Archive | October, 2012

Dracula by Bram Stoker

30 Oct

“We left in pretty good time, and came after nightfall to Klausenburgh. Here we stopped for the night at the Hotel Royale. I had for dinner, or rather supper, a chicken done up in some way with red pepper, which was very good but thirsty. (Mem. get recipe for Mina). I asked the waiter, and he said it was called “paprika hendl” and that, as it was a national dish, I should be able to get it anywhere along the Carpathians.”

Chapter 1: Jonathan Harker’s Journal

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Happy Halloween! (or, Halloween Eve).

Here’s a great recipe to curl up with after shuttling your little goblins and ghouls up and down the neighborhood in search of the elusive full-size-candy-bar-giving-out-house. Our little one is going to be a ladybug this year; and since she’s too little to gum herself a Snickers, I plan to just go ahead and take one for the team and finish her candy for her; like the selfish selfless mama that I am.

Dracula is the 1897 gothic horror novel by Bram Stoker; and it is a welcome refresh from some well…more sparklier and teen-angst filled versions of the genre. Its a fantastically spooky read; and if you want to go ahead and picture Gary Oldman as the Count while you read, well, don’t worry; you won’t be the only one.

My favorite character in Dracula (and one of my favorites in all of literature) is Mrs. Mina Harker. What a heroine! Described as having a “man’s brain”, she is definitely binder-worthy. She earns her own income prior to marriage and is well educated. She keeps up with her husband’s law studies at night for the fun of it, after working all day. For the fun of it, people. Both she and her opinion were respected and valued.

Also, Quincy Morris? Aw yeah, he’s an American all right! Me likey.

So, onto our recipe then. 

I went about internet sleuthing (my favorite way to sleuth) to determine exactly what paprika hendl was, and compared German, Romanian and Hungarian chicken dishes. I think this is probably a fair representation of what J.H. dined on on his way to Castle Dracula. This dish is warm, comforting and heavy on the garlic; which are all good things, especially if you are on your way to chat London real estate with the undead.

Jonathan Harker’s Paprika Hendl

What you’ll need:

  • Chicken with skin-on: 2 wings, 2 legs, 2 things (or some other combo you like)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 24 oz. tomato puree
  • 6 oz. sour cream
  • 5 tablespoons Hungarian Sweet Paprika (I recommend Penzey’s Spices)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons rendered chicken fat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Brown the chicken in a deep skillet under the fat begins to render; then remove from the skillet and remove remaining skin. Set chicken aside.
  2. Add the onion to the skillet and cook over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for just a minute or two. Remove skillet from heat and stir in paprika. The paprika will darker and release some oil – this is what we want!
  3. Add the tomato puree, bring to a simmer. Add the chicken back in, cover and cook for about 30-40 minutes (until chicken is cooked). 
  4. Remove from heat, fold in majority of the sour cream – reserve several spoonfuls for garnish – and serve over egg noodles, dumplings or potatoes. Top with a spoon of sour cream and dig in.

 

The onions, garlic and paprika, melting together…..

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

25 Oct

“The fish and greens are already cooking in a stew, but that will be for supper. We decide to save the strawberries and bakery bread for this evening’s meal, to make it special we say.”

– Part I: The Tributes, Chapter 1.

The Hunger Games is an embarrassment of riches for me. Between the constant fight against starvation in District 12 and the over-the-top culinary indulgence of the Capitol; almost every chapter brings us a new meal. There will be many posts dedicated to this trilogy; as we have much to eat.

In this meal in the novel; Katniss trades for her bakery bread, so in the spirit of the novel;, I did the same. I traded some money for bread, and I think both I and the Standard Baking Company made out like Greasy Sae at the Hob.

Use a hearty green like kale, collard greens or chard that can stand up to a good simmer. The last thing you want is to spend all afternoon at the Reaping, crossing your fingers your children don’t get seleced to battle to the death and then return home to a stew full of sickly greens. No bueno.

So, besides fish and greens – what does this stew look like? To be true to the novel, you can’t just add whatever you like; because District 12 doesn’t necessarily have whatever you like. So, here’s my thoughts on this fish stew:

We know that potato-like tubers grow in District 12; as Katniss is named after them. It seems to me that if the terrain and atmosphere of District 12 support tubers and wild strawberries; you might also be able to find some member of the wild onion family growing. Wild leeks grow well in much of the coal-rich Appalachian areas f today; so let’s include them in our stew. Coming from New England; many people’s first thought upon hearing “fosh stew” would be a chowder – but I don’t see that. Although the Everdeen gals have access to milk thanks to Prim’s goat; I just can’t imagine Katniss indulging so many resources in one meal – even a celebratory one. She is ever aware that she has a family to feed and provide for every day of the year; not just on the evening of the Reaping.

So, what I envision is a very simple fish stew made with fish, whatever sort of greens you can find groing in your District, and perhaps small quantities of tuber (potatoes for most), onion or leek, and garlic.

Katniss’ FIsh Stew with Greens

What you’ll need:

  • 4 cups seafood or fish stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups of greens – I used chard, but kale and collard greens should work well too
  • 1 cup of potatoes that have been chopped to bite size
  • 3/4 pound of white fish, cut into 1″ by 1″ chunks
  • tiny bit of butter or olive oil
  • light seasoning to taste: salt, pepper, herbs

What you’ll do:

  1. In a soup pot, warm the stock and water while, in a separate pan, you saute the leeks and garlic in a bit of olive oil or butter just until fragrant – take care not to burn the garlic. When they are done, add to the stock.
  2. Season to taste with choice of herbs, salt and pepper.
  3. Add in your potatoes and greens and simmer for about 30 minutes; until potatoes and greens are tender.
  4. Add fish to simmering stock; cook until fish is just cooked through (just a few minutes), then turn off heat.
  5. Adjust seasonings as needed.
  6. Serve with warm bakery bread and wild strawberries. Hug your children.

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle

23 Oct

“His legs were stretched wide apart, and betwixt his knees he held a great pasty compounded of juicy meats of divers kinds made savory with tender young onions, both meat and onions being mingled with a good rich gravy. In his right fist he held a great piece of brown crust at which he munched sturdily, and every now and then he thrust his left hand into the pie and drew it forth full of meat; anon he would take a mighty pull at a great bottle of Malmsey that lay beside him.

“By my faith,” quoth Robin to himself, “I do verily believe that this is the merriest feast, the merriest wight, the merriest place, and the merriest sight in all merry England. Methought there was another here, but it must have been this holy man talking to himself.”         

                                                              – Robin Hood Seeks the Curtal Friar

Meat, tender onions, thick gravy and flakey pie crust – there’s not much better on a rainy day to make one merry. In this dish, you’ll make your gravy from beef stock and thicken it with a bit of flour. Do not purchase premade gravy; gravy out of a can or jar has no place in polite society.

“Meats of drivers kinds” simply refers to a pie made with different (multiple) types of meats. You can use whatever meats tickle your fancy. I wanted to use a combination of beef and venison, but was unable to locate any venison. I thought about using bison as I think bison would provide an interesting flavor; even if it’s terribly unlikely that you would run into a bison in Sherwood Forest. So, the choice is yours.

Malmsey is a sweet Madeira wine. I opted not to take mighty pulls at a great bottle of Malmsey as very sweet wines are one of the very, very few food or drink items I just can’t abide. I stuck with a bold red wine instead, which seemed to be within the general spirit, and which I doubt our friend the Friar would have turned his nose up at.

So, go steal from the rich and give to the poor (disclaimer: don’t steal from anyone, please – but the social responsibility bit is still good!) and get your merry on with some meat pie and brown bread.

Friar John’s meat pie:

What you’ll need:

  • 2 pie crusts (premade is fine if baking isn’t your forte)
  • 1 lb. of meat
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 can beef stock
  • tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut your meat into roughly bite size pieces, and chop onion.
  3. Heat a deep skillet/dutch oven over medium heat, and cost pan with olive oil.
  4. Coat your meat in the flour, and when the pan is hot, add them eat to the pan. Brown meat on each side, then add onions and turn heat down to a medium-low as not to burn the onions.
  5. Cook onions until translucent, then add in your beef stock. Stir to combine and let simmer for several minutes to start to thicken sauce a bit.
  6. Place 1 pie crust into a pie pan, pour in your meat/onion/gravy mixture, and cover with second pie crust. Pinch crust edges closed and make a couple of small slits on the top of the crust to act as air vents for your pie.
  7. Bake pie for approximately 1 hour, or until your crust is brown and delicious looking!

Irish Brown Bread:

Yield: 1 loaf

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • .5 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 teaspoons cold butter
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup regular rolled oats
  • 1.5 cups plain, nonfat yogurt
  • Milk (might need, might not)

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, mix all-purpose flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. With a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the butter until mixture forms crumbs. Stir in whole-wheat flour and oats.
  3. Add yogurt, stir to combine. If mixture is too dry to hold together, add in milk (about a tablespoon at a time), just until the mixture holds together. You don’t want sticky dough.
  4. Place dough on a lightly floured board and knead gently about 5 times to make a ball. Set ball on a lightly greased baking sheet and pat to form a nice loaf. Cut an X into the top of the loaf with a floured knife.
  5. Bake until well browned; about 45 minutes. Serve warm or room temp.

“I hate people who are not serious about meals. It is so shallow of them.” – The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

23 Oct

This blog is dedicated to the  various meals, drinks and feasts found in literature of all sorts. Whether you go in for chunks of charred meat and onion roasted over an open fire, or you start your day off with a scotch and soda like Philip Marlowe; I hope you enjoy this journey as I eat my way through literature, one page at a time.

In addition to literature; I also plan to eat my way through art, history and cinema. Stay tuned for lots of delicious dishes!

I also plan to highlight some of the mini foods I make – 1/12″ scale polymer clay food made for adult dollhouse collectors. I am a member of the International Guild of Miniature Artisans; and enjoy making wee meals as much as I enjoy making “big” meals.

A note about the recipes you’ll find here: cooking isn’t an exact science (um, thank god!). Meals are the manifestation of raw materials, imagination, attention and love; and so, no two dishes will ever be exactly the same. I’m not much of an exact science kind of gal, and so while I’ll do my best to provide you accurate measurement…sometimes you have to just go on faith. Taste as you go, trust your instincts and of course, trust your gut (heehee). If you think your dish needs a little more garlic and a little less onion, then by all means – adjust it. Cooking should be fun.