Here Be Dragons

Genadendal, 1-2 November 2003

Head Cook: Lady Jehanne de Huguenin

This was our first ever event that ran for more than one day, and entailed travelling out of Cape Town, and away from the familiar confines of my kitchen, known event sites, handy shops and the like. It was also the first time I had cooked for an entire weekend, rather than simply a feast with possibly a lunch snack table. Challenging all round, and, in the event, enormous fun. I envy those SCA types who regularly cook for longer events – the untold luxury of being able to recover after the feast by becoming happily tipsy, bed within staggering range, and not having to pack the damned car, cannot be overstated. On the other hand, I forgot to pack the cream when transferring food from my fridge into the coolers for the trip. We had to buy out all the cream in the little shop in the town when I realised what had happened. I also had to make about three crème caramels in a row when I got back. (Darn).

Genadendal is a tiny little town in the mountains about one and half hour’s travel from Cape Town, the site of the oldest mission in South Africa (only 18th century, but hey). The lovely old buildings included a large, attractive hall with a big kitchen, useful quantities of cooking utensils (including big pots), and a terrifying bank of enormous commercial stoves, which turned out to have a bizarre and dodgy relationship between the oven and the plate on top. Using the top plates, it transpired, caused superheating in the oven below (scorched fruit tarts). Not using the top plates caused a ve –e –e-ry slo –o –ow oven beneath (late second course). Next time I shall bring a couple of electric hobs. Things the kitchen did not include included an egg whisk. We whipped the cream by passing it around the Shire in a plastic bottle containing two teaspoons, and demanding that everyone shake it. The upshot was something a bit like a conga line.

In honour of the Bavarian founders of the Genadendal Moravian mission, I chose to cook from German sources, including one 14th-century source and two 16th-century. This is a lovely cuisine, one of my favourites, with a good selection of recipes. I had to provide lunches on Saturday and Sunday, breakfast on Sunday, and the feast on Saturday night. Lady Ginevra kindly volunteered to do the initial lunch, which took some of the pressure off, but the rest I cooked myself. There were only 20 of us, so it wasn’t particularly demanding.

Breakfast in medieval times was very different to our current assumptions, so I fear I departed from strict medieval accuracy in order to give early-morning people more familiar food. I’m not sure how the Shire would take to bread, fish and ale first thing in the morning… There is a scrambled-egg-like dish in the English 14th century corpus, so it’s not too much of a stretch. Tea and coffee are not in any way period at all, but I’m not dealing with the Shire on no caffeine. More importantly, the Shire doesn’t want to deal with me on no caffeine…

Please note that I’m terrible at measuring when I cook, so quantities given below are somewhat impressionistic.


Das Buch von Guter Spise (14th century), tr. Alia Atlas.

Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin, tr. Valoise Armstrong

Ein New Kochbuch (1581), by Marx Rumpolt, tr. M. Grasse

Maister Hannsen des von Wirtenberg Koch, 1460, tr. Rita Drexl

As usual, grateful thanks to the SCA cooks who translate these works and make them available on the web. This kind of feast would not be possible without them.

Saturday Lunch

Lunch cook: Lady Ginevra del’Acqua

A fladen of meat (pork and cheese tart) - Guter Spise
A spinach tart
- Marx Rumpolt
Venison sausage
Bread, cheese, fruit

A fladen of meat (Guter Spise 92)
How one wants to make a fladen of meat of the loin. Boil that well and chop it small. And grate cheese enough therein. And beat eggs also enough therein. And spice it well. And put on a leaf made of dough. Three squares (or chevrons) of basteln as a shield in the cake. And with chicken filled. And do not oversalt. And give out.

A turten of spinach (Marx Rumpolt, Turten 39)
Take spinach/ that has been nicely trimmed and washed clean/ cut it nicely small/ and rub it with salt/ wash it again (in) six or seven waters/ press it out well/ that the water is removed from the greens/ take new cheese/ that was made overnight/ some/many egg yolks and sour cream/ that is nice (and) thick/ fresh butter and salt therunder/ stir it together/ so it is a good filling.

Venison sausage
(Rumpolt gives a recipe, although this is a commercial version)

Saturday Feast

First course: assorted small meats

Knodel (beef meatballs) - Marx Rumpolt
Morserhuhner (chicken nuggets)
- Maister Hannsen
Mustard with pears
- Sabina Welserin
Swallenberg Sauce (garlic and ginger)
- Guter Spise
Cucumber -
Marx Rumpolt
Radishes -
Marx Rumpolt
Hard Boiled Eggs -
Marx Rumpolt
Green and Red Beet Salads -
Marx Rumpolt

Mogr laying out starter platters in the kitchen.
The first course was platters with a whole assortment of finger-foods, nicely arranged with red and green lettuce. I probably overestimated quantities (as usual), since the Shire polished off the platters in short order, but had not quite enough room left for the main course.

Rindfleisch Knödel ( Rumpolt, Beef 67)
Meatballs of beef to cook in another manner. Take beef/ and cut it small/ and trim the fat away/ hack (mix) it small and together/ take a little pounded pepper/ rubbed saffron/ and a little salat/ also three or four eggs/ soak a trimmed loaf or roll/ press (the liquid) out well with the hands/ and hack (mix) under the meat/ put clean large and small black raisins thereunder/ make (form) round or longish dumplings (meatballs) therefrom/ as it pleases you/ heat butter/ and slowly fry the meatballs therein/ that they become fine brown/ and not black. And when you have cooked them through/ put them in a cooked pepper/ that welltasting and fixed is/ let them come to a boil again in the pepper/ so it is welltasting/ a good meal for poor and rich.

This is a fairly standard meatball; I soaked the bread in beef stock for added flavour, and used whole raisins. The recipe specifies serving in a pepper sauce, but I omitted this for ease of finger eating, and upped the pepper quantities in the actual meatball to compensate the flavour. These were good – the additional pepper gave them a bite. I interpreted the "salat" as spinach, which also added flavour. The saffron was not really detectable against the other strong flavours.

500g beef mince (not too lean, the fat is necessary for tenderness)
2 tsp black pepper
generous pinch of saffron
handful of spinach, finely chopped
2 eggs
3 slices white bread, soaked in beef stock
generous handful of raisins (you can vary this to taste)
fat for frying (I used oil, since I cannot persuade butter not to burn)

Mix seasonings and spinach with ground meat. Grind the bread to break it up, and add to mince mixture, with raisins. Bind with egg. Form into small meatballs and fry in shallow fat at medium temperature (if the fat’s too hot you’ll end up crisping the outside before the middle is cooked. For the same reason, I prefer to make little bite-sized meatballs).

Mörserhühner mach wie folgt (Meister Hannsen)
Mörserhühner make as follows: Divide a cooked chicken in pieces and take the lean and boneless meat. Take a thin dough with pepper, anise, pepper and saffron, mash it in a mortar and bake it in few fat, that is a Mörserhuhn.

These are the infamous "chicken McNuggets" of medieval cuisine. At the time, I interpreted this as chicken pieces fried in a spiced batter. On re-reading the recipe, however, I’m inclining to the belief that the recipe actually requires you to mash the dough in a mortar with the chicken, so that the result is rather a sort of fritter containing ground chicken rather than a batter-encased chicken piece. The recipe below, however, is the one I used at the feast. Please note the above disclaimer that I don’t actually think it’s a valid interpretation! On the other hand, they were very good, and went down well with the Shire.

6 skinned, deboned chicken breasts
chicken stock
3 heaped tblsp flour
2 eggs
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp aniseed
generous pinch of saffron
oil for frying.

Me and Llewellyn frying
Chicken McNuggets.
Poach the chicken breasts in the chicken stock (make sure they’re cooked through). Cut breasts into bite-sized pieces.
Add seasonings to flour; break eggs into flour and add milk to make a thinnish batter, stirring lots. Dump chicken pieces into the batter and mix to coat. Lift out with a perforated spoon and fry in shallow oil to brown evenly on all sides. Try to serve these hot, they get a bit leathery otherwise.

To make the mustard for dried cod (Guter Spise 34)
Take mustard powder, stir into it good wine and pear preserves and put sugar into it, as much as you feel is good, and make it as thick as you prefer to eat it, then it is a good mustard.

Okay, I cheated with this. Take hot commercial mustard. Take pureéd stewed pears. Mix commercial mustard into stewed pears until a pleasing balance of flavours results. Actually, I really liked this – its hot/sweet taste is distinctive and very good.

Ein gut salse (Guter Spise 49)

Take wine and honey. Set that on the fire and let it boil. And add thereto pounded ginger more than pepper. Pound garlic, but not all too much, and make it strong and give it impetus with eggwhites. Let it boil until it begins to become brown. One should eat this in cold weather and is called Swallenberg sauce.

Be vewwy, vewwy careful with this recipe – it is fatally, horribly easy to curdle the eggwhite and give yourself icky brown curdy-looking yuk instead of a smooth sauce.

250 ml white wine
5 tblsp honey
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp ground garlic
2 eggwhites

Boil wine and honey together and add spices and garlic. Cook gently for a fair amount of time, until the liquid begins to reduce. REMOVE FROM THE HEAT AND ALLOW TO COOL A BIT! Beat eggwhites in a bowl, and add a few spoons of the wine/honey mix. Beat together. Gradually, and off the heat, add the eggwhite mix to the pan of honey/wine mix. Stir madly with a wooden spoon. Cautiously, and with extreme respect, introduce the pan to a very gentle plate on the oven. Stir madly and continuously. Allow to thicken. Take far away from heat the instant you think it’s starting to look ready.

Hard boiled eggs (Rumpolt, Salads 23)
Take hard boiled eggs/ serve them especially beside the salad/ sprinkle them with green parsley and salt/ and pour vinegar over.

These were simple, but surprisingly good. The effect is a sort of nouveau cuisine, with the finely-chopped parsley sprinkled over the eggs (hard-boiled and sliced in half). Sprinkling the vinegar evenly and sparingly is a bit of a trick, especially if the special nozzle on the vinegar bottle is, like mine, buggered, giving splooshes rather than drops. I used apple cider vinegar, just because.

Cucumbers (Rumpolt, Salads 20)
Peel the Cucumbers/ and cut them broad and thin/ season them with oil/ pepper and salt. But if they are salt-preserved/ they are also not bad/ are better than raw/ because one can salt it with Fennel and with caraway/ that both can be kept over one year.

A basic cucumber salad – sliced cucumber with olive oil, salt and pepper. Same goes for the lettuce and radish, below. The overall taste and visual combinations were good.

Red beets (Rumpolt, Salads 29)
Red beet salad/ when they are cooked/ so cut them small/ long or diced/ season it with oil/ vinegar and salt/ may make it sweet or sour.

Cheated again. Used commercial pickled red beets.

Green Salad (Rumpolt, Salads 20)
Curley salad/ that is nicely green.

Radishes (Rumpolt, Salads 20)
Or take a radish/ cut in small and thin/ or fine diced/ season it with vinegar/ oil and salt/ so it is good too.

Second Course

A Good Food (chicken with pears) - Guter Spise
Garlic Lamb
- Marx Rumpolt
Rice in Almond Milk
- Marx Rumpolt
Young Gourds
- Marx Rumpolt
A Salad of Onions -
Marx Rumpolt
Young Roots -
Marx Rumpolt

Ein gut spise (Guter Spise 30)
Take hens. Roast them, not very well. Tear them apart, into morsels, and let them boil in only fat and water. And take a crust of bread and ginger and a little pepper and anise. Grind that with vinegar and with the same strength as it. And take four roasted quinces and the condiment thereto of the hens. Let it boil well therewith, so that it even becomes thick. If you do not have quinces, then take roasted pears and make it with them. And give out and do not oversalt.

This is one of my favourite German recipes; the pear sweetness works really well with the chicken.

8 chicken breasts, with skin and bone
4 pears
2 slices bread
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp pepper
pinch of aniseed
3-5 tblsp apple cider vinegar
chicken stock

Roast chicken pieces, covered, in a medium oven (180 degrees) for about half an hour. Core pears and cut into quarters or eighths (I leave the skin on for added flavour). Remove cover from roasting pan and add pear pieces to the pan, making sure they pick up the meat juices. Continue roasting uncovered until the chicken is brown and the pear pieces soft.
Remove from oven and allow chicken to cool slightly so you can cut it up and debone it without burning your fingers. Remove flesh from bones and cut into bite-sized pieces. (This is necessary for SCA service when people are eating with spoons). Cut pear slices into bite-sized pieces, if necessary (they tend to break down) and put chicken and pears into large pot.
Soak bread slices in vinegar and grind with spices (I find a wand blender works perfectly here). Deglaze the roasting pan with stock – heat slightly to make sure you get all the juices off the bottom. Add enough water to make sufficient gravy for the meat, and add bread mixture to the gravy. Cook slightly before adding to chicken/pears. Cook stew slowly until gravy has thickened slightly and meat has heated through (doesn’t take long).

Garlic roasted leg of Mutton (Rumpolt, Mutton 35)
Salt the leg/ and skewer it (on a spit) / and when it is half roasted/ so take fresh garlic/ that is quite young/ lard (cut small slits and insert the garlic) therewith/ and let it finish roasting/ and if you wish to prepare it/ so make a brown broth (gravy) thereto/ cut a little new garlic therin/ put a little vinegar and crushed pepper therein/ and let it simmer therewith/ and if you prepare it so/ it is a lovely roast to eat/ And so can (the) Nobility and farmers well eat it.

This is a straightforward roasting recipe. I usually lard it with garlic (cut slits in the skin and insert slivers of garlic, to taste, i.e. I use a lot) before roasting, rather than half-way through. Deglaze the roasting pan with red wine vinegar and stock, with additional garlic and pepper. Slice the cooked roast finely and serve on platters covered with the sauce.

Rice in almond milk (Rumpolt, Vegetables 173)
Rice cooked in almond milk/ is good and well tasting.

Standard medieval recipe: I make almond milk with ground almonds and add it in the last part of cooking. Garnish with slivered almonds.

Onion Salad (Rumpolt, Salads 10)
Cooked onion salad/ or roasted (fried)/ make it sweet with a white sugar/ or with small black raisins.

This was a lovely recipe. Fry onion slices (I cut them in rings) slowly in a little olive oil, so they go translucent and sweet rather than caramelising. Season with a teaspoon or so of sugar, and add a handful of raisins half-way through cooking. The taste is surprisingly sweet.

Carrots in cream (Rumpolt, Vegetables 186)
Take roots/ put them in a water/ and let them simmer/ till they are done/ pour them onto a strainer/ and cool them/ chop them small/ take butter in a fishkettle/ and make it hot/ put the chopped roots therein/ and stir it. Sweat it well/ season it with scalded milk and salt/ give it warm to the table/ so it is good and welltasting.

500g carrots
100ml cream
2 tblsp butter

Peel and slice carrots (fairly small), and boil in salted water until almost done. Drain. Melt butter in a pan and briefly stir-fry the carrots to coat in butter. Just before serving, add cream and toss to coat; heat briefly. Salt to taste.

Young gourds (Rumpolt, Salads 35)
Take young pumpkin/ that are not large/ peel and cut them nicely long/ remove the seeds/ poach it a little cool it thereafter and season it with vinegar/ salt and oil.

This is a salad, served cold, which gets it neatly out of the way early. I use baby marrows, sliced in half lengthways and cooked in chicken broth until just tender. Allow to cool to room temperature, and season with salt, vinegar and olive oil an hour or so before serving. (Balsamic vinegar is good on these).

Third Course

Peach Tart - Marx Rumpolt
Strawberry Tart - Sabina Welserin

Peach Turten (Rumpolt, Turten 9)
Peach Turten/ press them through/ or put them in whole with cinnamon and sugar.

To make a strawberry tart (Sabina Welserin 89)
Make a pastry shell and let it become firm in the tart pan. Afterwards take strawberries and lay them around on top as close together as possible, after that sweeten them especially well. Next let it bake a short while, pour Malavosia over it and let it bake a while, then it is ready.

These were not successful, owing to the aforementioned problem with the oven. They were scorched. Fortunately, the Shire were so full by that stage that I’m not sure they noticed the deficiencies of dessert. I used a standard shortcrust pastry recipe for both tarts, baked blind.

about 12 whole fresh peaches
about 500g fresh strawberries
sherry or sweet white wine
2 tsp cinnamon
4 tblsp sugar

For each pastry case: 200g flour, 100g margarine, 1 egg yolk, 1 tsp salt.

For pastry: mix salt and flour, cut fat into the flour, rub in with the fingers. Add egg yolk and a little iced water. Mix, adding water until pastry starts to bind together. Form into a ball and chill in the fridge for 20 mins or so.
Roll out pastry and line large, flat tart dish (grease it first). Line pastry case with greaseproof paper sheet and fill with baking beans. Bake at 200 degrees for 5-10 mins, until pastry has set but has not started to brown.
Peel and destone peaches, halve them and place hole side down in pastry case, as close together as possible. Sprinkle thickly with sugar and cinnamon.
Chop strawberries and fill pastry case. Drizzle with sherry.
Bake fruit tarts in a slow oven (150 degrees or so) for 30-45 minutes, until fruit is soft and sugar has caramelised slightly. Serve with whipped cream.

Sunday Breakfast

Semmel - Sabina Welserin
Scrambled eggs, bacon

To make filled Semmel (Sabina Welserin 56)
Then cut slices, as if you would fry them, and spread syrup over them, sugar and spices as you would like to have it. And turn them in a batter made from egg yolks and fry them and cut small slices from them or serve them whole.

The Shire at breakfast, looking bizarrely cheerful.

This was a hit with the Shire. It’s basically sweet French Toast.

6-8 slices of bread, 4 egg yolks, a little milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, honey.

Slice bread quite thickly, and spread each slice with honey. Make a batter with the egg yolks, a little milk and the spices. (I added a tsp or so of sugar). Dip each slice briefly in the batter, coating both sides, and fry in shallow fat until golden brown. NB make sure the fat is hot enough, otherwise the slices absorb it.

Sunday lunch

Heathen Pies (meat, bacon and apple) - Guter Spise
A Krapfen of apples and nuts - Guter Spise
Bread, cheese, fruit.

Heidenische kuchen (Guter Spise 5)
These are called heathen cakes. One should take a dough and should spread it thin and take a boiled meat and chopped fatty bacon and apples and pepper and eggs therein and bake that and give out and do not damage.

500g pork meat, cooked and chopped finely (or you can cheat and used uncooked ground pork, or disassembled pork sausages)
4 rashers streaky bacon
3 tart apples (I like Granny Smith)
2 eggs
salt and pepper
1 tart’s worth of shortcrust pastry (see above)

Chop bacon finely; peel and core apples, chop finely. Mix chopped cooked pork (I like to poach it) with apples, bacon, eggs and spices, and pack into a tart case (no need to pre-bake). Cook at 180 degrees for 30-45 mins, until the top is brown and the meat cooked through.

Einen krapfen (Guter Spise 61)
How you want to make a fastday krapfen of nuts with whole kernels. And take as many apples thereunder and cut them diced, as the kernel is, and roast them well with a little honey and mix with spices and put it on the leaves, which you made to krapfen, and let it bake and do not oversalt.

A basic apple pie, although the high nut content is particularly good.

1 recipe shortcrust pastry (see above)
6-8 apples
200g walnuts
5 tblsp honey
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger

Peel and chop the apples, place in a roasting pan, drizzle with about half the honey, and roast in the oven for 20-30 mins at about 180 degrees. Remove and chop to about the same size as the walnut halves. Mix apples and walnuts with spcies, and pack into an uncooked pastry case. Drizzle with remaining honey and bake at 200 degrees for about 30 mins, or until pastry is browned and honey caramelised.

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