War-time treats from Redwall Abbey


Redwall Abbey – A child’s delight

To honor the people who gave their all in the Great Wars, I’m reposting some recipes I first brought to you in 2012. These traditional recipes were in vogue during the scarce years of the Second World War… but many probably go back much farther than that, handed down by mothers and mother’s mothers in Britain ever since they began to grow potatoes and cabbages… and gooseberries!

Don’t worry, though. All these recipes taste great. And even better, they are good for you. All are made from seasonally fresh foods from scratch and most of them feature many fruits and veggies. Because sugar was rationed during the war, sweets are at a minimum.

Best of all, because they come to you via The Redwall Cookbook, while you are waiting for things to bake, you can read all about the adventures of Mole and Badger in the Mossflower woods.

Even if you aren’t British, see if you can find The Redwall Cookbook at your library. This cheery little book, by Brian Jacques and illustrated by Christopher Denise, is sure to turn inexperienced Dibbuns into seasoned chefs. Dig in!

Leeks, ready to eat!

Garrison grilled leeks

  • salt
  • 1 ½ pound (about 4 medium) leeks, cleaned and chopped into 1 ½ inch lengths
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add salt.
  3. Boil the leeks for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain and transfer the leeks to a shallow oven-proof dish
  5. In a bowl cream the butter, mustard and cheese and spread over the leaks
  6. Broil until golden, about 3 minutes. Watch carefully to prevent burning.
Gooseberry fool, with strawberries, mango, raspberries

Fruit fool, with strawberries, mango, and raspberries instead of the traditional gooseberries


Greathall gooseberry fool
Serves 4

Gooseberries are scarce here in Canada at this time of year, so I made mine with strawberries, a mango, and some frozen raspberries.
It was really really good. No foolin’!

The name is apparently a corruption of the French word foule, meaning milled or crushed.

  • 1 pound gooseberries (you can use any fruit, like I did, but then you have to change the name…)
  • ½ cup sugar (use less if you are using a sweet fruit instead of gooseberries – I used just 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  1. Cook the gooseberries in a saucepan with the sugar and water, about 10 minutes, until the berries are soft.
  2. Puree the fruit with a hand blender or press through a sieve.
  3. Let the fruit puree cool.

Make the milk sauce and assemble the fool

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons plus ½ c milk (Vinny uses skim)
  • ½ cup heavy cream, whipped
  • Grated chocolate to garnish (optional)
  1. Mix the cornstarch and sugar with 2 tablespoons of milk.
  2. Bring another ½ cup of milk to a boil and pour it slowly over the cornstarch mix, stirring to blend well.
  3. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over medium low heat, stirring until thickened and bubbly, about 4 minutes.
  4. Let cool, stirring occasionally.
  5. Fold the milk sauce into the fruit puree. Then swirl the whipped cream through the fruit for a two-toned effect. This instruction was missing from Redhall’s book (so my fool is homogeneous), but I looked up a few fools on line, and they look pretty this way.
  6. Cover and chill at least an hour.
  7. Serve your fool in four pretty glasses and sprinkle with grated chocolate, if you like.
Serve your tea in a whimsical pot

Serve tea in a whimsical pot. I snapped a shot of this one at the Gardiner Museum, Toronto.

Caffeine-free hot mint tea
Vinny’s recipe – What would a British meal be without tea!

  • 1 tablespoon Roibus tea leaves (or other caffeine-free tea)
  • 1 small bunch of mint leaves (a nice handful)
  • honey, to taste
  1. Put the tea and mint leaves into a teapot large enough to hold six cups.
  2. Bring 5 cups of water to a boil and pour over the leaves.
  3. Let it rest (steep) for 5 minutes.
  4. Strain into four mugs and sweeten with honey, as you like it.

While you are enjoying your tea, take a moment to remember the men and women, many of them just teens, who went to war, suffered, killed and perhaps were killed. Our freedom today came at a cost – their pain and loss. Let’s not forget.

And we talked about some old times
And we drank ourselves some tea…
Still crazy after all these years!
—After Paul Simon

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