This is the skeleton of the plan when I start. To this plan I can add or remove courses and/or dishes. I can move dishes between courses as appropriate. This is only the plan.
Day board(served at 10-12):
Meat soup and/or Vegetarian soup
“bread” for dipping
butter or spread to put on the “bread”
|First service (Fill your hunger. Satisfy the feaster.)
Non meat protein (egg, cheese, milk)
Meat dish(smoked meat? Sausage or Chicken)
1-2 Sauce (mustard, or sauces)
|This should have large amounts of inexpensive foods. Fill the hunger of the feaster. This is a good place to serve your soup which usually requires few cheap ingredients to make a large amount. Chicken and pork and cheaper cuts of meat may be served here. Also keep in mind any vegetarian diners and offer both a vegetarian dish and possibly a non-meat protein. These can be combined(egg/cheese/spinach tart).
|Second service (Interesting dishes with great flavors.)
2-3 other small dishes
Filling grain dish(rice, frumenty, bulgar wheat)
|This is where you should include your more expensive, or more experimental foods. Things that you want to prepare but you don’t expect the diner to eat much of it (aspic, eel, venison). As an ending you should also include a “filling grain dish” for those diners who have a “hollow leg” and just need something to fill up on.
Third service(Little things to finish.)
Possibly a drink
|This is the closing service. If you’ve properly portioned out your feast, not much of these will actually get eaten. This is the “dessert” course. Modernly we appreciate a sweet something to close.
Consider your dishes. When you serve a course how are you going to send it out? Separate dishes for each thing? A common plate with portions of each dish? Do you have enough serving dishes/spoons to do it that way?
If you’re accommodating vegetarians make sure you can keep the meat juice out of the vegetables (and/or check with known vegetarians and possibly send out separate plates for them).
Make sure you don’t have a coures/feast that is dominated by a single note. IE, the vinegar feast or the “varied piles of grey vaguely meat goo” Aim for variety in textures and flavors. Although you can have chords of flavor throughout the feast make sure those chords aren’t in -every- dish. Ie, a feast with notes of apple cider vinegar and cinnamon in serveral dishs “hangs” together as a complimentary feast.. but don’t have those notes in EVERY dish or it just become boring (and inedible if for example you have someone who is allergic to cinnamon).
I recommend against serving more than one soup in a course. In most cases diners only have a single bowl for the soup. The dayboard is an exception. Since those soups usually go out on a table and the diners self serve and can try each of the different soups and take as much or as little as they deem fit.
After you have written out your feast handout which lists each dish and all of the ingredients in that dish, DO NOT CHANGE ingredients without announcing the change. At one feast I cooked I decided at the last minute to add apple slices (which I had left over from the previous course) into a dish in the second course. Later that evening a diner came to me and told me she had taken one bite of the dish, noticed it had an apple in it and immediately spit it out. It turns out she was allergic to apples and if she hadn’t noticed discrepancy it could have been a potentially fatal error.
If a dish isn’t good, don’t send it out. This can be if it’s not cooked enough, over cooked, too much salt, etc. If you wouldn’t eat it, why would you inflict it on your feasters. Fix it if you can.. undercooked food can cook for longer and become part of the next course… otherwise throw it away.
Unless contacted I normally try and accommodate lacto-ovo vegetarians. That is, those who eat milk, eggs, butter but don’t eat actual meat products.
Some “our furry friends” vegetarians will not eat ANY animal based products. This includes milk, eggs, butter, rennet, etc. Beware that most commercially made cheese uses animal-based rennet. Beware of vegetable based soups that use commercial veggie stocks with a meat based thickener.
Rob Peter to feed Paul: halving feast costs http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/recipes/rprf.sca.feasts.html