Fictional food: Thanksgiving Edition
As cases continue to rise by the day, a lot of upcoming holiday plans have changed. Most notably for this week, we all may not get to have the grand Thanksgiving feast with the whole extended family as we wished and planned for. Travel, even from one town to another, is becoming increasingly risky. Accordingly, an intimate Thanksgiving dinner with your current co-denizens (if you’ve got any) may become the reality, and for lovers of a big, festive turkey day like myself, that—to put it delicately—sucks. After all, what’s the point of cooking up a storm for a party of one?
However, I like to think of myself as a glass-half full kinda gal, and I have the perfect remedy for this less-than-ideal situation! You may be tempted to just order takeout, stream Netflix, and accept the sobering reality of this pandemic, but why do that when you can teleport yourself to a magical place where groups of people can still hang out indoors and fantastical adventures are the norm? Why settle for magic and happiness through a screen when you can transport yourself to their dimension in a heartbeat? You may be wondering how to achieve this feat without warping the space time continuum and the surprisingly simple key is… food! We’ve all had those moments when our teeth sink into a particularly delightful morsel and suddenly we’re in grandma’s kitchen or the tropics or in our hometown. Now, we can simply reverse engineer that principle to send us hurtling into delightful worlds of fiction by whipping up mouth-watering emulations of their iconic cuisines! After testing all of them, I can personally assure you that if you sample any of the recipes below, before you know it, you’ll be whisked away into a magnificent universe as the holiday humbug shrinks in your wake! You’ll thank me later.
Bantha Chai from Star Wars: Episode IV “A New Hope”
This warm, comforting spiced tea from Tatooine makes the perfect fuel for a long day in the kitchen (maybe making the rest of these recipes..?)! Pour it into a to-go cup to enjoy while you baste a bird, hug a mug while something bakes, or just make a huge batch and stash it in the fridge for the next chilly evening. On Thanksgiving or on any fall day, this drink is out of this world.
Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 10-15 minutes Yields: 2 cups
2 cups rice milk (or milk of your choice)
2 tsp. arrowroot powder
1 blue butterfly pea tea bag
1-inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced
Pinch of ground cardamom
Pinch of ground mace
1–2 tbsp. sugar, to taste
In a small saucepan, whisk together the milk and arrowroot powder. Place over medium-low heat.
Add the remaining ingredients to the pan and combine, whisking occasionally, until steaming.
Let mixture steep about 5 minutes, until it is a rich blue and smells strongly of spice.
Remove from heat and strain into a mug.
You can use dried butterfly pea flowers in place of the tea bags if you can’t find them, but the steeping time will increase significantly.
Enjoy with some portion bread or any tea time treats you have lying around!
Recipe courtesy of Glamour:
Kronk’s Spinach Puffs from The Emperor’s New Groove
Kronk was quite possibly the worst ever henchman, especially when it comes to pulling levers. However, that did not detract in the least from his status as the most hilariously adorable aspiring chef ancient Peru has ever seen! His culinary skills were impressive to say the least, though his work was routinely underappreciated. I think that can (and should) be easily remedied by whipping up a batch of his famous spinach puffs this Thanksgiving! It’s time to give the standard side dishes a new groove, so to speak, and these are sure to blow you away!!
Prep time: Cook time: 20 minutes Yields: 9
2-3 cups spinach, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp dill (or any fresh herb you’d like!)
1 shallot, finely minced
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
2 eggs, separated
4 ounces full fat cream cheese
½ cup feta cheese
2-4 ounces parmesan, grated
2-3 slices bacon, finely chopped (opt.)
1 packet puff pastry
Rinse and roughly chop the spinach into small bite-sized pieces. Finely chop 3 tbsp. dill and mince 1 shallot.
Heat a pan with olive oil over medium-high heat and add the shallots. Cook for about 2 minutes or until translucent and then add 3 large cloves of crushed garlic. Sauté for about 30 seconds or until fragrant.
Add the spinach and a pinch of salt and cook down before adding the 3 tbsp. of dill. Sauté before adding some fresh pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine 4 ounces cream cheese with ½ cup of feta cheese and 2-4 ounces of parmesan cheese. Add the spinach mixture, the chopped bacon, and 1 egg yolk. Stir to combine.
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Flour your work surface and roll out the pastry until it’s smooth. Cut into 3-4 inch squares and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Add about 2 tbsp. of the mixture to each square of puff pastry. Beat one egg in a separate bowl and use that to brush two edges of the puff pastry. Crimp the egg washed sides together. Place the entire baking sheet in the fridge for 10 minutes. Remove from the fridge and brush each pastry liberally with an egg wash.
Place in the oven for 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Serve and enjoy!
Add some chile powder to the filling for an added kick if you’d like!
For a vegetarian or vegan version, omit the bacon, and replace the cheeses with their dairy free imitators! Daiya, VioLife, and Miyoko’s are great options.
Recipe courtesy of Andrew Rea (BWB): https://www.bingingwithbabish.com/recipes/spinachpuffs
Miniature Pies from Brave
I know I wasn’t the only one jealous of those adorable triplet princes and their multiple platters and baskets of tiny pies, and after trying them, I can certainly attest that the hype over the tiny desserts is beary much justified! Plus, they’re super customizable; you can make your favorite of the four scrumptious fillings I included, or simply substitute your favorite pie filling in. Not to mention, they’re pre-portioned, handheld, and totally social-distancing friendly if you’re able (and allowed by public health guidelines) to have some people over. I’d call these recipes a real bullseye!
Prep time: 20-30 minutes Cook time: varies Yields: 24 (per type of filling)
2 packages refrigerated pie crusts (or enough homemade dough for 4 crusts)
2 15 oz. cans pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
Salted Caramel Apple filling:
4 cups small diced (peeled) Granny Smith apples (See Kelly's Notes)
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup sugar
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
16 store-bought soft caramels, roughly chopped
Blueberry Lemon Cream filling:
8 oz. cream cheese (whipped)
1 beaten egg
1 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp flour divided
zest and juice of 2 lemons
4 cups blueberries
2/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp. butter
coarse sugar to garnish
1½ cup white sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
2 cups corn syrup
1½ tsp vanilla extract
⅔ cup unsalted butter, melted
6 large eggs, beaten
2 cups pecans, chopped
Roll out cold pie dough on a floured surface and cut out 24 4-inch circles with a cookie/biscuit cutter (or a mug), rerolling scraps to cut more if needed. Use any remaining scraps of dough to cut out decorative top crusts (e.g., lattice, festive cutouts).
Spray your muffin tin with nonstick spray then place your 4 inch circles of dough in muffin tin. Refrigerate your toppers.
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Mix pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl until smooth.
Pour filling into pastry lined muffin cups. Top with saved decorative crust. Brush with beaten egg.
Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake 20 - 25 minutes longer or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
Allow to cool for 30 minutes in the pan and remove to a wire rack to cool for another hour for the pumpkin filling to set completely.
Salted Caramel Apple Pies:
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
In a small bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, sugar and flour, stirring until thoroughly mixed. Set aside for 15 minutes.
Spoon a small portion of the apple filling into the crusts. Top the apple filling with a portion of the chopped caramels and a pinch of sea salt. Add your top crusts and brush with egg wash.
Sprinkle the pies with crystal sanding sugar (optional).
Bake the pies for about 15 minutes, or until they're golden brown.
Remove the pies from the oven and allow them to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Blueberry Lemon Cream Pies:
Preheat your oven to 350°
In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, half the egg, 1 tbsp. flour and half the lemon zest. Dollop a couple of tablespoons of cream mixture on each crust.
In a large bowl, toss the blueberries, 2 tbsp. flour, sugar, lemon juice and half the lemon zest. Divide the blueberry mixture among the pies, topping the cream mixture. Top each pie with a pat of butter before placing the top pie crusts.
To the remaining egg, add 1 tbsp. water and mix well. Brush the top pie crusts with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
Cover the pies with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350°. Remove the tinfoil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Sprinkle a small amount of chopped pecans into each pie crust.
In a medium size bowl combine the sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, butter, and eggs. Stir to combine.
Carefully pour about 2 tablespoons of the syrup into each pie crust, be careful not to get the syrup along the edges of the pie crust, this will make them stick when you go to take them out. Add your toppers!
Bake for about 22-25 minutes. Mine baked perfectly in 23 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Carefully remove from the muffin tin. If you need, use a butter knife to slide along the side of the pies to loosen. Give a little twist and pull them out.
If you are feeling particularly ambitious or you're an experienced pie baker, feel free to make your crust from scratch! Here is a fantastic recipe from Ina Garten: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/perfect-pie-crust-recipe-1919026
If your top crust covers most of the pies, be sure to vent them.
Feel free to half or even quarter any of the filling recipes to make an assortment for the big day!