A Magical Meal
Like most Harry Potter fans, I had a tendency for years to want all things Harry Potter, official or not. So years ago when I saw The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, you can believe a foodie like myself added it to her basket at Barnes & Noble faster than I even registered it was happening.
And in true bookworm fashion, I got the cookbook and then it waited in a pile of "to be read" books that was taller than I care to admit.
But about a year ago I found the perfect opportunity to try out some of the recipes!
Greg had been away for two weeks for work. It was towards the end of summer when my work starts to slow down, and Labor Day weekend means even more time off. I had friends to spend it with but not being otherwise occupied, made me miss him even more. At the time, we were married but only got to see each other on weekends. So already starved for time together, I was not looking forward to missing two weekends, and dealing with the time difference.
You'd think after doing long distance for years, we'd be pros at this. But each time it's just as frustrating.
The thing about being apart is when we're together again, it's one of two things: either I'm dying to make it super special and show Greg how much I missed him, or I just want us to lock ourselves away in our home and do nothing but sit around and just be together.
This particular occasion, I was full of energy and ready to do something special! So I decided I would make Greg a three course meal, inspired by one of our favorite things. This would also mark our first meal at our brand new kitchen table in our brand new home, since it was delivered while Greg was away for work.
When we met, we quickly learned we were both Harry Potter fans. A few years later, Greg surprised me with a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Our first day there was so exciting I completely forgot about what could be happening.
Later that night I was stupid shocked when Greg proposed.
So planning the dinner, I figured I could make a nice comforting meal, we could maybe sit around and watch a harry potter movie, and just relax together in our home.
Picking which recipes to try was in some ways easy, because with Greg's dietary restrictions, I wouldn't be able to adjust some to fit his needs. But this also made it a little difficult when I was left with few recipes I thought he would actually be interested in.
I decided on a soup to start, and herby roasted chicken for the main course with onion-garlic mashed potatoes and glazed carrots. For dessert, while I wanted to try one of the pastries in the book, most of them are too fatty for our dietary needs, so I decided to go with one of our staple stress free desserts, and butterbeer popcorn, another one of our favorites, for while we watched the movie.
I laid out a few slices of French baguette, with brie and jam, so Greg had something to snack on after his long day of travel, while I finished up in the kitchen. The baguette also made a great addition for the soup, so it was convenient to already have it out and on the table. Plus, I am a strong believer that every special occasion needs charcuterie.
In hindsight, I wish I had prepared the soup the day before. I chose the Creamy Onion soup, a bit of a risk considering Greg doesn't like onions. This was a simple recipe but it ended up tasting a bit bland. It would be great on a rainy day, maybe when you're a little under the weather, to have something light. Imagine a French onion soup, but without the hearty flavor of a quality beef stock.
But it wasn't what I was hoping for, for a special dinner. So in the middle of everything I ran to the store and picked up some smoked Gruyere cheese. This ended up making the soup fattier but it did give it more flavor. Had I been smarter and prepared it the day before, I probably could have come up with a better plan to salvage the soup, and avoided a lot of stress in the last minute run around.
The soup might not have been perfect, but at least the setting was nice. It also was not Greg's thing but he didn't hate it, which considering he doesn't even like onions, I think is kind of a win anyways!
I was both nervous and excited about the Herby Roast Chicken. For context, I don't cook a lot of meat because I'm always worried about undercooking it, and then I end up over cooking it. This fear has subsided since Greg introduced me to meat thermometers.
I also have never worked with a whole chicken before. On Thanksgiving, my sister usually handles the turkey while I work on apps and sides. But this recipe was really straight forward! There was very little prep, the herbed butter smelled amazing, and the hour and half in the oven gave me plenty of time to work on the sides!
The onion-garlic mashed potatoes were nice, but I added more garlic than the recipe called for. Always measure garlic with your heart. I also swapped the 1/2 cup of vegetable oil for some low fat butter. Again, I needed the meal to be something Greg could eat, and a half cup of oil seemed like a lot for mashed potatoes.
The last side, the glazed carrots, required a little more prep time but a lot less cooking time than I imagined. This side pairs hearty carrots with a splash of maple syrup to bring out their sweetness, and a dash of cinnamon, adding the perfect amount of spice. This was a really easy side and perfect for any fall dinner. I will definitely be making it again!
The main course was a hit! The chicken was juicy and flavorful. The potatoes were comforting. And the carrots were something special and unexpected!
The soup might have gotten us off to a rocky start, but you really can't go wrong with meat and potatoes. The recipes I picked for the main course were all fairly low maintenance as well. Not a lot of fuss, but the end result was a great meal.
If you take a look in the back you'll see the Witch's Tea Tray I put together. I had already started to put out our Halloween decorations in early September and it seemed like the perfect edition to our Harry Potter inspired dinner date.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and the recipes! It's not split into your normal, apps, sides, dinner, dessert sections. Over 150 recipes are broken up along the story, like "Good Food with Bad Relatives," for meals inspired by chapters with the Dursleys, or "Treats on the Train," for that first magical ride on the Hogwarts Express. I won't ruin whose recipes are included in "The Favorite Cook's Dishes," but I have a feeling you can all guess.
There are a lot of recipes I want to try and will be going back to, like stews that look delicious but would have been too much for a three course meal. And I will get around to the desserts for sure, as soon as I know we'll have some help in finishing them! The cookbook is also great inspiration of a classic dinner party, Harry Potter themed or not.
This time , we ended our magical meal with a family favorite; pumpkin cookie, baked into a baby dutch oven and topped with low fat vanilla ice cream. It was the perfect size to make dessert for two and you can get it here!
We didn't make it to the movie as we were exhausted; Greg from travelling and me from cooking. But that didn't stop us from munching on butterbeer popcorn!
If you'd like to try out the recipes for yourself, you can grab a copy here!
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