Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Kind of Magic You Can Eat

I think by now you've all realized that I'm capable of fairly extensive degrees of geekdom. And not in the sense that I can currently or ever could do calculus in my sleep (or awake for that matter). More in the sense that I get very excited about a wide assortment of things, from Greek mythology to science fiction to previews. And I fall to pieces over animals and babies (so sometimes I'm more a cliche than a geek but mox nix).

At my core, I love stories and if it's not a story about food, I'm confident in my abilities to make it about food. Case in point was when I was invited to see the new Harry Potter exhibit at the Museum of Science & Industry this weekend. I loved the books. I've loved the films. I was more than on-board...I was enthused and had a kitchen at my disposal to express that enthusiasm.

48 hours after the 7th book came out, Cam and Amanda came over for my first Harry Potter-themed meal. That's right, the one from Saturday was not my first. Go ahead and soak that in.
The menu at that point was butterbeer (cream soda, butterscotch schnapps and light beer), Quidditch Pie (Shepard's Pie) and Chocolate Frog Trifle.We had all finished at that point (having read straight through the night) and were predictably dying to discuss.

Saturday was a touch removed from that desperation. Still with a sleepless night (thanks to the inspiration that only strikes while delirious) but no surprises. Just an excuse to entertain some of my favorite girls on the first fully glorious Chicago weekend in a long while. And thus I was able to concentrate on the food (with some brainstorm help from fellow Potter-fiend Homemaker's Habitat).

Conjure Your Own Cauldron
We had a spread that would make Alan Rickman jealous. Each ramekin was greased and had a sliver of day old baguette in the bottom. Then came a layer of Pioneer Woman's Creamed Spinach to coat it. Then any combination of the following:
  • Sauteed mushrooms (obviously)
  • Diced bacon
  • Chopped chives
  • Roasted red pepper
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Goat Cheese
  • Appenzeller (like Gruyere but better)
Once everyone was filled up, we kissed the tops with a little cream and cracked an egg on top. 15 minutes at 425 is perfection and I've never served an easier brunch. I based it off this recipe by Scott Peacock for Gourmet.

Gorgeous, easy and everyone can have it their way. Automatic portion control. My kind of recipe.

Slytherin Asparagus (purple and green, bro). But then there were sweet little ribbons of orange zest, inspired by this adorable French accent and helpful cooking video (like listening to my HS French teach Mr. Suffren but without any added pressure). Roasted for 10 minutes at 425. Olive oil, sea salt, ground pepper and ...I couldn't give them the evil house name. I chickened out. They're too lovely for Crab and Goyle anyway.

This one was very HH. A Hufflepuff Pancake and the perfect excuse to break out my new cast iron pan! It came out somewhere between a Dutch Baby and a crepe but as those are both good things, I can't really call it a miss. It didn't bubble up to the degree I'd have liked but powdered sugar and preserves did it very very well.

Gryffindor Bellinis. Too early-ish for butterbeers but peach and strawberry purees with bubbles? Totally appropriate. Rita Skeeter would definitely have been in on this. I made the purees that morning and it was a really nice, fresh touch. Just fruit, little water, little sugar and done. I drank the purees straight when the champagne ran out/it was time to go to the museum. Cam is mixing it up with both team colors in one glass (wine glasses are new from Pop Pop- thanks Arnie Baby!).

The creamed spinach process from the night before. Ree's not even attempting healthy at this point but each person only had about a tablespoon so I'm not feeling all that bad. Although we did re-purpose the leftovers into spinach dip during happy hour that night....

Last but certainly not least...Butterbeer Banana Muffins (with Dementor-Inhibiting Dark Chocolate Chips). And a recipe because you've certainly been patient enough. The following uses Sassy Radish's Bourbon-Spiked Banana Bread as a base which she apparently adapted from Martha. In case you weren't already excited enough.

Butterbeer Banana Muffins
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla ( I was out so I scraped the seeds from 1/2 a Madagascar bourbon soaked vanilla bean. It totally worked in case that's part of your pantry scene. Also- I'd like to buy you lunch.)
  • 1 Tablespoon Butterscotch Schnapps
  • 2 Tablespoons Meyers Dark Rum
  • 2/3 cup dark chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with wrappers, set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, and beat to incorporate.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Add bananas, sour cream, schnapps, rum and vanilla; mix to combine. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into muffin pan that's either been greased or lined with muffin wrappers.
3. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean or only with shiny chocolate remnants, about 30 minutes. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.

It could totally be that people were just humoring me but brunch and the muffins were a big hit and no one had the soul sucked out by the infamous guardians of Azkaban. My job here is done.

Amanda got some forbidden photography from the exhibit! Buckbeak, the cemetary (RIP Cedric), Harry and Voldemort's wands below!

-Geek Out


Janine at Rustic Kitchen said...

Wow, I am impressed. And amazed. Dazzled, even.

Anonymous said...

VERY cool! I love that personalized frittata ramekin idea!

RebeccaC said...

Even a muggle would be jealous!

Jamie said...

Oh my god. I'm dying right now. This is amazing.

Anonymous said...

Wow that all sounds amazing. Although I've never read the books or seen any of the movies, I would have still loved the little theme---although I know I wouldn't have a clue what you were talking about! :) Great party though!

TKTC said...

Janine- I am smiling especially widely at the thought of dazzling you in particular. And on that note, I'm emailing you about rescheduling our beer date right now. Been on my list and why postpone fun?

Jules- Awww thanks lady! I would definitely encourage ramekin use...a little bit of prep and then guests to the "work" themselves. It's lovely!

Rebex- Let's do something like this again when Film 6 comes out! Maybe an end of term feast?

Jamie- Nerds unite:)

CurlySure- a)I'm stunned that you've been able to avoid them but encourage you dip your toe in the water and b)Food is food is food. Thank God it's hard to lose "hungry" in translation.

lbs said...

Wow! What a post. You certainly know how to do it right, girl. Makes me hungry just looking at your pictures :)