Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Mushroom Pasties

Champignons en paste (Mushroom Pastries)

Le Menagier de Paris


Mushrooms of one night are the best, if they are small, red inside, and closed at the top; and they should be peeled and then washed in hot water and parboiled, and if you wish to put them in a pasty add oil, cheese, and spice powder.


  • Pastry dough rolled thinly and cut into pieces a little over twice the size of the desired pasties (For ease of production you can use commercial pastry, or use your own recipe)
  • 3/4 lb small button mushrooms ,
  • 2 oz cheese (1 oz each of Cheddar and Parmesan),
  • 2 tbsp olive oil ,
  • 1/2 tsp salt ,
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger,
  • 1/8 tsp ground pepper.

Wash mushrooms and pare away the bottom of the stems, but leave whole. Parboil in salted water 3-4 minutes. Drain, and mix with oil and seasonings. To make pasties, mix the cheese, oil and spices in with the mushrooms; place on top of the pastry piece and turn over. Bake in a 220degC (or the best temperature for the pastry – which will be on the packet for commercial sheets) for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Online medieval cooking classes

Over the last year and a half I have given a number of live online medieval cooking classes, some of which were recorded.   Each class is an hour long, and recording quality is sometimes a little... mixed. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy them. 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Macaroons - French Bisket Bread

Got spare egg whites because you made delicious doucettes?  Looking for a simple tasty biscuit recipe? I have you covered with these wonderful Elizabethan biscuits. 

Source: Elinor Fettiplace's Receipt Book, 1604

To make French biskit bread:

Take one pound of almonds blanched in cold water, beat them verie smale, put in some rose water to them, in the beating, wherein some musk hath lien,then take one pound of sugar beaten and searced and beat with your almonds, then take the whites of fowre eggs beten and put to the sugar & almonds, then beat it well together, then heat the oven as hot as you doe for other biskit bread, then take a paper & strawe some sugar upon it, & lay two spoonfulls of the stuf in a place, then lay the paper upon a board full of holes, & put them into the oven as fast as you can & so bake them, when they begin to looke somewhat browne they are baked inough.


  • 2 Egg whites
  • 200g Ground Almonds 
  • 200g caster sugar
  • Rosewater
  • Beat your egg whites until  fluffy.  Moisten your ground almond meal with some rose water (try a teaspoon first and taste because rosewaters differ greatly in strength) and then sift in the caster sugar. Mix all dry ingredients together, then fold in the beaten egg whites. 

    Heat your oven to a moderate temperature, around 180 degrees. 

    Line a baking tray (ideally a perforated tray but don't stress about it if you don't have one) with paper and sprinkle lightly with sugar.  Using a dessert spoon, spoon balls of the mixture on to the tray - don't worry if they don't look perfect, they will be perfect tasting!

    Bake for 15-20 mins until they are light brown.  The outsides will be crisp and nutty, and the insides deliciously chewy.    

    Thursday, October 14, 2021

    Elizabethan dish - Fartes of Portingale

    Ahah!  I thought I had posted this recipe on my blog ages ago, and it was only when this recipe appeared on a recent episode Tasting History and I did a search for my version to compare that I realised that I had drafted this but not posted it. Oops!  I will have to cook these again so I can add some photos to this post. 

    So anyway, this one of the most delicious dishes in my repertoire.  The combination of the sweetness of the dates and currents, with lamb mince and the beef broth is just divine.  It is also a really useful dish for catering feasts with because you can get easy portion control (eg. 3 meatballs per person) and the meatballs can be prepped beforehand and then just cooked up in broth on the day. 

    The recipe I am giving is quite a large serving - if you are serving it as an entree, or for a smaller dinner, feel free to halve the recipe.  

    The Good Huswive's Handmaid for Cookerie (1588) Handmaide for the Kitchin

    How to make Fartes of Portingale*.

    Take a peece of a leg of Mutton, mince it smal and season it with cloues, Mace pepper and salt, and Dates minced with currans: then roll it into round rolles, and so into little balles, and so boyle them in a little beefe broth and so serue them foorth.

    Translation: Take a piece of a leg of mutton, mince it small and season it with cloves, mace, pepper an salt and dates minced with currants: then roll it into round rolls and then into little balls. and so boil them in a little beef broth and so serve them forth. 


    30 grams of dates (buy pitted ones, it is worth it!)
    1 kg lamb mince (if you can find mutton, use it, and let me know where I can get my hands on some of it!!!)
    1/2 tsp ground cloves
    1.4 tsp mace
    30 grams currants
    3 litres of beef stock

    Chop the dates finely - this is by far the most tedious part of the recipe - having some hot water on hand to wipe the knife down occasionally will help. I am told that the best method is to actually use a slicing rather than a chopping motion to cut up dates. Mince up the currants as well.  Mix together with the meat and spices, and then form into small balls (you will get about 25-30).  Bring your beef stock up to the boil, and add the meatballs. Cook until done - this will only take about 15 minutes.  Serve piping hot in the broth. 

    *Portingale was the Elizabethan way of saying Portugal. Fartes are essentially cooked balls of food - most often meatballs, sometimes dough.

    Marzipans for Invalids

    Marzipans for invalids who have lost the desire to eat, very good and of great sustenence

    (Mazapanes para dolientes que pierdan el comer, muy buenos y de gran sustancia) 
    The book of cooking, Ruperto de Nola (Robert), Logrono, 1529

    Not the average marzipan, I encourage you to give this recipe a go! It is super simple to make, and unusually for a lot of recipes from this period, has provided the proportions of the ingredients. Don't let the fact that it contains of all things, chicken, put you off: trust me, they taste really good.
    Take a very fat capon or a hen which is very fat, and cook it with just your salt until it is very well-cooked; then take the breasts from it, and all the white meat without skin, and weigh that meat, and take as much peeled almonds, and combine the meat and the almonds; and take as much fine white sugar as all of this, and grind the almonds a great deal, and then the meat with them, and then the sugar; and then grind everything together, and stretch that dough upon a wafer, and make little marzipans of the size that you wish; and make the edges a little high, and let it be a little deep in the middle; and moisten it with orange-flower water with some feathers.

    And then sprinkle fine ground and sifted sugar over that water, and then moisten it again, and sprinkle it as before; and then cook them in the oven in some flat casseroles, and paper underneath; and let the fire of the oven be moderate; and upon removing it from the casserole, the paper must be cast off of each one, (70) in such a manner that the marzipan does not break.

    And this is a very singular dish and of great support for the invalids who have lost the [desire] to eat; because the little of this that they eat is of more sustenance than any other thing; principally drinking in addition to it the sulsido of hens made in the jug; and this is beyond estimation.

    Take a chicken breast and simmer it in salted water until thoroughly cooked - but try not to overcook as it will make the chicken dry. Weigh the cooked chicken breast and measure out the same weight of almonds (you can do this with peeled almonds, or save yourself some time and use ground almonds) and sugar.  Grind them all together in a mortar and pestle (you could use a food processor but just be aware that the texture will be a little different). 

    If you don't have any wafers handy (who does? Maybe me since I did all those posts about wafers, here and here!), you can, at a pinch make these and just form them directly on to a sheet of baking paper. Make the sides a little raised.  Moisten with orange flower water, sprinkle with caster sugar and then sprinkle a bit more orange flower water on top. 

    Bake in the oven at a moderate temperature until they are lightly browned.  They can be eaten either warm, or cold. 

    You can see why this recipe would be a good food for an invalid - it gives an easy protein boost, the patient doesn't need to have good teeth as everything is ground up, and the sweetness makes it appetising. 

    Saturday, September 18, 2021

    A medieval mustard

     This recipe for mustard comes from Le Menagier de Paris dated around 1393

    The recipe is:

    Mustard soaking
    Item, et se vous la voulez faire bonne et à loisir, mettez le senevé tremper par une nuit en bon vinaigre, puis le faites bien broyer au moulin, et bien petit à petit destremper de vinaigre: et se vous avez des espices qui soient de remenant de gelée, de claré, d’ypocras on de saulces, si soient broyées avec, et après la laissier parer.

    Translated that is:

    Item: and if you want to make it good and at leisure, soak the mustard seeds overnight in good vinegar, then grind it well in the mill, and very little by little soak in vinegar: and if you have some remnants of spices from jelly, claré, hypocras or sauces, grind them with it, and then leave to rest.

    I chose a white wine vinegar to soak the mustard in (honestly, because it is what I had). 

    The next day, it was interesting to see the difference between soaked and unsoaked mustard seeds.

    I then ground the mustard with a mortar and pestle. 

    Grinding was a slow process

    The final product: a quite spicy mustard

    I had to make some hippocras!

    Ypocras. Pour faire pouldre d’ypocras, prenez un quarteron de très fine canelle triée à la dent, et demy quarteron de fleur de canelle fine, une once de gingembre de mesche trié fin blanc et une once de graine de paradis, un sizain de noix muguettes et de garingal ensemble, et faites tout battre ensemble. Et quant vous vouldrez faire l’ypocras, prenez demye once largement et sur le plus de ceste pouldre et deux quarterons de succre, et les meslez ensemble, et une quarte de vin à la mesure de Paris.


    Hippocras. To make hippocras powder, take a quarteron of very fine cinnamon, sorted by the tooth, and half a quarteron of fine cinnamon flower, an ounce of fine white sorted mesche ginger and an ounce of grains of paradise seed, a sixth of an ounce of nutmeg and galingale together, and beat everything together. And when you want to make the hypocras, take half an ounce and some more of this powder and two quarterons of sugar, and mix them together, and a quarte of wine to the measure of Paris.

    Monday, July 26, 2021

    Waffling on about wafers


    This post is a bit of a follow on from my previous post listing medieval and renaissance wafer recipes. In this article I will provide a modern wafer recipe that I have developed, and background information on wafers that I have gleaned. 
    Because I get really irritated by blogs that have pages and pages of info before you get to the recipe, I am going straight to the recipe, and then you can read on as you wish. The recipe is from Le Menagier de Paris.


    1 egg
    1/2 cup wine
    1/2 cup flour
    generous pinch of salt

    When are they from?

    Now, there is a really good question, which sadly I cannot provide a definitive answer to! The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America says that wafers “date back to ancient Greece, where they made obelios, a flat cake cooked between two hot metal plates.”
    The earliest image I have spotted so far is from the Velislav Picture Bible (between 1325 and 1340)

    What are they made of?

    The basic wafer is pretty simple: flour, eggs, wine, salt.
    But... you could get fancy, such as by stuffing them with cheese or adding ginger to the paste. Saffron wafers are mentioned in royal accounts from medieval Poland.
    By the late 16th or early 17th century they might contain sugar and flavourings such as rose-water and cinnamon. A set of books in Gent, Belgium (bound together as one) dating from about 1560 has recipes that are made using white bread crumbs instead of flour.

    What tool is used to make them?

    A wafer iron just like this! -------------->

    They did come in different shapes and sizes (including round), but this picture is quite a typical example of a medieval or renaissance wafer iron.
    As you can see in this picture, there are two different sides. From my travels and research, they always seem to have two different sides in the medieval period – modern ones don't always. If you would like to see more examples of wafer irons, visit:

    When in the meal were they eaten?

    They appear to have been served quite late in the meal, both in England and in France, and it seems, always with hippocras! There is a theory that they are a sort of final blessing at the end of the meal.
    In Le Menagier de Paris (1393) the author gives details of the arrangements for two wedding feasts that include wafers. In both he lists them as being right towards the end of service, which goes in essentially this order:

    • Service (butter, little pastries and fresh fruit)
    • Pottages
    • Roasts with sauces
    • Entremets (jellied meats)
    • Dessert (NOTE: not as we know it: frumenty, venison, pears and nuts)
    • Issue: hippocras and wafers
    • Boute-hors (translates literally as bottle out): spiced wine

    Over the sea in England John Russell writes in about 1440i& þañ with goddes grace þe fest wille be do.

    Blaunderelle, or pepyns, with arawey in confite,

    Waffurs to ete / ypocras to drynk with delite.

    now þis fest is fynysched / voyd þe table quyte

    This basically says that after you have eaten the wafers and drunk the hippocras, you should leave the table.

    How many wafers did people eat?

    For the wedding feast Master Helye gave on a Tuesday in May for 40 people, altogether they ordered 18 stuffed wafers, 18 gros bastons, 18 portes, 18 estriers and a hundred sugared galettes.ii The final negotiation with the pastrycooks however, provided for 4 wafers for each guest.
    It is worth noting that the gros bastons were the most expensive – I wonder if this is because they were simply larger, or perhaps were filled with something?
    On the hippocras front: Le Menagier notes that two quarts of Hippocras was considered too much for a party of 14 guests: - a half pint between three people was considered to be sufficient.

    Who made them?

    Wafers appear to have been made by specialised Pastrycooks.  In France they were known as Obloyeurs (Oubloier - also spelled Oubloiier in medieval French or Obloyeurs) or Gauffriers – specialist wafer makers. 

    Whats in a name?

    There are a LOT of names for wafers, depending on the country, the period and the form. The earliest name appears to be the Ancient Greek obleios. This appears to have turned into oublies, and the name gaufre first seems to appear in the 13th century, from the Old French wafla, meaning “a piece of honeybee hive” (a reference to the honeycomb shaped pattern).In le Menagier de Paris (1393) for example, the author refers to Oubloie, gauffres, sweet Galettes, Supplications, Estriers and Portes, but I don't know for certain whether these are other names for the same or different wafers, or some other pastry item. I do have some theories about some of these.

    For example because Porte is a medieval French word for a gate or portcullis, perhaps it was specifically a wafer using a wafer iron with a classic grid pattern. It is just a theory mind you!

    A bit of research has a 1609 Castellan 'dictionary' describing oblea (the Spanish version of our Oubloie above) as “a leaf of very thin dough, and when made into tubes they are called supplicaciones”. So I feel it seems likely that our Gros Baston are referred to also as supplications. Phew, this is both exciting and tiring stuff to research!  In Germany they have oblaten which appear to be smooth wafers, and are probably related also to our oubloie.

    16th century wafer iron - Switzerland