An Ancient Menu
A Medieval Menu
A Renaissance Menu
An Elizabethan Menu
A Baroque Menu
A Georgian Menu
A Regency Menu
A Victorian Menu
An Edwardian Menu

A Midsummer's Night Feast: An Elizabethan Menu

Imagine an evening at the palace of Queen Elizabeth, with her honored guest, the budding playwright William Shakespeare! The witty conversation could only have been surpassed by the delectable dishes!

French Toast

This recipe was popular in the Tudor Kitchens at Hampton Court Palace. It has been translated from the original English, hence the absence of measurements and cooking temperatures.

Egg yolks
Loaf of bread
Butter or oil

1. Separate egg yolks from the whites, and draw them through a strainer.
2. Sprinkle with salt.
3. Cut loaf of bread into slices.
4. Heat a pan lined with butter or oil.
5. Dip bread in egg yolks and then lay them in the batter in a pan.
6. When the butter is hot, fry the slices of bread. Sprinkle sugar on the slices and then serve hot.

Shepherd's Pie

There are many recipes for Shepherd's Pie, using ingredients such as leftover roast leg of lamb with its pan gravy, carrots, peas and corn niblets and topped with mashed potatoes and baked in an oven. A popular version of the dish uses ground beef browned with onions and celery. After browning the mixture and sprinkling with flour, water is added to create a sauce. Mixed vegetables are added and the mixture is then placed in a casserole dish, topped with mashed potatoes, cheddar cheese and baked in an oven. Other versions use cooked diced roast beef, diced steak or ground lamb. All are topped with mashed potatoes and baked. In France the dish is called "Hachis Parmentier" and made with lean ground beef, browned with bacon, chopped garlic, shallots, onions, tomato, white wine and parsley. It is also topped with mashed potatoes and gruyere cheese and baked in an oven.

1 quart mashed potatoes (use your favorite recipe)
8 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
1 pound lean ground beef, lamb, cooked lamb roast or beef
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 shallots, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt (more or less to your taste)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper (more or less to your taste)
1 cup beef or chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 cup green peas, frozen are better than canned

1. Make your favorite mashed potatoes and keep them warm.
2. Grate cheese and pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
3. Pour vegetable oil in a hot skillet, then brown meat with garlic, shallots and onions.
4. When meat is browned and vegetables are tender, add salt, pepper and flour.
5. Cook for 3-4 minutes over medium heat, stirring often.
6. Add the tomato paste, beef or chicken broth and cook until the mixture becomes thick and creamy. (If you like a thinner sauce, add more broth).
7. Add the peas (and other vegetable combinations if you like) and parsley.
8. Taste mixture and add more salt and pepper if desired.
9. Place mixture in a casserole dish and top evenly with the warm mashed potatoes and grated cheese.
10. Bake for twenty minutes or until golden brown.
11. Cook's Note: This is a basic recipe for Shepherd's Pie. You may substitute any type of meat. Some have used roast lamb diced in 1/4 inch pieces, then browned and mixed with the other ingredients (including lamb gravy which accompanied the roast lamb).

Galantine of Capon

A galantine is a French dish of boned, stuffed meat, most commonly poultry, or fish that is poached and served cold coated with aspic. Galantines are often stuffed with forcemeat, and pressed into a cylindrical shape. Since deboning poultry is difficult and time-consuming, this is a rather elaborate dish, which is often lavishly decorated. This particular dish was popular in 15th century England. Our recipe serves six.

A 4- to 5-pound capon or roasting chicken, rinsed and patted dry
1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus additional for roasting the chicken
1 onion, minced fine
2 cloves garlic, minced fine
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste
1/2 cup finely diced dried figs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. With your fingertips and the tip of a small, sharp knife detach the skin over the breast meat from the meat itself. Working on one side of the breast at a time, lift the skin from the breast meat and, with a sharp boning knife under the skin, cut away the meat from the bone. Begin at the top of the breast and cut halfway down one side of the breast from the breastbone down to the ribs. Then work from the other end of the breast (the tip) to remove the bottom portion of the breast. Do the same on the other breast. If any of the skin is cut in the process, it can be sewn or skewered together with sturdy toothpicks.
3. In a food processor combine the breast meat with the pork and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl.
4. In a skillet over moderate heat, melt the butter, add the onion and the garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until vegetables are softened.
5. Let cool to room temperature and add to the ground meat.
6. Add the ginger, salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and dried figs and stir until combined well.
7. Pack the meat mixture under the skin over the breastbone cavities, patting and smoothing the stuffing so it conforms to the shape of the breast. Place any remaining stuffing inside the bird.
8. Truss the chicken, securing skin with a skewer if necessary, and rub the outside of the bird with softened butter.
9. Transfer the bird to a roasting pan fitted with a rack and season with salt and pepper.
10. Roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, basting frequently, or until the juices run clear when the thigh is pricked with a fork and a meat thermometer placed in the thigh joint registers 180 degrees Fahrenheit. If desired, during last 10 minutes of roasting time, brush breast with glaze for roasted birds En d'Or. Let stand for 10 minutes, remove any trussing strings or skewers, and carve.

Baked Squash

Baked Squash was a popular side dish in Elizabethan England. Our recipe serves six.

2 butternut squashes or 3 acorn squashes or a combination of both
1 stick unsalted butter
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced fine, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Halve the squashes and remove the seeds and strings. Arrange the squashes cut side up in a shallow baking pan with 1/2 inch of hot water.
3. In a small saucepan, set over moderate heat melt the butter, add the garlic, and simmer until garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes.
4. Brush the cut side of the squashes with the garlic butter and season with salt and pepper.
5. Bake, covered with foil, for 30 minutes.
6. Uncover and continue to bake, basting frequently with the butter, for 15 to 30 minutes more, or until squashes are tender.

Yorkshire Pudding

The first Yorkshire Pudding dates back to the Middle Ages. Then it was considered a great delicacy called "Dripping Pudding". Served as a first course, the pudding batter was prepared and placed underneath the joint of meat being roasted on a spit or trivet. In fact, in times of hardship when there was not enough meat, the pudding was served up with gravy as a main meal in itself. However, it was a famous 18th century cook, Hannah Glasse, who was responsible for making the Yorkshire version of the Dripping Pudding. It was her legendary Yorkshire Pudding that ousted Plum Pudding as the official accompaniment to roast beef.

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 beaten eggs
Drippings from beef rib or sirloin roast

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Mix flour and salt, and pour in milk.

3. Add eggs beaten with 1/3 cup of water.

4. Grease skillet or roasting pan with drippings from roast and heat skillet on stove top.

5. Pour in batter and bake for 25 minutes. Serve with roast beef.

Ginger Bread

Ginger Bread has been baked in Europe since the 11th century. In some places, it was a soft, delicately spiced cake; in others, a crisp, flat cookie, and in others, warm, thick, dark squares of bread, sometimes served with a pitcher of lemon sauce or whipped cream. It was sometimes light, sometimes dark, sometimes sweet, sometimes spicy. Traditionally, ginger bread was boiled rather than baked. In Medieval England, gingerbread meant simply "preserved ginger" and was an adaptation of the Old French gingebras, derived from the Latin name of the spice, Zingebar. It was only in the 15th century that the term came to be applied to a kind of cake made with treacle, an uncrystalized syrup drained from raw sugar during the refining process, and flavored with ginger. Ginger was also discovered to have a preservative effect when added to pastries and bread, and this probably led to the development of recipes for ginger cakes, cookies, and flavored breads. As a note to our recipe, you may add a dash of pepper, according to desired taste. This recipe is not significantly different from medieval recipes found in 14th- and 15th-century manuscripts, except for the ingredient of licorice. Loaves of ginger bread, like squares of quince and other fruit pastes, were often stamped with decorative designs. You may wish to experiment with a cookie or butter press on the top of your loaf, while the bread is still warm and malleable.

1 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground licorice
1 3/4 cups dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon anise seeds

1. In the top of a double boiler, heat honey.
2. Add spices except anise seeds, and stir to blend.
3. Add bread crumbs and mix thoroughly. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Mixture should be thick and moist.
4. Place ginger bread on a large sheet of waxed paper. Fold up sides of paper and mold dough into small rectangular shape.
5. Sprinkle anise seeds on top and press them gently into dough with the side of a knife.
6. Cover and refrigerate for two hours.
7. Serve ginger bread at room temperature in thin slices.