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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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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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.

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.
Algae Puffs

When entertaining a diplomat from the Delta Quadrant, it’s important to have their local dishes on hand. Luckily, Neelix never disappoints, and in this case manages to churn out some algae puffs for the visiting Enaran diplomat (Voyager: Remember).

Before you are too horrified by the notion of algae puffs, let me remind you that seaweed is a form of algae, and definitely works well in this recipe. The ‘puffs’ are choux pastry with the seaweed mixed in. While they don’t puff quite as much as they would without the seaweed, they still make a delicious and airy snack - perfect for any passing diplomat!

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Replicate your own
(Makes 18-24 individual puffs)
(Based on the cheese puff recipe at Simply Recipes)

4 ounces / 1 stick / 115g butter
1 cup water
1 cup plain flour
4 eggs
35g dried seaweed, in small flakes or powdered

Preheat the oven to 425°F / 220°C.

In a medium saucepan, add the water and butter, and heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is at a boil. Reduce the heat and add the flour, stirring briskly.

Continue to stir as the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the saucepan. Remove from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to release more heat - you don’t want to cook the eggs when you add them!

Add the eggs in one by one. The mixture will look like it separates each time you add an egg, but stir well and it will come back together. When it is smooth and sticky, it’s ready. Add the seaweed, stirring well to incorporate it.

On a baking tray lined with baking paper, spoon out small-medium balls of the mixture. Make sure you leave enough room between them as they will puff up considerably when baked.

Place the tray in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven to 350°F / 180°C and cook for a further 15-20 minutes, until the balls have puffed up and have started to brown on top.

Serve to whatever visiting dignitary happens to be passing by!

Notes:

  • I bought flaked dried seaweed and then pulverised them further in a spice grinder. You could also bash them in a mortar and pestle to break the pieces up.
  • Make sure you use baking paper or a slilicone baking sheet to cook the puffs on - do not grease a baking tray with butter as the butter will seep into the puffs
  • If you don’t have any seaweed on hand, you can of course turn these into cheese puffs by substituting cheese in the place of the seaweed (I would suggest adding more cheese to taste).
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