Recipe: A vegan dish for a medieval palate

While most medieval peasantry were not feasting on meat every meal, they probably didn’t cater for vegans either. Along with vegetables, a typical medieval diet in south Wales would have included a lot of cheese, eggs and fish.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t dishes we can create now to cater for vegan diets using ingredients available to people living in the 14th Century.

Over the August Bank Holiday we set up camp at the magnificent Caerphilly Castle.

One of the dishes I prepared on the Sunday was a lovely mushroom and lentil main. It’s very simple, tasty and easy to recreate at home.

What you’ll need:

  • Half a kilo of mushrooms – I used traditional closed cap mushrooms but you can mix this up dependant on the strength of flavour you want
  • Two cans of green lentils (you can soak lentils from a bag, but I’m a bit of a cheat)
  • Quarter of a cup of olive oil
  • A pinch of black pepper
  • Mixed herbs (I used a combo of basil, rosemary and thyme)

These amounts serve 4-6 people. Halve the amounts for a good portion for two.

Method:

  1. Soak the lentils in half of the olive oil. Add in all of the black pepper and herbs. Mix together and leave for two hours
  2. Chop the mushrooms
  3. Heat the remainder of the olive oil in a pan over the hob/ barbeque/ fire pit
  4. Fry the mushrooms in the pan
  5. As they begin to go brown, add in the lentils
  6. Stir the mix together until it is warmed right through
  7. Serve

Delicious!

Recipe: Skewers and Greens

For the second day of Melee at Cardiff Castle I wanted to cook something quick and simple.  I was inspired by “To the King’s Taste” (Lorna J. Sass 1975). Fresh summer vegetables are a frequent item in 14th century menus but there aren’t often recipes involving them as these dishes were too simple to be worth recording.

I used fresh carrots (found in the market by another member). These beautiful colours would have been usual to medieval people; orange carrots only became popular in the last couple of hundred years.

carrotss
Beautiful purple carrots. Before the enclosure and improvement movements in agriculture in the 18th century vegetables were grown in many more varieties that we use today.

I chopped the carrots and put them to boil in a big pot over a fire of split logs with a little flame and a lot of embers to boil gently.  I added salt to the water as with the group working outside all day a little extra salt is necessary.

While the carrots were cooking I started the meat. The sources suggest trimmings from preparing larger joints and offal be chopped very finely . As I was short of time I cheated (this may be a recurring theme) and used 1.6kg of beef mince.  I seasoned it with salt, pepper, herbs and about two level tsp of Poudre Douce, a mild spice mix. Every good chef would have their own version of this popular seasoning but it often contained cinnamon, ginger, grains of paradise, nutmeg, sugar and galangal.

meat
Kneading the mince helps it stick together on the skewers and mixes the seasoning in.

The meat was kneaded and shaped into sausages to put on the skewers. I soaked mine overnight so they didn’t catch fire.  To cook the meat I put the bakestone over a fire of hot embers to heat up and used a little butter to grease it and check the temperature. When it was sizzling I put the first batch of skewers on to cook.

cooking
Hiding your camera under a pot and taking pictures when there are no public around to see is an imperfect way to make a blog post. This is the cooking set up for the meat; I was unable to get pictures of the veg.

I added 1kg of frozen peas to the carrots and simmered them while I prepared the second batch of skewers.  Once the first batch were browned all over I swapped the second batch on to cook, drained the veg and added spinach, rocket, butter and pepper to it. I put a lid over the veg and knocked the fire down to let it steam in the heat from the pan until the meat was done.

food
A portion each of meat and veg; tasty and very filling.

I served it up as fairly as possible to the twelve we had in camp on Sunday and everyone said they enjoyed it very much.

Recipe: A vegetarian-friendly medieval dish

Vegetarian friendly Medieval dish – Cheesy lentils

Jayne Lutwyche sometimes produces authentic medieval meals at our events, cooked over our fire. This recipe, and the stewed lambs’ hearts one which will follow it, were served at Joust! in June 2016.

As Medieval cooks it’s often difficult to find interesting, veggie friendly meals which aren’t pottage-based. Last season we were experimenting with a great dish, which was simple, quick to cook, and delicious.

All you need are:

The amount you need varies, depending on how many are in your camp. But a rough two-to-one ratio lentils:cheese works.

  1. To prepare your dish soak your lentils/chickpeas the night before (alternatively buy canned versions, and ensure you store them in something authentic whilst in camp)
  2. Slice your cheese – as fine as you can as this helps it melt. Chunks also work.
  3. Get a mortar and pestle and grind a few pinches of black pepper. Other spices can be used – I’ve seen cinnamon recommended to give it a bit of an authentic kick.
  4. Add your cheese and lentils to a pot. To be very authentic consider using ceramic and placing it in the ashes of your camp fire. If you can’t do this a metal cauldron or pot will do.
  5. Stir occasionally, mixing in your pepper and spices.
  6. Cooking time is approximately 20 minutes.

Voila! Delicious – non-pottage – veggie dish or side.