Christmas Recipes from the Table of Richard II

Christmas Recipes from the Table of Richard II

The following recipes are taken from Two Fifteenth-Century Cookbooks (Thomas Austin, ed. London: Early English Text Society, 1888). Richard II’s own contemporary cookbook, “The Forme of Cury [Cookery],” still exists. The recipes given here, however, more clearly correspond to the dishes listed in a bill of fare from a banquet given by Richard II and his uncle, John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, in 1387. For those readers who would like to experiment with medieval court cookery and need more exact directions than the rough version given here, many medieval recipes (with modern proportions) may be found online.

A royal feast.

A royal feast. Courtesy of the British Library Illuminated Manuscripts Collection.

Note: The “thorn” character (þ) represents the modern diagraph (i.e., two characters indicating a single sound) character “th”.

Note #2: The recipes have been chosen as being closest to modern taste and sensibilities. For more “exotic” dishes, please visit Richard II’s Banquet.

Note #3: The names given for the dishes are NOT 14th century.

Countess Katherine’s Courtly Quiche

NOTE: I have been informed (by a purist culinary historian) that the fresh marrow in the original recipe provides richness and fat to the pie filling. Personally, I would use butter.

Crustade lumbard. Take gode Creme, & leuys of Percely, & Eyroun, þe yolkys & þe whyte, & breke hem þer-to, & strayne þorwe a straynoure, tyl it be so styf þat it wol bere hym-self; þan take fayre Marwe, & Datys y-cutte in .ij. or .iij. & Prunes; & putte þe Datys an þe Prunes & Marwe on a fayre cofynne, y-mad of fayre past, & put þe cofyn on þe ovyn tyl it be a lytel hard; þanne draw hem out of þe ouyn; take þe lycour & putte þer-on, & fylle it vppe, & caste Sugre y-now on, & Salt þan lat bake to-gederys tyl it be y-now; & yif it be in lente, lef þe Eyroun & þe Marwe out, & þanne serue it forth. [p. 51]

A Rich Lombard-style Pie: Take fresh cream, parsley and eggs, both yolks and whites, and mix them together, then strain them through a sieve or strainer until it is thick enough to stand by itself. Take fresh marrow, dates cut in halves or thirds, and prunes, put them in “coffin” (a pie shell) made of good dough, and cook in the oven until the crust is just firm, then remove the pie shell and add the egg mixture, adding enough sugar and salt, and return to the oven to bake until done. If the pie is for a Lenten meal, omit the eggs and marrow. Serve it forth.

King Richard’s Gilded Chicken

Chike endored. Take a chike, and drawe him, and roste him, And lete the fete be on, and take awey the hede ; then make batur of yolkes of eyron and floure, and caste there-to pouder of ginger, and peper, saffron and salt, and pouder hit faire til hit be rosted ynogh. [p. 81] 

“Gilded” Chicken: Take a chicken, and gut and roast it, leaving the feet and neck on but removing the head. When it is nearly done, make a batter with egg yolks and flour, and add powdered ginger, pepper, saffron and salt, and cover the chicken. Return it to the oven until the “crust” is cooked.

Chicken recipe.

Creamy Christmas Chicken Broth

Blaundysorye. Take Almaunde Mylke, an flowre of Rys, and brawn of Capounys or of hennys, & pouder Gyngere, & boyle it y-fere, & make it chargeaunt; an whan þou dressest yn, nym Maces, Quybibes, & caste a-boue, & serue f[orth]. [p. 21] 

Blaundsore (White broth). Take milk of almonds, rice flour, the meat of the legs of capons or hens, powdered ginger, and boil until thick. Before serving, take ground mace and cubeb (a sort of pepper) and sprinkle them on the dish, then serve it forth.

A spice merchant with his wares.

A spice merchant with his wares.

Twelfth Night Tart

NOTE: This is a lovely recipe but, I must admit, I stop with the pinenuts. No chunks of salmon or eel in my figgy tart!

Tart de ffruyte. Take figges, and seth hem in wyne, and grinde hem smale, And take hem vppe into a vessell; And take pouder peper, Canell, Clowes, Maces, pouder ginger, pynes, grete reysons of corauwce, saffron, and salte, and cast thereto; and þen make faire lowe coffyns, and couche þis stuff therein, And plonte pynes aboue; and kut dates and fressh salmon in faire peces, or elles fressh eles, and parboyle hem a litull in wyne, and couche thereon; And couche the coffyns faire with þe same paaste, and endore the coffyn withoute with saffron & almond mylke; and set hem in þe oven and lete bake. [p. 98]

Fruit tart: Take figs and boil them in wine and grind them finely, then put them into a pot with pepper, canel (cinnamon), cloves, mace, powdered ginger, pinenuts, dried currents, saffron, and salt. Make low pie shells and put the mixture into them. Plant (place) more pinenuts on top of the filling. Take cut-up dates and pieces of raw salmon or eel, parboil them in wine, and add that to the tart. Cover with a pastry crust brushed with a mixture of saffron and almond milk, put them in the oven to bake.

Stately Stew with Almonds

Bruet of Almaynne. Take Almaundys, & draw a gode mylke þer-of with Water ; take Capoun, Conyngys or Pertriches; smyte þe Capoun, or kede, or Chykonys, Conyngys: þe Pertriche shal ben hol: þan blaunche þe Fleyssh, an caste on þe mylke; take larde & [mynce] it, & caste þer-to; take an mynce Oynonys & caste þer-to y-nowe, do Clowes & smal Roysonys þer-to; caste hol Safroun þer-to, þan do it to þe fyre, & stere it wyl; whan þe fleysshe ys y-now, sette it on þe fyre, an do þer-to Sugre y-now; take pouder Gyngere, Galyngale, Canel, & temper þe pouder wyth Vynegre, & caste þer-to; sesyn it with salt, & serue forth. [p. 19]

Almond Broth: Make almond milk. If you choose to use capons, [or kids, – young goats] or chickens, or young rabbits, cut up the meat; if using partridges, leave them whole. Blanch the meat, add the almond milk, minced lard and minced onions. Season with cloves, small raisins and saffron and put over the fire to cook, stirring continually. When the meat is tender, add sugar. Then take ginger, galangal, and cinnamon, mix with vinegar, and add the mixture to the pot. Season with salt to taste, and serve it forth.


Apple-picking. Courtesy of the National Library of the Netherlands Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts Collection.

Queen Anne’s Applesauce

Apple Muse. Take Appelys an sethe hem, an Serge þem þorwe a Sefe in-to a potte; þanne take Almaunde Mylke & Hony, an caste þer-to, an gratid Brede, Safroun, Saunderys, & Salt a lytil, & caste all in þe potte & lete hem sethe ; & loke þat þou stere it wyl, & serue it forth. [p. 20]

Apple Muse: Take apples and boil them, and sift them through a sieve into a pot; then add almond milk and honey, and dry bread crumbs, saffron, saunders (sandalwood powder for a red color) and a little salt. Cook in a pot, stirring continually, and when cooked, serve it forth.