Turniphead Cawl

When brainstorming a dish for Howl’s moving castle, I thought Welsh Cawl might be a nice choice – is the national dish of Wales from whence hails Howl, and although Sophie hates turnips she has somewhat affectionately named the stalky scarecrow Turniphead. I carved little faces into my turnips, so Halloweeny (keep Halloween in your heart all through the year).

Recommended, do the meat and broth step the day before so it has time to cool and you can spoon off the fat.

Turniphead Cawl

  • 1.5 pounds bone-in lamb shoulder, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • flavorless oil
  • salt & pepper
  • herbs (I used several sprigs of thyme and a sprig of rosemary)
  • 2 leeks, trimmed and sliced into half moon
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into half moons
  • 3 medium turnips, peeled, halved, and carved into faces
  • handful parsley finely chopped

Salt and pepper the meat and heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium high in a large soup pot. Brown in two batches, then add 6 cups water and the rest of the meat into pot, stirring well to scrape up any brown bits. Add herbs, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer for an hour.

Cool completely in the fridge. Scrape off fat and discard. Strain the meat out to a plate, and strain the broth.

In the soup pot, gently heat 2 teaspoons oil. Add leaks and carrots to the pot and gently stir to coat, cooking several minutes until wilted and soft. Add broth, meat, and turnips. Bring up to a simmer and simmer until turnips are soft and can be easily pierced with a paring knife, 10-15 minutes.

Arrange in a bowl and serve hot, garnished with parsley.

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Calcifer’s Breakfast Skillet


Inspired by the copious amounts of bread and cheese, and bacon and eggs, consumed in Diana Wynne Jones’ novel Howl’s Moving Castle, plus the inclusions of it in the Studio Ghibli film, here’s a tasty breakfast–or any time of day–combination! I decided to do this in a cast iron skillet because that’s what is used in the film! Onions are also included because they taste great in this dish, and because chopped onions feature in a scene in the book too. 😉

Calcifer’s Breakfast Skillet

  • 1 pkg. Thick Cut Bacon
  • 1/2 Large Onion, julienned
  • 1/2 Loaf Sourdough Bread Round
  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 10 Eggs (plus 1 egg white, see below)
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese (freshly shredded is best!)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Thinly Sliced Ham for biscuits (“Country Ham Biscuit Slices”)
  • 1 Egg White
  • Small Slice off the side of a tomato OR Red Bell Pepper (roasted or fresh)
  • Large Black Olive

Heat your oven to 350ºF. In an iron skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until done, but not too crispy. Drain the grease in between batches, reserving just a small amount. Place the bacon on a paper towel-lined plate, & then cut the bacon into bite-sized pieces.

Put a small amount of bacon drippings back into the pan & sauté the onions until just tender. Drain if needed & put the cooked onions with the bacon pieces off to the side.

Melt the butter in the pan. Slice & cut the sourdough into about 1″ chunks, & then lay them in the pan & coat them with the butter. Cook the pieces until slightly golden & toasted, & then turn off the heat. Position the bread pieces to cover the bottom of the pan.

In a bowl, whisk the 10 eggs with the milk, adding in salt & pepper to taste. Stir in the bacon pieces, onions, & 1/2 of the shredded cheese. Pour this mixture over the bread, & then sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Cut the ham slices as needed & position them on top of the skillet to create Calcifer’s body. Slide into the oven & bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the egg is no longer runny or jiggly.

While the skillet is baking in the oven, melt a little bit of butter in a small clean pan (or use oil) & cook the egg white on low heat with the lid on. Once solid, but not browned, remove the egg & cut out 2 circles for Calcifer’s eyes. Place the eyes on Calcifer’s ham body when the skillet comes out of the oven.

Cut 2 small circles from the black olive & place them on the egg white circles to be Calcifer’s pupils. Cut a bowl shape/half circle from the tomato slice (make sure this slice is from the side of the tomato so that you have the smooth skin) or pepper slice, & place it for Calcifer’s mouth.

howls-moving-castle-skillet-slice Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 49: Howl’s Moving Castle

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Turkey-and-Cranberry Burrito


“Everyone else had families, and went east or west or just down the block for Easter or Thanksgiving, but not Gillian. She could always be counted on to take a holiday shift, and afterward she always found herself drawn to the best bar in town, where special hors d’oeuvres are set out for festive occasions, hard-boiled eggs tinted pale pink and aqua, or little turkey-and-cranberry burritos.” —Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

The recipe below is very simple and more like general direction more than a recipe with measurements and such; you can adapt it to how you like.

Turkey-and-Cranberry Burrito

  • Flour Tortilla
  • Cooked Turkey Breast, shredded or cut into bite-sized chunks/strips
  • Mayonnaise
  • Whole Cranberry Sauce
  • Leafy Green, like Romaine Lettuce
  • Toasted/Candied Nuts, like pecans or walnuts
  • Dried Cranberries, like Crazins (optional)

Lay the tortilla out & place a few leaves of lettuce down the center (you can spread a little mayo on the tortilla first if you like).

Toss the turkey meat with mayo & cranberry sauce to your desired amount & ratio, & then scoop a mound onto of the lettuce. (If you don’t want to toss the meat with the mayo & cranberry, that’s totally fine. You can simply layer everything.)

Top with nuts & (optional) dried cranberries, & then gather up the bottom & sides of the tortilla & wrap like a burrito. Secure with toothpicks (& mayo if needed).

* If you’d like to make blue eggs, boil 1 1/2 cups of water with about 8 roughly cut leaves of red/purple cabbage, until the water has turned a very deep color. Stir in about 1/8 tsp. baking soda & the water will become blue! Let the water cool a bit, & then submerge a few peeled hardboiled eggs until they are the desired color.

For pink eggs, simply boil some peeled beets in the same amount of water in a seperate pot until the color is rich, let cool, & then place a few more peeled, hardboiled eggs in.

(If you don’t care about making natural dyes, you can do a super duper easy method by mixing a bit of pink & blue food coloring into two containers of water respectively, & then putting the peeled eggs in.)

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 46: Practical Magic

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Howl’s Moving Castle


Diana and Carrie discuss the novel by Diana Wynne Jones as well as the Ghibli movie – with fire demon-cooked bacon, luscious cream cakes, magical honey and questionable turnip heads.



Tasty Time

Main Episode

Intro music clip: “Merry-Go-Round of Life” Cover performed by Mononoke Ensemble (originally composed by Joe Hisaishi for the film). Available for purchase here.
Outro music clip: “Sosban Fach” (Little Saucepan).

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Rye Popovers with Welsh Rarebit Sauce

Miss Peregrine’s school is located in Wales, and to my American sensibility the most iconic Welsh food is Welsh Rarebit (please comment and school me if there are more dishes I should know). As far as dishes go though, this is a good one, the sauce is simply amazing. One of my peculiar children declared “dis is yum!”

I made the lovely rarebit creamy cheese sauce flavored with dijon, worcestershire sauce and ale (I used pumpkin beer!) but rather than on rye toast, I made some light and airy rye popovers to evoke Emma (yes in the book it’s Olive) who is lighter than air. I wonder if she’s a good cook – she’s probably great at things like popovers, soufflees, meringues, puris, foams and lattes.

Just a note, in a rare twist I adapted nothing this time, both unaltered recipes came out really nice.

Rye Popovers with Welsh Rarebit Sauce

For the popovers
Recipe from Food.com

  • 3⁄4 cup rye flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Heat over to 450° and grease a muffin tin.

Whisk together flours and salt, then add milk, butter, and eggs. Mix well and divide between muffin cups.

Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350$deg; and bake for another 5 minutes. Cool on a rack. Serve with rarebit sauce, below.

For the rarebit sauce
Recipe from Alton Brown

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  • 1/4 cup beer (porter is best, I used a lighter pumpkin beer, also good)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3/4 cups shredded cheddar

On low heat in a saucepan, heat butter and flour, whisking continuously for several minutes (do not let flour brown). Whisk in in dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper until well combined. Whisk in beer and cream, and add cheddar. Cook, whisking constantly, for 5-7 minutes until cheese is melted completely and mixture has slightly thickened. Remove from heat and serve warm with popovers.

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Codfish Pudding

Equal parts British nursery food for darling little children and the worst insult to effeminate one-handed pirates, this turned out awfully delightful!

I based my dish on this recipe from Cook it Simply with a couple adjustments in ingredients and cooking method (Do I look like I have suet? Or a pudding basin? But I got through it, oh the cleverness of me!). The result was like a crustless mini quiche – super tasty, and I think the lemon zest brought out the pleasant fishy flavor and brightened it several shades above stereotypically tasteless nursery fare.

It was very good warm the night of, my kids loved it, and because I am a monster who eats straight from the fridge can offer that it was even good cold the next day.

Codfish Pudding

Adapted from Cook it Simply

  • 1 pound skinless cod, sliced into small cubes
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 slices bread
  • handful parsley

Heat oven to 350° and grease a muffin tin.

Combine cod, butter, lemon zest, salt, pepper, eggs, and milk. In a food processor, blitz bread and parsley to fine crumbs. Stir into cod mixture.

Divide evenly between muffin cups. Place the muffin tin on a large rimmed baking sheet in the oven, and add water to the baking sheet to about three quarters full.

Bake for one hour (start checking at 50 minutes, it’s fine for the tops to brown but if they start getting too done cover with foil) until the mixture is fairly solid. Remove to a rack and cool 15-20 minutes.

Gently remove each pudding, I spooned around the rim to loosen it and used two spoons to lift it to the plate. They’ll get less delicate as they cool.

Garnish with a little extra chopped parsley and serve warm, or enjoy later room temp or even cold.

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