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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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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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.
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).
Sweet leola root tart

If aliens ever attack me and cause my memory to be muddled for a period of time, I hope they also give me the skills to create great desserts like this one (Voyager: Riddles). This dish was created by Tuvok after an encounter with some aliens leaves him with no recollection of his past - and a desire to create delicious desserts. I also think this is an excellent use of the hated leola root - if I was Neelix, I’d be cooking up lots of these as a way to use up all that leola!

This recipe is a modified treacle tart and I must confess I have never met a treacle tart I didn’t like. You can either candy your own ginger, or buy some. If making it yourself, using young ginger is best. I’ll post some photos and instructions for making your own candied ginger on the facebook page if you are interested in trying it yourself.

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Replicate your own
(Makes 1 tart - it is quite rich, so you will get lots of pieces out of it)

1 sweet tart crust (make your own - see below - or use a premade one)
250g treacle
250g golden syrup
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 eggs
125g breadcrumbs
Zest of 1/2 lemon
35g (approx) pieces of candied ginger, sliced thin

For the sweet tart crust
(Best to make 1 hour ahead)
240g plain flour
180g butter, at room temperature, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1-2 tablespoons cold water
Add the sugar to the flour and mix. Rub the butter into the flour mix until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add water gradually, and form the mass into a rough ball of pastry with your hands, trying not to handle the dough too much. Once it’s worked together, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.

Begin by preheating your oven to 180­°C / 350°F.

If you are making your pastry, sprinkle some flour on your work surface then roll out your pastry to the desired size. Press into your pie tin and trim off any excess. Cover the pastry with aluminum foil and weigh down with coins, dry beans or peas, or pie weights. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the edges have started to brown. Take care when removing the aluminum and weights as they will be hot. 

In the meantime, prepare your filling. Add the treacle and golden syrup to a bowl, and stir together as best as you can (it helps if these are at room temperature or slightly warmed).

Add the ground ginger, lemon zest and then the eggs, stirring well to combine. Lastly add the breadcrumbs and stir well.

Pour the mixture into your tart crust (it is best to do this while the crust is still warm). Add the pieces of candied ginger to the top of the tart, arranging as needed (some of them will probably sink into the mixture).

Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the filling has set. Remove and let cool.

Serve in thin slices, accompanied by cream, iceceam or more candied ginger if desired.

Notes:

  • I know it’s hard to find golden syrup in some places. If you can’t find golden syrup, I would suggest substituting half honey and half corn syrup. If you like the taste of honey you could substitute the entire amount for honey. 
  • If you really like the taste of ginger, add more ground ginger to the tart mixture prior to baking.
  • If aliens come and attack you and you lose your memory, make sure you write down all your fabulous dessert creations before your original memory is restored!
For Easter: The eggs of Star Trek (in cookie form)

There are many different holidays to be celebrated in the Star Trek universe, and Easter and Star Trek don’t necessarily go together. However, in the spirit of Star Trek-ifying the main holidays currently celebrated, I present - some of the eggs of Star Trek, in cookie form.

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First up we have Ktarian eggs, from Star Trek: Generations. These were a popular breakfast choice in the Nexus, and were a particular favourite of Antonia when prepared with dill weed. They certainly look like they might be delicious.

There are four lights, even if there is only one Taspar egg. I think it’s impossible to do a post about eggs in Star Trek without including that iconic raw egg that Captain Picard eats after being imprisoned by Gul Madred for several days. I can guarantee that this sugar cookie version is more delicious than the original.

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Cardassians sure seem to be fond of their egg dishes. This one is from Deep Space Nine, as served in Quark’s. These regova eggs were considered a delicacy, particularly when served very fresh. Personally I think they look too pretty to eat, but maybe they are so delicious I wouldn’t be able to help myself if they were put in front of me.

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And finally, from the depths of the Delta Quadrant, come these Porakan eggs. Again apparently delicious when served with dill weed (is dill weed the universal accompaniment to eggs?), these eggs need to be sterilised for days to make them safe for eating. Luckily there is no such issue with the cookie version of these eggs!

Replicate your own
(Makes 40 egg-shaped cookies).

I used a 1/2 batch of Sweet Sugarbelle’s sugar cookie dough and made royal icing with 1 eggwhite and icing sugar mixed until it reached a thick consistency. Add drops of water to thin the icing if needed.

To make the Ktarian eggs: Outline the egg and flood with bright yellow icing. Let dry overnight and then mix individual batches of red, orange and blue colours with small amounts of water. Wearing gloves, dab a paintbrush into the colour and then use your finger to flick each colour onto the cookie in turn. It’s good to lay down some baking paper or similar to catch drips.

To make a Taspar egg: Outline the egg with beige coloured icing, drawing some triangles across the top of the egg, to represent the cracked egg. Flood with the same colour, then leave to dry overnight. The next day, draw some tentacles in black or dark brown icing, coming out of the egg.

To make the Regova egg: Prepare both light yellow and teal icing. Outline the bottom half of the egg in teal, and the top half in yellow, drawing a line across the top third so there is some room to add the decorations on top. Flood the bottom half with teal, and the top half with yellow. While the icing is still wet, drag a toothpick through middle, where the two colours meet. Swirl it around a few times.

With dark red icing, add some small circles/blobs to the top of the egg. Leave gaps in between each blob. Let dry for about an hour, then go back and fill in the gaps with more red blobs (this ensures they don’t all run together when drying).

To make Porakan eggs: Outline and flood the eggs with beige or tan icing and let dry overnight. Mix a small amount of brown colour with some water. Wearing gloves, use a paintbrush to flick the brown over the eggs with your finger. It’s good to lay down some baking paper or similar to catch drips.

Happy Easter everyone!

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