For First Contact Day: Cheese pierogi

It’s time to celebrate First Contact Day! On April 5, 2063, Vulcans will detect the warp drive on the Phoenix and come to visit the person who created the ship (Star Trek: First Contact). It’s bound to happen and we are one year closer to warp drive becoming a reality. I live in hope!

This year we’re celebrating First Contact Day in the fine manner of the Starship Voyager with these cheese pierogi (VOY: Homestead). Known to be Zefram Cochrane’s favourite food, these are bound to cheer up any First Contact celebration. And to drink, there is always the Zefram Cochrane cocktail, although I advise you get any speeches and First Contact recreations out of the way before you start imbibing these - they are quite strong!

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Replicate your own
(Makes approx 25-30 pierogi)

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For Christmas: Neelix’s Fruit Compote (Rumtopf)

I realise that Christmas isn’t really celebrated in the Star Trek Universe, but if it was, Neelix would be leading the celebrations. He’d be the one putting up the decorations as soon as possible and organising a Christmas carol singalong in front of the holodeck fireside. And of course he would be making all sorts of deletable Christmas treats, including his famous fruit compote (VOY: Mortal Coil).

In this case, the fruit compote is made by soaking fruits in alcohol for several weeks or even months - as Captain Janeway notes, it can sometimes be so strong that people get lightheaded. I have therefore taken inspiration for Neelix’s fruit compote from the traditional German dish known as a Rumtopf, where fruits are soaked in rum, sugar and spices for months before being opened and consumed at Christmas time. It is quite strong and not for the faint-hearted, but will definitely improve everyone’s Christmas cheer. I am sure Neelix would approve!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all you wonderful readers! I hope your days are filled with happiness, friendship - and Star Trek, of course. 

Replicate your own
(Makes 1 Rumtopf which will easily serve 10-15 people)

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Vulcan Spice Tea

Although this spice tea is clearly enjoyed by Tuvok and Captain Janeway (VOY: Alliances), I would also like to think that it is a common drink on all of Vulcan, because it is refreshing, spicy and logical all at the same time. I am a little suprised to see Janeway drink anything other than coffee, but can understand why a coffee drinker would enjoy the strong flavours of this tea. 

While I have listed quantities of spices below, the recipe is very flexible - if you want more of any spices, feel free to add it! Remember to steep your spices for a few minutes to allow the flavours to develop. It is a bit difficult to only make the amount of spice needed for a single cup, so I suggest you make the quantities below and store the mix in a jar - pre-made spice tea, whenever you want it! The recipe below does have quite a spicy finish - if you want to lower that a little, use less peppercorns and ground ginger. 

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Replicate your own
(Makes about 1/4 cup of the spice mixture)

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Jibalian seven-spice omelette

Neelix can teach us all sorts of things about cooking. How to make the best of unusual ingredients. How to keep Captain Janeway fed while she’s on the bridge. And this time he teaches us about the importance of balancing spices - and remembering the salt. This omelette is great for whipping up for breakfast for the whole crew, as long as you have all seven spices on hand (Voyager: Prototype). 

You can choose if you want to mix the spices into the omelette or arrange them on top as in the photo below. However you choose to arrange your spices, I would suggest sprinkling the salt on the top of your omelette. It is traditional to fold the omelette in half to serve it, although I think that Neelix would prefer my display. 

Replicate your own
(Serves 2)

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Seska’s Mushroom Soup

Ah, Seska. Before being revealed as a traitor and leaving the USS Voyager to take her chances in the Delta Quadrant, she was apparently very good at making mushroom soup (Voyager: State of Flux). Her desire to make mushroom soup was based on the fact that it was Chakotay’s favourite - and given how nice this is, I am not surprised. 

This is a great soup to make when you don’t have much time as it only takes about 20 minutes to prepare, but is rich and satisfying. Cream is a traditional addition, but I admit I found the soup rich enough without it. I would suggest reserving a few of the chopped mushrooms to add back into the soup when serving. The Parmesan cheese on top is also optional, but is a nice addition. 

Replicate your own
(Serves 3-4 if served with bread)

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Strawberry Tart

It’s no question that being wrenched out of the Borg Collective and back into the world of the Federation would be traumatic for anyone. As we saw with Seven of Nine, some of the major issues she faced had to do with reconnecting with her human side, and her human relatives on Earth. While this reconnecting was often difficult and painful, sometimes good memories surfaced too, such as Seven of Nine’s recollection that her Aunt had coaxed her out of a cupboard with the promise of a strawberry tart (Voyager: Author Author). And there is no denying that strawberry tart is a very good reason indeed to come out of hiding for. 

This delicious strawberry tart is quick to assemble and all the pieces can be prepared in advance. Brushing (optional) melted chocolate onto the base before adding the pastry cream not only adds a delicious crunchy chocolate layer, but also creates a barrier between the pastry cream and the tart shell, helping to keep the tart shell from going soggy. I got my inspiration for the strawberry arrangement from Confessions of a Tart, making mine look a bit more alien, but you can of course arrange your strawberries on top however you wish. 

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Replicate your own

(Makes 1 24cm / 9 inch tart, or 4-5 individual small ones)

To assemble the tart you’ll need:
baked and cooled 24cm / 9 inch tart shell (recipe below) (or individual small tart cases)
Vanilla pastry cream (recipe below)
500g / 1 pound 2 oz strawberries, hulled and sliced as wanted
60g / 2oz dark chocolate (optional)

To assemble, melt the dark chocolate (if using) and spread over the bottom of the tart shell. Refrigerate for 2-3 minutes, until the chocolate firms up.

Just before you want to serve the tart, spoon on the pastry cream and smooth it, then arrange the strawberries on top. Use it to coax out small children out of cupboards they may be hiding in, or just as a lovely dessert for everyone to share. 

(recipes for the tart shell and pastry cream below the break)

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Brill Cheese

I am always impressed with Neelix’s range of canapes. It seems that no matter the situation or the ingredients on hand, he can always whip up a delicious dish to pass around. In this case we have brill cheese, made from the milk of the grakel, a Delta-quadrant animal (Voyager: Learning Curve). Unfortunately for the Voyager crew, the cheese’s bacterial cultures infect the ship’s gel packs, and chaos ensues. But at least the cheese is delicious!

This is a mildly-flavoured goat’s milk cheese which you can easily alter by changing the herbs you add to it. It takes a few hours to let it reach the right consistency - and again how firm you want it is up to you. Serve with crackers or on pieces of toasted baguette.

Replicate your own
(Makes about 125g / 4.4oz of cheese)
(Based on the recipe by Kiss My Spatula)

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Tera nut souffle

Apparently I’m in a souffle-making mood. Specifically, souffles from Voyager. This one was made by Tuvok when he temporarily lost his memory, and like his other desserts made during this time, is another culinary triumph (Voyager: Riddles). Essentially, if you like nutella, you’ll like this souffle - because that’s what it tastes like. No wonder Neelix continued to make and enjoy this souffle after Tuvok’s accident was long past. 

This recipe makes 2 or 3 super rich individual souffles or the size shown below. Honestly, if I made these again, I’d probably make them in smaller containers - they really are that rich. If you wish, you can only use half of the chocolate custard mixture and have some slightly lighter, less rich souffles. The remaining chocolate custard can be frozen until needed for more souffles.

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Replicate your own

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Seltin Pate (mushroom pate in a filo pastry bowl)

This is a simple recipe whipped up by Neelix as part of a lunch spread when things were going wrong on Voyager (as usual) and the crew was under stress (as usual) (Voyager: Persistence of Vision). While various crew members hallucinate various horrible things, I sincerely hope that this pate is real and not a hallucination!

This mushroom pate can be make with almost any type of mushroom, and has a great flavour and texture. You do need to make it the day before so it has time to set in the fridge, but you can then serve it at room temperature or even warmed slightly. If you serve it in the filo bowl, you have built-in crunchy crackers to dip!

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Replicate your own

(Serves 6-8 as finger food)
You will need to start the day before you plan to serve the pate.

40g / 1.4oz butter
1 onion, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
500g / 17.5oz mushrooms such as button or swiss brown, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon plain flour
4 sprigs thyme leaves (includes 2 for a garnish)
1/4 cup red wine (or you can substitute water)
2 tablespoons cream
1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic and onion and cook on medium heat, until the onion has softened - about 5 minutes. 

Add the mushrooms and reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are soft.

Remove the leaves off 2 of the thyme springs, and sprinkle the thyme and flour over the mushrooms and stir. Add the wine and the cream, stir well and bring to the boil - about 4 minutes. 

Allow the mixture to cool slightly and transfer to a blender (or you can use a stick blender directly in the saucepan). Blend for a few minutes, until the mixture is rather smooth, but still has some texture.

Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate overnight to allow it to set.

The next day, remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before you want to serve it. Serve in a filo pastry bowl (see below) or with pieces of breadstick or small toasts. Garnish with the remaining sprigs of thyme. 

For the filo pastry bowl:
(Makes 4 bowls)

You will need 4 oven-safe ramekins or small dishes.

50-70g melted butter
1/2 packet of frozen filo pastry

Lay the filo pastry out flat, and allow it to defrost for about 30 minutes. If you have a full packet, gently separate out half the sheets and replace them in the freezer. 

Preheat your oven to 180³C / 350°F.

Gently separate two of the pastry sheets and brush the top one with butter. Lay the next two on top, and brush them with butter. Continue to layer the sheets up, brushing them with butter as you go. 

Brush your ramekins well with the butter. Cut your stack of filo pastry into quarters, and arrange each one in one of the ramekins. If you need to, you can pull and separate your layers to better cover the ramekin. 

Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the filo has puffed up and is golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool thoroughly. 

When they are cool, slide a butter knife between the pastry and the ramekin to loosen. Ease the pastry bowl out gently with the knife. Handle gently when preparing to serve. 

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Tula Cheese souffle

We’re staying in the Delta Quadrant this week, because this tula cheese souffle is too delicious to resist! While we never see this dish on screen, I would not be surprised if it was one of Neelix’s most requested recipes. Neelix offers this dish to Harry Kim before Harry goes off on his first (and brief) captaincy (Voyager: Nightingale) - and Harry, as usual, doesn’t know what he wants. I know if Neelix offered me this dish, I’d definitely accept!

This cheese souffle is very rich and quite luxurious. I know many people are scared of making souffles but once you make a few you will wonder why you didn’t before. They are actually relatively simple to make, provided you are ready to serve them as soon as they come out of the oven. This basic recipe for a cheese souffle can be used to make any flavour of souffle you wish.

Replicate your own
(Makes 6 individual souffles)
(Based on the “Perfect Cheese Souffle” recipe at the bottom of this page)

You will need 6 oven safe ramekins or small dishes to cook the souffles in.

40g / 1.4oz butter, plus extra for greasing
40g / 1.4oz plain flour
300ml / 10oz milk
20g / 0.7oz breadcrumbs or fine-ground polenta, for coating the sides of the ramekins
4 large eggs
100g / 3.5oz cheddar cheese, grated
50g / 1.7oz parmesan, grated

Start by heating the oven to 200°C / 390°F. Put the butter in a medium saucepan and heat until it has melted. Add the flour all at once and cook for a few minutes. Add the milk, and stir until the mixture is smooth and starts to thicken.

Lower the heat and continue to stir the mixture for about 5 minutes, so that it is thick but still pourable. Remove from the heat so the mixture can cool slightly.

Separate the eggs and put the whites in a bowl suitable for whipping. Into the milk mixture, add half of the cheese and stir until smooth. Add the egg yolks, stirring well in between each one. Then add the rest of the cheese.

Prepare your ramekins: grease the bottom and sides with more butter, then add a small amount of breadcrumbs or polenta to each one and shake/tap the ramekin until the bottom and sides are coated with the breadcrumbs/polenta.

Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites, and then whip until stiff. Add a couple of spoonfuls of egg whites into the milk/cheese mixture to loosen it, then gently fold the rest of the egg whites in with a spatula. It is fine if there are still a few small lumps of egg white in the mixture - it doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth.

Divide the mixture between the ramekins (I find a soup ladle the easiest thing to use for this), filling them between 1/2 and 3/4 full.

Put them on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until risen and golden. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  • You can, of course, substitute the cheese for whichever cheese you like
  • And of course you can make additions to the souffle - add some chives, perhaps, or even small pieces of mushroom or other vegetable.
  • Don’t be disheartened if your souffles fall. All souffles fall as they cool (which is why many restaurants say there is a 20 minute wait if you order a souffle, so they can prepare it fresh and it is served straight away), but are equally delicious in their fallen state.