King's Landing recipes, part 2

In my ongoing quest to make all the recipes from the Game of Thrones cookbook, King's Landing has proved to be a particularly difficult region to conquer. It's twice as long as any other chapter, and has a lot of seasonal ingredients. So it gets split in two, and Part 2 comes first because Part 1 has the pumpkin recipes that I can't make until fall.

Bowls of Brown.  Better than they look
Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives: Fleabottom Edition
Yes, that's the infamous Bowl of Brown

As always, the GoT cookbook pairs authentic medieval recipes with modern adaptations. And, as always, the dishes which don't call for salt do need some, and the baked goods don't have nearly enough liquid to hold the dough together.

This turned out to be one of the tastier batches of recipes, with a lot of dishes I'd be happy to make again, and none where I shrugged and said "Some experiments fail."

Recipes I'd Make Just To Make

While the Pigeon Pie resembles a modern pot pie — poultry and vegetables in a creamy sauce — the leeks and mace gave it flavor distinctive enough that I wasn't left wondering if I might as well have gotten a frozen Swanson's.

I don't know if I used pigeon or quail, because the butcher at the international grocery said the little frozen birds were pigeon even if the label said quail. (Google says I'm not the first person to encounter this confusion, either.) While the meat didn't taste exactly like dark chicken meat, the recipe should work well — and be cheaper — with chicken thighs.

Both the White Beans and Bacon dishes were tasty, and filling enough to be a light dinner on their own. The cinnamon and nutmeg of the medieval recipe, which I still associate with sweet deserts even after cooking dozens of Game of Thrones recipes, are surprising but pleasant when paired with the beans and bacon. The modern recipe is just as good — the crunch of the endive contrasts with the soft texture and familiar flavor of the beans and bacon.

The authors call the Almond Crusted Trout recipe "great for filets" as well as whole fish — I'd go one step farther and only make it with filets. When there might be bones in your food, and whole fish guarantees that there will be bones in your food, feeling something hard in your mouth is your cue not to bite down. When your fish is rolled in chopped almonds — you see the problem here. It's a tasty recipe, but if you really want to serve whole fish at your Game of Thrones meal, try the Trout Wrapped In Bacon from the chapter on the South instead.

Just writing about the Roman Peaches in Honey-Cumin Sauce makes me want another batch. It's a shame peach season is so short. (I might try to adapt the recipe for canned peaches, if I can find some that aren't floating in a quart of sugar syrup.) The authors compare this recipe to chutney, and it's the perfect analogy: there's a bit of sweetness to the dish, but you really want to serve it alongside meat rather than as a dessert.

The glaze on the Modern Grilled Peaches in Honey is tasty, but unfortunately the flavor didn't penetrate deeply into the peaches — though that might just be because I used the stovetop, not a grill. I could see trying the recipe again at a cookout on an actual grill, though between the prep work for the glaze, and the separate containers for glaze, mascarpone, and nuts, it's probably more work than I'd bother with.

Both the modern and the medieval Lemon Cakes were a big hit with the dozen or so people who tried them. (Though who wouldn't like tiny, sweet cakes with a lot of lemon flavor?) The modern cakes came out a lot messier-looking than petits fours are supposed to — if I make these again, I'll look for some kind of online tutorial.

Recipes I'd Make For A Party

The Bowls of Brown are not nearly as bad as you'd fear. Jake drew the line at goat or anything with bones, so rather than poking around at the international grocer I used up some freezer-burned meat and the pickings from a rotisserie chicken, which seemed in the spirit of Flea Bottom. I ended up with a pot full of pork, beef stew chunks, the chicken, and some freezer-burned salmon, and added the optional molasses and a turnip (which is in Martin's description but not the recipe itself).

The turnip dominated every bite it was in, but I ended up with a perfectly acceptable beef stew. If I made this again, I'd brown the meat first. (Stew recipes typically do this because the browned meat is more flavorful). The broth was rather thin, but after eight hours of cooking I didn't feel like adding the suggested roux to thicken it up.

Even a half recipe left me with plenty of leftovers, which I spruced up with leftover coconut milk, tomato paste, plus some curry powder and a can of white beans — thrifty but probably not what Martin imagined.

I think I'll stick with my usual beef stew recipes instead of this one, though.

I stuffed the Quails Drowned in Butter with apricot instead of apple. The recipe's tasty, but given the amount of effort, it's more something to serve guests on a special occasion than to make for yourself.

I ended up making the Roasted Boar with pork tenderloins, since the local butcher shop only sells boar tenderloins in cases of thirty, and I wasn't that hungry. It's a good enough recipe, heavy on cloves and pepper; I'll try again if I ever spot boar tenderloin.

Both the medieval and modern Apricot Tarts are perfectly good but don't much to the flavor of the fresh apricots. Similarly, the Iced Milk With Honey is just sweetened milk — the Westerosi equivalent of drinking the leftover milk from your cereal bowl. I could imagine either one complementing a larger menu, but I doubt I'd make either for any other reason.

Next on our culinary tour of Westeros, I'll be reposting my writeups of other regions from back when I was suffering through Wordpress.

Written on September 9, 2015