If you can't tell we are huge fans of Tolkien and are also a bit nerdy. (and proud of it I may add:) We noticed a while back that The Hobbit was coming out on DVD today and decided on planning an 'unexpected dinner' to celebrate. So we have kept as quiet as possible that The Hobbit was coming out today, as we wanted to surprise the boy with dinner and a movie. There was that moment when I was furiously fast forwarding through the commericals when he spied a commerical for it, but I blew it off, and he seemed to buy it. I looked at a lot of sites for recipes and ideas. I loved the old recipes I found (some from the 1600's) to make for this dinner. I had one problem: suet! Now I am not stranger to fat; I save my bacon drippings for cooking eggs or scallops in, but suet kind of scared me. (I know there is no rhyme or reason to my issues) So, all the pork and mince pies were out, and when I looked up seed cake, the seed was caraway, not a favorite of mine. (also I wanted to bake lembas and scones and that was a lot of oven time already) I ended picking out items that we would all like and still kind of feel like the movie. I also had to remember that we weren't really Hobbits and that there are only 4 of us an needed to not go to overboard on portions!
On the menu tonight:
Cold Roast Chicken
Homemade Blueberry Jam
I know it may seem like humble fair, but that is kind of the essence of hobbit food. Lots of good plain food. I was a little upset with myself for leaving out po-tay-toes, but we already had too many carbs, so, they will be for when we reprise the event. Hopefully that time will be with a bigger group and I can really throw a feast!
On to the food! For the chicken, I cheated and bought a rotisserie chicken from Publix. (see above oven issues;)
For the cheese: I bought a Double Gloucester with onion and chives and A Morel Mushroom and Leek Monterrey Jack and for the pickles, my favorite, Ba-Tempte Half Sours.
Sauteed Mushrooms (freshly picked from Farmer Maggot's Fields)
Three kinds of bread: Pretzel, Sourdough and Baguette.
Scones with homemade blueberry jam (the store was out of raspberries) and homemade clotted cream. (ok it's not authentic clotted cream but a decent approximation)
and Lembas bread. My husband totally rocked by making them in to leaf shapes by using a star cookie cutter and a sharp knife! He cut out the star, made the stem by cutting a thin strip (but leaving it attached) on the bottom two points, shaping them in to a stem and using the knife to make a shallow slice down each leaf.
The lembas bread was really good, but unfortunatly it seemed to loose it's magical properties when not prepared by elves:(. I also loved the jam, cream and scones. (Breakfast tomorrow!)
As all things come to an end, even this dinner, a time came at last when they were in sight of bedtime where the boy had to go and, where the shapes of the land and of the toys were as well known to him as his hands and toes.
Good night my most excellent and audacious hobbits
1/3 Cup shortening
1/3 Cup sugar
2/3 Cup honey
1 Tsp vanilla
2 3/4 Cup flour
1 Tsp baking soda
1/2 Tsp salt
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Mix flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Mix other ingredients well, then add dry ingredients. Mix together and
turn out on lightly floured surface.
Roll dough out to ¼" thick and cut into shapes with a knife (cookie
cutters also work well).
Bake on greased cookie sheet 8 minutes. Place on waxed paper to cool.
For the scones, we didn't have caster (or baking) sugar so we used plan ole granulated
English Victorian Scones
10.5 Ounces (300g) plain flour
5 Ounces (150ml) milk (whole fat)
1 Tsp baking powder
1 Tsp cream of tarter
1/2 Tsp sea salt
2 Ounces (60g) butter
1 Ounce (30g) caster sugar
clotted cream or butter
your favourite fruit jam
Heat the oven to 220C (430F)
Lightly grease a flat baking tray.
Sift the flour, then scatter in the salt, cream of tarter and baking
powder. Rub in the butter with your fingertips to make fine breadcrumbs.
Stir in the sugar, make a well in the centre and finally pour the milk
in, all in one go, mixing with a wooden spoon to get a soft and silky
dough. If it is a little sticky or dry adjust by adding in a little more
milk or flour, different flours absorb different amounts of liquid.
Turn out onto a (lightly) floured work surface and knead very lightly
for a minute to fully mix and gently stretch the gluten in the flour.
When happy with the soft consistency of the dough gather it into a ball
and pat it out flatter (to a round 3cm thick) with the palm of your hand,
do not use a rolling pin. Use a 5cm pastry cutter to cut out rounds of
dough and place on a baking sheet taking note of the advice given above
on cutting them out with a twist. Lightly gather together the rest of
the remaining dough and repeat, gently cutting out more scones to use
all the dough up. Leave on the baking tray to rest for 5 minutes.
Brush the tops of the scones with a little milk. Bake for 15-20 minutes
at 220C or until well risen and golden, keep an eye on them after 12
minutes, but don't fully open the oven door until you are sure they are
done. Cool the scones on a wire rack for 20 minutes
Serve the scones with either butter or clotted cream and a good jam.
They are best eaten fresh the day they are made, although the next day,
if toasted with a little butter and jam, they can be delicious too.
I had to change this up quite a bit from the original but loved it
Blueberry Jam Recipe
1 pound blueberries
1 pound sugar
2/3 cups blackcurrant juice
In a medium saucepan bring the juice to a simmer. Add the blueberries to the blackcurrant juice and simmer the blueberries for 15 minutes break them up with the back of a wooden spoon as they
are heating. (I used a potato masher) Then bring to the boil for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from
heat and add in the sugar, stirring to dissolve it. Then bring it back to the boil.
Boil the blueberry jam liquid on a rapid rolling boil for 10 minutes, (but start testing to see if it will set at around 7 minutes). Sometimes you have to boil for longer if the fruit is not very good quality or it is too wet to begin with. If you have a jam thermometer, when the mixture reaches a temperature of 104C for ten minutes the acid and the pectin in the fruit react with the sugar, and the jam will set on cooling. (I did mine for 10 minutes stirring constantly and it was done them)
The recipe noted that this jam is not a really firm one and it should ooze. I made it ahead of time and cooled it in the fridge and it was fairly thick.
This 'faux clotted cream' was pretty good. It wasn't quite the right consistency of the cream I had in England so many years ago, but it was pretty close. (to what may very well be a fading memory;) I did think it was too watery at first and busted out the immersion blender. And as Bilbo says, it does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, the dragon in this case being the power of the blender. It way over did it and was closer to firm whipped cream. I thinned it a bit with some more heavy cream, but not too much as I didn't want to throw off the sugar ratio.
Clotted Cream (Faux)
4 ounces mascarpone
1 Cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
1 Tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoons granulated white sugar
Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and beat until the mixture
holds its shape and looks like softly whipped cream. Use right away or
cover and refrigerate the cream until serving time.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups. Preparation time 15 minutes.
And for the sauteed mushrooms, I (sort of) followed the recipe in Juila Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, so I wouldn't have to write down what I was doing;)
Champignons Sautes Au Beurre
2 Tbsp Butter (unsalted)
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms (halved or quartered if large)
2 tbsp minced scallions
Salt & Pepper
Heat the skillet over medium high heat, add the butter, when it foams, add the mushrooms. They will absorb the butter at first. Season with a bit of salt. Soon the butter will reappear as well as some liquid. Saute for another 5-7 minutes or until they have browned lightly. Toss in the scallions and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
The Council of Elrond
Christian Science Monitor