Letter to Viktor Krumm
Menu: Spinach Salad with Chutney Dressing | Easy Meatball Stew | Deliberately Sat-Upon Steak Sandwich | Cheese and Herb Scones | Custard Squares | Hot or Iced Tea Sweetened With Ginger Honey
Lately, Viktor Krumm was either very quiet or talking only of a certain girl. This in itself wasn't that unusual, since Durmstrang, though likely a co-ed school (no one says, actually) separated the boys from the girls, almost as effectively as they admitted only purebloods. The boys' dormitory was the flying ship; the girls lived in the castle structure, in high towers on the magical grounds of Durmstrang. For the Tri-Wizard tournament, the boys were sent to Hogwart's, under the hope that they would do better than the girls ...
Viktor was drafted to play for the Bulgarian national quidditch team at a young age, and was still a student when they made the World Cup finals. He had very little time to do much more than study, practice and sleep. Since the girls were effectively segregated from the boys, he rarely saw a girl his age up close, and didn't even have the time to daydream.
Believe it or not, since the Tri-Wizard Tournament put his normal school activities on hold, and with Bulgaria losing the World Cup, Viktor had time to goof off for the first time in his life. Hogwart's female students were not restricted as the Durmstrang girls were, so Viktor and his classmates got to see them up close for the first time in their adolescence. The British girls were much different from their women, making them appear soft and exotic ...
There was a fourth year girl, whom he saw a lot of. He was older than her, but being she did so well in classes, he kept running into her when he was speaking with professors, or in the library. She was quite small with bushy hair, and he could not -- no many how many times he asked those around her -- pronounce her name. So he secretly referred to her as "Zayde"-- a local dialect term roughly translated as "Sweetie." That's what he called her in his mind and in his dreams.
Headmaster Karkaroff was worried about his top student. He had great hopes for Viktor, and for all the boys of Durmstrang. It was not for nothing he admitted only students from pureblood wizard families and rather than teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts (like that softy Dumbledore), he had his teachers instruct in the Dark Arts themselves. To see his top student mooning around for a Hogwart's girl was rather repulsive. He made some inquiries, even asking his friend Lucius Malfoy, and to his horror, he discovered the girl of Viktor's desire wasn't from a wizard family at all -- she was born spontaneously, a witch from a Muggle family! Worse than a mudblood!
He confined Viktor to the ship, not wanting him to have any contact with the Muggle. Viktor was forced to have detention for no particular reason. This was not unusual at Durmstrang, but Viktor seethed. He had worked hard all his young life, how dare they treat him like this! They could sentence his body to do cleaning chores, but his mind roamed, and he tried to be on deck of on the masts between classes at Hogwart's, so he could try to glimpse the object of his desire as she hurried amongst the buildings.
The girl did notice Viktor staring at her every time she looked toward the Durmstrang ship. She knew who he was, of course, for she sat in the stands of the World Cup match, and witnessed his talent and skills. That was the game where Viktor caught the golden snitch, yet Bulgaria lost to Ireland. It was because Viktor was really the whole talent of the team, and she respected and was awed by him.
Wondering why she never saw him on the grounds of Hogwart's, Ron Weasley, a huge quidditch fan, told her that the superstar seeker had been assigned detention for "daydreaming" -- a grave offence at Durmstrang. The girl was horrified, and resolved to comfort him somehow. Ron scoffed at her, "What makes you think HE'D want to see YOU??" But she knew.
With Harry's help and with his father's invisibility cloak, Hermione Granger went to visit Viktor after hours; she knew he would stand on deck at night and gaze toward Gryffindor Tower. Unfortunately, she couldn't actually get to talk to him. Girls were not allowed on the ship; a spell had been placed on it to ensure they didn't come aboard, and Viktor couldn't leave unless Karkaroff released him. Using a more complex set of levitation spells (the simpler standard ones were blocked), Hermione sent up a basket full of goodies she'd managed to put together with Harry's aid (Ron helped a bit too, but grudgingly and grumpily).
He watched as she covered herself with the invisibility cloak, then waited till he saw the great door open to admit Hermione back into the castle. He hurried back to his room on the ship to take a look at her gifts. In addition to food and drink, she'd written him a note describing the food, which he read over and over to memorize. Then he ate it to make sure it wasn't taken from him! (It gave him indigestion, and he later blamed it on the possibility that Harry Potter, the boy whom Hermione mentioned again and again in the note might have cast a spell on it ... Silly Viktor ...)
Spinach Salad with Chutney Dressing
"Dear Viktor Krumm,
My name is Hermione Granger. I noticed you seemed to want to meet me, so I hope you don't think I'm too forward in presenting you a "friendship gift" of a basket of food. I have read that the food at Durmstrang is very much like real sailors' fare, and I thought you might appreciate some more freshly prepared things. I was unsure what sorts of things you might like. I asked my friend, Ron Weasley, who is a great fan of yours, for some advice. He said you'd likely not want a raw salad, but Hagrid, our groundskeeper thought you'd like it with a heartier, spicier dressing. You'll have to toss it when you want it, or it will wilt and be terrible if you dress it too long in advance. It's good for you, in any case."
In a really big bowl, place the spinach, sliced apple, pecans, raisins, and scallions. Shake the jar of dressing before you pour it into the salad. Toss with "enough" dressing (you probably won't need all of it), using your (clean) hands. Serve immediately, or the spinach will wilt horribly. Serves 8.
Deliberately Sat-Upon Steak Sandwich
"When Hagrid met Harry for the first time, he gave him a cake, which he apologized for sitting on. We were joking about this, and Hagrid told us that this sandwich actually NEEDS to be sat on! It's very good, really, so don't be put off that it looks squashed -- it's supposed to be like that. Harry and I went to the edges of the forbidden forest to gather these field mushrooms for you. He didn't want to go, but don't think badly of him for that! I know that you'll appreciate that we managed to get you some wild mushrooms; I was reading that Bulgarians like mushrooms and the wood ones are the most flavorful. I hope you do, anyway. Just slice off as much of the sandwich as you wish, and either serve others the rest, or keep it for later."
Slice off one end of the bread loaf, then tunnel out the soft crumb. Reserve the "cap" to use when packing the sandwich. (Save the crumb for something else -- dry them out and use for breadcrumbs, or make croûtons, for instance.)
Line a broiler pan with foil, to reduce cleanup later. Place the steak on it and leave under the broiler till it's browned and sizzling, then turn over and repeat. The second side will cook faster. Don't overcook the steak, or it will be incredibly tough. (Alternatively, you can pan fry the steak or grill it on an outdoor grill/barbeque.) Season the steak with salt and pepper on both sides, then carefully stuff it into the loaf (tip: sideways, if it fits better that way). Place the mushroom caps on the same foil the steak was on, and run under the broiler till it starts to turn brown and exudes juice. Turn over and repeat. Season with salt and pepper to taste then top with a slice of cheese, again to taste, then stuff them into the loaf, over the steak. Place the end back over the loaf, then wrap tightly in wax paper or parchment paper or foil or plastic wrap, at least a double layer. Tie up with some string, like a loin roast, or secure with several rubber bands along the length of the sandwich.
You will need to press the sandwich. Pressing is absolutely necessary -- it forces the juices from the mushrooms and meat into the bread, tenderizes the meat, and makes the loaf easier to slice.
(Viktor did wonder who had sat on the sandwich!)
Easy Meatball Stew
"This is a recipe Harry showed me how to make with tinned vegetables and meatballs that had been made for another meal. I don't know if you know, but Harry is an orphan and he lives with his aunt and uncle and cousin, who are all perfectly horrid to him. He does a lot of his own cooking at home, and he's quite good at it. This stew is quite hearty; I'm sorry there isn't more than a pint of it, but Harry and Ron smelled it cooking and demanded a share, too. It's too bad I like Harry; I'm having a row with Ron at present, but I let him have some anyway. I hope you don't mind, and I hope you like it."
Cheese and Herb Scones
"These are nice, savoury scones, which are a non-sweet risen biscuit. These are very English, and go very well with a cup of tea. Since it has cheese and herbs in it, you'll probably want to eat it with the stew. If you want to warm it up, I suggest splitting the scones and placing them, cut side down, in the stew so it can warm up and soak up some of the liquid while it's in the oven. It makes it a real one-dish meal. But I've enclosed some butter, in case you simply want to eat them with butter. Harry reckons they're best that way when the scones are fresh and hot. I hope these are still warm when you get a chance to eat them!"
"I couldn't find a lot of information about sweets and puddings in Bulgaria, so I decided you might like to sample one of Harry's and my favorite British-style sweets. It's called a Custard Square, and it's very, very sweet, really lovely as an afternoon snack, but we like it as pudding instead of a cake. You will definitely need a cup of hot tea to eat with this. I find it so more-ish that my parents only let me have one on special occasions, or I'll eat the whole tray of them! I hope we can eat one together someday soon?"
Place one sheet of pastry down on the bottom of a small baking dish -- and 8-inch by 8-inch cake pan is ideal -- and dollop the cold custard over it, then place the second pastry sheet over that. You can make the custard layer as thick as you wish, but it should be about ½ to ¾ inch high (less than 2 cm). Much more and it's very difficult to eat without oozing the filling all over you. Spread the vanilla icing over the top thinly. For best results, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and refrigerate an hour or more. Cut with a serrated knife into squares. Makes about 9.
Hot or Iced Tea Sweetened With Ginger Honey
"I had thought you might be ill, and that's why you don't leave the ship, so I have made you some hot tea, sweetened with honey. I've used a ginger honey from New Zealand. It's very thick and rather spicy, and ginger is often used to help cure colds and such. I do hope you feel better. I'd like to extend an invitation to show you around Hogwart's and Gryffindor Tower when you up and about. (If you are not ill, you might like this tea cold, with ice cubes floating in it. I know Bulgarians may not use ice much for drinks, but I have cousins in America who don't really drink it any other way. It's very refreshing.)
Very truly yours, Hermione Granger"
To do this properly: for one person, wash the hot water kettle, rinse it well, then fill with as much twice as much cold water as you think you will need. When the water comes to a full rolling boil, pour into the empty teacup or mug, leave it there for a count of 10, then dump out the water and place the tea bag in the cup, followed by the rest of the water from the kettle. Add the grated ginger, then let it steep for three minutes, then remove the teabag. Add honey to taste, stirring well to dissolve it into the hot tea. Sip while hot.
Cold Tea, for Two
If you prefer it iced, use two teabags and 1 teaspoon grated ginger, and follow instructions as above. After sweetening with twice as much honey, prepare a large glass ¾ filled with ice cubes. Pour the tea over the ice and stir to spread the coldness. This makes two glasses of cold iced tea.
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