A Champion Entry!

The winning entry for the Arts and Sciences championship this year was a couple of delicious recipes from Portugal, submitted by the Honorable Lady Joana

Picture of custard tarts displayed on medieval plates, with a medieval glass, on a red tablecloth
Delicious Portugese custard tarts

She has kindly allowed us to publish her documentation, which can be found here.

PGC2019: Meisterin Christian Baier’s Genovese Tart

Category: An item of food or drink your persona may have grown, prepared, consumed, or known of.  “Do you think because you are virtuous, that there shall be no more cakes and ale?”

Persona period inspiration and use:

This recipe comes from Sabina Welserin’s cookbook, Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin (1553). The Welser were international mercantile bankers and venture capitalists, members, with the Fugger and the Hochstetter families, of the mercantile patriciate of Augsburg.  These recipes, compiled for a rich urban German household, seem suitable for a noble Saxon women like Christian, although she probably would not have baked them herself. The recipe collection was not originally intended for publication or circulation; it may have been possibly written by the Sabina herself, but was more probably written by her kitchen professionals on her behalf.

I made these pies to take for a picnic lunch at an event; they are ideal for this purpose as they taste good hot or cold, and (as the pies have a top crust) they travel well.  For picnics I tend to make small finger-food-sized pies for convenience, but when cooking a feast these pies work equally well as individual or ‘family’ sized pies.  They are a good protein dish for vegetarians, and also a useful pie for those who don’t eat eggs.

Design, Materials and Construction:

  • Recipe 30: To make Genovese tart.  Take eighteen ounces of chard or spinach, three ounces of grated cheese, two and one half ounces of olive oil and the fresh cheese from six ounces of curdled milk. And blanch the herbs and chop them small and stir it all together and make a good covered tart with it.
  • The Kochbuch has a number of recipes for pastry, or you could substitute your own recipe.  I tend to use less olive oil than the original recipe, to make a less-wet filling, which makes the pie more robust for travel and I prefer the taste.  The flavours of this tart will vary with the greens, or the types of cheeses, you choose (see Bach for a discussion of German cheeses). You can make fresh cheese yourself, or use any type of fresh cheese you prefer.   
  • I forgot to take a photograph on the day, so please forgive the tatty-looking leftover pie that made it into my lunch box several days later.


PGC2019: Meisterin Christian Baier’s Apple and Raisin Pies

Category: An item of food or drink your persona may have grown, prepared, consumed, or known of.  Do you think because you are virtuous, that there shall be no more cakes and ale?

Persona period inspiration and use:

  • The Kochbuch of Sabina Welserin contains many recipes for fruit pies, and this seemed a good choice for sweet treat for a picnic lunch at an event.  I decided on an apple pie as it was too early in the season for most of the other fruits.  The book includes numerous apple pie recipes, and, looking for something a little different, I came across a description (but not recipe) for an apple and raisin pie from Philippine Welser that appealed.
  • Philippine Welser, wife of Archduke Ferdinand II of Further Austria, and a member of the same family as Sabina, edited and published her own recipe collection, De re coquinaria, in 1545.  This has not been published in English, but some recipes are included or described in Bach.

Design, Materials and Construction: 

Recipe: Sabina Welser has a recipe (number 14) in which apples are sliced, “floated” in fat until brown, layered in a pie with spices and raisins, and baked with a crust on top.  For the convenience of the picnic, I was making small individual pies, which made layering fiddly, so I choose a simpler recipe described by Bach as “chopped apples, precooked in fat with raisins, sugar, fat, and cinnamon”.  I chopped some apples and, along with some raisins, sautéed these gently in butter (my preferred choice of fat for a vegetarian friendly pie), and mixed in sugar and cinnamon to taste.  This was baked in a pie with a double (top and bottom) crust.

I completely forgot to take a photograph of these pies (although they did look just like the Genovese Tarts).  They were delicious.


PGC2019: THL Joana de Bairros’ Moorish Chicken

Joana de Bairros enters a delicious chicken dish in the category Do you think because you are virtuous, that there shall be no more cakes and ale?

“There is one Portuguese cookbook from period called Um tratado da cozinha portuguesa do século XV or Livro de cozinha da Infanta D. Maria de Portugal which can be found, with an English translation at http://www.medievalcookery.com/notes/tratado.html. This collection of recipes was written in the late 15th century and then taken to Italy with Maria, the grand daughter of Manuel I of Portugal, when she married Alessandro Farnese. It ended up in Naples. (See reference to this in At the First Table:Food and Social Identity in Early Modern Spain by Jodi Campbell).

I was having a friend of over for dinner so decided to cook the Moorish Chicken recipe from this book as I have tried it before and it is delicious.

Outra receita de galinha mourisca
Façam em pedaçosuma galinha bem gorda, e levem-na ao fogo brando, com duas colheres de sopa degordura, algumas fatias de toucinho, bastante coentro, um punhadinho de salsa,umas folhinhas de hortelã, sal e uma cebola bem grande. Abafem-na e deixem-na dourar, mexendo-a devez em quando. Em seguida cubram essagalinha com água, e assim que levante fervura acabem de temperá-la com sal,vinagre, cravo-da-índia, açafrão, pimenta-do-reino e gengibre. Logo que agalinha esteja cozida, derramem dentro 4 gemas batidas. Tomem uma travessa funda, forrada com fatiasde pão e derramem por cima a galinha.

Another recipe for moorish chicken – literal translation
Cut a very fat chicken into pieces, and cook it over low heat, with two soup spoons of fat, a few slices of bacon, lots of cilantro, a bit of parsley, a few mint leaves, salt and a very large onion. Cover it (abafar means smother) and let it brown, stirring once in a while. Next cover that chicken in water, and as soon as it reaches a boil finish seasoning it with salt, vinegar, cloves, saffron, black pepper and ginger. When the chicken is cooked, add 4 beaten egg yolks. Take a deep serving tray, lined with bread slices and put the chicken over top.

My redaction to feed 4   

500gm chicken breast
1T olive oil
100gm bacon
¼ cup of coriander
2T parsley
1T mint
Pinch of salt
2 cups of chicken stock
1T white wine vinegar
1 t salt
1t each of cloves, pepper and ginger
A pinch of saffron
4 egg yolks
1 loaf of bread.

  1. Cut chicken and bacon in to chunks (I used chicken breasts as I wanted it to cook quickly) ‘
  2. Roughly cut the herbs and dice the onion. (I didn’t add coriander the first time as my guest did not like it so included more parsley. I did up it in in a later attempt at this recipe and it added a nice flavor)
  3. Heat up the oil in a thick based casserole dish on the stove top
  4. Brown chicken and bacon
  5. Add in herbs, salt and onion
  6. Put the lid on the casserole dish and cook at medium heat for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to stop the chicken from sticking.
  7. Add in the stock (I used stock rather than just water as I was using breast meat which doesn’t have the flavor of chicken drums)
  8. When the stock boils add in the vinegar, salt and spices. Leave to cook for 5 minutes
  9. Separate the egg yolks and whisk together
  10. Pour the egg yolks into the casserole and mix up the sauce thoroughly. If you do not the egg will cook in lumps rather than being spread through sauce.
  11. Slice a loaf of good bread up. Either serve the chicken in a deep dish with bread underneath or serve the chicken to the table in a pot with a loaf of bread so guests can assemble their own. The bread is very delicious when soaked in the sauce!”

PGC2019: Signora Onorata Elisabetta Foscari’s cena con amici

The Honorable Lady Elisabetta Foscari details her recent intimate Italian dinner for friends in her entry in the category Do you think because you are virtuous, that there shall be no more cakes and ale?  In her words:

“I chose to cook a dinner party for some friends using recipes from Scappi.  Below are the pdfs of my write up of the meal.
Introduction and Course one: cena1
Course 2: cena2
Course 3 and Reference list: cena3

PGC2019: Meisterin Christian’s Festa de Natale, Late 16th C Italian feast

PGC2019: Meisterin Christian’s Festa de Natale, Late 16th C Italian feast

Not just an item of food or drink your persona may have grown, prepared, consumed, or known of, Meistern Christian has entered a whole feast in the category “Do you think because you are virtuous, that there shall be no more cakes and ale?”

Final course on the sideboard
Photo by Isabel Maria

Persona period inspiration and use:

A friend wanted to host a Christmas event with a meal (Southron Gaard, Festa de Natale, December 2018).  He wanted a menu suitable for his Lady’s persona, i.e. late 1570’s Italian noblewoman.  I chose to follow Scappi, a chef to various cardinals and pope’s, whose Opera dell’arte del cucinare was published in 1570.

I used Scappi’s recipes and menus to construct a feasibly accurate light summer celebration meal for Italy in the 1570’s.

Design, Materials and Construction:

I reviewed all the translated menus from Scappi I could find, and established the appropriate number of courses and dishes for a light feast.  I reviewed the dishes on those menus, and arranged them as to the appropriate course in which they should appear (certain dishes appear only in certain courses).  From those lists I selected a long list of the dishes I preferred.  Christmas in Italy is obviously not in summer, so some flexibility was necessary in selecting recipes from both the summer and December menus.

Roast pork tenderloin presented
before being carved by Sir Tycho
Photo by Isabel Maria

I then narrowed down the long list of recipes balancing an authentic light Scappi summer menu with the modern constraints / considerations of the event: a menu of light dishes and salads appropriate for a warm summer evening, a balanced menu (for modern tastes), recipes I liked, available seasonal produce, preparation time and cooking facilities, recipes with a nod to Christmas (period or modern Christmas) and keeping a low ticket price in mind.

Here is the menu from the feast:

Primo servitio di credenza (First service from the sideboard):

  • Uva fresca di piu sorte (Fresh grapes of various sorts)
  • Formaggio (Cheese)
  • Olive di piu sorte (Olives of various sorts)
  • Insalata di citrioli et cipollette (Cucumber and onion salad)
  • Insalate di cedro tagliate in fettoline, servite con zuccaro, sale & acqua rosa (Orange salad with sugar, salt, and rosewater)
  • Prosciutto cotto in vino, tagliata, servitto freddo (Ham cooked in red wine, with a dressing of capers, currants, sugar, vinegar)
  • Amaretti (Almond cookies)
  • Pane con buttiro (Bread butter)

Primo et ultimo servito di cucina (First and last service from the kitchen)

  • Polli arrostite (Roast chicken)
  • Il lomboletto di porco domstico in piu modi (Roast pork tenderloin)
  • Mostardo amabile (Sweet mustard)
  • Sapore vino di melangranate (Pomegranate wine sauce)
  • Minestra di tagliatelle (A thick soup of Tagliatelle)
  • Bolognese tourte ((for vegetarians) Cheese and chard tart)
  • Cuocere Broccoli asciutti et cauli (Broccoli and cauliflower with sour orange juice, oil and garlic)
  • Insalata di misto (Mixed salad)

Secondo et ultimo servitio di credenza (Second and last service from the sideboard):

A closer look at the final course
Photo by Isabel Maria
  • Mele et pere crudo di piu sorte (Raw pears and apples)
  • Formaggio (Cheese)
  • Grani di melegranate et Fragole (Pomegranate seeds and strawberries)
  • Mandole (Almonds)
  • Neve di latte(A dish of Snow)
  • Per fare pizza a un’altro modo (A dried fruit tart: pastry)
  • Ciambelle (Italian cookies)
  • Gelo di cotogne (Quince paste)

Here is a link to an article in FTT with some recipes from the event.

Final course from the sideboard. Photo by Isabel Maria del Aguila


The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570): L’arte et prudenza d’un maestro cuoco (The Art and Craft of a Master Cook), Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library, University of Toronto Press, 2011, Terence Scully.

PGC2019: Baronessa Isabel Maria’s Sugar Cone

This sweet wee entry in the category “Do you think because you are virtuous that there shall be no more cakes and ale” is explained thusly:

Sugar Cone

A detail from “…the art in which sugar is made” by Jan van der Straet. 
You can see the sugar cones drying on the table, and the empty moulds on the floor

Many, many years ago, in London, I found myself intrigued by a number of things I saw in museums; one of which was reproduction sugar cones and a couple of original moulds.  Having not really had the chance to explore this particular fascination, I asked myself some of questions: “did they use sugar in 16th century cooking?”, “what did period sugar look like?” and “ was it actually transported or sold in cones?”

A little light research (in period recipe books I have on hand) indicated that yes, sugar was used in late 16thc cooking.  Some more research suggested it could be purchased in a variety of forms and degrees of refinement.

Construction: I mixed brown sugar, caster sugar, and demerara sugar together until I got the sort of colour indicated in my notes from the museums I visited in 2003.  I then sprinkled in a few drops of water, (just enough for the sugar to hold together when pressure was applied) and mixed it through. A small amount of the sugar mixture was transferred to a lightly oiled mould and pounded into shape with the end of a chopstick.  I roughed up the surface of the moulded sugar before adding more and pounding that into the mould.  This was repeated until the mould was full.  After drying for a couple of days, the sugar cone was tipped out and allowed to fully air dry.

Verdict: In this form, the sugar is a bit shattery to use, but fun to make and it looks sufficiently different from modern sugar to not look out of place in a period style spice box.  
As I don’t have any sugar nippers, I have to shave or grate off any sugar I want to use.  This difference also serves to remind me that sugar was an expensive “spice” in the 16th century, and should be used sparingly.  The fact this sugar cone causes that change in my mindset while cooking is particularly pleasing.


PGC:2019 Baronessa Isabel Maria’s Spice Box

Another entry from Maestra Isabel Maria under the category “Do you think because you are virtuous that there shall be no more cakes and ale?” She describes her ongoing spice box project:

“As I like to “play house” at Canterbury Faire, (rather than consider myself as going “on campaign” or “on pilgrimage” etc) I am trying to make sure all the items I regularly use are persona-appropriate so that I no longer need to hide items away in my tent.  One thing that annoyed me last year were modern cardboard spice boxes sitting on my work surface.  So, with regard to keeping valuable spices secure and yet convenient for use, I once again asked “what did they use in period?”, which lead to, what I assume is a wee spice box (below right), shown in the 1570 Scappi manuscript

Although I have been unable to find an equivalent in a Spanish resource, making do with an item from a neighbouring area (Italy), with which Spain had significant commerce,  seemed reasonable.
My Version: Collation of this project began with the careful shopping for a suitable box and bottles.  The box is one for transporting essential oils, so had the small compartments already fixed in place.  I chose corked bottles of brown glass, because they were available, affordable and, most importantly, fit in the box compartments.  (That the darker colour would help reduce the amount of light reaching the expensive spices is a bonus.) 
As for the spices contained in the box, I have chosen only those spices used in the specific 16th century English and Spanish recipes I like to cook, namely: 

  • Anise
  • Black pepper
  • Carraway
  • Cinnamon quills
  • Cloves
  • Ginger
  • Mace
  • Nutmeg (and grater)
  • Salt
  • Saffron
  • Sugar cone

I still have some empty spots for other spices that I acquire as my repertoire of recipes increases, or for mysterious spices like grains of paradise, long pepper and galingale etc.  

Verdict: First used on the spiced water project where it proved convenient, although I’m looking forward to see how it works at Canterbury Faire. 
I suspect I will need to find a way to label the bottles for ease of use, probably on the top of the cork lid since I don’t want to have to lift each bottle out to see what is in it, once it gets a little empty.  Similarly, I’m not overly happy with the plain corks securing each bottle as they seem a little… unfinished compared to the period illustration.”


  • “The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570): L’arte Et Prudenza D’un Maestro Cuoco”
  • “English Huswif’s Jewel” by Thomas Dawson (1596)
  • Libre del Guisados” by Roberto de Nola (a Spanish edition of Libre del Coch), published in 1529 ,  translated by Lady Brighid ni Chiarain

PGC2019: Mistress katherine kerr’s Soul Cakes

A delicious entry from Mistress katherine kerr under the heading of “Do you think because you are virtuous, that there shall be no more cakes and ale?” She says:

“Soul Cakes, Soul Cakes, please good Mistress a Soul cake

For that it lies near the Feast of All Souls Day and for that said day is the Natal Day of the lovely Lady Vigdis, know that the November Monthly Tourney on the iiid day of said month shall be graced by Soul Cakes for the sustance of all. And further, the aforementioned month occasioning the Feast Day of St Catherine upon the xxvth day, there will be Cattern Cakes for my saint’s name’s sake. For those not approving of the old saints, then it is a day in especial honour of lace-makers and the Queen.

I wanted to encourage activities at the barony’s monthly tourneys which didn’t revolve around the fighting. Everyone likes cakes so….

Soulmass cakes were traditionally baked  at the beginning of November to celebrate All Hallows E’en and All Souls’ Day. The small cakes are filled with spices and mixed fruit, and usually have a cross marked on them. I used a recipe redacted from that of Lady Elinor Fettiplace (1604).

Cattern cakes are similar but have caraway seed and currants for flavouring. They are associated with St Katherine of Alexandria or, in England, with Queen Katherine of Aragon, who was said to have destroyed her lace to give employment to the local women. This is remembered in the following rhyme:

Queen Katherine loved to deck with lace
The royal robes she wore;
But though she loved to wear her lace,
She loved the lace-folk more.
So now for good Queen Katherine’s sake
Put bones and sticks away,
And keep the yearly festival
And sing on ‘Kattern Day

In France, unmarried women over the age of 25 were called “Catherinettes”. They consoled each other on their unwed state, singing:

A husband, St. Catherine!
A handsome one, St. Catherine!
A rich one, St. Catherine!
A nice one, St. Catherine!
And soon, St. Catherine!

As form of  consolation prize, their friends would make them yellow or green hats, so they might demonstrate their faith and wisdom, respectively.

There are vague references to earlier St Catherine’s Day celebrations when women dressed up in male attire and indulged in “unfettered merry-making, including amorous (or violent) advances to passing men” !

The cakes got eaten before I thought about taking photos — didn’t notice any ladies in men’s clothing though….

katherine kerr”

PGC2019: Baronessa Isabel Maria’s Spiced Water

This project, completed at Golden Flight, is entered under the category of “Do you think because you are virtuous, that there shall be no more cakes and ale?” (Food and drink your persona would have known.)  Baronessa Isabel Maria has this to say about it:

“It is nice to have food and drink appropriate to ones persona when attending an event.  To that end, I was looking for an easy to make (or perhaps even convenient to buy) drink that it suitable for daytime tourneys, evening feasts or multi-day camping events.  So the question became “what did they drink in sixteenth century Spain?”

According to Daily Life in Spain in the Golden Age (Marcelin Defourneaux) there was “a great demand for iced drinks – orange juice, [and] strawberry water…” even in the summer months.  In contrast he also quotes the Countess d’Aulnoy as saying “women never drink [wine].”  With that in mind, I went looking for a flavoured water or juice recipe in 16th century Spanish cooking manuals or recipe books.  While I did not find such a book from exactly my period, there was one from earlier that met all my requirements.

Recipe: Clarea de Aqua
To one azumbre of water, four ounces of honey; you must cast in the same spices as for the other clarea; you must give it a boil with the honey over the fire, and hen it is off the fire you must cast in the spices.

Spices for Clarea
3 parts cinnamon, 2 parts cloves, 1 part ginger Libre del Coch (1529, Roberto de Nola translated by Lady Brighid ni Chiarain)

I used the above translation of the original Catalan recipe and considered the advice of several others who have made this drink, but adjusted the spice proportions to suit my tastes.

My redaction: Take 2 litres of water and add 170g honey.  Boil for 3 or so minutes and take the scum off the water.  Throw in ¼ teaspoon of roughly broken cloves, ½ teaspoon of roughly bashed cinnamon stick, a tiny fraction of a pinch of ginger.  Let steep until lukewarm, strain through 2 layers of thick linen, bottle and refrigerate.

Due to the honey used, there was a slight chemical aftertaste.  However, the addition of a tablespoon of white sugar eliminated the “tang” without substantially affecting the sweetness of the clary.
Verdict: This proved to be a light and refreshing non-alcoholic beverage, that was very pleasant to drink when chilled while watching the tourney and room temperature during the feast. It is also fairly quick and easy to make, with ingredients regularly in my pantry, meaning it is the sort of thing that can be made the evening before (or indeed morning of) an event.”