Category Archives: It’s not TV It’s HBO

The Larry David | “Curb Your Enthusiasm”

by Blake Stilwell

I realize I’ve been making a lot of sandwiches lately. I wonder what it is about the sandwich that makes it so popular in television and film. Maybe sandwiches are inherently funny? I promise more substantial foods in the future, but for now… It has long been a secret dream of mine to be so famous (or rather, well-known) that a deli somewhere feels compelled to name a sandwich after me. If this ever happened, I of course would want it to be delicious… like some kind of fried catfish po’boy with cole slaw or a gruyère grilled cheese with caramelized onions or something like that. To have a sandwich named after you that tastes terrible would be aggravating. Of course it happened to Larry David in the first episode of season five of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. larry-david-sandwich This both is and is not a joke. It’s a joke in that it’s a hilarious thing that happened to Larry on the show, it’s not in that this is really the sandwich we are about to make right now.

Ingredients:
• Smoked Whitefish
• Sabel (or some other kind of smoked whitefish)
• Cream Cheese
• Onions
• Capers
• Rye Bread

The sandwich itself is pretty easy to make, as all sandwiches tend to be. The ingredients might be a little hard to find, though surprisingly, smoked whitefish is widely available. I didn’t know this because I have never had a desire to buy smoked whitefish for any reason ever. And apparently Sabel is just another kind of whitefish. I couldn’t really find something called sabel, but I was able to find another whitefish, which… I guess is good. LarryDavid Even this monstrosity would make your dad proud. Personally, I wouldn’t care if I like my own sandwich or not, I just want the sandwich. In the end, it became the Richard Lewis because two kinds of fish just wasn’t good enough for Larry.

F**k you, Larry.

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Beef and Bacon Pie with Onions In Gravy | “Game of Thrones”

by Blake Stilwell of (according to numerous online Game of Thrones-based personality tests) House Baratheon.

"Our Favorite Food"

“Ours is Our Favorite Food”

I actually believe if House Stilwell had a place in Westeros, our sigil would likely be a fat bear, wearing a bib and drinking  two fingers of scotch. I also think this is probably Robert Baratheon’s personal sigil, one he just never talked about.  But this isn’t about me, this is a celebration!

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This month, HBO dropped the latest season of Game of Thrones on Blu-Ray, a gift for which I have already pre-ordered for my mother (it was her Christmas gift. Don’t judge me. I got schmaltzy gifts for her for the past five years and I think she actually liked this much better). Of course I didn’t wait for this to watch. Who possibly could? To celebrate this momentous occasion (and maybe have it available for this year’s premiere of Season Four), As Eaten brings you something as epic as the Game of Thrones theme song: a hearty dish from the North!

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Not that far North.

No, not Ygritte. It’s a Beef and Bacon Pie, from the lands around Winterfell! The recipe comes from A Feast of Ice and Fire: the Official Game of Thrones Cookbook by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer, based on their blog Inn At The Crossroads. This book is more than a recipe book. Its an exhaustively-researched history of food and medieval cookery. It’s a fascinating mix of narrative and historical context. I highly recommend this. It’s so much more than a cookbook. And if you’re throwing a Game of Thrones-themed party, you will not find a better companion!

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Well.. maybe one better companion…

The North of Westeros is a vast, cold place. As such, the food tends to toward what we in the US call “comfort food.” They are heavy, hearty plates, full of meats, gravies, breads, and such. This recipe is no different. The difference is where the comfort food in the US can be bland at times, save the use of salt and pepper, the use of fruits and spices in this  meat mixture brings a unique, exotic flavor.

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It’ll taste better than you think it will.

But you’ll need to start with the medieval pastry dough. There is a special recipe, and the first ingredient should be an indicator of the uniqueness of flavors I’m talking about. If it sounds weird that the North of Westeros uses Saffron in its baking doughs, there is a very interesting explanation, based in both the lore of the Game of Thrones universe as well as Medieval History, thoroughly researched and presented to the reader. It’s really a good read. And it’s delicious.

Pinch of Saffron
1/2 C Water
1/2 C Unsalted Butter
3 C Flour 2 Egg Yolks, beaten

Dissolve the saffron in the water. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until there are only crumb-sized pieces. Add the egg yolks and saffron water until the mixture is sticky. To pre-bake a shell, line a pan with thin-rolled dough.use a fork to poke holes all over the bottom of the pastry shells. Bake for 10 minutes at 350° F.

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Beef and Bacon Pie

The book offers two recipes, a modern version and a medieval version. The recipe I used from this book is more of the medieval sort, which I think more appropriate, given the setting of the show and books.

1/2 c thick-cut bacon, diced
1 1/2 lbs stew beef, diced
1/2 tsp black pepper 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/3 c prunes
1/3 c raisins
1/3 c dates pitted and chopped
1 c beef broth
2-3 tbsp flour
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Cook the bacon in a saucepan until the fat runs from it, then drain off the fat. To the bacon pan, add the beef, spices, vinegar, and fruits. Add enough broth to wet the mixture until its runny. Mix in the flour and cook until the juices form a gravy. Cool the mixture. Line a 9-inch pie pan with a pastry dough and fill it with the meat mixture.

The book calls for a pastry lid. But the book has a great photo of a pie with a bacon lattice lid, so we decided to go with this because it was so much more epic. We used the remaining chewy bacon that wasn’t quite crispy to form the lattice so it would crips in the oven. The fruit will melt as the pie bakes and form a sweet, salty, savory mix of flavors that is absolutely fantastic.

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Onions in Gravy

10 oz boiler or pearl onions
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 sprig of freshly chopped savory herb, such as rosemary or thyme
1/3 c apple cider
1 tbsp flour
3 c beef stock
Splash of Brandy

Clean and peel the onions. Quarter seven of them and put the rest aside. In a deep frying pan, add the honey, herbs, and quartered onions.make sure the onions get covered with the honey-butter mixture, cook for 8 minutes, browning the onions. Add the cider to the pan in three distinct splashes. let the cider heat between splashes. Sprinkle flour into the pan and form a gravy. Add the stock and the rest of the onions and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes and reduce until it has a thicker, more gravy-like consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. We garnished with rosemary because it looked nice and we had some left over.

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This one-two punch combination of sweet and savory is a filling, hearty meal fit for you or any Stark. Any Stark that may still be alive, that is.

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Lake Trout | “The Wire”

by Blake Stilwell

I’m something of a seafood expert. I know people don’t think seafood perfection when they think of Red Lobster, but I learned how to cook seafood really well there, having worked the line for so many years. What I know best of all is prepping and frying up cheap fish for sandwiches. At my Springfield, Ohio Red Lobster (good ol’ RL 868), the fish we fried was Hoki. This is not so in Baltimore corner carry outs, like the ones featured in HBO’s “The Wire.”

In this scene, Detective William “the Bunk” Moreland (Wendell Pierce) is using Lake Trout as a thinly veiled allusion to Detective Jimmy McNulty’s (Dominic West) personal life. Essentially, the Bunk is warning him against trying to be something he’s not. Mcnulty swears Bunk is wrong. Bunk thinks McNulty is wrong. The only thing they’re both right about is that the fish fried isn’t actually Trout, and it doesn’t come from a lake. It’s actually Atlantic Whiting, a kind of bottom feeder, usually regarded as cheap and food for pets, though you can find it easily on the East Coast of the US in your grocer’s freezer. It’s strange, You don’t ever really see anyone on the show eating it (I think they do once or twice, but it wasn’t even someone from the streets eating it, it was a guy on Carcetti’s campaign… though Bodie asked for it a few times), but people order it a lot and signs for it are everywhere in the backgrounds.

Living in Washington DC as I do, I drove up to Baltimore to sample a few Lake Trout meals before trying to come up with my own recipe. It wouldn’t do any reader much good to read this blog if I didn’t know what the stuff tasted like in the first place. This post will be a true to The Wire as The Wire was to Baltimore.And holy hell… I had no idea Lake Trout was such a cultural staple of Baltimore! People are very particular about this stuff: the hot sauce, the Old Bay, the drink, the fries, where to get it, how to eat it, etc. The nuances are many. I asked a few locals about how to eat it , but they all said something different. So I figured I’d go order a few and decide how I like it.

A recent article in the Baltimore City Paper suggested the Roost as the spot for Lake Trout in Baltimore, but the day I went (a Sunday… I wasn’t taking any chances, I went during the Sunday truce) the line was out the door! (I think this is because Anthony Bourdain went here once) So instead,  I went to Lake Trout, mentioned in the City Paper, in Edmondson Village. It was closed. Go figure. But the people outside told me to go down the street to Kimmy’s, because “Kimmy’s is better anyways.” I did. And I’m glad I did. I was disappointed at first when it didn’t come in the promised paper bag and aluminum foil combo I had come to expect. It came on white bread still, but in styrofoam and a plastic bag. But this fish was amazing. It was spicy, zesty and delicious and it came with just the right amount of the perfect hot sauce (Texas Pete. I went back in and asked).

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I could not get it into my mouth fast enough.

What no one told me (and thankfully, nothing went awry) is that this fish is full of bones and there’s a particular way of eating it (pulling the spine out first). The regular lake trout, five fillets,  and a grape soda (that’s how Bodie woulda done it) cost $7.00. Which is another reason it’s so popular. By the time I finished, Lake Trout had opened up for the day. So I ordered the regular there with a half and half (iced tea and lemonade) and I have to say, it was fairly disappointing. I think if I had gone there first instead of Kimmy’s, I might not have been so disappointed, especially because I got the brown bag and aluminum foil. But it just had half the flavor, half the zest, and the oil in the fryer could have used a good filtering.

Then I thought to myself that this place is really close to a shopping area, close to the Interstate. This isn’t where Bodie or a corner crew would go. They’d be on foot anyway. So I drove deeper into  Baltimore and came across the K&C Carry Out on the corner of Belvedere and Cordelia (3801 W. Belvedere Ave, if you’re interested in going). I got a Lake Trout (four fillets) and an orange soda. It was on par with Lake Trout’s. Not bad, but not something I fell in love with… not like Kimmy.

Lake Trout from Lake Trout. So meta.

Lake Trout from Lake Trout.

I realize some of you are not near Baltimore. This is probably for the best. So based on my taste buds’ testimony, we’re going to come up with a recipe for wherever you might be. Start finding a bag of Atlantic Whiting and make sure its unfrozen. Deep frying anything frozen is going to be painful. Trust me on this.

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Papyrus: trash type for trash fish. But this is how you quick thaw a bag of Whiting… don’t go higher than 70 degrees or you’ll lose the texture of the fish. No one likes mushy fish.

For those of you unfamiliar with deep frying, there is usually two batters, a wet and dry,  and their makeup is equally important. The first is the wet batter. You dip the fish (or marinade it, if you have time) and then cover it in the dry batter. For this recipe, I double-dipped because Atlantic Whiting is kind of a fishy fish and I wanted to cover that flavor up a little. You can single dip if you want, but when you dress to impress, you wear your finest coat. Just sayin’.

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Be like the Bunk.

Wet Batter
2 eggs
2/3 c milk
1 Tbs Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 Tsp Onion Powder
1 Tsp Texas Pete
1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
Salt and Black Pepper

Again, you can either dip the fish or marinate it for a period of time.

Dry Batter
2 cups Finely Ground Corn Flour
3/4 c Cornstarch
2 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
1 Tb Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper

My setup.

My setup.

A Southern twist on this recipe would call for using peanut oil, but in every Baltimore carry out I went to, the smell of vegetable oil was unmistakable. If you’re cooking in a deep fryer, preheat your oil to 375. If the oil starts to smoke, your temperature is too high. Anything below that will let the fish absorb the oil and it’ll just turn greasy and kinda gross. If you’re cooking in a pan at home, make sure you give the fish plenty of room to get into the oil. It’s going to need to be submerged. At this point, I want to remind everyone that a grease fire is a dangerous situation. If one should occur while you’re making Baltimore Lake Trout, be sure not to throw water on it and to only use a fire extinguisher if the fire is catching to your walls. Just turn the burner off and put the lid on the pan. Just smothering the fire will put it out.

Technically, you want to cook the fish to 140 degrees (F), but four to five minutes in hot oil should do the trick. Mind the color of your oil! If the oil becomes dark brown sludge, your fish is going to fry that color. You cannot tell how done fried food is by the color and this is why. If you want a golden brown fish on your Wonder Bread, make sure your oil stays relatively fresh. You also can’t tell when fried fish is done by smell. The only surefire way to tell is by taking its temperature… but you’ll get a sixth sense for it after frying for a while. I’ve been doing it for years now and I can do a fried whitefish mind meld.

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The Seafood Whisperer

When you pull it out, don’t put the fish directly on a plate. Put them on a plate of paper towels first to soak up the excess oil. Then serve them.

Serve on white bread with a hot sauce option and Old Bay Seasoning. If your house doesn’t have a shaker of Old Bay, looks like the time is right for you to get one, motherf****r.

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Lake Trout from Blake’s DC Carry Out.

Bodie would order his with grape or orange soda. Of course… Bodie dead.

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