This week we’ve got a comprehensive collection of recipes from our own Kris Bordessa, excerpted from her very cool book, Great Medieval Projects You Can Build Yourself. So you don’t have time or energy or the extra cash to get to a Renaissance Faire this year? Why not make our own at home? The book is written for the 9-12 set, but anyone can benefit from the factoids below, as well as indulge in the historical flavors!
And if olde recipes and thynges pique your interest, don’t forget to check out Kris’s book on Amazon. Take it away, Kris!
A medieval feast was a grand event. Feasts celebrated special events or honored guests visiting the castle. The food in itself was entertainment and often the castle cooks presented elaborately decorated platters of food. For instance, the cook might serve a roasted peacock that that had its grand tail feathers put back in place, making for quite an impressive dish.
You might think the best dishes and silverware would be used at a feast, but medieval era people didn’t use the same kinds of tableware that we do today. Instead of plates, diners each used what was called a trencher — a piece of stale bread. Diners chose food from a common platter using their fingers, and placed their morsels on their trencher. The only utensil that people used at a meal was a knife. This was important for cutting meat. People used their fingers for all other eating. Diners frowned upon people who licked their fingers while sharing a plate with others — talk about bad manners! Between courses, servants brought bowls of water so that diners could clean their hands.
Make Your Own Trencher
- a round loaf of French bread
- a sharp knife
1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Slice the bread horizontally into ½ inch thick pieces.
3. Place the bread pieces directly onto the wire racks in your oven. Bake for about half an hour. If the bread is crispy, like toast, it’s done. If not, continue baking, making sure to check it every ten minutes.
4. When the bread is done, use these trenchers instead of plates at your medieval feast (you may want to use a tablecloth!)
- eight chicken legs
- olive oil
- ½ teaspoon each of rosemary, basil and oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- baking dish
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place the chicken legs in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
3. Rub the chicken legs with a light coating of olive oil and sprinkle with the herbs, salt, and pepper.
4. Lightly grease the baking dish with oil. Place the drumsticks in the pan and cover with foil. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until juices run clear.
5. Serve warm or cold, but remember that eating medieval style means using only your hands and a napkin.
Pokerounce is a medieval treat of toasted bread, spread with honey, spices, and nuts. You might find that this medieval treat deserves a place on modern-day menus.
- ½ cup of honey
- pinch of ground ginger
- pinch of cinnamon
- pinch of pepper
- pinch of nutmeg
- 6 slices of bread
- 2 tablespoons of pine nuts
1. Pour the honey and the spices together in a saucepan. Stir over low heat for about 5 minutes, making sure that you don’t burn the honey.
2. Remove the honey from heat.
3. Toast the bread lightly and cut into quarters on the diagonal. Set them on a plate, drizzle the honey over the toast and stick the pine nuts upright into the bread. If you’d like, you can make pretty patterns with the nuts.
The most common dish prepared in a medieval kitchen was potage. Potage is French for “potted dish.” Potage is a type of vegetable soup. If money allowed, the potage might even contain meat or a soup bone for flavor.
- ½ cup chopped celery
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large potato, peeled and chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- ½ cup green beans
- ½ cup barley
- 8 cups beef, chicken, or vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
1. Put the olive oil, onions, and celery in a Dutch oven [R3] or large saucepan and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir this mixture occasionally to prevent it from burning.
2. Carefully pour the broth into the pan. Add all of the other ingredients. Cover the pot and bring the potage to a boil. Turn the heat to medium low and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
3. Serve in a bowl–this is one meal that won’t work with a trencher!
Mead was a sweetened alcoholic drink, but you can make a tasty version without the alcohol.
- 2 quarts cold water
- 3/4 cup honey
- 1 orange
1. Mix the water and honey in a pitcher.
2. Wash the orange, slice it thinly, and drop the slices into the pitcher.
3. Sprinkle with nutmeg and chill.
4. Serve in metal or crockery mugs, if you have them.
- 1½ cups whole raw almonds
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg white
- 1 teaspoon water
- aluminum foil
1. Mix sugar, spices, and salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk in the egg white and water.
2. Stir the almonds into the spice mixture, coating the nuts thoroughly.
3. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spread the almonds evenly onto it.
4. Bake the almonds at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes, stirring every 5 to 10 minutes to prevent the almonds from sticking. They are ready when they are golden brown. Make sure not to burn them!
5. Once the almonds cool, you can serve them in a paper cup or a bowl.