Briga and Friends

Bringing History to Life

Store Cupboard Ingredients

Garum: Fish Sauce

  • Take small fish such as anchovies or sardines, salt and herbs.
  • Layer these in a clay vessel and leave in the sun for 2 weeks.
  • Draw off liquid and use.
Alternative recipe for Northern Climes
  • Dissolve 3/4lb sea salt in 1 pint of water over a gentle heat.
  • Add 4oz anchovy fillets, a pinch of dried oregano, a tablespoon of reduced wine and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Leave to cool and strain through muslin into a glass jar. Will keep in fridge for quite a long time.
  • Buy fish sauce from Chinese or Thai section of your supermarket. Add reduced wine to taste.

Allec: Fish Pickle

  • 4oz canned anchovies (tinned tuna, salmon and sardines work as well)
  • 2 tea spoons white wine
  • 1 table spoon wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 tea spoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tea spoon oregano
  • 1/2 tea spoon celery seed (or lovage)
  • Pinch of basil
  • 1/4 tea spoon thyme
  • 1 chopped mint leaf
  • 1 small clove garlic crushed
  • Chop anchovies (if using – flake other fish)
  • Mix all ingredients together in bowl (or shake in a screw top jar)
  • Use as a condiment or ingredient in other dishes.

Sapa: Reduced Wine

  • A bottle of red wine, or a carton of red grape juice.
  • Boil in a saucepan until reduced by half
  • Add to sauces and stews.

Defrutum: Grape syrup

  • 2l carton of red grape juice
  • 5 dried figs
  • Add figs to juice in a pan.
  • Gently simmer until reduced by 2/3.


  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium leek, cleaned and sliced
  • 3 sticks of celery, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of each of the following, dried
    • thyme
    • marjoram
    • oregano
    • fennel seed
    • sage
    • rosemary
    • savory
    • and as an optional Roman extra: lavender.
  • 4 pints of water
  • Cook it all until it reduces down to about 3 pints.
  • About 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt added after the reducing.
  • Either thoroughly mash/process veggies into the liquid for thick stock, or strain for clear stock.

Meat Dishes

Honey and Mustard Chicken

  • 4 diced chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp dill seed, roast and ground
  • Pinch of asafoetida powder
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp each of:
    • white wine vinegar
    • sapa
    • garum
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 desert sp whole grain mustard
  • Defrutum to taste
  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl, add chicken, cover and leave to marinate for a couple of hours.
  • Cook in a large pan until chicken is well done.
  • Alternatively: Substitute roast chicken for raw breast and serve with sauce as a dipping sauce.

Marinated Rabbit

  • 3lb kg rabbit, cut into pieces
  • 2 tsp peppercorns
  • ½ tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp savory
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 ptml chicken stock

For the sauce:

  • ½ glass white wine
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 50g chopped dates or raisins
  • Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and cover. Marinate for about 8 hours in a cool place.
  • Add meat and marinade to cooking pan and add sauce ingredients.
  • Cook for about 1 hour until meat is tender.


This recipe is a bit ad hoc but uses Roman ingredients – experiment!

  • 1lb minced meat (lamb is good but anything works)
  • Handful of bread crumbs
  • 5-6 juniper berries
  • 5-6 black pepper corns
  • A few coriander leaves
  • Pinch of asafoetida powder
  • Pinch of saffron (if you are expecting high status guests)
  • Splash of garum
  • Put the ingredients except the meat and the garum into a blender and blend until the juniper berries are well mashed.
  • Add meat and garum. Blend until well mixed.
  • On a floured board, make into balls using about a dessert spoonful at a time.
  • Fry in hot olive oil.
  • Serve with sauce of your choice, a rich red wine sauce with oil, vinegar, honey pepper, savory and garum is good.

As a vegetarian alternative try this:

Cheese and Pine Nut Rissoles

  • 4oz goats cheese grated
  • 4oz pine nuts crushed
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Vinegar
  • Garum
  • Peppercorns
  • Mix together cheese and pine nuts
  • Add bread crumbs and other ingredients and mix until the ingredients hold together.
  • Form into balls about dessert spoon size.
  • Fry in hot oil and serve with sauce

Vegetable Dishes

Vitellian Beans

  • 250gms dried peas or fresh broad beans
  • 3/4 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • large sprig of lovage or the leafy part of celery (about 2 tablespoons, chopped)
  • 3 cooked egg yolks
  • 5-6 good tbs honey
  • 2 tbs wine vinegar
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 2 wine glasses white wine
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • If using dried, soak the peas over night, then strain them and put on to boil with enough water to cover. Add extra water as necessary. If using fresh, just cook as usual.
  • When really soft, strain and mash them with the egg yolks, with wooden spoon, then leave to one side.
  • In a mortarium add pepper, lovage and the chopped ginger and grind till all the herbs and ginger are well pounded and mixed.
  • Add the honey and blend well.
  • Flush out the mortarium with the other liquids, into the pea/bean mash.
  • Stir the resulting sauce and peas/beans together and heat.
  • Adjust saltiness/sweetness/sharpness with more fish sauce/honey/vinegar.

Note Bene: If you don’t have a kitchen slave you may prefer to use a modern device to mash peas/beans such as a blender in which case simply add all the ingredients to the blender and whizz until smooth.

Barley and Linseeds

  • Equal quantities of pot barley and linseeds (a handful is good)
  • Stock to cover
  • Simmer until most of the stock has been absorbed

Pine Kernel Sauce

  • 100g pine kernels
  • Small glass of wine
  • 1 desert sp honey
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp garum
  • ½ tsp lovage seed roasted and ground
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Soak the pine kernels overnight in the wine.
  • Drain pine kernels and reserve wine. Crush soaked pine kernels in a mortarium and pass through sieve.
  • Mix in honey, vinegar and garum.
  • Add ground lovage seed and black pepper.
  • Adjust texture with reserved wine.


  • Put drained pine kernels and the rest of the ingredients into a blender and process until smooth. Adjust with reserved wine.

Serve as a dip with pitta bread or as a dressing with salad or soft boiled eggs.

Conditure Olivarum: Olive Paste

  • 5oz olives
  • 3 celery sticks
  • 1 leek
  • 2 tbsp wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Pepper
  • Sprig of rue
  • Mint leaves
  • Trim, finely slice and blanche leek until soft.
  • Put all the ingredients in a blender and whizz until smooth.

Note Bene: You can use any olives for this recipe but the a better flavour is achieved with large, whole olives which must first be pitted. I use black olives because I prefer the taste but green are just as good.

Lentils with Lemon and Coriander

  • 200g Puy lentils
  • 1 pt water
  • 1 tbsp wine vinegar (red for preference but white will do)
  • 2 tsp sumach (a lemony spice from Turkey)
  • 1or 2 slices of lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp ground coriander seed
  • Handful fresh coriander leaves
  • Sea salt
  • Boil lentils in water until tender, about 30 mins, and drain.
  • Add rest of the ingredients, except coriander leaves, and about half a wine glass fo fresh water.
  • Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20 mins.
  • To serve, sprinkle with chopped coriander leaves.

Herby Cheese Dip

  • 6oz cream cheese
  • A mix of Fresh herbs:
  • Coriander, Parsley, Mint or whatever is to hand
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Crush the herbs in a mortarium with the pepper.
  • Mix in the cheese and add the vinegar a little at a time.
  • Mix until smooth.
  • Turn into serving bowl and drizzle a little olive oil over to serve.


Panis Quadratus (Bread in quarters)

  • 500g Spelt flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 250ml (approx) Warm water (35-40C)
  • 1 tbps Honey
  • Blend the yeast and honey into half the water and add enough flour to form a paste. leave until it bubbles.
  • Add to the remaining flour with the rest of the water and the salt.
  • Mix teh dough and then knead for about 15 minutes until soft and stretchy
  • Leave to rise in a warm place for 20-30 minutes until the dough has risen to about twice its size.
  • Knock back and knead again for a few minutes. Form into a round loaf and score the top with a cross, making 4 portions
  • Cook in an oven pre-heated to 140C, 275F/Gas mk 1 for 60 minutes. A fully cooked loaf will sound hollow underneath.
  • Cool loaf on a wire rack.

Cheese Bread

  • 1 tsp honey
  • 250ml warm water
  • 1½ tsp dried yeast
  • 500g white spelt flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 60g hard goat cheese, grated
  • Dissolve honey in warm water and add yeast. Stir and leave in warm place until it is frothy.
  • Sift flour and salt together and add yeast mixture, oil and cheese.
  • Knead until supple.
  • Divide into two balls, knead lightly. Then place on baking sheets and leave to rise in a warm place.
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C/400F/gas mark 6 for 25 mins. When cooked the bread will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Savoury Lagana (Fried Pasta)

Not strictly bread but used to scoop food from bowl to mouth - the forerunner to modern pasts)

  • 3oz wholemeal flour
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 fl oz red wine
  • 1 fl oz milk
  • ½ tsp crushed peppercorns
  • Crush the peppercorns in a mortarium
  • Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and knead to a smooth dough.
  • Roll out thinly on a floured board and cut into strips.
  • Fry in hot oil until crisp and brown. Use to scoop dips and casseroles.

Cakes and Desserts

Must Cake

  • 9oz flour
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 fl oz oil
  • 5 oz grated hard cheese such as Cheshire or hard goat's cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 pt fl oz grape juice
  • Warm the grape juice and add the yeast leave to activate.
  • Sift dry ingredients together. Grind cumin seed and add to dry ingredients.
  • Rub in oil.
  • Mix in grape juice.
  • Add cheese.
  • Knead until the dough is smooth. Cover and leave to prove for about an hour.
  • Turn out and knead again.
  • Turn into greased and floured loaf tin. Leave to rise for half an hour.
  • Bake at 350F, 180C for 40 mins.

Must is the first pressing of the grape and the juice would have contained natural yeast.

Sweet Cake

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2oz chopped almonds (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon ground rosemary (optional)
  • 12oz white flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried yeast
  • 2 fl oz muscatel
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 6 fl oz milk warmed


  • Whole almonds and warm honey for decoration
  • Stir yeast into warmed milk and leave until it starts to work
  • Sift flour and stir in almonds, cinnamon and rosemary.
  • Beat egg and stir in honeyand muscatel.
  • Add to dry ingredients, add milk and yeast and mix well.
  • Work into a soft dough and knead for 10 minutes.
  • Leave in a warm place until doubled in size.
  • Knead again for 5 minutes
  • Put into greased and floured 8in cake tin. Leave to rise again and bake at 375F, 190C for 30 mins.
  • If desired arrange whole almonds on top and spoon over warmed honey.

Honey biscuits

  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • 7oz white flour
  • 2 tbsp white grape juice
  • 3 fl oz honey
  • Beat the egg and add with oil, salt and pepper to the flour. Mix until it looks like breadcrumbs.
  • Add the grape juice a little at a time until you have a smooth dough.
  • Ideally rest the dough before cooking
  • Roll out thinly on a floured board and cut into rounds using a pastry cutter* about 1 inch diameter.
  • Shallow fry in hot oil until puffed and golden brown.
  • Heat the honey until it bubbles and the carefully drop the biscuits in the honey one at a time.

Cutters for pastry have been found at Pompeii together with moulds for small cakes.

Stuffed Dates

  • Enough dates for 2-3 per person
  • Soft goats cheese
  • Honey
  • Remove stones from dates
  • Mix cheese and honey together
  • Spoon into dates and arrange on a serving plate.

Poached Pears

  • A quantity of firm pears
  • Red wine
  • Honey
  • Cinnamon
  • garum
  • Egg
  • Peel and core pears and cut into quarters.
  • Into a pan put enough red wine to cover the pears add ground cinnamon and honey to taste.
  • Add a splash of garum.
  • Simmer gently until the pears are soft. Remove the pears to a serving dish.
  • Beat the egg and stir into the wine. Cook until thickened stirring all the time.
  • Pour over the pears and serve.