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Viking Food

Ragnhild's Recipes

The following recipes are all based on authentic ingredients, and use authentic cooking methods (authentic period recipes are rare, so we have to compromise). They have all been tested and found to be delicious!

Safety note: whatever anyone says, if you spend much time working round a fire, you are going to burn yourself.
There are steps you can take to minimise the risk of serious consequences. Wear a woollen tunic (wool is self-extinguishing and won't flare up like cotton or linen will); keep your hair tied back; have a bucket of water close by (both to extinguish small accidents and to treat minor burns); and don't, under any circumstances, leave your fire unattended. Before beginning to cook, you should also read the section on Food Hygiene. Use of this information is entirely at your own risk, and we can take no responsibility for the results of your experiments.

Basic Oatcakes

This is a good recipe for children to help with.
1lb. wholemeal flour, 8oz. oatmeal, a good pinch of salt, 1tbsp. melted dripping or vegetable oil, water to mix.

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl until you have a fairly wet dough. Cover with a damp cloth and leave out of the sun for about 30 minutes, by which time the dough will have stiffened. Flour your hands, break off walnut sized pieces of dough, and shape them into flat cakes. Get your griddle good and hot, or they will cook slowly and turn into hockey pucks! Cook the cakes quickly for about 30 seconds each side. Serve hot or cold, with just about anything.

Barley Bread

You can buy barley flour from health-food shops. This bread has a sweetish, nutty flavour. You can cheat by using dried yeast.
1lb. barley flour, 1lb. wheat flour, good pinch of salt, 1 sachet of dried yeast, 1 tbsp. honey, water to mix.

Heat the honey and water by the edge of the fire until it reaches blood heat (you can stick your finger in it and it feels warm). Mix together the other ingredients in a large bowl, make a well in the centre, and pour in the warm water gradually, mixing with your hands until you have a firm dough. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in the sun for an hour or so, until well risen. Flour your hands and form the dough into several cakes. Place them on your warmed griddle (over the embers near the edge of the fire is the best place), and flatten them down slightly. Score a cross in the top with a knife. Cook the bread until it's fluffy all the way through, turning it several times.

Blackberry Patties

Once you've got the hang of making bread, you can have a go at some yummy variations. This recipe was invented at the Stafford Castle show in 1997, when the long hot summer had given us a bumper crop of fat, luscious blackberries.
You need: some bread dough, some blackberries, and a little butter and honey.

Wash the blackberries in clean water before use. Flatten egg sized pieces of bread dough with your hands (or flatten them on a floured board), making them as thin as you can. Place a handful of blackberries on the dough, with a small knob of butter and a drizzle of honey. Dampen the edges of the dough, fold it in half, and seal it firmly by pressing the edges together. Place your patty on a medium hot griddle (as for the bread), and cook until golden, turning occasionally. Serve hot or cold. Be careful to let them cool before you give them to children, as the fruit filling can be scalding hot!

Baked fish in bread

You need: a batch of bread dough and one or more large fillets of firm fish (this works wonderfully with salmon, though you can use any kind of fish you like). You will also need to pay careful attention to your fire well in advance of cooking. Build up a good deep bed of coals while you get your fish ready to cook.

Press your dough out sufficiently to make a neat parcel around your fish. Dampen the edges and seal your fish in the dough, making sure there are no gaps. When you have a good deep bed of hot coals(not flame), rake them out so you have a bed large enough to take your fish. Place the fish, carefully, directly on the coals. Leave it there for at least 10 minutes (resist the temptation to prod), then, carefully, turn it over and repeat for a further 10 minutes. Lift the fish off the fire and leave it to stand for another 10 minutes. To serve, break open the bread crust. The fish will have cooked to perfection and be beautifully moist. You can discard the dough, but a dog will ususally appreciate it!

Trout with Herbs

For each person you need: 1 small trout or other small fish; also a few sprigs of lemon balm, some flour; and oil, butter, or dripping for frying.

Clean each fish and stuff a few herbs in the body cavity. Roll the fish in the flour, heat the fat in your skillet, and fry the fish for about 5 minutes each side until cooked through. Serve hot, with bread.

Fruit Pudding (Kissell)

This is a version of a traditional Scandinavian recipe. The original calls for raspberries, but you can use any kind of soft fruit you can get. This will serve about 6-8 people.
2lb. or so of soft fruit, 1 pint. cider, 4-6 oz. honey, a few sprigs and seed heads of Sweet Cicely, chopped.

Put the cider and honey in a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer briskly for about 5-10 minutes, until reduced by about a third. Move the pan to a cooler part of the fire and add the fruit and Sweet Cicely. Cook gently until the fruit is tender. Allow the fruit to cool (covered, out of the sun), then break it up with a wooden spoon. Serve warm or cold, with buttermilk or yoghurt.

Garlic Mushrooms

Whenever we cook these, we get complaints about the smell - people say it makes them hungry! Serves 6 people as a starter, or 3 to 4 as a vegetarian main course.
You need about 1lb of open cup mushrooms, 6oz of butter, 3 or 4 garlic cloves (or more if you really like garlic!), a good pinch of salt, and a tablespoon or so of chopped parsley.

Wipe the mushrooms and trim the stalks. Chop the garlic finely in a wooden bowl, then add the salt to it and crush it to a paste with the back of a wooden spoon. Combine the garlic with the butter and parsley. Heat a small knob of butter in your skillet and place the mushrooms on the pan gill side down. Cook for about 30 seconds. Turn them over and spoon some of the garlic and herb butter into the cup of each mushroom. Cook until the butter has melted through the mushrooms (1 to 5 minutes depending on the size). Serve right away with some bread to wipe up the juices.

Springtime Fritters

These are crispy treats for early in the year. A good way to make use of ingredients gathered on site! Makes about 18.
You need 6oz flour, a good pinch of salt, an egg, 3/4 pint or so of beer (flat lager from last night will do), a few handfuls of edible young leaves and flowers (elder and hawthorn flowers, beech leaves, hop shoots, bistort, ground elder, etc.), oil for frying, and some honey.

Put the flour and salt in a large bowl, make a well in the centre and break the egg into it. Pour in a little of the beer and start to mix from the middle, gradually incorporating the flour from the centre as you pour in more beer. Mix thoroughly, beating well to avoid lumps. Once you have a batter the thickness of cream, cover the bowl with a cloth and leave to stand for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, trim your green stuff and rinse it in cold water, if necessary. Heat some oil in a deep skillet until smoking. Mix in your greenery; small leaves and flowers can be stirred into the batter as they are, while larger leaves can be dipped individually. Drop spoonfuls of flowery batter into the hot oil (carefully!), and fry until golden, turning once. Lift them out onto a plate, and drizzle with honey to serve.