Tag Archives: recipes

Favorite Fantasy’s Food: The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook, and True Blood: Eats, Drinks, and Bites from Bon Temps

14 May

Have you ever wondered what the pumpkin juice served on the Hogswart Express would taste like or maybe wanted to savor the exquisite hot chocolate served in the Capital in the Hunger Games?  Or perhaps you are curious about the cocktails that would be served at Fangtasia?  There are plenty of mystery series that include at the end a few recipes from their crime solving chefs, but despite the intriguing dishes found in many fantasy novels, those treats are mostly left to our imagination.  In these three cookbooks, however, the authors have transmuted dishes that previously only existed in our minds to something that we can make and taste for ourselves. These dishes would be great for a fan’s themed birthday party or a special book club meeting.  Some recipes even sound good enough to make a permanent part of your cooking repertoire.

As well as being available in print, all three of these books are available to Hoboken Library Card Holders as eBooks through eLibraryNJ.  Library card holders can borrow the books that inspired the recipes as eBooks too!

The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, by Dinah Bucholz

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J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is filled with mouthwatering food so I was curious to take a peek at Dinah Bucholz’s Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook to see how she recreated the dishes from the novels.  This cookbook will be enjoyable to nonfans of the series, who are anglophiles, since many of the foods included are classic English dishes recreated.  I loved the peppermint humbugs I tried when I was visiting London, and will be curious to try to recreate them from Bucholz’s recipe next Christmas. I was actually surprised to learn how many things were not purely from Rowling’s imagination, but had basis in commonly eaten English treats such as the Fizzy Sherbert Pouches–the ones you can make at home unfortunately (or fortunately) won’t lift you off the ground like in Rowling’s books.  Recipes include food from Harry’s time living with the Dursleys, at Hogwarts, on the Hogwart’s Express, in Hogsmeade, and in Diagon Alley.  The recipes are organized by these locations rather than by types of dishes.  Accompanying text for recipes includes not only where the mention of the food the recipe is based on can be found in a particular chapter, but also some historical background such as the origin of foods including hamburgers, ice cream sundaes, and pasties.  Older children will enjoy reading more about the dishes and helping their parents in the kitchen recreating some of the treats.

The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook: From Lamb Stew to “Groosling”—More Than 150 Recipes Inspired by the Hunger Games Trilogy, by Emily Ansara Baines

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Emily Anasara Baines is a former professional baker and caterer who is also a huge Hunger Games fan.  Suzanne Collins’s trilogy sets up an interesting contrast with food that highlights the disparity between those living in the capital with those in the districts.  Baines describes the symbolic role that the food takes on in the series and her book gives a helping of literary interpretation with each recipe leading the reader to come away with not only some delicious recipes, but also a richer understanding of the novels.  Be warned though the author is very fond of puns, perhaps even more than I am.  Some of the foraging and hunting based recipes such as those using katniss roots and raccoon meat were less than appealing to me, but if I had the time I would love to try all the different bread recipes she featured which include the breads that represent each of the districts in the book.  One clever addition to each recipe are the “tips from your sponsor” that have useful hints such as using crescent rolls for a pie crust if you don’t have time to make your own, a substitution for when you don’t have buttermilk on hand, and using dental floss to more easily cut cinnamon buns.  I found Baines’ baking advice particularly helpful.  These clever and resourceful hints would make Katniss proud.

True Blood: Eats, Drinks, and Bites from Bon Temps by Gianna Sobol, Alan Ball, Alex Farnum with recipes from Marcelle Beinvenu

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This cookbook is based on the television series more than Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels, however, fans of the novels who didn’t necessarily watch the show will still enjoy trying these recipes inspired by Fangtasia, Merlotte’s and the Southern Style cooking practiced by many of the book’s characters.  The book is written as if it is a collection of recipes from the True Blood characters and everyone from Sookie to Debbie Pelt introduces different recipes all of which have quirky pun filled names.  Since I love Cajun food, this cookbook had a variety of recipes I’d like to try especially those featuring my favorite crayfish such as crayfish fritters and crayfish dip.  Since this book unlike the previous two, is an “official” work it includes a variety of color photographs from the TV series, which will be a delight to fans of True Blood’s eye candy.  For those budding mixologists there is a sizable cocktail section (including a Bon Temps spin on the bloody mary) reflecting that this is a very adult series.  My husband once tried to create “True Blood” for a viewing party we held by combining everything from Chambord to Jägermeister.  It very surprisingly tasted pretty good considering his goal was looks not flavor, but I think we might try recipes from this book this summer when the final season of True Blood airs.  You can catch up on the previous seasons with the DVDs available at BCCLS libraries.  You may also want to check out The Sookie Stackhouse Companion by Charlaine Harris, which includes recipes inspired by the books series.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

Tasting History: Shakespeare’s Kitchen, Last Dinner on the Titanic, and Gastroanomalies

18 Nov

Food can be a strong reminder of one’s own past such as Marcel Proust’s madeleine, but it can also go beyond the personal to evoke historic moments in time as well. An amusing British series The Supersizers Go featured restaurant critic, Giles Coren, and comedian, Sue Perkins, eating through time including the Middle Ages, The French Revolution, and Ancient Rome. The title is inspired by the documentary Super Size Me. You can sample some of Sue and Giles’ zany antics on Hulu. Watching them made me want to dip my own spoon in the culinary broth of history and find recipes from the past. These three books all available at the Hoboken Public Library will give you a taste of some sweet and savory flashbacks.

Shakespeare’s Kitchen: Renaissance Recipes for the Contemporary Cook

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Shakespeare’s Kitchen by Francine Segan with color photographs by Tim Turner collects recipes from the Renaissance period. The recipes have been updated for the modern stove top and given in the standard recipe format that we are used to (during the Renaissance ingredient lists, cooking times, and exact measurements were not included). A nice inclusion though is that original recipes are also provided in most cases as well. Additionally, sprinkled throughout are quotes from Shakespeare and historical tidbits. It is interesting to see what ingredients are included and excluded. Prunes and dates are used heavily in savory dishes, but tomatoes are missing. Although several dishes have edible flowers and rosewater featured in them, chocolate and vanilla are not found in a single dessert since they were unknown at the time in Shakespeare’s London. I do not think the majority of the recipes will be making a heavy rotation in most people’s diet today unless they are a heavily committed SCA member, but I would still recommend this book for its interesting historical value and an option for a unique dinner party; the book puts together sample menus, invitations, and decorating ideas for this purpose. Segan has three other cook books available from BCCLS libraries The Philosopher’s Kitchen, Opera Lover’s Cookbook, and Dolci.

Last Dinner on the Titanic

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Last Dinner on the Titanic by Rick Archbold with recipes by Dana McCauley is richly illustrated and a treat for food lovers as well as those with an interest in history’s most famous ship. Several menus from the voyage survived (including two from the tragic evening of April 14, 1912) and dishes are recreated from ones that would have been used at the time in first, second, and third class. The book gives suggestions for everything you would need for throwing a Titanic themed dinner party including music likely to have been played on the ship, fashion suggestions, and even down to the proper way to fold the napkins. Beautiful illustrations and photographs of items and the interiors of the Titanic and her sister ship, the Olympic, are found throughout. Vivid descriptions on what it would have been like dining on the ship and short biographies of some of the passengers (amongst them Hoboken born silent film star and model Dorothy Gibson) that you may want to role play are also included. If you find having a dinner party recreating such a tragic moment in history lachrymose, you could instead use the book to create an Edwardian themed meal; the food is representative of the best of what was available at that time in the UK and America. Several other books Archbold has written or co-written are also available from BCCLS Libraries including two more books about the Titanic: The Discovery of the Titanic and Deep-Sea Explorer: The Story of Robert Ballard, Discoverer of the Titanic.

Gastroanomalies

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Gastroanomalies: Questionable Culinary Creations from the Golden Age of American Cookery by James Lieks takes a humorous look back at old ads, recipes, and photographs from the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s. I was slightly disappointed in the book. Although I found some of Lieks quips about the pictures and other materials funny, some of his humor seemed to me to be channeling his inner ten year old boy and a few I found a bit off putting and crude. I was also somewhat disappointed that there were not more recipes to go with some of the images of food. In some case the reader is left wondering what an item might truly be beyond the lump of food in the grainy photograph. Perhaps, though this is for the best, as someone who once served both a turducken and a piecaken for Thanksgiving, my family and friends may have been saved from some jiggly jello abomination that I found amusing. The book is less well researched than the other two books and I would recommend it more for people who enjoy humorous takes on life than foodies or history buffs. If you enjoy this work, James Lieks also has written The Gallery of Regrettable Food and Mommy Knows Worst which are available from BCCLS Libraries.

-Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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