Roasted Potatoes and Onions

Roasted Potatoes and Onions

     What Sam wouldn’t have given for a bag of fresh-dug taters to put in his rabbit stew!  The brief but welcome stop on the journey to Mordor found him inspired to cook sumthin’ tastey and the “brace of coneys” that Gollum proudly presented to him conjured up thoughts of home.  What a feast he could have made of it from his massive garden of vegetables back in the Shire.  The scrawny rabbits promised to be tough and would need a good boiling to soften up.  Good thing he still had some spices in his bag!  He couldn’t imaging much worse than unseasoned rabbit for supper!  Or maybe he could — another month of nothing but Lembas!  That would just about do him in, he reckoned.

   With the meat on the boil over the open fire, Sam noticed he was suddenly alone.  He looked around and saw Gollum crawling off into the scrub and Mr. Frodo nowhere to be found.  Sam bolted up to follow Gollum and suddenly came upon Frodo, who was lying on his belly and looking intently off into the distance.  Oliphants!  What a sight!  Sam was thrilled to get a look at these massive creatures and hoped to live to tell about it some day after they returned from the journey.

No sooner had their delight turned to dismay as arrows began to fly from somewhere near them.   Before they could escape, they found themselves in the company of Rangers from Gondor.  The Rangers didn’t trust Sam and Frodo but they were hungry from their travels and smelled the boiling coneys on the fire.  Their captain, Faramir, agreed to take up the matter of what to do with the two halflings after supper, which Sam had graciously invited them to share.  Sam figured the best way to defeat an enemy was by kindness, and besides, he desperately did not want to walk away from the first decent meal he would have in weeks!

This recipe, as depicted, is a combination of two potato recipes — Potatoes Boulangere and Roasted Potatoes with Onions.  I had picked up some multi-colored small potatoes at Trader Joe’s with this dish in mind. I added leeks, which are not called for in either recipe, but which I had on hand.  You can put nearly any mix of spices you like in these dishes.  Mine was done in a pressure cooker with chicken.   So on the plate you see the potatoes, a bit of roasted chicken breast, and a dollop of champagne and shallot butter (store-bought).   They were very tasty, but I know I’d prefer them browned in a pan or on the grill.  Either way, they make a nice side dish to any meat or a yummy addition to a vegetarian stew, if that’s what you like!  In case you’re looking for the Boulangere dish, I found the link to be broken on the Middle-earth Recipe site.  But if you find the Roasted Potatoes and Onions dish, scroll around and you’ll also find Potatoes Boulangere!

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Please enjoy the Middle-earth-inspired graphic designs I’ve added to this blog by clicking on the new page!


Here is what I’m working on and perhaps if I promise it to you I will make it happen!

Hall of Fire Christmas Bread (or New Years Bread or Easter Bread — just celebrate something!)  I’ve been trying to get around to this recipe for more than a year!

Roasted Potatoes and Onions, Potatoes Boulangere — a little of this and that from each recipe using what was on hand.  I tried it in a pressure cooker with breast of coney.  Very yummy.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

Promises, promises?  Maybe one more day?  I’ve been laid up with a bad back several days, looking at the new food processor and wishing I could use it.  Check back Monday!


This post is in appreciation of a new The Middle-earth Foodie’s subscriber (are there others?) who served up a warm helping of praise with the lament that there was not more.  I hinted that a motivator might be more subscribers.  So I submit this entry, simple as it may be, to say thanks!

Summer is waning and the new school year is upon the children of Hobbiton.  After a hearty breakfast of porridge, the round doors open and the paths fill with little Proudfoots, Brandybucks, Tooks, and Gamgees tramping off to be greeted by Mayor Sam.

Each year since the Scouring of the Shire, Sam has made the same speech to the returning students.  He would not let the memory of Mr. Frodo and Mr. Bilbo fade into the distance, like the Elven ship carrying them off to the Gray Havens.   He, Merry and Pippin would make sure that the lessons of The Fellowship would be remembered for all generations of Hobbits to come.  Never again would the Shire folk stand by while their land, homes, and peaceful way of life was destroyed by evil outsiders.

And so, each year, Mayor Sam calls the little ones to gather around him under the Party Tree.  The parents and elders quiet the excited group and everyone settles in to hear the story of the journey to Mordor and back again. 

Sam’s storytelling now rivals that of Old Mr. Bilbo, and the children listen, riveted, as he draws out the sword Sting and holds up the Mithril vest worn by Frodo.  They shiver at the descriptions of Wraiths, Orcs, Wargs and of the battle between Gandalf and the Balrog.  They fall silent in wonder at the gift-giving in Lothlorien.  Their mouths gape open at the final battle between Frodo and Gollum.  

And with the Mayor’s admonitions to honor the memory of Frodo and Bilbo by respecting the land, keeping loyal to family and friends, and living a peaceful life with all residents of Middle-earth stirring their hearts, a chorus begins to rise from their midst:

Tho men may call us little, and hold that we are weak,
yet we are friends of kings and queens, there’ll be no more defeat! 
The road may lead t’ward dangers, yet we shall not lose heart. 
Evil wizards, wraiths and dragons cannot pull the Shire apart.  
Together we shall thwart them, never yielding to the threat; 
for we are made of stronger stuff than they have seen as yet! 

 

Apologies to Middle-earth Recipes, but this one is not posted on their site.  Its a little something I concocted that seemed to require a Middle-earth identity.

Smaug's Meaty Bits - Dragon Sized Appetizers

 

Easy as (meat) pie to make!  All you need is:

2 sheets of refrigerated puff pastry dough, thawed

1 pound of ground beef (chicken or turkey would work too)

1 cup Salsa

1- 1/2 cups Monterey Jack Cheese or a Mexican Blend

1 cup Spicy Black Bean Dip (Trader Joe’s preferred)

1 pint Sour cream (for topping)

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions as garnish

One regular size muffin tin for 12 muffins

Cooking spray

Roll out the puff pastry dough to about half of its “out of the box” thickness.  Cut six equal squares from each of the two sheets of dough.   They don’t need to be exact, but should be about 3 inches square in size so they drape over the outside rim of the muffin tins. 

Spray the tins with a light coat of cooking spray.  Place the dough squares into regular size muffin tins and without stretching too much gently shape the dough into the tin to form a well for the meat to fill.

Brown your ground meat and drain the grease from it.  (The best way to do this is to layer paper towels on a plate and spoon the meat onto the paper to soak up the excess oils.)

Mix the spicy bean dip into the meat to hold it together and to give it flavor.  If you want to add other seasonings, be my guest!

Fill each pastry-lined muffin tin with a couple of tablespoons of the meat/bean mixture.

Cover each one with one tablespoon of chunky salsa (if it is too liquid it will make the pastry mushy.)

Top with about 1/8 cup of grated cheese

Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown

Cool just a bit, then add a dollop of sour cream and a few sprinkles of green onion

This should make 12, maybe a few more, depending on how well you are able to get the pastry dough to cooperate!

If you happen to own a tamed dragon, then you know how they can be very handy in the kitchen! 

  • They can re-light your pilot when the gas stove goes out. 
  • You don’t need a torch to create a lovely carmelized sugar on top of your Crème brûlée
  • Meringue toppings on your pies will have just the right touch of brown
  • They will roast the skins right off of those poblano peppers when making chiles rellenos
  • And it goes without saying they’re mighty handy around a campfire for making s’mores!

Hobbits will write poems about you when you serve this delicacy!

 

Rivendell Hall of Fire Black-Bottom Cheesecake Muffins

What would it be like to have 3,000 years ahead of you — what would you do with the time?
 
When they weren’t fighting off the armies of Sauron and saving men, hobbits and dwarves from orcs, the Elves used the time that they were given perfecting the art of forging the finest swords in all of Middle-earth, stitching intricately embroidered banners and tapestries, and relaxing together as a community with fine food and friends. 
 
When Bilbo first came to Rivendell he charmed the Elves with his extemporaneous poetry at their evening gathering at Elrond’s House, in the Hall of Fire.   (This was on Bilbo’s adventure with the Dwarves to recover their wealth from the dragon Smaug.)  Lucky for this Hobbit there were Elves who had perfected the art of cooking!  They provided the community with such tasty morsels as these Black-Bottom Cheesecake Muffins to cap off a night of “spoken word” performances.  And since Bilbo could go on and on into the night, obviously enjoying the spotlight and camaraderie, everyone must have gotten the munchies before he finally gave out and they could retire to their beds. 
 
Chocolate is a universally adored confection, and this recipe is easy to like.  While I believe I followed the directions correctly, I thought the cream cheese mixture was a little runny.  It didn’t sink into the chocolate batter base like I expected it would.  The  result was fine, but I was expecting a creamier cream cheese center.  I probably overfilled the muffin tins or perhaps my baking soda was a little close to its expiration date, but the muffins raised and then the tops went flat and crunchy. 
 
I planned to serve them for a birthday party at work, but they didn’t look as good as I wanted.  I had taken the suggestion in the recipe to double the ingredients for the chocolate base so  there was enough batter after 12 muffins to make a 9 inch square cake.  I spooned the cream cheese mixture into the cake same as directed for muffins, then swirled it around a bit for a marbled effect.  But I got worried that it would be  dry the next day, so I bought hot fudge sauce and, just before the party,  I warmed up the cake and poured the hot fudge on top, letting it drizzle down the sides.   We served it with triple vanilla ice cream and fresh raspberries!
 
 

Doc's Carrot Cake

It is hard to imagine a carrot cake more delicious than this one!  Very moist — probably owing to the pudding mix in the recipe.  If I were on the catering staff in Minas Tirith I would have baked this for the wedding of King Elessar and Lady Arwen.   Or perhaps it was made in honor of Galadriel‘s birthday in Lothlorien because its color reminds one of her golden hair, so lovely that Gimli could think of nothing more to ask from her than a lock to keep as she sent each member of the Fellowship off with a blessing.

The only thing I added was the decoration — a “carrot” made from an orange gum drop and a sprig of parsley.   I used walnuts instead of pecans as that’s what I had on hand.  You will want the cake “quite cool” before you frost it, and pay attention to how much confectioners sugar you put in the frosting so it firms up well.  Still, I recommend you put the frosted cake in the fridge, especially on a warm day.

You must make all haste to summon the bakery staff to get this delicacy on your family table tonight!  Or at least on Super Bowl Sunday!


Blackberry Tarts from Bree

Blackberry Tarts from Bree

The Inn at Bree offered a full array of meats and desserts to satisfy the four hungry young Hobbits, yet Sam reckoned the true test of the establishment’s suitability was the quality of its beer!  After some initial research, he determined that the beer and the rest of the menu were on a par with anything he had enjoyed “back ‘ome at the Shire, and that’s sayin’ somethin’!”

In the summers before the forming of The Fellowship, the four often stopped along the banks near the Buckleberry Ferry to glean the last of the sweetBlackberry Tart from Bree first bite plump berries from the prickly vines.   They sat on the edge of the ferry and pulled themselves to the middle of the waters to dangle their dusty feet in the deep, tossing the juicy gems into the air and catching them in their mouths, making faces at one another as if there were nothing pressing at all in their lives.  No need to hurry.  No reason to fear. 

Merry and Pippin played their favorite game: arguing over who was taller.   Sam would warn the two of them about how Farmer Maggot and his dog would soon track them down and find the basket of pilfered mushrooms and cabbages sitting next to them.  His Old Gaffer would hold him responsible of course, he worried out loud.

Frodo told Sam he’d vouch for him if such a need arose.  Then he lay back and stared up at the tree tops into the sky and wondered what had become of his old Uncle Bilbo.  He missed his stories of adventures with trolls, dragons, dwarves and Elves.  He thought that one day he would go on an adventure himself, if the occasion presented itself.  Frodo couldn’t imagine what kind of adventure would ever draw him more than a day’s walk from his beloved Shire.   Even so, Frodo resolved to bring up the idea with Gandalf, if the old Wizard ever did return to Bag End.

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Meals that say “I’m Home”

Frodo lived alone at Bag End for years after his uncle Bilbo left.  Now that he was back from saving Middle-earth and the Shire was restored, he tried to settle in to his former way of life.  But it didn’t seem like home without his dear friend Sam.  Sam and Frodo became house mates and,  after Sam married Rosie, Frodo welcomed the couple to stay.

One day soon after moving in, Sam found an interesting box in the closet of his room.  The box was hidden at the back where the light was very dim along with several other boxes of various sizes.  Taking it into the light he discovered a thick book held shut with a strip of leather.  It was with utter delight that he opened the slightly dusty cover and read these words:  “A Collection of Favourite Recipes by Primula Brandybuck Baggins.” 

Sam was excited to show Mr. Frodo this treasure and began to call for him to come quick!   Something in Frodo cringed to hear his friend call out this way, wondering if he were again in danger.  So he was relieved to see Sam sitting on his bed bent over a book!  “Look Mr. Frodo!”  Sam shouted.  “It’s your mum’s old recipe book!”  Frodo took the book in his hands and a warmth came over him as he carefully leafed through it.  Sam excitedly proclaimed that he would cook the meal of Mr. Frodo’s choice from that book this very night! 

 “What should it be, Mr. Frodo?” Sam asked.  “Is there somethin’ in that book about pumpkins?  Cause we got a right big one ready for pickin’ in the garden.”

Indeed, there was!  “Stuffed Pumpkin,” Frodo answered.  As he said the words aloud they felt familiar, somehow. Sam set to work straight away and soon their home was filled with wonderful fragrances that promised a delicious meal.   Frodo continued to ponder the feelings that stirred within him.   He wasn’t sure if he was happy or sad or somewhere between.  By the time he and Sam filled their bowls, Frodo’s memory came fully back to him of times his mum carried her stuffed pumpkin steaming hot from the oven with a proud smile on her face.  He remembered fondly sitting at table with his parents and  in his heart he could almost hear her in the next room telling him to wash up for supper.

Frodo looked up from his bowl. Putting down the spoon he sat back for a moment.  Sam began to question his cooking as Frodo’s face was hard to read.  “Is everything all right Mr. Frodo?”

And Frodo looked at his friend with a slow growing smile and a twinkle in his eyes.  Because he finally understood.  Frodo softly answered, “I’m home, Sam.  I’m finally home.”


A sweet morsel for the Ranger's rucksackGondorian Griddle Cookies

These sweet biscuits might have been a staple of the Gondorian Ranger, as they are similar to Elven Lembas Bread in function.   Cooked on a griddle, these “cookies” are really little pancakes with a touch of sweetness to them.  They are “pocket-sized” and can be carried by workers in the field or troops on the march.  

Let us think back for a moment to the early days of the Age of Men, and check in with our friends in Gondor:

So many dreamy Gondorian Rangers, so little time!  But our slayer of the Witch King and Princess of Rohan, Eowyn, has taken one of the best of the lot off the market — Faramir.   Faramir may have been able to resist the powers of The One Ring, but his love for The White Lady smote him, leaving him powerless to resist her.  

Renowned for her valor as well as her beauty, she could now settle in to a traditional life as wife and mother. albeit a royal one.  But alas, fair Eowyn was no domestic goddess and there were no more wars to fight.    Skilled with a blade and the art of war, yet she was unschooled in the simple tools and traditions of the culinary arts.  Even this simple staple of the Ranger’s rucksack was a challenge for her to master.  

But master it she would!  She could have left the cooking to the servants, but this is not her style.  With their help, she learned the domestic arts and became a fully rounded woman, which gave her great pleasure although Faramir could not have loved her the more.   She delighted to host their dear Hobbit friends when they came for long visits.  And yet she rode out with the company when The King sent Faramir off on a diplomatic mission.  It is quite possible that she perfected the Gondorian Griddle Cookie while on one of these journeys under Faramir’s patient tutelage.

Now back to the recipe!  

The dough is not runny like pancake batter yet it is softer than a typical cookie dough and firm enough to roll out and cut into shapes.   When camping or on a long journey, wrap them in Mallorn leaves to keep them fresher.  Today you will have to rely upon a specialty store to procure your Mallorn leaves, which come in the form of parchment paper cutouts.  Here are some ideas for dressing up your Gondorian Griddle Cookies:
 
  • Dip them in melted butter mixed with honey or brown sugar.
  • Make Gondorian S’Mores by putting a bit of chocolate on top when you turn it over, then have your toasted marshmallow at the ready.  Or use Nutella instead of the chocolate candy.
  • Mix crushed nuts or fruit into the batter before cooking.
  • Make a mini Trifle: Place one cookie in a glass bowl, pour a splash of rum (or other liquor) over it –  not TOO much (about half a tablespoon) or it will disintegrate –  then spoon on vanilla pudding, add sliced bananas (or other fruit), now add a gooey topping like hot fudge, place another cookie on top, another splash of rum, some more pudding, and top with whipped cream and a cherry! 
  • Bananas Gondor anyone?  Brown sugar and butter and rum simmered together and drizzled on top!  Yum! Don’t forget the whipped cream!
– Submitted with appreciation to Primula for her background details on the family history of this recipe!
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