(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.
“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
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.
Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 54: A Series of Unfortunate Events
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.
Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 32: Pan’s Labyrinth
“What’s the menu today?”
“Endive au gratin. They’ll bring you to your knees.”
Cut the ends off of the endives, remove & discard the outer leaves, & then cut the endives in half length-wise.
In a large pot, bring the water to a boil with the sugar, salt, & butter, & then lower to a simmer & add the endives. Cover & simmer for about 20minutes until tender. Drain well, reserving 1/2 cup of the liquid, & then wrap the endives in paper towels to drain overnight in the fridge.
Wrap each endive in ham slices (1-2 per endive, enough to cover the endive), & then snug them into a baking dish.
In a large pan, melt the butter on medium heat & cook until golden. Whisk in the flour to create a paste & cook until light brown & nutty. Whisk in the warm milk until smooth, & then whisk in the 1/2 cup of reserved endive liquid. Add nutmeg, & pepper to taste, & let thicken a little.
Heat your oven to 400ºF. Pour the sauce over the ham-wrapped endives & then sprinkle the shredded cheese on top. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until rubbing, & the cheese is melted & turning golden.
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. 😉
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.
Diana and Carrie discuss the novel and various adaptations. Diana dreams of cakes, Carrie gets emotional, and there’s pretend feasts, medicine, panpipes and nursery food to go around.
Intro music clip: From the “Hook” soundtrack composed by John Williams. Available for purchase here.
Outro music clip: From the “Peter Pan” (2003) soundtrack composed by James Newton Howard. Available for purchase here.
Diana and Carrie discuss the 2001 French film in which times are hard for dreamers, but things work out ok. Plus, cherry earrings, cracking crème brûlée, plum cake, endives, and scribbles for nibbles.
Intro music clip: “La Valse d’ Amelie” composed by Yann Tiersen. Available for purchase here.
Outro music clip: “La Valse d’Amelie (orchestra version)” composed by Yann Tiersen. Available for purchase here.