Christmas is my favourite holiday of the year. No contest. While the time off work, seeing relatives, receiving presents, and general feeling of cheer are great, we all know the real reason I love this time of year: the FOOD. If I’m not ready to slip into a food coma after Christmas lunch, something’s gone wrong. Recently we’ve been trying to work out the menu for Christmas day and it’s also got me thinking about bookish food – all the awesome sounding dishes that pop up in our favourite reads purely to make our tummies start rumbling and mouths salivate. In this spirit, here are ten scrumptious literary recipes courtesy of some fabulously talented food bloggers to whet your appetite.
November Cakes – Maggie Stiefvater (The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater)
Finn finds my left hand, opens my fingers, and puts a November cake in my palm. It oozes honey & butter, rivulets of the creamy frosting joining the honey in the pit of my hand. It begs to be licked.
Unlike the other recipes listed in this post, this one was actually created by the author herself after plenty of trial and error to ensure fluffy, sweet perfection. To give you a rough idea, these “cakes” are almost cinnamon bun-ish in consistency, baked in the shape of a muffin (but with a much more dimpled top). They’re then glazed in a honey-caramel sauce and drizzled with a simple sugary-icing. I’ve tried my hand at baking these and while it’s a bit of a lengthy process (plus there’s the whole metric conversion thing), they’re warm, sweet and lovely.
Give them a try here.
Brianna’s Bridies – Outlander Kitchen (Drums of Autumn [Outlander 3#] by Diana Gabaldon)
“Bridies! Hot Bridies!” A high pitched screech cut through the rumble and racket of the hall, and Brianna turned to see an old woman elbowing her way robustly through the crowd, a steaming tray hung around her neck and a wooden spatula in hand.
The heavenly scent of fresh hot dough and spiced meat cut through the other pungencies in the hall, noticeable as the old woman’s calling. It had been a long time since breakfast, and Brianna dug in her pocket, feeling saliva fill her mouth.
If you haven’t heard of a bridie before, they’re a bit like a pastie except usually with flaky pastry instead of shortcrust and filled with beef and onion. In other words, a comforting and hearty pastry dish. This recipe comes from Theresa Carle-Sanders who, alongside her blog Outlander Kitchen, has published two whole cookbooks with multitudes of Outlander inspired recipes. Theresa has added a few vegetables to her bridies to make them a bit more well rounded. Nobody likes scurvy, after all.
You can give these bridies a whirl here.
Sister’s Stew – Feast of Starlight (A Dance with Dragons [A Song of Ice and Fire 5#] by George RR Martin)
Lord Godric waved his spoon toward a chair. “Sit. Before you fall, set. My hall is cold and damp and dark, but not without some courtesy. We’ll find dry clothes for you, but first you’ll eat.” He shouted, and a woman entered the hall. “We have a guest to feed. Bring beer and bread and sister’s stew.”
The beer was brown, the bread black, the stew a creamy white. She served it in a trencher hollowed out of a stale loaf. It was thick with leeks, carrots, barley, and turnips white and yellow, along with clams and chunks of cod and crabmeat, swimming in a stock of heavy cream and butter. It was the sort of stew that warmed a man right down to his bones, just the thing for a wet, cold night.
There’s nothing like a good stew or chunky soup to warm you up in winter, and creamy soups are my weakness. The A Song of Ice and Fire series is full of references to drinks and dishes (so many that there’s an official cookbook). This recipe for Sister’s Soup served at The Three Sisters to Sir Davos Seaworth in A Dance with Dragons is from Deanna at A Feast of Starlight (her blog features recipes from books, TV shows, movies and games, and there are so many I want to try!). It’s a creamy seafood and vegetable soup which is very much like a less heavy chowder and served in a bread bowl. Yum!
Check it out here.
Strawberry Tarts – Sugar & Soul (The Selection by Kiera Cass)
I mulled this over as I bit into the strawberry tart. It was so sweet and the dough so flaky, every millimeter of my mouth was engaged, taking over the rest of my senses entirely. I didn’t mean to make the little moan, but it was by far the best thing I had ever tasted. I took another bite before I even swallowed the first.
Gosh, the moment these tarts popped up in The Selection my stomach started rumbling. Worse, the MC, America, remarks that they’re the best thing she’s ever tasted and her sister would probably cry upon eating one. If that isn’t a glowing endorsement, what is? This recipe was created by Rebecca at Sugar & Soul and adds some Nutella to the mix just to give the tarts something extra. I mean, strawberries, chocolate, flaky pastry and a dusting of icing sugar, served hot from the oven? YES, PLEASE!
Find the recipe here.
Peeta’s Cheese Buns – Yammie’s Noshery (Catching Fire [The Hunger Games 2#] by Suzanne Collins)
From the bag I pull two fresh buns with a layer of cheese baked into the top. We always seem to have a supply of these since Peeta found out they were my favorite.
Two food groups I love – cheese and bread. So thank god there are recipes like this one from Yammie’s Noshery to bring me the best of both worlds. Suzanne Collins doesn’t give us much detail about Peeta’s buns in the book but I am definitely not opposed to the idea of biting into a warm center of gooey mozzarella. They also have a topping of Colby and Swiss for extra cheesiness. I can definitely see why these were Katniss’s favourite.
Dive into cheese heaven here.
Pasta Puttanesca – Rosanna Pansino (The Bad Beginning [A Series of Unfortunate Events 1#] by Lemony Snickett)
For most of the afternoon, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny cooked the puttanesca sauce according to the recipe. Violet roasted the garlic and washed and chopped the anchovies. Klaus peeled the tomatoes and pitted the olives. Sunny banged on a pot with a wooden spoon, singing a rather repetitive song she had written herself. And all three of the children felt less miserable than they had since their arrival at Count Olaf’s.
If you were anything like me when you were young, you spent a lot of time reading the A Series of Unfortunate Events books. If so, you’ll probably remember the Baudelaires being asked to cook dinner for the dastardly Count Olaf and his acting troupe and deciding on this particular pasta dish. I love pasta dishes in all their carbalicious glory. This recipe is more glamorous than the siblings would have constructed with their limited ingredients but it’s probably far tastier for it. It comes from YouTuber Rosanna Pansino as part of her Nerdy Nummies series!
Try to please Count Olaf here.
Bruce Bogtrotter’s Chocolate Cake – Binging with Babish (Matilda by Roald Dahl)
The cook disappeared. Almost at once she was back again staggering under the weight of an enormous round chocolate cake on a china platter. The cake was fully eighteen inches in diameter and it was covered with dark-brown chocolate icing.
…”There you are Bogtrotter,” the Trunchbull said, and once again her voice became soft, persuasive, even gentle. “It’s all for you. Every last bit of it. As you enjoyed that slice you had yesterday so very much, I ordered Cook to bake you an extra large one all for yourself.”
If you’ve read any of my bios across various websites then you know that I love cake. If I could live on it without dying or getting fat, I would. With this in mind, I doubt any of you would be surprised to know that the chapter in Matilda during which Bruce Bogtrotter is required to eat an entire multi-layer chocolate cake is pretty much my dream. You call this a punishment Trunchbull? Think AGAIN. For this 3-layer recipe of chocolately goodness we can thank Binging with Babish. You can check out his Youtube channel for other great recipes.
Eat like Bruce here.
Vegan Pumpkin Chimichangas – That Was Vegan? (Geekerella – Ashley Poston)
“And may the force be with those chimichangas.”
In this cute Cinderella retelling, the MC Elle spends her days working in a pumpkin food truck, called The Magic Pumpkin, selling vegan snacks to the masses. One of the hot menu items is the chimichangas. I love pumpkin so the idea of using it in this way was super appealing to me. This recipe for baked chimichangas with a chipotle cream sauce comes from Barb at That Was Vegan? If you’re not as keen on pumpkin, you can substitute with sweet potato as well. Some heat, some crunch, a bit of sweetness, Mmmhmmm…
Live the fairytale food truck life here.
Butterbeer – Ashlee Marie (Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling)
“Why don’t we go and have a butterbeer in the Three Broomsticks, it’s a bit cold, isn’t it?“
I’m pretty sure it’s generally accepted at this point that if you’ve read Harry Potter you’ve wished you could try butterbeer at some point. While Universal studios serves hot, cold and frozen versions at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the recipes are kept top secret. However, because it tastes so darn good, people everywhere have worked hard on creating their own. Food blogger Ashlee Marie has recipes for all three types. They involve butterscotch syrup made from scratch and a butterscotch marshmallow cream to go on top. A drink for every season!
Lembas Bread – Jet Set Fork & Celebration Generation (The Lord of the Rings Series by J RR Tolkien)
In the morning, as they were beginning to pack their slender goods, Elves that could speak their tongue came to them and brought them many gifts of food and clothing for the journey. The food was mostly in the form of very thin cakes, made of meal that was baked a light brown on the outside, and inside was the colour of cream.
There are two main bread-type foods frequently mentioned in the Tolkien verse – cram and lembas. Made by the elves, Lembas is pocket-sized, sweet, stays fresh for long periods (good for adventuring), nutritious and highly filling. Unlike cram, lembas seems to be more like shortbread or an energy bar in texture. There are a heap of different recipes online for this fictional food so I’ve decided to give you guys two – Jet Set Fork & Celebration Generation (gluten free recipe).
Now, you’ll have to excuse me because that is the sound of my stomach rumbling and I need to go and stuff my face. Pronto!
What are some of your favourite foods to show up in books, both real and fictional? Bonus points if you have a good recipe for them!