Category Recipe

Brussels Sprouts and How to Survive the Holidays

It’s the holiday season, the time of year when families come together, for better or worse, to celebrate the bounties that we as a people are generally afforded, promote the well appointed perception about our love for food and commercialism and to begrudgingly give thanks for one another. I say begrudgingly because for every heartfelt Reddit post about a miracle connection or the hidden kindness of a sympathetic TSA agent there’s a BuzzFeed list on just surviving the holiday. For example:

Holiday Survival 

Liz Lemon’s Guide to Surviving Thanksgiving

While sitting next to your strange aunt or uppity cousin who not so subtlety reminds you how much better he’s doing in life is excruciating so too is having to consume tired casseroles or soggy overcooked vegetables between courses of decadent desserts and awesome slow cooked meats. Would you believe then, that holiday salvation can be found in the form of the most maligned vegetable in the garden.

Yes Virginia, I’m talking about the Brussels sprout. The unassuming and oft neglected little cabbage can teach us everything we need to know about rounding out a holiday meal and dealing with those odd house guests we call relatives.

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Cook’s Recipe: Beer Braised Pork Tacos

The mood in the Thespian Hall is raucous. Another long Athasian day has ended, and the merchants and adventurers finally taking shelter from the oppressive heat are restless. Atrix dodges back and forth among the tables, refilling ales and trying to settle customers who claw at her, some of them literally. The drink will only sustain them for so long, Atrix retreats to the kitchen to find her father curiously doting over several large pots.

“Father, we’ve no food to serve. You said the bounty was great this evening, but nothing’s left the kitchen all day.” Her father holds up a hand. “Peace Atrix. The world – well, what’s left of it – isn’t going anywhere, and sometimes glory comes to those with patience.” As he speaks he extracts a long fork from one of the pots and begins shredding a gargantuan slab of meat. The juices flow off of it as the meat falls to pieces, the smell of spice and ale wafting up to Atrix’s nose. Her father smiles,”Time, a stout fire, and the finest cuts of mekillot in Balic are all we need to quell the hunger of the masses. Come, bring the platters and don’t forget the sauces! The Elven chiles were especially fresh…”

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Cook’s Recipe: Green Chile Crema

My love for green chiles is well documented. And while using them as a topping for everything from a cheeseburger to eggs Benedict is great, eventually you start looking for more creative ways to incorporate them. Enter, the crema – a term for a cream based sauce that is generally the consistency of thin yogurt. It usually involves steeping or cooking various flavors in a base of heavy cream.

In this case we’ll be using green chiles, which work fantastically in a crema because the cream and the heat from the chiles balance each other nicely. You’ll still get the heat from the peppers, but then immediately the refreshing cool of the cream.

Remember, dairy counterattacks Capsaicin really well because of the fat molecules. Add in a few more flavors to round things out and you’ve got the perfect green chile delivery system. It also acts as a nice ying and yang with a good barbeque sauce.

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Cook’s Recipe: Chipotle Barbeque Sauce

I really like to try and make everything from scratch. It isn’t feasible with every ingredient, but things like barbeque sauce are really simple. I’ve had plenty of great sauces, but being able to craft a specific flavor profile for a dish just gives you so much more control as a cook.

This sauce is based around the chipotle pepper, a smoked and dried pepper that has decent heat, but also a rich savory flavor brought on by the smoking process. I’m particularly fond of it because it isn’t just a one note pepper, there to deliver spice.

The end result of this recipe is a smooth sauce with a good tang, the right balance of sweetness and enough heat to provide some bite, but not overwhelm. It really complements cooling ingredients like sour cream, mayonnaise or a nice crema. The sauce has limitless applications, but I enjoy it most as a topping for braised pork, or with a burger.

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The Cook’s Method: Homemade Green Chiles and Feeling the Burn

I absolutely love green chiles. I don’t know what it is, I don’t remember when it started, but anytime I can have green chiles added to a dish, I jump at the chance. I’m particularly fond of them as a cheeseburger topping, and I’ll never understand why more establishments don’t offer them as a standard burger topping. Green chiles are a fantastic delivery for heat and spice, as well as a variety of textures depending on how they are prepared and served.

Yet, green chiles are one of those ingredients that we often use pre-prepared, when making them at home is actually unbelievably simple. Scratch cooking in general often can seem like a daunting task. The thought of creating an ingredient just to be used in a dish can often feel like you’re over-complicating things, but when the opportunity presents itself it should be embraced, not avoided.

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An Unexpected Party: the Feast

Just before tea-time there came a tremendous ring on the front-door bell, and then Bilbo remembered! He rushed and put on the kettle, and put out another cup and saucer, and an extra cake or two, and ran to the door.

“I am so sorry to keep you waiting!” he was going to say, when he saw that it was not Gandalf at all. It was a dwarf with a blue beard tucked into a golden belt, and very bright eyes under his dark green hood.

Hobbits love food and we at Castles and Cooks are huge fans of both food and the Hobbit, so we’re pouncing on this opportunity to make some recipes that Bilbo Baggin’s would approve of. When the dwarves overtook Bag End that day, Bilbo did all he could to continue their never ending feast.

In the span of a chapter, Bilbo and the thirteen dwarves devoured all they could including eggs, scones, mincepies, roasted chicken, pickles, sausages, cheese, bread, tea, ale, beer, porter, coffee, red wine and more! Many of those are simple enough to make or buy (scones were one of our first recipes). But three of them felt worthy of their own new recipes.

If you’re looking for a complete Hobbit feast, you’ll have to wait until after the movie where we will dissect the whole scene, but until Friday: eat, drink and be merry.

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Dragon Rocks Redux & Dragonbuster Burgers Recipe

Castles and Cooks is proud to welcome back our first guest writer on the site – Bill O’Dell! A long time player of Magic, Bill loves what we’re doing here and offered up a new deck idea along with a corresponding recipe or two! Welcome back! – Jesse the Baker

A few weeks ago, I tempted you with a couple of recipes – one for Dragon Bites (cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped jalapenos) and one for a Magic: the Gathering deck EDH dragon deck featuring Scion of the Ur-Dragon. At the time, I confessed my love of dragons – that has not changed. Also at that time, I mentioned that I had some uber-love for Niv-Mizzet.

As it happens, there was a recent unveiling of a new Niv-Mizzet. It wasn’t quite as smexy as the Nicol Bolas Planeswalker treatment, but it was nice to see Dracogenius grow in power with a decent twist to his abilities. That said it was easier to abuse the old version, which might be why the Firemind features more prominently in the following deck.

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Cook’s Recipe: Coconut Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa


“Ay,” th’ Captain sputtered ‘tween bung holefuls. “Ye do nay need be patient t’ be a sea dog. Ye want booty, ye plunder. Ye want dubloon, ye steal. Ye want a pretty lass, thar`s a nice port t’ pillage ‘cross th’ bay. But if ye want a tasty fish, ye need a fishin’ pole a keg o’ rum. Only th’ hour yield a meal ’tis satisfyin’.”

Hey, mateys!  The bars are serving Shipyard Pumpkinhead, but in my log, there’s still time to fit in a few purely summer dishes before the leaves start to turn.  After all, it’s always summer in the Caribbean!

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Dragons Rock Commander Deck & Dragon Bites Recipe

Castles and Cooks is proud to welcome back our first guest writer on the site – Bill O’Dell! A long time player of Magic, Bill loves what we’re doing here and offered up a new deck idea along with a corresponding recipe or two! Welcome back! – Jesse the Baker

Most of us fantasy fanboys will hands down say that dragons are the coolest creature in all of the mythic lore. Whether we’re talking Smaug or Draco, Eastern or Western, dragons have always captivated people – in some cases for centuries.

And yes, I will admit, I love dragons. While I liked the classic Shivan Dragon, what I truly loved were and are the legendary dragons, specifically starting with the Elder Dragon Legends – you know the original heavy hitters – Nicol Bolas (before Planeswalker status), Arcades Sabboth, Chromium, Vaevictis Asmadi and Paladia-Mors.

These were THE dragons to have, to hold, to crush your opponents with their combolicious goodness!

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Baker’s Recipe: Marsala Soaked Tiramisu Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting

The Sellsword of the Forsaken Field raised his gargantuan blade as he charged towards the mechanical monstrosity that rose from the desert sands. Infused with newfound power, he sprinted forward and lodged the Edge of Baneslaying Destiny into the clockwork beast’s ruby eyes. With fluid grace, the Sellsword slid under the beast and stopped behind it ready and weaponless.

Closing his eyes, he summoned his blade to his hand and watched the guardian fragment as it ripped its intricate insides apart. The dust cloud could be seen for miles and the Sellsword turned to his compatriots and simply asked:

“Anyone else hungry?”

My playgroup is actively trying to make sure we get together more often than once every few months, because frankly that isn’t frequent enough to toss some dice and fight monsters. But I think I figured out how to make it work: bribery. We all want to sit around the table and delve into a dungeon, but everyone has different schedules. So now I offer baked goods for when we do end up playing, and hopefully that will keep the schedule.

My most recent obsession has been tiramisu. That decadent blend of coffee, Marsala and mascarpone is luxurious and so I finally threw caution into the wind and wanted to make my own. But most of my friends known me for making cupcakes, so I gave it a slight twist and made tiramisu cupcakes for our game day.

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