It's Bilbo and Frodo's Birthday!

From The Sage from Texas:

While the birthday of two such estimable hobbits is, in and of itself, more than sufficient cause for a celebration, this is a day to celebrate so much more: Middle Earth, the Nobility of Aragorn, the Wisdom of Gandalf, the Courage of Sam, the Shire itself---in short, all that is at the heart of what we call normal and decent. The stories of Bilbo and Frodo provide a lifeline for us to a dimension where morality still exists, where Truth is honored, where virtue, it’s own reward, is nevertheless rewarded. While we’re at it, we may drink a toast to Tolkien himself, and to Lewis and Williams and Barfield and all the other sparkling intellects who gathered at the Eagle and Child. We may drink a toast to Narnia, and hope for the day when we can enter Aslan’s Country, for which we are all, at heart, truly homesick. We can drink a toast to George McDonald, and the Brothers Grimm, and all those who, in the exquisite code of a besieged but determined underground have encouraged and reminded us of Our King and His Reward, which may only be obtained on careful condition and after much danger in the enchanted forest.

For this most merry feast, let us enjoy:

Buckland Pie
1 unbaked 12 inch pie shell
10 strips bacon, diced
2 medium onions, chopped
3 large eggs
¾ cup cream
8 oz baby portobellos, roughly chopped
8 oz white mushrooms, chopped
(you may substitute a pound of whatever mushrooms you can get)
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1 cup cheddar cheese

Sauté the bacon until nearly done, then add the onions. When onions are transparent, add mushrooms and saute just a little. Put about half the cheese in the bottom of the pie shell. Pile on the sauted ingredients with a slotted spoon, leaving the bacon grease behind. Put the grease on the dog’s food­it has onions in it and shouldn’t go into the bacon grease jar, but the dog will benefit greatly. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Beat the eggs lightly and add the cream and white pepper. Carefully pour over the other ingredients---if it won’t quite fit, give the leftovers to the dog.

Put the pie on a baking sheet and transfer to a 350 degree oven. Bake until set­about 25 minutes or so. Serve with baby spinach salad with a light dressing and wash down with good beer. One pie will not feed more than four---it is just too good.

Olive Bread

300g flour
4 small eggs
100 ml olive oil
100 ml white wine
1 tsp baking powder
100g Greyerzer, Emmentaler or Appenzeller (unsliced)
100g ham or bacon (unsliced)
20 green olives
20 black olives
Oil for greasing the dish

Mix flour, eggs, olive oil, white wine, baking powder and a bit salt in a bowl, make a smooth dough. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

Dice bacon/ham and cheese finely and work under the dough. Stone and half the olives and fold them into the dough as well.

Grease a rectangular baking or soufflé dish lightly with oil, fill in the dough and smooth it with a spoon or spatula. Bake the bread in the middle of the oven about 30 minutes. Turn out on a grid (or leave in the dish). Serve cool.

Mind you, this is so rich that it doesn't serve any purpose as a "side dish". It's a fairly rich snack by itself.

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Champagne Cocktails

I like Champagne Cocktails because they are unfussy to make, without any stress, sticking to exact liquid or other measures or the need for elaborate and expensive equipment or tools. Put the money you are serving into the ingredients, because cheap stuff shows -- or rather tastes. Vile, that is.

Just see that the glasses and the ingredients are very cold. The champagne:ingredients ratio is really up to taste.

Classic: Sugarcube, some drops of Angostura Bitter. (!!!)

Buck's Fizz/Mimosa: Freshly pressed orange juice to taste.

Kir Royal: With Creme de Cassis.

Bellini: Fresh peach puree and -juice.

Pear Bellini: Fresh pear puree from avery ripe pear, pear schnapps and -juice.

More to follow.


Cooking time: as specific recipes

This pastry is made by melting the fat in the water, then adding the flour. It is ideal for cold savory pies. The pastry must be kept warm during rolling and shaping to prevent it breaking. lt is also known as raised pie pastry.

350 g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
100 g lard or cooking fat
150 ml milk or water

Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Put the lard or cooking fat into a saucepan with the milk or water and heat until melted. Remove the pan from the heat then add all the flour to the hot mixture, stir well until blended. Allow the dough to cool slightly, so it can be handled, then knead until smooth. Placethe portion required for the base and sides of a pie on a lightly floured board and roll out to desired shape. Keep the rest ofthe pastry, which may be needed for the lid of a pie, in a warm place. Shape and bake as specific recipes.

You can add an egg yolk for extra flavour without affecting the amount of liquid.

Cooking time: 2 1/2 hours • Serves 6
To make the Veal and Ham Pie follow the hot water crust pastry recipe.
For the filling use a total of 900 g veal and ham - this can be equal quantities of each meat or 675 g of veal and 225 g cooked ham. The meats should be diced and mixed together. The method of filling then baking the pie is as given for the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie but omit the anchovy fillets. The stock can be flavoured with a little finely grated lemon zest. It is usual to hard-boil 2 to 4 eggs and put these in the centre of the meat.

When cold, the pie is filled with a jellied stock.

Another less usual version of this pie is made by using approximately 675 g thinly sliced uncooked chicken flesh and layering this with the mixture given for Veal and Ham Pie. Bake as the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie.

Cooking time: 2 1/2 hours • Serves 6
This pie it is said to have been invented by a baker in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, in 1830. The inclusion of anchovy fillets with pork is unusual but quite good.

625 g lean boneless pork from the leg
225 g fat boneless pork from the belly
6 to 8 anchovy fillets
3 tbspoons white stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Hot water crust pasty from 350 g flour (see above)
1 egg to glaze the pastry
For the jelly:
150 ml white stock
1 teaspoon gelatine

Dice both kinds of pork and blend together. Chop the anchovy fillets and mix with the meat, add the stock. Allow to stand while making the pastry. Season with very little, if any, salt but with pepper. Make the hot water crust pastry as above.

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C/325°F, Gas Mark 3. Lightly grease an 18 cm/7 inch round tin with a loose base or a proper raised pie springform tin, which is usually oval. Roll out two-thirds of the dough (keep the rest warm). Cut a shape to fit the base ofthe tin, and a band the depth and circumference of the sides. Insert the pastry in the tin, moisten and seal the edges. Moisten the top edges of the pastry.

Put in the filling. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut out the lid. Place over the filling and seal the edges. Beat the egg and brush over the pastry.

Traditionally this kind of pie is decorated with pastry leaves and a rose or tassel, so make these from the left-over pastry. Make a slit in the centre of the pastry lid for the steam to escape. Press the leaves and rose or tassel on top of the pie, brush with egg.

Bake for 2 1/2 hours. Lower the heat slightly after 2 hours, if the pastry is becoming too brown. Allow the pie to become quite cold.

Pour the 150 ml stock into a basin, add the gelatine, stand for 2 to 3 minutes then dissolve over hot water. Cool until like a thick syrup. Insert a small funnel into the slit in the pastry lid and pour the jelly through this. Leave the pie in the refrigerator for several hours for the jelly to set, then serve cold with salad.

(I got this from: Marguerite Patten: Classic British Dishes.)

Orange Sauce

400g marmelade (coarse cut), 3 tblsp dry claret, 2 tbsp hot mustard, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly.

Specifically well with chicken or game and generally where Cumberland sauce would go as well.

Glazed Chicken or Turkey Pie

I never know how to translate the German "Pastete" because it certainly isn't anything like the English "pie", so I have settled for "glazed pie". To give you a hint: The result ought to look somewhat like that:

Okay, here it goes:

Ingredients for a 1.5 litre rectangular tin (a tin with folding-down sides is advisable):

For the dough (or is it pastry? I'll stick to dough, although it MAY be pastry.):
500 g plain flour
150 g lard
50 g butter, salt, one egg yolk

For the filling:
350 g chicken or turkey
400 g pork belly
Salt, 1 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp macis (or to taste)
300 g chicken or turkey liver
2 tbsp Butter
300 g chicken- or turkey breast fillet
100 g cream
2 cl Madeira
3 tbs green peppercorns
1 tsp pimento (allspice)
A large pinch of cayenne pepper
grated lemon peel from 1 lemon

For the glaze:
1 egg yolk, 1-2 tsp cream

For the jelly
3 leafs of gelantine
200 mg stock
100 ml Port

Flour for rolling out the dough
Fat to grease the baking tin

Time to make: About 2 hours
Cooling time: 12 hours

1. Knead the ingredients for the dough quickly together together with 100-150 ml cold water, put in a cold place.

2. For the filling dice chicken or turkey meat and pork's belly and put through a mincer twice or mince thoroughly in a food processor. Season generously with salt, pepper and macis and blend throughly. Put in a cold place.

3. Remove the sinews from the liver. Heat the butter and brown liver lightly. Drain (let drip off) on kitchen roll, season with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken- or turkey breast fillets. Blend the (in the meantime cooled) forcemeat with cream, Madeira, green pepper corns and ground lemon peel, season generously. Pre-heat the oven to 220° C.

4. Roll out the dough about 4 mm thick in a rectangular shape. Mark the outline of a baking tin and cut out. Grease the baking tin and line with the dough. Roll out the remaining dough about 1/2 cm thick and cut out in the shape of a top. Leave a little bit dough for ornaments.

5. Fill a third of the forcemeat into the baking tin, place the fillets in the middle and cover with a thin layer of forcemeat. Do the same with the livers and cover with the remaining forcemeat. Knock the tin on the desk a couple of times to prevent "air bubbles". Place the cover on top and attach it firmly to the dough lining.

6. Cut two small "chimneys" out of the cover (1 cm diameter) to allow the steam to escape. Whisk the egg yolk with the cream and brush the cover. Cut out ornaments, place on the cover and brush with egg yolk/cream as well.

7. Bake at 220°C for about 15 minutes, then cover with aluminium foil and bake at 180° C for another hour. If necessary pour away the juices from time to time.

8. Take the tin out of the oven and let cool down completely. Put in the fridge. For the jelly soak the gelantine in cold water. Heat the stock with the port and dissolve the gelantine in it. Let cool down a bit and pour the liquid through the "chimneys" into the pie (with the help of a funnel if necessary) and put back into the fridge for the jelly to set.

Good with (Sauce Cumberland or) Orange Sauce.

A real pain to make, but worth it. Great as a special gift for special friends who have everything else!

Kentucky Derby Mint Juleps

Crushed Ice
2 jiggers Kentucky 100 Proof Sour Mash Bourbon
1 jigger minted simple syrup (below)
cutting of fresh mint, rinsed

Fill sterling silver julep cup or old-fashioned glass with crushed ice. Pour bourbon over ice and then syrup. Belabor somewhat with a swizzle stick until the glass begins to frost. Slip a sprig of mint and a straw into the glass and serve.

Drink with caution.

Dundee Cake

This is one of the first things I made when I took up cooking. I was quite desparate because, at first, the finished cake showed huge, ugly cracks and a friend of mine said I ought to soak the dry fruit and peel in water previously. Yeah, well, water... So I took Scotch and replaced the "two tablespoons of liquid" with Scotch as well.

Oh yes, and make it in time, because it ought to rest for at least two days before eating.

Not to be given to children!

For a 20cm = 8" cake tin
175 g soft butter
175 g sugar
3 large eggs
225 g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
30 g ground almonds
2 tablespoons Scotch, take the superfluous liquid from the soaked fruits if there is enough left.
550 g chopped crystalized orange and lemon peel/glacé cherries and other dried fruit
at least half a bottle of Scotch
50 g blanched almonds (for the topping).

Let dried fruits etc. soak for AT THE VERY LEAST 12 hours in Scotch.

Pre-heat oven to 175°C. Grease and flour the cake tin.

Cream butter and sugar until soft and light.

Beat the eggs and add to the mixture. Save a bit egg white to glaze the almonds for the topping.

Sift flour, ground almonds and baking powder together. Fold into the creamed mixture together with the 2 tablespoons of Scotch.

Stir dried fruits etc. into the creamed mixture.

Spoon into tin, top with blanched almonds, brush the almonds with egg white.

Bake for 30 mins, then reduce heat to 150°C and bake for another 1 1/2 hours or until firm to touch.

Bauernfrühstück -- Farmer's Breakfast

150 g bacon
750 g boiled and skinned potatoes
1 large onion
2 large pickled gherkins
4 eggs
A little bit milk or cream to beat with the eggs
Salt and pepper

Dice the onion and bacon and brown in the butter. Dice gherkins and potatoes and add to the onions and bacon to fry. Add salt and pepper to taste. When the potatoes are golden brown, the beaten eggs are added and cooked briefly together with the potatoes.

Serves 4.

Very basic, but really delicious dish from the North of Germany. Serve WITH BEER!!!

Welsh Lamb

1.35-1.8kg (3-4lb) lamb (leg or shoulder)
300ml (½ pint) Cider
225g (8oz) Honey
2 tbsp Rosemary
1 tsp Ginger
Salt and Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 230°C: 450°F: Gas 8
Line an ovenproof dish with foil
Rub the lamb with salt, pepper and ginger
Place lamb joint in the dish and sprinkle with rosemary.
Cover the lamb with honey and pour cider around it.
Cook for 25 minutes per pound and 20 minutes extra
After 30 minutes reduce the temperature to 200°C; 400°F: Gas 6
Baste during cooking adding more cider if necessary

I've tried it (with new Zealand lamb, though) and it's dead easy to make and very good.

Gin and Tonic Sorbet

1 large gin & tonic
2 egg whites
Finely grated zest of lemon
2 tablespoons icing sugar

Whisk egg whites and sugar into a peak. Combine withgin and tonic and zest. Whisk vigorously. Put into a container and freeze.

But, during the freezing process, it is essential to whisk at intervals at least five or six times to combine the egg-white properly with the gin and tonic.

Serves 4.

Game Terrine

I owe this to IPC's Horse and Hound!

I started to develop an interest in cooking relatively late in life. Four years ago I saw by chance the following recipe in the Christmas issue of Horse and Hound and as I was bored and love game terrine and it all seemed to be pretty straightforward I thought why not give it a try. All of my friends who REALLY knew how too cook (one of them with a degree in domestic sciences) squeaked in anguish that THEY would NEVER have tried anything like that because it was much too fussy. However, it worked a treat and has again many times.

To quote a friend who has encouraged me all the way: "Everybody who can read can cook as well!"

Serves 6-8

450g/1lb raw boneless game, such as duck, venison, pheasant, rabbit
1 onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
25g/2oz butter
1 egg yolk
450g/1lb minced belly of pork
55g/2oz fresh white breadcrumbs
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
225g/8oz chicken livers (use duck or goose livers if you have them, soaked in milk for 30 minutes
85g/3oz pistachio nuts, shelled
450g/1lb rindless smoked bacon rashers, thinly sliced
For the marinade
port and/or red wine
bay leaf
onion slices

1. Marinate the game overnight in red wine or port, together with the bay leaf, onion slices and seasoning. Remove and pat dry, then trim to remove all fat, skin and any sinews.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/ Gas 4. Cook the onion and garlic in the butter until softened. Reserve eight to nine good pieces of game, then blend the remaining game, egg yolk and onion in a food processor, until combined.

3. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the belly of pork, breadcrumbs, thyme leaves and chicken livers. If using duck or goose livers, lightly sauté in butter before adding. Mix together well and add the pistachio nuts. Season generously-a terrine tends to need plenty of salt.

4. Grease a 900g/21b loaf tin and line, crossways, with the bacon rashers. Spoon in X of the mixture, then cover with a few pieces of reserved game pieces. Repeat layering until the tin is full, then fold the bacon rashers over the top, adding a few more lengthways, if necessary to cover top completely.

5. Cover the loaf tin with buttered paper, then foil. Stand in a roasting tin and pour in hot water to come halfway up the tin sides.

Cook for 1 1/2 hours or until the terrine juices run clear when pierced with a skewer. Cool, then weight down to flatten. Keep covered in the fridge until ready to turn out. Slice to serve.

Peanut Sauce

From Jenn. She says: " is my recipe. It is also WONDERFUL tossed with pasta and stir-fried vegetables.

Mix together 1/2 C. Peanut butter, and 1/2 C. hot water. Mix in 2 T. soy sauce 1 T. red wine vinegar, 3 clove garlic mince, 1-2 T. finely chopped cilantro, and cayenne pepper and brown sugar to taste."