Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Gaslight Gathering: Saturday Tea and Port of Call

Saturday at Gaslight Gathering was a very hectic day. Like at most cons, it was the busiest day, so lots of people came through the Observation Lounge looking for a beverage or light snack. We also were responsible for an afternoon tea in another part of the building, plus two special events in the Lounge itself.

This is the third year we have run the steampunk Saturday tea. This year, in keeping with the nautical theme of the convention, each table was named for a famous shipwreck or ghost ship of the 19th or early 20th century. We got to do the center pieces. Each table had general nautical ephemera, plus photos or paintings of the ship. Each table also had place cards with the name of the ship, and a unique trivia question about the ship inside. Everyone also got a goodie bag, containing a handmade medal, some white chocolate sea shells, and a card with nautical knots and some cord to practice with.

For entertainment, we went intimate this year. We had a magician, Dino Staats, doing close up magic, and a couple of friends as sea hags, telling fortunes. From all accounts, both acts were marvelously entertaining.

After getting the room set up and everyone seated, I rushed back to the Observation Lounge to supervise the Port of Call. The port of call for Saturday was the Island of Santorini. To celebrate that, I made a lemon chicken rice soup, and a ricotta honey pie. I made the little cheesecakes as individual one bite desserts. They have a pine nut crust. Unfortunately I do not have any photos of the food from this event. If  you are willing to let me use, let me know.

Finally, in the evening, we had a birthday party for the Artist Guest of Honor, Brian Kesinger. We had cake, including a lovely one with the head of Boba Fett, made by another fan.


Lemon Chicken Rice Soup

12 cups chicken stock
1 cup lemon juice
1 bunch celery, finely diced
1 1/2 lbs. carrots, finely diced
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
4 lbs. precooked chicken, diced
3 cups cooked rice
salt to taste

Place stock and lemon juice in a crock pot. Simmer on high for one hour. Add garlic, celery, and carrots. Let simmer one more hour, or until vegetables are tender but not mushy. Ten minutes before serving, stir in chicken and rice. Add salt, and additional lemon juice as needed.

Ricotta Honey Cheesecake with Pinenut Crust

For the crust:

8 oz. by wt. pine nuts
1/3 cup sugar
16 oz. by wt. all purpose flour
8 oz. by wt. butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch salt

In a heavy skillet, toast pine nuts over medium heat. Transfer to a food processor. Pulse several times. Add flour, sugar, and salt, process until nuts are finely ground.

Transfer nut mixture to a mixing bowl. Add butter, egg, and vanilla. Work by hand until ingredients are well mixed. Divide into balls, wrap balls in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least ten minutes.

One ball is enough crust for one batch of cheesecake.

For the cheesecake:

4 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. all purpose flour
16 oz. by wt. ricotta cheese
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, minced
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch salt

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

In a bowl, mix together ricotta and thyme, set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Slowly beat in flour, sugar, and salt until eggs are medium stiff peaks. Beat in honey, until fully incorporated. Fold ricotta into egg whites until well blended, with no lumps of egg white or ricotta remaining.

Line mini-muffin pan with paper cups. Place about 1 teaspoon of pinenut dough in the bottom of each cup, pressing it down to form a thin layer on the bottom of the cup. Spoon in batter to about 2/3 full. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, until cheesecakes are resilient to the touch, and lightly browned.

Remove from oven. Lightly dust with cinnamon powder. Place on cooling rack to cool. Refrigerate until serving time.

One batch makes about 35 miniature cheesecakes.

Happy Eating!

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