Wedding Feast for Samwise Gamgee and Rosie Cotton
by SuSu, GilArda, Gabbydriel, and the Cave Troll
Menu: Bachelor's Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes | Lembas Corncake | Scrumptious Mushrooms in Cream and Miruvor | Fellowship Beef Brisket | Smack 'em Up Summer Lasagne | Gaffer's Favorite Potato and Stringbean Salad | Eat Your Carrots, says Hamfast | Crisp with Pears and Apples from the Entwives | 1-2-3-4 Punch! | Ithilien Conserve | Pear Chocolate Topsy Turvey in Love Cake
Hobbits love celebrations. They give each other presents on their own birthdays; they bring special treats to their Yule gatherings; and since just about everyone in Hobbiton -- if not the whole Shire -- knows each other, they bring all sorts of savories and sweets to weddings -- their favorite celebrations of all. When Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin return from their great journey, Sam finally gets up the nerve to ask Rosie Cotton to marry him and it is a humdinger of a wedding. The whole Shire gets together to celebrate this union of one of their heroes, so the wedding feast is a major undertaking. Even though Samwise is the groom, he is an accomplished cook -- he not only makes his own favorite and meaningful dishes for the feast, he happily coordinates everyone else's efforts. Merry and Pippin do their best to help -- to make up for the stolen fireworks incident at Bilbo's party -- with mixed results. Sam and Rosie's wedding and the feast afterward live long in the memories of Hobbits throughout the Shire.
Bachelor's Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes
Bilbo Baggins had talked a lot about the cheese produced in LakeTown, one of the places he visited on his first journey. When he heard Sam was going to be married, Gimli the dwarf remembered the Hobbit's fondness for cheese and reasoned that all Hobbits might like cheese equally well, so sent Sam a huge cartload of it for the wedding feast! When it arrived, Sam ran off to see Frodo to tell him about the wonderful gift from the dwarf, but he found his friend in one of his dark and mournful moods.
Though delighted that his old friend was getting married, Frodo's heart was filled with longing and pain. He had carried the One Ring and had seen to it's destruction, but carrying it marked him and damaged his soul. Sam struck on an idea to help his friend -- he asked Frodo to help him think of some way to use the cheese from Gimli, please?
Bilbo had lived as a bachelor his whole adult life, cooking for himself. When he adopted Frodo after the death of the young boy's parents, they both continued the "bachelor life," and he taught his nephew the many finer points of living without women or a housekeeper to help. One of those things was to make food that was somewhat snack-like, rather than a balanced meal -- Bilbo told him he can balance the day or even the overall week, so you can have a meal of all meat, another of all vegetables, another of all cheese, etc.
Though Sam did all of the cooking on their journey, Frodo was actually a good cook too, though more in an "appetizer" sense due to his upbringing. He devised this stuffed tomato recipe (which actually combined cheese and a vegetable, making it more "balanced" than usual) and he was proud and happy to make it for his dear friend's wedding feast. And it did lift his mood!
When Sam and Rosie were planning their wedding, she would often let him digress to memories of his adventures. He'd hobnobbed with kings and warriors, and though he was completely happy to be home, he knew she was in awe of what he'd done, and wanted to understand him better. Sam realized that showing Rosie the foods he'd eaten from other lands might be a way to illustrate the experiences he'd had during his absence from the Shire.
Flaky, hard, sturdy Lembas bread was carried by the Elves on the journey to destroy the One Ring, and Sam had gotten so used to it that he missed it when he returned to the Shire. However, when he told Merry and Pippin of his desire to recreate the bread for the wedding, they groaned loudly, remembering that Legolas had told them that one piece could keep a man on his feet for a whole day -- they had eaten four pieces each and harbored memories of bloating and indigestion! Sam had to agree, it wasn't exactly wedding fare, but he had come up with the idea to symbolize the fellowship on this most important of days, and it distressed him that he couldn't think of a way to represent the Elves.
Then, as if reading his mind, a large box showed up from none other than Lady Galadriel, queen of the Elves. She wrote that in conference with Legolas, she'd decided to send the "civilian party version" of Lembas bread called Lembas Corncake as a wedding gift. It wasn't a cake in the sweet dessert sense. It was more like what we would refer to as cornbread, with spicy peppers and cheese flecked through the crumbly, light dough. It went well with savory soups and stews or with just a pat of butter -- or even simply on it's own!
It was just what Sam was looking for -- it resembled the Lembas bread enough to satisfy his craving, but was festive enough for a party. Sam served it throughout the day, so that guests could snack as they grew hungry, knowing it would sustain them!
Scrumptious Mushrooms in Cream and Miruvor
Elrond gave Gandalf a special cordial called "Miruvor" that the wizard administered to the Fellowship after the horror of the attack before the Gates of Moria. Sam remembered it and begged some from Gandalf before heading home to the Shire, explaining he'd only use it, "to help Mr. Frodo because I fear he'll need it." Touched by Sam's devotion to their stricken friend, Gandalf relented, warning him that only Frodo would ever get this medicine, and only when in dire need. "I trust you, Samwise, do not disappoint me! And above all, do not fail Frodo Baggins."
In the period leading up to the wedding, Frodo's mood seemed to plunge into a deeper darkness, and not even Sam's frequent visits or talk of his upcoming nuptuals could cheer him. Sam decided it was time to administer Miruvor, but Frodo refused any help, saying he'd deal with his sickness on his own. So Sam created a delicious mushroom dish that he told Frodo he wanted to serve at the wedding, but maybe it was too sophisticated for the Shire. Could he get Frodo's opinion?
Clever Sam knew that ALL Hobbits are absolutely mad for mushrooms, and Frodo would partake in the dish, no matter how blue he felt. Sam put a few drops of Miruvor in after the wine in the this dish, and his unsuspecting friend ate the whole bowl and declared it delicious! "Whatever was in there Sam, it's scrumptious, as my uncle would say! I never thought anything could be more delicious than mushrooms any which way, but that dish is the pinnacle!" High praise indeed, and to Sam's delight, Frodo was much happier after having consumed it. (Of course, it was a big hit at the wedding too, minus the Miruvor! Sam did have to keep his promise to Gandalf, after all.)
Fellowship Beef Brisket
At the end of the first stage of their journey, after leaving Rivendell but before they go up into the Pass of Caradhras, Gandalf told the fellowship that they'd made good progress and could have a longer rest period. It was dusk, and Aragorn left to hunt while the others set up camp and rested, knowing they would need their strength in the days to come. While they dozed, Sam fretted that there was nothing to eat; his collection of spices and dried vegetables and fruits had to be supplemented if they were to truly benefit from the longer rest.
Aragorn returned to camp carrying haunches and fillets of venison, the result of a successful hunt. He immediately roused Sam, the de facto cook, who responded enthusiastically to the largess. Not wanting to wake the others, he used the cooling embers of the fire instead of feeding and stoking it. Sam covered the larger tough pieces of meat with a spicy rub similar in flavor to one he tasted at Bilbo's birthday party at the Green Dragon, only he added some sooty char from the burnt wood from the fire to give it a smokier flavor. It cooked slowly all throughout the night and into the day. When it was time to eat, Sam cut the meat into slices against the grain and was rewarded by silence as everyone ate and ate and ate ... Sam's heart was filled as his comrades thanked him for filling their bellies and for his care toward their well-being.
When Aragorn got word that Samwise Gamgee would be married, he immediately sent many beef cuts to the Hobbit as a wedding gift. The messenger gave Sam a note which told the Hobbit that Aragorn had never forgotten that meal after Rivendell, and could he have the recipe for his court cooks to duplicate for him? He also wrote that he'd sent beef instead of venison since a refined occasion warranted more refined meat. Touched, Sam wrote down the formula for Aragorn's messengers to take back to the King, and send a sample of the beef brisket roast that he made to serve at his wedding, too.
Smack 'em Up Summer Lasagne
The wizard Gandolf separated Merry and Pippin at Rohan to keep them out of mischief, knowing that apart they were troublesome, but together there were real trouble! Even so, they meant well and begged Sam for a chance to help with his wedding preparations. Being a kindly soul and knowing the two hoped to atone for many misbehaviors, Sam assigned Merry and Pippin the construction of this dish, though he prepared the sauce himself. He did not trust many others to do justice to his father's vegetables.
The two Hobbits had to boil long sheets of noodle dough, which would be layered with the sauce and with cheese. The pot was tall and the Hobbits short, and they found they had to tug quickly to get the sheets to clear the cooking vessel. After two or three tries -- dropping the sheets, falling down, burning themselves with the hot water -- they finally got the hang of it: pull quickly and steadily upwards till they stood on the tips of their toes, then flick outwards to get the sheet out of the pot and run backwards to get the breeze to help lay it out in the casserole dish. While one pulled the sheets, the other spread the sauce and cheese over each layer, and they took the task in turns.
It didn't take long before Merry flicked up the noodle sheet and ran right into Pippin, who got slapped with a face full of hot, wet noodle! In retaliation, Pippin repeated Merry's trick and smacked him back! Fortunately before a food fight could ensue, both suddenly felt a sharp pressure on the back of their heads and immediately remembered what Gandalf had done to them after they stole fireworks during Bilbo's party ... the memory sobered them instantly and they got back to work quickly!
Serves 6 to 8.
Gaffer's Favorite Potato and Stringbean Salad
Gaffer Gamgee was the resident expert on taters in the Shire, and when he said to eat them in a cold salad with stringbeans, others might have questioned his sanity, but they did it. And they were very glad they did, too, including his son Sam. The groom might claim that fried potatoes were his favorite, but nobody stood between him and the Gaffer's potato and stringbean salad when it was on the table!
Saute the bacon in a skillet until crisp. Cook the onion and garlic in the bacon drippings till golden. Stir in the vinegar -- start with ¼ cup and cook till the liquid thickens a bit. Toss in the potatoes, then the string beans and butter. Cook till the vinegar is absorbed; add more vinegar to taste. Stir, then add salt and pepper to taste.
Serves 4 to 6.
Eat Your Carrots, says Hamfast!
"Gaffer" is a nickname for Sam's father, who's real name is Hamfast. When Sam was growing up, he thought Hamfast was a sort of poltergeist ... his father might say, "Eat your carrots, says Hamfast!" and Sam became frightened. Who was Hamfast? He'd never seen such a man, so created a story in his young brain that Hamfast was a ghost who would punish him for not eating his vegetables! Of course, Sam grew up to be an accomplished gardener and cook, but who knows what might have happened if Gaffer didn't have a nickname?
For his wedding, Sam cut the carrots crosswise, so they looked like golden coins -- to signify good fortune, a rich life for the couple, many children -- all the things you hope for a newly wed couple!
Serves 4 to 6.
Never able to stay out of mischief for long, Merry's and Pippin's antics didn't always end up badly. They did once manage to get something good out of their horsing around -- they invented this drink, which resulted from a silly game of theirs called "punch." They would throw ripe fruit into a bowl, attempting to bounce the fruit and ricochet it to hit a still target. In their version of the game, the target was one another ... they could dance and hop around the bowl, but when the fruit tosser yelled, "1-2-3-4 PUNCH!" the other had to freeze on the spot while the fruit was bounced into the bowl. If the tosser hit the other person successfully with the bouncing fruit, they got a free punch at the other person. If they missed, the other person got a turn being the tosser.
They were both covered in fruit nectar and bruises and giggling like madmen when they saw none other than Frodo Baggins standing close by and staring at them with a haunted expression in his eyes. Startled at their cousin's sad gaze, the two miscreants busied themselves squeezing fruit and yelling, "PUNCH!" every so often, to try and disguise their misbehavior. In the end, they had so much fruit juice that it was a simple matter to put in some spirits and make a drink for the wedding feast (which is what Sam had assigned them to do in the first place).
When asked during the wedding about the numbers they were yelling out when he saw them, they explained to Frodo that it meant one part sour juice, two parts sweet juice, three parts spirits, and four parts tea. He smiled quietly at their mischievious creativity, and admired that the adventures of the Fellowship had not damaged their spirits. He heartily wished he could be so carefree again, too.
Strain the tea into a bowl containing the ice. Pour the citrus juice, fruit juice and rum or ginger ale just before serving. Slice the reserved citrus fruit thinly, and float some on the surface of the punch, and put some in each glass.
Serves a lot, depends on how big your "part" is!
Crisp with Pears and Apples from the Entwives
The Ents mourned the absence of their Entwives; they had been separated for so long that the Ents lost memory of what the Entwives looked like. In the books, the Entwives were forever lost ... but Gaffer once saw something walking across the hills at dusk, and others accused him of seeing something from the bottom of the bottle of his home brew. Could it have been an Entwife?
The Entwives tended orchards and made trees grow bigger. The trees in Buckland did indeed grow bigger and produced a lot of fruit; it was also said that one could hear the trees in that region talk ... When Merry and Pippin described the Shire to Treebeard, the male Ent told them that it sounded like just the sort of place the Entwives would love. And Gaffer was the Master Gardener among the Hobbits -- if the Entwives were to show themselves to anyone, wouldn't it be to someone like Gaffer Gamgee?
Mysterious dishes of pears and apples baked under a crispy sweet topping was left on the feast tables; Gaffer discovered them on the morning of his son's wedding, and wondered if this was a gift from the mysterious and missing Entwives?
Serves 8 to 10.
If Sam thought he'd get control of all the cooking at this wedding, he had another thing coming! Lily Cotton -- Rosie's mother -- was a good cook, and she wanted to show off her skills at her daughter's wedding, too. But even she was amazed and overwhelmed by all the gifts coming from places she'd never heard of, and was humbled by the experiences her future son-in-law had lived. Sam was a sensitive man though, and told Lily that he'd be honored if she could take care of the food that the wedding guests would be noshing for the days and nights before and after the ceremony, and could she please use the food gifts from his friends? Lily Cotton did not refuse the challenge!
Among the many gifts, she saw jars of preserves from a place called Ithilien. Delighted that she noticed them, Sam told her that they were a present from Prince Faramir, who was named leader of that lush province of Gondor by the King. Sam joked that the princess royal of Rohan -- Eowyn -- was a lousy cook, and that the riders of Rohan would use a lot of this condiment to be able to swallow her culinary efforts. He invited Lily to taste the concoction and imagine the men of Rohan and Gondor joining them at the feast.
Lily was surprised by the sharp, spicy tang of ginger with the orchard fruit, and that it was not a sweet dessert-like jam like she'd make. She thought of the tales Sam had told the Shire about the Rohan riders and the things they ate, and decided to come up with a "horserider's relish tray" -- featuring items she fancied a rider would take with him and eat at the end of a long day. She was romanticizing it of course, but inspiration comes from many places!
When she looked some more, she saw a person called Eomer had sent dried sausages ("In memory of King Theoden!" the seal's inscription read), and Faramir had also sent bags of very tasty dried fruit, which Lily remembered Sam talked about from his adventures, too. The sausages were very salty and spicy, but when sliced very thinly and eaten with a bit of Prince Faramir's preserves, the combination was unusual but addictive. It was powerful and mouth-puckering though, and she added a thickened, drained soft curd -- a sort of cream cheese -- sent by the dwarf Gimli ("He'd met royalty and dwarves!" Lily muttered to herself) to soften the effect. Accompanied by strips of the dried fruit, a guest could experience spicy, rich, salty, sweet, creamy, tangy all in one mouthful! She imagined it was an encapsulation of all of Sam's and Frodo's adventures. However, the Hobbits had all come home to the Shire rather than staying away, and so she wanted to include things from home. To round it all out and because it was pretty, she added a selection of her own pickled vegetables -- cucumbers, onions, cauliflower, etc.
Samwise was very happy with Lily's help and all of the wedding guests were beguiled by the exotic and flavorful offerings. And Lily proudly told everyone where each of the items was from, and who had sent them -- the way she talked, you'd think SHE was the one who'd met Prince Faramir, Lady Eowyn, Lord Gimli, and King Eomer!
Pear Chocolate Topsy Turvey in Love Cake
Rosie had dreamed of marrying Samwise Gamgee for a long time, and had imagined many aspects of the wedding day, including the cake. She wanted something "exotic," for her husband-to-be was one of the "fellowship" and an adventurer and hero among the Hobbits! Only the best would do, and she put her whole effort into procuring ingredients and putting the weddingcake together. As the time for the ceremony approached, she wasn't yet done, and she had to hurry the process along. She was rushing the cakes out of the oven when disaster struck -- she dropped the pans and they all fell upside down!
Sam found her sitting on the floor crying as if her heart would break, and he ran to her, wondering what was wrong? When he saw the pans sitting upsidedown on the floor with the smell of baking in the air, he hugged and and kissed her and told her it would be all right, he'd see to it!
He sent Rosie off to get dressed for the party, then carefully scooped up the cakes and saw that the pears, which were meant to be hidden at the bottom of the cake, were now on top. He did think it looked unusual and quite pretty, so didn't bother turning it over again; in any case, the "top" of the cake was cracked and broken from the fall. It was so attractive that he eschewed the traditional icing and put flowers into the hollow of each pear, making it look festive. And rather than stacking the cake into layers, he put them on plates set on upturned cups, so that he created an elevated, tiered presentation. On the side of one cake, he piped his name, and on another, his bride's name. On a third cake, he piped, "Topsy Turvy in Love!" on the side.
When Rosie saw what Sam had done, she burst out into tears again, and he wondered if he'd made a mistake? But then she grabbed him around the neck and planted kisses all over his face! (It would be a very merry marriage indeed -- they had 13 children!)
Melt the chocolate and shortening together over a double boiler or in a microwave (be careful -- chocolate can burn in the microwave). Stir to combine, then add the vanilla extract. Sift together the flour, sugar, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt, then stir into the chocolate mixture, blending well. Add the milk and eggs, and blend till smooth. Spread over the pears, then bake about 30 minutes, or till the cake is done and set. Cool in the baking dish for 10 minutes before turning out onto the serving dish -- put the serving dish upside down over the cake pan, then flip the cake and pan over together. Remove the cakepan, and serve the cake with the pears and the sticky syrup on top.
Serves 8 to 12.
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