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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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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