Check this space at the beginning of each month to see what our readers are cooking and try out some historical recipes of your own!



This challenge is now closed!

OCTOBER 10, 2019: This week’s culinary challenge is a choice between two of the finest breakfast porridges known to humankind: English Frumenty and Chinese Congee! Original recipes below, in all their unhelpful glory. And obviously no need to get fresh mutton for creating either one - as a vegetarian I will personally be skipping that step!Winner receives a lovely tote bag and their choice of any of Eaten’s issues, present and past.

Please either email images of your marvelous creations to or use the hashtag #haveyoucookedhistory to share with us on social media. Deadline is anytime before 11:59 pm on October 22 so get cooking!

Soup Congee

From Hu Szu-Hui’s Yin-Shan Cheng-Yao, c. 1330 (trans. by Paul D. Buell)

It supplements spleen and stomach, and increases kidney ch’i.

Mutton (leg; bone and cut up).

Boil ingredients into a soup. Strain. Then add two sheng of millet grains to make a congee. When the congee is cooked, add rice, onions and salt. Once can perhaps add polished rice, che-mi or dried rice. All are possible.

To Make Frumente

From The Forme of Cury, c. 1390 (and inspired by reader Samantha Bilton!)

Tak clene whete and braye yt wel in a morter tyl þe holes gon of; and seþe it til it breste in water. Nym it vp & lat it cole. Tak good broþ & swete mylk of kyn or of almand & tempere it þerwith. Nym ȝelkes of eyren rawe & saffroun & cast þerto; salt it; lat it nauȝt boyle after þe eyren ben cast þerinne. Messe it forth with venesoun or with fat motoun fresch.

To make Frumenty
Take clean wheat and break it well in a mortar until the hulls are gone, and cook it in water until it bursts. Take it up and let it cool. Take good broth and sweet milk of cow or of almond and mix it therewith. Take raw yolks of eggs and saffron and cast thereto; salt it; do not let it boil after the eggs be cast therein. Serve it forth with venison or fat, fresh mutton.


To Make a Hedge-Hog

This challenge is now closed!

AUGUST 28, 2019: For those interested in undertaking some friendly yet competitive historical cooking, you’ve come to the right place. The first recipe in Eaten’s cooking challenge is a once quite popular 18th century “deceit” (aka a food made to not look like food): the dessert hedgehog. Although Europeans did historically roast and consume this tiny spiky creature, our challenge today is to make a fake and much more saccharine one. Two sets of historical instructions for making the dish are below - obviously feel free to chose the one that speaks best to you!

For those who want to participate in the challenge, either post your image on social media using the hashtag #haveyoucookedhistory or email your creation to me at with a little explanation of what exactly you did (and didn’t do) to create it. The cook who has truly mastered the hedgehog will get a tote and any copy of Eaten they so desire. Deadline for submissions is September 11th by noon and will be announced on our social media!

Happy hedge-hogging!

To Make a Hedge-Hog

From Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery: Made Plain and Easy, London 1777

TAKE two pounds of sweet almonds blanched, beat them well in a mortar, with a little canary and orange-flower water, to keep them from oiling. Make them into a stiff paste, then beat in the yolks of twelve eggs, leave out five of the whites, put to it a pint of cream, sweeten it with sugar, put in half a pound of sweet butter melted, set it on a furnace or slow fire, and keep continually stirring till it is stiff enough to be made into the form of a hedge-hog, then slick it full of blanched almonds slit, and stuck up like the bristles of a hedgehog, then put it into a dish.

Take a pint of cream, and the yolks of four eggs beat up, and mix with the cream: sweeten to your palate, and keep them Stirring over a slow fire all the time till it is hot, then pour it into your dish round the hedgehog ; let it stand till it is cold, and serve it up.

Or you may make a fine hartshorn-jelly, and pour into the dish, which will look very pretty. You may eat wine and sugar with it, or eat it without.

Or cold cream sweetened, with a glass of white wine in it, and the juice of a Seville orange, and pour it into the dish. It will be pretty for change.

This is a pretty side-dish at a second course, or in the middle for supper, or in a grand desert. Plump two currants for the eyes.

Savoy Cake to imitate a Hedgehog

From Eleanor Parkinson’s The Complete Confectioner, Pastry-cook, and Baker, Philadelphia, 1844

Bake a cake in a mould of that form; blanch some Valentia or Jordan almonds; cut them into small fillets and stick them over the surface, to form the quills or prickles of the hog. Put in two currants for the eyes.

Challenge inspired by this lovely post on Researching Food History.