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The desolation of Smaug is indeed cause for celebration as the old worm lies dead amid the smoldering ruins of Esgaroth.  The burglar Bilbo Baggins proved his quality to the once doubting company of Dwarves by outwitting the Dragon and discovering his weakness — an unprotected patch under his left breast.   Fatally pierced by the Bowman’s arrow, the treasure of Erebor was restored to its rightful owners.   The Dwarves had their revenge at last!

seed cakes for gimli

While news  of the dragon’s demise spread, it was fitting for the thirteen dwarves and their burglar to celebrate.  With the city in ruins, the celebration would be sparse.  But our dear Hobbit is nothing if not resourceful, and also very fond of parties.   He rallied the younger Dwarves Kili and Fili and off they went on another mission — this time to look for provisions for the party amid the ruins of the town.   Kili and Fili wished there might be more than roasted coneys on the menu — they talked of the sweet seedcakes that were part of every Dwarf family celebration.  Because of his heroism, the townsfolk took pity upon Bilbo and offered him what little they could find left of their provisions.  He inquired whether there might be any ingredients to bake a tasety treat, as they had been on their journey for a very long time and he was yearning for some of the comforts of his home back in the Shire.    One of the dear old women of the city brought him to the rubble that had been her home and offered whatever he might find there.  As luck would have it, Bilbo managed to scrounge up a bit of this and a dab of that and unearthed a few pots while he was at it.  Kili and Fili came running — Kili was carrying a goat and Fili had a chicken in one hand and two eggs in the other!    It seemed like their wish would be granted as they watched Bilbo work his magic,  though there would not be enough to share with all the rest. After baking it on the open fire Bilbo cut it into four sections — not three.  Kili and Fili protested that if he cut the cake into three pieces they would each have more.  But Bilbo had another plan.  Taking his slice and the fourth with it, he led the young Dwarves back to the camp with Kili and Fili protesting the whole distance.  But once they arrived, they witnessed the legendary Hobbit hospitality as Bilbo offered the fourth piece to Thorin, their leader.   If anyone else should enjoy this sweet revenge, it was he.

“Seedcake for Gimli”  The recipe is a bit like a scone in a pan.  In my version I substituted Chia seeds.  I’d been wondering what to do with them and I don’t care for caraway which is in the original! I also added a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to the wet ingredients before adding the dry.   I baked mine in a 10 inch cast iron skillet.   I cannot vouch for the recipe’s 45 minute cooking time because my oven is not heating properly, but at 350 degrees in my oven I only needed 20 minutes but that could be due to the cast iron.  Definitely use the middle rack as suggested so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.   I am not sure if the recipe is meant to be slightly thinner than a biscuit dough, then it would have taken longer.  The only other thing I did differently is not sift the flour.  Give it a try!  I’m going to have it for breakfast with a bit of yogurt!

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The women of Lake-town who survived the wrath of the dragon Smaug and saw his defeat at the hand of Bard the Bowman, set about making their new city a place to rival any other settlement of men in Middle-earth.  While the men were focused on construction, the women made sure they were well-fed.  Re-building an entire town would not be easy nor swift, but the NEW Lake-town, or Esgaroth, as it would be named, would be far less flamable!  This feature was perhaps a bit late in coming, since there was no more threat of immolation from gold-hoarding dragons.

Nonetheless, the residents wanted to attract new businesses, and, of course, tourism was bound to pick up once the bones of Smaug were recovered from the bottom of the lake and re-assembled for viewing.  A museum celebrating the heroism of Bard the Bowman would be built and the dragon’s bones placed on exhibit.   One could envision future festivals celebrating the great victory over Smaug with dragon kite flying contests, dragon boat rides, and flaming sword-swallowers on parade down the main street.  Perhaps the wizard Mithrandir would join them and offer up some of his famous fireworks!

Once the city was in good enough shape to promote itself as a destination — “Visit Esgaroth!  We’re no longer flammable!” — would be the focus for the marketing campaign — a farmers’ and artists’ market was established on the lake shore.   Many vendors offered dragon-themed wares, such as replicas of the arrow that slew Smaug, wall hangings featuring the dragon breathing fire over the city, and deep-fried “dragon on a stick.”

These novelties were a necessary part of the tourism industry, but they were not the reason for the market’s eventual fame.   The Esgaroth Public Market became known throughout the realms of Middle-earth for its regional cuisine!  The women had preserved some of the former town’s heritage by serving traditional foods that were handed down to them over generations of mothers of Lake-town.   Many recipes included varieties of fresh fish from the lake.  And in summer, the bounty of the gardens came to the Market in dishes featuring fresh tomatoes, peppers, spinach, onions, carrots, spices and herbs.

While recipes of this era have not survived, one can imagine such a dish as we will call Lake-town Market Salad.   Since it would have been poor stewardship to waste any of the harvest, one way to use up the odds and ends was to combine them with grains or noodles to create a one-dish meal.  Lake-town Market Salad was not as famous as other, more sophisticated, dishes, but it has a regional flare that reminds one of the rustic way of life back in the third age of men.

Lake-town Market Salad

2 cups cooked risotto
1 each small Yellow, Orange and Red Bell Peppers
2 Green Tomatoes
2 Ripe Tomatoes
1 small Shallot or Onion
Black olives (or green if you prefer)
1 can of black beans (or other variety or combination of beans)
Fresh basil, oregano, and parsley to taste
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tbl Olive Oil
Salt, Pepper to taste
Cook risotto according to package directions, drain, and set aside to cool.
Dice the vegetables and add to the risotto with the herbs and spices.
Drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar.  Stir.  Place in refrigerator to cool one hour before serving.
A dollop of sour cream or ricotta cheese on top is a nice addition, or add cubed ham and shredded cheese for a anti-pasto.
 
This “salad” is also good served hot – after mixing (omit the olive oil and vinegar), heat it on the stove top or put it into the oven.  Grate cheese over it to get nice and melty.  You could also put this mixture into a nice broth — either chicken or beef — and make a soup or stew!  Add tobasco or red pepper flakes for those who like it with some kick!
 
*Disclaimer — this recipe is not on the Middle-earth Recipes site.  It is my own creation, in honor of Mr. Bilbo and Mr. Frodo’s birthdays today, September 22, 2012.

 

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!
 
 
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