Monday, October 31, 2011

Stoat Sandwiches


Now that that's out of the way, we can move on to a very significant food item! We have reached the last new food to appear in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone!

"Hagrid made them tea and offered them stoat sandwiches, which they refused" (Sorcerer's Stone 231).

The Internet is filled with posts from people who, like me, had no idea what "stoat" is. Ready for this?

 Hagrid eats these little cuties?! It turns out that stoats are that same animal who eats toast in the nursery rhyme song, "Mares eat oats and stoats eat toast" (apparently they changed it to "does eat oats" later... that's the version I always knew anyway). And Hagrid eats them!!! I am horrified. 

Sandwiches filled with these weasel/ermine-like rodents used to be super popular in Britain. Cant's imagine why they fell out of favor with the masses. Apparently people nowadays sometimes call steak sandwiches with very specific ingredients "stoat sandwiches," but the secret ingredients seem to be rather inconsistent. Regardless, we will certainly not be making stoat sandwiches, because I have no desire to discover what these cute little guys taste like in order to find a vegetarian substitute. 

But Happy Halloween anyway!

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Following an epic Slytherin VS Gryffindor Quidditch match (as well as overhearing a very suspicious conversation between Snape and Quirrell), Harry learns of a celebration in which we find our next food item:

"Everyone's waiting for you in the common room, we're having a party, Fred and George stole some cakes and stuff from the kitchens" (Sorcerer's Stone 227).

Ms. Rowling does not specify what kind of cakes our favorite twins have nicked from the kitchens (though in truth their arms were likely filled with all sorts of leftovers by the lovable house elves). Since the last recipe we tried turned out to be super involved, I have decided that we should make some simple English Tea Cakes. The recipe can be found here.

You Will Need (I halved this recipe and got 12 cakes):
2 cups butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
60 walnut or pecan halves, toasted

1. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.

2. Beat in the vanilla.
3. Gradually add the flour, mixing well.

4. Drop by heaping spoonfuls into greased muffin cups and flatten slightly. Press a nut into the center of each.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes (more like 12-15) or until edges are slightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes before removing from the tins. Makes 5 dozen according to the recipe (but their cakes must be awfully small!).

These little cakes have a delightfully subtle sweetness. And they're so easy to make! They would be an excellent choice for any elegant tea or casual evening on the sofa by the fire! Delightful! I hope you enjoy them!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Christmas Cake

We're in the midst of a stretch of Christmas-type foods in our long list, so you shouldn't be surprised by our next culinary creation:

"After a meal of turkey sandwiches, crumpets, trifle, and Christmas cake, everyone felt too full and sleepy to do much before bed except sit and watch Percy chase Fred and George all over Gryffindor tower because they'd stolen his prefect badge" (Sorcerer's Stone 204).

Dinah Bucholz includes a recipe for Christmas Cake (for grown-ups) in her cookbook. Heads up, there's about a million and seven ingredients. Also a heads up, it took me three days to make it, because certain parts need to sit overnight. According to Ms. Bucholz' research, you can let the cake flavors mature for years before frosting this cake. No wonder Christmas fruitcake gets such a bad wrap!

For the Cake, You Will Need:
1/2 cup dark rasisins
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried currants of cranberries
1/2 cup chopped dried dates
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1 cup brandy
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground walnuts
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1.5 sticks (12 Tbs) butter, at room temperature
1.5 cups packed brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
grated zest and juice of 2 oranges
1/2 cup marmalade
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup brandy, to finish
1/2 cup currant jelly, melted (smuckers actually does makes this in the US!)
2 pounds marzipan

For the Royal Icing, You Will Need:
3 large egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
5 cups confectioner's sugar
2 tsp vanilla

1. Place the dried fruit in a bowl and pour the brandy over it (I think a gallon-sized plastic bag is much better; that way all the fruit gets evenly soaked). Let soak overnight. Drain the fruit, reserving the brandy (If you use a plastic bag, you can cut off a tiny corner and squeeze out the brandy way more easily than by using a strainer).
2. Perheat the oven to 275 degrees. Grease and flour a 9" spring form pan and line with parchment paper. (I don't have a spring form pan, so I used 2 regular 9" cake pans).
3. Whisk together the flour, ground walnuts, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large mixing bowl.

4. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, scraping the sides as necessary.

5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each until incorporated.

4th egg

6. Add the zest and juice of the lemon, lime, and oranges, along with the marmalade and reserved brandy. Beat until combined (it might look curdled, and that's okay).

7. Add the flour mixture and mix on the lowest speed until combined. Add the soaked dried fruit and chopped walnuts, and mix until combined.

8. Scrape the batter into your cake pan(s), smoothing the top with your spatula. Bake for 2.5 hours (a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean). Let the cake cool completely in the pan(s).

9. Invert the cake onto a plate and remove the bottom (if you have 2 cakes, like me, use the one that will become the bottom). Poke holes in the bottom with a skewer and spoon the 1/4 cup brandy over the bottom, then stack them back together.

10. Wrap the cake well in plastic wrap and store it upside down. It apparently will stay fresh for months (even years!), you just need to add another 1/4 cup brandy each month and wrap it up tight again before storing upside down!
11. When you're ready to assemble the cake, flip it right-side up on a plate or cardboard round and brush the top and sides with the melted jelly.

12. Roll out the marzipan on a work surface (you may need to dust it with powdered sugar) into a 14" circle. This was really hard with my very crumbly marzipan... it may not have been very fresh. And yes, you really will need at least 1.5 pounds. I only used 1 pound, and it wasn't really enough.

13. Drape the marzipan round over the cake, and trim off the bottom with a sharp knife.

14. To make the royal icing, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft mounds form.

15. Gradually add the confectioners sugar. Add the vanilla and beat on high until stiff. And they mean really stiff! I didn't beat my icing long enough and it caused mega problems later.

16. Use a spatula to spread the icing thickly over the top and sides of the cake. My icing was not thick enough and so I spent a good 20 minutes trying to get it to stop melting down the sides of my cake. I ended up just letting it harden at bit pooled on the plate edges and re-frosted with it later. Allow the icing to harden (it should) before serving. Do not put the cake in the fridge, it will apparently ruin the icing.


Once the cake has set, even after being cut, it can be stored at room temperature wrapped in plastic wrap. According to Ms. Bucholz, it will serve 16 hungry people for tea, or 32 stuffed people for dessert.

This cake is pretty tasty! It isn't often that one gets to use marzipan, but it really adds a nice flavor. Though I would suggest that if you are using two cake pans like I did, that you spoon 1/4 cup brandy over both layers to keep it more moist.


Friday, October 28, 2011


What could be more British than having crumpets with tea? Apparently having it with your Christmas dinner:

"After a meal of turkey sandwiches, crumpets, trifle, and Christmas cake, everyone was too full and sleepy to do much before bed except sit and watch Percy chase Fred and George all over Gryffindor tower because they'd stolen his prefect badge" (Sorcerer's Stone 204).

You Will Need:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbs granulated sugar
1 tsp active dry yeast (1/2 a packet)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk
1/4 stick (2 Tbs) butter, melted

1. Grease 4 crumpet rings (if you have those...) or 3.75" round cookie cutters, and a skillet/griddle.
2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt until combined
3. Add the milk and melted butter and whisk until smooth.

4. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place until puffy and risen, about 1-1.5 hours.
5. Stir down the mixture.
6. Heat the griddle and put the crumpet rings inside. Note: I do not own crumpet rings or round cookie cutters, so I made crumpet rings out of tinfoil.
7. Using a measuring cup, pour 1/3 cup batter into each ring and cook over low heat until the tops fill with holes, about 5 minutes. If you are using tinfoil rings, like me, be sure to press the ring down into the griddle while you pour in the batter (resulting in the photo on the left) or else it will seep underneath the foil and make pancakes instead of crumpets (note the photo on the right).

full of holes

8. Carefully remove the rings with tongs (they will be very hot... unless you used tinfoil) and flip the crumpets over (they should be pale on the bottom still) and cook about 5 more minutes. Repeat until all the batter is used.

9. To serve, toast the crumpets until golden brown and spread with butter and jam.
(makes 8)

Today in the kitchen with Harry Potter, I learned that crumpets are basically the love-child of pancakes and english muffins. Also they are very tricky to make. If the cooking times are not perfect, there will either be no glorious holes, or one side will be overdone. My guess is it helps to be an old British nanny. Or a house elf.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Turkey Sandwiches

What is better the day after Thanksgiving (or Christmas!) than turkey sandwiches? At Hogwarts, everyone somehow manages to eat their Turkey sandwiches for dinner on Christmas (only hours after their enormous feast from lunch!):

"After a meal of turkey sandwiches, crumpets, trifle, and Christmas cake, everyone felt to full and sleepy to do much before bed except sit and watch Percy chase Fred and George all over Gryffindor Tower because they'd stolen his prefect badge" (Sorcerer's Stone 204).

Turkey sandwiches are pretty easy, and obviously can be made to suit everyone's tastes!

You Will Need:
your favorite kind of vegetarian turkey
two slices of your favorite bread
your favorite spread, like mayonnaise, mustard, hummus, whatever you fancy
a few leaves of lettuce, if desired
a few slices of tomato, if desired
slices of onion, if desired
sprouts, if desired
...pretty much anything else you desire

1. Spread your chosen condiment on your slices of bread and layer your chosen sandwich fillings and turkey between the bread.
2. Slice however you'd like, and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


The next item on our list is wine! Yes, please!

"Harry watched Hagrid getting redder and redder in the face as he called for more wine, finally kissing Professor McGonagall on the cheek, who, to Harry's amazement, giggled and blushed, her top hat lopsided" (Sorcerer's Stone 204).

Since making wine is an enormous undertaking involving an immense amount of time, we're going to maybe cheat a little bit and make mulled wine instead. Very Holiday-feast-appropriate I think! The recipe I found is from

You Will Need:
one bottle (750mL) of red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
One peeled and sliced orange (I left the peels on)
1/4cup brandy
8-10 cloves
2/3cup honey or sugar (I used honey)
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp fresh (or 2tsp ground) ginger or allspice
(serves 4-6)

1. Combine all the ingredients in a large pot or slow cooker. Warm the mixture on low-medium for 20-25 (do not boil), stirring occasionally to ensure the honey/sugar is dissolved.

2. When the wine is steaming and everything is combined, ladle into mugs (leave the seasonings behind, you might want to use a sieve) and enjoy!

It's quite strong, but would be quite delicious on a chilly winter (or autumnal, as the case may be!) night! Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Christmas Pudding

"Pudding" is technically just what the Brits call "dessert," but Christmas pudding is a holiday tradition that appears throughout history and British literature. As I understand it, housewives would prepare the pudding ahead of time, and then start to steam cook it (often in their laundry cauldron!) when the family went to church on Christmas morning. By the time Christmas dinner was finished, so was the pudding, just in time for dessert! Who knows what process the Hogwarts house elves used, but we do know that Christmas puddings appear at the Christmas feasts:

"Flaming Christmas puddings followed the turkey. Percy nearly broke his teeth on a silver sickle embedded in his slice" (Sorcerer's Stone 203).

Dinah Bucholz does include a recipe for "Christmas pudding for Kids" in The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, but it obviously does not include brandy (which means no fire), and it is way different from any pudding recipe I've ever seen. For starters, her recipe has more than four times as much flour, which in my opinion would make it way more cake-like, and thus, more American. The major difference between cake and pudding is that pudding is so very dense. So we shall use a recipe I found at, which is very British and seems very authentic and traditional. I converted the measurements from metric, so the amounts are kind of random, sorry!

You Will Need:
5.2 Tbs butter, softened (plus extra for greasing)
2 cups of mixed raisins, golden raisins, and dried cranberries
1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
Juice and zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup brandy, plus extra for flaming
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup self-rising flour (I used all-purpose)
1 tsp ground allspice
2.8 Tbs breadcrumbs
2.8 Tbs shelled almonds, roughly chopped
Brandy Butter Sauce, to top it off!

1. Lightly butter a 2.5pint (5cups) pudding basin. Cut a small square of foil and place it in the bottom of the basin.
2. Place the dried fruit and apple into a bowl with the orange juice, add the 1/4 cup of brandy and let sit for at least 1 hour.

3. Put the 5.2 Tbs butter, sugar, and orange zest in a bowl and cream together until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs. Add a little bit of flour if the mixture looks curdled.

4. Sift together the flour and spices, then add in the breadcrumbs and nuts.
5. Fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture.

6. Add the fruit/liquor mixture and stir well.

7. Spoon the batter into the prepared pudding dish, pressing down, and smooth the top.

8. Cover the basin with a layer of "greaseproof paper" and foil, both pleated in the middle to allow for any expansion.
9. Tie securely with a string and cuff off any excess with scissors (I used elastic, which worked well).
10. You may either steam or boil your pudding to cook it. I don't have a steamer large enough to accommodate my pudding vessel, so I will be boiling my pudding. To boil, place a metal jam-jar lid (or small plate) upside-down in the middle of a large pot. Place your pudding basin onto this "trivet," and pour in enough boiling water to come about 1/3 up the sides of the pudding bowl.

11. Cover with a lid and bring the water back to a boil. Simmer for about 7 hours. Yes, that is correct, 7 hours. The pudding should be a lovely deep brown color. Add more water to the pot as necessary to maintain the level.

*Heads up, the water will boil away in about 1 hour, depending on the size of your pot, so do not leave it unattended too long. If you do, the kitchen will smell like whatever your jam-jar was from... mine was from Greek olives... yes, I did learn this the hard way, and I accidentally anodized the metals and wrecked my pot.*

12. Remove the pudding from the pot and allow it to cool completely.
13. Make some holes in the pudding with a fine skewer and fill them with a little brandy, "to feed it."
14. Discard the paper and foil and replace it with fresh ones. Store in a cool, dry place. Brits recommend making it as much as 6-8 weeks ahead of time! Talk about getting better with age!
15. On Christmas day, steam or boil the pudding for about an hour to reheat it.
16. Turn the pudding out onto a serving plate.
17. To flame, warm 3-4 Tbs brandy in a saucepan and pour over the pudding. Then carefully use a lighter to set it ablaze!

image stolen from the Internet... mine didn't flame long enough for a photo

18. Serve with rum sauce or brandy butter (a recipe for brandy butter can be found here).
mine is rather less sophisticated looking than I expected...

Christmas pudding is very tasty (and very grown-up tasting...mmm, brandy...). Though I do recommend to either use the brandy butter right out of the fridge to "frost" the pudding, or to just spoon it over individual servings :)