Steakhouse-Style Mandragora

Mandragoras in FFVII“Thought to be a variant of mandragora, for the vines that reach up from its collar, covering its face like a mask. Notes the famed naturalist, Merlose: ‘It weareth its skin in layers, much like to the root of similar name, perhaps for the proffering of protection ‘gainst the cold.'”

—bestiary entry, FFXII

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 ounces sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 2 leeks, trimmed, halved, thickly sliced, and rinsed well
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • A pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 tablespoon red wine
  • Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • Fresh baguette

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet. Add mushrooms, leeks, garlic, thyme, and salt, and saute over medium heat for about 30 minutes, until leeks are very tender. Add capers and red wine and season with black pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes more, until liquid has evaporated. Stir well and serve with warm bread. This recipe pairs beautifully with Basch’s Campfire Steak or Bahamut’s Baseball Steak, but it’s so good you can eat it all by itself.

Rin’s Herb Platter

Rin's Travel Agency“Welcome to Rin’s Travel Agency. Would you care to take a rest?”

—travel agency clerk, FFX

A delicious spread for hungry travelers. Tear off a piece of flatbread and wrap it around a selection of items to create a mini-sandwich. If you’ve got a really fresh tomato or some Persian cucumbers, you could slice those up and add them to the platter too.

  • 8 oz. block of feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
  • 1 small bunch of fresh mint
  • 1 small bunch of fresh basil
  • 1 small bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 1 small bunch of fresh dill
  • 1 bunch radishes, ends removed and quartered lengthwise
  • 1 bunch scallions, ends removed and quartered crosswise
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • Lavash or other flatbread

Drain the feta and place it in the center of a large platter. Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the caraway, cumin, and coriander seeds and stir until they start to release their aroma, about 2 minutes, being careful not to let them burn. Transfer to a small bowl and pour in the olive oil. Add a pinch of salt, stir, and set aside.

Wash and dry the mint, basil, cilantro, and dill and cut the ends off the stems. Arrange around the feta in piles. Add radishes, scallions, and walnuts to the platter. Pour the olive oil mixture over the feta. Serve with warmed flatbread.

 

Sky Pirate’s Sandwich

Balthier Bunansa“A pirate would do well to smile. Wouldn’t want to sour his reputation.”

—Jules, FFXII

This sandwich is best when it’s freshly cooked — leftovers become dry and less flavorful. Make a full batch of the chickpea batter, but only fry as much as you can eat in one sitting and store the rest of the batter in the fridge. It will keep for about a week, or you can shape it into balls and freeze for several months.

For the sauce:

  • 7 oz. plain lowfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 lb. Persian cucumbers, washed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the chickpea batter:

  • ½ pound dry chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh curly parsley
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 17-oz. bottle grapeseed oil

For the sandwich:

  • Mediterranean flatbread
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Fresh romaine lettuce
  • Thinly sliced white onion

Start about 8 hours before you want to serve the sandwiches. First, place the dried garbanzo beans in a large bowl and cover with 4 cups of cold water. Next, mix together the ingredients for the sauce and refrigerate.

About 2 hours before you want to serve the sandwiches, drain and rinse the chickpeas and pour them into a food processor or blender along with the chopped onion, parsley, garlic, flour, salt, cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika. Blend until mixture is combined, but still chunky. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1–2 hours.

When you’re ready to start cooking, pour the bottle of oil into a large skillet. Heat the oil over medium heat. Meanwhile, start shaping the chickpea mixture into round balls or patties, about 2 tablespoons of mixture per ball.

Drop a test ball into the center of the skillet. It should take about 3 minutes per side to brown. If it’s browning too fast, reduce heat before adding the rest of the balls. Once they’re fried on both sides, remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with warm flatbread, yogurt sauce, tomatoes, lettuce, and raw onion.

Makes about 21 balls. When the oil has cooled, you can transfer it to a tightly-sealed container and refrigerate it up for up to a month to reuse in another recipe, such as Queen Brahne’s Fried Chicken and Biscuits.

Echo Herb Stuffing

Locke Cole in Thamasa“An herbal medicine used with minimal preparation. The leaves are ground up and swallowed to cure throat ailments.”

—description in Bravely Default

A natural companion to Echo Herb Chicken, this dish is also an excellent accompaniment to Roast Cockatrice. Use any leftovers to make Cockatrice Pie.

  • 1 pound sourdough bread
  • 1 pound hot Italian pork sausage
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion or two small onions, peeled and diced (about 1½ cups)
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped (about 1½ cups)
  • 4 celery stalks, diced (about 1 cup)
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1½ cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

The day before you want to serve the stuffing, cut the bread into ½-inch cubes. Spread the cubes out on a baking sheet and leave them uncovered on the counter or in the oven to dry overnight.

Remove the casings from the sausage and chop into ½-inch pieces. Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven and add sausage, onion, carrots, celery, and sea salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sausage is browned and onions are golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Transfer the bread cubes to a large bowl and add the sausage mixture from the skillet. Toss with parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary, and pepper. Add broth and toss until liquid is absorbed. Stir in the eggs.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9×13″ ceramic baking dish with cooking spray. Spread the stuffing in the dish, cover tightly with foil, and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the top is lightly browned and crisp, another 20 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Queen Brahne’s Fried Chicken and Biscuits

Alexandria Castle“The queen’s favorite dish is deep-fried bat.”

—Ovenmeister, FFIX

When you’re done with this recipe, you’ll have a cup of leftover buttermilk. Use it to make South Gate Bundt Cake.

For marinating the chicken:

  • 3½–4 lbs. chicken pieces, such as breasts, drumsticks, etc.
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce, such as Cholula or Tapatio
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

For the biscuits:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for work surface
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 oz. (8 tablespoons) European-style unsalted butter, such as Kerrygold
  • 1 cup buttermilk

For dredging the chicken:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

For frying the chicken:

  • 1 17-oz. bottle of grapeseed oil

In a shallow baking dish or large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, hot sauce, and salt. Add the chicken pieces and turn to coat well. Cover and refrigerate 2–4 hours or overnight.

Next, prepare the biscuits. Before you get started, chill the mixing bowl and a sharp knife in the fridge, and don’t get out the butter and buttermilk until you’re ready to use them. The main thing to remember with biscuits is that the butter needs to stay cold until it goes in the oven — it’s the melting butter and its rising steam while baking that gives the biscuits their delicious flakiness. You’ll want to work fast for two reasons: so the butter doesn’t melt, and so you don’t overwork the dough and make it tough. If the butter starts melting or you need to stop to take care of something else, you can always stick the dough in the fridge for a while.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the chilled mixing bowl. Put the butter on a cutting board and toss some flour over it to keep it from sticking to your knife. Slice a thin piece of butter and use your fingers to break it into few pieces. Add to the mixing bowl and repeat until the butter is all sliced and added to the bowl. Return the bowl and the knife to the fridge for a few minutes while you prepare your work surface with a light coating of flour.

Remove bowl from the refrigerator and slowly pour in buttermilk. Mix until combined. It won’t look like dough yet, but lots of little pieces; that’s okay. Turn the dough out onto your work surface. With floured hands, gently form into a large ball and press into a rectangle. Fold the rectangle into thirds like you’re folding a letter, then fold in half. You should now have a stacked square. Press down into a rectangle about ½” thick. Use the chilled knife to cut into 8 square biscuits. Place the biscuits about 1″ apart on the baking sheet. Transfer to the fridge.

When you’re ready to start frying the chicken, whisk together the flour, salt, paprika, sage, and baking powder in a large bowl. Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting excess liquid drip off before transferring to the bowl. Turn chicken pieces until completely covered with flour.

Pour the bottle of oil into a Dutch oven or large deep-bottomed skillet. Heat the oil over medium heat. It’s ready for frying when the oil ripples slowly across the bottom of the skillet and a cube of bread sizzles gently and begins to color within about 10 to 15 seconds of being added to the oil. Place each piece of chicken in the oil. Keep in mind that you want them to fry slowly, about 30 minutes on each side, so keep your ears open to the sounds from the skillet. The chicken should fry gently, not sizzle furiously.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Bake biscuits for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet and transfer to a serving plate.

When the chicken starts looking like it might be done, check with a meat thermometer to ensure that it’s around 180 degrees. (The drumsticks will probably be done before the breasts.) Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and serve with the biscuits.

Zozo Pub Soup

Gau in Zozo pub“Zozo!? Never heard of it.”

—a thief, FFVI

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion or two small onions, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 head of garlic (about 8-12 cloves), peeled
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 4 pounds fresh tomatoes, washed well and stems removed
  • ½ tablespoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Baguette and Gruyère cheese (optional)

Heat butter and oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic and paprika and cook for another minute or so, until fragrant. Add tomatoes and cook until they begin to break down, about 20 minutes, stirring frequently and reducing heat as necessary so the onion and garlic don’t burn.

Remove from heat and let cool slightly before transferring to a blender or food processor (you might have to do this in batches). Blend until combined. Pour the tomato puree back into the pot and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and bring to a gentle simmer. Add a few thyme sprigs and bay leaf and simmer over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes.

Remove pot from heat and discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Stir in cream. Divide into 4 bowls and serve with toasted bread and cheese, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 232 calories, 12.8 g. fat, 5.9 g. saturated fat, 1.1 g. poly. fat, 5 g. mono. fat, 28 mg. cholesterol, 925.4 mg. sodium, 1234.1 mg. potassium, 28.2 g. carbohydrates, 7 g. fiber, 5.7 g. protein, vitamin A 39%, vitamin C 88%, calcium 9%, iron 9%

Festival of the Hunt Stew

Festival of the Hunt in Lindblum“I heard there are traditional Festival of the Hunt dishes. Do you know where they serve them?”

—FFIX

  • 1½ lbs. beef stew meat
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 6 oz. raw bacon, cut into ½” strips
  • 12 oz. smoked kielbasa, sliced into ¼”-thick rounds
  • 1 large yellow onion or two small onions, peeled and diced (about 1½ cups)
  • 10 oz. sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3 oz. dried pitted prunes, chopped
  • 8 oz. fresh Roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 lbs. drained raw sauerkraut (2 18-oz. jars)
  • 1 sourdough baguette or cooked egg noodles

Cut the stew meat into bite-sized pieces, about 1” square. Dredge the meat in flour. (The easiest way is to put the meat and flour in a plastic bag and shake until all pieces are fully coated.) Set aside.

Heat a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in kielbasa, onion, and mushrooms, and continue cooking until browned, about 20 more minutes. Add the stew meat in a single layer and sprinkle with caraway seeds and allspice. Brown on all sides, about 20 more minutes.

Stir in prunes, tomatoes, and salt, and cook until the tomatoes are beginning to break down, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Slowly pour in wine, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan as you go. Pour in beef broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, add bay leaves and peppercorns, and cover. Simmer for about 2 hours, until beef is very tender.

Remove from heat and stir in honey and sauerkraut. Set aside and grill or toast slices of sourdough bread, if using. Divide stew into bowls and serve with the grilled bread or over noodles.

Makes 7 heaping 1-cup servings. Per serving (not including bread or noodles): 398 calories, 14.4 g. fat, 4.6 g. saturated fat, 0.1 g. poly. fat, 103.3 mg. cholesterol, 1790 mg. sodium, 403.4 mg. potassium, 31.6 g. carbohydrates, 2.2 g. fiber, 37.1 g. protein, vitamin A 5%, vitamin C 60%, calcium 3%, iron 18%