Welcome back to another Thronesgiving Feast hosted by The Gluttonous Geek! Last Thronesmas ended with the Queens of the World (Cersei Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, Sansa Stark, Olenna Tyrell, Ellaria Sand, and Yara Greyjoy) heading to war over the Seven Kingdoms. This night they went to war…over our taste buds.
That’s right, each course of our feast was inspired by one of the pictured Queens. Last week we dined with the Mother of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen, sharing a plate of Garam Masala Spiced Lamb with Lemony Olive Tapenade. This week we’ll be finishing our feast with Dinner from the North and Dessert from the South. First, we’ll hit up Winterfell for Sansa Stark’s Honeyed Lemon & Scotch Cornish Game Hens. Then we’ll drown in tears and wine with Cersei Lannister’s Drunken Red Keep Cake.
Click here to jump to Sansa’s recipe
Click here to jump to Cersei’s recipe
The Wolf and The Lion
I was going to give each lady their own post for these recipes when I originally came up with them. Given the direction this season is going, though, I felt that there is too much of a connection between Sansa and Cersei at this point to ignore.
Sansa makes it no secret that she wants to be queen when the series starts. She dreams of tournaments, songs, handsome knights, and all the trappings of a courtly romantic medieval society. Cersei wasn’t all that different when she was young, however. Raised by Tywin Lannister under the expectation of marrying Rhaegar Targaryen, we see Cersei growing up as a young girl with Queenhood in her dreams. Cersei’s desire draws less from romanticism as it does for power, but there is still one connecting factor between them. Despite their differences, they share a desire to be significant in a society that offers women only two options to be so: through marriage, or through seduction.
Throughout the book and tv series, Cersei laments being born a woman. She believes herself capable and competent in every way to reflect her father’s image. When she marries Robert, she is enamored with his impressive figure and the idea of being Queen. Upon his drunken calling her “Lyanna” on their wedding night, she realizes that she gained a cage rather than a crown. The prophecy stating she will be replaced by a beautiful queen only makes her situation more precarious. She sees the Game of Thrones as on that she has no other choice but to play, the significance she craved is now her burden and survival. In her heart, she believes the only way she can be truly safe is to become the crown that would cage and destroy any threat that comes her way.
Her interactions with Sansa could be her regarding the young Stark as the prophesied threat, though I feel it may be that Cersei holds a hateful fondness for her. Imagine you met the younger version of yourself, would you want to preserve their dreamy innocence? Or would you want to browbeat the stupid right out of them?
Sansa’s flaw throughout the series is that her desire for significance drives her to trust all the wrong people and do what is expected of her so people will like her. The trouble is you never can please anyone, and while she has survived thus-far, she only delays the inevitable of being eaten alive. Sansa later also realizes that the crown is both a sword and a cage. Her experiences with Littlefinger, the Lannisters, and the Boltons shred her ability to trust anyone except her family. She, like Cersei, now struggles to maintain control of the significance she now has as the Queen of Winterfell. Though unlike Cersei, as we’ve seen from this season, she learns to wield that crown with grace, caution, and subtlety.
The Queen of the North
For Sansa’s recipe, I wanted to play on a Northern dish with some Southern influence that also had a bit of bite. The books mention Honeyed Chicken as a Winterfell feast staple. I went with Cornish game hens so I could fit enough in my oven to feed 14 people. I also felt it went along with Sansa’s nickname of “little bird.”
I stuffed the hens with lemon halves and rosemary before roasting and basting them with a glaze of lemon juice, honey, poudre forte, and scotch. Lemon cakes are Sansa’s favorite southern treat. Poudre Forte, a medieval spice blend tasting something like if you mixed pumpkin pie with lots of black pepper, signifies her taste for luxury as it historically would only be used in noble and wealthy households as a status symbol.
The rosemary and Scotch represent Sansa’s reclaiming the piney North with a little bit of courage. Scotch whiskey is in no way authentic to medieval society. But I feel it adds the kiss of fire appropriate to a daughter of Catelyn Stark. Also, I feel Sansa is going to need a stiff drink after what she’s had to deal with this season.
Sansa's Honey-Scotch & Lemon Game Hens
Equipment: Roasting pan with a rack, kitchen twine, oven, pastry brush.
- 2 cornish game hens, giblets removed
- 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons scotch whiskey
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 large sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon poudre forte (or pumpkin pie spice with 1/4 teaspoon black pepper)
- kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 375° F.
- Slice the lemon in half and juice it into a measuring cup or mixing bowl. Pour the scotch, poudre douce, and honey into this and whisk until dissolved; set aside.
- Cut the rosemary sprigs in half. Stuff the cavity of each hen with a lemon half and two small sprigs of rosemary.
- Truss the hens closed with kitchen twine, and tuck the wings underneath the bodies. Season the birds liberally with kosher salt and place them on the rack of a roasting pan.
- Smother a layer of the scotch-honey mix onto the hens with a pastry brush and roast in the oven 45 minutes to an hour, or until the juices run clear and the skin is golden brown. Baste the hens every 15 minutes with the glaze until you run out.
- Remove the birds from the oven and let rest about 5 minutes. Split each hen in half along the spine with a heavy-duty chef’s knife and plate each half to serve.
The Mad Queen of Drowned Tears
I wanted to make dessert for Cersei that showed off her sophistication while drowning in wine. From what we’ve seen, wine is both Cersei’s pleasure and pain. I originally thought of making a red wine velvet cake using my Nordicware Castle Cake Pan (affiliate link), and topping it with absinthe flambeed raspberries. The absinthe would have been representative of the green wildfire favored by the Lion Queen. I then learned that flambeeing is more visually impressive than functional. Flame also ruins the anise notes in the liquor and turns it bitter.
So instead I decided to drown this confectionary Red Keep in even more wine with a raspberry and red wine syrup. Either way, the effect works, and this probably won’t be the last time red splatters this castle.
I cannot claim complete credit for this dessert, though. The recipe is actually from one of my guests from the evening, Katharina of Pretty Cake Machine, of her grandmother’s Rotweinkochen. I adapted it quite a bit for flavor, using the medieval blend poudre forte to spice it. I also adapted it by accident when in my rush I forgot to include the baker’s chocolate entirely. I cannot be thankful enough for Katharina, though, as she stepped in to help me as my sous chef at the last minute when I was about to go mad as Cersei, myself.
All turned out well, however. I can’t say the same for Cersei as we still have one more season to go before we discover the fate of the Mad Queen. In the meantime, why not claim this Keep for yourself? In this Game of Thrones, you win, AND you dine.
Cersei's Drunken Red Keep Cake
Serves many many people
Equipment: Castle Bundt Cake Pan, baking spray, flour sifter, oven, hand or stand mixer, spatula, stove top, pastry brush, saucepan.
- 1 1/4 cup butter
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 6 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1½ tablespoon poudre forte ( or 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice with 1/2 tablespoon black pepper)
- 1½ tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup red wine
Red wine -Raspberry Purée:
- 12 oz fresh raspberries
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/3 cup red wine
- 1/2 teaspoon poudre fort (or 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper)
Powdered Sugar for Garnish
Make the Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Take this time to prep your ingredients. Separate the egg whites and yolks into separate dishes. Spray the interior of your cake pan thoroughly with baking spray, using a pastry brush to hit the crannies if needed.
- Place 6 and 1/2 tablespoons of sugar in a small dish and set aside for later. In a larger bowl, or in the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the remaining sugar, butter, or vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg yolks one by one.
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and poudre fort into a separate, large bowl. Turn the mixer on in the wet ingredients’ bowl, add a third of the dry mix, and then pour in half the wine. Repeat until you are out of both. Pour the batter into the bowl you used for the flour and clean the stand mixer bowl and mixer beaters completely.
- In the now clean bowl beat the egg whites until foamy. Drizzle in the sugar you had reserved earlier and continue to beat until it forms stiff peaks. Carefully fold this meringue into the batter a third at a time.
- Pour the batter into the cake pan and tap the pan a couple of times on the counter to release any air bubbles. Use a pastry brush to coat the sides of the pan about an inch above the rest of the batter.
- Bake in the oven for 45-55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before leveling off the excess with a serrated knife, and inverting onto your serving plate. Tent with saran wrap and let cool while you make the purée.
Make the Purée:
- Stir the wine and sugar together in a small saucepan until dissolved. Pour 3/4 of the raspberries into the pan and bring it to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and let the berries simmer, occasionally stirring, until it reduces by half and thickens — about 40-45 minutes.
- Remove the pan from heat and let cool before pouring it into a sealable container. Let chill in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
Serve the Cake:
- Remove the saran wrap from the cake.
- Place the remaining fresh raspberries into the center, then pour the purée on top, letting it ooze down the corners.
- Sprinkle powdered sugar on top.