"THE UNOFFICIAL NARNIA COOKBOOK: From Turkish Delight to Gooseberry Fool — Over 150 Recipes Inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia," by Dinah Bucholz, Sourcebooks, $19.99, 234 pages (nf)
For Dinah Bucholz, the food in the Chronicles of Narnia series do more than just provide nutrition for the characters.
“In Narnia, whenever the characters eat something, you can feel their relief, comfort or delight,” she writes in the introduction to the recently released “The Unofficial Narnia Cookbook: From Turkish Delight to Gooseberry Fool — Over 150 Recipes Inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia.”
Bucholz has gone through the series and documented each food mentioned, then researched it, and either adapted or created a recipe for it.
In all, there are more than 150 recipes that include breakfast, lunch, dinner (aka feasts) and desserts. Bucholz, who also put together “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook: From Cauldron Cakes to Knickerbocker Glory — More Than 150 Magical Recipes for Wizards and Non-Wizards Alike,” also gives each recipe a difficulty rating of one, two or three spoons, with one spoon being the easiest. That is helpful as she does target her book at those 9 and older and she also has several safety warnings.
Bucholz also cites which book in the series that the food came from and a short background on the recipe, along with how she created it and an occasional tip or two on preparing it.
While some of the recipes took research and creativity to get the foods correct for the time period, like several from the Night Feast at Cair Paravel (and, yes, she includes all seven courses), some are simply a recipe for modern foods, like the nut and fruit cake, crispy bacon, raspberry sorbet or toast.
She does also include cooking alcohol substitutes, but there aren’t any photos of the foods so it’s difficult to know if what you made is turning out the way it’s supposed it. Also, be careful in the kitchen as the paper the cookbook uses may not stand up to splatters and spills. (She does have some photos online at www.dinahbucholz.com.)
“The Unofficial Narnia Cookbook” is a well-organized cookbook by type of food — breakfast, lunch, dinner or treat/snack — and then by the scene in the book.
The Turkish Delight recipe, which received a three-spoon difficulty rating, is under “Snack with the White Witch” with a recipe for Sweet and Creamy Hot Vanilla.
Overall, it’s an interesting adaptation of the popular book, and now movie, series and it’s fun to present a food that was thought of as fiction.
And who knew there were that many meals in the series?
Makes: 96 pieces
4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 cup cornstarch
Juice of 1 lemon
3 cups water
4 teaspoons rose water or orange blossom water
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
½ cup cornstarch
1. Grease a 9-inch-by-13-inch pan and line it with plastic wrap. Greasing the bottom and sides helps the plastic stick to the pan. Set aside until needed.
2. To make the sugar syrup, combine the sugar, cream of tartar and water in a large saucepan. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved, 5 to 10 minutes. Wash the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in hot water and clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Continue cooking over medium-high heat without stirring until the mixture reaches 290 F. Remove from the heat and stir until the temperature drops a few degrees to prevent scorching. The temperature will first rise a few more degrees and then fall. Cover the saucepan.
3. To make the cornstarch paste, whisk together the cornstarch, lemon juice and water in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture turns into a thick paste, 5 to 10 minutes. Pour the sugar syrup into the cornstarch paste in five or six batches, whisking after each batch until smooth. Raise the temperature to medium-high and continue cooking, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to prevent scorching, until the mixture turns a light golden color and is very thick and gelatinous, about 30 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat, add the rose water or orange blossom water, and stir until smooth.
5. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and spread with wooden spoon. The mixture will be hard to spread, so don’t worry if it’s imperfect. Cover with plastic wrap and cool completely at room temperature, 5 hours or overnight.
6. When the candy is completely cool, remove the slab from the pan and cut into 1-inch pieces (make seven cuts along the width and 11 cuts along the length). Sift together the confectioner’s sugar and cornstarch in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Toss several pieces of the candy at a time into the confectioners’ sugar-cornstarch mixture to coat. Store in an airtight container between layers of plastic wrap or parchment paper.
— Dinah Bucholz, "The Unofficial Narnia Cookbook"
Cooking tip: I substituted 1 teaspoon vanilla for the rosewater or orange blossom water. Also, the batch I tried cooked faster than the times she listed, so keep an eye on it as it’s cooking. The Turkish Delight absorbed the confectioner’s sugar-cornstarch coating, so you may need to re-toss them right before serving.