It’s been a long two-year wait for the Game of Thrones final season, which begins this Sunday, April 14 on HBO. What better way to celebrate at a viewing party than with recipes inspired by the show? Cassandra Reeder, the self-described Geeky Chef who embraces sci-fi and fantasy worlds in her books Geeky Chef Cooks and Geeky Chef Drinks, shares these recipes for a Thrones party.
Warm up with mulled wine just like the men of the Night’s Watch and take comfort in a savory bowl of stew as you await the fate of your favorite characters. And everyone likes dessert, so Reeder shares her recipe for Sansa Stark’s favorite pastry: Lemon Cakes.
Makes 8 to 10 servings
Mulled wine appears throughout the series many times, as its warmth makes it a favorite of the men of the Night’s Watch. Of course, mulled wine is a real thing that is omnipresent in fantasy literature; it’s in everything from The Canterbury Tales to The Elder Scrolls. Originally called Hipprocras, this drink is at least as old as Rome. There are many versions of this delicious rich and spicy beverage across many cultures, both presently and historically, so this recipe is appropriate for any occasion, whether that’s a name-day celebration, a (red, purple, or pink) wedding, or just your standard holiday party.
2 bottles (750 mL each) red wine
4-6 ounces brandy (optional)
1 (2-inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
5 cinnamon sticks
2 black peppercorns
5 whole nutmegs, to taste
8 whole allspice, to taste
¾ cup honey, or to taste
whole spices, citrus peels, for garnish (optional)
- Remove the zest from the orange and lemon in strips, using a knife or vegetable peeler. Set aside.
- Juice the orange and lemon into a Dutch oven or thick bottomed pot. Then pour the wine and brandy (if using) into the pot.
- Add the orange and lemon zest, ginger, cinnamon sticks, cloves, peppercorns, nutmeg, allspice, and honey into the same pot and stir for a minute or two.
- Cover the pot and heat over medium heat until the liquid is hot, being careful not to let it boil. Then reduce the heat to low and simmer for an hour, or until the spices are strong enough for your tastes.
- Strain out the spices or remove them with a slotted spoon before serving. Garnish with whole spices and citrus peels, if desired.
Bowl O’ Brown
Makes 5 to 6 servings
There are many, many mouthwatering descriptions of food in George R. R. Martin’s epic tale, and one might wonder why I chose the questionable back-alley concoction of King’s Landing’s poorest folk (that phrase works two ways!) to put in this collection. I’m not sure why, but I think most would agree that it’s one of the more memorable dishes in the series. It might be the mystery of what’s inside, which frequently includes rats, pigeons, and possibly, in some of the more dubious pot shops, a very unfortunate person. Of course, there are also turnips, barley, carrots, and other humble vegetables. Arya Stark was prone to wolfing down (pun not intended, but I’m happy with it) a nice Bowl o’ Brown during her time as a street urchin in King’s Landing.
This recipe is definitely flexible; pretty much anything can be added to it. I recommend choosing at least three different kinds of cheap meat that you’re not entirely comfortable with, because what’s a ASoIaF/Game of Thrones recipe without a little discomfort? I used chicken legs, pork chump end, and oxtail, and it turned out pretty fantastic.
2 pounds meat(s) of your choice (preferably cheaper cuts with bones)
salt and pepper or any seasonings of your choice, to taste
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1½ large yellow onions, peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
6 medium mushrooms, sliced
2 turnips, peeled and chopped
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
32 ounces or 1 quart beef broth
16 ounces or 2 cups ale
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
½ cup uncooked pearl barley
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons flour
- Season the meat with salt and pepper and brown in 3 tablespoons of the butter. Add the browned meat to a slow cooker.
- In the same pan in which you browned the meat, add the rest of the butter, onions, and garlic and sauté until the onions start to soften and turn translucent.
- Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté for a couple minutes.
- Finally, add the turnips, potato, and carrots, and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add the sautéed veggies to the slow cooker, then add the beef broth, ale, Worcestershire sauce, barley, bay leaf, salt, and pepper, and any other seasonings you want to use.
- Cook for at least 4 hours on a high heat setting on a slow cooker.
- Sprinkle a bit of flour into the soup and stir in—this will help thicken it—gradually adding more until you get the desired thickness.
- Adjust the heat to low and cook for a couple more hours, or until the meat is tender. It gets better the longer it stews!
Makes 20 Cakes
Oh, the food of A Song of Ice and Fire. For someone who claims not to be a great cook, George R. R. Martin sure knows how to make up some mouthwatering foodstuffs. There is an infinite amount of food to choose from in ASoIaF, enough to fill an entire cookbook of its own. Happily, there is one! A Feast of Ice and Fire would look pretty good next to this cookbook on your nerdy cookbook shelf. It’s definitely on mine! As great as the official cookbook is, I had to try my hand at a few recipes myself.
One of the more memorable sweet treats in ASoIaF is Sansa Stark’s favorite pastry: Lemon Cakes. Lemon Cakes are mentioned fairly often in the books, but not described in detail. My impression of them is that they are a sort of teatime treat for young lords and ladies to enjoy. I pictured them being rustic in appearance (by modern standards; they’d be fancy in Elizabethan times and by Westerosi standards) and having a dense, moist texture with intense lemon flavor. My cakes are just that, and baked with a candied lemon slice for garnish.
2 lemons, thinly sliced and seeded
1 cup water
2½ cups granulated sugar, divided
butter, or non-stick spray, for greasing
2½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 tablespoons lemon zest
¾ cup fresh lemon juice, divided
1 cup buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a muffin tin.
- Boil the lemon slices for about 15 minutes in the water and 1 cup of the sugar. Drain and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In another bowl, beat the butter and 1 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, then stir in the lemon zest and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice.
- Beat in the flour mixture and then the buttermilk.
- Place 1 lemon slice in the bottom of each muffin cup and pour the batter over the slices, dividing the batter evenly among the cups.
- Bake until the cakes are firm and golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.