A 'Hunger Games'-inspired feast with recipes

By Jackie Burrell

San Jose Mercury News

Published: Tuesday, March 27 2012 4:57 p.m. MDT

The wild card category brought a broad array of Katniss-inspired dishes, including a spinach-watercress broth that tastes like the springtime the books promise; delicious goat cheese and apple tarts from Crystal Watanabe from the clever blog Fictional Food; and an appetizer that captured the very first meal in the book, a simple picnic of goat cheese, bread, basil and blackberries.

"I took the liberty of turning a simple snack into a fairly fussy appetizer," says Oakland, Calif., resident Hester Van Der Vinne. "The scallions stand in for the wild onions we know grow in District 12. Hazelnuts are not mentioned in the book, but a quick Google search revealed that they grow in Appalachia; therefore, they must grow in District 12 as well."

It's the perfect start to a "Hunger Games" feast.

'HUNGER GAMES' FEAST

This lavish menu was inspired by "The Hunger Games":

Bread With Goat Cheese, Basil and Blackberries

Green Broth That Tastes Like Springtime

Going Into Battle Lamb Stew With Plums & Cranberries

Catching Fire Chili With Fresh-Caught Wild Boar and Venison

Prim's Goat Cheese and Herb Bread

District 4's Salty Seaweed Panem

Goat Cheese and Apple Tarts

Sugar Berry Cake

GOING INTO BATTLE LAMB STEW WITH PLUMS & CRANBERRIES

Serves: 6 (or 2 starving "Hunger Games" tributes)

2 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed

6 slices bacon, diced

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 cup flour

2 pounds boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium onion, sliced

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cut in quarters

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 cup cabernet sauvignon wine (or substitute 1/2 cup grape juice and 1/2 cup broth)

8-ounce can tomato sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon oregano

2 teaspoons horseradish mustard

6 small red potatoes, peeled

3 small carrots, cleaned and sliced

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 cup dried plums

1. In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat, then cook the diced bacon until almost crisp. Remove to plate, leaving the bacon fat in the pot.

2. Combine seasoned salt, pepper and flour in a large bowl. Add lamb and toss to coat.

3. Add an additional tablespoon of olive oil, if needed, to the bacon fat, and brown the lamb on all sides. Add onion, mushrooms, garlic and wine (or grape juice broth mixture).

4. In a small mixing bowl, combine the tomato sauce, brown sugar, oregano and mustard; stir well. Pour over stew. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

5. Add the cooked bacon, potatoes, carrots, cranberries and plums to the pot. Cover and simmer for 2-3 more hours, or until tender. Served on a bed of wild rice, you can win any battle with this hearty stew.

—Lorin Cook, winner, Capitol Fare division

CATCHING FIRE CHILI WITH FRESH-CAUGHT WILD BOAR AND VENISON

Serves: 4-6

Note: Wild boar bacon and venison can be found specialty butchers.

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