The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare

Ah Hamlet, the tragic and doomed Prince of Denmark, whose family puts the “fun” in dysfunctional. What I always liked about Hamlet is that his twisted family dynamic makes my own family look rather normal in comparison. Or maybe it goes to show that we all have messed-up family dynamics, and sometimes, as in Hamlet’s case, we can be one of the most messed-up members within it.

2017-12-20 08.09.58_resized

I read the play in its entirety in 11th grade Honors English class, and it also helped seeing movie versions and having those characters brought to life by various actors, but when I saw Kenneth Branagh’s opulent, glorious, 4-hour long movie, that was possibly when I fell in love with Hamlet and all his arrogant, sad, romantic pain.

39f77a33-04e9-4f13-a353-853599117fce

He wants so much to do the right thing and avenge his father, and who can blame him?  What I could never understand was his turning on poor Ophelia. Talk about doomed love. That poor girl, all she wanted was to love him and help him and his perception of the world around him and his anger toward women – his mother particularly – twists his love for her and makes himreject her. And in her despair, she commits the ultimate act of pain and drowns herself.

2017-04-23 17.05.03_resized

His rage at his mother’s betrayal is the pivot point from which most of the major actions happen. Hamlet is so angry at her weakness and for marrying his uncle so quickly after the death of his father, and he scalds her with his words. The guy could cut with his tongue, that’s for certain, and when he uses the analogy of the food served at his father’s funeral as being part of the wedding feast, it’s the ultimate food play on words.

2017-12-20 08.17.42_resized

Thrift, thrift, Horatio! The funeral baked meats did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables. Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven or ever had I seen that day, Horatio! My father, methinks I see my father.

2017-12-20 08.19.37_resized

Baked meats were often encased in pastry, called coffins, in Elizabethan times, when The Bard wrote his masterpiece. In an upscale Elizabethan kitchen, many spices would be used to flavor the meats, including nutmeg, pepper, onion, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and sugar. I opted to make baked chicken mini pies – baked chicken in a “coffin”, using a pastry method taken from Elizabethan times via Tori Avey’s awesome food site, and making filling spiced with paprika, a tiny hint of nutmeg and cinnamon, mushrooms, heavy cream, and a bit of Parmesan cheese, which I had lying around and needed to use.

2017-12-20 08.11.14_resized

INGREDIENTS
For the pastry dough:
1 cup of cold water
1 stick of butter, cut into cubes
3 cups flour
2 egg yolks at room temperature
1 teaspoon salt

For the filling:
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
3 chicken thighs, poached or roasted, and finely cubed
1 cup wilted spinach
1 cup mushrooms, also wilted
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
1 egg, beaten with salt and a bit of water

METHOD
Put the flour and salt into the bowl of your most awesome Kitchen Aid mixer, and gradually add the butter chunks. Mix using the pastry hook attachment at medium low speed.

2017-12-20 08.18.19_resized

Add the egg yolks and mix to incorporate.

2017-12-20 08.17.05_resized

Keep mixing on low, and gradually add the water, until the mixture forms a ball of dough. Wrap in plastic, let rest for up to 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

2017-12-20 08.16.38_resized

Heat the oven to 375F. While the dough rests, combine the spices with the cooked chicken, the mushrooms and spinach, and the heavy cream in a saucepan. Stir until well warmed through, taste for seasoning, and sprinkle in the Parmesan.

mushroom-florentine-pasta-2

Divide the dough into 4 pieces, and roll each quarter out into sheets of roughly 1/2 inch thickness. Cut rounds using a biscuit cutter.

2017-12-20 08.14.28_resized

Fill each round with the chicken-spinach-mushroom mixture.

2017-12-20 08.13.41_resized

Rub some water around the dough edge, and press over another pastry round to form a little pie. Press the edges with a fork tine to seal, and brush with beaten egg mixed with a bit of water and some salt.

2017-12-20 08.12.16_resized

Bake for 50 minutes, or until golden brown and you can smell the spices and chicken. Very tasty, just as the Bard would have wanted.

2017-12-20 08.09.36_resized

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare

  1. I cannot tell you how delicious, creamy and decadent this looks! Toni Avery’s awesome, isn’t she and Kenneth Branagh, I think, kind of brought Shakespeare to the “people.” I’d usually rather not watch movies based on books, but remember I fell in love with Othello. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree completely about Kenneth Branagh and Hamlet. That was such an accessible film for pretty much anybody. And I loved the setting that they used, winter time turn of the century Russia. It had always such a holiday feel to me. I was very pleased with how these came out. Normally I find making pastry kind of intimidating, but this one was actually very simple although it did not hold up well over a couple of days. Still, it’s always good to challenge myself with things I don’t normally make. I’m really glad you enjoyed it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my, I can only imagine how awesome these smelled when cooking! I Loved reading your thoughts on the book too. I don’t even know if I’ve seen the movie with Kate Winslet or not! 💖🎄Merry Christmas if we don’t chat before then! 😁🎅

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jen! I was pleasantly surprised how easy the pastry dough was to make. That is something that always intimidates me a bit. They were very good, and even better warmed and toasted the next day in a toaster oven. I hope you and your family have a happy and blessed Christmas. If you do get a chance to watch Hamlet with Kenneth Branagh, I highly recommend it, though it is quite long. Settle in with a big bowl of popcorn and some wine and enjoy!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s