Barbeque at the Granger’s, Dessert at The Burrow
by Susu, Hagrid, Dumbledwarf, and Hermi2
Menu: Mrs. Granger’s Cucumber Sandwiches | Potted Turkey, Made Too Fancy | “Like Magic” 7 Layer Salad | Marinade Potion for Grilled Steak | Garlic Herb Butter Potion for Garlic Bread | Molly Weasley’s Strawberry Pie | Muggle Market Grilled Bananas | Voodoo Orange Sultana Cake
Prior to their fourth year at Hogwart's, the Weasleys invited Ron's best friends, Hermione and Harry, to stay with them and attend the Quidditch World Cup match. Mr. Weasley was able to get enough tickets for his family and their friends, via his work at the Ministry of Magic. Since the event was so soon before the start of term, they'd go straight to school from The Burrow (the Weasley home).
The Grangers had been perplexed but delighted when Hermione got her (unsolicited) letter that she had been accepted to the school of magic. They, like Hermione, read everything they could about Hogwart's and the wizard world in general. The Ministry of Magic had a tight policy about muggles and how much they are to know about their world; of course, the exceptions were the parents and siblings of muggle-born witches and wizards. When Hermione needed to buy her school supplies and get to Platform 9¾, a teacher from Hogwart's was there to help them navigate Diagon Ally, Gringott's, and to explain what was what, much like Hagrid did for Harry.
Even so, Mr. and Mrs. Granger were still confused how a witch could be born spontaneously into their family (apparently not an unusual occurance), and were a bit nervous about how a whole wizard's universe could exist without anyone in the muggle world knowing about them.
When Hermione received the invitation from Ron and his parents, the Grangers decided they would like to meet them. They didn't know how often they might be able to interact with a real Wizard family. According to Hermione, the Weasleys were purebloods, Mr. Weasley was fascinated by muggles, and was dying for an opportunity to meet them, too. Mrs. Granger tentatively agreed to put their fireplace on the floo network, and invited them to dinner when they came to collect Hermione.
Mr. Weasley was ecstatic -- a chance to be in a muggle home, to see them in their natural habitat! Mrs. Weasley admonished him to behave -- it wouldn't do to expose themselves as wizards, mustn't startle the neighbors! All of the Weasleys wanted to go, and Molly realized how much of an inconvenience that might be for the Grangers, so she proposed that the Grangers come to The Burrow for dessert and coffee following dinner.
At the designated time and day, the Grangers sat nervously in the living room by the fireplace. Hermione had explained the floo network, but they could barely believe or understand it. Suddenly, there was a green flash and Ron rolled out -- he didn't crash into the coffeetable, since Hermione had wisely moved it. She also had hot, damp towels available so that the Weasleys could wipe up a bit, since traveling by floo normally resulted in the traveler being covered in soot. Soon, the parlor was filled with Weasleys -- all nine of them!
There were greetings and a lot of talking as they moved to the backyard to start the barbeque (suggested by Mrs. Granger, since her home couldn't hold so many Weasleys comfortably). Mrs. Weasley asked how the salad spell was applied. Confused, Mrs. Granger tried to explain a "marinade." Mr. Granger kept having to light the grill over and over as Mr. Weasley crawled under it to figure out how it worked. The Weasley children were touring the house, and were perplexed by the laundry machines and telephone. Then Mrs. Weasley was calling to her husband from the kitchen, "Arthur! Come look how they keep their food chilled!" All of them were awed by the ice maker, and you should have seen their amazement when they discovered the trash compactor!
Hermione was the calm in the center of the storm. She instructed Charlie, George and Fred how to use the barbeque grill to cook the steaks, then had Bill and Percy make up the drinks, and Ron and Ginny set the picnic table and blankets on the backyard lawn. The food got on the platters without the use of magic (Hermione was policing everyone to make sure no wands came out), and they had a thoroughly enjoyable -- though rather overcooked -- meal, with a lot of noise and clatter. The Weasleys were completely fascinated by the whole process. (Don't even ask what they thought about the dishwasher and garbage disposal!)
The Grangers did not have cloaks to cover them from the soot, so they wrapped themselves in sheets to make the trip by floo. Hermione huddled in the fireplace with her mother so they could arrive together (they all remembered Harry appearing in the wrong fireplace a couple of years before), and Ron went with Mr. Granger. They all got to the Burrow, and the Grangers were speechless. They'd never been in such a place, and were amazed by the rough-and-tumble arrangement of the objects and building itself, as much as they were by the dishes that washed themselves, the clock that told them where everyone was, needles that knit sweaters without hands to guide them ... they were as agog as the Weasleys had been before. And what a contrast to their neat, orderly home outside of London!
They sat outside in the garden, while the plates of desserts magically presented themselves to the guests, cake and pie were cut without utensils, mugs refilled on command, and Mr. Weasley asked about why, if there was no external combusion engine, was it called an internal combustion engine? What a swell dinner party it was! The Grangers finally relaxed and had so much fun, they stayed overnight, and heartily gave their permission for their daughter to stay over. Charlie and Hermione took the Grangers home the next day, and returned with Hermione's things a few hours later. While they were gone, Molly muttered on about how Mrs. Granger mustn't cook much, and how she'd fatten up Hermione and put color in her cheeks. (Everyone knew she enjoyed feeding people and griping about it, so they all ignored it and went on about what a great meal it was.)
Mrs. Granger’s Cucumber Sandwiches
This is a very British institution, in and of itself. Just saying the name invokes lush gardens, silver tea services, gloved hands holding bone china teacups. Hermione's mother learned this open-faced sandwich recipe from an American cousin, who had made it for a potluck party (though she closes them to form a normal sandwich). It tasted so delectable that Mrs. Granger always made this version, rather than the thin English style sandwiches. Mrs. Granger is not normally a confident cook, but she does this one recipe pretty well.
Potted Turkey, Made Too Fancy
Mrs. Granger was an adequate cook on most days, but she was so nervous and aghast that Mrs. Weasley used magic to cook that she made some odd mistakes. First, she decided to serve some recipes she'd never tried before, and second, she decided it should LOOK good. She didn't really read this recipe through before trying it, the butter layer was too thick, and she forgot to taste it, so it came out rather bland. The poor woman was so nervous, and she overextended her skills, going for "too fancy" when "just so" would have done better. But Hermione discretely put out the salt and pepper shakers with this appetizer, and made sure the Weasleys saw her scraping the butter layer off and leaving it on her plate. They mimicked her, of course, and it really wasn't bad. But do remember to season it properly, and when served cold, the flavors will be somewhat muted, so you can be a bit exhuberent with the salt and pepper for this recipe. You don't have to do the fancy restaurant-style serving suggestion, either! Makes a good sandwich spread, too.
Sterilize and dry a ramekin or similar "pot" or bowl from which you can serve the potted turkey. Pack the turkey paste in, making sure to eliminate air bubbles, and smooth the top. Place the parsley onto the surface, flattening it against the pâté surface. Melt a stick of butter, then let it stand a few minutes for the solids to settle to the bottom of the pan. Carefully decant the clear butter over the potted turkey and parsley, to make a thin ¼ inch layer over the whole surface, making sure not to have air bubbles. Place in the refrigerator to chill. Serve straight from the pot. You can make individual pots for each person, if you wish. Melt more butter if you need it. Very swank! Serve with melba toast, crackers, toast points, toasted pita wedges, or cut vegetables and make sure you have a knife for spreading.
“Like Magic” 7-Layer Salad
Molly Weasley can be forgiven for thinking this salad was somehow magical. It comes out of the refrigerator looking somewhat like a surreal iced cake in a trifle bowl, with a white layer of mayonnaise dressing on top. But beneath it are layers of vegetables, selected for their flavor and crunch. It's easy to put together and very convenient for parties, as the salad needs a minimum of 2 hours to "marinate" in the refrigerator, and is actually better for an overnight stint of up to 12 hours in duration. Hermione showed her how to put it together after she came to stay at the Burrow, and Mrs. Weasley happily commandeered it. Whenever she served it, she'd tell everyone, "It's a muggle recipe, but it works like magic!"
In the following order, layer ingredients in a large bowl made of a clear material, like glass or transparent plastic:
Marinade Potion for Grilled Steak
Many people like their meat well-cooked, eschewing anything with even a trace of pink in it. For something like steak, this often results in tough, icky meat; worse, the local butcher might try to "tenderize" the meat with a sort of needle-like chopper that cuts the meat fibers, or a nubbly-faced mallet to beat it into submission. That just makes it mushy, albeit easier to chew. Hermione, a whiz at potion making (and just about anything else) had been reading about marinades, those magical potion-like liquids that can render a tough, bland cut of meat tender and flavorful. Being that she wasn't allowed to practice magic over the summer, she did the next best thing and practiced effecting chemical and physical changes on things -- like her food. To save her mother hand-wringing over what to serve the Weasleys, Hermione and her father did some cooking experiments to help her out.
Mr. Granger and Hermione developed this barbeque-sauce style of marinade and experimented with soaking cuts of different meats for different amounts of time. They found that redmeat like beef or mutton came out more tender and tastier, but it didn't suit milder meats like veal, pork, fish or poultry; instead she used it simply as a sauce for these. Vegetables could also be tossed with this sweet/tart potion. The sugar content of the sauce was high, so prolonged cooking would cause the surface of the meat to burn if it was cooked on a grill. She reasoned that she needed to have the meat cut thinly or small to avoid this problem. Thus, Mr. Granger brought home minute-steaks to grill up for the Weasleys, who, despite Mrs. Weasley's attempts to restrain them, enjoyed every bite and asked for more!
Marinade mutton or beef steaks or kebab pieces for up to 6 hours by pouring some of the sauce over the meat in a sealable bowl, and tossing well to coat the meat. Much more and the meat may go mushy. The smaller and finer you cut it, the less time the meat needs to marinade. For milder meat, marinade for 15 minutes to an hour; fish and vegetables would benefit more if you use the marinade as a sauce after cooking. Do not re-use marinade that you've used to soak meat in, especially poultry; you'll get very sick! Just throw it away. Any unused marinade, however, can be used as a dip or sauce.
Makes about 2 cups.
Garlic Herb Butter Potion for Garlic Bread
This is another one of Hermione's muggle "potions" -- a substance that seems to magically transform something simple like bread into a real treat. No one would argue that good butter on a decent loaf of bread is a really wondrous thing, but at a barbeque, there's something magical about buttering bread and simply wrapping it in foil and popping it on the grill for a few minutes. The bread is transformed -- it's so soft that when hot, it's almost a liquid, with puffs of steam redolent of herbs and garlic. The garlic itself -- an acrid vegetable -- becomes sweet and pungent. The butter can be used for many things: potatoes, grilled corn-on-the-cob, a simple sauce for meats or cooked vegetables. It doesn't put a stopper on death, but it's a good potion!
Use a mortar and pestle (very potions-like!) and mash up the garlic and salt together to form a paste. Work in the oil, then the softened butter, then the herbs. Dump it all out on a piece of wax or parchment paper, or even foil or saran wrap and shape it into a log. Cover tightly and you can refrigerate or freeze it till you need it.
Slather the butter on bread -- classically, use an Italian loaf sliced not quite down through the bottom, thin rounds of butter placed in the cuts. Wrap the loaf in foil and place in the over for about 15 minutes. To crisp up the crust, open the foil, then bake another 5 or 10 minutes. Do the same over the grill after the meat had been cooked. (By the way, the meat should "sit" for about 15 minutes before serving anyway.) You can prepare the bread in foil the night before, too.
Or, place a pat on unmarinated steak, fish, corn-on-the-cob, potatoes, rice, pasta, etc., etc., etc. It's really quite marvelous!
Molly Weasley’s Strawberry Pie
Though she uses magic to do her chores, Molly Weasley can't conjure ingredients from nothing, nor can she use shortcuts in place of actual techniques. In other words, you still have to be a good cook, even if you use magic to replace manual labor. And if you are gathering food in the woods, you also need to know which mushrooms are which, or how to tell if a berry is ripe enough for pie, but too ripe for jam. Mrs. Weasley is so skilled at food gathering, she often dried rare fungi and small creatures to sell or trade for other things her family would need. She's also a renowned baker, and her husband's bosses at the Ministry of Magic would deliberately move the morning tea time forward when he brought one of Molly's pies or cakes into work. This strawberry pie, made with berries gathered in the woods around their home, is considered one of her crowning achievements, and it was so good that the Grangers almost had the courage to ask for her recipe.
Muggle Market Grilled Bananas
Not to be outdone, Arthur Weasley wanted to show the Grangers their grilled speciality. Bananas didn't grow in England, to be sure, but they were cheap and plentiful in the muggle markets, where Mr. Weasley sometimes liked to go. Handling muggle money was always so exciting -- all that paper and all those little coins! He could never hide his glee at interacting with muggles, and his wife would throw up her hands in exasperation, especially when Arther told her he had asked the lady at the market her favorite banana recipe. But the recipe is good and so simple to make that the children often do this by themselves, and are barely able to wait to dig in, with or without cream or ice cream!
Voodoo Orange Sultana Cake
The Weasleys, like many wizard families, live far from muggles, the better to be left undisturbed. They live in a meadow in the woods, grow much of the food they eat, and even gather things like mushrooms and berries from the woods. However, they partake of the markets on Diagon Ally and elsewhere, where traders offer wares from foreign lands that seem to parallel muggle trading routes. There is a lot of stuff imported from the Caribbean, where witchdoctors and voodoo wizards create and grow funky ingredients for spells, and also ship fruit, vegetables, alcohol and other agricultural products in return for potions and manufactured goods. Mrs. Weasley would bring Ginny and Ron with her on shopping trips, and the nice voodoo witch would be delighted with their pale skin, freckles and red hair. No matter how little Mrs. Weasley bought, the witch would give each child a brilliant orange and a handful of fleshy, golden raisins. Admonishing them not to eat their bounty on the spot, she'd instead make a big cake from the largess (which both Ron and Ginny actually liked better!). The cake was so large, she actually made it in a roasting pan. For company, she used a simple orange or lemon glaze sprinkled with sunflower seeds or poppyseeds, and cut it into medium-sized slabs. For the family, it barely was out of the oven before it was consumed!
Pour out the batter onto the prepared baking pan(s) and bake for about an hour or so till the surface of the cake springs back when you press it lightly with your finger, or when a cake tester or skewer inserted near the middle comes out clean. Leave to stand in the pan(s) on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes before turning the cakes out. Serves about 20.
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