Chef Masterclass - Cooking for Shakespeare

PUBLISHED: 17:09 23 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:56 20 February 2013

Chef Masterclass - Cooking for Shakespeare

Chef Masterclass - Cooking for Shakespeare

What would Shakespeare have eaten at his birthday party? We asked top chef Alan Deegan, co-author of a new book, The Food of Love: a Shakespeare Cookbook, to recreate some of the celebratory dishes that would have been familiar to The Bard.

A chance meeting between chef, Alan Deegan, and Shakespeare scholar and Warwickshire Life columnist, Alycia Smith-Howard, has resulted in a book that brings Elizabethan cooking into the 21st century. The two met at a party and after talking about their respective careers came up with the idea of a book that looks at the food of Shakespeares plays with recipes for readers to try for themselves. The Food of Love: a Shakespeare Cookbook is due to be published next year but Alan gave us an advance preview of the mouthwatering contents.
During his time as head of the catering department at the Stratford College, Alan saw the College awarded the top accolade as a Centre of Vocational Excellence. Alan has worked in some of the countries top establishments Claridges, The Savoy, Quaglinos, to name just a few and has written several catering text books. The recipes for his latest book were devised after extensive research into Elizabethan cookbooks. I went back to recipes that were written down before the famous Hannah Glasse, says Alan. Hannah Glasse was the 18th century cook who wrote The Art of Cookery, one of the first published recipe books.
Following the recipes of early cooks was not without its difficulties, he says. The instructions are often very ambiguous. A crimped cod, for example, could mean grilled, fried or poached.
If I poach something its usually cooked for five or six minutes. Back then they would indicate the length of cooking by saying: poach for a while, a good while, or a very good while. That may have had some meaning to a cook back then but its not very clear to us. I think a lot of the instructions would have been word of mouth.
Tudor cooks were also known for cooking everything for very long periods of time. The salmon salad, that Ive made today, for example, they would have cooked the salmon for maybe an hour by which time it would be totally denaturised, says Alan. Whereas we would poach
the fish for just a few minutes. It was the same with vegetables which were sometimes boiled for hours.
Alans Tudor recipes have all been designed with modern cooks (and ingredients) in mind. Theres nothing difficult about these recipes and I would say that anyone could follow them.
The Food of Love: a Shakespeare Cookbook will be published in 2011 and we will publish further details nearer the time.

Warwickshire Life would like to thank Mary Ardens Farm, Wilmcote, where this cookery feature was photographed in the farmhouse kitchen. Mary Ardens Farm is a working 16th century farm. For details of opening times and events visit www.houses.shakes or telephone 01789 204016.

Salmon Salad with Pippins

  • 300g Poached salmon marinaded in lemon juice and olive oil

  • 60g Onion very finely diced

  • 60g Grated apple

  • 10g Dill chopped fine

  • 10g Capers

  • 60g Mayonnaise

  • Pinch ground ginger

  • 150g Mixed salad leaves

  • Tomato dressing

  • 100ml Olive oil

  • 60g Tomato skinned and chopped pips removed

  • Seasoning salt, pepper, sugar, vinegar


  • Drain and flake the salmon into a bowl, wrap the onion in a cloth and wash under running hot water, squeeze dry. Add to the salmon.

  • Add the apple, and season with pepper and ginger

  • Mix in the mayonnaise and refrigerate till required

  • Blend the olive oil and tomato in a liquidizer and season with salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar

  • To serve, place some of the salmon mixture in an oiled three-inch cutter ring or mould and tamp down, sprinkle the top with dill.

  • Repeat four times.

  • Place the salmon on a plate and remove the mould, garnish with the salad leaves and sprinkle capers around the plate and drizzle some of the tomato dressing around
    the salmon.

To Make a Sallad of Limons
Take the rinds of Limons cut in halves, and boil them in several waters till they are very tender, then take Vinegar, Water and Sugar, and make a Syrup, then put in your Limons, first cut as you would an Apple-paring, round and round till you come at the top, boil them a while in the Syrup, then set them by till the next day, then boil them again a little, and so do till you see they be clear, and the Syrup thick; when you serve them to the Table, wash them in Vinegar.

To Make a Grand Sallad
Take a fair broad brimm'd dish, and in the middle of it lay some pickled Limon Pill, then lay round about it each sort by themselves, Olives, Capers, Broom Buds, Ash Keys, Purslane pickled, and French Beans pickled, and little Cucumbers pickled, and Barberries pickled, and Clove Gilliflowers, Cowslips, Currans, Figs, blanched Almonds and Raisins, Slices of Limon with Sugar on them, Dates stoned and sliced. Garnish your Dish brims with Candied Orange, Limon and Citron Pill, and some Candied Eringo roots.

To Make a Sallad with Fresh Salmon
Your Salmon being boiled and souced, mince some of it small with Apples and Onyons, put thereto Oyl, Vinegar, and Pepper; so serve it to the Table: Garnish your Dish with Limon and Capers.

Crimped turbot in a sorrel sauce

  • 4 x 150g slices of turbot fillet

  • 30g Shallots fine diced

  • 100g Sorrel finely shredded

  • 100ml Dry white wine

  • 30g salt free butter

  • 200ml Double cream

  • 1 Lemon zest only in fine strips

  • Sprig Chervil


  • Sweat the shallot in the butter,

  • Add the wine, place the turbot in the pan season cover with a lid.

  • Bring to boil and reduce the heat cook for four minutes.

  • Remove turbot and keep warm.

  • Add sorrel to pan and cook for three minutes, add cream and reduce by half.

  • Check seasoning, pour some of the sauce on a plate and place fish on top and garnish with the chervil.

To Crimp a Cod
Take a gallon of pump water and a pound of salt, mix them well together; take your cod whilst alive and cut it in slices of one and a half inches thick, throw it into the salt and water for half an hour; then take it out and dry it well with a clean cloth, flour it and broil it; or have a stew pan with some pump water and salt boiling, put in your fish and boil it quickly for five minutes; send oyster sauce, anchovy sauce, shrimp sauce or what sauce you please. Garnish with horse radish and green parsley.

Pork Olives with Raisins in a Cider sauce

  • 500g Pork fillet

  • 120g Raisins

  • 120g Breadcrumbs

  • 1 Egg

  • Pinch ground ginger

  • Pinch cinnamon

  • 60g Grated apple

  • 30g Salt-free butter

  • Seasoning

  • 250ml Cider

  • 250ml Good brown beef or chicken stock

  • 1tspn Corn flour

  • 30g Shallot chopped


  • Cut the pork into four pieces.

  • Place each piece between some plastic sheet (cling film or a plastic bag) and beat the pork flat with a meat hammer.

  • Take the breadcrumbs, raisins and grated apple and mix together, bind with the egg, season with the spices.

  • Take each pork escalope and place some of the raisin and apple mix into the centre and roll up to form a big sausage, tie each end with string.

  • Season the rolled up escalopes and quickly fry them in butter, add the shallot and then cool slightly and add the stock and the cider.

  • Bring to boil and check the seasoning, cover with a lid and cook for 20 minutes.

  • Remove pork from the pan and allow to rest, keep warm.

  • Reduce the stock on a fast fire, slacken the corn flour with a little water and whisk into the boiling stock re boil and it will thicken, check the seasoning and pass through a fine strainer.

  • Cut the pork olive, in two arrange on a plate and pour the sauce over.

Violas Salad

  • 1 Belgian chicory

  • 100g Tomatoes, seeds removed, quartered and sliced

  • 4 Artichoke bottoms sliced

  • 60g Green pepper, seeds removed and sliced

  • 4 Quail eggs

  • Sprig Chervil chopped

  • Sprig Tarragon chopped

  • 50ml Mustard dressing

  • 4 Viola flowers petals only


  • Slice the tomatoes and the peppers and artichokes roughly the same size.Marinade the vegetables in the dressing.

  • Gently poach the quail eggs, dress the vegetables on lettuce leaves.

  • Place a poached egg on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with the herbs and dress with the flower petals.

Caramelized Apples with Blancmange

  • For the blancmange

  • 450ml Full cream milk

  • 50g Corn flour

  • 50g Caster sugar

  • teaspoon Vanilla extract or

  • vanilla seeds


  • Dilute the corn flour with a little water

  • Boil the cream and sugar and vanilla.

  • Whisk the diluted corn flour into the cream, re-boil for 2 3 minutes

  • Pour into a greased Dariol mould
    and chill.

For the caramelized apples
Dessert apples peeled, cored and cut into cm wedges

  • 60g caster sugar

  • 60g Salt free butter

  • 1 tablespoon Lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoon Brandy


  • Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the sugar and caramelize.

  • Add the apples and cook till coated, remove from heat and add brandy and lemon juice and cool.

  • Assembling the dish

  • Ease the corn flour mixture away from the sides of the mould with your fingers very gently.

  • Turn out onto a plate, arrange apples to one side and pour some of the syrup over the mould.

  • Garnish with a mint leaf.

To Make Syllabub From The Cow
Make your syllabub from either cider or wine, sweeten it pretty sweet and grate nutmeg in; then milk the milk into Liquor; when this is done, pour over the top half a pint or pint of cream according to the amount of syllabub you make.
You may make this syllabub at home, only have new milk, make it as hot as milk from the cow, and out of a pot pour it in holding your hand very high and strew over some currants well washed and picked plumped up before the fire.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Warwickshire Life