St Joseph’s Castle, 24th February XXXV

This was an outdoor event, held in the local Rotary's castle venue, which is all lawns and trees and fake castle walls, and no electricity or kitchen... So this meal was designed to be eaten cold out of coolboxes; it was also intended as finger-food, available as snacks throughout the day while people were wandering between archery, combat, dancing, A&S and the rest. I made no attempt at coherence in the menu, but tried to introduce newcomers to as many different medieval cooking styles as possible; I also concentrated on things that were reasonably familiar to the uninitiated, as well as being easy to eat.

Welcome feast under the trees at St. Joseph's; Angelique, ace kitchen assistant, in the background.


Harleian MS 279 (15th century English)

Take Pork seeted, & minced Dates, and grind them small together; take yolks of Eggs, & put thereto a good heap, & green cheese put thereto; & when it is small enough, take Ginger, Cinnamon, & mix well thy mixture therewith, & put in thine coffins; then take yolks of Eggs hard seethed, and cut them in two, & lay above, & bake them; & so not closed, serve forth.

These are a perennial Shire favourite – pork tarts with cheese and dates, very rich but rather delicious.

Chike endored

Harleian MS 4016, 15th century English)

Take a chicken, and draw him, and roast him, And let the feet be on, and take away the head; then make batter of yolks of eggs and flour, and cast thereto powder of ginger, and pepper, saffron and salt, and powder it fair till it is roasted enough.

"Endored" means gilded – the roast chicken is brushed with an egg yolk batter to make it golden. The flavour’s quite good, too.


Harleian MS 279, 15th century English)

Take fair butts of Veal & hew them, and grind them in a mortar, & with the yolks of eggs and the whites of eggs; and cast thereto powdered Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Clove powder, & dates minced, Saffron, & Raisins of Corinth, and seethe in a pan with fair water, and let it boil; then wet thine hands in Raw eggs, then take it and roll it in thine hands, smaller or greater, as thou will have it, an cast it into boiling water, and let boil enough; then put it on a round Spit, and let them roast…

Tarte on Ember Day

Ancient Cookery, from A Collection of the Ordinances and Regulations for the Government of the Royal Household made in Divers Reigns from King Edward III to King William and Queen Mary also Receipts in Ancient Cookery, printed for the Society of London Antiquaries by John Nichols, 1740 (15th century English)

Parboil onions, and sage, and parsley and hew them small, then take good fat cheese, and bray it, and do thereto eggs, and temper it up therewith, and do thereto butter and sugar, and raisyngs of corince, and powder of ginger, and of canel, medel all this well together, and do it in a coffin, and bake it uncovered, and serve it forth.

This is basically a medieval quiche; raisyngs of corince are currants, canel is cinnamon. Hew is to cut, medel means mix or meld.

Icelandic Chicken

An Old Icelandic Medical Miscellany, from An Early XIII Century Northern-European Cookbook (13th century northern European)

One shall cut a young chicken in two and wrap about it whole leaves of salvia, and cut up in it bacon and add salt to suit the taste. Then cover that with dough and bake like bread in the oven.

This should be made with a whole chicken, but I’ve done it in bite-sized pieces for ease of finger eating. Salvia is sage - the bacon and sage flavour is wonderful.

Stuffed Eggs

An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook of the Thirteenth Century

Take as many eggs as thou wilt and boil them whole in hot water, put them in cold water and divide them in half with a thread. Take the yolks aside and crush cilantro, put in onion juice, pepper, and coriander and beat all this together with murri, oil, and salt and mash the yolks with this until it becomes a paste. Then stuff the whites with this and fasten it together, insert a small stick into each egg and sprinkle them with pepper, God willing.

Murri is a condiment made from fermented barley bread; there is no real substitute in modern cooking, although I sometimes use a little Worcester sauce.


A Baghdad Cookery Book (1226 A.D)

Take fine dry bread, or biscuit, and grind up well. Take a ratl of this, and three quarters of a ratl of fresh or preserved dates with the stones removed, together with three uqiya of ground almonds and pistachios. Knead all together very well with the hands. Refine two uqiya of sesame-oil, and pour over, working with the hand until it is mixed in. Make into cabobs, and dust with fine-ground sugar. If desired, instead of sesame-oil use butter. This is excellent for travellers.

Little date balls – a sweet rather than a dessert.


Platina, De Honesta Voluptate (Venice, 1475)

Make a little crust as I said in the section on rolls. Put in two egg yolks that have been well beaten, milk, cinnamon and sugar, and stir it near the hearth until it thickens.

This is basically a milk tart!


A Baghdad Cookery Book (1226 A.D)

Take fine white flour, and with every ratl mix three uqiya of sesame-oil (one part oil to four of flour), kneading into a firm paste. Leave to rise; then make into long loaves. Put into the middle of each loaf a suitable quantity of ground almonds and scented sugar mixed with rose water, using half as much almonds as sugar. Press together as usual, bake in the oven, remove.

The recipe doesn’t specify a raising agent, although you’re supposed to leave the dough to rise. I cheat and use puff pastry.

A Pear Tart

Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin (German, 1553)

Then take the pears and peel them and remove the cores and divide the pears into two parts and cut them into slices as wide as the pear is and turn them over in a little good flour. Then heat up some fat and roast them therein, until they are a little browned, afterwards prepare the pastry shell and lay them on top of it, close together. Take cinnamon, sugar and raisins mixed and sprinkle them on the crust and over the top of it, let it bake a while. After wards take Malavosia, put sugar into it and cinnamon, let it boil together, pour it over the tart and let it cook a short while.

Malavosia is a sweet wine; I used a dessert wine.

Syrup of Sekanjabin

An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook of the Thirteenth Century

Take a ratl of strong vinegar and mix it with two ratls of sugar, and cook all this until it takes the form of a syrup. Drink an ûqiya of this with three of hot water when fasting: it is beneficial for fevers of jaundice, and calms jaundice and cuts the thirst, since sikanjabîn syrup is beneficial in phlegmatic fevers: make it with six ûqiyas of sour vinegar for a ratl of honey and it is admirable.

Although this recipe is for a medicinal drink, Sekanjabin is very refreshing drunk cold. I add mint to flavour mine, after the recipe by Cariadoc of the Bow.

Head Cook: Jehanne de Huguenin

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