A Series of Unfortunate Events

Brett Helquist pasta cleanup(Illustration by Brett Helquist)

Carrie and Diana discuss the first four lamentable books in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events in relation to the grievous new Netflix show. We talk putrid puttanesca, crummy coconut cake, cumbersome cucumber soup, and tragic chewing gum. You’ve been warned. We’re sure there are more uplifting things you could be listening to, so feel free to turn away now.

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Aunt Josephine’s Cold Cucumber Soup

ASoUE Cucumber Soup cut

“Soup’s on!” Aunt Josephine called from the kitchen. “Please come to dinner!”
“Oh good,” Violet said. “There’s nothing like hot soup on a chilly evening.”
“Actually, it’s not hot soup,” Aunt Josephine said. “I never cook anything hot because I’m afraid of turning the stove on. It might burst into flames. I’ve made chilled cucumber soup for dinner.”

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket

Adapted from an awesome Korean cucumber soup recipe from Robin Ha’s “Banchan in Two Pages”!

Aunt Josephine’s Cold Cucumber Soup

  • 1 Long Hothouse/English Cucumber, sliced & matchstick-cut
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 1 Large Clove Garlic, crushed/minced
  • 1/4 Small Onion, julienned very thinly
  • 1 Green Onion, green part only, sliced into thin rings
  • 2 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Fish Sauce
  • 1 Cup Cold Water
  • 2 Packed Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Mint
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds (optional) for garnish
  • Ice Cubes (optional)

In a medium bowl, toss the matchstick-cut cucumber with the soy sauce & let sit for 10 minutes. Toss in the rest of the ingredients excluding the sesame seeds & ice cubes, & chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

Serve in individual bowls with a sprinkling of sesame seeds (optional). You can also plop a few ice cubes into each dish, but it’s not necessary. Note: If you’d like a little color & spice, thinly slice (& discard the seeds of) a red chili & toss it in with the other ingredients before chilling for 15 minutes.

ASoUE Cucumber Soup aerial
Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 54: A Series of Unfortunate Events

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Hook’s Green Sugar

Hook's Green Sugar Cake header

“Did you hear them say Peter Pan’s from home?” Smee whispered, fidgeting with Johnny Corkscrew.
Hook nodded. He stood for a long time lost in thought, and at last a curdling smile lit up his swarthy face. Smee had been waiting for it. “Unrip your plan, captain,” he cried eagerly.
“To return to the ship,” Hook replied slowly through his teeth, “and cook a large rich cake of a jolly thickness with green sugar on it. There can be but one room below, for there is but one chimney. The silly moles had not the sense to see that they did not need a door apiece. That shows they have no mother. We will leave the cake on the shore of the Mermaids’ Lagoon. These boys are always swimming about there, playing with the mermaids. They will find the cake and they will gobble it up, because, having no mother, they don’t know how dangerous ’tis to eat rich damp cake.” He burst into laughter, not hollow laughter now, but honest laughter. “Aha, they will die.”
Smee had listened with growing admiration.
“It’s the wickedest, prettiest policy ever I heard of!” he cried, and in their exultation they danced and sang…

– Chapter 4, Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

Hook sugar closeup

* You can find the recipe for the cake shown in these photos here.
It’s large, rich, and very damp–and jolly thick! *

Hook’s Green Sugar

  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Kiwi Fruit
  • Zest from 3 Limes

Peel the kiwi fruit, & then cut the sides away from the center where the little black seeds are; you don’t want any black seeds. Put the kiwi pieces with 1 cup sugar in a food processor & pulse until combined. Spread the kiwi sugar out on a large tray & let dry for a few days.

Just before you’re ready to put the sugar on the cake, break the sugar up into chunks (it will have solidified together) & put them into the food processor. Add the lime zest & pulse until the sugar is broken up & fine.

After sprinkling the top of the cake with coconut flakes, generously put on green sugar (you may or may not use all of it). Serve anonymously to your enemies, & hope that they don’t have mothers to tell them not to eat random cakes!

* Here’s the recipe for the cake shown in the photos for this post.
* If you make the coconut cake shown, for the coconut whipped cream frosting, use rum flavoring instead of vanilla or coconut to give it that pirate flare.
* Add kiwi slices between the layers of the cake, and on the top for decoration.

Hook cake w kiwi

“…We could tell of that cake the pirates cooked so that the boys might eat it and perish; and how they placed it in one cunning spot after another; but always Wendy snatched it from the hands of her children, so that in time it lost its succulence, and became as hard as a stone, and was used as a missile, and Hook fell over it in the dark.”

– Chapter 7, Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

Hook cake slice w kiwi
Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 45: Peter Pan

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Uncle Monty’s Coconut Cake

ASoUE Coconut Cake

“Hello hello hello!” a loud voice boomed out, and from behind the door stepped a short, chubby man with a round red face. “I am your Uncle Monty, and this is really perfect timing! I just finished making a coconut cake!”

The cake was a magnificent thing, rich and creamy with just the right amount of coconut.

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket

This recipe is adapted from a white cake recipe on “Add a Pinch”.

Uncle Monty’s Coconut Cake

Coconut Cake

  • 2 Cup Butter, softened
  • 1/2 Cup Shortening
  • 2 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Coconut Sugar (or no coconut sugar, & 3 Cups or white)
  • 5 Eggs, room temperature
  • 3 Cups Flour
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Milk, room temperature
  • 1/2 Cup Buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. Coconut Flavoring
  • 1/2 (14 oz.) Can (so, 6 oz.) Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 Can (14 oz.) Coconut Milk (reserve the solidified cream)

Coconut Whipped Cream Frosting

  • Reserved Coconut Cream (from 14 oz. can of coconut milk)
  • 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 Tbsp. Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Coconut or Vanilla Flavoring
  • Sweetened Flaked Coconut
Pre-heat your oven to 350ºF, & grease & flour three 9″ round cake pans.

Cream together the butter & shortening. Slowly add the sugar & mix for about 4 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time, until combined.

In another bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, & salt. Whisk together the whole milk, buttermilk, & coconut flavoring in a cup. Beginning & ending with the flour mixture, alternately mix the flour & milk mixture into the butter/sugar mixture until combined.

Distribute the batter evenly into the 3 pans, & bake on the middle rack for about 30 minutes, rotating the pans at 15mins. Remove from the oven & let the cakes cool in the pans for a few minutes.

Whisk together the sweetened condensed milk & coconut milk. Poke many holes in the tops of the cakes (still in the pans), & then spoon on the coconut milk mixture (about 1/4-1/3 cup each). Let cool until room temperature, & then cover with plastic wrap & put in the fridge for a couple of hours to chill.

Chill a mixing bowl in the freezer while the cakes are chilling in the fridge. Combine the heavy cream, reserved coconut cream from the can of coconut milk, & flavoring, & mix for a few minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. Sift in the powdered sugar & mix until thick like frosting, but not too much so it gets clumpy!

Remove the cakes from the fridge & float the bottom of each cake pan in a dish of very hot water. Run a butter knife around the inside of each pan to make sure the cakes are loosened. Invert one of the cakes onto a large plate or cake platter.

Spread the top of the cake with 1/3 of the cream frosting. Carefully place the second cake on top & spread with half of the remaining cream. Put the last cake on top & spread with the remaining cream. Sprinkle the top generously with coconut flakes.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 54: A Series of Unfortunate Events

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Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore

  • 1/2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 6 oz. Chorizo, sliced & quartered
  • 4 Chicken Thighs
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 1 Cup Chicken Broth or Red Wine
  • 1 Medium Onion, julienned
  • 5 Garlic Cloves, crushed/minced
  • 1 tsp. Fresh Rosemary, minced
  • 1 Cup Small Sweet Peppers (red, yellow, orange) & Green Bell Pepper, cored & sliced
  • 1 Cup Mixed Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Cup Kalamata Olives, de-seeded, cut in half
  • 1 Cup Cherry or Grape Tomatoes, cut in half
  • 14 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes
  • Fresh Parsley, chopped

Pre-heat your oven to 350ºF. In a large, oven-proof pan (like a cast-iron skillet), heat the oil & fry the chorizo until slightly crisp. Remove the meat to a paper towel.

Salt & pepper the chicken & lightly coat each piece in flour. Add the chicken to the pan & fry until golden all over. Remove to sit with the chorizo.

Add the onions & garlic to the pan & sauté for a couple of minutes until just beginning to soften. Stir in the rosemary, peppers, mushrooms, olives, small tomatoes, & broth (or wine) & sauté to bubbling. Stir in the can of crushed tomatoes & cook for another minute.

Remove the pan from the heat & stir in the chorizo. Lay the chicken in the pan, skin-side up, & cover with foil. Slide the pan in the oven & bake for about 45 minutes.

Remove the foil & increase the oven temp. to 375ºF & cook for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool a little, & then sprinkle with the fresh parsley before serving. Great with rustic bread to sop up the juices.

Pan's Lab Cacciatore bite
Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 32: Pan’s Labyrinth

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Steamed Pork Bundles

Moana pork html
This wrapped pork dish is inspired by foods either mentioned or portrayed in “Moana” like pork, coconuts, taro, fish, and mango, as well as Hawaiian lau lau and Tongan lu pulu. Traditionally banana leaves are used to wrap the bundles for steaming, but foil is a substitute if banana leaves are not readily available (also, do not eat the banana leaves!). If you’re not able to get a hold of taro leaves, other big leafy greens like collard, mustard, or turnip greens are all right substitutes, though of course they each have their own texture and flavor. Also, feel free to add a little fish and/or onions to the filling. It’s a very versatile dish!

Steamed Pork Wrap

  • ~ 2 lbs. Pork Shoulder, cubed
  • 1 Tbsp. Liquid Smoke
  • 2 Tbsp. Fish Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. Coconut Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Hawaiian Salt
  • Coconut Cream from a can of coconut milk, like Thai Kitchen brand
  • Taro Leaves OR 1 bundle of Large Leafy Greens, like collard, mustard, turnip, etc.
  • Taro Roots, peeled & sliced
  • Cooked White Rice
  • Fresh Mango, peeled & sliced (optional)

Put a large steamer pot on high heat & pour water up to the fill line. Cover & bring to a boil, & then put on low for a steady simmer.

In a large bowl, toss the 1st 6 ingredients until well coated. (The measurements are just to get you started. Depending on your taste buds, you may want to add more).

Lay a square of aluminum foil on a flat work surface (or use banana leaves instead if you can find them), & then lay 1 large (2, depending on size) taro leaf or leafy green on it.

Place a few slices of taro onto the center of the leaf, & then place several chunks of coated pork on top. Feel free to pour on a little coconut milk & more flavorings if you’d like (I like my food very flavorful 😉).

Fold the edges of the leaf (or leaves) over the filling & wrap into a bundle, & then wrap with the foil (or banana leaf). Repeat until you run out of ingredients (makes about 6-8 bundles).

Place the wrapped bundles on the steamer rack in the pot & steam for 4-4 1/2 hours (depending on the leaves you used. If you use turnip greens, steam for only 4 hrs).

Place about a cup of cooked white rice in a serving bowl. Unwrap one of the bundles & transfer the contents, including any juices, onto the rice. Add a few optional slices of fresh mango. E ʻai kākou!

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 50: Moana

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