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Valendrian’s Asparagus Soup

Denerim’s alienage is not ideally suited to growing asparagus - the plant needs good drainage - but the bed Elder Valendrian planted as a young man still produces a fine crop every spring, and he eats it every day during its short season. The secret, he said, was to choose a nice, quiet, sunny spot and to work sand and manure into the soil before planting the seeds. If you’ve chosen carefully, the plants will reward you for decades.

If your asparagus is perfect, he said, steam it and eat it plain, but it’s hard to eat it fast enough to keep up. This recipe is good for stalks too tough to steam (and better for perfect asparagus, of course, but you’ll want to enjoy that by itself).

  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 pound asparagus, chopped
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup milk

Melt the butter in a smallish soup pot and saute the onion and celery until soft. Sprinkle the flour over it, add the bay leaf, and stir in the broth. Add the asparagus and potato and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the asparagus is tender and the potato has mostly disintegrated, 30-40 minutes. Stir in the milk and heat through.

Alarith’s Potato Cakes

The alienage store is more than a place to purchase necessities. It’s a place to gather and exchange gossip when the weather is poor. The proprietor knows that many of his customers struggle to keep themselves fed, so most days, he fries up a pan of these to pass around and keep the conversation flowing. They’re also a great way to use up any vegetables that won’t be fit to sell the next day. Toss in some sliced carrots or diced turnip with the potatoes (keeping the pieces small so they are soft at the same time as the potatoes), or toss in some shelled peas or chopped onions halfway through. All herbs are good in this. You may need to add a little more flour or butter if you add extras, but it will add flavor.

  • 4 medium russet potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Peel and quarter the potatoes, place in a pot, and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Drain thoroughly and return the potatoes to the pan to dry off in the residual heat. Mash with the butter and salt. Stir in the flour and knead to combine.

Roll out on a lightly-floured board into a 9-inch circle and cut into wedge-shaped quarters.

Sprinkle some flour in the bottom of a heavy nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet and cook these over a medium-low heat until the bottoms are golden brown. Flip carefully and cook the other side.

Serve with salt, black tea, and gossip.

Maevaris Tilani’s Spring Perfection

The true gourmet is not given to excess. They have a discerning palate, appreciating each food in its season, balanced against the choicest ingredients. Maevaris is the epitome of the term. She has nothing against excess, exactly, but she loves things for their quality, not their cost. A sprinkling of salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar bring out the wonders of the season.

This is written as an hors d’oeuvre, but it could just as easily be served as a salad. Simply shred the lettuce as a chiffonade and garnish with whole strawberry slices or radish roses.

The exact species of lettuce does not matter too much. Boston lettuce, butter lettuce, red oakleaf lettuce, whatever, as long as the leaves are soft and mild.

  • 1 10-ounce package frozen petite peas, thawed
  • 8 ounces strawberries, diced
  • 4 radishes, sliced paper-thin
  • 1 Tbsp fresh mint, cut in thin strips
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 10 ounces soft-leaf lettuce

To serve this as an appetizer, combine everything but the lettuce. Place a spoonful of the mixture on each lettuce leaf and fold up as if you were folding a spring roll, enclosing the filling. To serve as a salad, shred the lettuce and combine everything. A drizzle of hazelnut oil would not go amiss, but it is not necessary.

To make this as an entree, add a half pound of steamed shrimp or crab meat with the filling.

This really does complement a spring meal. It makes a fantastic prelude to roast lamb and asparagus or grilled salmon with leeks and sorrell. Nothing says that you cannot serve more strawberries for dessert.

If the dish is being served as an appetizer or as an entree, pair with riesling or may wine (where may wine is legal). If it is served as a side dish, choose the wine to go with the entree. There are very few beverages that will taste bad after a mouthful of this.

Regalyan d’Marcall’s Sesame Noodles

There are foods you will eat only because they’re cheap, and there are foods you will eat only because you are sharing them with friends… and then there’s that magical category that encompases both. It has little to recommend it apart from the fact that it will keep body and soul together until more nutritious fare comes along, but somehow, it evokes friendship and camaraderie, and the eternity that follows the last goodbye. I can easily envision Galyan sharing this meal with his friends in the safe house, and… and I’ve been chopping onions, that’s all.

  • 1 pound dried linguine, preferably whole wheat
  • salt
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp minced ginger root
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup creamy-style peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp sriracha sauce (or to taste)
  • 2 cups steamed broccoli florets
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts (optional)
  • salt, soy sauce, and additional sriracha sauce to taste

Prepare the linguine according to the directions on the package.

Meanwhile, saute the bell pepper, garlic cloves, and ginger in the vegetable oil until the pepper begins to soften. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vinegar, peanut butter, sesame oil, and sriracha sauce, just to warm. Stir in the cooked linguine, the broccoli, and green onions, and top with the chopped peanuts.

If you want this meal to be more substantial, add a can or two or tuna fish or chopped chicken, or a few hard-boiled eggs. By the Void, if you’re that rich, you could even add a diced poached chicken breast or two, but Galyan’s friends would eat it plain and thank you for it.

Serve with salt, soy sauce, and hot pepper sauce on the side.

This Week on Dragon Age Recipes - week of 13 April 2014

Sunday Reading expands to include other media as we explore the dining pleasures of the inimitable Maevaris Tilani and the roguish Regalyan d’Marcall.

Tuesday in the Alianage: Elder Valendrian shares his wisdom and Alarith welcomes you to his shop.

Gamlen’s Greatest Thursday: Charade shares the secrets of a different family, and Veld leaves correspondence lying around.

Harbormaster Liam’s Fish and Chips

"The harbormaster is a very busy man," Aden said after Kirkwall’s resident shipping authority brushed me off. Liam’s assistant, however, had lots of time on his hands… and a most singular memory. I had never heard of gold as a mnemonic aid, but Aden seems to swear by it. Indeed, it did prove efficacious, almost magically so, in fact.

In retrospect, I probably should not have had to pay for the recipe, but I won’t file a complaint. They’re being paid to keep cargo moving through the docks, not to indulge the whims of a food correspondent.

Anyway, I present the fruits of my investigation. Bon apetit.

  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • 6 cups vegetable oil for deep frying
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 1/2 pounds cod fillets
  • malt vinegar and salt to serve
  • special equipment: deep-fry thermometer

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut the potatoes into thick pieces (1/4 inch x 1 inch is about right) and soak in cold water while you heat the oil and make the batter. Mix the flour, salt, and cayenne and stir in the beer to make a smooth batter.

When the oil reaches 375 degrees Fahrenheit, fry the chips until they are just barely starting to turn color. Don’t worry about their paleness. A second frying makes them crisp and wonderful.

Dredge the fish fillets in the batter, then fry one at a time in the hot oil until golden brown. Keep an eye on the deep fry thermometer and raise the heat if the temperature starts to drop. These should never stop bubbling. If the steam bubbles stop, it means that the grease is getting in, and nobody likes greasy fish.

Transfer the fish to a wire rack in the 250 degree oven to drain. Do not attempt to cook too many fillets at once as the oil temperature will drop and the fish will get soggy.

When all the fish is cooked, return the potatoes to the fryer for another minute or two until they are golden brown.

Serve with malt vinegar, salt, and cold beer.

Author’s note: Milk may be substituted for the beer in the above recipe.

Martin’s Legitimate Beverage

"It’s just spices and herbs," he said, "nothing special."

He lied.

  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup ice
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 fluid ounce pineapple juice
  • 1/2 fluid ounce simple syrup
  • 1 1/2 fluid ounces gold rum
  • 1/2 fluid ounce triple sec
  • 1/2 fluid ounce dark rum
  • 1 fluid ounce ginger liqueur
  • more ice
  • mint leaves, pineapple chunks, and/or lime wedges to garnish

Muddle the mint leaves with the ice in a cocktail shaker until they are mashed to a pulp, then add the fruit juices, booze, and syrup (simple syrup is just 1 cup sugar boiled with 1 cup water, for those who want to make it at home). Shake.

Pack a tall glass with ice and strain the drink into it. Garnish with any combination of mint leaves, pineapple chunks, and lime wedges and serve to legitimate persons, legitimately.


Thanks to all those who volunteered to test my fragrance!

If you sent me an ask already, I’ll be getting back to you today (if I haven’t already) about address details and you should expect your sample to arrive next week.

At this point, I have enough volunteers, so I’m going to close the offer. This won’t be the last fragrance I make, though. so if you missed it this time, I’ll be doing it again in a few weeks.

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