Recipes

A Meal to Satisfy Emond’s Fielders

Wheel of Time Series

The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, in all it’s 14-book glory, is one of my absolute favorite series. Some consider it to be overly detailed in certain ways, but I love the world-building and hunger for more. This sprawling fantasy series has similarities to our own world, but uses magic and has less technology than we currently do. Jordan pulls from Taoism, Arthurian legends, messianic stories, folklore, and mythologies to weave a fascinating tale of prophecy, change and good versus evil. He is incredibly detailed in building culture, history, geography, food, customs, and more.  

As a foodie and a superfan (I’ve read the series at least 10 times), I wanted to make something that could work in the setting of Randland (the name fans have given to Robert Jordan’s world). While looking for recipes to make for the week, I came across a recipe for Onion Herb Socca, Kurdish Stew with Fruit and Split Peas, and Peach Cobbler.

Onion Herb Socca

The Onion-Herb Socca I discovered in The Blender Girl by Tess Masters. Simple and easy to make, this recipe is basically a flat-bread made with chickpea flour, water, salt and pepper, olive oil, onion, thyme, parsley, and garlic. This is perfect to put chutney on, to accompany stews and chilis, or to just eat the entire thing on its own. It is super delicious and savory.

Given the nature of the cookbook, of course, a blender is used. 1 cup chickpea flour, 1 cup of water, a teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and 2 tbsp of olive oil were blended and left to stand for an hour. The cookbook said to let it sit until it looked like buttermilk, a minimum of 30 minutes. While it rested, I chopped ¾ cup of an onion and sauteed it with a couple teaspoons of minced garlic and a little olive oil in a pan. Then, I mixed it with 2 tbsp of parsley and 2 tbsp of thyme, though these herbs can be changed to fit your taste.

I put the onion and herb mix at the bottom of a pie pan and poured the flour mix over it and mixed the two together. It baked for 10 minutes at 450 degrees F. The cookbook says it’s best served immediately, but I found it quite delicious even cooled a few hours later.   I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to use the blender, so next time I make it, I’ll probably do it by hand.

Kurdish Stew with Fruit and Split Peas

I discovered the stew in in The Taste of Persia cookbook by Naomi DuGuid. This combination of cumin, turmeric, ground beef (though you could use lamb or chicken instead), split peas, plums or apricots, tomato paste, potatoes, and broth. It’s an easy recipe for sure, made in under an hour.

It seems Persian recipes, based on the few I’ve done from the book, don’t use a lot of onion. I just heated some oil, added a tablespoon of cumin (the recipe called for 2 tsp cumin and 1 of either Nigella seeds or ground Nigella, a spice I didn’t have and wouldn’t use except in this recipe – it’s similar to cumin, so I just substituted that), a teaspoon of turmeric and heated a minute or two. A pound of beef was added, along with a cup of green lentils, the tablespoon of tomato paste, and ¾ cup of fresh plums. The recipe called for dried plums or apricots, but since I can’t eat sulfites, fresh had to do.

As I’d forgotten to buy split peas at the Farmers’ Market or the Co-op, I had to do a bit of research. It seemed like lentils could be a good fit – unfortunately I had only a cup instead of two as was required in the recipe. Once the beef browned, I added the potatoes and broth. The recipe called for waxy potatoes, which I don’t like, so I used small brown ones from the Farmers’ Market. It also called for up to six cups water or broth. I used four cups broth, and even that made it more like a soup instead of a stew. Substituting lentils, and utilizing only one cup lentils instead of two cups split peas, as well as using fresh instead of dried plums all could have contributed to the extra liquid, even though I used less liquid than it called for. Please take this into consideration if you try it at home!

The recipe called to serve it with herbs and flatbreads, so naturally, I ate it with the Onion-Herb Stocca. If you would want rice with it to soak up some of the juices instead of bread, I’d suggest cooking some rice with a tablespoon of olive oil and a couple strands of saffron.

I can imagine the socca and the stew being served in Altaran or, especially, Andoran inns and taverns paired with beer or cider, with the socca being much more widespread using different herbs for each nation. The Seafarers would likely pair it with a fish stew.

socca and stew.jpg

Peach Cobbler

As for the peach cobbler, which I chose in part because August is Peach Month, and peaches are considered quite poisonous in Randland, it’d be perfect for the Darkfriend to serve to an inebriated guest they would want to poison. It’s easier than peach pie but still delicious. I found it in Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and, like all of her recipes that I’ve made, it is simple. Clearly, she writes recipes for those who like good food but don’t have a lot of time to make food.

The filling is made up of 5 cups of peaches, ¾ cup brown sugar, a teaspoon ground cinnamon, two teaspoons of pure vanilla extract, and two tablespoons organic cornstarch. I used peaches that had been jarred by a local canner so it made it even easier. These get mixed together in a 9×13 baking dish. I’d recommend mixing the dry ingredients before mixing in the peaches.

In a separate bowl, I mixed a cup of flour, a teaspoon-and-a-half of baking powder, a teaspoon ground cinnamon, a half-teaspoon ground allspice, ¼ cup light brown sugar, ¼ cup canola oil, ⅔ cup flaxseed milk, and a teaspoon vanilla extract. Once these were thoroughly mixed, I used a spoon to add a dollop of the mix atop the peach mixture, leaving about an inch of space between each.

The recipe called for baking for 30 minutes at 450 degrees. However, I found that the result was that the flour mix on top looked too burned, but that could easily be fixed by adjusting the temperature, time, or even the placement in the oven next time. This was the first time I’ve made cobbler, and despite looking a bit burnt on top, my taste tester (also known as my life partner) ate most of it.

peach cobbler.jpg

Recipes

Alcoholic Butterbeer Recipe

No need to head all the way to the Leaky Cauldron for this amazing butterbeer drink, you can make it at home!  This adult version of the Wizarding World’s most famous drink is just the right amount of sweet, bitter, and rich.  So grab your favorite mug and these ingredients:

 

Beer mixture

  • 1 bottle of Ginger Beer or Dark Beer of your choice
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter

Cream Mixture

  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 tbsp dark rum
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup Baileys Irish Cream
  • 4 egg yolks

Directions:

First, to make the beer mixture, warm the bottle of beer in a large saucepan.  Once it is warmed through, add the butter and the brown sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Set on low to keep it warm.

Next, you’ll want to make the cream.  In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until light and frothy.  In a heavy saucepan, heat the milk and cream until just boiling, then beat in the egg mixture until fully combined.  Next, pour in the Baileys and rum, mix well, and heat through until the mixture is thick and warm.

Take your mug and pour in the warm beer mixture until it is about two-thirds of the way full then top it off with the cream.  Optionally, you can drizzle some butterscotch syrup on top for a garnish.  Bonus house points: enjoy this butterbeer while wearing your house scarf or Quidditch jersey!  

Recipes

Butterbeer Recipe

This is a tasty and easy recipe to make ice cold butterbeer at home and it’s something that fans of all ages can enjoy. It may not be as fun as going to the Three Broomsticks and getting a frosty mug there, but this drink is a nice, refreshing version of everyone’s favorite Harry Potter treat.  For the full effect, make this in a tall, thick mug and maybe drink it out on the Quidditch pitch!

 

 You will need:

  • 1 cup of Club Soda or Sparkling Water
  • 1 cup of half and half or cream (sweet cream can also be used)
  • 2 tbsp of Almond flavored soda syrup
  • 1/2 cup of ice
  • Butterscotch ice cream topping
  • Whipped Cream topping

Directions:

Fill your mug with the ice, then pour in the half-and-half and syrup.  Slowly add the Club soda until the glass is nearly full (or as full as you want it).  Finally, top with a generous amount of whipped cream and drizzle with the Butterscotch topping.  Alternatively, you can add butterscotch topping to the syrup and half-and-half for a richer, sweeter butterbeer.  Bonus house points: enjoy this butterbeer with fun straws in your house colours!  

Recipes, The 'Write' Information

Family Favourite Blueberry Muffins

It’s spring and that means family gatherings are about to begin for the year. Whether going as a guest or, as is usually the case, being the hostess, there are a certain amount of goodies family and friends expect to see from me. These disappear quickly whenever I make them.

I should mention, I’m a crumble type of gal. I like it on pies, tarts and, of course, muffins. Once you try these, you’ll be converted too.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Muffin batter

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla

4 teaspoons of baking powder

3 cups of flour

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup milk

2 cups fresh blueberries

 

Crumble topping

1/2 cup of butter

3 teaspoons of cinnamon

2/3 cup flour

1 cup sugar

Notes:

Unless you are a seasoned baker or at least mildly confident about baking, I suggest you keep all of the ingredients as listed. That means no substitutions.

I know you might love watching those cooking shows where gorgeous people can eyeball amounts and toss them into a bowl. I don’t want to burst any bubbles, but most of that isn’t real. Amounts are pre-measured before taping. Of course, there are a few exceptions. If you feel the need to try your luck at guessing, try to restrict yourself to certain ingredients. Flour is not one of them.

If you want to play, start with something easy. I suggest vanilla. A smidgen extra or too little of the extract won’t make or break a recipe. Feel free to increase/decrease the amounts of blueberries as well, or try your hand at a different type of berry.

The Fun Part – Cooking

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly grease your muffin trays. I buy tinfoil liners for muffins. It makes clean up much easier.

Start with the batter. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder. Add wet ingredients and mix together. Gently stir in berries. Once combined fill the muffin cups to almost the top.

For the crumble: mix all the ingredients together in a separate bowl using a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle over top of the batter.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the centre of one of the muffins.

I hope you enjoy this tasty recipe.

Genre of the Month, Recipes

Bangers and Mash

Still a favorite in pubs and restaurants around the world, this British dish frequently makes an appearance in historical novels set in working class England.  It’s a hearty meal, and very easy to prepare.  So if you need a good meal to warm your belly while reading tales of the working class, grab a hammer, suspenders, and these ingredients.

  • 4-6 Beer-soaked sausages
  • 1.5 Pounds of golden potatoes, skinned
  • 1/2 Yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • (Optional) Brown or onion gravy, cheese, and/or peas and carrots

Fill a large pot 3/4th’s full of water, and allow to boil.  Once boiling, add the potatoes, cover, and let boil for 30 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.  In a large skillet, melt a tablespoon of butter, then add the onions and garlic.  Sauté the onions until soft, then add the sausages.  Make sure to turn the sausages regularly so they are thoroughly cooked on all sides. Once the potatoes are soft, drain the water, add a splash of milk, and as much butter as you like.  Mash to a fine puree; optionally you can mix in some cheddar cheese or canned peas and carrots at this point.  Spoon a hearty helping of mashed potatoes onto your plates, optionally top with gravy, then add one or two sausages and onions.  Enjoy your warm, filling meal!

Genre of the Month, Recipes

Amaretto Cherry Poached Pears

Poached pears have been a favorite dessert for hundreds of years and have been featured in several historical fiction novels.  They are more easily made in autumn when pears are at the height of their season, but thanks to modern grocers we can get canned and sometimes fresh pears year round.  The term “poaching” may be a little intimidating to some, but this recipe is much easier than you might think!  If you want a sweet treat to enjoy while reading a historical novel set in the 16th to 18th centuries?  Grab a powdered wig, hand fan, and these ingredients.  

  • 4 anjou pears, slightly firm
  • 1 cup amaretto
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons cherry syrup
  • Vanilla bean Ice cream

Peal the pears, cut in half lengthwise, and remove the cores.  In a medium saucepan, combine the amaretto, water, and syrup to a boil.  Then, add the pears, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer.  Allow the pears to poach for 25-30 minutes or until the pears are soft enough for a fork to go through easily.  Remove the pears from the mixture and place in desired serving dishes, the return the remaining liquid to medium-high heat and simmer until the mixture thickens.  Pour the syrupy liquid over the pears, add a scoop of ice cream, and enjoy!

Recipes

Pernese Food: Bubbly Pies

Growing up, my mother would bring me along to the library and to the used bookstore; so, I was never without a book. She influenced much of my reading preferences from mystery to science fiction to fantasy. The extent of her influence, funnily enough, was easy to see in one of my English classes in high school. We were able to choose our own books for an assignment and the high school library had a book called Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey. Full of telepathic dragons and music mixed with a coming-of-age story centered on Menolly, I was hooked. When I told my mom how excited I was about the book, she took me to one of the many bookcases in our basement and pulled out several other books in the same series so I could read more!

One of the main things in the novels is the description of food, which I rather like – things that might be familiar to us earthens but with a twist specific to the stories and their people. This is especially true of the Pern novels, which focus on descendants of settlers from Earth who crash-landed on a planet with a dangerous red sun. For some reason, I was fascinated by the drinks and sweets and meals that were discussed in the book. It wasn’t until now that I finally made something in honor of the books.

I researched to find some recipes that fit in with the Pernese world; thankfully, this was an easy task. I found several recipes through an Anne McCaffrey fansite.  After looking through, I decided on bubbly pies in part because my fiancé loves blueberries.

Since I have food allergies,  I use Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour and Earth Balance dairy-free butter.  They’re both a one-to-one ratio replacement. These are all the ingredients – I love simple recipes.

 

Making the crust with the flour, sugar, salt, and butter. Water came later.

I absolutely detest kneading bread but it needed to be done.

My fiancé, Chris, assembled the filling of blueberries, sugar cinnamon, lemon juice, and butter:

And the dough, the filling, and the flan bowls:

Since I hate the texture of dough, Chris helped put the dough inside the little flan bowls. They’re supposed to be an eighth of an inch, but it was pretty difficult to get them that think and not have it stick to our hands. A little flour didn’t help,  but water on his hands did.

Here’s the dough and filling:

 

I think the flan bowls we used are a little larger than they needed to be because it took an additional 10 minutes beyond the recipe’s bake time to be done to golden perfection.

As you can see in this photo, they look slightly underdone.  When they were done, Chris and I both were so excited to try them that we dug right in.  These are great if you’ve left time between dinner and dessert because they are quite large.  Be careful of burning your mouth!

These are perfect for someone with a massive sweet tooth, just like Menolly’s young friend, Piemur.

Genre of the Month, October - Horror, Recipes

Witch’s Brew

Bubbling cauldrons and cackling witches often grace the pages of classic horror stories, so what better way to kick off horror month than with a witch’s brew?  This is an easy drink recipe that can be enjoyed by spell casters of all ages, and it’s got lots of juice in it too!  So grab your cauldron (or punch bowl), your broom, a toad, and these ingredients:

  • 4 cups of Orange Juice
  • 4 cups of Sparkling Apple Cider
  • 1 cup Club Soda
  • 1/2 cup Lemon Juice
  • Dry Ice

Combine your Orange juice and Apple Cider with the Lemon juice in your bowl.  Add the Club Soda and be sure to taste it.  If it’s still too sweet, you can add more club soda, but be sure not to fill the bowl up too high or the dry ice will cause it to spill over!  When the flavor is to your liking, slowly add the chunks of dry ice for that spooky potion effect.  You can add smaller pieces of dry ice to the individual adult’s glasses, but it should not be given to children!  You can also add some red food coloring to the bottom of your glass to add a bloody touch to your potion.  This recipe will serve at least 12 witches, so be sure to invite the whole coven and enjoy!  

witches-brew-drury-lane

Image courtesy of Drury Lane