Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Feast of Ice and Fire: Honey Biscuits

For those of you who haven't heard, A Song of Ice and Fire now has an official cookbook!  Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer have gone through the trouble to put it together, and George R.R. Martin has applauded their Herculean effort (apparently Martin writes about food nearly as much as Brad Pitt eats it) by writing them a forward in which he fesses up to scarfing down a good number of their creations.

Not only is the book great for fans of the series (there's no longer any excuse for Doritos at that Game of Thrones viewing party), it's also a really fun cookbook in its own right. Whether it's a savory stew of cod, crab, and winter vegetables called Sister's Stew, poached pears, wintercakes, or sweet pumpkin soup, cooks are bound to find something new in A Feast of Ice and Fire.

Before each recipe, the authors thoughtfully include a passage in which the dish is mentioned.  I wish they'd also included page numbers, but that's just about the only thing I'd change about this beautiful cookbook, which is artfully formatted and full of gorgeous color photographs.  One of the coolest things about it is that it features two recipes for each dish: one medieval and one modern.  The medieval recipes are prepared with only the ingredients and technologies that are available to cooks in the novels, while the modern recipes take some creative license.

In preparation for Chelsea and Sariann's PSB appearance tomorrow, August 23rd, I thought I'd cook up some of their honey biscuits (pages 114-116):

For the sweet, Lord Caswell's servants brought down trays of pastries from his castle kitchens, cream swans and spun-sugar unicorns, lemon cakes in the shape of roses, spiced honey biscuits and blackberry tarts, apple crisps and wheels of buttery cheese.  --A Clash of Kings

Medieval Honey Biscuits
Makes about 20 biscuits - Prep: 10 minutes - Frying: 20 minutes
Pairs well with any pie, Bean-and-Bacon Soup (page 31), hot beverages

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
Cold water
Olive oil or unsalted butter
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Mix together the flour and salt.  Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until the dough has the texture of coarse bread crumbs.  Gradually stir in just enough cold water that the dough sticks together.  Be careful not to overwork it or add too much water.
Roll out the pastry to 1/4-inch thickness and cut it into circles about 2 inches across.
Fry the pastry in a pan coated with a little olive oil or butter over medium heat, until lightly brown and crisp, being careful not to burn the pastry.  This should take about 3 minutes.  Drain well on paper towels.  Meanwhile, place the honey in a sauce-pan and slowly bring it to a boil.  Brush the pastries with the hot honey, sprinkle them with cinnamon, and serve hot.
*The authors note that in place of making dough, you can also use the leftovers from any of their pie recipes

Modern Honey Biscuits
Makes 16 biscuits - Prep: 10 minutes - Baking: 15 minutes
Pairs well with Beef and Bacon Pie (page 71), Sister's Stew (page 90), Iced Milk with Honey (page 169)

2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice or mixed spice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1/2 cup honey
1 cup raw sugar for decorating

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.  Either line two baking sheets with parchment paper or plan to bake in two batches.
In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices, granulated sugar, and ginger.  Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.  Heat the honey in a small saucepan over medium heat until it is warm and runny (or microwave it for 1 minute).  Add the honey to the flour mixture and work with a wooden spoon or spatula until a soft dough forms.  
Pour the raw sugar into a bowl.  Roll the dough into 2-inch balls and coat them with raw sugar.  Place eight balls onto each prepared baking sheet, without flattening them; leave room around the sides for spreading.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the tops of the biscuits are just cracked.  Let them stand on the backing sheets for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.
Eat the biscuits right away or store them in an airtight container for up to a week.

Recipes reprinted with permission from the authors.

Check out Inn at the Crossroads, for more recipes, events, photos, and the latest from Chelsea and Sariann.
PSB Event: August 23rd, 7pm.

Kim Prosise

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've just made the modern recipe and have some comments about it. First of all, this is a cookie recipe, not a biscuit recipe. And secondly, I would suggest eliminating the 1/2 c of sugar altogether. I went with 1/4 c and they are cloying, nearly too sweet to eat! They are gorgeous, though. They remind me somewhat of snickerdoodles, as blasphemous as that may sound.

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