave, so I do what I am told. But I tell you this: he is no Gaul.

Beet Soup àla Varro (and Venutius)

Boil until soft a few clean, dark beets with thegreens, in water, wine and honey, mixed with a few spoonfuls of olive oil and sea salt. If you do this correctly, the pot will yield a flavorful broth. While the beet is softening, you may add some capon wings or legs for more taste (and, the Master tells me, for a more healthful benefit).

You can make much soup with a few small beets, especially if you add barley and cabbage. The Master isn’t fond of cabbage, but he never knows it is there.

The soup is best served with a crusty bread, salty cow-milk cheese (no sheep!) and green olives steeped in vinegar. Boiled eggs, seasoned with a mixture of minced garlic, olive oil, pepper and chopped leeks, make an excellent additional course …especially if you sprinkle a little garum—fish sauce—over the eggs. No one need know, you understand, but you will receive many compliments on your cooking.

For something sweet, there should be honeyed dates stuffed with walnuts, dried figs and fresh pears.