Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Mute Supper

Picture courtesy of www.shelterness.com

Hosting a mute supper for Samhain is practiced by some Pagans and Wiccans of various traditions. I think it’s a lovely tradition and would like to have a group with which to hold one. My plan would go as such:

Set the table with a black cloth, black plates, and black utensils. Place a white candle at the head of the table. Place black votive candles at the place(s) of the ancestors. Your guests may wish to place candles for those they are honoring. The chairs should be shrouded. You could use anything from fake cobwebs to a black trash bag. Use whatever you have on hand. If you have some black sheets, those would work nicely.

Before the guests arrive, the host or hostess should cast a circle, light the white candle, and invite the divine (however you see it) into the space. After this point, no talking is permitted.

Standing at the head of the table, the host/ess should light the first black votive candle to the left from the spirit candle. The guests should light each other’s candles in a clockwise motion.

The host/ess should serve the plates of the dead first, and then the guests from oldest to youngest. Since no one may speak during the supper, food may then continue to be passed family-style around the table. Before guests begin to eat, they should join hands and silently welcome their ancestors to the meal, and to ask for blessings upon the food and the ritual, if desired.

After the meal is over, guests should leave the table silently. They may take their ancestor candles with them, or leave them on the table. The host/ess should then silently close the circle in his/her usual manner. Leave the spirit candle to burn.
Everyone may then go on to practice divination, or hold a separate ritual.

Mute Supper Menu
Persephone’s Salad
Butternut squash cannelloni
Rosemary remembrance cookies
Chai-spiced Cider

Persephone’s Salad
8 cups mixed salad greens (whatever is in season and looks good)
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
½ red onion, thinly sliced
2/3 cup candied walnut pieces (recipe follows)
Seeds of 1 pomegranate (about ½ cup)

For the dressing, combine:
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup olive oil
Mix first three ingredients together. Whisk in olive oil slowly. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss the dressing with the greens, onion, apple, and nuts. Toss well to combine. Top salad with pomegranate seeds and serve.

Candied Walnuts

2 cups walnut halves or pieces
2 egg whites
½ cup brown sugar

In a bowl, lightly whisk the egg whites. Toss the walnuts to coat. Sprinkle on the brown sugar. Mix well with your hands until the nuts are all evenly coated. Spread the nuts onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a 300-degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Butternut Squash Cannelloni**

1 butternut squash, roasted, scooped out and mashed (instructions follow)
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
3 small shallots, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 ½ cups ricotta cheese
½ cup Parmesan cheese
Salt, white pepper
12 lasagna noodles, cooked until almost al dente (flexible)

5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
3 cups whole milk
Salt, white pepper
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

Heat the oil in a skillet and fry the shallots on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and sage and cook 2-3 more minutes.
Scoop out the halves of butternut squash and mash in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the shallots, garlic, sage, thyme, and ricotta cheese. Season with salt and white pepper.
Take one of the drained noodles and lay flat on an oiled baking sheet. Spread some of the butternut squash filling on the noodle, leaving some space at both ends. Roll the pasta and place seam side down into an oiled 9 x 13 dish. Repeat.
In a saucepan, melt the butter for the b├ęchamel. When the butter is melted, stir in the flour. Cook 4-5 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Simmer the sauce until thickened, 8-10 minutes. Season with salt, white pepper, and nutmeg.
Pour the b├ęchamel over the rolled pasta. Sprinkle with the Parmesan. Bake at 400 F for 20-25 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and cheese is brown.

To roast a butternut squash, cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Heat the oven to 400 F. Brush a tablespoon of oil over each half. Roast, flesh side down, until tender, 40-45 minutes. Cool, scoop out the flesh, and transfer to mixing bowl. You can mash the squash with a potato masher or a fork.

Rosemary Remembrance Cookies
1 ½ cups softened butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vaniila
5 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vaniila. Mix in the rosemary. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover and chill the dough for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Roll out the dough onto a floured surface ¼ inch thick. Cut into shapes with seasonal cookie cutters, or use gingerbread men and women-shaped cutters so the cookies resemble people. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 6-8 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Chai-Spiced Apple Cider

This warming libation is full of ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. This makes a good love blend and is a perfect match when combined with a food of love – the apple.
1 gallon apple cider
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup brown sugar
In a cheese cloth or piece of muslin, combine:
7 cardamom pods, lightly crushed (or you can use ½ teaspoon ground cardamom)*
1-2 star anise
4-5 peppercorns
9 whole cloves
2-3 cinnamon sticks (or use 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon)

Pour the cider into a large pot and begin heating on medium heat. Dissolve the ground ginger and sugar into the cider. Tie the other ingredients in a piece of muslin or cheese cloth. Tie closed, whack lightly with a rolling pin to crack some of the pods, and pop into the pot. Simmer the cider and spices together for 10-15 minutes. Remove the bundle of spices with a slotted spoon and discard. Serve hot.
• If you’re using ground spices instead of whole, simply add them when you add the sugar and ground ginger.

All recipes are from the autumn cookbook I am currently working on. They may not be reproduced without permission. All that copyright hoopla that's over here ---> applies.

** You can just layer the lasagna noodles and make butternut squash lasagna if you don't feel like rolling up each noodle. They're slippery with oil and usually pretty hot!


akumaxkami said...

I always wanted to host something big like this. The most I do on Samhain regarding a "Dumb Supper" is sitting down to Oreos and milk, with a plate of cookies for my grandma. They were her favorites...so yeah.

forestmuse said...

Honoring the dead with respectful silence and food are aspects that run across many cultures. When I lived in Japan food is offered to the ancestors as a indication of respect and honor and to appease them during the time when the boundaries between the world of the ancestors and the living are thin. I have seen variants of this with music , food , dance and a period of silence.

I like the menu and feel how this respectful mute dinner is set up would be something I would like to go to and participate.

JustComment said...

Can't wait to try the apple cider....well, the whole menu. Sounds divine! x

Lady Rose said...

I had never heard of this tradition before - it sounds like a lovely way to honor those who have passed on and to share a Samhain meal. I love your selection of recipes. This is going on my "to do" list and hope to host one next year.

Lady Rose said...

P.S. snagged your button for my button exchange :)

Zedral Z said...

Awesome, Lady Rose, thank you :) I will probably do a very small solitary remembrance on Samhain and offer simple foods such as apples this year. Two of those recipes made an appearance at my "Walking Dead" premiere party and they were a big hit. So, if you make Persephone's Salad or the cannelloni, I promise you you're in for a treat. Nom!

Leopardboy82 said...

I made your butternut squash lasagna for Thanksgiving and it was a big hit, even among the non-vegetarians. Thank you so much for the recipe!

~ Keraon