Lemon Cakes

Lemon Cakes 1

Game of Thrones Series Week #5

Before I give my recap/thoughts of last week’s episode, let me just say for the record that I am thoroughly ticked off that there is not going to be a new episode of GoT tonight.

Ticked.Off.

It’s really not cool, and I can’t imagine why the Powers That Be at HBO would do that to us. What else could they possibly be showing? Explain it to me, I don’t get it. Actually never mind, I don’t care about the explanation. I just want there to be a new episode tonight, especially after last week’s episode. Grrrr. Moving along to the recap:

  • Daenerys and Daario Naharis FINALLY stopped with the flirting and banter and just did what we’ve known they were going to do since they first met each other. It was very true to Daenerys’ character to make sure that she was in control of the situation though, and I can appreciate that. I did feel a little bad for Ser Jorah- we all know he’s wanted to be in Daario’s position since Daenerys was still married to Khal Drogo. But it was definitely strategic on her part to change her mind about her original plan to execute the slave masters in Yunkai and go with Jorah’s suggestion instead. She’s obviously trying to keep Jorah from becoming embittered against her because of her new relations with Daario by making it clear to him that he still has influence over her decisions, while also letting Daario know that just because he’s slept with her doesn’t mean that she’s going to be biased or partial to his influence. She’s a smart girl, as that was a very tricky situation to navigate.

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  • The scene between Tyrion and Bronn was very well done. Their ‘friendship’ has always been based upon the mutual interests that they share with each other, and although I was slightly disappointed that Bronn chose not to be Tyrion’s champion and accept Cersei’s bride, my disappointment was tempered with his question to Tyrion of “When have you ever risked your life for me?” That shed light on the power dynamic that has always existed between them; they may be friends, but ultimately, Tyrion has always operated in that friendship in the area of privilege and power with Bronn as his hired muscle that gets things done for him for the right price. Tyrion may not have realized this, but this scene showed that Bronn has never forgotten it. He may feel bad for the situation that Tyrion’s in, but ultimately he’s not the ‘servant’ anymore, and he doesn’t feel the need to act like one out of pure sentiment for their past history.
  • And the eternal sufferings and trials of our favorite Damsel in Distress Sansa Stark continue in the Vale. I’ve been hearing a theory that Littlefinger’s come on (and thoroughly disgusting kiss)  was a calculated move on his part that he meant for Lysa to see so that he could ultimately dispose of her. I can buy this for sure: we’ve seen how intelligent and calculated Littlefinger is, and I can’t see him letting his obsession with Catelyn Stark and everything associated with her let him get sloppy and careless enough to make a move on her daughter when Lysa  is such an unstable, high risk liability. He’s too careful for that. He’s probably been waiting for the day that he could shove her through the Moon Door from the day that he told her to poison her husband. Such an evil jerk.

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  • Whoa, I did NOT see that scene between Oberyn and Tyrion coming! I can definitely understand his reasoning for wanting to take on the Mountain, but I’m curious to see how this battle goes down. That dude’s enormous. Bronn was an excellent swordsman, but even he was afraid to take the Mountain on himself. Oberyn is of course, driven by a lust for revenge, so he may be entering in the fight with more focus and determination. Was anyone else heartbroken at the look on Tyrion’s face when Oberyn told him about when he, Cersei and Jamie surrounded his crib and Cersei assaulted him? That was awful. It further goes to show that Tyrion has never known what it was for his family to show him any kind of love or affection. He was born being hated and rejected. That’s rough.
  • John Snow’s still being hazed by Ser Alliser Thorne, aka ‘Big Brother Almighty’ back at the Wall. What else is new?
  • I know Brienne didn’t care, but the food blogger in me was totally into the speech about getting a meat pie right. I’ll admit it.

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This recipe is another one that I knew I wanted to do for the GoT series its very beginning. I think just about every GoT fan knows about Sansa Stark and her love for lemon cakes. I wanted to do a rendition of them, I just didn’t know the approach I would take to them. Then I bought The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook, where (of course) there was a recipe for lemon cakes. I’ll be honest with you guys, I was skeptical of it. For one, the ‘cakes’ are actually yeast based. Then, rather than being baked like typical cake, they’re made on a griddle-top like pancakes.

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However, despite my misgivings, I decided to give the recipe a shot. I used round, metal biscuit cutters on my flat top griddle. I also decided to make them in different sizes, both for aesthetics and because it was more practical for expediency purposes. The yeast in the batter makes them puff up nice and fluffy while cooking on each side. I would describe the texture as a cross between a dinner roll and a flaky biscuit. These do not fit into the conventional mold/idea of ‘cake’, however I still like them very much. In all honesty, they’re probably closer to the authentic, medieval style of cake, anyway. These would be a great addition to a GoT themed party, or even for a regular tea party.

As usual, I’ll post the GoT series links below for all those who still need to catch up. See ya next week, guys!

Game of Thrones Series

Week 1: Pigeon {Chicken} Pies

Week 2: Winterfell Brown Bread

Week 3: Southron Spinach & Plum Salad

Week 4: Baratheon Smothered Pork Chops & Apple Gravy

Week 5: Lemon Cakes

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Lemon Cakes

Recipe Courtesy of The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook by Alan Kistler & Americanfood.about.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm milk
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 pkg)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp lemon verbena extract or lemon oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp dried lemon verbena, crushed (or 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest)

Lemon Icing:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 small drop yellow food coloring

Directions

1. In a large bowl, mix milk, sugar and yeast. Set aside for about 10 minutes until foamy.

2. Mix in egg, lemon verbena (or lemon oil), 1 tablespoon of the butter, salt, flour and dried lemon verbena. Beat together 5 minutes until a smooth dough is formed.

3. Cover with plastic wrap and rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours (until doubled in volume).

4. Heat griddle over high heat. Test by sprinkling on a little water. If griddle sizzles and water evaporates, it’s ready.

5. Lower heat to medium-low. Melt remaining tablespoon of butter on the griddle. Place muffin rings on griddle and fill halfway with batter. Cover loosely with foil and cook until cakes are browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes.

6. Using spatula or tongs, flip over each small cake and ring. Cover and cook another 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks and allow to cool.

7. Mix together all remaining ingredients and spread on top of cakes. Allow to sit until icing is hardened, about thirty minutes.

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Baratheon Smothered Pork Chops and Apple Gravy

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Game of Thrones Series Week 4

Okay, guys. Before we get to the food, I simply must debrief about what I think is one of the best Game of Thrones episodes that we’ve seen in all of the seasons thus far. Seriously, by the end my heart was pulse was a little faster than usual and I was more than a little miffed when the credits came on and I realized I would have to wait until next week to see the next episode. Fortunately, that happens to be today, so all is right with the world again:

  • I really don’t like Stannis Baratheon. To me he’s an opportunist that’s willing to use any means or follow any cause so long as it will make him win- for now it’s that crazy Melisandre’s “Lord of Light” cult, but if that ever stopped working for him, I’m pretty sure he would cut and run from that too. Even though his loss in the battle at King’s Landing meant Joffrey’s victory, I was still glad that he was left with barely any army and no money. It was fun to watch him get chewed and spit out by the Iron bankers. As usual, Sir Davos had to come to his rescue. Honestly, I’m pretty sure Stannis wouldn’t even still be a king if it weren’t for Sir Davos.
  • I’ve pretty much despised Theon ever since he went rogue in Season 2 and turned his back on the the Starks for the Greyjoys (who didn’t even care about him anyway.) So it kinda goes without saying that I don’t particularly pity him for how terrible he’s been treated by Ramsay Snow. It’s a shame that Yara ended up abandoning him, and that he’s kinda lost his mind and…another rather important part of his body, but what can you say? What goes around comes around, and around, and around. We’ll see how if ‘pretending’ to be Theon will actually help him towards getting back a hold on his true self- I’m thinking that that plan may backfire on Ramsay…

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  • Daenerys is starting to realize that being a queen isn’t exactly as effortless and glamorous as she probably imagined it to be. #1, she has to sit in a hard chair and spend the entire day listening to HUNDREDS of petitions from commoners who are really just there to either complain, or ask l her for money. #2 Her policies aren’t being as wholly accepted and welcomed as she had thought they would be. Just because she’s a ‘Mother of Dragons’ doesn’t mean that everyone is going to like her in her kingdoms. And #3, Speaking of dragons , ss advantageous as her dragons are for her to take over cities and destroy armies, they are proving to be a major problem in keeping them under control in the general public. I don’t know man: I have a bad feeling about those dragons- like they’re going to be like a dangerous wildfire that Daenerys won’t be able to control when it really will count.
  • I definitely don’t think that the producers of the show handled the now infamous ‘scene’ between Jamie and Cersei correctly (I’m just gonna leave it at that), but his friendship with Brienne and loyalty to Tyrion make it very difficult for me to completely despise Jamie. I also don’t think that would be fair to Nikolaj Coster Waldau’s performance of him either. Regardless of the terrible things that he’s done, Jamie’s not a one-dimensional person and I don’t feel as though he should be viewed through the lens of one particular action or crime that he did. Having said that, I thought that the deal he made with Tywin in exchange for sparing Tyrion’s life signified a very important change for his character; being in the King’s Guard has always been Jamie’s way of staying close to Cersei, and not being forced to betray the love that he has for her by marrying and having children with another woman. The fact that he’s willing to now not only leave the King’s Guard, but also King’s Landing to marry and bear children to carry on the Lannister name signify to me that Jamie has in a sense, given up on Cersei and the ‘love’ that he’s had for her all these years. I think he’s realized that her love for him was either not as strong for him as his was for her, or just never existed in the first place. His ultimate conclusion it seems is that Tyrion’s the sibling worth making sacrifices for, not Cersei.

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  •  What can I say about the trial itself? Can we just give Peter Dinklage the awards now-and I do mean ALL OF THE AWARDS. Good Lord, his performance was just outstanding. I literally was on the edge of my seat for the entire scene, the build-up to the climax was just marvelous. I could feel the sheer devastation that Tyrion felt when Shae appeared and testified against him. It almost made me wish that I was a crier so that I could cry for him, I felt so sorry for how cruel she was to do that. I think the pain of that scene was so powerful not just because it was Shae that delivered the crucial blow to Tyrion’s hopes of mercy in the trial, but also because she gave the false testimony because of hermistaken belief that he had cast her aside simply because he was tired of her when in reality he only made her leave because he wanted to save her life. I’ve always believed from the very first season that Tyrion is the heart and soul of GoT- the show just wouldn’t be the same without him, and last week’s episode certainly reinforced that belief. I can’t begin to guess what will happen now in Tyrion’s trial by combat. We can only wait and see, can’t we?

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So this recipe was begun originally as an intention to follow one of the recipes from my new Game of Thrones cookbook that I told you guys about in my last post. I got as far as sauteeing the apples before changing my mind and just doing things my own way, putting a ‘Jess Twist’ on this dish. The seasoning rub on the pork chops are inspired by the cookbook, while the cooking methods and apple gravy are my own contributions. When it was finished and I was looking for the GoT inspiration in the dish, I immediately thought of Robert Baratheon. Why? Because this is just a real ‘man’s man dish’, that’s why. Spice rubbed thick, tender meat that’s swimming in a thick, hearty apple gravy-it’s just the type of meal you would expect a ‘man’s man’ type of king like Robert to come and feast on after a hunt, joust, or whatever. I went off the script, and it just really paid off.

For those of you just now joining the GoT series, I’ll post the series existing recipes below for you to check out. Until next week, guys!

Game of Thrones Series

Week 1: Pigeon {Chicken} Pies

Week 2: Winterfell Brown Bread

Week 3: Southron Spinach & Plum Salad

Week 4: Baratheon Smothered Pork Chops & Apple Gravy

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Baratheon Smothered Pork Chops & Apple Gravy

Recipe Loosely Adapted from The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  •  10-12 boneless pork chops, about 4- 5 oz each
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tart apple, peeled, cored and chopped into slices
  • 1 cup white wine, divided
  • 2 tsp ground cloves
  • 4 tsp ground cumin
  • 6 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp hot paprika
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tsp rubbed sage
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Cook the fennel seeds and apple slices in 1/2 cup of the wine in a heavy cast iron, or regular non-stick skillet, covered, for about 20 minutes. Be sure to keep  wet by adding liquid as needed. When apple is soft, add the butter and stir until melted. Remove the apples and fennel seeds from the heat and set aside.

3. In a medium size bowl, combine the cloves, cumin, hot & sweet paprika, coriander, zest, salt, pepper, cardamom and sage. Rub the mixture on the pork chops on both sides.

4. Heat about 1 tbsp vegetable oil in the skillet and turn the  heat up to medium high. Cook steak for about 3 minutes on either side. (It does NOT have to be cooked all the way through). Remove pork to a plate and cover with aluminum foil, leaving the drippings in the skillet.

5. Lower heat to medium-low and combine other 1/2 cup of white wine,, chicken broth, flour, heavy cream and Dijon mustard in skillet. Stir and allow to  cook until flour has completely dissolved and liquid is thickened to desired consistency. Stir apples and fennel seeds into gravy.

6. Spray two casserole dishes with cooking spray. Place pork chops into casserole dishes and pour the apple gravy over them, stirring to combine. Cover dishes with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes in preheated oven.

7. Remove aluminum foil and check the seasoning of the gravy, adjusting if need be. Use a fork to test the doneness of pork chops. If it slides in and out of the meat smoothly, they are done.

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Winterfell Brown Bread

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Game of Thrones Series {Week 2}

Happy GoT Day, guys! I hope you all were able to catch my first post of this totally awesome series I’m doing right now dedicated to the popular HBO show, but if not, just click on the link and check it out so you can be all caught up for this week. I thought that before we get to the recipe, I’d talk a little bit about last week’s episode a little bit with some of my favorite moments from it. (If you don’t want spoilers, go ahead and skip this part)

  • Omg, it was Margery’s grandmother Olenna (with Littlefinger) who poisoned Joffrey! She honestly would not have been the first suspect on my list, which I guess goes to show why she would realistically be able to get away with it. I gotta say though, that maternal instinct of hers is really admirable- I sure as heck wouldn’t want to leave my granddaughter in the ‘care’ of a sadistic monster like Joffrey. Whether she sees it or not, girlfriend really is better off with him dead.
  • Speaking of Margery, I gotta applaud how fast she works to make sure that she’s able to sway Tommen over to her influence and not that of Cersei’s. My sister (who’s very familiar with the books) tells me though that Margery is really supposed to be no older than 15- this is kinda confusing to me, as Natalie Dormer (however lovely and talented) is umm…not 15. The wide age gaps between her and the actors portraying Joffrey and Tommen have proven kinda distracting to me into buying them as actual couples and I wish I knew why the producers of the show just didn’t decide to go with a younger actress to be more realistic.

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  • Ugh, I SO wish that poor Sansa could catch a break at sometime during this show. From Joffrey and Kings Landing to Littlefinger and the open sea/unknown? I honestly don’t know which one is worse. I can’t get over this yucky feeling that he schemed to lure her away from Kings Landing out of some sick fantasy he has about seducing her because he never was able to get Catelyn Stark for himself and feels like the daughter is the next best thing to her mother. The guy’s just a real creepy jerk.
  • Jamie and Brianne: I swear man, they’re just the best BFFs ever. Brianne’s character really served an awesome purpose in showing us a more complex, sympathetic side to Jamie’s character that (in spite of all the bad things he’s done) makes me really unable to completely dislike him. I don’t really dislike him at all actually, and find myself hoping that nothing else arises that makes me change my mind about that. I felt kinda sad about the scene between them when she left to find Sansa- something about it just made me feel like it was a real goodbye…

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  • I loved the scene between Tyrion and Jamie in the prison cell. You could really feel the subtle respect that they have for each other, which Tyrion hasn’t been able to receive from Cersei or Tywin. Once again, to me it shows Jamie’s ‘nobler’ side and feeling of loyalty to Tyrion if for no other reason than for the fact that #1: Blood is blood, and #2: if it weren’t for Tyrion, he wouldn’t be getting better at learning how to fence with his left hand.
  • Look, I like to oogle at the eyecandy that is Jon Snow more than anybody…but the truth is, that most of the time, I don’t care about what’s happening at the Wall. Same thing with Bran. If they could just meet up with some of the other characters elsewhere, I feel like I could get more into their storylines- but on their own? I just can’t get completely interested.

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Today’s post is of a recipe that I knew I wanted to do for a GoT series before I even decided that I would actually be doing a GoT series. The inspiration for it just seemed so perfect. When I first started watching the show, one of the things that really pulled me into it the plot was Sean Bean’s performance as Ned Stark. I just loved Ned (and no, it wasn’t just because of his looks, although they certainly didn’t hurt). I loved him as husband, father, lord, and overall person. He was certainly good for what ailed Robert Baratheon (albeit too late), and I think would have made a far better king. One of the best things I loved about Ned was that he was all about protecting his family, and preserving all that he had managed to build at Winterfell.

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I knew that I definitely wanted to do a bread dish for the series- the question was which characters would I take the inspiration from in choosing a recipe to use. I eventually decided on this one because of how much all the elements really reminded me of the elements of Winterfell to the point that I could see this really being served there for a meal. It’s rustic, dark and yet a sturdy, hearty bread. Gotta be the Starks to a T, right? However, this may not be the last bread recipe I do for the series- I may decide on a light brioche for the Lannisters, or maybe  even a fruit loaf of some kind, we’ll see…

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Okay, so can I be honest with you guys? This bread really reminds me of the delicious, dark loaf of bread that gets served at a certain popular steakhouse on a wooden cutting board with a knife stuck through it. If that’s not enough of a clue for you then think of it this way: it’s antonymous with the words, “In-Front.”

Think about it. Right. There you go.

So, yeah, it’s really very good. The rye flour gives it a really earthy, almost nutty flavor that I didn’t think I would actually like as much as I did. The molasses gives it a rich sweetness that isn’t too overpowering, along with the cocoa powder that also gives it that dark color that I was really looking for when I decided to make this bread. In short, it’s well worth the effort. One more thing: I would definitely recommend following the tip that I included below the recipe for a chewier crust- it’s the perfect crowning touch.

Stay tuned for next Sunday to see what else I cook up for the GoT Series 🙂

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Winterfell Brown Bread

Recipe Courtesy of Hodgson Mill.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

 Directions

1. Put water in a large bowl.  Add brown sugar and active dry yeast.  Let yeast develop for about 5 minutes.

2. Add molasses, rye flour, vital wheat gluten, cocoa and caraway seeds.  Beat well, then let sit for ten minutes.  Mix in melted butter and salt. 

3. Mix in 1 cup of Best For Bread Flour.  Stir in enough of the remaining Best For Bread Flour to make soft dough and knead for 8-10 minutes.

  4. Put dough in an oiled bowl, cover with damp cloth, and allow to rise in warm place for one hour or until doubled.

5. Divide the dough into two pieces.  Gently knead to work out air bubbles and form into loaves and place in two greased loaf pans. 

6. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise another hour or until the dough is nearly doubled.

7. Bake in a 400º preheated oven for 25 to 28 minutes.  Immediately remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.

  Makes 2 loaves .

* Chewy crust – Place empty metal baking pan on bottom rack in oven during preheating process.  Directly after placing the bread in the oven, place ¼ cup of water along with a couple of ice cubes in empty metal pan and immediately close the oven door.  Doing this along with slashing the top allows the bread to rise a little more during the first few minutes of baking and leaves it with a nice chewy crust.

 

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