After the Hobbits harrowing escape from the Shire, they finally arrive at the famous Prancing Pony where they are to meet Gandalf the Grey to continue their adventure… but first, some warm food!
“They were washed and in the middle of good deep mugs of beer when Mr Butterbur and Nob came in again. In a twinkling the table was laid. There was hot soup, cold meats, a blackberry tart, new loaves, slabs of butter, and half a ripe cheese: good plain food, as good as the Shire…”
There were many recipes to choose from when researching, but I settled on a more historic approach. I chose recipes that Professor Tolkien may have had in mind when writing about the meal the Hobbits had. I settled on early 19th century recipes from old English traditions, with some modifications. To start, nothing says comfort to a Hobbit than a warm bowl of soup.
1 cup wild rice
1 Tbs. salt
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1 Tbs. butter at room temperature
4 oz. pancetta or porsciutto, finely chopped
8 oz. button mushrooms, finely chopped
1 leek, halved, rinsed, and white and light green parts thinly sliced
2 Tbs. flour
½ cup dry white wine
3 14 oz. cans chicken broth
3 Tbs. minced Italian flat-leaf parsley mixed with 4 Tbs.butter
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
⅔ cup heavy whipping cream
1. Put wild rice, salt, and 8 cups cold water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, lower heat to maintain a steady simmer, and cook until rice is tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, put porcini in a small bowl and pour in 1½ cups boiling water. Let sit until soft, about 15 minutes.
3. In a large pot, cook 1 Tbs. butter and pancetta/porsciutto over medium-high heat until the meat renders some of its fat and turns a lighter pink. Add button mushrooms and leek. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms give off their liquid, about 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, lift porcini from liquid with a slotted spoon (reserving liquid), chop finely, and add to pot.
5. Sprinkle vegetables and pancetta/porsciutto with flour and cook, stirring constantly, until flour starts to stick to the bottom of the pot (scrape it up as much as possible while stirring). Add wine, reserved liquid from soaking porcini (pouring slowly so as to leave any grit behind), and broth. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook 15 minutes.
6. Add reserved wild rice to vegetable mixture and cook 10 minutes. Stir in cream and parsley/butter mixture and cook until hot, about 1 minute. Serve!
No respectable Hobbit would serve such a fine hearty soup without some fresh crusty bread topped with the finest butter in Bree!
Butter for greasing the loaf pans
Graham cracker crumbs or bread crumbs for coating the buttered pans
3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 ¾ cups flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup sour cream
6 Tablespoons poppy seeds
1/3 cup orange juice
Grated rind of 1 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick butter
¾ cup sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Grease the loaf pan with the butter and coat with crumbs. Set aside
2. Separate the eggs. Reserve the egg yolks. Place the egg whites into small bowl of mixer. Add the pinch of sugar and salt to whites. Start beating the egg whites on low speed. Continue beating on low speed until the whites start to thicken and turn opaque. Turn the mixer to high speed, gradually adding 1/3 cup sugar. The egg whites are often ready at this point. If not, continue beating on high speed until the egg whites form stiff peaks, but are not dry. Set aside.
3. In a small mixing bowl, sift the dry mix of flour, baking powder, and soda. Set aside.
4. In a small mixing bowl, combine the wet mix consisting of sour cream, poppy seeds, orange juice, orange rind, and vanilla. Set aside.
5. In large bowl of a mixer, cream together the butter and ¾ cup sugar. Slowly add 3 egg yolks. On mixer’s low speed, alternately add the dry and wet mix, beginning and ending with the dry mix.
6. Take a small amount of the egg whites and stir into the batter to loosen. Then lightly, but thoroughly, fold the remaining egg whites into the batter. Turn the batter into six mini loaf pans that have been buttered and crumbed.
7. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. When a toothpick inserted in the center is dry, the bread is done. Allow to cool 3-5 minutes before turning out onto the rack. (This recipe also makes two small loaves of bread, which should be baked at 325 degrees for 1 to 1 ½ hours.)
*Bake these loaves in a 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 pan, and it normally takes about 65-70 minutes.
Our Hobbit heroes aren’t done yet! The smell of desserts, cold meats, and ripe cheese fills their noses…and they can’t resist!
Blackberry Mini-Tartlets (makes 12)
2 packages (I think they were the half-pint size)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons sugar
1 recipe Fearless Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
3/4 cups whole almonds
1/4 cup superfine sugar
5 tablespoons butter
1 egg white
1/4 teaspoon (approx.) almond extract
12-cup muffin tin
A baking sheet will minimize unpleasant spills bubbling over in your oven, but the choice is yours.
1. Make the almond cream. Put the almonds, superfine sugar, butter, egg, egg white and almond extract in the food processor and blend to a smooth paste.
2. Preheat the oven to 375.
3. Combine the blackberries, cornstarch, allspice, nutmeg and sugar in the bowl and toss to coat.
4. Lubricate the cups of your muffin tin with your lubricant of choice.
5. Divide your pastry dough into 12 approximately equal portions and press it into the muffin tins.
6. Spoon the almond paste into the bottom of each cup. There should be just enough for all 12.
7. Press 5 blackberries into the almond paste in each cup.
8. Bake about 25 minutes.
9. Allow to cool and serve.
And all along the way, a whole pint of The Prancing Pony’s finest beer to wash down their meal. Perhaps a pull of pipe-weed will follow?
Follow Rifflo on Twitter: @HobbitSteve
“If more of us valued food and cheer above hoarded gold, it would be a much merrier world.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien
Feast Week, Day 1: Bilbo and Frodo’s Birthday
Feast Week, Day 2: Sleeping Outdoors
Feast Week, Day 3: The Feast of Gildor
Feast Week, Day 4: Farmer Maggot’s Feast
Feast Week, Day 5: The Feast of Tom Bombadil
Feast Week, Day 6: The Feast of Tom Bombadil, Part Deux
Feast Week, Day 7: Prisoners of a Barrow-wight