HALL TAVERN COOK-OFF
Recap – Sunday night we had a meet-and-greet at a wonderful local tavern for those who traveled far to Sandra Oliver’s workshop in Deerfield. The next day was all work and Sandy led the pack through a course on recipe research.
After several days it was time to head over to Hall Tavern and put our research to use. Claire had purchased all our ingredients and we were off and running, in many directions, finding pots and pans, spices and flour. It was a busy scene.
I had eggs to boil, forced meatballs to make, chicken to partially fry, herbs and spices to put together and gravy to make. Then on to the coffin, and that is where the disaster began. I had all the right amounts and began working the pastry. Barbara Blumenthal was at the same table making a crust for an apple pie. I’m not sure who said it first but it looked like I was making a sand castle. The rye flour would not absorb the liquid it was like grains of sand. I pushed, beat, and molded and it continued to fall apart. I added more hot water and butter and it almost worked. I rolled it out and it cracked every time I tried to raise the pye. Well, I was determined not to let this stop me from making my coffin. Into the wastebasket it went. I got a bag of unbleached flour and started all over. As I’m working the new batch, Sandy comes over to see what might have happened. She grabbed a handful of the first pastry out of the garbage and put it in a bowl and played with it.
Sure enough she likened it to rye grain and not flour at all. I was happy to know it was not just me who thought that. So I hurried along so the coffin would cook in time for the meal.
I raised a quick pastry wall and stuffed it with all the filling and on to a peel to be placed directly on the floor in the bake oven along with the apple pie and the gingerbread.
It took about one and a half hours to bake the coffin hard. Sandie and I worked together to retrieve it from the oven and I cut the top to reveal a well-cooked coffin that tasted as good as it looked.
With all hands busy, it was hard to get photographs of everyone. However, I did manage to get some. Here we have Barbara working on the apples for the pie with Sandy looking on and Mary Lou making her gingerbread.
Here we see Elyse, who made a wonderful salmon soup, and Terri, who made a wilted salad of bacon and spinach.
Bill made a Tharîda with Lamb and Spinach, Moist Cheese and Butter, Don who spent time showing us some of his rare cookbooks at the workshop made a stuffed pudding that I want the receipt for.
Erica made scotch collops and they were not Scottish at all we learned. Fiona made sugarplum that danced in our mouths with joy.
I wish I had more pictures of the other cooks and their food; however one can’t be everywhere, although we sometimes try.
As a side note, the wonderful copper pots and some of the other equipment were donated to Historic Deerfield by a friend of mine, Paul, I know he is smiling knowing that we put them to task and they worked to our advantage in making the food come out grand. Thanks, Paul. I also would be remiss if I forget to thank Julie, who fed us three meals a day in splendid fashion. What a wonderful ending to a great workshop. I know each time I research a receipt in the future I will think back on this great group of food historians and triumphing over a challenge.
Once again, I pine for being close enough to attend all of these wonderful sessions. Maye if I win the lottery I’ll just fly up for each one. I cooked all day in a1900 house at Burritt. They would have had very simple fare in the house so I went to the garden and got cabbabe and kale, Steamed the first and parboiled and fried the second. Roasted a chicken in my tin kitchen, made pickled eggs with beets, and worked al day on a pile of biscuits. I let lots of children help make the biscuits which they all thoroughly enjoyed. Cooked up some apples with sugar and butter… apples from the trees at Burritt last fall. I had dried and canned them. All of the food is on display today…. cooked on Saturday and eaten after church on Sunday. This evening it all goes in the trash since so very many hands helped and coughed over the dishes.
Pat sounds like you have a great time in your little house with the children and visitors. I’t is too bad about the food but I sure understand.
How thick do you need to make the coffin to ensure it will not fall? Is the base thicker than the sides? I’ve always been concerned about the weight of the pie being dependent on such a flimsy support. Any suggests or horror stories? Loved the past two blogs!
So much work to do this but look at the results. It must have beena feast at the end. What a great group.
Getting the paste stiff is the trick and once you have mastered it the side can get very high. I have not lost a filling yet. Come and attend a my workshop on Coffins and practice your skills.