I know, it’s about freakin’ time I did a recipe inspired by the tabletop-RPG-comedic story-podcast The Adventure Zone. No, I haven’t made Taako’s Tacos–yet. I have plans for that, but first I want to highlight season 2’s Amnesty arc with a recipe inspired by The Lady Flame herself, Aubrey Little!
For those who’ve not heard of The Adventure Zone, this podcast features the McElroy Brothers (Justin, Travis, and Griffin of My Brother, My Brother, and Me) and their father Clint McElroy as they play Dungeons & Dragons and other tabletop role-playing games together. They’ve already completed their first campaign (a Forgotten Realms-style D&D arc named Balance), and their story of family, love, and inclusivity has captured the hearts of fans all over the world. Don’t believe me? Google Adventure Zone cosplay, animation, fan art. I’ll wait.
Like I said, today’s recipe is from their current Monster-of-the-Week campaign, Amnesty. In this arc, three residents of Kepler, West Virginia: a park ranger plagued by strange dreams, a stage magician with hidden power, and an artful cryptid-museum owner in need of patrons discover a supernatural side to their small town. Today’s recipe features Travis McElroy’s Dresden Files-quoting, spell-slinging, bunny-snuggling fire mage Aubrey Little as the inspiration for a dish that brings flame, flash, and family together in harmonious flavor.
Click here to skip to the recipe for Audrey Little’s Flaming Fig Salad!
Aubrey Little, The Lady Flame
When we meet Aubrey Little in the pilot episode of Amnesty, she’s flinging flash-paper as a birthday party stage magician, accompanied by her adorable bunny assistant, Dr. Harris Bonkers, Ph.D. Her show doesn’t last long, however, when real magic-fueled fire flows from her fingertips and sets a local hotel ablaze.
Luckily at that show, we also meet Mama, the head of the Amnesty Lodge – home to the Pine Guard and the portal to the mystical world of Sylvane. She brings Aubrey into the Lodge, and by default into a new family of creatures that would otherwise be called monsters.
A consistent theme I find in DM Griffin McElroy’s campaigns, both Balance and Amnesty, is that of family. He plays this up with Travis’s character and her storyline — highlighting the flashback with her parents’ farewell dinner, as well as her acceptance into the close-knit family of supernatural misfits of the Amnesty Lodge. Aubrey’s parents serve her favorite on her last night before she went off to pursue her dreams: Fig and Pear Salad with Blue Cheese. I wanted to not make a standard fig salad recipe, though. I wanted to serve up a taste of home.
Home is Where the Hearth is.
With that said, I sought to follow the McElroys’ example by incorporating details about the Monongahela National Forest, the area in which the fictional ski-resort town of Kepler, WV resides. We see Barclay and Ned hunting for wild ramps in the forest for dinner. I also did some research and learned two other things. First, black walnuts are so commonly foraged in West Virginia that the town of Spencer (right outside of the Monongahela) hosts a festival that brings people in from all over the state and country. Secondly, according to a 2012 study, the forest was found to contain almost twenty percent sugar maple trees.
You can see where I’m going with this, right?
I decided to combine both of these regional flavors and candied black walnuts in maple syrup. It’s ok to use regular walnuts if you’re not able to find them where you live. They’re also available on Amazon.
I then dressed the spring greens in a spicy, garlicky homemade vinaigrette. Ramps (a wild form of garlic) do not grow anywhere near me, so I used whole garlic cloves to infuse olive oil with that mountain stinky-onion flavor.
To this base, I then mixed in sriracha, apple cider vinegar, and more maple syrup. This recipe will make more dressing than you’ll probably use and I’ve since found to be an excellent marinade for steak, pork, and chicken.
While I did use fresh mission figs for this recipe, I don’t think I’m their biggest fan. They’re also difficult to find because they do not ship well. Next time I make this I think I would use dried Turkish or mission figs as they are sweeter and don’t have that sliced banana texture you’ll get with fresh ones.
So here it is, a dish fitting of the Lady Flame in both warmth and whimsy. If you enjoyed this taste of The Adventure Zone, please go listen to the podcast on the Maximum Fun Network, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, check out their new graphic novel based on their Dungeons & Dragons-inspired Balance arc as it just topped the New York Times Best-Seller list for paperback trade fiction!
Fuego, Ya Bastard!
Aubrey Little's Flaming Fig Salad
Equipment: Stovetop, 10-inch skillet, colander, two mixing bowls, wire whisk, strainer, salad tongs or two forks, and four salad serving bowls or plates.
- 8 cups fresh spring greens
- 4 to 5 oz. blue cheese crumbles
- 4 fresh (or dried) figs, sliced
- 1 fresh Anjou pear, diced
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/8 cup sriracha
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
- two heads of garlic cloves, peeled
- kosher salt to taste
- 1 cup black walnut pieces
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- pinch kosher salt
- Fill the skillet with the peeled garlic cloves and olive oil and turn the heat to medium-low. Turn the heat to low when the oil starts to simmer. Let cook 30 minutes while measuring and slicing your other ingredients.
- Strain the oil into one of the mixing bowls when it has finished cooking. Set the garlic cloves to the side. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and place back on the burner.
- Turn the heat to medium-high. When hot, pour in the black walnut pieces, three tablespoons of maple syrup, and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook for 3 minutes while intermittently stirring. Remove the skillet from heat. Pour in a teaspoon of garlic oil and toss to coat and keep from sticking.
- Add the apple cider vinegar, sriracha, and remaining maple syrup to the mixing bowl containing the garlic oil. Whisk until it comes together, then whisk in kosher salt to taste.
- Place two cups of greens into the other mixing bowl, and a tablespoon of the finished vinaigrette. Toss the greens with the salad tongs to coat and then transfer it to a serving bowl or plate. Repeat the process with the remaining three servings.
- Distribute the sliced figs, roasted garlic cloves, blue cheese crumbles, and candied black walnuts evenly on top of each bed of greens. Serve.