Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
War of Words
Lockhart vs. Pincus: A Booksigning Event & Debate
by McGonagirl, Hagrid, Hermi2, Dumbledwarf

Menu: A Salad of Garlic Vinaigrette on Clean, Dry, Escarole | Bistro-style Salad à Gaugin | French Toast à l'Orange | Lobster Risotto using Lobster Broth | Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Chef Jeremius Pincus was known for knowing everything, which didn't sit right with Gilderoy Lockhart. The two wizards had been inadvertently double-booked at a Flourish & Blott's book signing event — Pincus for his new science and cookery explanatory encyclopedia called "Organic Crystals and the Necessary Understanding Toward the Production of Yummy Food" and Lockhart for his autobiographical, "Cauldron Adventures: a Travelogue and Cookery Tips for the Exploratory Witch or Wizard."

Lockhart was used to just showing up, smiling, posing for photos, and telling outrageous stories, which all had the women swooning. Pincus, who was frankly not in the same league in terms of looks, instead relied on erudite, interesting talks about relevant cooking topics. They were essentially vying for the same audience!

Neither man wanted to give up his scheduled time at the bookstore — this was primetime, when the shopping district of Diagon Alley was packed with witches and wizards picking up supplies to attend school in the next day or so. So Mssrs. Flourish and Blott proposed they share the slot. Thus the audience was treated to an impromptu debate between the two wizards. Would charm or brains win the day — and who would sell the most books?

A Salad of Garlic Vinaigrette on Escarole
"When I was in Borneo," started Lockhart, "this formula for an odiferous salve was an efficacious poultice for just about any sort of wound—"

"—because the vinegar in the liquid phase, and the lecithin in the mustard have antiseptic properties," interrupted Jeremius, "adding to which the organic functional groups in oil would attract the organic components of dirt, which could be more easily cleared away from the wound. No, nothing magical about a basic vinaigrette, but it's certainly delicious! And the garlic is also said to have antioxidant and curative properties, is good for digestion, and keeps vampires away!"

The audience applauded Pincus and pressed forward with soon-to-be-purchased copies of his cookbook for autographing. Lockhart was so aghast at being interrupted in the middle of one of his stories, he could only stop and stare! But he did manage, finally, to add a relevant comment, "Of course, Jeremius! I was going to say, and in addition, this salve makes a wonderful salad dressing on a dark leafy green, like ... escarole ... or even chicory or frisée, perhaps?"

"Exactly, Lockhart, very good that you know your greens!" Pincus smiled affably at his momentary rival. "And ladies, remember that your greens must be clean and dry. If they are wet, the oil-based vinaigrette will not stick to the leaves! If they are dirty, the oil-based dressing will be attracted to the dirt! If you stir this recipe together, it will split on your greens — that is, separate into oil and vinegar parts, but that's not bad! It is actually desirable in the case of escarole or chicory. If you prefer it emulsified, you can whisk it, or just put everything in a jar and give it a hard shake. A good job for the kids to help in getting dinner on the table, making this much more valuable as a food item than as a medical paste!"

    Garlic Vinaigrette
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 to 6 tablespoons olive oil
For the traditional dressing, blend the ingredients together in a bowl. Adjust any of the seasonings to suit your taste. For creamier dressing that will hold together on the salad, use a whisk to beat the ingredients together, or put everything in a jar with tight-fitting lid and shake it hard.

Tougher greens like escarole can be cut with a knife, rather than torn. Remove bruised and withered leaves. Cut into bite-sided pieces and place in a big bowl or sink full of water and stir the greens around to dislodge the dirt. Lift the greens out of the water (don't drain it into a colander, or you'll just end up pouring the dirt back onto the leaves) and into a salad spinner, and dry the leaves. The leaves must be dry or they will repel the dressing and you'll just end up with dressing on the bottom of the bowl and a slimy texture on the greens — oil and water don't mix unless forced to!

Place the leaves in a bowl. Beat, shake or stir the vinaigrette together, then pour over the greens. Toss with your hands or salad forks. Since the greens are not delicate, you can dress the salad up to 30 minutes in advance and keep it chilled in the refrigerator before serving.

Garnish with croutons, if desired. Serves 6 to 8.

Back to the Menu: War of Words: A Booksigning Event & Debate

Bistro-style Salad à Gaugin
Jeremius Pincus was explaining how and why bread goes stale: starch crystals are melted or very small when bread is fresh and hot, but as it cools, the lower temperature allows harder and/or larger crystals to form. Thus pastry chefs referring to how bread "ages on standing" are actually referring to the formation of starch crystals, without really understanding the process. Also, when bread dries out, it starts to lose water of crystallization, condensing the organic matter and forming different, more brittle crystals.

"Well, when I was in Tahiti," interjected Lockhart, "the lovely natives informed me that putting the bread in a damp place would preserve this water of crystallization ..."

"Oh, they did no such thing, Gilderoy!" Pincus looked quite angry, "Unless the natives of Tahiti liked their bread moldy or soggy! Once the water of crystallization leaves the structure of the starch, there is no way to put it back!"

"... with heat, of course!" Lockhart huffed at his rival.

"They may have said so," sniffed Pincus, "but they'd be wrong. Heating might melt some of these crystals so you get a fresh-seeming texture upon defrosting ..."

"— which they preferred when serving this French-style salad, which they learned from none other than French celebrity painter, Paul Gaugin, ladies and gentlemen!" And he was rewarded with gasps of wonder and almost deafening applause, accompanied by a stampede for copies of his book. (They didn't even hear Pincus muttering, "Why do the plates look like something Vincent van Gogh would use ... not Gaugin!")

  • 4 strips thick-sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch / 2.5 cm square slabs
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 6 cups leafy greens, torn, cleaned, dry
  • roasted meat or steak, cut into strips
  • 8 small rolls
In a cold skillet, lay out the bacon and heat slowly to render the fat. When the bacon is as crisp as you like it, lift it out of the skillet, and leave the fat in the pan. Cook the shallots in the fat. When done, turn off the heat and immediately stir in the mustard and vinegar, blending well. Add more vinegar or mustard, along with salt and pepper, to taste.

In a bowl, place the greens, and pour the warm sauce over it — this will wilt the greens a bit. Toss to coat the leaves, then place onto four plates. Place the sliced meat over the greens.

Heat the rolls by placing them in the oven on a rack with a pan of hot water on the oven floor, to keep the oven humid. If you prefer crunchy-surfaced rolls, then you can skip the pan of water and lightly toast the rolls. Place on the side of the plate. Serves 4 as a meal.

Back to the Menu: War of Words: A Booksigning Event & Debate

French Toast à l'Orange
"But really," continued Lockhart as he signed many copies of his book to the proud new owners of 'Cauldron Adventures', "you all know what to do with stale bread without knowing anything about water of crystallization — make French Toast à l'Orange! Again, a recipe from the one and only Gaugin, and in my book!" He held up a copy of this book, showing him inside a cauldron, which had been tethered to a hot air balloon — a very exciting cover image.

"Gilderoy," Pincus admonished the other author, "Oranges do not grow well in Tahiti. In fact, at that time in history, oranges were the bailiwick of the Spaniards, who got them from the Mediterranean, then brought them around the world with them, and they took root in warm but semi-temperate climates like Florida or California, both former Spanish colonies —"

"Jeremius," Lockhart smiled rather condescendingly at the geek-chef, "you might not know that Gaugin was a wizard with many connections, and he certainly could get oranges if he wanted them! But no use arguing about the man's eccentricities, you'll be glad you try it, it's really delicious, out of this world, even!"

"Though I'm sure Monsieur Gaugin would have called them 'Pain Perdu à l'Orange' rather than 'french toast," Pincus stated, matter-of-factly, "that is, if he was the real Paul Gaugin?"

There were gasps of shock at this rather blatant accusation, and some witches got off the autograph line and tried to return their copies of Lockhart's book ... this could get ugly!
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • ½ cup milk or heavy cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 lb / 900 g loaf (or loaves) of 1- or 2-day old stale bread
  • 1 cup butter (8 oz / 250 g)
Heat oven to 250°F / 120°C.

In a large bowl, beat together the orange juice, milk, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar. Slice the bread into 1 to 1½-inch / 2 to 3 cm thick slices — keep the crusts on the slices. Place them in a shallow, flat container like a lasagne pan, and pour over the orange juice mixture. Poke them a bit to soak them. Don't leave these in for too long or the bread will fall apart.

In a hot skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter till it foams up then subsides. Place a few slices of the soaked bread into the pan, don't overcrowd the pan. Flip once and do not press the bread or they won't come out puffy. When puffed up and golden brown, place them in the oven in a baking dish while you finish soaking and cooking the rest of the bread. If you wish, serve with syrup or a dusting of powdered sugar, but they are quite magical on their own!

Serves 8 to 10.

Back to the Menu: War of Words: A Booksigning Event & Debate

Lobster Risotto
"Getting back to starch crystallization," continued Pincus in the ensuing silence, "you have all heard about what kind of rice to use depending on the type of dish? Like Japanese rice is short and plump and sticky, which American Carolina Gold rice is long and cooks up fluffy? The shorter rice's starch crystals form up quite rigidly when that sort of grain gets cold, whereas longer rice doesn't form the crystals on chilling — thus long grain is better for things like rice salad, which short is better for starchy dishes like risotto!"

Risotto was the new glamor-dish from Italy, and this perked up the audience's interest. "I do have a marvelous recipe for risotto — with lobster," declared Lockhart, determined to win back the attention of the book buyers. "When I was in Bali, I battled a fierce spiny lobster! It was such a vicious battle that the beast heated up the waters he was churning! I got out just in time before the water boiled and cooked the creature it the very brine it lived in!"

The audience oohed and pressed for more information! But Pincus tut-tutted Lockhart, "That can't happen! While its true that energy can be output when light changes wavelengths, and power can be converted into heat energy, that sort of thing doesn't happen even in the warm waters of Bali—"

"Of course, how neglectful of me to leave out one critical detail, thank you for reminding me, old friend!" Lockhart interrupted the other wizard deftly, "Oh, but surely, you don't need to hear about it ..." This comment broad shouts and groans of protest from the audience, who wanted to know more! "You do? Well, if you insist ... I neglected to mention that the natives had captured the thing when it crawled out of its home in the water to terrorize the poor villagers. They ran up trees with a cauldron and luckily managed to drop it right over the creature and trap it beneath!"

Jeremius smirked and crossed his arms, "So how did they get the thing INTO the cauldron instead of under it?"

Lockhart smirked back, "I had been passing through on the way to Bora Bora, and the unfortunate folk explained they had a large lobster but they'd have to let it die, and thus they could not feast on it. Naturally, I thought it a pity that so much good meat would be wasted. So I maneuvered quickly, organized the bravest lads, had then open their cauldron and it ran to me — I was INSIDE my cauldron, ladies and gentlemen, as bait!"

Some of the ladies swooned! "I had the men up-end the cauldron but they did it too fast, and I couldn't get out in time! I could not climb the smooth walls of the container so I yelled for water!"

"Ah! Of course!" Pincus's eyes glimmered in understanding, "Archimedean displacement! You were going to float your way out!"

"Precisely! Precisely, my boy!" Lockhart was in his element, "But the great arthropod thrashed, and as you said, it was so large it converted it's own power from the very cellular level, and its thrashing —"

"Yes, yes, it created friction between the water molecules, heating the whole bath up!" Pincus was enjoying immersing himself in Lockhart's adventure tale. "I can't imagine it heating up the water to anywhere near boiling, but surely it could get warm enough to form a poaching solution and thus a lobster broth. That would be excellent in a risotto!"

"It was indeed, dear friend," Gilderoy found himself liking this geeky chef, "and the leg meat — being thinner than the claws or body of course — was poached to perfection and delicious when we chopped it up and added it to the risotto!"

"At the very end of cooking!" Pincus agreed heartily.

The audience grabbed both books and surged forward, demanding autographs!
    Lobster Broth
  • 2 to 3 lobster shells (you can also do this with crawfish or shrimp shells)
  • water, to cover
Break up the shells to fit into a food processor. Put them a few pieces at a time with the food processor running till they break down into "grinding" sized pieces. Place in a pot, and rinse out the processor bowl with a minimum of water and place into the pot with the lobster shells. Add more water if needed to just cover the shells and cook at a simmer for half an hour. Strain out the shell pieces and reserve the broth. Yields about a quart, depending on the size of your lobster, etc.
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 cup short-grained rice, like arborio or even sushi rice
  • 2 tablespoons cognac or brandy
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4 cups lobster broth
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups of water or broth, or as needed (can use other seafood or fish broth, or chicken stock, but water is good)
  • lobster meat trimmings, about ½ to 1 cup, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 additional tablespoon butter, softened
Heat the butter and oil in a shallow, wide skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onions and garlic till the onions are softened. Add the rice and cook with stirring until the grains are coated with the fat — they will become very shiny and sort of translucent. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cognac or brandy and stir — off the heat — for another minutes.

Stir in the wine and return the pan to the heat, stirring for a couple of minutes. Add a cup of the lobster broth and continue stirring and cooking until the liquid is absorbed. Keep adding broth and continue to stir and cook, allowing the liquid to mostly be absorbed by the rice before adding more broth. When you are out of broth, test a grain of rice for flavor and texture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. The rice grain will likely be hard in the center and somewhat chalky. Add water ½ to 1 cup at a time, stirring and cooking till the liquid is absorbed, and the rice is the right texture.

Stir in the chopped lobster and the frozen peas at the end. Follow with a tablespoon of butter. Taste again for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6.

Back to the Menu: War of Words: A Booksigning Event & Debate

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels
By now both men saw the virtues of each other's approaches — Lockhart for his flamboyance and imaginative stories, and Pincus for his precision and knowledge. Independently, they could hope to garner portions of the same audience, but together — if they wrote a book together, surely they could sell more than twice as many! Each resolved to propose a joint project in the future.

But there was time for one more story and recipe. "Chocolate, as you know, is an ..." Lockhart gestured the ladies in the audience to come closer, for this next part would be whispered, "an aphrodisiac! Yes, it's true!"

The ladies tittered nervously and swooned, thrilled to hear the showman's secret!

Pincus knew this was not completely true, "It's the theobromins, an organic compound in the chocolate itself that stimulates endorphins when ingested. These give the eater a 'high' which promotes a sense of well-being —"

"It's like being in love!" declared Lockhart. "But like love, it's not easy to work with, easy to burn, hard to keep the right texture and consistency."

The ladies looked toward Pincus, wondering if this was true? "Yes, that's true, Gilderoy," confirmed Pincus, "because of 'Organic Crystals," which happens to be the title of my book ... for chocolate to be workable to make candies and such, it must first be tempered, which is a process of forming crystals in molten chocolate—"

"And what better description is there of 'love,' ladies and gentlemen?" Lockhart was enjoying picking up on Pincus's facts and lore, "Temper, candies, crystals (think jewelry!), burning, a 'high', stimulation ... and the sweetness of the confections!"

"Which is best contrasted with something that is slightly bitter," continued Pincus. "Like dried apricots — sweet but with a bitter edge. Or oranges, especially the peel which is bitter and sour, or nuts. Or ... or, even with something salty!"

The audience was dubious about such a combination, but Lockhart saved the claim, "It's true! When I was in Tonga, the natives loved to make a sort of fondue and dip salty, crunchy pretzels in it. It was delishimo, as they say in Tongan, which I speak fluently!"

Their time was up, but they had had a good time and so had the audience, and not a single copy of their books were left at Flourish & Blott's. Both men not only decided to work with the other to produce a better-selling book but to keep their partnership secret — it seemed being publicly adversarial was good for book sales!
  • ½ tablespoon heavy cream or butter
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels, or chopped chocolate
  • 10 oz / 280 g pretzels, any size or shape
Using a double boiler set-up or a microwave, heat together the cream or butter and chocolate morsels with stirring till it all melts together and becomes smooth. This chocolate and cream or butter mixture is called "ganache." Dip the pretzels one at a time into the ganache while it's still very warm and lay down on foil or waxed paper to cool till set and hardened. It's okay if a bit is not covered in chocolate — it gives the eaters a little handle to grab the pretzel by.

If you are using a microwave, you will need to reheat the ganache once in a while — be careful not to burn it. Makes enough for 6 hearty snackers.

Back to the Menu: War of Words: A Booksigning Event & Debate

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