The OF Blog: Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer, A Feast of Song and Fire: Cookbook review part I

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer, A Feast of Song and Fire: Cookbook review part I

 One ought not to review cookbooks, even ones inspired by TV/fantasy series such as George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire/A Game of Thrones, by how the words are laid out.  After all, cookbooks are rarely the source of scintillating prose or masterful characterizations.  Rather, themed cookbooks can be judged on a combination of how faithful they are to their subject matter and (much more importantly) by how well cooks of various levels of expertise can re-create the foods described in both the book/TV series and within the cookbook itself.

Over the next few weeks, I plan on cooking about 3-4 recipes found within (several do not appeal to me, but that is as much due to my odd eating preferences as it is to not wanting to track down quail and other wild game).  I will name the recipe, give a brief description of what was entailed in its making, how it turned out (with photo(s)), and of course, if such a recipe would be used again.

I chose a dessert item for my first test.  Some words, even when used by Americans to denote a historical setting, have changed their meaning.  One example is the Honey Biscuit.  When I first read this, I was thinking of a regular American biscuit that utilizes honey in place of butter/buttermilk, but as I read this recipe more closely, it quickly became obvious that it is more of a cookie than any "biscuit" would be to me (obviously, for those who use UK English, "biscuit" would be the correct term).  Either way, I was ready to try this recipe, which involves about 10-15 minutes of preparation time and 12-15 minutes baking at 300°F.

The ingredients weren't hard to track down, although I went to a local Mennonite store to buy some of the spices, to insure that they would be fresh.  The recipe called for using a mixture of flour, salt, baking powder, ginger, pumpkin pie spices, and granulated sugar that then saw the addition of 1/2 cup of butter that was kneaded into the mixture until it achieved the consistency of fine bread crumbs.  After that, 1/2 cup of honey was heated in the microwave for a minute until it became hot and runny and this was poured into the mixture and stirred until a dough was formed.  From there, two-inch dough balls were made and then rolled in sugar and placed non-flattened on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, where these biscuits/cookies (the yield says 16; mine made 14 slightly-larger ones) baked at 300° for roughly 15 minutes, before removed from the oven and left standing on the baking sheet for another 10 minutes until it had hardened a slight bit more around the edges.

As you might expect from this quick description (I choose not to list full recipes, but co-authors Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer do run a blog, The Inn at the Crossroads, where several of these recipes, but alas not this one, can be found), it is not a very challenging recipe in terms of ingredient acquisition or making.  On my first try, the honey biscuits/cookies turned out almost exactly how they are pictured in the book:

The taste was wonderful.  Although I have a weakness for sugar cookies, these honey biscuits/cookies had a more complex taste to them.  The spices and honey added to the basic goodness of a warm sugar cookie and despite my usual reluctance to have too many sugary items while on a weight-loss regimen, I quickly ate three of them within the first 10 minutes.  Although one certainly tastes the spices and honey, it isn't too strong or overpowering.  Rather, the spices and honey complement the sugar, creating a cookie/biscuit that was delicious.  Considering how easy it was to get the ingredients, prepare them, and how it turned out, this honey biscuit recipe certainly will be one that I will use again in the near future.

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