26 December, 2015

Pear with Yellow Cheese

Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best. When reading Eulalia, a pear with yellow cheese was briefly mentioned. At first glance it may sound odd or even gross, but pears and apples with a hard, slightly salty cheese can be very good. The natural sweetness of the fruit compliments the sharpness of the cheese quite nicely. You can make this recipe with thin slices of cheese or shredded cheese, so use whatever you have on hand.

Pear with Yellow Cheese

Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 servings


  • 1 Bartlett pear
  • Sharp cheddar, either shredded or thinly sliced (amount to taste)

  1. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350F.
  2. Cut the pear in half. Remove the seeds and, if desired, the hard flesh around the seeds and stem.
  3. Cover the cut faces of the pear with the desired amount of cheese. 
  4. Bake the pear for 10-15 minutes, or until the flesh is soft and the cheese is melty and beginning to brown. 

19 December, 2015

Fruit and Nut Rolls

I believe in recipes that are customizable. The filling for this recipe can be done a thousand ways. Take your favorite dried fruits, your favorite nuts, and any spices you think would go well with the two. This recipe seems like a lot of steps and time and work but it isn't actually as difficult as it seems and it yields a great result -- perfect for taking to holiday parties if you want to impress. There's also no added sugar in this recipe and the low-fat cream cheese adds a nice tang to compliment the natural sweetness of the fruit without letting the fat content become too high.

Fruit and Nut Rolls
Cook time: 20 minutes
Rest time: 1 hour
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Yield: 36 cookies


For the pastry

  • 4 ounces (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 4 ounces (1/2 package) reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
For the filling
  • 1/2 cup dried soft fruit, such as dried berries, dried plums, dried apricots, etc...dried hard fruit such as apples and pears probably won't work as well, but feel free to try and let me know
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp nuts
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon or other spice(s)
  1. Cream the butter and cream cheese until fluffy.
  2. Add the flour and mix just until it comes together.
  3. Knead the dough slightly with your hands until it comes together, then roll into two balls. Wrap the balls and let them chill in the fridge for an hour.
  4. While waiting for the dough to chill, add all of the filling ingredients to a food processor.
  5. Processes filling until it resembles coarse, sticky crumbs. If you don't have a food processor, chop the fruit and nuts as finely as you can, then mix in the butter and spices.
  6. When the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 350F.
  7. Roll out one ball of dough with a rolling pin (or a smooth, round glass bottle). The ideal shape would be a 12"x7" rectangle, but it doesn't have to be perfect.
  8. Cover the dough with half of the filling. I found the best way is to use your fingers to sprinkle it evenly, then gently press everything down into a solid layer. Don't worry if you can't cover the edges.
  9. Roll the dough into a spiral log (roll along the short direction so your finished log is about 12" long).
  10. Cut off the ragged, filling-less ends, then cut the log into 16 pieces.
  11. Repeat for the second ball of dough, then place all the pieces onto a lined baking sheet. I pressed the scrap ends into two small blocks and added them to the sheet. You can see that my first log wasn't perfect -- the spiral was a little too loose -- but they'll still puff up nicely and taste great.
  12. Bake for about 20 minutes, checking after 18 or so, until the rolls are golden brown. Leave the sheet on a cooling rack to cool, then enjoy.

12 December, 2015

Shrimp and Mushroom Pasty

As an American kid, I had zero idea of a pasty was. Redwall and Harry Potter compelled me to look it up and I found that a pasty is basically a savory turnover. This shrimp and mushroom pasty from The Outcast of Redwall is my first real attempt at making them. I cheated and used pre-made biscuit dough (please don't judge; it's finals week...) but I think they would be even better with a basic puff pastry dough.

Shrimp and Mushroom Pasty

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 10-15 minutes
Total time: 30-35 minutes

Yield: 8 pasties


  • 1 small yellow or white onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 ounces shrimp, shells and tails removed
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 recipe puff pastry dough or pre-made biscuit dough.

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Finely chop onion and pepper
  3. Add oil, onion, and pepper to a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat until softened.
  4. Add mushrooms to pan and sweat until softened
  5. Add shrimp to pan. If you're using raw shrimp, stir them around until fully cooked. If you're using thawed, cooked shrimp (I used pre-cooked salad shrimp...it's finals week...) then just stir them around to be sure there's no remaining ice on them.
  6. Add cayenne pepper and set the skillet aside to cool slightly.
  7. Roll and cut your dough into 8 large circles (if you're using biscuit dough, separate the biscuits).
  8. Cup one circle of dough in your palm to create a bowl (or pull the biscuit apart halfway).
  9. Spoon some of the shrimp mixture into the dough, being very careful not to burn yourself.
  10. Crimp the edges of the circle together to seal and lay it on your sheet.
  11. Repeat for the other 7 circles.
  12. Bake pasties for 10-15 minutes, or until dough is golden brown. 

05 December, 2015

Barleymeal Porridge

I don't eat oatmeal or porridge very often in the summer, but in the winter I find myself drawn to it more and more often. There's nothing like a warm, hearty bowl of porridge when you're cold and hungry. Technically porridge can be made from any cereal grain, but I have never really strayed from oatmeal. This week, however, I had just enough barley left over after making a barley salad that I decided to try making the barleymeal porridge from the very first Redwall book I ever read: The Pearls of Lutra. My food processor had serious trouble with such a tiny amount of grain, however. If you tend to like your porridge made with small grains (for example, if you prefer the texture of instant oatmeal to steel cut oats) I recommend either using a coffee grinder or putting at least two cups of barley in the processor at a time.

Barleymeal Porridge

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes

Yield: 1 serving


  • 1/4 cup quick-cook barley
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk

  1. Place barley in food processor or grinder and process to a meal
  2. Pour barley and liquids into a microwave safe bowl and stir to combine
  3. Microwave for 10 minutes, stopping every two to stir and prevent overboiling.
  4. Top with anything you like. I find that I prefer the nutty taste of barley plain other than an extra splash of milk, but it would also be wonderful with some spices or fresh fruit. 

28 November, 2015

Nutcream (Version 2)

A few months ago, I posted a recipe for nutcream. I mentioned in the post that I had two ideas for how it might work. That recipe was for a thick, creamy spread. This one, however, is far closer to a true "cream." The soaking process of this recipe takes a while -- 8 to 12 hours -- but the recipe itself comes together in just a few minutes.


Prep time: 8-12 hours
Cook time: 5 minutes
Total time: 8 - 12 hours

Yield: It depends on how thick you want it, but I got about three cups of cream.


  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 1 cup filtered water, divided
  • More water (doesn't need to be filtered) for soaking and rinsing

  1. Place the cashews in a large bowl and cover completely with water. 
  2. Leave to soak for at least 8 hours and up to 12 (I started the soak before leaving for work, then made the cream in the evening. You could also soak the nuts overnight.)
  3. Drain the cashews, then rinse and drain again. Place them in the bowl of a food processor or very powerful blender along with 1/2 cup of filtered water.
  4. Process or blend the nuts until no longer grainy. Add water a tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired "cream" consistency. I added another 6 tablespoons or so. 

21 November, 2015

Onion Soup

As the end of fall approaches, it's been getting pretty cold here. As somebody who grew up in the desert and is used to the heat, cold and snow give me serious cravings for hot food, especially soup. The onion soup in Loamhedge sounded particularly good as a warm soup without being too heavy (to stave off the winter weight gain as long as possible, of course). When reading about the soup, my mind (of course) immediately went to French Onion Soup, though that contains beef-broth. I strove for a similar flavor while following my Redwall Food Guidelines by using vegetable broth and Worcestershire sauce.

Onion Soup

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 90 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Yield: about 10 cups of soup


  • 4 large or 2 very large sweet onions (Vidallia preferred, if you can find them)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 cups vegetable broth (that's 4 cans or 2 boxes)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (start with one, then add the second after cooking if needed)
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt, to taste
Optional, but highly recommended:
  • Crusty bread, like a baguette
  • Grated gruyere or swiss cheese

  1. Slice the onions into thin strips.
  2. Add olive oil and onions to a large soup pot and heat over medium high heat
  3. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, until they are cooked down and translucent, starting to turn brown. This takes about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Add the broth, wine, thyme, and one tablespoon of the Worcestershire. 
  5. Stir to combine, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer soup for about an hour.
  6. Add salt and second tablespoon of Worcestershire to taste
  7. If desired, slice the crusty bread, top with grated cheese, and broil in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until bread is toasted and cheese is melty and browning.

14 November, 2015

Guosim Troutbake

The Guosim (The Geurilla Union Of Shrews In Mossflower) were well known as good cooks. When I read about their "troutbake" in Rakkety Tam, I thought it seemed like a fantastic idea. The Guosim cooked their trout in a pit while I used an oven, but other than that I followed their idea pretty closely. I actually managed to find trout at my supermarket's fish counter, but if you can't find it substitute your favorite firm fish. Also, like with my Grayling a la Redwall, I baked this in individual portions in my toaster oven, but you could certainly bake this all at once in a regular oven.

Guosim Troutbake

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

Yield: 6 servings


  • 1.5 pounds of trout
  • 1 gala apple
  • 1 small onion
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 4 cups of watercress

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Roughly chop the apple, celery, and onion.
  3. Place trout fillet in the center of a large sheet of parchment paper and cover with the chopped produce. 
  4. Wrap fillet in the parchment and bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Lie fillet and baked fruit/vegetable mixture on a bed of watercress.

07 November, 2015

Oatmeal with Hotroot and Nutmeg

Have you ever had savory oatmeal? I personally tend to think of oatmeal as sweet and done up with fruit and honey. When I read about savory oatmeal with hotroot and nutmeg in Rakkety Tam, I thought it sounded really strange. This past week was cold and rainy, though, and the idea of hot, spicy oatmeal really seemed like a good one.

Oatmeal with Hotroot and Nutmeg

Prep time: 1 minute
Cook time: 5 minutes
Total time: 6 minutes

Yield: 1 bowl of oatmeal


  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup water or milk
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

  1. Place oats and liquid in a large, microwave-safe bowl and microwave for two and a half minutes. 
  2. Add spices and stir well.
  3. Microwave for another two and a half minutes or until liquid has absorbed and oatmeal has reached desired consistency. 

31 October, 2015

Spiced Cider

Back to apple recipes again. This is the perfect time to make this cider. It's warm, delicious, and is great for apples that you maybe picked at the peak of the harvest and are beginning to get soft. I used a variety of apples and it came out great, so use your favorite. This is a very easy recipe, but it takes a while, so if you have a slow cooker I recommend using it so you can walk away from it. If you don't have one (like me) this is easy enough to make on the stove.

Spiced Cider

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Total time: About 2 hours and 45 minutes including the straining time

Yield: About 6 cups (You can get more liquid out of this if you use cheesecloth or a nutmilk bag to squeeze the pulp at the end.


  • 6 medium apples (I used 3 galas -- two were small, so I counted them together as one -- 2 honeycrisps, and 2 ida reds)
  • 1 orange peel (I used the peel from a Cutie because they have almost no bitter, white pith)
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 allspice berries
  • 6 cups water

  1. Cut the apples into quarters and add to a large soup pot along with the other ingredients.
  2. Bring the pot to a boil and hold it there for 30 minutes.
  3. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 2 hours.
  4. Mash up the apples with a potato masher. 
  5. Strain the contents of the pot. I forgot to buy cheesecloth, so I just used an ordinary strainer and pressed the pulp with the back of a wooden spoon. If you have cloth and can squeeze the pulp dry, you'll likely get an extra 1/2 cup to a cup of cider in the end.
  6. Enjoy warm. Pour leftovers into a jug or jar. This will keep in the fridge for about a week.

24 October, 2015

Soft Cheese and Watercress Sandwich

This recipe came out of a desire for something gooey. In High Rhulain, Brantalis ate a sandwich of soft cheese and watercress. He dunked it in pea and cabbage soup, which of course made me think of dunking my grilled cheese sandwiches into tomato soup. I didn't make the soup this time (cabbage is gross...), but I did make the sandwich and it came out rather beautifully. It could be argued that the open-face sandwich I made doesn't count as a "sandwich," so feel free to use two slices of bread.

Soft Cheese and Watercress Sandwich

Prep time: 1 minutes
Cook time: 4-8 minutes
Total time: 5-10 minutes

Yield: 1 sandwich


  • 1 tbsp Brie or another soft cheese
  • 1/4 cup watercress
  • 1 or 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • 1 tsp butter
  1. Top the slice of bread with the brie. Mine was soft enough at room temperature to spread. If yours isn't, simply slice the cheese thinly and lie it over the bread.
  2. Pluck the watercress leaves from the stems and place it on top of the cheese. 
  3. If using two slices of bread, top with the second bread slice.
  4. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and add the sandwich.
  5. Cook the sandwich for 4 minutes per slice of bread (flipping halfway through if you're using two slices) or until the bread is golden brown and crispy.
  6. Enjoy your gooey, melty sandwich.