Journeying to Middle Earth with TOLKIEN
Everyone knows Lord of the Rings. You know, the epic book series that spawned an epic movie series? The one that was the OG fantasy adventure that inspired nerds like myself everywhere to dive deep into a fantastical world invented by a mere mortal? Yeah. You do.
That mere mortal, just in case you’ve somehow made it to 2019 without knowing this, is JRR Tolkien. But, if you’re like me you don’t know a lot about the man behind the story except that he palled around with CS Lewis (or was it some other writer?) and that he maybe fought in a World War (I? II? both?).
Lucky for you (and me, TBH), there’s a movie coming to the big screen in just a few days to fix that. Tolkien, which you can preview here, will tell the tale of his life before the Ring. Oh, and it stars Lily Collins and Nicholas Hoult. Oh, and Stephen Colbert is hosting the Q&A following the premiere at the Montclair Film Festival because apparently he’s a super fan. OH, AND you can win tickets to the Chicago screening of that premiere (as well as collectible photos from the film) on my Instagram page.
To celebrate all of this excitement, I’m collaborating with Fox Searchlight to present to you a Middle-Earth inspired meal. I did a lot of research to create a menu that Tolkien himself would have known was straight from the world he created, and I have to say, I think I did a pretty delicious job. Grab the recipes below to re-create these dishes and celebrate one of the most beloved authors of all time. Also, find some mead if you have it. I happened to have it.
Lembas Bread Grilled Cheese
In this case, rye is a nice stand-in for lembas bread.
Lembas Bread Grilled CheeseBy Page & Plate, April 24, 2019
Rye bread is the perfect substitution for lembas bread in this grown-up grilled cheese that will leave you more than ready for whatever journey is ahead of you.
Makes: 4 sandwiches
- 16 oz of assorted mushrooms (I used baby bella and shiitake)
- 2 TBSP of olive oil
- 4 TBSP of unsalted butter
- 1/2 medium white onion, sliced thinly
- 2 tsp of liquid smoke
- 8 slices of smoked gouda cheese
- 8 slices of rye bread
- Preheat your oven to 450. Yeah, we're going that hot.
- Spread the mushrooms evenly over a sheet tray, then drizzle with the olive oil. Salt and pepper generously, then toss 'em in. Don't worry; they won't burn.
- Meanwhile, let's do some onion-ing. Add 2 TBSP of butter to a medium saucepan, and when that's all foamy and melted, add the onion.
- When the onion has just started to take on color, about five minutes, add the remaining 2 TBSP of butter. You're probably also going to want to check your mushrooms right about now. Give those guys a stir.
- Let the onions deal with themselves for a minute while you set up your assembly stations: take the cheese out of the package from whence it came, wash your arugula, and lay out your rye bread. Wow, look at you. So prepared!
- Okay, it's go time. Pull the mushrooms out of the onions, and add them to the onion pan. Give everything a stir, then layer the cheese on top. Now, get a large lid and cover the pot, turning the heat down and melting the cheese, about 5 minutes.
- Layer that goodness on a slice of bread, top with arugula, sandwich it up, and enjoy.
Honey Nut Cake with Butter Sauce
Like Beorn's, but from my grandmothers.
Honey Nut CakeBy Page & Plate, April 24, 2019
A spongy, moist honey cake soaks up almond butter cream sauce to make the perfect dessert. This is my grandma's honey cake recipe with my mammaw's butter sauce. Life is good.
Makes: 16 bars
- 1 1/8 tsp of yeast (aka half of a packet)
- 1 cup of strong-brewed chai tea (coffee also works here) (covfefe does not)
- 1 cup of honey
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp of baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
- 1 tsp of cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 6 TBSP of unsalted butter
- 4 TBSP of brown sugar
- 3 TBSP of heavy whipping cream, half-and-half, or milk
- 1 tsp of almond extract
- Preheat your oven to 375. Grease an 8x8" baking pan really, really, really well.
- In a small bowl (or even mug, really), dissolve the yeast in the strong beverage of your choice. Set aside after whisking lightly.
- In a large bowl, beat together the honey, sugar, oil, and eggs until smooth and pour-able. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and spices. Set this aside too. I'm sorry for making you use so many bowls.
- Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the yeasty bev to the honey mixture. In other words, add half of the dry ingredients, then half of the yeasty bev, then the other half of the dry, then the rest of the yeasty bev.
- Whisk until no lumps remain, then pour into the prepared tin.
- Bake for 35 minutes, or until a deep golden brown. The edges will look caramelized when finished.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce: melt the butter, brown sugar, cream, and almond extract together in the microwave for about a minute, then stir until smooth.
- Pour the sauce over the cake and serve warm. Maybe with ice cream. Your call.
I worked with Fox Searchlight to create this post. If you’re interested in a similar collaboration, email me here!