This week was my partner, Marco’s birthday. His birthday is so close to Christmas that sometimes celebrating his special day can be a bit rushed. He’s so hard to buy for and having to come up with presents for both birthday and Christmas is really hard.
Marco is a big Game of Thrones fan of both the books and TV series. Last year I did get him The Official A Game of Thrones Coloring Book and World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of the World of A Game of Thrones. He’s not really into fan merchandise, so I wasn’t sure what else he would like.
I came across a couple of things that he didn’t have that I knew he would love. I bought him the book A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, which is a prequel to A Game of Thrones. It consists of three novellas, which are set a century before in Westeros. I knew he would love this because he adores George R.R. Martin writing and its something he can take to work with him to read. I also got him the Feast of Ice and Fire: The Offical Companion Cookbook. This book recreates the recipes of the foods that George R.R. Martin mentions throughout the books. Marco can’t cook to save himself, so I knew he wouldn’t be that interested unless I was to make some of these medieval dishes for him. So for his birthday, I made a Feast of the Seven Kingdoms.
Unfortunately, the recipe book actually got lost in the mail, so I had to buy a digital. While I was in a panic I actually came across the website of the original authors of the cookbook, The Inn at the Crossroads. Chelsea and Sariann already had a food blog and were big fans of A Game of Thrones series. This led to them recreating medieval recipes, described in the series. They have also authored The World of Warcraft Cookbook and the Hearthstone Cookbook. Their website includes many of the recipes from the cookbooks, as well as more. So I used a combination of recipes from both the book and their site.
The book itself details kingdoms of Westeros and the kind of foods that they eat, as well as how to stock a medieval kitchen. It divides the recipes between The Wall, The North, The South, King’s Landing and Dorne. In each section, there is breakfasts, bread and buns, salads and sides, soups and stews, pies and savoury tarts, main courses, beverages and desserts. Many of the recipes give a medieval version as well as a modern version. They also include the excerpt from the original book and other medieval sources.
So to design my menu for the day I used recipes from both the book and website, which were a combination of medieval and modern versions. I chose the recipes based on Marco’s preferences and what I was capable to make in my kitchen. I then made my own double-sided menu and had them printed for the guests. I did change some of the recipes names, so they flowed a little better. On the back of the menu, I included excerpts from the books, where those dishes were mentioned.
Making all those food for a 2pm lunch took me a couple of days. On the first day, I did all the prep, so everything was ready to go. I only really made the Lemonsweet, Helva and Black bread dough the day before. On the day of the party, I cooked the bread and desserts in the morning, followed by the pies, chickens, vegetables and wine. It was a huge task, but I had help from my mother and sister-in-law, who finished off dishes and continued to wash as we went.
I can not believe I managed to pull it off. It was the result of hard work and a whole lot of butter. This is definitely not food I would normally cook, but I’m so happy I did. I learned so much from cooking with ingredients that I wouldn’t normally use and create flavour profiles that I have never tried before. So if you out there Chelsea and Sarianna, thank you very much for your hard work to create these amazing recipes.
The Winterfell Honeyed Chicken was actually a really easy medieval recipe to make. I only had to give the chicken a rub of salt and melted butter and let it cook itself. Since I had so many guests I doubled the recipe. It was really a lovely centrepiece for the table. The recipe for the sauce is slightly different in the book. It uses larger qualities of honey and dried fruit. I did make a gravy with leftover sauce, but it wasn’t very popular with my guests who haven’t seen anything like this before. Everyone did love the chicken though.
The Winterfell Beef and Bacon Pie was by far the most favourite dish of all the guests. Unfortunately, the photo doesn’t do it justice. The chuck beef I used was lovely and tender after being cooked in the pastry and the dried fruits (prunes, raisins and dates) and red wine vinegar gave it a delicious sweet and savoury taste. It was also quite an easy one. I also made the Medieval Pastry Dough from the book, which didn’t require a rest time. The dough included a pinch of saffron and eggs yolks, as well as water, unsalted butter and flour. I have never made a pie like this before and my guests were not meat pie fans, so this one was a pleasant surprise. There is actually an updated version of the book as well, with a bacon lattice, but I prefer the medieval version.
The Iron Island Cod Cakes recipe is from the website. They are actually an updated version Roman Cod Cakes, as they include potatoes. These were not very popular, as my family aren’t very big fish eaters. I did like them though and would do them again, but probably with salmon.
The Black Bread of The Vale was another popular item on the table, especially with the kids. It was quite sour and the dark ale gave it a nice flavour. It was a bit dense for my liking. I’m not sure if it was because I let it rise for a second time in the fridge overnight. My second loaf was a bit of a strange shape because I only had one loaf pan, so I had to put the dough in a hot pan. The next day it was still very nice toasted.
The King’s Landing Cheese-and-Onion Pie is exclusive to the book and this is the medieval version. The ingredients included onions, fresh herbs (I used basil and rosemary), dried currants, Havarti cheese, 8 eggs, butter, saffron and Poudre Douce. For the pie crust, I used the Medieval Pastry dough recipe from the book. This turned out so lovely. I have never thought to add currants to a quiche before, but I quite liked it. The spice Poudre Douce was used in a few of the recipes and is a combination of sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg cardamon and black pepper. I had to slightly modify this recipe since I didn’t have grains of paradise or galangal.
The King’s Landing White Beans and Bacon, is the medieval version of this recipe, as the modern version includes curly endives. I used canned cannellini beans so this one was easy to make and only took 10 minutes. This was another very popular dish since white beans with smoked pork is a popular Serbian dish.
The Westeros Rats on a Stick is one of the few savoury vegetarian recipes from the website. My rats ended up not being on a stick because it was to difficult to fry them on skewers. They aren’t really medieval, but they were a fun dish to make and was very interesting to everyone at the table. These were easy to make ahead of time. Mine probably needed a bit more salt and I completely forgot to serve it with ketchup, but no one noticed though.
The King’s Landing Spiced Squash is a recipe from the website and this is the updated version. They also include a Roman spiced squash that with port and vinegar, but I thought the flavours in the modern would be prefered. I wasn’t able to get acorn squash and I think tried to make too much squash for my tray. The flavours all went to the bottom. This was not the most popular dish on the table and probably the only thing I will end up having to throw out after having to eat pumpkin for days. I think it would have been better to make less and have them more caramelised.
The King’s Landing Buttered Carrots recipe is only available in the book and I made the Roman version. The marinate that carrots were cooked in include honey, vinegar, cumin, black pepper and butter. Once they are cook it is recommended to deglaze the sticky pan with sweet wine. I skipped the wine step and serve my as is. I liked this recipe as a side, but again I cooked far too much, assuming everyone else would eat a lot of it.
The Northern Turnips in Butter or Medieval Armored Turnips was another delicious and interesting dish for my guests. None of them knew what a turnip was and I never cook with them either. This one was really easy to make as it was similar to a Scalloped potato bake. It included turnips (boiled and thin-cut), mozzarella (or provolone), Parmesan (I used Pecorino), Parmesan-butter (I used unsalted butter) and Poudre Douce spice. This was so rich, cheesy and buttery. Everyone loved it but couldn’t eat very much of it. It was a very heavy dish. I don’t think I will be a hurry to make such a rich dish again, but it was a crowd pleaser for all the potato lovers.
The Wintercake from Across the Narrow Sea is a modern version of the Elizabethan Wintercakes and is only available in the book (link is a photo). It was a lovely moist sponge, which was flavoured with candied ginger and dried cherries (I used cranberries) and pine nuts. I think what made the cake batter so lovely was the addition of sourcream to the batter. The cake also had a crumble topping of brown sugar (I used coconut sugar), butter, candied ginger and flour; which it was baked with. Afterwards I added the glaze of confectioners’ sugar and cream (or milk). My glaze came out very thick and white, which may not have happened if I used milk instead. This cake was a crowd favourite, which was a surprise considering they don’t like candied ginger.
The Applecakes from The Wall is a recipe only available in the book (link is a photo). I made the modern version so that I could bake them in advance, instead of frying just before serving. These were my favourite dessert. They were the most decadent muffins I’ve ever made. The batter included sour cream and sliced apple and the crumble topping had brown sugar (I used coconut sugar), cinnamon, butter and walnuts. They were so soft and delicious. They were also very sweet, so although everyone loved them, I had a lot leftover that I had to eat in the following days. They didn’t lose their soften in the fridge, so I recommend them if you have to prepare ahead of time for a party.
The Dornish Helva recipe is on the website and was also printed in the Dornish ebook, From the Sands of Dorne: A Feast of Ice & Fire Companion Cookbook. It’s such an easy recipe to make, so I ended up making a double batch, the night before the party. I was a bit confused with how to form the recipe, as I had printed it out and forgot what they looked like. I ended up putting mine in a little loaf pan. I’m so happy I made this mistake because mine had so much butter rising to the top of them that I had to drain with paper towels. So if your worried a that may be a better way to go. I ended up putting mine in the fridge to firm a little since its so hot here. The next day I just sliced them. They can actually survive out of the fridge for serval days, but if you in a hot climate like me the fridge is fine to store them.
My last dessert was the Winterfell Shortbread with Honey Caramel, which is exclusive to the website. There are Honey Biscuits (medieval and modern) in the book, but I prefer these as a crowd pleaser. I had never made caramel before and it was actually really easy. I had heaps leftover, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do it without now its gone so hard. These were so delicious and very sweet. I love the honey flavour of the caramel, which made it taste more special. I would probably make a half batch of caramel next. This was really well received as well, but unfortunately (or fortunately) I had heaps leftover since no one had enough room for everything.
For an unalcoholic drink, I made the Dornish Lemonsweet with Honey and Vanilla (link is a photo), which is the modern version. The older version is a 17-century Lemonsweet, which uses lemons, oranges, confectioners’ sugar and still or sparkling water. I liked the updated version since it used honey, water, vanilla, rosemary and lemons. This was very easy to prepare the night before the party and very refreshing and tangy lemonade. It was also a crowd pleaser with children and adults alike. I did give everyone a small taste so I did have a little leftover for Marco and it kept well in the fridge. Next time I would probably used a little more water or less lemon as it was a little too tangy for me.
For the adults, I made the Mulled Wine from the Wall, which a medieval recipe exclusive to the book, but there is a similar recipe with the same name on the website, Medieval Mulled Wine. The only difference is that I used the Poudre Douce spice mix and whole almonds, whereas they sliced almonds and teaspoons of ground spices. The wine I used was Cabernet Sauvignon. I loved this drink and it was really enjoyed by all the adults. I tried to have it done just before the meal, but it can be prepared ahead of time because it stays warm in the pot. This would be very nice to have in winter, rather then the Australia summer and a very nice way to use a bottle of wine if you more of a sweet wine lover.
So there you have it, everything I made for this Feast of Seven Kingdoms. A labour of love for my special man.
Have you got Feast of Ice and Fire: The Offical Companion Cookbook in your recipe book collection? or visited The Inn at the Crossroads? If yes, have you cooked from them?
I hope have I enticed you to try something new, maybe medieval. It’s fun to experiment with historic recipes, even if you can make something new out of something old.