For Halloween: An edible tribute to ‘Catspaw’

Star Trek has always done a good job at being non-denominational, as it were - it rarely makes reference to specific Earth holidays. 'Catspaw', from The Original Series, is a glorious exception to this. Specifically written for screening around Halloween, it features black cats, spooky castles, witches and of course some meddling aliens. I decided to make some fruit jellies, flavoured with grape juice and dipped in sugar to replicate the sparkling jewel worn by Sylvia.

These fruit jellies are vegan due to the use of pectin as the gelling agent rather than gelatin. You can flavour them with whichever juice concentrate you wish, and cookie cutters can be used to cut out the shapes (you do have to press firmly) - or just cut them with a knife. I also added some food colouring for the full Halloween effect, but you can skip this and still end up with lovely almost translucent jellies.

Replicate your own
(Based on this recipe from Not So Humble Pie)
(Makes approx 20 small jellies or 10 large ones)

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Gladst

What’s this?! A Klingon dish that involves no meat, and is actually vegan?! Insanity. Even if gladst is only a side dish, at least we can be comforted by the knowledge that Klingons do eat their vegetables after all. Gladst is available at the Klingon Restaurant on Deep Space Nine, and certainly seems like a good alternative to all that gagh (DS9: Melora). 

This is essentially a stir fry of mushrooms with some garlic, ginger and chilis for flavour. I have never seen fresh wood fungus but the dried version is easily available at Asian supermarkets. I have added a fair amount of chili to this as I figure Klingons would like it spicy, but you can of course adjust the chili to your liking. This dish can be eaten both with or without sauce; while I enjoyed the addition of the sauce, the mushrooms are equally delicious on their own. 

Replicate your own
(Serves 2 as a main dish or 3-4 as a side dish)

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Maaza stalks

Something simple this week, in case you are still recovering from Captain Picard Day from last week! These maaza stalks were provided by Captain Sisko to some newly arrived refugees on Deep Space Nine (DS9: Sanctuary). After some failed attempts at communication, they learn that these refugees are only the first few through the wormhole and that there are millions on their way. I think they’re going to need more than 7 maaza stalks…

This dish takes only a few minutes to put together, but is surprisingly delicious. Everything is very approximate - if you want the stalks more charred, leave them under the grill (broiler) longer; if you like more spice, add more! I would suggest making more than the 7 shown in Deep Space Nine though, because they are very easy to keep eating even if you don’t have millions of refugees to feed!

Replicate your own
(Serves 1, but is very easily doubled or tripled - just add more asparagus!)

7 Asparagus stalks
Smoked paprika
Salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Preheat your grill (broiler - top down heat) so it is quite hot. Chop or snap the woody ends off the asparagus and place them on a baking tray covered with aluminium foil. 

Sprinkle the smoked paprika and salt over one side of the asparagus and place under the grill/broiler so they are quite close to the heat source. Cook until they just start to char on the outside, about 3-4 minutes. 

Remove from the heat and flip them over. Add more salt and smoked paprika to this side, then place back under the grill and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until this side is also cooked and started to char. 

Take them out of the grill/broiler and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Add more salt or paprika if desired, and serve immediately.

Plomeek broth

As I’ve noted before, Vulcans are sure fond of their plomeek. You can have it as a thick soup, as a tea - and now, a broth too. While not very filling, I can see this broth as being a great food for sick Vulcans, or maybe as a starter to a more elaborate Vulcan banquet.

Plomeek broth seemed to be a favourite of T’Pol, who requested it on more than one occasion (Enterprise: Strange New World; Singularity; Doctor’s Orders). If you like eating savoury foods in the morning, plomeek broth also makes a nice breakfast or brunch dish. This dish is vegan but if you eat eggs, I could also see it working well with a poached egg added when served.

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Replicate your own
(Serves 2-3 as a starter)

3 medium sized beetroots
2 carrots
1 onion
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bayleaves
1 litre vegetable stock
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of pepper
Pinch of smoked paprika
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar in a pinch)

Start by preparing the beetroots. Wearing gloves, use a vegetable peeler to peel the skins off. Then chop them into chunks and set aside. As you are straining the vegetables after they’re cooked, you don’t need to worry about chopping them nicely.

Chop the carrots and onion into rough pieces. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan and add the onion, thyme, salt, pepper and bayleaves. Cook for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften.

Add the carrots and beetroot and cook for a further few minutes. Then add the stock, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer, with the lid on the saucepan, for about 40-50 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and almost falling apart.

Strain the broth into a bowl, and test for seasoning (you might need to add more salt or pepper). The leftover vegetables can be eaten if you wish, although they probably won’t have much flavour left.

To serve the soup, stir in the paprika and the vinegar, and serve either warm or cold. Add a sprinkle of more paprika as a garnish if you wish.

Zoth-nut soup

Zoth-nut soup. From the Delta Quadrant, it’s clearly a very prized soup, as the recipe was given to the Think Tank as payment for helping a planet resist the Borg (Voyager: Think Tank). While the focus of the episode is the Think Tank wanting to keep Seven of Nine as payment for assisting the Voyager crew, I couldn’t help be curious about this soup. It must be a very great soup indeed to be worthy of payment when your planet has just been protected from the Borg! I was determined to try it out and see how good it actually was.

I decided to use chestnuts for this soup because they are fairly rich and creamy, so I thought they’d add some qualities which would make zoth-nut soup so prized. I used chicken stock but you can of course substitute vegetable stock to make a fully vegan soup.

Replicate your own
(Serves 2 as a main course)

400g chestnuts, shelled (see below) or tinned
2 cloves garlic
2 carrots
2 small-medium leeks, or 1 large leek
1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock
Salt
Pepper
2 bayleaves
2 sprigs parsley
Vegetable oil, for sauteeing the vegetables

If you’re working with fresh chestnuts in shells: using a sharp knife, cut an X shape into the base of each nut. Spread them on a roasting tray and roast in an oven at 190°C / 375°F for about 15 minutes. Let them cool until you can handle them, and then peel the skin off. They are easier to peel when still warm, so if they cool down too much you can pop them back in the oven for a few minutes.

Roughly chop the garlic, carrots and leeks. Add some vegetable oil to a large saucepan and add the chestnuts and garlic, and sautee for a few minutes until they start to soften.

Add the carrots and leeks and again sautee for about 5 minutes, until the leeks are softening up.

Add the stock, salt and pepper, bayleaves and the parsley, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 40-50 minutes, until all vegetables (and the chestnuts) are quite soft.

Remove the bayleaves, and blend the soup (you can also squash the vegetables with a potato masher if you want a coarser texture).

Sprinkle some extra parsley on the top for a garnish, and be thankful the Think Tank already have the recipe and won’t be coming after you.

Leola root soup

After the excesses of the holidays, what better way to recover than with some leola root soup?! Leola root, that bane of the Voyager crew, was said to be highly nutritious but not the most pleasant tasting. Chef Neelix would not be dissuaded from using it and continued to use it in many dishes, including soups, rices and tarts - and Captain Janeway, while not liking it any more than the rest of the crew, at least acknowledged its benefits.

In creating the prop for the leola root, the Voyager prop teams used a ginger root that they added some alien fronds to. I’ve decided to stick with using ginger - it is also highly nutritious and has many health benefits, and looks pretty alien to me. You can rest assured that there will be more leola root recipes in the future!

Read more about leola root at Memory Alpha.

Replicate your own
(Serves 3-4 as a starter, or 2 if you really want to eat it as a main course)

This is a very flexible recipe and I would suggest modifying it to suit your tastes as you wish.

1 knob of young ginger, peeled and diced (I used a piece about 8cm / 3inches long)
1 small chili, chopped fine
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Vegetable oil

Start by peeling and dicing the ginger. Sautee the ginger in a dash of vegetable oil until it is soft. Add the chicken or vegetable stock, and the sesame oil, soy sauce and fish sauce, and any other flavours you wish.

Bring to the boil and then reduce and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until all flavours are combined.

Serve and remind yourself you are lucky to have more than just leola root to eat!

Notes:

  • Use young ginger if you can, as this is softer and less fibrous than older ginger
  • To peel the ginger, use a teaspoon to scrape the skin off - or use a vegetable peeler
  • If made with vegetable stock, this soup can be made vegetarian or vegan
Andorian cabbage soup

So far, we haven’t seen many dishes from the Enterprise series. But never fear! This is being rectified right now and there are plenty more Enterprise dishes coming up. This dish was mentioned but never seen and it was made specifically for Andorian Commander Shran - presumably to make him feel more at home (Enterprise: “These are the Voyages…”). Whatever you think of the final episode of Enterprise, at least it offers some great suggestions for food!

This is a fairly basic recipe for soup which you can of course add to if you wish. I would not recommending boiling the cabbage for long periods of time as you’ll get that horrible sulfur-like smell (and taste). Therefore, if you’re adding more ingredients, I’d suggest putting the cabbage in last and cooking for a few minutes only.

Replicate your own
(Serves 2)

1/2 head of a medium-large white cabbage (or 1 whole small one)
1 litre vegetable stock
2 carrots, chopped into chunks
3 celery sticks, chopped into chunks
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil or butter

In a large, heavy pot, heat a small amount of oil or butter, and then add the onions and garlic. Cook on medium heat until the onions begin to soften.

Add the carrots, celery sticks and 2 of the sprigs of thyme and cook until the vegetables soften slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, salt and pepper, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat until the vegetables are completely cooked and soft all the way through - about 30 or 40 minutes.

When the vegetables are soft, turn up the heat again and add the cabbage. Push it down into the liquid as much as you can, and simmer for 3-4 minutes only - until the cabbage is tender and softened but not limp or watery.

At this point, taste the broth and add more salt or pepper if needed.

Using a blender (stick would work well, or just a normal countertop one), puree the soup until it is smooth. Serve with the remaining sprig of thyme as a garnish.

Notes:

  • I’ve used vegetable broth to ensure the soup is vegetarian (or vegan if you use oil and not butter). I can’t find any information about whether Andorians are vegetarians or not. Does anyone know?
  • You could use a different variety of cabbage if you wish - red cabbage would be fine but I would not recommend Napa cabbage as it would get very watery in the broth.
Hasperat

Now we’re talking classic Star Trek cooking. Hasperat is, of course, that well-known Bajoran dish which is said to be spicy enough to make your eyes water. It is mentioned several times in both Next Generation and Deep Space Nine and seems to be a loved Bajoran dish. Apparently the key to strong hasperat is the brine it is pickled in before serving.

You’ll see lots of versions of hasperat online - it is one of the easier Star Trek recipes to replicate as it is essentially vegetables rolled up in a tortilla. However, most of them derive their spiciness from the addition of hot sauce or fresh chilies - not a brine. I wanted to make a brined version to experience the full eye-watering potential of the hasperat. This means you need to start a week in advance of when you want to serve it, but I think the results make it worth the effort. 

(Read more about hasperat at Memory Alpha)

Replicate your own
(Makes 1/4 pickled cabbage, which is enough for about 6-8 wraps)

You will need to start a week in advance.

1/4 white cabbage
1 litre water
250ml vinegar
1 teaspoon of sugar
125g salt
3-4 hot chillies to taste, chopped fine (depends on how spicy you want it)
Juice of one lemon

Start by preparing the brine. Add the water, vinegar, sugar and salt to a saucepan, and heat until boiling. Stir until the salt is dissolved and add the chiles and lemon juice. Leave to cool.

While the brine is cooling, prepare the cabbage. Remove the heart or woody stick of the cabbage, and pull the leaves apart, leaving them whole if possible. Leaving them whole will make it easier to layer them in the tortilla at the end.

Place the brine in a bowl or jar in which the cabbage leaves will fit, and add the cabbage, making sure all leaves are completely submerged in the brine. You might need to put a small plate or saucer over the cabbage to ensure it stays fully submerged. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 days, up to 7 or 8 days. After 4 days, taste the cabbage. If it is not strong enough, return it to the brine. Keep tasting it until it is at your desired level of spiciness and pickled-ness.

To assemble the hasperat
6-8 flour tortillas (buy some or make your own - recipe below)
The completed pickled cabbage leaves
Baby spinach leaves
Any other additions of your choice - suggestions: shredded carrot, more chillies, avocado, capsicum.

Lay the tortilla out flat. Add a layer of baby spinach leaves on the tortilla. Take a leaf or two of the pickled cabbage and lay them flat on top of the spinach. Add any other vegetables or toppings you wish, and then roll the tortilla up by folding in the sides and rolling it up. Cut it into two pieces and experience the true tongue-searing goodness of hasperat.

Flour tortilla recipe
(Makes 6-8 tortillas)

2 cups plain flour
1 pinch of salt
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup boiling water

Combine the flour and the salt, and then mix in the oil. You may need to rub the flour between your hands until the oil is integrated and the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the boiling water a little bit at a time, stirring each time, until a rough ball is formed.

When the dough has come together into a ball (you may not have needed all the water), move it to a floured surface and knead for a few minutes, until it is soft and elastic.

Put the dough back in its bowl and cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 20-30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 6-8 balls and roll out on a floured surface until they are fairly thin (you could also use a tortilla press or similar).

Cook them one at a time in a heavy frying pan (you do not need to add any oil or butter to the frying pan). When the top starts to bubble, flip the tortilla over and cook the other side.

As each tortilla is cooked, remove it to a plate and make a stack of them. These can be covered with a clean tea towel to keep them warm and pliable.

Notes

  • The brine used for the cabbage can be used to pickle any vegetables of your choice, and you can also add whatever spices you like to flavour it
  • If your cabbage is too salty after being in the brine, soak it for a couple of hours in cold water
  • The flour tortillas could also be made using butter instead of the vegetable oil if you prefer
Plomeek Soup

Thanks for all your kind words and comments last week! This is going to be a lot of fun. If you have any requests for specific dishes, please let us know. And remember, you can also follow us on twitter and facebook to keep up with the kitchen adventures. We’ll be posting pictures of the cooking process on the facebook page, so if you’re interested in seeing how the dishes are created, be sure to check it out!

This week we turn to another classic dish from a classic Star Trek race - Plomeek soup, a Vulcan dish. Most Vulcans, including the most famous one, Spock, are vegetarian. I would actually suggest that it would be logical for Vulcans to be vegan, not just vegetarian, but maybe that’s just me. I thought it was important to ensure that the recipe was vegan, rather than making it impossible for vegans or vegetarians to eat it by using chicken stock or similar. In addition, this is described as being quite a bland soup, so I have left the seasonings fairly minimal.

There are various iterations of Plomeek soup in the Star Trek canon; they appear to be a variety of colours and thickness. You can see all of them on Memory Alpha. However for this recipe, there was no contest. I had to make the original Plomeek soup, as thrown against the wall by Spock when in the throes of pon farr. If you’re interested in testing out its properties, you can always throw it against the wall, but I’d suggest eating it instead.

Replicate your own
(Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a starter)

1 onion
2 garlic cloves
5 carrots
2 small-medium sweet potatoes, peeled
3 small-medium beetroots, peeled
3 sticks celery
1 litre vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil
Parsley for garnish (optional)

Start by peeling the beetroots and then the sweet potatoes. Wear a pair of gloves when peeling the beetroots if you don’t want to get pink hands! Then chop up all the vegetables, including the onion and garlic cloves, into chunks. Don’t worry about making them too exact as they will all get blended at the end.

Start by sauteeing the garlic and onion in vegetable oil until soft. Then add the rest of the vegetables and cook for a few minutes. Add 750ml of the stock, reserving the rest. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until all vegetables are quite soft, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Ladle portions of the vegetables and stock into a blender and blend until smooth. Alternatively, you could use a hand blender if you have one. When all the soup is blended, check the flavour and add salt and pepper to taste. At this point, check the soup’s thickness - if too thick, add the remaining vegetable stock as needed.

Serve and garnish with parsley if desired - although I’m sure the Vulcans would consider this highly illogical.