White Hart 2018

This past weekend, THL Darian and I entered the Tournament of the White Hart again. This event is near and dear to my heart, not only because it’s my anniversary event, but because the event and the tournament represent the courtly love and the Victorian ideals of chivalry that the SCA holds dear in its heart. I cut my teeth in the kitchens at this event, and this past weekend was the first one in a few years where I wasn’t working in them. It was strange to be able to sit in the gallery with the other consorts for the duration of the tournament, but very pleasant. The combatants filled us all with inspiration, moved us to tears, and had us in stitches.

Darian has written a poem for me every time he’s represented me at this event, and this year was no different. His poem, the questions he answered for the gallery, and his comportment lead the ladies of the gallery to choose him, and us, as the Lord and Lady of the White Hart this year. So, we get the privilege of wearing the newly-made regalia, commissioned by Lord Hrafn and Lady Rannveig, for the next year until we host this tournament ourselves to choose the 22nd Lord and Lady of the White Hart.


Beef and Bacon Pie

Ah, winter. The time of research, respite, and repair. I’ve spent much of it knee-deep in a few different books researching pies in their various forms, so when Lord Olaf Steinabrjotr approached me to make something for Æthelmearc Region One Twelfth Night, I responded with, “How about a pie?” It would, in theory, be the prize for a heavy combat tournament or a feat of strength competition, so I asked myself what typical manly fighter-types like the most. Beef. Bacon. Beer. And probably more bacon.

Easy enough. My mind went immediately to the Beef and Bacon Pies found over at Inn at the Crossroads.

She uses and redacts a 16th century English recipe from A Propre New Booke of Cokery, 1545, but I found this recipe to be lacking in the spices that my palate craves for this. So I went searching through my beloved resource, The Cookbook of Sabina Welserin (published 1553 — merely 8 years of difference here), and went searching for her own take on beef pies.

Here are the recipes I used for reference:

A Propre New Booke of Cokery, 1545, per Inn at the Crossroads:

To make Pyes.

Pyes of mutton or beif must be fyne mynced & seasoned with pepper and salte and a lytel saffron to colour it, suet or marrow a good quantitie, a lytell vynegre, pruynes, great reasons, and dates, take the fattest of the broath of powdred beefe.

Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin, 1553: 

120 If you would make a game pie, which should be warm

Lard the game well and cook it and make a formed [pastry] dish and lay in it preserved limes and cinnamon sticks and currants and lay the game therein and also put beef suet into it and a little Malavosia and let it cook. This pie is better warm than cold.

152 To make a good roast

Take veal or a sirloin of beef, lay it overnight in wine, afterwards stick it on a spit. Put it then in a pot. Put good broth therein, onions, wine, spices, pepper, ginger and cloves and let it cook therein. Do not over salt it.

68 To make a quince pie

Peel the quinces and cut the core cleanly out with a knife, fry them in fat. After that stuff the quinces with currants, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Afterwards take beef marrow or finely chopped kidney suet or skimmed fat from some other meat and put good Malavosia or Reinfal on it, sugar, cinnamon and cloves, however it seems good to you. The dough for the pie is found in number [sixty one].

Given that marrow bones are difficult to come by for me, I opted to follow the Inn at the Crossroads recipe and swap bacon in for it. However, unlike that recipe, I absolutely reserved the bacon fat — though the flavor profile of this pie is inherently different because of the bacon, the richness is still there because of that reserved fat. I added currants, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon to the English recipe, ultimately turning this pie into something inherently more German for the time. I then tucked it all into a standard short paste crust and made a thickened sauce with the plentiful drippings. The end result was much sweeter than I’d anticipated because of the dates, but ultimately exactly what I’d wanted: a hearty 16th century pie.


Astrid’s Beef and Bacon Pie

For the pie:
2 lbs beef roast
6 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
Handful dried currants
Handful raisins
Handful dates, seeded and chopped
Powdered ginger
Powdered cloves
Powdered cinnamon
32 oz Beef Broth
1/4 c red wine vinegar, approximately
1 c water, approximately
Flour or cornstarch

For 1 crust:
2 c flour, approx.
1 c butter, cubed
Pinch salt
Ice water

  1. Cube beef, then sear on all sides in pan. Set aside.
  2. Chop bacon, fry in pot. Do not strain fat. Add beef, dried fruit, spices, beef broth, vinegar and water.
  3. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until liquid is reduced and beef is tender.
  4. Set the meat and fruit aside, straining all solids from the liquid. Separate about 1/4 c of the liquid from the rest.
  5. Add flour or cornstarch to thicken, stirring over low heat until desired consistency is reached.
  6. Prepare short crust (2 batches if you want the crust and a lid), blind-baking the bottom crust at 350*F for 10-15 min.
  7. Add meat and fruit and the reserved 1/4 c liquid. Cover with lid; press crusts together and poke a hole in the lid.
  8. Bake at 350*F until crust begins to brown. Add an egg wash and bake for another 5-10 min.
  9. Pour warmed gravy into the pie through a funnel into the hole in the middle, then serve.

Ale and Onion Soup

One of my go-to recipes for sideboards and lunches is an ale and onion soup; in fact, it’s appeared at almost every sideboard I’ve cooked. It became my go-to because not only is it a solid vegetarian option, but it also really translates well to the modern palate; we commonly eat one form of it as French onion soup. I originally found a recipe for it on Gode Cookery, then modified it to my tastes from there. I always omit saffron due to cost, add minced garlic, and use stout or some other dark beer instead of ale. These are my personal preferences for this soup, and I always serve it with crusty bread.

The original recipe from Gode Cookery:

Oyle soppes. ¶ Take a good quantite of onyons, and myce hem, noyt to smale, & seth hem in faire water, And take hem vppe; and then take a good quantite of stale ale, as .iij. galons, And there-to take a pynte of goode oyle that is fraied, and cast the onyons there-to, And lete al boyle togidre a grete wile; and caste there-to Saffron and salt, And þen put brede, in maner of brewes, and cast the licour there-on, and serue hit forth hote.

– Austin, Thomas. Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books. Harleian MS. 279 & Harl. MS. 4016, with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1429, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS 55. London: for The Early English Text Society by N. Trübner & Co., 1888.

The Gode Cookery Translation:

Take a good quantity of onions, and mince them, not to small, & boil them in fair water, And take them up; and then take a good quantity of stale ale, as 3 gallons, And there-to take a pint of good oil that is fried, and cast the onions there-to, And let all boil together a great while; and cast there-to Saffron & salt, And then put bread, in manner of brews, and cast the liquid there-on, and serve it forth hot.

As for a recipe — I’m not sure I’ve ever made a small batch of this soup, and I always buy the giant bulk bag of onions for a feast, because I use a lot of them… So the rough recipe follows as such:

Ale and Onion Soup

Lots of sweet yellow onions, finely sliced
Minced garlic
Butter or canola oil
4 bottles of dark beer
6-8+ boxes of broth

Peele, halve, and thinly slice onions. Sautee with minced garlic in butter or canola oil, then add beer and broth. (Vegetable broth if offering to vegetarians, otherwise use beef broth.) Add salt, pepper, and sage to taste. Serve hot with bread and butter.

Chicken, Bacon, and Grape Pie

The second pie/tart I taught at the September All Thing in Port Oasis was also from Sabina Welserin’s cookbook. I made this tart in hand-pie form several years ago and was pretty impressed with it, so I decided to give it a go again for this kitchen. I used chicken thighs instead of small birds, added ginger, and cooked it all in white wine before putting it between short paest crusts. The next time I make this, I think I’ll make a wine sauce with drippings to pour in the crust’s slits when I pull the pie to do the egg wash on the top crust.

98 If you would make a pastry with small birds

Take a plentiful number of birds and make a layer of birds and a layer of bacon slices, until the pastry is filled. Also put a few grapes into it. And let it bake a little and put a small drop of good wine thereon and then it is ready. If you have no fresh butter, then use beef suet.

Chicken, Bacon, and Grape Pie

Ingredients (for 2 pie fillings):
~2lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
White wine
2 handfuls grapes, halved
1 package bacon

Trim excess fat from chicken thighs, then roughly chop thighs in halves or thirds. Butter pan over medium heat, add chicken, salt, and ginger to taste. Brown  on both sides, then add white wine and simmer. When liquid is mostly gone, remove chicken, then add grapes and a few slices of bacon. Cook grapes until the bacon is lightly cooked, but still tender, then set both aside. Cook the rest of the bacon until tender. Arrange chicken in a layer on the bottom of the prepared pie crust, then a few small pats of butter on top, then grapes, and cover with bacon. Pour wine drippings over it all, then cover with top crust. Serve leftover bacon to kitchen staff. Bake at 350*F (for 10 minutes in a convection oven); remove to put egg wash on top crush, then finish (for another 5 minutes in a convection oven).

An Apple Tart

Yesterday I was invited back to the Shire of Port Oasis to teach another hands-on cooking class at their September All Thing. This time, we made two tarts from Sabina Welserin’s Cookbook: 79 An Apple Tart and 98 If You Would Make A Pastry With Small Birds. Together, my Happy Kitchen Helpers™ and I made short paest crust and filling for four pies, which we ate with the rest of the shire at the end of the day.

I made two slight modifications to this recipe, neither of which are uncommon for this cookbook: I added ginger and cooked the apples and raisins in wine, both of which I will definitely do again.


79 An apple tart

Peel the apples cleanly and take out the cores, chop them small and fry them in fat, put raisins, sugar and cinnamon therein and let it bake.


An Apple Tart

Ingredients (For 2 pie fillings):

1 bag of Gala apples
4 handfuls raisins
White wine
Light brown sugar

Peel, core, and chop apples into thin slices. Butter your pan, then add in half of the apples, 2 handfuls of raisins, cinnamon, ginger, and white wine. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until apples soften. Set these apples aside in a mixing bowl, then make your second batch. Combine the two with light brown sugar to taste, then set aside to cool. Pour into prepared pie shells, add a top crust, and bake at 350*F. I baked mine for 10 minutes in a convection oven, then pulled them out to put an egg wash on the crust, then finished for another 5 minutes.

Sabina Welserin’s Herb Tart

The Shire of Port Oasis held an Althing this summer where I taught a hands-on class on how to make two tarts: the White Roman Tart from Ouverture de Cuisine and Sabina Welserin’s Herb Tart (133). One was a given, and the other, a gamble.

133 An herb tart

First, take a small handful of hyssop, mint, chard and sage. There should be three times more of chard than of the other herbs, according to how large one will make the tart. Take clarified butter and fry the herbs named above therein, take raisins, small currants and sugar, as much as you feel is right. Take then eight eggs, beat them carefully into that which is described above and make a pastry shell with an egg and bake it slowly.

My Happy Kitchen Helpers™ helped me de-vein the chard and chop the herbs for this tart, and they were gracious enough to stand around the kitchen, chat with me, and listen to me blather on about my love of Sabina Welserin and general medieval and renaissance cooking for awhile. At the end of it, this tart was savory, but on this go-around needed salt, because that was the one addition I’d forgotten for this recipe. It’s definitely different than our modern palate prepares us for, but the Shire was very gracious — and since both tarts were finished by the end of the day, I’ll call it a success worth sharing.

I actually don’t have a specific redaction for this recipe — the one listed above is easy enough to follow: Chop chard, mint, and sage (omitting hyssop because it’s not easy to come by here), fry in butter with spices (and salt!). Add in raisins, currants, and spices, then let cool. Beat eggs and cream, mix together all ingredients, pour into prepared pie shell, and bake at 425*F until done. ..Maybe I should make a better recipe for this, but it was pretty standard as far as pies go. And, with the permission of Lady Kismira, some photos!

Augmentation of Arms Scroll


Truth time. I’m struggling with this one, folks, and I’m still not sure these are the right words. I was surprised when I was called into court at Pennsic, and even more so when His Majesty Timothy handed me a tissue and rose to tell the tale of why he and Her Majesty were so moved to do this. I’ve only been a member of the Society for about 7 years, and when I look at the list of all the others who have received this award before me, I feel small. These are outstanding individuals who have dedicated many, many years of their lives to making our Kingdom and our Society a better place to live and work and play in. For my part, I have only done a fraction of all their work, but I am now more resolute than ever that I will continue to strive to better both my kingdom and myself.

It also makes me incredibly happy this scroll’s calligraphy was done by the other Astridr Viga-something in my Kingdom. 😀