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.

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Airship Salad

Aeris and airshipCid: “Wow, what a ship!”

Setzer: “That landing really messed up the engine. It’ll take a while to fix.”

Cid: “I’ll help. No machine can stump me!”

Setzer: “Don’t touch anything!”

Cid: “Go kill time in the casino! I can speed this crate up!”

—FFVI

You can use any dressing you like with this recipe. Here are two suggestions: Trader Joe’s low-fat parmesan ranch dressing, or for a more indulgent choice, Russian dressing (first three ingredients of the linked recipe).

  • 7 oz. chopped butter lettuce (about 5 cups)
  • 8 oz. cooked chicken or turkey breast, cut into strips
  • 8 oz. smoked deli ham, cut into strips
  • 4 oz. crumbled Roquefort or Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 lb. Persian cucumbers, ends removed, cut in half, then quartered lengthwise
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, washed well and cut into wedges
  • 2 hardboiled eggs, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 ripe avocado, peel and pit removed, sliced thinly lengthwise
  • 6 oz. raw bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled, warm (optional)
  • Watercress sprigs or microgreens, for garnish (optional)
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • Salad dressing

Divide ingredients evenly between 4 bowls. Drizzle with dressing and serve immediately.

Per serving (does not include salad dressing): 509 calories, 27 g. fat, 17 g. carbohydrates, 8 g. fiber, 47 g. protein, iron 12%

Lunar Lentil Soup II

Baron Castle“Oh man, the moon… outer space… my dreams…”

—Cid Highwind, FFVII

The finishing touch on this soup is a pre-made salad from Trader Joe’s. If you don’t have that store near you, try choosing a similar salad from another grocery store, or substitute 3 ounces of baby spinach, 3 ounces of cooked quinoa, 2 tablespoons dried cranberries, 2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds, and 4 tablespoons of ginger-sesame salad dressing.

This recipe uses three sausages from a 1-lb. package. To use the remaining two sausages, see Landisian Cider Stew or Wakka’s Fried Rice.

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion or two small onions, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped (about 1½ cups)
  • 10 oz. sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 3 hot Italian pork sausages, uncooked, casing removed and cut into 1″ pieces (about 10 oz. total)
  • 2½ cups dry brown lentils (about 1 lb.)
  • 2 14-oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1½ lb. zucchini, chopped (about 5 cups)
  • 1 Trader Joe’s Super Spinach Salad

Heat butter and oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 10 minutes, covered. Stir frequently and reduce heat if the onions are browning too quickly. Add carrots and mushrooms and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Add sausage and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Stir in lentils and continue cooking for another minute. Add tomatoes and seasonings and simmer for about 5 minutes. Pour in broth, stir well, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are very tender, about 2 hours. Stir in zucchini and the entire contents of the spinach salad, including the dressing. Remove from heat and serve.

Makes about 14 heaping 1-cup servings. Per serving: 284 calories, 10.9 g. fat, 3.1 g. saturated fat, 0.5 g. poly. fat, 1.9 g. mono. fat, 17.9 mg. cholesterol, 967.8 mg. sodium (this will be less if you use homemade chicken stock instead of storebought broth), 598.1 mg. potassium, 32.3 g. carbohydrates, 12.2 g. fiber, 14.9 g. protein, vitamin A 34%, vitamin C 31%, calcium 6%, iron 21%

Celes’ Yummy Fish

Celes Chere on Solitary IslandCeles: “What would you like?”

Cid: “Well, unless I ask for fish, I won’t get anything! That’s all there is here!”

Celes: “I’ll go catch some.”

—FFVI

  • 4 garlic cloves
  • About 3 square inches of fresh ginger root
  • 2 green onions, chopped, green part only
  • 1 serrano chile pepper, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, washed and sliced thinly
  • ¾ oz. cilantro, washed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark-roasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark 100% maple syrup
  • 4 4-oz. pieces of arctic char, wild Pacific halibut, tilapia, or similar fish that is sustainable for your region
  • 4 large squares of parchment paper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel the garlic and ginger and grate into a small bowl. Stir in onions, serrano pepper, zucchini, and cilantro. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, and maple syrup, and toss well to combine.

Place a piece of fish on each square of parchment paper and divide the topping evenly between them, spreading it over the top. Fold the paper over to form a packet around each fillet and seal the edge of each packet, crimping tightly.

Arrange the packets on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Unseal and serve.

Rozarrian Pork Stew

Ashe and Al-Cid“You must permit me to take you back with me to Rozarria.”

—Al-Cid Margrace, FFXII

This is a useful recipe when you have meat left over from a barbecue. Because the pork shoulder was cooked with a spice rub, I didn’t include any additional seasonings. If you’re using a less strongly seasoned meat, you could include a tablespoon of smoked paprika or chili powder.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 head of garlic (about 8-12 cloves), peeled and halved
  • 1 large carrot or 2 medium carrots, scrubbed and chopped
  • 6 oz. cooked chorizo, andouille, or other spicy smoked sausage, cut into ½” rounds
  • 1 lb. cooked pork shoulder
  • 1 14-oz. can of diced tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 10 oz. chopped kale
  • 2 15-oz. cans of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, carrots, and sausage. Cook for about 15 minutes, until sausage is browned on all sides.

Stir in the pork, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for at least 1 hour, or until the pork shoulder is very tender.

Stir in kale and chickpeas and simmer, uncovered, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley.

(Al-Cid recommends serving this stew with crusty bread and an ample quantity of full-bodied red wine, such as Tempranillo.)

Makes about 7 heaping 1-cup servings.  Per serving: 450 calories, 21.4 g. fat, 6.3 g. saturated fat, 1.9 g. poly. fat, 9 g. mono. fat, 75.6 mg. cholesterol, 1231.2 mg. sodium (this will be less if you use homemade chicken stock instead of storebought), 535.5 mg. potassium, 35 g. carbohydrates, 9 g. fiber, 28.2 g. protein, vitamin A 72%, vitamin C 87%, calcium 12%, iron 30%

Cid’s Spicy Drunken Noodles

Rocket Town“You stupid &$#&%*%&%#!! ……Sorry.”

—Cid Highwind, FFVII

  • 7 oz. firm tofu
  • 6 oz. rice noodles, uncooked
  • 2 tablespoons organic expeller-pressed canola oil
  • 4 tablespoons Thai green curry paste
  • 8 oz. crimini mushrooms, washed, stems removed, and sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1 Asian eggplant, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 leaves of mustard greens, washed, stems removed, and chopped into small pieces (about 4 cups)
  • 4 oz. green beans, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 red Thai chile pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1 serrano chile pepper, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 fresh limes

Place tofu on a clean kitchen towel or a few paper towels atop a cutting board. Fold the cloth over to cover the tofu (or cover with more paper towels), and place a flat, clean object, such as a heavy skillet or cutting board, on top of the covered tofu for 30 to 60 minutes. When you’re done pressing it, chop the tofu into ½-inch cubes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove from heat and immerse the noodles in the water. Let stand for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until noodles are soft but firm. Drain well and set aside.

Heat the canola oil in the skillet or wok and add the curry paste. Stir-fry quickly for about a minute until its fragrance is released. Add the tofu cubes and mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes, until tofu is golden on all sides. Stir in 2 tablespoons of water.

Push tofu and mushrooms to one side and add eggplant, mustard greens, green beans, peppers, and tamari. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes, until vegetables are softened. Stir in noodles, and cook until noodles are turning crispy, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and divide into 8 bowls. Cut each lime into four wedges and serve a wedge with each bowl for squeezing on top.

Per serving: 180 calories, 6.3 g. fat, 0.6 g. saturated fat, 1.6 g. poly. fat, 1.5 g. mono. fat, 0 mg. cholesterol, 562.7 mg. sodium, 346.2 mg. potassium, 24.2 g. carbohydrates, 2.3 g. fiber, 8.2 g. protein, vitamin A 22%, vitamin C 31%, calcium 6%, iron 14%

Tsenoble Stuffed Pork

Dr. Cid“Welcome to Tsenoble! And be proud you’ve made it this far.”

—FFXII

The recipe contest is over! I’ll post the winning recipe next week. In the meantime, here’s the runner-up, submitted by Raijer. This recipe is for the grill, but you can also roast it in the oven at 350 degrees. If you love mushrooms, double the amount and use extra wine and broth.

  • 2 1-lb. pork tenderloins
  • 8 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1 slice whole-grain bread
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8 oz. crimini mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth

Arrange tenderloins side by side, with thick end of one tenderloin next to the thin end of the other. Cover with prosciutto slices.

Tear the bread into crumbs and mix with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, half the rosemary, and half the thyme. Brush on top of the prosciutto. Fold the tenderloins together and tie with kitchen twine.

Mix the remaining rosemary and thyme together with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and brush all over the pork. Sprinkle with salt and freshly-ground black pepper.

Prepare a grill to medium heat. Place pork over direct heat. Grill for about 5 minutes on each side. Move to indirect heat and cover. Continue cooking for about 30 minutes, until thermometer inserted into thickest part of pork registers 145 degrees. Transfer to a platter and tent loosely with foil.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet. Add mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes, until mushrooms begin to brown. Stir in garlic and cook for an additional minute. Pour in wine and broth and boil until sauce thickens enough to coat a spoon, about 15 minutes.

Cut roast into 8 pieces and top each slice with mushroom sauce.

Makes 8 servings. Per serving: 272 calories, 13 g. fat, 3.8 g. saturated fat, 1.3 g. poly. fat, 7 g. mono. fat, 97.5 mg. cholesterol, 855.6 mg. sodium, 694.7 mg. potassium, 3.8 g. carbohydrates, 0.5 g. fiber, 33.2 g. protein, vitamin A 2%, vitamin C 2%, calcium 2%, iron 11%