Friday, March 30, 2012

Happy Hunger Games!

... and my the odds be EVER in your favor!

As many of you know I totally slipped down the rabbit hole a while back and am pretty much 100% obsessed with the Hunger Games. I will unashamedly admit that I read the series through 3 independent times and happily loan my copies out to anyone willing to give in. I bought them for a friend for Christmas... who had previously expressed zero interest... I went to the mid night show of the movie, yesterday I went and bought 4 of the nail polish colors, and for Christmas? I asked for (and received) the Hunger Games inspired cookbook. Yup folks that's right Emily Ansara Baines took it upon herself to go through the novels gleaning the dishes that were talked about and creating recipes so you could make them at home. She also added some "inspired by" dishes as well so the book is quite well rounded. The recipes span all 3 novels in the series so there is lots of fun stuff from the districts to the capitol and you can make it all! In honor of the movie's release this last weekend I'm sharing two of the most prominent (in my mind) recipes relevant to the novel- Katniss' favorite Lamb Stew from the Capitol and the Apple & Goat Cheese Tarts from the Mellark bakery. For those of you that read my posts regularly you know that I generally test all of the recipes I share and I want to be upfront and let you know that I did not make the lamb stew. I just couldn't work it in with the other things I had going on this week (although they do have the option to make it in the slow cooker) (mostly... I just wasn't going to be home enough to eat it). I did however make the tarts this last weekend and will happily share the pictures of the process and my critiques!

Katniss' Favorite:

Lamb Stew with Dried Plumbs

First enjoyed during one of her pregames breakfast's Katniss quickly finds this dish to be a favorite at the capitol. It plays a pivotal plot point when she and Peeta wait out the rain (and begin to fall in love) in the cave during the games in the first book. And when she eats a cold can of it in the third book it brings back heartbreaking memories. If there is one dish of significance throughout the series- this is it!

Yields 8-10 Servings


5 Lbs Lamb Fillet, Shoulder, or Leg cut into 2" pieces
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup AP flour
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves minced
1 large onion chopped
1/2 cup water
4 cups beef stock
2 teaspoons white sugar
3 teaspoons brown sugar
3 cups carrots diced
3 medium russet potatoes cubbed
5 cups dried plums
2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 teaspoons fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 cup ginger ale

(I have edited back the ingredient list to what are in my opinion the really necessary items to achieve a realistic representation you can find the full version in Emily's book)

1. Combine flour, salt, & pepper in a large mixing bowl, toss lamb in blend to coat

2. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat (do not heat olive oil over 425 or it's "smoke point" it breaks down it's healthfulness as well as potentially messing up your pans) and brown the meat in batches making sure not to crowd the pan

3. Once browned place lamb on a side plate. Pour off all but a 1/4 cup of the fat that has collected. Add onion and garlic to the remaining fat in the pan and saute until the onion becomes golden. Slowly add 1/2 cup of water to the pan to help deglaze and get all the tasty bits up from the bottom of the pan. Let simmer while the liquid reduces slightly then remove from heat

4.Place lamb and the onion & garlic deglazing sauce in a large stockpot. Add beef stock and sugars and stir until sugars are dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and simmer for an hour and a half

5. Add the remaining ingredients (carrots, potatoes, plumbs, herbs, & ginger ale) to your pot and simmer an additional 30 -45 minutes until the meat is fork tender

Enjoy this stew over wild rice blend like Katniss! If you are pressed for time you can also opt to cook the whole thing in the Crockpot. Put everything but the flour in the slow cooker on low for a minimum 10 hours. Once the meat is fork tender and about 30 minutes before you plan to eat stir in the flour and turn the setting to high.

Mellark Family Bakery:

Honey, Goat Cheese, & Apple Tart

 As the baker's son Peeta was always surrounded by good food growing up. However it isn't until their time in the cave enjoy the apples, goat cheese, and bread sent to them with the stew that Katniss learns that proximity didn't give Peeta the luxury to enjoy the hearty breads and pastries the family business produced. Only after something was no longer worth selling, dry and stale, could the family indulge. The goat cheese and apples in their basket cause Peeta to reminisce about this particular treat.

Yields 12 Tarts


2 Packs Frozen Puff Pastry Shells
1 egg, beaten
5 oz's soft goat cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon + 1/2 cup Honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 medium apples (Pink Lady, Fuji, or Honey Crisp are best) thinly sliced
3 Tablespoons salted butter
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

2. Place one package of thawed puff pastry shells on each baking sheet and brush with beaten egg

3. Bake shells until they begin to puff and grow golden, 10 minutes
  (mine in the end were a little more doughy than I would have liked so if I use the pre made shells again I will probably cook them a little longer before and after the toppings are added)

4. While shells are baking mix goat cheese, lemon juice, sugar, salt, & 1 Tablespoon Honey in a bowl. Using a spatula transfer the mixture into a ziplock or piping bag or your choice.

5. After letting the pastry cool pipe a thick circle atop each pastry, you can use the line around the center as a guide.

6. Artfully place apple slices atop goat cheese. Mix melted butter and 1/2 cup honey in a small bowl and brush over apples and tart, sprinkle with allspice.

7. Put the tarts back in the oven, baking until the apples are tender and the pastry grows more golden about 15- 20 minutes. While the tarts are still warm transfer them to a plate and drizzle with any remaining honey.

And there you have it! Take advantage of this rainy spring weather we have been having to make this little feast for a loved one, or maybe just a special friend, and bond over the good food- and your love of the Hunger Games of course!

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