Archive for the ‘Eating Medieval: Food and Recipes’ Category

My blog is updated less frequently these days as I’ve been deep in research, editing, and re-writing, in addition to a heavier-than-normal teaching schedule, a major home repair, and a cross-country trip for my daughter’s college graduation.  But yes, Book Three of the Blue Bells Chronicles–The Water is Wide–is on its way.  In the course of editing, two new characters have been added, and that has required a lot of changes throughout the book.  I’m very happy with those changes, and hope the evil Simon Beaumont, and the farrier boy found in the ruins of an ancient Roman fort, Red, who doesn’t have a name, will be well worth the wait.  I’m having fun with them.


Today, please welcome back Kathy Opie, friend and author.  Kathy writes about caregiving.  Her blog also features cooking and recipes.  We team up on a somewhat (ir?)regular basis to present Eating Medieval, in which I send recipes from my sources, and Kathy tracks down authentic ingredients and prepares and writes about the results.  Today, we present Medlar Tart:

Medlar Tart


“Now will he sit under a medlar tree,

And wish his mistress were that kind of fruit

As maids call medlars, when they laugh alone.

O Romeo, that she were,

O that she were An open-arse and thou a poperin pear! “

- Romeo and Juliet

There is a sexual reference to the medlar fruit that dates back to Medieval times, you can infer that from this quote and also from looking upon the medlar fruit itself.  It looks like a large brownish green blueberry.  I also wanted to make a medieval dish to share with my friend Laura who has a medieval blog.  Hers is about writing and time-travel. I like to cook and learn a little bit of history.


I was pleasantly surprised to find this dish quite delicious. I texted Laura who was quite excited about the whole process:


“I hope it tastes exciting… but so far my kitchen smells Medieval and methinks tasty.”


Laura-”Are you using Medieval timing methods?”


“I don’t own a hearth but I am not using a timer going by sight and smell.”


Laura-”I read some time ago that they time them by saying Hail Mary’s.”


“Haha no.”


But upon eating this dish I had to report to Laura: “Tis delicious apply and nutty and even Paul tried it.”


The medlar fruit that I chopped and mixed with a little bit of sugar, butter, honey and cinnamon had a surprisingly delicious nutty, cross between an apple and pear taste but with a deeper richer flavor. It blended quite well with the pastry crust that I had baked it in.

I only had enough fruit for one small tart. I thank my friend Diane for providing me with this rare fruit that normally grows in British Columbia and England. I was able to chop up enough fruit for one small tart.


Ingredients for pastry

1/2  cup of flour

1/8 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of sugar

3 tablespoons of butter

1/8 cup of cold water

Mix together cut butter into the flour mixture and add ice cold water. Press into the bottom of a small greased baking dish

6 ripe medlar  fruit peeled and chopped



1 tablespoon of butter

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

1-2 teaspoons of honey

sprinkle of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of water



mix fruit and above ingredients together, sprinkle over the top of the pastry and bake in the oven that has been preheated to 400F for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!


If you enjoy the Eating Medieval pieces, please check out these others:


Juselle Dates

Nutty (Spiced Chestnut Cream)

Brie Tart



Gift Card Give Away: Blog Hoppers, Jump HERE for your chance to win an gift card at my blog.  And now, for Eating Medieval.
I’m very excited to bring you the first episode of Eating Medieval. Today’s collaboration is with Kathy Opie, writer and cook/baker extraordinaire.  Learn more about Kathy at the end of the blog.  She and I have collaborated–and we expect to continue doing so–on exploring the world of medieval cuisine, such as Shawn, Niall, and all the medieval cast of The Blue Bells Chronicles would have experienced.  I like research, and Kathy likes cooking, so I research and send the recipes to her, and she will be preparing them, and telling us about them!
Of course, with modern ovens, controlled temperatures, and timers, the results may not be exactly as they would have been in Niall’s time.  Then, for instance, baking time (so my sources tell me) might be given in recipes as, “Bake for long enough to say fifteen Hail Marys.”  Some people say Hail Marys much faster than others, so it would be interesting to know what kind of consistency cooks then had.
For each of these blogs featuring Kathy and medieval cuisine, I’ll give you the recipe, along with her take on preparing and eating it.  I found this recipe in Fabulous Feasts: Medieval Cookery and Ceremony by Madeleine Pelner Cosman.
Here’s Kathy’s take on…
Medieval Brie Tart
1 8 inch unbaked pastry pie shell or 12 individual unbaked pastry shells I inch in diameter
1 lb brie cheese with rind
6 egg yolks
¼ tsp ginger
1 tsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp saffron (this is very expensive $20 for .03 oz which is about ½ tsp)
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp white sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
The Baking, with Kathy’s Comments
Bake pastry shell blind to harden for 10 minutes at 425 degrees. Cool. Reset oven to 375
I used my favorite pie crust recipe :
1 ¼ c flour
3 Tbs sugar
¾ tsp salt
1 stick of butter cubed into pea sized pieces
1 ½ Tbs of very cold Crisco
2/3 c ice water
Mix ingredients until grainy with hands. I find if I dip my hands in ice water they blend the
dough better. Remember not to overwork the dough or it becomes tough.
Roll the dough into a ball. Flatten the ball with a floured rolling pin on a floured flat surface like a countertop or kitchen table.
P1000428.jpgOnce you have your dough rolled out in a circle about 10 inches in diameter use your spatula to lift half the dough off the counter and on top of itself. Place the the pie pan on the space where just lifted the dough.
Lift the folded dough into the pan.
Unfold the pie crust so the entire circle of dough covers the pan.
Crimp the edges.
Bake as directed.
Remove rind from chilled cheese and cut the rind into small pieces with a moistened knife.
Set aside the brie cheese and let it sit out at room temperature for at least one hour until it
is softened.
P1000429.jpgBeat softened brie cheese, yolks, brown sugar, saffron (these spindly purplish red rare spice threads harvested from the precious Spanish violet crocus stigmas need to be crushed into a powder. I find the base of a spoon or flat of a knife works best. This spice has an aromatic exotic earthy scent.)
Beat softened brie cheese, yolks, ginger, brown sugar, saffron, and salt until smooth. Pour into
pastry shell.
Strew cut rind evenly over the surface of the pie.
Combine cinnamon with white sugar and sprinkle around pastry edge.
Bake until set and golden brown, about 30 minutes at 375 degrees. If you make individual tarts,
bake for 12 minutes or less. Serve warm or cool.
Reactions From Kathy’s Family:
P1000431.jpgEven though I told my husband and sons that saffron was the rarest of spices and the spice of kings they said it tasted like cedar decking and refused to try anymore. I had to agree it is an acquired taste.
I served the brie with homemade raspberry jam, golden apples, carrots, and assorted crackers.
And, Dear Readers, I hope that some of you will want to try this at home…yes, you may try this at home!  If you do, please come back and let us know how it went, and what you thought of it.  If you’d like to try some recipes out and have the results and your thoughts on it posted here, please write me at and I’d love to host more people.
Also on the subject of writers and cooking, I’ll throw out advanced….very, very advanced notice here about the newest project of the Maple Grove Night Writers, my writing group.  The ten of us will be putting together a cookbook compiled of recipes our characters would typically eat or prepare.  Shawn will certainly include some of his favorite barbecue recipes–although it’s important to remember that Shawn doesn’t believe in measuring.  He simply has a knack for throwing in the right amount.  Amy, having been raised in a well-off family on the east coast will have some very different recipes that she’s used to.  Niall and Allene will contribute a few medieval meals, and Hugh, who’s been living out in the forest…well, his contribution will most likely involve one of the recipes in the book least likely to be tried by readers!
Apart from my characters, there will be Lyn Miller LaCoursier’s Lindy Lewis, who travels the country one step ahead of the insurance investigator with her million dollars in a shoebox; John A. Stanton’s Buck Davies, the down on his luck diver who pursues his dream of buying a used submarine to start a tourist business but instead finds himself pursued by the navies of the world; Judith Granahan’s Ginger who will have to pull herself from her gin bottle to read the recipes she makes; Ross Tarry’s action heroes; Janet Kramer’s Maggie, who is busy searching for the Sion Grail in France; and many other characters among our twenty or so published books.
We are excited about this new adventure.  It will take several months at least, but look for the new book to be announced here and on my facebook page.  (If you haven’t, sign up to get updates.)
And now….
A Little About Kathy
Ever since I can remember, I was either grasping a pencil to scribble down an idea or a spoon to stir up something to eat.
A little something to chew on
Kathy Opie, Writer and Cook
Now that I am a “grown-up” I find the best of times are spent feeding and entertaining family and friends, gathered around the kitchen table, barbeque or picnic blanket sharing ideas, laughing at a story or even crying over some difficult news. Along the lines of “Food For Thought” I dreamed up “A Little Something to Chew on.” I hope to combine my love of writing, cooking, and discussing life with others in a blog-site where all three ideas can ebb and flow together in a beautiful and interesting art form. When you visit my site it’s like visiting your family kitchen where you’ll get delicious cooking ideas, some of my published pieces(and in the works) to mull over and read and ideas from video interviews, pictures, links and quotes that you can ponder leaving more enlightened and reflective than before.
Kathy is currently working on a book for caregivers.  Watch for further information at her site, A Little Something to Chew On, and at her Facebook Page.