Week Four: Dornish Dinner

Game of Thrones kept us on our toes throughout S08xE04. We’re staring down into the endgame now, and tensions are higher than ever before. I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, but be prepared for shock, awe, anger, and anguish. I can say with full confidence that the final two episodes are going to be stuffed with violently unexpected twists and turns.

In anticipation of a heavy mood, I decided to keep our meal light so we weren’t weighed down to the point of emotional drowning.

While I don’t think we’ll likely see the bright sunny skies of Dorne again on film, at least not until the new prequel series airs in a couple years, I thought we could revisit them in cuisine. I scoured the internet for snippets of Dornish food descriptors from the books and was delighted to discover that Dorne favors Spanish-Mediterranean food with a touch of Greek. With this new knowledge, I compiled a beautiful Mediterranean spread for the fourth edition of the #MidWesterosCookingChallenge.

The full menu included (ALLLLLLL from scratch):

Hummus
Tirokafteri (Spicy Feta Dip)
Dolmas (Stuffed Grape Leaves)
Avgolemono Sauce (Lemon Egg Sauce)
Mediterranean Pasta w/ Spinach, Goat Cheese, and Toasted Pine Nuts
Pita Rounds

PLUS a snack plate full of olives, feta, goat cheese, crackers, baby carrots, and cut celery.

It ended up being the perfect meal. We were able to graze on the snack plate and drink a glass (or two) of wine while I finished the pasta and warmed the avgolemono sauce, gossiping about the upcoming episode and the mad fan theories we’ve read and loved. While everything we had was tasty, I think the true star ended up being the dolmas. They were tangy, packed full of flavor, and savory while still being light enough to accompany the garlicky pasta.

Without further ado, here’s how I put it all together!

HUMMUS

IMG_20190505_191714.jpg

INGREDIENTS NEEDED:
16oz Chickpeas, Drained (RESERVE 1/4c LIQUID)
1/4 cup Liquid Reserved from Chickpeas
3-5 tbsp Lemon Juice, to taste
1 1/2 tbsp Tahini
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 HEAPING tbsp Garlic, minced

Literally all you do is dump all of this into a blender or food processor and let it whirl into a smooth and creamy paste. Start with three tablespoons of lemon juice, taste, and then add more if you want a little more tangy goodness. Of course you can also adjust the garlic to your own personal tastes.

Hummus is truly the easiest, most delicious snack in the world. Pair it with crackers, veggies, or pita (or all three!).

TIROKAFTERI

IMG_20190505_191657.jpg

INGREDIENTS NEEDED:
9oz Crumbled Feta
3/4c Plain Greek Yogurt
1-2 tsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Red Wine Vinegar
1-2 Fresh Jalapenos, Seeds Removed

Pro Tip: Use room temperature feta. It mashes a lot easier than chilled feta. Also, if you’re out of Greek yogurt, sour cream makes a great 1:1 substitution without changing the flavor profile too much.

1. Using a fork, smash the feta and the yogurt until you have a grainy paste. This takes some effort.
2. Add in the olive oil and vinegar and mix until well combined.
3. Finely mince the peppers and add to the mixture until desired spiciness is reached.
4. If you’re not happy with the consistency (mine was a bit lumpy), use a food processor or hand mixer to further cream the feta and yogurt.

I let my tirokafteri sit overnight in the fridge to give the jalapeno time to fully infuse, and it was worth the wait.

Serve chilled with warm pita triangles.

DOLMAS

IMG_20190505_191653.jpg

INGREDIENTS NEEDED:
60 Grape Leaves, jarred or fresh
1lb Ground Beef
1/2 Yellow Onion, finely chopped
1/2c Jasmine Rice
6 tbsp Olive Oil
1/4c Italian (Flat) Parsley, chopped
1/4c Fresh Mint, chopped
4 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
2c Chicken Broth

Pro  Tip: Try and find grape leaves that come in a wide mouth jar. I used a rather tall/skinny variety and I destroyed so many leaves just trying to get the bundles out of the jar. If you can find fresh grape leaves where you live, USE THOSE! I wish I’d been able to get my hands on fresh ones.

1. GENTLY drain, rinse, and separate your grape leaves. (If you’re using fresh leaves, quickly blanch them and then dunk in an ice bath before laying them out). I laid mine out on clean linen dishtowels as I separated them.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, combine beef, onion, rice, parsley, mint, salt, pepper, and FOUR of the six tablespoons of olive oil.
3. Lay a leaf down, stem facing you. Cut away the stem and discard. Lay a tablespoon of the beef mixture in the middle of the leaf and fold the sides over the top, then fold the top down and roll like a burrito. Try to keep the rolls tight without splitting the leaves.
4. Lay the rolls, seam side down, in a medium sized stock pot. Keep them tightly lined up as you go, filling the bottom of the pot completely before adding additional layers.

IMG_20190505_161801_316.jpg

Concentric circles are the trick to dolmas. Keeping them tightly packed in, layer by layer, will keep them from floating to the top of the pot once you add in your liquid and simmer.

5. Once you’re done rolling all the leaves, take a small sauce pan and heat the chicken broth to just below boiling. Add the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and pour the hot liquid over the dolmas.
6. Simmer over medium heat for six minutes, then reduce heat and simmer for another 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the beef is cooked through.
7. Carefully remove the dolmas to a serving platter using tongs and reserve a cup of the cooking liquid (it will go into the avgolemono sauce). Cover the dolmas with foil to keep warm, or refrigerate. Since I made mine earlier in the afternoon, I covered and refrigerated the plate while I finished the rest of the meal and gently reheated it in the oven on the “Warm and Hold” setting when it was time to serve.

AVGOLEMONO SAUCE

INGREDIENTS NEEDED:
3 Eggs
1/4c Lemon Juice
1c Hot Reserved Dolmas Liquid
Salt, to taste

1. In a stand mixer, whip the eggs on high until they are light yellow and foamy– about two minutes.
2. Drizzle in the lemon juice until well incorporated, about another minute.
3. Slowly pour in the hot cooking liquid and whip for another minute.
4. Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan and heat, on low, until steaming. Whisk constantly. DO NOT BOIL!
5. Add salt to taste, and serve either over the top of the dolmas or on the side.

MEDITERRANEAN PASTA

IMG_20190505_191644.jpg

INGREDIENTS NEEDED:
18oz Twirly Pasta (I used rotini)
1/3c Pine Nuts
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, sliced
2 tbsp Garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
18oz Frozen Leaf Spinach
8oz Goat Cheese, crumbled
1/2c Parmesan, shredded
Salt + Pepper to taste

1. Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente, RESERVE A MUG OF THE PASTA WATER, drain.
2. Toast the pine nuts in a hot, dry pan. This takes only a couple minutes, so watch them carefully and keep them moving. Look for the golden brown color and the rich, nutty aroma. Remove them from the pan and set aside.
3. Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the onions until tender, about eight minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the nutmeg, then add the frozen spinach. Stir constantly to help the spinach thaw and cook evenly.
4. Add 1/4c of the reserved pasta water to the skillet, stir, and then add in the goat cheese crumbles. Add the parmesan and stir again.
5. Toss the pasta into the skillet and mix well, adding the pine nuts at the end right before serving. If the sauce looks too dry, add in another few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water. Serve hot, refrigerate leftovers (if you have any).

PITA BREAD

IMG_20190504_212122.jpg

I took like a million pictures of the pita as it was baking because the balloon bit cracked me up, so naturally I forgot to take a picture of the beautiful golden stack of flatbread that follows this stage.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED:
1c Hot Water
2 packets Instant Yeast
2 1/2c Flour + more for roll-out
2 tsp Salt
1 tbsp. Olive Oil

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the hot water and yeast. Stir, and let sit until the yeast is dissolved, about five minutes.
2. Attach the dough hook and add the flour, salt, and olive oil. Let the mixer knead for eight minutes, until your dough is smooth. Toss the dough in an oiled bowl to coat, and let sit covered with a towel until doubled, about an hour.
3. Deflate and turn out onto a floured work surface. Pinch off palm sized balls of dough and roll into 8-9″ round flats, about 1/4″ thick, with a floured rolling pin. Lift and turn the dough frequently to prevent it from sticking to the counter.
4. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and drizzle a little oil in the pan, wiping out the excess. Place one flat at a time in the skillet and let it cook for thirty seconds. When you see small bubbles forming on the surface, flip the dough and let it cook for another minute or two. When golden-dark toasted spots form on the bottom, flip it once again and cook for another minute. The pita should puff up like a balloon at this point, like in the picture above. Remove to a plate and cover with a towel while you cook the rest of the flats.

These are best eaten hot and fresh, but will easily keep in a plastic bag for a few days. Gently reheat in the pan or oven before serving.

SPREAD PLATE

IMG_20190505_191708.jpg

Not Pictured: Two dreamy little logs of herb-covered goat cheese. They were still in the fridge since the kitchen was quite warm.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED:
Feta-Stuffed Olives
Pimiento-Stuffed Olives
Italian Herb Goat Cheese Log
Red Pepper Goat Cheese Log
Crumbled Feta

I wish I’d had some fruit compotes or jams to pair with the goat cheeses, but I didn’t. We snacked on this plate and the hummus and tirokafteri with celery, carrots, and wheat crackers.

FINAL SCORE

I’m giving everything on the menu a solid 5/5 Ravens. I was so impressed with each of these recipes, and we devoured almost all of it. I’ll definitely make each of these dishes again, and soon.

IMG_20190505_192507.jpg

One thought on “Week Four: Dornish Dinner

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s