Spanish-Feast-art - 12/23/06
The feast report for a Spanish Feast cooked by Mistress Jadwiga Zajaczkowa at the Conviencia 2 event on September 2, 2006.
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Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
Date: Wed, 6 Sep 2006 20:47:54 -0400
From: Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jenne Heise <jenne at fiedlerfamily.net>
Subject: [Sca-cooks] Spanish Feast after-action report
To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>
Well, the Conviencia feast is over, I have most of my brain back, and it
Here's what I cooked (see
Olives * (purchased)
Lombardy sops (layered casserole of bread & cheese with broth) (bread,
dairy, meat; vegetarian version available on request)
Figs in Wine
Fish with Orange Juice
Fried Millet Polenta (contains dairy; plain dairy free millet available)
Cooked Salad of Lentils *
Limonada (raisin-lemon-almond pudding) (nuts) [Vegetarian version
Parsley Dish (contains nuts, bread)*
Beverage: Jalab of Lemon Syrup
Casserole of Pork
Rice cooked in the Oven (may contain eggs)*
Modern Pottage of Chard, served with parmesan on the side *
Moorish Eggplant (contains eggs, dairy) *
Carrot-Cheese Pie (contains dairy) *
Perada (pears in syrup) *
Beverage: Clarea de Agua
Food for Angels (Sweetened cheese with rosewater or orange flower water)
Anise Biscotti (contains wheat) *
Peach Dish (contains meat broth)
Quince Paste * (purchased)
Jordan Almonds *(purchased)
The most important point to remember is that the feast was underattended
-- 50 instead of 80-- probably mostly because of the storms this
1) I was late getting to site because I got lost in *Lancaster County,
PA*. 30 miles from my mother's house. The only consolation was that I
was only lost for about 2.5 hours, and my mother, who works for the
county mapping office, was lost for 3 hours.
2) I had the best kitchen crew I've ever seen. In particular, Bruce the
Robert, who arrived on Friday night, June from Silver Rylle, Flora, and
Cariola (I can't spell her SCA name), who had never met me before and
threw themselves into feast prep with skill and enthusiasm. And of
course the same skill and enthusiasm was evident in the helpers who knew
me and had been guilted into it: John Marshall, Christopher Calhoune, my
mom, Sarah bas Mordecai, Evan da Coleao (I spelled that wrong), and
other people whose names I suddenly can't remember.
3) I should have remembered that I had no cell phone reception on site.
Sorry, Sarah, about leaving you hanging on the fish issue. (BJ's only
had 2 lbs of tilapia. Sarah bought them out of perch, and then went to
flounder, since she couldn't get me on the phone. It was good, though.
On the other hand we could have gotten flash-frozen tilapia at Glenwood
farms for $1.99/lb if I had gone to get my messages.)
4) Though the packing was mostly organized, I messed up some of my
planning. Most of the food went in my car, except that which wouldn't be
needed until Saturday. Most of the serving and cooking gear went in
Sarah's car, which wouldn't arrive until after she picked up Juergen and
found her way to the site. Except that I put the parmesan cheese (for
the pies) and the peelers (for the gourds and eggplants) in Sarah's car,
so we had to work around it.
5) Somehow, my plan of the day got lost in translation and wasn't among
my files when I packed up Friday morning. (Apparently I hadn't uploaded
it from my work computer.) Eeek. I planned to re-create it and had done
so partially when I got on site, but then realized that I had these cool
index cards in FOUR COLORS. I put all the things that had to be done
Friday night on one color, Saturday morning on another color, and
Saturday night on a third, then put all the plating stuff in the last
color. I arranged/prioritized each color 'deck' and then numbered them.
It wasn't the time chart I've always used. I found it helpful, though a
combination of time chart and cards might have been better. Still, I
think I'll use that method again.
6) I had forgotten that Friday was the first of the month, so the stores
were stuffed with little old social security recipients, as well as
being the day before a holiday weekend. I had to leave one store without
the stuff I was going to get there due to the 45 minute long checkout
7) Friday night, mostly due to Bruce and June's incredible industry, we
booked through the eggplant prep, the lentils, the millet, the perada;
and June even cut up the bread and de-crusted it for the lombardy sops.
We were done with everything but the pies by midnight, though I stayed
up talking for at least an hour after that. Sarah and Evan and others
did the candying of the lemon and orange peel. We got fancy with the
dried orange slices from Trader Joe's, and ended up making
pseudo-candied-orange-peel with them and using it in the pies, and
saving the real candied peels for the dessert table.
8) Saturday morning we got up half an hour later than I wanted. However,
things still went smoothly, except for worrying that I hadn't gotten
enough garlic or sugar. A shopping posse went out for cream for the
coffee and got garlic and sugar for me.
9) I love cooking in Lancaster County. When I realized I was short on
eggs, I put Bruce and John and Christopher in charge of the kitchen,
hopped in the car and drove less than a mile off site to buy brown eggs
at 80 cents a dozen. (Fortunately, the nice amish lady didn't have
enough change for the $20 bill that was all I had, so I started buying
baked goods until we were even. Pumpkin whoopie pies with cream cheese
filling are the food of the Ghods.)
10) I had precooked the Limonada, the Casserole of pork, the mustard,
and most of the lemon syrup, as well as most of the desserts. That
worked out well.
11) I love being able to use the stems from the chard (used in Modern
Pottage) with Gourds in the Murzawa (cooked salad of lentils). It turned
out well, even if most people didn't eat it.
12. Christopher is the King of Chicken Processing. Thank you. He handled
the garlic chicken with skill, even when it turned out that the fryers
didn't have any guts inside so he had to fake the innards.
13. Making the Clarea up full strength, instead of as a syrup, meant it
came out even better than the last time. Yum.
14. The comment from one of the Great Eaters of the shire about the Food
for Angels: "It's really good and I like it, but I kinda feel like I'm
eating makeup." Yup, there is this bizarre feeling that you might be
eating cold cream you have to ignore, but it's oh-so-good.
15. Flora and Bruce made up the parsley sauce. It wasn't anything like
any other green sauce I made, but people did like it. A sweet green
sauce... whatever next.
16. I don't like mustard made with broth. I had tried to make it with
veggie broth from base, but that stunk so badly we had to throw it out
and scour the container. Beef broth proved the trick, but I felt the
need to fiddle with it too much before we dished it out. Add salt; add
sugar; add vinegar; repeat... I never did feel happy with it.
17. Juergen's comment when we gave him some Casserole of pork to test:
"Wow, that's really good agredouce!" I was crushed at the time--
worrying that it was too English instead of being thrilled that he
recognized the food type--, but it really did taste Catalan when we
18. I now understand why you put the eggs on top of the rice cooked in
the oven. It's to make a cover. Cooking the rice in casserole in the
oven uncovered did not work; after a lot of work by Cariola and others,
it was crunchy in parts and mushy in others. So we did another batch
since we had more rice, and covered it, and that turned out perfect. I
will practice the other way, though.
19. The millet, which we had put to congeal in full-size steamer trays,
was too wet to slice and fry. We tried several ways to handle this.
First, we dried the hunks in the oven. Not much help. Then John and
Bruce and others put on gloves and started forming patties on parchment
paper... John got the bright idea to put them in the walk-in freezer,
where they froze solid enough to cook. Christopher and John decided to
cook them in clarified butter so they could increase the temperature.
Bruce and John get the Fry Cooks of the year award for frying enough of
those patties for everyone at the feast! I'm sure John will flinch at
the word "millet" for years to come. However, the next two mornings we
took the leftover, unfried cakes, coated them in butter and baked them,
and they were YUMMY. I need to practice this dish until I can do it
instinctively, though. I suspect using smaller containers for the
congealing would have helped, too.
20. The site has gas griddles (burger grills) whose pilot lights stay on
all the time, and as a result the grills are warm to the touch all the
time. We used them as warming surfaces, so we could plate things in
metal bowls and have them stay warm on the griddle.
21. We were scheduled for 6 pm. At 2 pm we were plating the desserts and
the starters trays. (Thanks, Elizabet, for doing such a great job making
them pretty! I don't do pretty very well.) We couldn't start the millet,
the fish or the sops until about an hour before the meal, so by 4 pm we
were running out of things to do and had plated almost all the cold food
(thanks to Cat and Shannon, among others). I had brought my cut-glass
pear-shaped boxes for the comfits, and MJ brought me some silverplate
baskets that were perfect for the Jordan almonds-- tres chic! I gave in
and asked the autocrat if we could serve at 5:30. Nobody minded at all,
22. Christopher was going to sit feast-- which I heartily endorse, he
needs to see more feasts from the front-- so he laid out the fish in
pans, added oil and gave me directions for roasting it. Um. I overcooked
it-- the first batch was only supposed to be in for 8 minutes and it was
overcooked when I identified the alarm noise as the 4-minute timer and
pulled it out. But with the wonderful sauce Christopher had made
earlier, it was wildly popular and very little came back-- even though
the perch fillets had bones and we warned people about them.
23. Lombardy sops had to be held back from the Starters because they
weren't done. Turns out that we had forgotten to TOAST the bread, and
thus got this weird cheesy gooey bread goo. People liked it, though,
when it went out in between the first and second courses.
24. Clearly, I need a hall steward. I was trying to superintend the
cooking, run the hall, supervise the servers (thanks Evan, Elizabet,
Svanhildr's mom, Shannon, Juergen and Cat!) and plate the food, as we
were down to 4 people in the kitchen and 2 of them were frying millet.
It got a little confusing and I sent the first course out immediately
after the starters. However, the servers were great, and several learned
how to wear the server napkin/towels and do the handwashing right then!
25. Between the Silver Rylle Serving gear, the gear I had brought (only
part of my vast collection) and Christopher's serving gear we had almost
enough to serve EVERYTHING in the feast to 6 tables of about 8. However,
having a Hobart dishwasher running all day and during the feast made our
lives MUCH MUCH easier. Industrial dishwashers are my friend oh yes they
are yes yes...
26. I can't believe how much they ate. At 4 pm I was looking at the
starters plates and muttering, "oh my god, they'll never eat again; this
is a complete meal for most people right here!" I warned them to pace
themselves but, well, they did try... Still, at the end of the feast I
had people making dire threats about wafer-thin mints... :)
27. It was only when I was cooking everything all together that my brain
really registered the intense cheeseyness of the feast. Evan, who
heralded the feast, had the feastgoers chorusing "and More CHEESE" as he
was announcing dishes. Fortunately nobody appeared to have a dairy
allergy and even the picky eaters got plenty to eat.
28. Because this was a high-authenticity feast and had limited meat
selections, I had used broth in most dishes where it was indicated. It
DOES make a difference: the broth-based version of the limonada was
noticeably thicker than the water version. Vegetable broth for the
Moorish eggplant worked out well, and I think light chicken broth did
add to the flavor of the Pottage called peach dish (we ate the dessert
leftovers the next morning with millet polenta for breakfast, and I
think they licked the dish).
29. The desserts, other than the comfits and almonds which went out to
the tables because we had cute little holders for them, were set out
buffet style because I believed that was correct. We skipped the fruit
because there was too much food already.
30. All in all, a successful high authenticity Spanish feast...
-- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika jenne at fiedlerfamily.net