What an unlucky queen Mary Stuart was! Losing her father when she was only six days old, the baby queen was sent off to France at the age of five, to be married to a three-year old Dauphin Francis, the heir to the French throne. The actual marriage between the two little kids had to wait until they became of age – sixteen and fourteen. Meanwhile, the child bride, growing up as a precocious, beautiful and gifted girl with a sunny disposition, became everybody’s darling. Everybody, but one person, adored her. Unfortunately, that one person was the only person who counted – the reigning queen Catherine de Medici.
Her father-in-law, King Henry II, loved little Mary. His favorite, Diane de Poitiers, loved little Mary. No wonder Queen Catherine hated her! Add to that the fact the Mary was exceptionally tall for her times, willowy, very beautiful, vivacious, and, most importantly, very young. The aging queen, put aside for a power-hungry young favorite supported by a still younger queen-to-be, was brewing jealousy and cooking revenge!
She had to bide her time, though, because the dowry of the baby Queen of Scotland was… Scotland! Before the wedding actually took place, Mary was made to sign a will that conferred upon her husband the throne of Scotland and her claim to England, if she died childless. And on the morning after the great wedding banquet, Queen Catherine invited her new daughter-in-law to have a Florentine breakfast. Well, since it was already past noon, it was more like lunch, so let’s call it brunch. Expecting something made with spinach – by that time everybody knew both the queen’s taste and the queen’s cooks – Mary cheerfully popped in, looking stunning and humming a fashionable ballad. What was offered to her definitely looked like there was some spinach in it, but in addition, some mysterious brown bits dotted a fluffy yellow omelette.
“What are those, Lady Mother?” – asked the girl.
“Those, mia carissima, are mushrooms.”
“Mush… Mash… Mesh…”
Queen Catherine had a reputation of being quite an expert on poisons, and Mary, although a teenager, was no dummy.
“Oh, Lady Mother, I am so sorry, but before I left Scotland, my mother made me swear that I would never eat anything I couldn’t pronounce. I promise I will practice my French diligently because I am dying to sample this delicious – what is it? Mishmash?”
This is a total legend because mushrooms did not even appear on the royal table for another couple of hundred years. Until that time, they had not been considered edible, poisonous or not. But now we know better, so we start by slicing mushrooms very thin and stir frying them in a lightly misted frying pan.
When mushrooms slightly soften and darken, we add shredded spinach and cook for another minute or so, until it is wilted but doesn’t lose its bright color.
Meanwhile, you have to whisk eggs (you can use egg substitute for vegan version), then add non-dairy buttermilk (for recipe of Prostokvasha – Clabbered Milk, click here) and soy flour, and whisk together. Make it really fluffy! Season with salt and pepper and pour over your mushrooms and spinach.
Throw some chopped fresh dill on top and wait until the edge start curling, then flip it and reduce heat. Cook for a few more minutes, and you are ready to serve.
Poor Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, having narrowly avoided being poisoned by one queen, still managed to get beheaded by another one, her cousin Queen Elizabeth I of England. While we contemplate her tragic life, full of passion and intrigue, we can savor breakfast fit for a queen.
- 1/2 pint mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 2 cups firmly packed baby spinach, shredded
- 3 large eggs or substitute
- 1/2 cup non-dairy clabbered milk or buttermilk (plain non-dairy yogurt can be used)
- 1/4 cup soy flour
- A large handful of fresh dill, roughly chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat and lightly mist deep frying pan with oil. Sear mushrooms until softened and darkened (about 2 – 3 minutes).
- Add spinach, stir, cook together for 1 – 2 minutes until spinach is wilted but doesn’t lose color.
- Whisk eggs, add clabbered milk and soy flour, whisk together until foamy. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour egg mixture over mushrooms and spinach, top with chopped dill. Fry for 5 – 7 minutes until edge starts curling. Turn over, reduce heat to medium, fry for 4 – 5 minutes.