Dagorhir Feast

My Drentha Cooking Apprentice Feast was made for Peasant Revolt on 9/2/2017 at Slippery Rock University.

I believe I put together an excellent Peasant Revolt Dagorhir feast by making Latvian Serf Food.

 

The menu was:                                                                 Reviews:

 

Apprentice Dish

Summer Solstice Cheese,         A caraway seed butter cheese.                                                    Big hit, fully half vanished during day board.

 

Apprentice Dish

Cold Beet, Cucumber & Radish Cream summer soup.                                     Mostly positive reviews, Many returned for seconds of the “pink stuff”

 

Mild Kielbasa Sausage                                      Good Standard Fare

 

Summer Sauerkraut, using 50% sautéed onions to sweeten and lighten.

The least favorite dish overall Mostly due to refusal “hate kraut”

 

Apprentice Dish

Roasted Lamb Cubes with Rosemary            Not a single negative comment,

Most requested for seconds

 

Roasted New Potatoes with Oregano & Thyme Positive reviews (with caveat)

 

Latvian Summer Solstice Cheese (Apprentice Dish)

By far the most time consuming of the dishes I prepared.

2 Gallons Whole Milk                                                2 Quarts Buttermilk

8 Pounds Cottage Cheese 4%                         ½ Pound Butter

12 Eggs                                                            3 Tablespoons Caraway Seeds

2 Teaspoons Salt                                            2 Cheese Cloths

1 Pinch Saffron

Start with adding the caraway seeds to your milk and slowly bring the milk to a low boil or (one might even say a simmer, a word I just now understand) boil. This takes time with this big a recipe so do other stuff now. Lay out your Cheese Cloth now and set up your mold. I used the steamer part of my stockpot and it worked great.

Crack your eggs and separate the yolks. Neat trick here because lots of stuff needs yolks but not whites or vice versa; crack the egg and shift the yolk back and forth between the shells letting the whites drop into a clean bowl OR into a clean ice tray. Freeze the tray and put resulting cubes into Ziplock bags for later use. Mix the egg yolks thoroughly into the cottage cheese then vigorously whisk. Add this to the boiling milk and get it back up to a low boil. Add the Buttermilk and keep heating while stirring slowly. Take a strainer and check to see if the curds have separated and sunk to the bottom, the liquid will turn watery yellow as an indication, if not keep stirring because this can take a bit of time. Once it does things are going to happen fast so be ready.

I used the strainer pasta basket of the same pot to support my cheesecloth but underestimated, Use 2 Layers of Cheese Cloth, 1 is not enough especially for so much. I actually used 2 entire cheese clothes to make this one. Pour off the non-curd liquid and then pour the remaining into the cloth. Let it drain for a while and then pull the edges of the cloth together and twist before squeezing to expel remaining liquid. For me this was tough because I got a lot of liquid out but the consistency was worrisome, being very soft. In the ends up I did the recipe correctly (it reads “eat spread like sweet butter or sliced”) but I kept squeezing to be sure, getting very little result and so kept being worried.

Counter-intuitively you must now decant the cheese back into your pot. Here I added my secret weapon, I melted a pinch of my Saffron into the butter and let the color turn bright yellow/orange; the only deviation from the traditional recipe I allowed myself, mostly because Latvians love saffron generally. Over low heat add the butter and salt then mix very well. When I say well I mean stir a lot until its smooth and homogenous. Because I was unsure of it I now added another tablespoon of caraway. Place it all back into the cloth and make it into a wheel, I used the steamer basket to make the Perfect shape I got. Now it was rested for a few hours to drain any last liquid and let it set and then into the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, I did 2 hours days to sure.

The cheese was an epic hit, I had to steal some back just to save it to see how it held up over time in the fridge. After removal of the typical mold, as of 9/13/2017 it was still moist and tasty. In my own opinion it needed a touch more salt and perhaps maybe a bit less caraway, however I was told by others to “leave perfection alone”.

**PSA: Mold on cheese (especially when refrigerated) is a non-harmful surface growth of fungus and can be easily removed by shaving the surface until no discoloration or abnormal texture is found. In fact mold is a crucial part of making most aged cheese. As long as you remove it the underlying cheese is entirely edible. *Be aware that this is not true of “Wet” cheeses such as Ricotta, Cottage Cheese and Fresh Mozzarella.

 

Cold Beet and Cucumber Summer Soup (Apprentice Dish)

This one has so many variations it took me awhile to settle on my own recipe, as I prefer a chunky version that is basically salad as soup. The trick it to make everything as fresh as humanly possibly. I have had it in Europe as anything from a Pink Sauce over Veg to a Puree. It is always served with Day Old Bread with Dill on top and often with Egg and Scallion as well.

9 Pounds Beets, Diced                        1-Quart Buttermilk

8 Large Cucumbers, Diced                  1 Large Loaf of Day Old Italian Bread

5 Ounces Dill                                      12 Eggs

2 Cups Green Onion (or scallion)       4 Cups Lime Juice

¼ Teaspoon Pepper                           1-Pound Radish

2 Teaspoons Salt                                4 Pounds Sour Cream

3 Tablespoons Sugar                           2 Quarts Plain Yogurt

The Beauty of this dish is that it is just combine, chill and serve; but it does take a lot of prep work.

I used canned diced beets for speed but I have cooked them before and it is a bit of a mess but fun.

Now we use fire to:    Hard Boil the Eggs, Shell and Chop them into Sections, then put aside as garnish. Cook the Beets by removing the stem end but leave the root end on; this lets the color and flavor into the water, which we need later, and fill a pan with water seasoned with about a tablespoon each of salt and vinegar. Boil until tender enough to stick a fork in pretty easily. Pull the beets out of the cooking liquid and put it aside for later. Put beets in a bowl and run cold water over them. Grab the root end and the skin will slide off easily and you will get caught red handed for beet skinning. No really you’ll have red hands for at least today. End of Fire Needed section of soup.

Dice the Beets. Slice the Bread into 1/2th inch slices.

Dice the Cucumber (optionally peel the cucumber), Grate the Radishes,

Remove Stalks and Chop the Dill into ~1/8th inch sections and set about 20% aside for garnish.

Chop the Green Onions into ~1/4th inch slices and put aside as garnish.

Now pour 1 quart of the red beet cooking liquid into a huge pot. Add buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream and lime juice and stir until PINK. Dump all the other ingredients in 1 at a time and stir between.

Stick it in the fridge. Yes, it will require some Tetris to get a big pot like this and all the rest of this feast in there but it’s worth it as the flavors of the soup meld together OVERNIGHT. You can get away with just a few hours but really the longer the better. I had about 18hours of chill time on this after all was said and done.

Serve Cold. Garnish in any combination or singly with eggs, dill and green onion. Goes best with slightly crunchy sliced bread.

Notes:

*I left the Onion as garnish to prevent a super onion taste permeating in the last step, which has happened to me before.

*I left the Eggs as garnish to preserve it as my second fully Vegetarian feast option (aside from the Vegan potatoes)

My original plans called for 3 Quarts Vegetable Stock, which sometimes adds a complexity, however the soup was already quite liquid so I deleted it. I also ended up leaving a portion of Lime Juice and Salt/Sugar mix at home in the rush, which I was going to use as my last minute adjustments. In retrospect I think I might have tasted it and added at least some of the Green Onion, Lime and Salt & Sugar in the morning knowing it had several hours till serving at ~5pm, but then again many people loved it the way it was.

A lot of people said variations of “I don’t really like beets but it was good” or “hate beets” however I had the opposite feedback as well that it “was not beety enough” so… We also heard from several members of the Wolves of Asgard that, “it was the best Dag feast we’ve had, especially the Pink Stuff”. One person thought it was the perfect way for him to have his vegetables.

 

Kielbasa Sausage

This took the least work, it was heated on site in crockpots and some was also lightly grilled in the fireplace.

Take 11 Pounds of Precooked Sausage, cut it into ~3/4 inch slices and heat to desired temperature then serve.

I recommend crockpots to heat and serve, but it does get a bit oily so grilling it is a great option if you have the time or help with a basic knowledge of fire.

 

Summer Sauerkraut

Super Simple, I used fresh premade Sauerkraut as the base.

To make it lighter and sweeter I used the recipe of my friend Josh Wilson who taught me to add ~30%-50% sautéed chopped onion. I went for dicing this time around and will not do that again, it just does not give the same effect as chopping it more roughly.

50 Ounces Sauerkraut

50 Ounces Onion, Diced

1 Pound Salted Butter

Sautee the Onion by itself lightly and strain the resulting water (if any) out. Return to pan with 1 pound of salted butter. Sautee until the onion turns a clear/yellow and begins to slightly caramelize. Strain the butter out and add onions directly to preheated sauerkraut. Mix until well combined. Serve hot.

Least favorite dish of the feast. Most refused to even try it even though it is very mild compared to most kraut out there.

 

Roasted Rosemary Lamb

I really created this recipe myself. I have had Rosemary Lamb and Tandori Lamb before and really thought it would make an authentic peasant dish. I found a lot of lamb for a really great price and then researched what other people had done and picked and chose from that. I also think marinating meat is the greatest thing since bread (not sliced just bread) so I went all out to find / create a terrific marinade.

10 Pounds of Lamb, Cubed                            6 Tablespoons Rosemary

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil                                  ½ Cup Minced Garlic

6 Tablespoons Salt                                         3 Cups Lime Juice

½ Tablespoons Pepper                                   2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar

Mix all of the above in a big pot, put into fridge for 24 hours. Yes it’s a long marinade put it pays off.

Lightly oil some baking sheets and place the lamb chunks upon them.

Cook at 400 degrees for about 25-30 min.

The saga of dead crockpot begins now, as this was my original re-heating option, without it I resorted to aluminum buffet pans and the sites fireplace, which ended up working fine on the lamb, and may have added to its perfection.

Nobody said a word against my lamb, of which I am overly proud. I will defend my dead sheep with my life and honor. Most requested dish for seconds.

 

Roasted New Potatoes

This is by far the easiest of the recipes I made myself. Credit goes to GatheringsKitchen.com where they taught me this one as part of a fantastic cooking class meal many years ago.

15 Pounds of New Red, Yellow and Purple Potatoes

1 Cup of Olive Oil

4 Tablespoons of dried Italian Spices             (I used a mix containing about 80% Oregano & 20% Thyme)

2 Tablespoons of Salt                                                 (I kept adding till it tasted right)

2 Tablespoons of Pepper                               (I kept adding till it tasted right)

Use 3 cuts to chop the small roundish potatoes into 8 pieces (since this confused all of my dragooned proofreaders I will explain; take a round potato and make a horizontal cut along the “equator” then holding it together make 2 vertical cuts at right angles, voila 8 chunks). Put them in a very large container and pour oil over them. Toss and stir them with your hands until they are all thinly covered with oil. Sprinkle some herbs and spices over them and toss them again. Repeat until you are out of spices. Spread them onto baking sheets and bake at 400 for 40min. Taste. Bake more if needed. The is where thermometers and I part ways because it was about 30 minutes in that everything was nice and hot and pretty looking, but not cooked through enough. My reheating options were much amiss at the site and this is my biggest regret as the potatoes were imperfect because I trusted a thermometer.

This was my fully Vegan Feast option.

 

Lessons Learned:

Communication Is Key – There were plenty of resources available, they had been offered but I had not clearly said I wanted them directly. If you don’t ask clearly, it’s not going to just show up or happen of its own accord …

Do Everything You Can Ahead Of Time – I lived by this and I’m pretty sure I would have died otherwise.

Containers Are A Godsend – Bring all bowls, plates, cutting-boards and pans you need & A BACKUP SET.

Only Delegate The Small Stuff – If you’re the Chef, YOU are the chef. Get help sure but don’t let anything slide because you are focused on something else. I truly regret not doing a few things myself. That said I HAD HELP and it was crucial to the Day-Of and amazing and I owe favors of all kinds to the helpers I had, you may have seen my shout-outs the day-of but I will do it again here below.

Rest / Save All Your Spoons – If you stress out then the day-of will be hell itself and you will run out of energy before you are done. I rested very well the night before so I was able to handle the 4 or so “fires” I had to throw myself at.

Have A Backup Plan – Example Crockpots; use them, love them but always have a backup plan like aluminum pans, alternate heat sources and substitute ingredients.

Know Your Site – Had I known the resources of the event site I would have changed many of my cooking plans. We actually had the crockpot for reheating the lamb completely die. Thankfully I had insisted on the fireplace of our great SRU site being lit for atmosphere and therefore had an amazing ready made heat source. The smoke serendipitously may have slightly improved the lamb. We also used it to reheat the potatoes and they needed it, see below.

Taste Test Your Food – don’t trust thermometers for anything other than food safety or timers for anything but a guideline. IE: The potatoes cooked hot enough and long enough but at least some of the batch had not softened into the flakiness one would hope for.

Cooking More Takes Longer – This goes with the above. Filling an oven with food, even preheated and with more time added, changes cooking times by quite a bit. By doing the lamb first I avoided some of this overload problem, however the potatoes suffered.

MAKE MORE THAN ENOUGH – At Peasants Revolt 2016 the total number attending was ~60 so I was expecting to cook for 80. However after 2 site changes and adverse weather forecasts it was suggested I reduce this to 50. Looking at the volumes I had a funny feeling so I decided to increase this on cooking days TWICE and it was still only barely enough. SO Make enough for the last event and then add at least 20%. 67 people officially attended Peasants Revolt 2017 and the feast only barely covered them. We had to ration so everyone got to taste the lamb.

If It Looks Wrong It Is – This goes with the above but also for things like shape/size/color/smell/taste. Many times in this process I increased, decreased or even added entirely new ingredients to the recipes because they were just… not right.

Make A List – Make a master list of all ingredients and TOTAL amounts, break that down into shopping lists. While cooking Do Not just go by your recipe, check it off or note amounts as you go. I then used my master list to make my food ingredient / allergy placards day-of.

Buy Trays – I bought 5 compartment school lunch foam trays when I saw that I was going to have 5 dishes that would make all the others taste different due to sauce / drippings etc. Along with the bowls, the trays made sure everybody got some of everything. GFS has such trays in bulk and for reasonable prices.

Breaking Tradition is HARD – Traditions are usually good but in this case the “staff go last” meal plan was a non-starter because I had to make sure the Drenthans present got to taste the feast due to my apprenticeship. Nobody attending the event said anything about it that I know of since I announced it was for a “trial” several times beforehand however a couple Drenthans were uncomfortable with it. I wish I could have eased that in some way because tension sucks, especially on such a great day otherwise. Seriously even with the stress and work it was great.

SHOUT OUTS                              Dag Name                  Retroactive Title

            Robin Tung                           Tungsten                     Sous Chef, Server & Master of All Gophering

Nick Haas                             Aneo Randern             Event Head & Pre-Event Insanity Limiter

Sean Murphy                           Levente Maygar          Day-Of Gopher, Server, Helper & Cookery

Zachary Nathin-Gurne Demmel         Eckerd       Day-Of Volunteer, Gopher Apprentice & Helper

Haley Novak                        Arielle Shortfoot         Cookery Contributor, Helper

*Several others as well whom I never met before and whose name I could not find out!

If I forgot you I humbly apologize.

**I will answer all questions you may have gladly, I bit off a huge chunk here and while I am know for my ambitious ideas, I pulled this off and everybody that knew or helped told me to lay off the humble and just BRAG.

About the author: Jaxatar