Marie Cooks Skyrim: Venison Stew

When my brother in law tagged a deer last fall, he and my sister promised me some to cook with. I was a little anxious because I had never cooked with venison before. I wanted to do something different – I didn’t want to make any old beef recipe and simply substitute venison, I wanted to choose something that would compliment the venison. Rob gave me a small tip roast, and after comparing a lot of different recipes online, I eventually settled on this one from Jamie Oliver. As I was cooking it, the aroma of juniper and rosemary mingled in my kitchen – I don’t know that I would have ever suspected them of going together, but they do fantastically. My only error was that because I only had a small amount of meat, I reduced the rest most of the recipe by a quarter… but forgot to reduce the spices I put in, and as a result it was overpowering. Still, the meat was tender and delicious and I would love to try to make venison stew again in the future.

Venison Stew
Serves 6

4 tablespoons plain flour
800g (1.5-2lbs) quality stewing venison, cut into 2cm (or 1 inch) chunks
olive oil
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 sticks celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon juniper berries, crushed in a pestle and mortar
2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
1 Tablespoon butter
6 sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley (separate the stalks and the leaves)
2 beef stock cubes
600g (1-1.5lbs) small new potatoes, scrubbed clean, larger ones halved
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

  1. Dust a chopping board with 2 tablespoons of flour and a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper, and toss your chunks of meat through this mixture until well coated. Heat a large pan on a high heat, add a few glugs of olive oil and fry your meat for 3 minutes to brown it. Add your chopped onions, carrots, celery, crushed juniper berries, rosemary and the butter. Add a few tablespoons of water, give everything a good stir, then put the lid on the pan and let everything steam for 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Take the lid off so your meat and vegetables start to fry, and stir every so often for 5-10 minutes. Chop your parsley stalks finely, and once the onions start to caramelize, add them to the pan with your remaining 2 tablespoons of flour and your crumbled stock cubes. Stir, and pour in enough water to cover the mixture by a couple of inches. Put the parsley leaves aside for later.
  3. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to medium low so that the stew is just simmering. Add your potatoes and slow cook with the lid slightly askew for at least 2 hours or until the meat falls apart easily. You can add a splash of water if you think it looks too dry.
  4. Put your chopped garlic in the middle of a chopping board. Add most of your parsley leaves with a teaspoon of sea salt and half a teaspoon of black pepper. Chop everything together so you get a rough paste. Add this to the stew and stir through. Chop the last of the parsley leaves and sprinkle over before serving.

Marie Cooks Skyrim: Juniper Berry Crostata

When looking at the list of foods in Skyrim, Juniper Berry Crostata always seemed like it would be a challenge. Juniper berries are pungent, and an entire dessert made of them would taste overpowering. I spent a while looking up recipes that included juniper to see what flavors might go together… and then one day I saw it. In a listicle of recipes using juniper, I saw a reference to a honey-glazed pear and plumb pie with juniper berries. Perfect, I thought. But the link didn’t work and no matter how much I looked for the recipe online, it was nowhere to be found. So I went and wrote a recipe myself, using 4 or 5 other recipes as guidelines. I sat on it for a while, unsure of myself. Last weekend, however, I finally made it. I was thrilled with how it turned out – the flavors of the pie were perfectly balanced and the juniper came through every so often with a sharp little surprise. My husband (formerly a professional baker for 10 years) said it was one of the best baked goods he ever had and couldn’t stop raving about how good it was. I’m so pleased with how it turned out and so excited to share it with you.

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Marie Cooks Skyrim: Chicken Dumplings

Fantasy is often stereotyped for excessive descriptions, including descriptions of food. Who could make it through The Chronicles of Narnia without wanting to find out what Turkish Delight tastes like? Or read A Game of Thrones without craving a bowl of beef and barley stew? I am certainly not the only one who has thought so… you could create a library of cookbooks written solely to give people a taste of fictional worlds. The summer before last, I was at the Renaissance Faire and was tempted by a bookseller and several fantasy-themed cookbooks by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel. It should be obvious how my checkbook fared against that temptation.

My recreation of Skyrim’s chicken dumplings is adapted from this book. The filling is flavorful – sweet from the carrots and roasted leeks, spring-like from the dill and fennel, balanced with richness from the cream. I’ve made these 3 times already, and will definitely keep making them.

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Marie Cooks Skyrim: Cabbage Potato Soup

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When it comes to choosing what food to eat, I think it is very important to listen to what your body is telling you. Not the part that says eat pizza for every meal – the part that says “I want mushrooms right now,” or “roasted broccoli sounds really good.” Usually, our bodies are very good at telling us what we need, if we know how to listen. Last weekend, I was craving cabbage. This is NOT usually a craving I have, but I must have been particularly deficient in vitamin C (or something) because cabbage just sounded like something I really wanted to be part of dinner. Well, perfect time for me to do some google-research of several dozen different cabbage soup recipes. This one caught my eye looking particularly delicious and I was pretty tickled to find that it had all of the ingredients from Skyrim’s cabbage, potato, and leek soup. Joe and I had this for dinner with some garlic bread and I absolutely cleaned my bowl of every last drop.

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Marie Cooks Skyrim: Lavender Dumplings

Honestly, lavender dumplings were one of the food items in Skyrim I thought I might not get around to doing. Lavender has a pretty powerful floral taste, after all, and the idea of a pastry with a lavender filling seemed like a bit too much. The in-game ingredients include moon sugar, flour, snowberries, and lavender… which got me thinking. Could there be a way to make a cranberry-lavender filling that tasted good? It didn’t take me long at all to find a recipe for lemon-lavender cranberry chutney and a couple other recipes for hand-pies that called to use leftover Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. I was happy with how well these hand pies turned out, although Joe thought they were a bit too tart. Next time, I might add a little dollop of dessert cheese such as white stilton, chevre, or ricotta to each pie to balance the flavor a little. As is, if you’re looking for tangy treat, these pies hit the spot!

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Marie Cooks Skyrim: “Snowberry Crostata”

One of the challenging things about trying to cook some of the food items from Skyrim is that, well, some of them don’t actually exist. For example, the snowberries. Real snowberries are poisonous, and don’t actually look anything like the bright red berries in the north of Skyrim. Cranberries, however, do bear a resemblance. As I was flipping through cookbooks the other day, I saw a recipe for a cherry and almond galette and thought that was exactly the sort of thing I wanted to try to adapt as a “Snowberry Crostata.” I found a bunch of recipes that looked promising, took the crust from one, the frangipane from another, and improvised a cranberry filling based on one or two more. The result smelled perfectly autumnal (cranberries were easy to find, given that Thanksgiving is coming up!), and tasted tart – similar to a rhubarb pie. Also, now that I have tasted frangipane and know how simple it is to make, I have a feeling I am going to try to find plenty of excuses to use it in recipes going forward!

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Marie Cooks Skyrim: “Apple Dumplings”

It is the time of year when I start craving apple everything: apple cider, apple pie, apple scones… Recently, I decided to continue my project to cook the foods of Skyrim with apple dumplings. Apple dumplings are traditionally made by peeling and coring an apples, wrapping them in dough, placing them in a pan and covering them in a spiced syrup, and baking them before serving – often topped with cream or custard. I wanted something that was smaller and less messy – something the Dragonborn might be able to carry along while hiking through Skyrim, and this perfectly lined up with my desire to make more hand pies.

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Marie cooks Skyrim: “Apple Cabbage Stew”

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I used to have a bit of a problem with Skyrim. I spent *a lot* of time playing during my grad school years; for a little while my addiction was so bad I literally ran a mile home between classes to play just a few minutes before running back. One of the things I liked about the game was making food. Cooking roasted rabbit or grilled leeks in game to scarf down in the middle of a dragon fight always made me crave hearty winter food. Even now, whenever Joe makes beef stew or split pea soup I will have a fleeting desire to play Skyrim again. I don’t play as much anymore (thank goodness) but I never quite shook the silly desire to make every single in-game food in real life.

One of the most memorable dishes in Skyrim is Apple Cabbage Stew. Which sounds, frankly, gross. I was able to find several dishes for broth soups with apple and cabbage, but these didn’t really seem appealing to me. In addition I don’t like calling a thin soup “stew,” since I think of stew as having a thicker texture. However, braised cabbage with apple is a traditional German recipe. This seemed to me the best place to start when trying to find an apple cabbage recipe that would actually taste good.  I saved a handful of different versions of braised or fried cabbage and apples that looked tasty and told myself I would make them some day.

On a recent rainy day, I found myself with an abundance of cabbage left over from makingIndian Spiced Cabbage and Onion Patties and decided to go ahead and try one of the recipes I had saved. This one is based on a Southern fried cabbage recipe and I found it surprisingly delicious. It has a sweet-and-sour taste and good texture and would pair well with sausage or pork roast, although I completely devoured my bowl full on its own, without any accompaniment. Continue reading “Marie cooks Skyrim: “Apple Cabbage Stew””