If there’s one thing that King Arthur does well in every version of the legend, it’s hosting a feast. Whether it’s for Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Pentecost, Easter, Beltane, Midsummer, or literally any wedding, Arthur knows how to plan a BOMB banquet.
Just take a look at Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Le Morte d’Arthur, or any of Chrétien de Troyes’ Arthurian Romances. Every description of a feast of Arthur’s is filled with sizzling, juicy meats, exotic fruits and wild desserts. The dishes are most decadent; Turkish meat tarts, roast duck, goose, pheasant, peacock. The desserts are delicate cream puffs or scrumptious fruit tarts, or beautifully colored heaps of sugar in the shape of a swan. And not only is the food mouthwatering; it’s also beautiful. The sight of these fabulous suppers is always stunning. Each dish is served on a platter of gold or silver, and wine is drunk from fine goblets. These feasts are rich and hearty; a worthy display of status for the High King of Britain. And the most extravagant ones seem to take place during the winter.
Arthur felt these winter feasts were important. A feast was a time to connect; a time to reflect on the year past and ring in the new. A time to catch up with friends and family, to hear stories, to celebrate the end of a long, hard quest.
To this day, gatherings like this are still important for that reason. To be around loved ones and share the celebration of the end of a long year. The pandemic, of course, has made it difficult to have such gatherings. I know this holiday season has been hard on so many of us. Many have spent the holidays alone. Many have faced unspeakable hardship, not just this winter but throughout the whole past year. And so, as quarantine has continued on, lots of us have turned to fun recipes to add a little joy back into our lives. More people are cooking at home now, even in places where quarantining is over, and the creativity level has only gone upward. ❤
I, personally, am still learning to cook a decent meatloaf. But baking and free-styling I’ve got– and I love nothing more on special occasions than making a lovely rustic British-style dinner for myself. Especially if it’s got a fantasy theme. (Not to toot my own horn but I made a Game of Thrones feast for the start of the final season and it was dope.) So, I figured I’d share some of my (SUUUPER easy) medieval-ish winter time recipes that you can string together to make an Arthurian-themed feast! We’re all searching for a little something to bring us joy right now. And for us Round Table nerds, an Arthurian dinner with dishes inspired by the characters might be just the way to do that. Especially in honor of the new year. ❤ These are recipes that I’ve made for myself many times and tend to impress friends and family with. (A big deal for me.) I’m so excited to share them! And the best part is…most of these, you can buy at your local store! You’ll only have to cook a few things, and each of them are pretty simple to make. This can be a fun thing to do– alone, or with friends/family– when you’re looking for a way to have a little fun in the kitchen. 🙂 Let’s get to cooking!
Bill of Fare
First off, here is a list of the night’s menu items that shall soon be displayed upon the banquet table. (Yes, I made this online for fun.)
Looks like a lot– but so much of it you can get at your local grocery store! We’re only making a few recipes, here. And they’re super easy! So with that, grab your oven mitts and let’s head to the Camelot kitchens!
Camelot Kingdom Bread
Like I said, quite a few of these menu items you can get at your local grocery store. If you know how to make homemade bread from scratch, then by all means, do it! I definitely do not know how to do that, so I will be buying my bread from ShopRite. If you can, try to find a more rustic loaf. Rosemary bread works perfectly. Any artisan bread that strikes your fancy. Loaves with herbs, sea salt, even cheese, if that floats your boat.
Quick history fact: While you can certainly use brown bread if desired, white bread would probably be what Arthur would have used. More work was involved in producing and sifting white flour in the medieval period, and therefore, it was more expensive. So it was seen as a sign of high status. Whiter breads were typically eaten by nobility, while brown bread (usually barley or rye) was eaten by commoners and baked with other things to make it more filling. Seeds, herbs, nuts and fruit, for instance. Do with that what you will! 🙂
Lancelot’s Benoic Salade
Named after Lancelot’s childhood home in France, this salad is straight from medieval recipes that speak of each one of these ingredients. I’m sure Lance ate plenty of hearty food to fuel himself for all his grand quests. But I also like to think he would have often enjoyed lighter, finer fare that reminded him of home. ❤ French in style but still commonly eaten in Britain, this salad is a very light, very tasty salad straight from the 13th century!
- Mint leaves
- Fresh sage
- Fresh rosemary
- Carrots, chopped
- Celery, chopped
- Cold green beans or asparagus
- Cottage or brie cheese
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Mix it all up! That’s it! Make sure the green beans or asparagus pieces are chopped into bite sized bits, of course. The brie should also be chopped into very small bite sized pieces, so that it’s not overwhelming. (And although most western Europeans might not have had access to it back then, feel free to add a bit of cucumber to give your salad a bit of crunch!) Then once everything is mixed up, pour a little olive oil on top as your dressing and sprinkle your salt and pepper! Et voila! You have a French-Briton medieval-style salad, fit for the charming Sir Lancelot, himself!
Gawain’s Northern Isle Pottage
Our northern knight would have had many a cup of pottage growing up in the Orkney Isles. Pottage was a peasant’s dish, comprised of whatever one had lying around the cottage to throw in a pot for supper– hence the name, “pottage”. This usually consisted of root vegetables, chicken or beef broth, onions, beans, herbs, oats (yes, oats!) and anything else one could use to add a bit of flavor. But while it was a peasant dish, northerners (even of nobility) would also have eaten pottage during the winter, when meat was scarce and the best tasting food were the oats and harvest vegetables that were picked in autumn and stored for winter. Our homeboy, Gawain, would have enjoyed a hot cup of pottage in his youth, after a long day of ice fishing and axe training. This dish is warm and savory but very light; perfect for an appetizer. And probably one of the most delicious soups I’ve ever had. It’s also just my personal spin on it; you can modify it as you like! ❤
- 2 cups chicken broth
- Baby carrots, chopped
- 1/2 red onion, cubed and diced
- Handful of leeks, chopped
- Slices of ham (or any meat of your choice), cut into tiny pieces
- Handful of oats (even instant oatmeal works fine!)
- Herbs (I suggest dried thyme, rosemary, parsley and sage)
- Spices (Ground cloves and pepper work great!)
- Heat up the 2 cups of chicken broth on the stove. Keep on low/simmer.
- Add baby carrots, onion, leeks and ham to the broth.
- Add your herbs and spices. Stir on low or medium until it almost comes to a boil.
- Add oats. Stir well until oats are thickened.
- Serve and enjoy! (Or keep warm while you prepare the rest of your feast!)
This recipe is super flexible given its intended purpose. So feel free to add more root vegetables or modify anything you like! I kept it at a minimum here, since it’s supposed to be an appetizer. But if you ever decide to use it for a main course, adding peas, squash and even several different types of meat all make it a much heartier soup. Just go easy on the salt with this one; the chicken broth already adds a lot of salt, and the red onion gives it a sweetness to balance it out. So add any other seasonings at your own risk! 🙂
Once and Future Meat Pie
Pretty self-explanatory. It’s a meat pie. 🙂 This is a family-sized, beef-based, British-inspired, medieval-style pie. Meat pies would actually have been used in Arthur’s time for more of a quick fast food than a feast’s main course. (The crust wouldn’t have even really been edible!) But this is 2021 and we appreciate simple. So we’ll stick with this. It’s hearty and delicious, and certainly fits bearing the title of a king’s dish. (It also goes great with eggs for breakfast in the morning!) It would be much more authentic if the crust was made from scratch– which you can certainly do! I’m just impatient…so I admittedly stick to buying a store-bought crust most of the time. But more props to you if you go entirely homemade!! And while we may not have goose or peacock…this certainly tends to do the trick for a main course. I’ve served it many a Winter Solstice and it adds a sort of magic to the meal every time. ❤ Make sure to serve it on a nice big platter, if you have one, and add a pretty doily or fine cloth underneath for even more magic!
- About 2 lbs ground beef
- Pie crust
- Canned peas
- Canned carrots
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 can beef broth or 1 cube beef bullion
- A sprig or two of fresh rosemary
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1/4 tsp ground/rubbed sage
- 1 tsp salt
- Grind up the meat with your hands and place in a large pan. Add onions. Cook on low.
- Add the peas and carrots. Stir occasionally.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Mix thyme, salt, cloves and rosemary in a small separate bowl.
- If using beef bullion, heat the water and drop in the cube.
- Sprinkle the herbs, salt and spice mix over the meat and onions. Stir well. Cook until cooked enough to eat but still a bit pink.
- Drain all. Add 4 spoonfuls of beef bullion or beef broth. Stir well.
- Pour all into pie crust. Use the other crust (or rest of dough if made from scratch) to cover the entire top of the pie.
- With a watered knife, cut 3 slits in the pie for breathing.
- Optional (but suggested): Put foil around the edges of the crust to keep from burning.
- Bake for 25 min. Then serve on a beautiful platter and enjoy!
The Lady of the Lake’s Winter Fruit
By “winter fruit”, I literally just mean winter fruits that you can get at your grocery store. The table is just given a delightful splash of color when dessert includes fruit. I like to use apples, blackberries and orange slices. (Pomegranates will definitely also do!) Nimue (or Vivienne, or whatever name your Lady of the Lake has) is a woman of the earth. I think if Arthur were to invite her to a New Year’s feast and everyone was asked to bring a dish, she would bring baskets of Britain’s finest, ripest, sweetest fruit.
For orange slices, I like to sprinkle them with a little sugar and bake them in the oven at 325 degrees F for just a few minutes! They come out slightly crunchy and delectable. For the apples, I slice them and sprinkle them with cloves and cinnamon. Spiced apples might be my favorite winter dessert! 🙂
Guinevere’s Royal Cream Puffs
Store-bought. If you know how to make cream puffs, then obviously go for it! I, personally, love Delizza cream puffs. They’re in the frozen section at most grocery stores and they give any feast the icing on the cake. I feel like no dessert in the world sums up Guinevere better than cream puffs. ❤ She would approve of such a light, elegant indulgence; she might even sprinkle a little cinnamon on top.
Make sure to thaw them beforehand, so they’re ready to go by dessert time! And if you’re not a cream puff fan, fear not. Honey cakes always make a fine substitute.
Percival’s Welsh Honey Cakes
Honey cakes, or tiessenau mel in Welsh, are a Welsh teatime delicacy. Though the recipe may have changed over time, they were popular as early as the Middle Ages and are still enjoyed today. I like to think that Percival, raised by his mother in south Wales, would have enjoyed a hot plate of honey cakes after spending the day in the forest. Casting javelins and gossiping with the birds can be a tiring business, and one would look forward to a nice, steaming plate of these little muffin-like cakes for dessert.
These cakes are full of winter spices and go great with tea. If you’re drinking tea with your feast instead of wine, now might be a good time to put the kettle on!
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cloves
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup softened butter
- dash of white sugar
- bit of milk
- Mix flour, cinnamon, cloves and baking soda in a small or medium bowl.
- In a larger bowl, mix butter and sugar.
- Separate egg; add yolk to butter/sugar mixture. Keep the egg white for later.
- Add honey. Mix well.
- Add flour/spice mixture. Stir well.
- Add enough milk to keep the batter stirrable but still thick. (Is “stirrable” a word? I just made it one, I guess.)
- Whisk egg white until stiff.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and grease a muffin tin.
- Mix egg white into batter and pour all into muffin tin.
- Important! Fill only half full and sprinkle the tops with white sugar.
- Bake for 12-15 min. (I bake mine for 12.) Mywnhau!
Morgan’s Avalon Spiced Wine
Once again, store-bought. If you make your own mulled or spiced wine, go for it!! I like the brand called “Silk and Spice”. It’s a red wine that’s fairly cheap, found at most liquor stores I’ve been to, and it tastes delicious. Even friends of mine who don’t care for spiced wine tend to quite enjoy it. It tastes of a deep red vineyard, sweetened with hints of cinnamon and cloves.
I like to think Morgan would enjoy a good red, especially flavored with winter spices. She would toast to Avalon and to the year ahead; to the Goddess as she lays to rest until spring. ❤
Merlin’s Peppermint Lavender Tea
If you’re opting out of alcohol for your feast, a warm cup of tea works perfectly fine. Merlin would have been very familiar with healing herbs, such as peppermint and lavender. Steeping these to make a tea is delicious and perfect after a large meal. The cool peppermint is soothing for the stomach, working as a digestive, and the floral lavender works to soothe and relax. And you can make it caffeinated or herbal! For caffeine, a black tea– Earl Grey, in particular– works splendidly well for this. If you’re looking for a caffeine-free, relaxing cup, you can do it without. Either way is super easy!
- 1 tsp peppermint leaves
- 1 tsp fresh lavender
- Optional: Earl Grey tea
- Boil water. Prepare a pot and loose leaf tea strainer.
- Steep your Earl Grey, peppermint and lavender in the teapot. Steep until desired. (I do about 5 minutes.)
- Pour your tea; sweeten with honey if desired. Enjoy!
And there you have your feast! I hope you enjoy this super fun activity as much as I always do! Even if you’re just making it for yourself, it’s a fun way to engage in and honor the legend, and end the night with a full belly and a smile. Light some candles, put on some Celtic music and enjoy! And if you’ve made any medieval-style feasts before, or have any Arthurian/Celtic/British-themed recipes of your own, please feel free to share in the comments! I’d love to read them!
Here’s to ringing in the New Year with hope, even in dark times. Just like Arthur would have. ❤ Cheers.