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Icelandic-Fst-art - 12/4/09


Review of an Icelandic feast for the "St. Andrews visits Iceland" event hosted by the Barony of An Dubhaigeainn - Center Moriches, NY. held on Saturday, November 7th, 2009. Cooked by Master G. Tacitus Adamantius.


NOTE: See also the files: Iceland-msg, Iceland-bib, fd-Iceland-msg, dayboards-msg, salmon-msg, meat-smoked-msg, chicken-msg, bag-cooking-msg, almond-milk-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



Date: Sun, 08 Nov 2009 11:42:06 -0500

From: "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius" <adamantius1 at verizon.net>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Partial feast debriefing while the massive leg

      cramps do their thing... LONGISH


As some of you may have heard, I was asked by a friend to cook a feast  

on fairly short notice, with a menu previously conceived by a separate  

researcher and the original cook, who had to give up her job due to a  

medical emergency, so I was given a menu and some recipes to work from.


I made a few changes to the menu as a conscientious SCA member and  

foodie Laurel, and there was one dish that I felt I simply wouldn't  

have time to prepare (a couple of hundred deep-fried, paper thin,  

incredibly fragile cookies whose periodicity was a bit doubtful to me  

in any case). I suggested that if they were important to the menu czar  

she could find someone to make them off site and bring them in, and  

apparently she did. There was one that I simply refused to serve  

because I didn't want my name associated with it and the implication  

that I had given it my official blessing as appropriately medieval/

Renaissance food.


The entire event was in an Icelandic theme, and the menu as handed to  

me was mostly traditional Icelandic foods, some of which might be  

period, some definitely not (the most egregious of these I simply  

replaced with dishes from the Harpestraeng Codex).


Did I mention there was a dayboard, too, which I also put together?  

And that we weren't allowed, for liability reasons, to actually cook  

in the site's kitchen (we could reheat and keep things warm in their  

ovens)? As a result, we had some cold dishes strategically placed on  

the menu, a propane smoking box outside for roasting, two propane  

turkey fryer burners with 60-quart pots of boiling water, and a lot of  

boiling bags, courtesy of the amazing FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer.


I discovered that the smoker box was smaller than I had been led to  

expect, contained less room and fewer racks and generally considerably  

less muscle than advertised. We solved that by placing first our red  

meat roasts (they were supposed to be lamb, but local availability and  

pricing caused me to buy one leg of lamb and four large secondary cuts  

of beef - round tips? Never dealt with those before) into the smoker,  

got them looking vaguely cooked but not nearly done, brought them into  

the inside ovens to "reheat and keep warm" for about an hour at 400  

degrees F (doesn't everybody do it that way? We were just warming them  

in the ovens; we were afraid they'd get cold). When the beef and lamb  

went indoors, we did the same thing with about fourteen chickens.


The unscheduled extra attention this situation required threw a lot of  

the other work off schedule (and then court ended early, and his  

Majesty blithely announced he was ready for dinner, with the local  

Baron in tow with frozen grin in place, knowing full well we had  

agreed on dinner at 6:30PM, not 5:45...).


Well, in the end, like all proper clusterfudges, most of the insane  

maneuverings were invisible from the outside, and to me the most  

amusing thing was the dayboard offering of salt cod balls in a quite  

rich salmon-essence cream sauce... well, people seemed unable to grasp  

the simple fact that the clearly-labeled sauce they were eating was  

not in fact a soup that I had accidentally dropped fish balls into. A  

couple of people reported some mild gastric distress, and it wasn't  

from any hygienic consideration. These were all the people who ate  

huge bowls of cream sauce, when a tablespoon or two was what was  

intended. (--That fish soup sure was good!  --Really? I'm so happy you  

liked it. What fish soup? I didn't make any fish soup... Ohmygosh you  

ate two large bowls of cream sauce that was 90% heavy cream and 5%  

butter??? <steps aside, guffawing, while other person runs to rest  



In the end, it was quite satisfying, in a way, that the few people  

that I made deathly ill did not, in fact, result from the raw salmon I  

served, or the chickens cooked in inadequate ovens (one slightly pale  

bird was sent back, I took its temperature, showed the still-above-157  

to the person who'd brought it back, swapped it for a spare that was  



Okay. So, as I recall, the dayboard consisted of rye bread, Icelandic  

cheeses and butter, quince paste (we had scads of it already purchased  

from the last time I had cooked a feast for this group), cream of kelp  

and laver soup with oats, vegan vegetable soup (fill large pot with  

shredded cabbage, soaked dried mushrooms, onion, and carrots, pour  

mushroom soaking water over all, add water to cover, simmer for about  

90 minutes, season). Salt cod (some unsalted torski/stockfish in  

there, too) balls in cream sauce with dill, and platters of whole  

apples and pears.


First course for dinner was gravlax done with juniper berries instead  

of dill, which we served on half of a large platter, with the other  

side filled with sliced, jellied pork brawn -- I used picnic  

shoulders, peeled off and reserved the rind after simmering the meat,  

then packed the boneless meat into a mold lined with the skin, pressed  

it all down, topped with the rest of the skin, and added reduced stock  

to gel when cold. It all set up into a slightly rubbery block of  

highly seasoned cold meat. No sheep's heads were harmed in the  

production. No, I did not pickle the jellied meat in whey, per  

tradition. All served with a bowl of honey mustard dill sauce in the  

middle of the platter. White porrey of leeks and onions in thick  

almond milk sauce at one end of another large platter, mashed rutabaga  

with a little carrot in there to improve the color and reduce the  

sharpness, at the other. People apparently thought it was pumpkin  

until they tasted it. Looooots of butter in those.


We sent out an entremet of bilberry soup with cream on the side (I got  

a screaming bargain on dried bilberries), the ultra-fragile leaf  

breads made by one of the locals of the group, and some other,  

commercial multi-grain flatbreads that closely resembled the Swedish,  

potato-less version of lefse.


The second course was beef and chicken, all macerated with lots of  

fresh thyme, with the thyme stems added to the wood chips in the  

smoking box to add additional perfume to the meat. High table got lamb  

and a braised goose (semi-roasted brown on a bed of chopped mirepoix  

veg, then braised in red wine and some quince paste added at the end,  

sauce and veg pureed before serving) instead of chicken.


The only real casualty of the day was the non-appearance of the sauce  

for the chicken -- it was just about the only job I wasn't willing or  

able to leave up to someone other than myself, or take the time to  

teach the technique in detail -- I did, however, give an impromptu  

lesson in proper salmon slicing. The sauce was to have been a red wine  

and stock reduction with fried, chopped red onion, thickened like a  

custard with egg yolks. This is from one of the Harpestraeng recipes,  

and perhaps the dish on the menu that I was most looking forward to  

myself, but the oven problems took up enough my time that when the  

time came, I had to choose between staying inside and keeping an eye  

on things, and going outside to cook the sauce over a propane burner  

in the pitch blackness, I decided the chicken was actually pretty  

darned good on its own. Next time. The meats were served with a  

separate platter of rice cooked in milk with butter, a little sugar,  

and ginger (unabashedly gloopy and risotto-like -- I love a good pilaf  

but this is an SCA event, darnit, the rice is SUPPOSED to be gloopy --  

and a sweet-and-sour red cabbage.


The meal ended with skyr (a thick, yogurt-like cheese made from  

cultured skim milk) with stewed apricots and berries, and little  

marzipan tartlets (I had found about eight pounds of marzipan in the  

baron's freezer, left over from a feast I had done last Spring for  

that group, so this was a good chance to use it up).


Baron Ateno is cool. Not only is he a very old friend (I wouldn't have  

done this had anyone else asked me to), but he endeared himself even  

further to me by talking the king into eating the neck of the goose  

(which is supposed to be served to the lord), and, at a strategic  

moment, poured everybody brimming flagons (he is a brewing Laurel) of  

his special vintage of the day: the chilled whey from the skyr.


So, overall, not quite the menu I would have chosen had this been my  

project from the beginning, but we did okay, all in all. We apparently  

came in under budget, even after subtracting sub-budgets from mine for  

the imported Icelandic butter, cheeses, and a mysterious dark brown  

confection very popular in modern Iceland, but which surely comes from  

the furthest southern tip of Iceland. Say, Venezuela, maybe? Also the  

lovely dark rye bread (46 loaves, I think?) baked by one of the  

locals, and the lovely but extremely labor-intensive leaf breads  

prepared by one of the local ladies...


As per my usual, I arrived with camera in hand to get photos of the  

food, and then everything went slightly insane and I did not get a  

chance to get too many. I have a shot of the marbled/jellied pork, and  

some shots of the skyr curds setting up, and, I think, one of myself  

in kitchener-ey cap and cote of office, so to speak.


So, should I make cabbage, pea or bean soup with my gallon of extra  

rich, jellied, ham-pinky pork shoulder stock today?





Date: Sun, 08 Nov 2009 13:50:32 -0500

From: "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius" <adamantius1 at verizon.net>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Partial feast debriefing while the massive

      leg cramps do their thing... LONGISH


On Nov 8, 2009, at 1:43 PM, Johnna Holloway wrote:

<<< Congratulations on what must have been a most interesting experience. >>>


Thanks! It was interesting; it's a not-hugely-well-documented slice of  

period life that we don't always have much a venue to visit, so I was  

grateful for the chance.


<<< One must ask -- Do people in the East kingdom usually eat the sauces  

as soups? >>>


As far as I know, not generally. I suppose if the sauce is fairly  

thin, there's enough of it, and the little card falls down or  

something, it's an easy mistake to make. Another possibility is that  

the group didn't provide us with too many serving utensils; either  

they don't have too many or they forgot to bring them; it's possible  

someone took one of the 8 or 12-ounce ladles from one of the soup pots  

to serve with, and people drew the wrong conclusion. Luckily the honey  

mustard was served in small cups... ;-)




<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org