Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Surprise! Happy Birthday, Professor!
by McGonagirl, Dumbledwarf, Hagrid
Drawings by Diana deRiggs

Menu: Fake Peking-Style Duck with MooShoo Pancakes, Hoisin Sesame Sauce, Scallion Brushes and Cucumber Spears | Duck Liver Pâté | Tuscan-style Duck Soup | Duck Steak with Orange Gastrique | Upsidedown Apple Tarte

Harry, Hermione, and Ron were strolling through one of the Hogwart's School of Wizardry courtyards between classes and discussing the various members of the faculty. Ron was, as usual, complaining that his hand-me-down wand would be to blame if he failed Transfigurations with the formidable Professor Minerva McGonagal. "I wonder who taught Transfigurations before McGonagal?" Ron asked.

"Dumbledore," answered Hermione, who had devoured the official history of Hogwarts before she even set foot on the grounds, "over fifty years ago. And he looks exactly the same today as he did then. Look," she said dropping down to sit on a bench and pulling the 'Hogwart's: A History' out of the pile of books she had been carrying.

"He doesn't look like he's younger there, that picture could have been taken yesterday," agreed Harry, peering at the picture.

"Well, believe it. The book says he was 120 years old in this picture and it was published 50 years ago. That makes him 170 years old now." Hermione declared, triumphantly.

"Crikey! Imagine a birthday cake with 170 candles on it!" Ron found himself fascinated, "Say, Hermione? Does that book tell when his birthday is? We should make him a cake or something! My mum can give us a recipe."

They hurried back to the Gryffindor Tower and Ron scribbled out a note to his mother explaining that they wanted to bake Professor Dumbledore a birthday cake, and did she have any ideas and recipes?

"I bet Hagrid would know when his birthday is," Harry said, after he had sent Hedwig off to deliver Ron's note to Molly Weasley. "Let's go ask him."

They had another class to go to first, and by the time they got to his hut, Molly had already written directly to Hagrid. He showed them the note, which expanded on their original idea to include a whole meal, and the half-giant grinned widely at the thought of surprising Dumbledore with a birthday party. "I bet he's never had one; no one deserves a party more than Professor Dumbledore!" Never mind that no one seemed to really know the exact date of the headmaster's birthday ... but not wishing to dampen their enthusiasm, Hagrid suggested a party that weekend!

Hagrid revealed that Professor Dumbledore was a great fan of duck, but because it was not "efficient" for the school -- meaning it had a low edible meat per creature ratio -- it was not normally served at Hogwart's. However, Molly Weasley, mother of six boys and a girl, knew a way to stretch any meat animal to feed as many as possible. With these recipes, she could actually feed her whole family with one duck! Using her ideas would make an all-duck menu both special and affordable for the school. Hagrid provided the ducks -- he felt reassured that they would be used fully -- and the kids washed their hands to get started!

Menu: Fake Peking-Style Duck with MooShoo Pancakes, Hoisin Sesame Sauce, Scallion Brushes and Cucumber Spears | Duck Liver Pâté | Tuscan-style Duck Soup | Duck Steak with Orange Gastrique | Upsidedown Apple Tarte

Fake Peking Duck
The secret to good duck is a conundrum -- a roseate steak, covered by a thin, crispy skin. However, duck skin is so thick and fatty and the meat relatively small in proportion, that it's very hard to achieve this perfect result unless you have a lot of skill and training. Molly Weasley, challenged by her big family and Arthur's modest salary, learned to stretch a single duck to feed everyone by taking some time to remove the skin and roasting it slowly. She'd learned that the Chinese value the crispy skin, so the famous dish called Peking Duck sacrifices the meat to achieve the perfect crispy finish -- the duck is prepped and roasted to enhance the skin. That's sliced off with a small bit of the overdone, underlying meat, then served with scallion brushes and hoisin sauce, then wrapped in a sort of soft crepe-like, tortilla-like pancake. But cutting away the skin and cooking it separately from the meat, it was not only possible to achieve perfection in both meat and skin, but this way is much easier to make and serve this up than the authentic dish. She provided a wizardphoto of how she removed the skin from the duck, so that the kids and House Elves would have no trouble reproducing her recipe.
  • 1 duck, about 5 lb in size
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sugar dissolved in ¼: cup hot water (can do this in the microwave)
Most ducks arrive to the market frozen, which is fine, but when you buy it make sure it's rock solid and shows no signs of having been thawed and frozen again. If you are getting a frozen duck, be sure to let it defrost at least overnight before you start preparing. You can rush along the defrosting process by leaving the duck in its (unpierced) package and placing in a bowl of cold (not warm or hot!) water. Run a slow stream of cold water from the tap over the duck. It should defrost in about 4 or so hours. Cut open the plastic with scissors, rinse the duck inside and out, reserve the gizzards and fat. Cut off the wings, and set aside.

Heat the oven to 350°F / 175°C.

Turn the duck on it's belly so the back is facing upward. Using a sharp boning knife, make a cut down to the skin along the backbone. The skin is very thick and fatty, and should peel off the duck carcass easily. You can coax it along by cutting the membrane that holds the skin to the meat with the knife or with poultry shears. Be careful not to pierce the meat. It's okay if you poke holes in the skin, but try to keep it in one piece. When you have the skin off, score the skin in a diamond pattern (like a ham), don't go all the way through the skin. This will help drain the fat when it's roasting. Set the carcass aside for Duck Bean Soup and Duck Steaks.

Boil a large pot of water. Place the skin in the hot water and cook until the water comes to a boil again, turning to cook it evenly. Drain the skin out of the water and place on a large roasting pan, like a jelly roll pan. It should be laid out as flat as possible, flesh-side down. Score the fat, meaning make cuts in a diamond pattern over the whole skin, without cutting all the way through the skin. This will help drain the fat. Sprinkle over with salt and the simple syrup (you may not need all of it). Place the tray in the oven and let it slowly roast. Check after about 15 minutes. You will need to drain off the rendered liquid fat -- be sure to place it in a glass or metal bowl (not plastic, it will melt!) and save it for Duck Liver Paté. Cook the skin until browned and crisp, about an hour. Remove from the pan while it's hot -- you might have a difficult time removing it when it's cold and stuck.

Cut the duck skin in half, then cut crosswise strips about one-inch wide. Set aside on an ovenproof dish and keep in a low temperature oven till ready to serve. Do not cover while in the oven or you'll lose the crispness.

Serves 6 as a main course, or 12 or so as an appetizer.

    To Assemble and Serve Fake Peking Duck
fake peking duck, drawing by diana deriggs
  • Fake Peking Duck roasted skin
  • Mooshoo Pancakes or flour tortillas
  • Hoisin Sesame Sauce
  • Scallion Brushes and Cucumber Spears

    Open a pancake, browned side down on the plate. Take a scallion brush and dip into the Hoisin Sesame Sauce and paint the pancake with as much or as little sauce as you like. If the round pancake is like a clock face, place the scallion at about 12 o'clock. Place a cucumber spear next to it. Take a strip of Fake Peking Duck skin and place atop the vegetables. Bring the bottom of the pancake up to fold over the filling, then fold the ends inward to make an open-ended package. Pick up with your hands and eat. Pass additional sauce for people to place on their plates for additional dipping, or serve with the Duck Steaks instead of the Orange sauce, if you wish.

    Back to the Menu: Surprise! Happy Birthday, Professor!

    MooShoo Pancakes
    If you prefer, you can use packaged flour fajita-size tortillas instead of making these pancakes, or make some French-style crepes. But if you have small kids or inexperienced but enthusiastic cooks on hand, these pancakes are fun for them to make. Molly always had the younger children help, and they enjoyed watching the small discs turn into big, flat things as they rolled it out flatter and flatter. Following her example, the House Elves of Hogwart's had the young and cooking-challenged students help out with these. Their confidence grew and they were very proud to be helping out with the headmaster's special surprise meal! The pancakes dry out quickly, so place them under a damp towel and/or plastic wrap as you make them and keep for serving. You can heat them up in the microwave under the damp towels and/or wrap, too, just before serving.
    • 1½ cups flour
    • about ½ cup boiling water, plus a bit extra
    • about 1 teaspoon sesame oil (or olive oil), or hot duck fat
    If you have a food processor, place the flour in the workbowl, then slowly add the hot water while the machine is running. Add more or less water than indicated, till the flour forms a soft dough ball. If you don't have a food processor, place the flour in a bowl and make a well in the center of the pile. Add the hot water and mix well with a wooden spoon and form the dough that way. Either way, knead the dough till it is smooth, then roll it out into a snake, at least 6 inches long, and cut into 12 pieces. Pat each piece out into rounds, and paint half of the rounds with the oil. Place another round on top of that, so you have 6 pairs or "sandwiches." Use a rolling pin and roll the paired rounds to about 7 or 8 inches in diameter'; they will become quite thin. You can paint some oil or fat on the counter to help keep it from sticking to the counter or rolling pin. Repeat for all 6 paired dough rounds.

    Heat a large skillet, dry (no oil). Place a flattened dough round in the pan for about a minute, till the dough browns and becomes crispy, then turn and repeat on the other side. While warm, pull apart the two dough rounds to make 2 pancakes again. Fold into quarters, crisped side out, and place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap to keep moist and warm. Repeat with other dough pairs.

    Makes 12 large pancakes. You can make smaller ones, of course, and more of them.

    Back to the Menu: Surprise! Happy Birthday, Professor!

    Hoisin Sesame Sauce
    You can use bottled Hoisin Sauce (sold in most supermarkets, check the "Asian section" on a shelf next to the soy sauce, or at an Asian or Indian market) straight up, rather than mixing it into a more dressing-like sauce. But this concoction is less strong-smelling and -tasting, thins out the salty sauce nicely, and makes it go farther (an important consideration in the Weasly household). Molly created it when there was a bit of sauce left in the jar that was too sticky to get out easily. She added hot water and shook the lidded jar, then seasoned with sesame oil to taste, and shook again. Yummy! NOTE: This sauce is also good on shredded greens, to make a sort of Asian coleslaw. Garnish with crispy noodles, like you find at Chinese restaurants -- they bring those out to nibble while you look over the menu.
    • ½ cup Hoisin Sauce
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons sesame oil, or to taste
    • 2 to 3 tablespoons hot water
    Whisk together all ingredients, or do as Mrs. Weasley did and use a jar with a screw-cap lid. Makes enough for about 1½ tablespoons of sauce per pancake.

    Back to the Menu: Surprise! Happy Birthday, Professor!

    Scallion Brushes and Cucumber Spears
    These do need be made in advance so that the cold water has time to curl the shredded/cut tops of the scallions. Cutting the scallions then putting them into ice-cold water will cause the cuts to curl outwards. It's not only pretty, but gives the diners something to dip into the sauce and brush onto their pancake for an interactive dish. The cold water treatment makes the scallions crisp as well as curly, without the use of magic at all! The cucumbers can be cut closer to serving time, if you wish, or they keep in a plastic bag or container in the refrigerator till you need them.
    • 12 scallions
    • 1 large cucumber
    scallion brushes, drawing by diana deriggs Clean the scallions and trim them down to about 5 inches in length. Starting about halfway down, cut a vertical slit. Roll and cut another slit, so that the top half of the scallion is sliced into quarters. Place in a bowl of ice and water and set aside for about an hour. When the sliced tops have curled back, drain and shake/blot the scallions dry. Place on a platter for serving.

    cucumber spears, drawing by diana deriggsFor the cucumbers, peel and trim, then cut into quarters to form long wedges. The seeds and pulp that were at the center of the cucumber should be trimmed away and the remaining flesh be sliced the long way into thirds to make a dozen spears. Keep chilled and covered till ready to serve.

    Back to the Menu: Surprise! Happy Birthday, Professor!

    Duck Liver Pâté
    The secret to a smooth, rich paté is to have enough fat in the recipe -- an equal volume to the amount of liver. Molly Weasley pointed out that as duck has a lot of fat in it's skin, they could use the rendered fat from that rather than buying it as a separate ingredient. You will want the finished paté to sit in the refrigerator to chill for a few hours to "set" in its serving dish, and become spreadable rather than sauce-like, so organize your cooking time and tasks carefully. Prepare the crispy skin of the Fake Peking Duck first and use that fat for this dish. And if you want more than a taste of this delicious paté, or want to make it sans duck, use chicken livers instead. If you collect the livers from whole poultry you buy for a roast chicken, and freeze them till you have enough -- as Molly Weasley does -- this dish is virtually free!

    (NOTE: One duck liver is about 3 ounces. You can halve this recipe for the one duck liver if you wish, or just buy a few chicken livers to make up the difference, or save the livers from whole chickens in the freezer till you have enough to make this recipe.

    ANOTHER NOTE: The blobs of fat found in a domestic chicken or duck in the "vent" -- in the cavity between the legs -- is equal in volume to the size of the liver. Go figure! So you should use that if you don't happen to have other fat randomly sitting around (after all, who does??).)

    • 6 ounces duck or chicken fat
    • 1 small onion, minced
    • 6 ounces duck or chicken liver, chopped coarsely
    • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
    • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
    • ¼ teaspoon dried parsley
    • 2 tablespoons cognac or other flavorful spirit, even sherry
    • salt, to taste
    • pepper, to taste
    • loaf of French or Italian bread (long, thin), sliced thinly
    If you are using solid fat, chop it up and render the fat in a skillet set over low heat, until the liquid fat runs out and the pieces of solid fat become browned and somewhat crispy. (If you are making Fake Peking Duck, you can use the reserved fat from the roasted duck skin.) Without straining the fat, cook the onion in the hot fat till the onion is softened and translucent. Add the liver, garlic, thyme and parsley and cook till the liver is cooked, but still pink in the center of each piece. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the cognac to the mix. (Do not add alcohol directly from the bottle to any hot dish -- if you're not careful, the flame can run up the stream of liquid directly into the bottle and explode! Always pout the alcohol out into a bowl or small cup, and pour it from there to the hot dish. And NEVER add alcohol while the heat is still on under the pan!! It can ignite in the pan unexectedly!)

    Place the mixture in a blender and liquify. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Scrape out into a serving bowl or ramekins, cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight, or at least two hours. To serve, spread the paté thinly on a slice of bread. This will make the paté go farther, but if you have fewer people, just put the bowl out and let people dollop as much as they wish.

    Back to the Menu: Surprise! Happy Birthday, Professor!

    Tuscan-style Duck Soup
    This is a rich, heavy soup that really can be a meal all by itself, or a small cup of it is a nice starting course. The Weasley family often had it all on it's own for supper with some bread or cheese-topped scones. It uses the duck bones and trimmings to make the base soup stock, and nutritious vegetables which could be bought cheaply or grown in the home garden. That made this soup virtually free -- a common theme in the Weasley household. What's more, it's simply a delicious autumn or winter soup, and can stretch an expensive meat like duck very far, indeed; use any stock you have on hand, acutally -- pork, ham, chicken, duck, etc. Professor Dumbledore declared it delicious, and really appreciated the rich flavor, even without a speck of meat actually present in the soup. He had to be told that if he had seconds, he'd have no room for anything else in his belly!
    • 6 cups duck stock (use chicken stock recipe, only using duck bones and trimmings instead)
    • 5 cups butternut or acorn squash flesh, cubes
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon dried sage
    • 2 lbs canned white beans (navy, haricots), drained and rinsed
    • salt, to taste
    • pepper, to taste
    Simmer together the duck stock or broth (replace with chicken or ham stock if you wish), squash, onion and dried sage till the squash is softened, about 30 to 40 minutes. Add the beans and simmer for another 30 or so minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you wish, mash or puré the soup -- for a more "Tuscan" effect, mash down about half the contents of the soup, so you get chunky and thick/smooth in the same dish. It can also be thinned with additional broth or milk, or served with a dollop of cream or sour cream on top of the soup. Be sure to re-season the soup if you add more liquid. Serves 12 or so.

    Back to the Menu: Surprise! Happy Birthday, Professor!

    Duck Steaks with Orange Gastrique
    Living on the British Isles, Professor Dumbledore remembers when citrus fruits were an expensive and rare commodity, and thus really enjoys them when he can get them, even though they are cheaper now. And connected as they are to the non-Wizard world, such problems as "mad cow disease" do affect their community, too. Thus it had been a long time since such a thing as steak with a pungent, sharp sauce had been served to the headmaster. This version of steak with a citrus-vinegar sauce is very "beef-like" -- the headmaster declared it a delicious dish that stood on its own merits, not a substitution of any kind. He also loves duck, but he claimed he never had it like this before!
      Orange Gastrique Sauce
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
    • 1 large ice cube
    • 2 oranges, zested and juiced
    • 2 teaspoons orange liqueur (like Cointreau, Grand Marnier or and triple sec)
    • 2 cups duck stock
    Put the sugar and vinegar in a clean, dry pot and simmer together. Do not use a pot with a dark interior, or you won't be able to see the color of the mixture. Do not stir, simply swirl the pot to move the contents lightly -- you are trying to heat these together enough to lightly caramelize. There will be a very strong pungent vinegar odor as you are boiling vinegar, be sure you have enough ventilation! When the mixture starts to brown, pull the pot off the heat and add the ice cube, swirling the pot to cool down this gastrique.

    Wash the oranges and remove the peel -- be careful not to get any of the white, spongey pith that lies just under the skin. Slice it very thinly to form zest (or use a "zester" that pulls the skin off in thin strips). Blanch the zest by boiling in some salted water for 15 seconds, (this eliminates most of the bitterness), then drain and cover the zest with the orange liqueur till you are ready to assemble the sauce.

    Squeeze the zested oranges for their juice. Strain out the pits and combine the orange juice and duck stock in a pot and boil down to half its volume. Off the flame, add the zest in liqueur. Add gastrique to taste. The sauce is will be sharp and strong in orange flavor, and will contrast with the richness and fattiness of the meat.

    Serves 4 to 6, or more.

      Duck Steaks
    • One duck, skin removed
    • salt, to taste
    • pepper, to taste
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    Use the duckmeat from the preparation of Fake Peking Duck. Remove the breast meat by first removing the wishbone at the top of the breast, then making an incision along the breastbone and then carefully pulling away the meat from the bone. You can help this along by scraping with a thin, sharp knife alongside the bone while pulling. Cut off the legs and thighs, and remove the thigh bone from the meat, if you wish. (The carcass should, of course, be used for duck stock.)

    Season the meat with salt and pepper, and melt the butter in a skillet or frying pan over medium heat. When the butter foams up then subsides, place the duck legs in the hot pan and cook for 3 or 4 minutes on each side. Set aside in an ovenproof dish, and cook the breast meat for about 2 or 3 minutes on each side. Place the duck aside to rest for about 5 minutes; you can keep the meat warm in a 175°F / 80°C oven for up to 15 minutes. The meat should be medium to medium-rare, like a beefsteak.

    When ready to serve as a main dish, cut the drumstick from the thigh, and cut the breast in half. Put one breast half and one leg half on each plate, and drizzle the sauce over or alongside. If serving more people, slice the meat thinly -- you can do this on the bias if you want the pieces to look bigger, and fan out on the plate. If you do this, it's important that the sauce be hot, so that the meat is served warm. "Nap" the sauce over the meat, meaning spoon over the slices evenly like a blanket.

    Serves 4 as a main course, or up to 12 or so as an appetizer course, or as part of a meal with many more side dishes.

    Back to the Menu: Surprise! Happy Birthday, Professor!

    Upsidedown Apple Tarte
    Ginny Weasley heard about Ron's idea to bake a birthday treat for Professor Dumbledore, and asked to see the recipes their mother had sent by owl. She recognized the apple tarte immediately, having watched her mother make it for special occasions. It had a hidden caramel sauce at the bottom of it, which made the pie extra delicious, topped with big, upright chunks of apples, rather than slices. This was a very special pie, indeed, and she begged to be able to make it, promising Ron she'd do a good job. Despite her age, Ron knew that Ginny was a rather good cook, having attended cooking classes with her mother at the Institute of Witchery & Cookery with her mother before she came to Hogwart's.

    Unfortunately, she was so excited about laying out the peeled and quartered apple wedges in the required decorative pattern that she completely forgot to put down the piecrust into the pan before she started! But she didn't want to undo the work she'd put into the caramel and apple arrangement, and she reasoned that she could put the crust on top of the pie, then flip the whole thing over to serve. She felt rather clever with the result, confident that no one would know the difference ... But she was wrong -- everyone noticed, since it was simply the best apple pie they'd ever eaten; even the professor -- and Mrs. Weasley -- commented on its perfection! Dumbledore declared it the best party he'd ever had, with the best meal -- and birthday "cake" -- in his whole, long life. Hooray!

    • 12 to 16 apples (depending on size)
    • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
    • ½ cup sugar
    • ½ cup water
    • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
    • 1 pie crust -- make your own or storebought
    Prepare a large bowl of cold water, big enough to hold the cut apples. Add enough lemon juice or salt so you can taste it in the water. Peel and core the apples, then cut them into quarters. Place in the water to prevent the apples from browning.

    Prepare a cake pan by greasing it heavily with half the softened butter. Set aside.

    Making Caramel
    In a clean, dry pot, make the caramel by simmering together the sugar, water, and corn syrup. Use a pot with an interior where you can see the color of the caramel as it browns. Do not stick a stirrer or anything else into the pot. The corn syrup should prevent the mixture from turning into rocksugar, but if you notice chunky white crystals forming on the sides of the pot, you can dip a pastry brush in some cool water and press it against the side of the pot to force the crystals back down into the hot mixture. DO NOT PUT THE BRUSH ANYWHERE IN OR NEAR THE SUGAR CRYSTALS OR THE HOT MIXTURE ITSELF. The brush tips might melt and your whole batch may sudden turn into a massive crystal. Watch it carefully -- it will look like it's doing nothing for a while, the rapidly brown. If you aren't careful, it can burn very fast! It's hot, so don't touch it or the pot without potholders or dry kitchen towels.

    When the caramel is a rich brown color, remove it from the heat immediately and pour it carefully all over the bottom of the prepared cake pan. Try to cover the whole bottom, but if it starts to cool too fast and you end up with some thick and thin bits, don't worry. To wash the pot, place hot water in it and let it cool down in the sink. By the time it's cool enough to handle, the sticky caramel should be all dissolved.

    Heat the oven to 375°F / 190°C. Place the apple pieces on their ends right over the caramel, packing them tightly against each other. If desired, sprinkle over with a tablespoon of sugar, then put the remaining softened butter evenly over the top of the apples. Roll out the pastry and place over the apples, tucking the edges into the pan. If you wish, you can make a "collar" of foil to support the crust, but it's not completely necessary.

    Place on a foil-lined baking tray and bake for about an hour, till the juices are thickend and bubbling and the crust is nicely browned. Remove the pan (you might see a lot of juices have bubbled out, if so, remove the pan from the foil while it's still warm, or you'll find you can't get the pan off easily after it cools and sticks). As long as you cooked this long enough, the juices at the bottom of the pan should become thicker with cooling. If they are really running, you can carefully tip it out when the pan is cooler. Save for some other use, if so.

    When the pie is still warm but the pan is cool enough to handle, place a serving platter over the crust, and flip everything over quickly (use both hands). Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired. It's great on it's own, and will serve 8 to 12.

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