Middle-Earth Menu: “Chicken Salad Cups for Gandalf” by Astrid Tuttle Winegar
I have a feeling you all know tons of juicy tidbits about Gandalf, so I won’t bother to mention anything about him. In The Hobbit, the “bewildered and bewuthered” Bilbo suspects that Gandalf “Seems to know as much about the inside of my larders as I do myself!” Undoubtedly.
My original cookbook consisted of two sections—the first only covered The Hobbit and the second, longer section, covered The Lord of the Rings. And this recipe was the last of the first section. So, I am going to take a break from Middle-earth at this most logical point. I’ll visit Narnia for a few recipes, then I’ll go on a culinary journey to a galaxy far, far away for the rest of the year. Please tune in next year when I’ll take up the story again with a large birthday party for a special hobbit.
But to conclude with The Hobbit: Bilbo’s adventure mostly ends with his return to the Shire and the legacy of the Ring passes on to his adopted nephew, Frodo Baggins. One of the major themes of The Hobbit relates to greed and the hoarding of treasures. You’ll recall the whole point of the journey is to beard the dragon Smaug in his lair and reclaim the vast treasure he has been jealously guarding for so many years. The Battle of Five Armies is fought over who actually owns this treasure and the conclusion of this war leads one character in particular to reflect on what is truly important in life. Thorin Oakenshield says, “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
Bilbo certainly knows this is true. The Hobbit ends with Tolkien writing that Bilbo was still considered rather an eccentric on his return home, but his reputation was somewhat ameliorated by his generosity to his community and to his nieces and nephews. Bilbo “was quite content; and the sound of the kettle on his hearth was ever more musical than it had been even in the quiet days before the Unexpected Party.”
Now, Gandalf claims that Bilbo’s longevity is due to the properties of the Ring. This is most likely true, of course, but for the purposes of my cookbook, I like to think that Bilbo eventually lived long because he followed a moderate diet mostly free of excessive artificial ingredients and preservatives, he enjoyed eating a great variety of foods (as local and organic as possible), and he drank a moderate quantity of alcohol. He also spent lots of time walking around outside; on his quest, obviously, but I’m sure he also walked around quite a bit when he was at home. Bilbo Baggins might be “only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all,” but we modern, rather bigger, people could definitely learn a few things from this little hobbit.
If you haven’t already, please visit my blog for the Savory Seasoning recipe!
“Chicken Salad Cups for Gandalf”
6 puff pastry shells, baked and cooled according to package directions (take off the lids and let stand on the baking sheet—such as Pepperidge Farm)
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons light sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
½ teaspoon hot Madras curry powder
½ teaspoon Savory Seasoning
½ pound cooked chicken, cut into ½” bits
½ cup red seedless grapes, halved or quartered
¼ cup scallions, thinly sliced
¼ cup raisins (or currants)
1 ounce slivered almonds, lightly toasted
In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise through the Savory Seasoning. Add the remaining ingredients and combine well. Use a teaspoon to fill each shell all the way to the bottom and mound on top (you will probably have some salad leftover—cover and refrigerate). Set the lids next to each shell. Serves 6.
These are called “Grape and Chicken Cups” in my cookbook.
Astrid Tuttle Winegar
Astrid Tuttle Winegar is the author of Cooking for Halflings & Monsters: 111 Comfy, Cozy Recipes for Fantasy-Loving Souls, which is currently available exclusively in e-book form on the Amazon Kindle, but will soon be released by Oloris Publishing! Stay tuned for details. For now, she is mostly telling a culinary Middle-earth story here on Legendarium. Astrid has loved C. S. Lewis since childhood, J. R. R. Tolkien since middle and high school, all Star things, both Trek and Wars, all things Whedon, and many other things besides… She lives in the enchanted city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband and dog. She blogs occasionally at http://halflingsandmonsters.wordpress.com. You can check out (and like!) her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/astridtuttlewinegar or visit her Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/astridwinegar.