Technically Game of Thrones Week has stretched out longer than seven days, but that seems appropriate for a series that began in 1996 and has yet to conclude. Rome wasn’t built in a day, people.
To wrap up Game of Thrones week, I decided to do a review of the side dishes I made from A Feast of Ice and Fire. In lieu of posting each recipe, I’ve decide only to post my favorite of the bunch. The others are fairly easy to reproduce without a recipe.
Turnips in butter
Growing up in the South, I had plenty of occasions to try turnips fresh from the garden. As a child I would sometimes eat raw slices, but turned my nose up at cooked turnips. My tastes have changed so much over the years that I thought perhaps I’d enjoy them more this time around. In the end, a turnip is a turnip. I don’t know what I expected.
Buttered turnips is a dish from the North, and was served at Winterfell. This recipe is the modern preparation of turnips. The medieval turnips appeared to be a kind of gratin. I chose this one because it was a little less rich and I thought it would go nicely with the onions in gravy. Three large turnips are diced and cooked in milk until they’re soft, then pureed. They were a big hit with the one turnip-lover at the party. Unfortunately, there was only one.
Onions in gravy
Onions in gravy is a dish I clearly remembered from the books. I’m not sure why it stood out in my memory so clearly, except maybe it could have something to do with my abiding love for gravy. The recipe calls for boiler or pearl onions, which I was unable to find. I’m sure I could’ve found frozen pearl onions but I wanted to follow the recipe as closely as possible. I ended up with cipollini onions. I suppose if you couldn’t find those either, you could roast smallish yellow onions in the oven until they were soft and caramelized and make your gravy on the stovetop.
I found the recipe included too much liquid. You can see in the photo how my onions are basically swimming in gravy. (Lucky devils.) If I do this recipe again, I will cut out the apple cider. The onions are sweet enough on their own, the gravy doesn’t need any extra sweetness. I also think sautéing the onions in bacon fat, or schmaltz, or even tallow could really amp up the flavor of the gravy.
This is another recipe that is a great concept but I found the execution a little lacking. You could easily make this a jumping off point to your own version of onions in gravy. Maybe even bake some black bread to sop up the gravy.
This bread was really easy to make and had a dense, tender crumb. I also like how dark and rustic the loaves are. The color is really too light to be considered black bread, but that probably also depends a lot on your flour. The recipe said to use a mixture of white, whole wheat, and rye. I used half white and half whole wheat. The recipe also calls for a 12 ounce bottle of dark beer, such as stout or porter. I used a milk stout. (Can’t recall which one.) The flavor of the beer was really strong, especially right out of the oven, which is the best time to eat bread. Obviously. If I make this again, and I probably will, I will experiment with a less bitter beer, or possibly add more honey to balance the bitter. I would also invest in some salted butter just for spreading.
I must confess, I don’t like peaches. But I love cooking with them! They’re gorgeous and always elicit rave reviews from all the normal people out there who love peaches. Grilled peaches are easy crowd-pleasers. And they’re healthy too, unless you decide to serve them with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.
The beautiful thing about this recipe is that you infuse honey with thyme, which you can do ahead of time. (Ahead of thyme.) Heat honey, some lemon juice, and a couple sprigs of fresh thyme for three minutes, stirring constantly. Then grill the halved peaches and pour the infused honey over them. I grilled these on a stovetop grill pan, they would also be great on a gas or charcoal grill.
Simple and flavorful, this dish was everyone’s favorite. Normally I find double-starches to be redundant (no rice in my burrito!) but I wasn’t bothered by the potatoes and pastry crust here. I used the medieval pie crust recipe from the book, but I think you could substitute your favorite pie crust and get great results. Also, be sure to brush the crust with the egg wash: it really gives it a nice golden brown color.
Modern Cheese-and-Onion Pie
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 + 1/2 cups aged cheddar cheese (I used Dubliner)
- 1/2 teaspoon English mustard (I used powdered mustard.)
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper*
- salt and pepper to taste
- For the crust:
- Pinch of saffron (I skipped this and the crust still had a great flavor.)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 3 cups flour
- 2 egg yolks slightly beaten
- *The original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. I don’t know what kind of cayenne they’re using, but 1/2 teaspoon of my stuff would make this pie nuclear. I recommend starting with 1/8 teaspoon and adding more if necessary.
- Dissolve the saffron in the water. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until there are only crumb-size pieces of butter left. Then add the egg yolks and saffron water. Stir until entirely incorporated, adding more water gradually if needed, until everything just sticks together. (As with any pie dough, avoid working the dough too much.)
- On a floured surface, roll out into two rounds. Butter a pie dish and press one half of the dough into the bottom. Use a fork to poke holes in the bottom.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Boil the potatoes in salted water, then drain and set aside. (To save yourself a little effort, reserve the hot potato water for boiling the onions.)
- Boil the chopped onions in salted water for two to three minutes. Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add a pat of butter. Then drain and place them in the saucepan. Coat the onions with flour, then add the milk and cream. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, for three or four minutes, until the liquid is smooth and slightly thickened. Add the potatoes, cheese, mustard, and cayenne; stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Pour the pie filling into the prepared pie crust. Brush the rim of the crust with beaten egg white, and place the second round of pie dough on top. Trim the excess and crimp the edges with a fork or your fingers. Brush the top crust with egg white. Cut four small holes in the top crust for ventilation.
- Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown. (Check it at 30 minutes) Remove from oven and allow to cool to just above room temperature before serving.
If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, do yourself a favor and check out this very cool podcast, Cast of Thrones. The hosts are hilarious and discuss the show and the books on a level that will satisfy your nerdy yearnings. Now that’s a great name for a blog, Nerdy Yearnings…
Thanks for reading!