It has been just a week since our brave hobbits set out from Hobbiton. And what an eventful week it was! The hobbits have already been pursued by the terrifying and mysterious Black Riders, hosted by Elves, nearly eaten by wicked trees, rescued and sheltered by the remarkable Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, and taken prisoner by Barrow Wights, only to be rescued again by Bombadil. That’s quite an adventure already for our group of hobbits!
The last night of our Feast Week festivities finds the hobbits, at last, at the sign of the Prancing Pony in Bree, where they expect to meet Gandalf. After the travails of their journey, the familiar, homey food provided by innkeeper Barliman Butterbur must be a great comfort to the travel-worn hobbits.
In a twinkling table was laid. There was hot soup, cold meats, a blackberry tart, new loaves, slabs of butter, and half a ripe cheese: good plain food, as good as the Shire could show, and homelike enough to dispel the last of Sam’s misgivings (already much relieved by the excellence of the beer).
– The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter 9: At the Sign of the Prancing Pony
For my Prancing Pony feast, I focused on that comforting feeling, and food that is easy to prepare, to leave plenty of time for relaxing with good company. My thoughts turned to hobbits sitting by the fire in deep armchairs, warming their furry feet after days of walking.
My feast included a cold roast chicken, prepared the day before, butternut squash soup that I bought at a local deli, a rustic loaf of bread, and blackberry tarts. I complemented the food with a nice, crisp apple ale, since it makes me think of autumn, and has a more delicate taste than beer or ale.
Blackberry Puff Pastry Tarts
I adapted the recipe for the blackberry tarts from a recipe that I found on allrecipes.com. Here’s what you need:
- Frozen puff pastry, thawed. I used 1 sheet, and made 9 small pastries. The original recipe calls for puff pastry shells, but my local stores didn’t have them.
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- ½ cup white sugar.
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon.
- ¼ cup milk.
- ¼ cup turbinado sugar.
- 1 – 1 ½ cups blackberries. You can use either fresh or frozen berries.
- Optional: fresh whipped cream for topping. I sweetened my ½ pint whipped cream with about ¼ cup white sugar.
To prepare your blackberry tarts:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a cookie sheet, or use parchment paper.
- Thoroughly blend the cream cheese, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.
- Cut the puff pastry sheet into 9 more or less equal sized squares. Place the squares on the prepared cookie sheet. Brush each square with milk and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
- Bake the pastry until the pieces puff up and turn a light golden brown, 10-15 minutes. Watch the pastry carefully so that it doesn’t overbake. You want the pastry thoroughly baked, but not overdone. When done, remove the pastry from the oven and carefully split the pastry squares in the middle, like splitting a bagel or English muffin. Set each square top aside.
- Spoon a generous tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture onto each pastry square base, spreading the mixture out a bit.
- Place 5-6 blackberries on top of the cheese on each tart. Place a pastry square top on the berries.
- Return the pastries to the oven and bake until the tops are a lovely golden brown and the filling is warm, about 5 minutes.
- Cool for a minute or two before serving, adding fresh whipped cream on top if desired.
I hope you’ve enjoyed spending Feast Week 2016 with Middle-earth News! May all your weeks be magical and homey in equal measure, and maybe even a little hobbity!