Mediaeval and Renaissance Recipes


Here are just a few of the ideas I've come across over the years...

Richmond Maids of Honour

'They starts out as Maids of honour, but they all ends up tarts'  (Nanny Ogg)

The story behind these is a simple tale of love and cheesecake!  One day Henry VIII was strolling in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace, when he encountered a group of Maids of Honour, Anne Boleyn amongst them. They were eating these little tarts, invented by a pastry cook for Katherine of Aragon.  They tempted him with one, and he declared them delicious!  For 200 years the recipe was a royal secret, but in the age of George II, a local businessman, one Mr Burdekin,  wormed the recipe out of someone at court, and thereafter made a very good living selling the cakes from his shop in Richmond Upon Thames.

If you like it a little less rich, use short crust pastry.


8 oz puff pastry (bought is fine)

8 oz curd or cottage cheese

3 oz sugar

2 oz currants

Grated rind of one lemon

1/2 oz chopped blanched almonds (you can substitute flaked almonds if you want)

2 teaspoons brandy

1/2 oz melted butter

1 egg

Roll out the pastry and line 16 small patty tins/fairy cake tins

Either rub the cheese through a sieve, or plonk it in the food processor and add the sugar, melted butter, egg, lemon rind, and brandy, and mix thoroughly.

Add the nuts and currants, and stir well.  Half fill each pastry shell with the mixture.  Bake until golden brown in a pre-heated oven at 190 C/375 F/ gas mark 5.

Cool on a rack and serve at room temperature.

I love these little things, but don't make them often enough!

Blamanger of Capons

I quite often do this to use up left over chicken from a Sunday roast.

 12 oz of cooked meat -  from a roast chicken, capon or turkey is good for this recipe.

12 oz uncooked rice (I usually use Basmati - it will take longer with standard long grain rice, and easy cook rice is no good for this recipe!)

4 oz ground almonds

1 rounded teaspoon each of powdered ginger, and cardamon

Salt and pepper to taste

4 tablespoons of flaked almonds, gently toasted

A couple of teaspoons of anise seeds

Use the bones of the bird to make a good stock.  Use about a pint and a half for this recipe.

Mix together the spices, the rice and the ground almonds, and add the stock.  Cook gently until the rice is cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed.  Stir gently now and again to prevent sticking as it cooks - it takes about 15 minutes.  Add the cut up chicken meat, add a little more stock if need be, and stir together: heat again for 10 minutes or so, until the meat is properly heated through.  Stir in the toasted almonds and pile into a serving dish.  Sprinkle with the anise seeds and serve.

I like to serve this with a salad of cos lettuce and baby spinach leaves, and crusty wholemeal bread.

This makes a very pleasant addition to a buffet feast , a mediaeval dinner, or a modern party.  I have also used a whole boiling chicken for it when making for large numbers and starting from scratch - you get stock and cooked chicken in one easy move!  We can cheat nowadays and do this stage in the pressure cooker!

Wardonys in Syryp

Warden pears were large sourish pears used mostly for cooking.  This is a great way to use slightly under ripe comis pears.

One large firm pear per person

One bottle of red cooking wine (more for lots of pears!)

One desert spoonful of sugar per pear

2 or 3 cinnamon sticks

a couple of whole cloves per pear

A pinch of saffron, if you have some, or some blade mace

Juice of half a lemon (use the whole lemon for 6 or more pears)

Peel the pears, but keep the stalk intact.  Put them in a large glass oven proof casserole dish, or enamelled pot, propped upright against each other.

Scatter the spices over and round the pears and add the lemon and wine.  Cook slowly for a couple of hours, until the pears are cooked through.  Lift them out carefully and put them on a serving dish.  Strain the wine syrup, and reduce until it goes a little thick and syrupy...  May take a little while!

Pour the wine syrup over the pears and serve either warm or cold.

This goes very well with plain cream, a nice pouring egg custard, Crème Bastard, or great with vanilla ice cream - OK, so not very mediaeval, but makes a great pudding!  The pears go a lovely dark pinkish red, which makes a great contrast with the accompaniments.

It's also easy to adapt this recipe for the slow cooker or crockpot.

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