[Sca-cooks] Partial feast debriefing

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Mon Nov 9 06:31:42 PST 2009

On Nov 9, 2009, at 3:26 AM, Stefan li Rous wrote:

> I hope your legs are feeling better and I hope when you can, that  
> you will post the menu from this feast and perhaps some of the  
> recipes. I thought the event announcement(s) would include the menu,  
> but unfortunately they didn't. I like the way the East Kingdom web  
> site shows by default only the events from the current date on. At  
> least I do *after* I realized that was the case and that someone  
> just had been super efficient and removed the events from this last  
> weekend already. :-(

Maybe the person who does it just had time at that particular moment,  
and it's unusual? No clue...

I posted a menu in the debriefing, or at least I listed the foods  
served roughly in order, in sort of anecdotal format. I'll try it again:


	Dark Rye Bread (recipe in one of Nanna Rognvaldardottir's books)
	Butter (we discreetly interspersed imported Icelandic butter -- we  
had maybe five pounds for the day -- in among the domestic)
	Icelandic Cheeses -- something called Hrofdingi, which is pretty mild  
and Brie-like, and Stori-Dimon, which is another soft, white-mold- 
rinded cheese, but riper and a little stinky, like a cross between  
Camembert and Stilton (there's white mold on the outside, but blue  
mold inside). Purchased at Whole Foods in small quantities; like two  
or three pounds each.
	Quince Paste (canned, Goya, lying around from a previous event )
	Seaweed Soup -- Milk, butter, oatmeal, dried purple laver, shredded  
dried kelp, salt and pepper
	Cabbage Soup -- Shredded Cabbage, olive oil, wheat flour, onion,  
carrots, dried mushrooms, salt and pepper... high vegetable content,  
so no stock needed, just water and mushroom soaking liquid
	Salt Cod Fishballs in Dill Cream Sauce -- salt cod, dried cod (both  
soaked), pureed with egg, cream, wheat flour, salt and pepper, rolled  
into 1-inch balls and poached, served with a basic cream white sauce  
with some reduced salmon stock, salt, pepper, and dill
	Coffee, tea, lemonade, donated ale -- not my department

	More of the same Bread and Butter
	Juniper-Cured Gravlax -- cured with salt, sugar, pepper, juniper  
	Jellied Pork Shoulder "Cheese" -- pork picnic, pernil or cala  
shoulders, simmered with salt, a little sugar, and a pinch of Insta- 
Cure (a commercial charcuterer's nitrate) to keep the meat pink and  
help preserve it -- if you eat bacon or ham that isn't prosciutto,  
it's almost certainly in there. Meat simmered tender, rind peeled off  
and used as mold liner, meat pulled off bones and packed into mold,  
more rind on top, top off with reduced boiling stock from cooking meat  
to just cover all, weight down with a board and weight, chill until  
	Honey Mustard Dill Sauce -- Dijon mustard, honey, salt, chopped dill.  
We had intended to beat some olive oil into it, it gives it a lovely,  
light, mayonnaise-ey consistency, but at the crucial moment the olive  
oil had simply vanished, and I decided to simply do without it. I  
probably left it at the home of the lady in whose kitchen we did the  
	White Porrey of Leeks and Onions -- Sliced leeks and white onions,  
cooked in salted water, drained and reserved, the cooking water used  
to make a thick almond milk, seasoned with salt, white pepper and  
ginger, leeks and onions returned to sauce -- very, very easy, very,  
very good, and almost every medieval European culture has something  
like it
	Mashed rutabagas -- Yellow turnips, peeled, diced, boiled with a few  
carrots cut similarly and some salt, mashed with butter, pepper, and a  
little brown sugar. This was requested, from the original menu handed  
to me...

	Bilberry Soup -- berries simmered in berry juice, thickened with rice  
flour, with a little sugar, a pinch of salt, and some cinnamon and  
cloves. Served hot with a little sweet cream on the side.
	Leaf Bread -- Another traditional Icelandic holiday favorite, their  
version of crispels; fried paper-thin cookie-like units. I immediately  
identified this as a massive time-sucker and attempted to get them off  
the menu (okay, I flat-out refused to make them), the event steward  
and the author of the original menu found someone else to make and  
bring them. The lovely lady who did this came to me and suggested that  
I had been lucky I didn't have to make them. They're apparently a  
massive time-sucker. But they _were_ lovely...
	Whole-grain Flatbreads -- these were commercial "wraps", technically  
labelled as multigrain lavosh, but after having made plenty of  
multigrain Swedish lefse in my time (not the potato kind, the rye,  
barley, and whole wheat kind, the kind you hang up to dry for storage  
and reconstitute before using); these just looked so much like them  
that I couldn't resist buying some just in case the leaf bread thing  
didn't happen. We cut them into triangles to disguise their provenance  
a bit. People dunked them in the berry soup...

	Roast Meat -- which was supposed to be lamb for everyone, but when we  
did the shopping the store had deboned legs at a ridiculous price, so  
we got one for high table and beef for everybody else. Rubbed with  
copious salt, pepper, garlic and fresh thyme, cooked slowly, part of  
the way in smoke, but not overdone. Thyme is apparently a favorite in  
Icelandic cooking, so it was suggested I pretty much had to have it in  
some form, in something, and it was quite a hit.
	Braised Goose in sauce for high table -- half-roasted, braised in red  
wine with brown roux, carrots, onions, and celery, with the liquid and  
veg pureed, reseasoned, and a big dollop of quince paste melted into  
it at the end.
	Roast Chickens -- salt, pepper, some time in the thyme-flavored  
smoking box before finishing in the oven.
	*Red Wine Sauce for Chicken, from Harpestraeng -- we never got around  
to making this; it's something you have to do just before serving, and  
our oven problems threw us off schedule somewhat, so I sent out nekkid  
chickens. Nobody seemed to mind too much, except me. I wanted to make  
some so I could eat it, and as one of the few documentably period  
dishes I had planned, this was important to me, but not practical when  
the time came.
	Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage -- Shredded, cooked with butter, onion,  
diced apples, vinegar, sugar, caraway seeds and salt -- another  
Icelandic traditional holiday dish... <shrug>
	Rice cooked in milk with butter, sugar, ginger, and cinnamon. Sort of  
a cross between risotto and rice pudding.

	Skyr -- a thick, yogurt-like Icelandic cheese -- we made this the day  
before, with skim milk, skyr culture (as in, a tub of commercial skyr  
with live culture in it), and rennet. You have to beat the curds back  
into a creamy consistency once the whey has drained off; often it is  
sweetened and/or thinned down with milk or cream to get the right  
consistency. Served with mixed dried fruit, stewed in water with a  
little sugar and a cinnamon stick.
	Marzipan tartlets -- we had a lot of marzipan in the baron's freezer  
from a previous event. We thawed it, rolled small balls, flattened  
them down, and made dents with our thumbs, like sand tart cookies.  
Baked them in a low oven until firm and mostly dry, added a small  
dollop of Royal Icing to the thumbprint, and back into the oven to dry  
	Someone had brought some imported Icelandic chocolate to the event,  
and I believe this was sort of surreptitiously handed around, but I  
didn't want it on my menu because I didn't want people saying, "Well,  
Master A sez it's period..."
As you can see, less documentable period food than I normally like to  
be doing, but overall, given the administrative structure of the  
event, and the fact that I became involved late in the planning  
stages, I think it went okay.

> Where did you find Icelandic cheeses? Although I guess you are a bit  
> closer to Iceland than me. I'm not sure how you could afford that on  
> a feast budget.

We got really good prices on salmon (bought two whole at cost for the  
market, they filleted it and gave me a bag of heads and bones for the  
stock for the dayboard), did not overpay for lamb or goose, used a  
really cheap cut of pork, and tried to have slightly smaller portion  
sizes, but a lot of dishes. We had less than ten pounds (probably  
seven) of Icelandic butter and cheese, total, and we served it  
strategically with an eye to using it to best advantage. You know, put  
out domestic butter first, let people start to fill up just a bit, put  
out some Icelandic butter, see how fast it goes away, look at the  
clock, decide whether to put out more domestic or more Icelandic. It's  
like playing poker ;-).

> I agree. For those who have only joined this list in the last couple  
> of years, for a while on this list we had an Icelandic native and  
> cookbook author on this list, Nanna. She filled us in on a lot of  
> the unusual traditional foods of Iceland. Some of which showed up in  
> Adamantius' feast. Iceland was pretty cut off from the outside world  
> for a number of centuries after it's founding. While some things  
> changed, much of the change was due to the changes that the  
> Icelanders were making to their own enviornment, coupled with the  
> "Little Ice Age", which was one reason communication almost ceased  
> with the outside world. As a result the settlers diet changed from  
> those of their homeland.
> Nanna has written several books in Icelandic and one in English.  
> While the English one is "traditional", because of Iceland's  
> isolation much of the traditional recipes in the book are probably  
> period. I heartily recommend the book to those interested in a  
> different food culture or those just interested in Iceland.

At least two in English, now. "Cool Cuisine", which she claims was  
"written for the tourists" in English, is now available in Icelandic.  
She said a lot of young people were pestering her about it; there's  
apparently been a sort of renaissance of interest in traditional  
Icelandic foods in Iceland, after a few decades of prosperity,  
imported sushi ingredients and Scottish smoked salmon. Now unemployed  
ex-yuppies are seeing sheep's heads and blood sausage in the market  
and have no idea what to do with them... Nanna is filling them in.


"Most men worry about their own bellies, and other people's souls,  
when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's  
			-- Rabbi Israel Salanter

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