So admittedly today’s post is a little bit of a leftover from #Nyanuary.
What can I say? I got ambitious and then life happened in the form of family birthdays, friends’ wedding prep, day job drama, and friend emergencies. For those not in the know, the collective of my geeky food blogger friends, Fandom Foodies, was interpreting cats from fiction through fun recipes last month with the hashtag #Nyanuary.
The link up is hosted on my friend Katharina‘s blog: Pretty Cake Machine. That said, considering that my love for my fuzzy babies has me projecting people feelings and emotions onto them, it makes sense that my last post in this series would involve cat-people.
This week’s post is going to be a little short but figuratively and literally sweet.
If you’ve ever played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you may have heard of a certain bipedal cat race named the Khajiit. These formidable folks are known for their stealth, deathly claws, and caravans of earthly delights.
They also love sweets, which I think is kind of crazy since cats in our world cannot actually register the “sweet” taste. The Khajiit apparently have a nip-like addiction to moon sugar and prefer food utterly doused in the stuff. From an evolutionary standpoint, since these cats are bipedal, I suppose that makes sense. Cats themselves are obligate carnivores, but unlike most other animals who fit the bill, they are able to sense bitter flavors. Scientists believe this may be a defense mechanism to determine if their kill happened to eat anything particularly poisonous.
My reasoning is that if the Khajiit are simply bipedal, evolved versions of cats large and small, I imagine their sense of taste may have also developed and adapted to adopt more omnivorous preferences. Evolution, however, also takes thousands of years and their sense for sweeties may have lagged in comparison, that it would require an overload of sugar to balance out the bitterness from eating any kind of leafy greens.
I imagine that this tendency is what led to the creation of Lavender Dumplings. This dish is one of many that you can have your character make in the Skyrim expansion Hearthfire and the ingredients are listed as a sack of flour, moon sugar, snowberries, and lavender.
So first I made up a traditional pasty hot water crust using lots and lots of lavender.
The closest, non-toxic visual equivalent to snowberries we have are cranberries. When I initially planned out this recipe, I was going to use whole, raw cranberries to bake and explode inside the dough for the filling. I then tried one and realized that was a very bad idea. Cranberries are stupidly tart. If I can barely eat one alone without wanting to claw my tongue out, imagine what it would be like for someone who cannot taste the slightest bit of sweetness the fruit naturally produces. This is why I then scaled back my ambitions some to use canned, whole berry cranberry sauce.
To pay homage to the Khajiit’s caravan trading, I mixed in some exotic spices like ground cardamom and nutmeg, as well as some dried basil, and even more lavender. Then to blend the filling together, I also folded the whole lot into creamy and tangy goat cheese.
So here it is, my copy-Khajiit recipe for a Skyrim: Hearthfire treat!
Makes 20-25 dumplings
Equipment: Stovetop, small saucepan large heat-safe mixing bowl, medium mixing bowl, small bowl, rolling pin, spatula, parchment paper, baking sheets, pastry brush. (optional): 2″ square cookie cutter, hot water kettle.
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons of dried lavender
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 cup lard, shredded
- 1 cup water
- 1 egg
- powdered sugar for garnish
- 7 oz goat cheese
- 1/2 cup canned whole berry cranberry sauce
- 4 teaspoons dried lavender
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Blend all the ingredients for the filling in a medium mixing bowl. When fully incorporated, cover the bowl and let chill in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes (or 15 minutes in the freezer) while preparing the crust.
- Preheat the oven to 325° F.
- Whisk flour and salt together in a large, heat-resistant bowl. Pour the milk, lard, water, and lavender in a small saucepan and simmer.
- Set a separate kettle with extra water to boil. Stir the contents of the saucepan.
- When the mixture just comes to a boil, immediately pour it into the flour mix and blend with a spatula or wooden spoon until a dough forms. Add extra hot water from the kettle if the dough is too dry, extra flour if too wet, until it’s workable enough to roll.
- Take the filling out of the refrigerator or freezer and begin to make the dumplings. Line the baking sheet/s with parchment paper.
- Beat the egg and a splash of water in a small bowl with a fork and set to the side.
- Divide the dough into 4 to 6 parts in its bowl. Take one part out and cover the bowl with a towel or saran wrap to keep the heat and moisture in. Roll the dough out on the countertop with a rolling pin until about 1/4″ thin. Cut the dough into 2″ squares with a butter knife or a square shape.
- Roll each square slightly larger and drop a heaping teaspoonful of filling onto the center of each. Dip your finger into the egg mixture and paint all four edges of each square.
- To form the squares into dumplings, bring two of the opposing corners together and pinch to seal. Carefully bring up another corner so that it looks like an envelope and pinch along the sides to seal them. Repeat with the following corner and try to smooth the dough closed with your fingers.
- Place the finished dumpling on the baking sheet and repeat the process until you run out of dough or filling.
- Brush the remaining egg mixture onto the dumplings with a pastry brush and bake in the oven about 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Let cool about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.
The dumplings really are best when warm as the heat also softens the crust. Microwave any leftovers about 15-30 seconds on high if they cool too much. You can also make the dumplings and freeze them to bake at another time, just let them thaw about 20 minutes before doing so.