Category: Food

We’ve reached the final installment of our Nerftown breakfast series: pancakes! And not just any pancakes, but buttermilk buckwheat pancakes. These pancakes are hearty, nutty, and just a little tangy. Perfect for mornings out on the range.

A stack of pancakes with butter and maple syrup.
Nerftown Buckwheat Pancakes

Ingredients of the pancakes laid out in bowls.
All the ingredients.

Buckwheat flour gives these pancakes a delicious nutty taste and hearty texture, but regular all-purpose flour keeps these light and fluffy. The brown sugar will help bump up that wonderful rich flavor of the buckwheat flour. And buttermilk will give a little tang to the batter, but will also help activate the baking powder to give these pancakes more rise.

The flours, sugar, salt, baking soda and powder combined in a bowl.
The flours, sugar, salt, baking soda and powder.

Combine the flours, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. You’ll want to make sure there are no large clumps of flour left.

Melted butter and eggs added to the dry ingredients.
The eggs are under all that butter! We promise.

Add the melted butter and eggs. Stir until just combined.

The buttermilk being poured into the batter.
Pour that good, good buttermilk in.

Pour in the buttermilk and stir. You don’t want to over mix the batter or else the pancakes will come out dense and chewy from the extra gluten formation.

Whisk held above the bowl of batter to show the batter dripping into the bowl.
Texture of the batter.

Batter should be thick, but still pourable.

A pat of butter melting in a cast iron pan.
This is probably too much butter. Learn from our mistakes.

Heat a nonstick pan or heavy cast iron over medium-low heat. Place a small pat of butter on the pan. Once the butter has melted pour batter using a 1/4 cup scoop onto the surface.

Pancake cooking in the pan.
Some bubbles beginning to form.

When bubbles begin to form on the edges of the batter and the edges start to look matte, flip the pancake. Cook until deep golden brown.

Serve with butter and good maple syrup.

Pancakes stacked on a plate. Scones and sausages are in the background.
The full spread.

Nerftown Buckwheat Pancakes

1 cup (120g) buckwheat flour
1 cup (128g)all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
Additional butter; for pan

Combine the flours, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the melted butter and eggs. Stir until just combined. Pour in the buttermilk and stir. Batter should be thick, but still pourable.

Heat a nonstick pan or heavy cast iron over medium-low heat. Place a small pat of butter on the pan. Once the butter has melted pour batter using a 1/4 cup scoop onto the surface. When bubbles begin to form on the edges of the batter, flip the pancake. Cook until deep golden brown.

Repeat with remaining batter.

The crew spends a lot of time during episodes 23 and 24 having breakfast. One of the many things they ate were nerf sausages. We were unable to find any nerf at our local grocery store, so we had to make due with beef. And then we also added some maple and bacon and jalapeno because why not?

Patty sausages on a plate. Scones can be seen in the background.

Nerf Sausage- aka Maple Bacon Jalapeno Beef Sausage

Ground beef chuck and minced bacon make up the bulk of the sausage. You can use whatever type of bacon you’d like, we used an applewood smoked bacon. For seasonings use we salt and pepper, some red pepper flakes, sage, fennel, and nutmeg. Then diced fresh jalapeno for some heat and maple syrup for a bit of sweetness and to mellow out the spice. A little bit of ice water helps everything combine.

The ingredients of the recipe set out in little bowls.
The ingredients

In a large bowl you’ll combine all the ingredients and stir well. Everything must be thoroughly combined.

All the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Ingredients in a bowl
All the ingredients in a mixing bowl after being mixed.
Mixed mixture.

To form the patties you’ll take 1/4 cup (for small patties) or 1/2 cup (for large patties) of the mixture and form into a disk shape.

7 patties in a cast iron skillet being cooked.
Let’s get cooking!

Heat a heavy skillet or cast iron over medium-low heat. Cook the patties for about 5 to 8 minutes on each side. They should be deep brown on the outside and cooked all the way through.

8 patties in a cast iron skillet being cooked.
Look at those babies… or nerfies?

Serve while still warm.

Patty sausages on a plate.
Mapley bacony spicy sausage goodness.

These freeze incredibly well. Once you’ve formed the patties place them on wax or parchment paper on a tray and place in the freezer for an hour. Transfer them to a freezer bag. Let them thaw before cooking.

Nerf Sausage- aka Maple Bacon Jalapeno Beef Sausage

2 pounds (910g) ground chuck
0.50 lb (230g) minced bacon
1/4 cup (42g) ice water
1/4 cup (60g) maple syrup
1-1/2 teaspoon (11g) kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon (1g) coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon (2g) red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon (2g) dried sage
1/2 teaspoon (1g) ground fennel
1/2 teaspoon (1g) ground nutmeg
2-3 (75g) diced jalapeno

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix thoroughly until completely combined.

Form into patties using 1/4 cup of the mixture per sausage for small patties, or 1/2 cup for large.

Cook patties over medium-low heat in a cast iron or heavy skillet. Cook until brown and cooked through, approximately 5-8 minutes on each side.

The crew spends a lot of time during episodes 23 and 24 having breakfast. One of said breakfast items was scones. Some were certainly regular cream scones served with butter and jam, but some were probably heartier, like these Oatmeal Rum-Raisin Scones.

The scones piled on a plate. Pancakes, maple syrup, and sausages are out of focus in the background.
Breakfast is ready!

These scones are made with a mix of all-purpose flour, whole wheat flower, and oats. This creates a wonderful hearty flavor and a chewy texture. Brown sugar adds sweetness, and cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves add a warm spice. Orange zest brings a hint of freshness and prevents these from tasting flat.

All the ingredients measured out into small bowls.
The ingredients

The real secret in letting the raisins soak in spiced rum. This plums them up and adds some extra flavor.

If you don’t wish to or cannot use rum, apple juice or cider would work as well.

These will sit for an hour and get nice and plump.

Rum poured into the bowl of raisins.
Rum-Raisins in the making.

When the raisins are almost done soaking you’ll combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and give them a good mix.

All the dry ingredients combined in a large mixing bowl.
The dry ingredients.

Then you’ll add the cubed butter. You’ll want the butter to stay as cold as possible for the best texture. If the butter gets too warm into melt into the flour and create a doughy texture instead of light and crumbly.

Cubed butter adding to the mixing bowl of dry ingredients.
Add the butter.

You’ll “cut” the butter into the flour mixture by cutting it up into small pieces. You can do this with a pastry cutter, a handle with thin wires or cutters, or you can use two butter knives and slice at the pieces of butter.

The final butter pieces should be very fine and blended into the mixture.

Then you’ll add the buttermilk and stir just until the dough begins to form. Drain the raisins, you can use the leftover rum for whatever you’d like, and add to the dough. Continue stirring until the dough is mostly combined.

Raisins added to the dough.
Raisins added.

Next, you’ll pour out the dough on a flat surface, with some extra flour to prevent sticking, and knead until the dough is fully mixed and cohesive.

Dough turned out onto a surface for kneading.
Time to knead!

Form it into a flattened disk about 2 inches tall.

The dough formed into a flat round.
The final dough.

Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces.

The dough divided into 8 triangular pieces.
Divided up.

Place the scones on a lined baking sheet and put them in the 400 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes.

The scones on a baking sheet.
Baking time.

While the scones are baking you’ll make the cinnamon-maple glaze. It’s quite simple. Powdered sugar, cinnamon, maple syrup, and salt, with a little bit of water to smooth it out.

Glaze ingredients in a bowl.
Glaze ingredients.

Add the water a teaspoon or two at a time until the glaze is thick, but pourable. It should pool up when drizzled back into the bowl, but after a second or two melt back in with the rest of the glaze.

The mixed glaze with a spoon drizzling some back into the bowl.
The mixed glaze.

The scones should be a wonderful golden color when they are done baking.

The baked scones on the baking tray.
The baked scones.

Wait 10 minutes before glazing. This lets them cool down enough that the glaze won’t completely melt away, but lets them be just warm enough for the glaze to fully stick.

An R2-D2 kitchen timer set to 10 minutes.
Other kitchen timers will do.

Drizzle the glaze on in thick stripes or zig-zags. I used a butter knife, but you could also use a spoon or even a piping bag.

The scones on the baking tray with the glazed drizzled on.
That good, good drizzle.

Oatmeal Raisin Scones [makes 8 scones]

1/2 cup (90g) raisins
Spiced rum (or apple juice/cider)
1 1/2 cups (192g) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (64g) whole wheat flour
1 cup  (100g) oats
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
3/4 cup (180g) buttermilk

Place the raisins in a small bowl and fill with enough rum to just cover them. Cover and let sit for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl combine the all purpose flour, the whole wheat flour, the oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, brown sugar, and orange zest. Mix well.

Add the cubed butter to the bowl. Using a pastry blender or two butter knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is evenly distributed.

Add the buttermilk and roughly mix until just beginning to combine. Drain the raisins and add them to the bowl. Stir until mostly mixed. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and cohesive.

Form the dough into a flattened circle about 2 inches tall. Cut into 8 equal pieces. Place the scones on a lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Let cool for 10 minutes before glazing; recipe below.

Cinnamon Maple Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoon maple syrup
A pinch of salt
1-2 tablespoon water

Mix together the powdered sugar, cinnamon, maple syrup, and salt in a bowl. Slowly add water, a teaspoon at a time, until the glaze is smooth and pourable, but still thick.

A plate of scones sitting on a fabric napkin. One scone is off the plate sitting on the napkin.
Time to wrangle up for nerfs!

Popcorn is essential for any entertainment viewing, but it’s especially important if you’re watching an underground fight match. Xianna acquires a bucket of popcorn in Episode 21 to snack on while Tink fights a Wookiee.

This Curry-Carrot Popcorn recipe is perfect for all your death match needs.

Close-up shot of popcorn
Underground Fighting Ring Popcorn

Underground Fighting Ring Popcorn is simply popcorn popped in coconut oil that’s then tossed in carrot powder, curry powder, and salt.

ingredients for the popcorn measured out
The ingredients.

So let’s start with the weirdest component of this recipe: the carrot powder. It’s made by taking dehydrated or freeze-dried carrots and putting them in a spice or coffee grinder until they’ve become a fine powder. If you can’t find dried carrots substitute it with extra curry powder and a small sprinkle of sugar.

dehydrated carrots in a spice grinder
Dehydrated carrots pre-grind.
carrot powder in a spice grinder
The finished carrot powder.

Next, the curry powder. Storebought curry powders are perfectly fine, but homemade curry powder will pack a bunch of extra flavor. Ours combines coriander, cumin, fenugreek, black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, arbol chilis, turmeric, ginger, and salt. Fenugreek seeds can be found at most Indian grocery stores, but you can substitute mustard seeds if you can’t find them. You can find our recipe after the main popcorn recipe.

the ingredients of the curry powder in a spice grinder
Curry powder pre-grind.
carrot powder, curry powder, and salt in a bowl
The carrot powder, curry powder, and salt.

For the main event, you’ll heat up coconut oil and 3 kernels in a large saucepan or wok. Once those 3 kernels have popped you know your oil is hot enough. Add the rest of the kernels and cover with a lid. Make sure to shake the pan once the kernels begin popping to prevent burning.

oil and 3 kernels in a wok
The 3 test kernels.
2 popped kernels
The popped test kernels. One managed to escape.
remaining popcorn kernels added to the pan
The remaining kernels.

Once the popping slows to 5 or more seconds between pops remove the pan from the heat. Be careful when removing the lid, sometimes a rogue kernel decides to pop a bit late.

popped popcorn in pan
The popped corn.
popcorn with the spices added
With the spices added.

Pour the popcorn into a large bowl or container with a lid and immediately toss with the curry powder, carrot powder, and salt.

finished popcorn in a movie theater style popcorn container
Finished product. Fun popcorn container optional.

Underground Fighting Ring Popcorn

4 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1-2 tablespoons curry powder, store bought or homemade (recipe below)
2 tablespoons carrot powder
1 teaspoon salt

Heat the coconut oil in a large heavy saucepan or wok on medium-high heat. Allow the oil to melt.

Add 3 popcorn kernels into the oil. Once all 3 kernels pop add the remaining kernels. Cover the pot immediately.

Once the kernels begin to pop gently shake the pan back and forth to prevent burning.

When the popping slows to 5 or more seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat.

Pour the popcorn into a large bowl. Immediately toss with the curry powder, carrot powder, and salt.

Curry Powder

2 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
2 tsp fenugreek seeds (or mustard seeds)
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1 stick cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom seeds
1-2 arbol chilis, deseeded
1 Tbsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp salt

Place the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds (or mustard seeds), black peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom seeds, and arbol chilis in a spice grinder. Grind until fine.

Add the tumeric, ginger, and salt. Grind for 2-3 seconds to combine.

finished popcorn in a movie theater style popcorn container

While this soup never actually appears in the show, we know, deep down in our hearts, that Quiggle would absolutely have crew dinners and continue his famous alliteration with them. Thus, we created Quiggle’s Calamari Quadretti Zuppa, an Italian inspired soup with squid and small, square pasta.

And yeah… Quiggle’s Calamari Quadretti Zuppa isn’t actually alliteration, but Q words are hard, okay?

Quiggle’s Calamari Quadretti Zuppa

 

This one pot soup is surprisingly easy. Onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes are sauteed in olive oil, then white wine is added and reduced, stock and tomatoes are thrown in, then the pasta and calamari is added. It takes an hour or less and is delicious.

Serve this with a crusty loaf of bread, or maybe some garlic bread if you’re feeling extra fancy,

 

Some of the ingredients laid out

 

In a dutch oven or some sort of large saucepan heat some olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often so it doesn’t brown, about 3-5 minutes. The onions should be soft and translucent. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add the wine and stir. Bring to a simmer and let the wine reduce by half. This will burn off some of the wine (but not all! Replace with more stock if you need it completely alcohol-free), and create a more concentrated flavor.

Onions being cooked. Garlic being cooked. Wine being reduced.

 

 

 

Pour in the tomatoes and stock. Turn the heat up to medium and bring to a simmer. Let cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes to let the onions soften even more and to let the flavors meld together.

If using fresh pasta, add the quadretti pasta and calamari. Let cook for 3-5 minutes, until the pasta is cooked and the calamari is tender.

If using dried pasta, add the pasta. Let cook until al dente. Add the calamari and cook for 3-5 minutes, until tender.

We used fresh, handmade quadretti pasta. But don’t worry, almost any small pasta will work.

Tomatoes and stock being simmered. Pasta and calamari added.

 

 

Season with plenty of salt and pepper and serve garnished with parsley and with some crusty bread on the side.

Quiggle’s Calamari Quadretti Zuppa

 

Quiggle’s Calamari Quadretti Zuppa

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic; diced
1 small yellow onion; chopped
1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup Pinot Grigio or any dry white wine
28 ounces crushed tomatoes
2 cups chicken or seafood stock
Salt and pepper; to taste
8 ounces quadretti pasta (or another small soup pasta)
1 pound calamari; body sliced into rings and tentacles chopped into pieces
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Crusty Italian bread for serving

Heat the oil in a dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until translucent, but not browned, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add the wine and stir. Bring to a simmer and let the wine reduce by half.

Pour in the tomatoes and stock. Turn the heat up to medium and bring to a simmer. Let cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

If using fresh pasta, add the quadretti pasta and calamari. Let cook for 3-5 minutes, until the pasta is cooked and the calamari is tender.

If using dried pasta, add the pasta. Let cook until al dente. Add the calamari and cook for 3-5 minutes, until tender.

Season with salt and pepper.

Serve warm garnished with parsley and bread.

 

 

 

Bantha Cakes were first found in the cabinets of the Afternoon Delight by Xianna in episode 7 (well… listeners will hear about them first during the Jedi Adventures part 2, but we first created them in ep7). They described as processed snack cakes and the squadron immediately thought of Zebra Cakes… but blue. So not surprisingly, the classic Little Debbie snacks were a heavy inspiration for these cakes. A yellow cake, a whipped cream filling, a poured frosting, and a drizzle on top.  We decided upon almond-white chocolate as the flavor and tinted the frosting and filling to that wonderful shade of Bantha milk blue.

Bantha Cake cross section

 

First, let’s start with the cake. The recipe we use is a fairly standard yellow cake recipe that uses buttermilk to keep the cake extra moist. Once the cake is baked and cooled, you’ll a 3-inch round cutter to cut out 16 to 20 round pieces. How many pieces you’ll get will depend on if your cutter is exactly 3 inches or not.

Cake pieces being cut out

 

Next comes the whipped cream filling. The special ingredient in the filling is dry milk powder. It adds extra body to the whipped cream and makes it more stable. This helps prevent the whipped cream from melting at room temperature.

You’ll divide the filling evenly between half of the cake pieces. Then place the remaining cake pieces on top to create a “sandwich”. You may not use all of the filling. Don’t worry. Any extra can be eaten with the extra cake pieces. We’re not saying that we smushed handfuls of cake and filling into our mouths like a bunch of toddlers, but… wait- nevermind. We are saying we did that.

Cake pieces and frosting assembly process

    

 

 

Once the cakes are made and sitting in the fridge, you’ll start the fondant coating. It’s made in a double-boiler, which is a metal bowl placed atop a saucepan with an inch or two of boiling water. This means the steam is what’s heating up the fondant instead of the stove directly. It’s a more gentle way to heat things up, and helps prevent anything from burning or cooking unevenly.

The initial mix is powdered sugar, corn syrup, more blue food coloring, flavoring, and a bit of water. Once it’s fully heated through and mixed you’ll turn off the stove and add the white chocolate chips. Stir until everything is combined, and then it’s time to pour!

Using a ladle or large spoon you’ll pour the fondant over the chilled cakes. Any gaps or bumps can be smoothed out with a butter knife or the back of a spoon. Do this immediately after pouring, before the fondant has time to set.

Fondant being poured over the cakes

 

 

The final step is the white chocolate drizzle. You’ll melt white chocolate in the microwave in small increments (to prevent burning), and then using a spoon drizzle it on top of the cakes.

And there you have it, Bantha Cakes!

Bantha Cakes with white chocolate drizzle

 

 

Tabletop One’s Tips:

  • Buttermilk can be substituted by adding 1 tablespoon lemon juice to a measuring cup, and then pouring whole milk to reach the 1 cup mark. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  • If your cake top puffs up and is rounded after baking use a bread/cake knife to even the top out.
  • If your double broiler or bowl is not large enough to hold 12 cups of powdered sugar, make the fondant in two batches.
  • Make sure the bowl you use to melt the chocolate is completely dry. Any amount of moisture can make the chocolate seize and become clumpy.

 

Bantha Cakes [makes 8-10 large cakes]

1 recipe Vanilla Cakes (recipe to follow)
1 recipe Whipped Cream Frosting  (recipe to follow)
1 recipe Poured White Chocolate Fondant  (recipe to follow)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Using a 3-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter and cut out rounds from the cakes. You should get between 16 and 20, depending on how close to 3 inches your cutter is.

Place large dollops of the whipped cream frosting on 10 of the cake rounds. Smooth out the frosting. Place the remaining ten rounds on top.

Place the cakes on a rack over a baking tray. Put in the refrigerator while you make the fondant.

While the fondant is still warm, begin to pour the fondant over the cake rounds. If the fondant becomes stiff and less pourable, place it back on the heat for a few minutes. Continue until the cake rounds have been fully covered. The fondant recipe makes quite a bit, and there will probably be excess. If needed, you can scoop up the fondant that has collected on the tray and stir it back into the fondant in the double-boiler.

Place the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave for 15 second intervals, stirring in between, until the white chocolate is fully melted. Drizzle over the cakes.

Let the cakes sit for at least an half an hour to allow the frosting to set.

 

 

Vanilla Cakes [makes 2 9″x13″ cakes]

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (312 grams)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar (300 grams)
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canola oil
1 cup full-fat buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two 9″x13″ pans with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs with the whisk attachment on medium speed for 15-20 seconds. Add sugar and continue to beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add vanilla and oil and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Reduce mixer speed to medium/low and slowly add about half of the flour mixture. Add half of the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour mix and the rest of the milk. Beat until just combined and smooth, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl. The batter should be thin.

Pour batter evenly between the two pans. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If cooking the cakes on different racks in the oven, switch them halfway through to promote more even cooking. 

 

Whipped Cream Frosting

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon nonfat powdered milk or nonfat instant dry milk
Blue food coloring

In a mixing bowl combine the cream, powdered sugar, milk powder, extracts, and powdered milk.
Whip until the cream begins to thicken. Add the food coloring until a bright, light blue shade is achieved. I used 6 drops of Blue and 2 drops of Teal, both Wilton gel food colors. Continue to whip until the frosting is thick and holds its shape.

Poured White Chocolate Fondant

6 cups powdered sugar (720 grams)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Blue food coloring
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Bring a pot of water to boil, then placing a larger metal bowl or double-boiler over it.

In the bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, water, corn syrup and extracts. Add the food coloring until a bright, light blue shade is achieved. I used 4 drops of Blue and 1 drop of Teal, both Wilton gel food colors.

Continue whisking until the mixture becomes smooth. It should be thin enough to drizzle from a spoon. If using a food thermometer, the temperature should reach 95°F.

Turn off the heat, add in the white chocolate chips and stir until fully melted.

 

Bantha Cakes with Jawas. Because we had them out at the time and didn’t have bantha figures.

 

Ah yes, the bug-monkey meatballs again. Or is it monkey-bug? For a creature we made up ourselves we sure don’t know anything about it. This week we’re bringing you another version of these little cocktail appetizers. This time they’re made out of mushrooms and lentils. And before you even say “but I don’t like mushrooms” know that once they’re minced, fried, and mixed in you can’t tell they’re there. We promise! A few of our squad mates down right hate mushrooms, but love these.

Faux Bug-Monkey Meatballs

 

These little meat-less balls are similar to our original Bug-Monkey Meatballs, with a few differences. The biggest is a base of lentils and mushrooms instead of pork and fish. Since the lentils and mushrooms are on the softer side there’s also less soy sauce with more cornstarch and breadcrumbs to help them bind together. Because the mixture is a bit softer they are also baked instead of pan fried. The sauce is almost the same with the exception of the removal of the fish sauce and extra soy sauce to compensate for it.

 

Ingredients. Piled artistically. Because we could.

 

The lentils are first cooked in vegetable stock and liquid smoke to give them some extra flavor. Once they’re soft and all the liquid has been absorbed three-fourths get pureed in a food processor. Pureeing some of the lentils creates a base that is easy to form and binds well, while keeping some of the lentils whole gives the “meat”balls more texture so they don’t end up mushy.

 

Then mushrooms are cooked in a mixture of vegetable oil and coconut oil. The coconut oil will firm up while the mixture rests in the fridge and make these easier to roll into balls, but will melt when cooked and help keep things “juicy”. Once all the moisture from the mushrooms has cooked out and they become crispy we add the garlic and ginger for a minute to release their flavor.

 

“Meat”ball mixture

 

Everything is then mixed together and put in the fridge for an hour. This rest time lets the coconut oil solidify. Towards the end of the rest time preheat the oven. We tried pan frying these, like the original Bug-Monkey Meatballs, and it did not work well. The softer mix didn’t hold up and they fell apart. If you are set on pan frying these and are fine with them not being vegan you can add an egg to help create a tighter bind.

 

“Meat”balls on the baking tray.

Use about a tablespoon of filling and roll into little balls. Make sure you line your baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silicone mat. Don’t use tin foil. These little suckers will stick to the foil.  Bake for 30 minutes, flipping them around every 10 minutes.

 

While they bake, make the sauce. It’s almost exactly the same as the sauce from the original recipe, except you’ll use the pan the mushrooms were cooked in and extra soy sauce instead of fish sauce.

 

Once the sauce is done and the balls are baked combine them, place in a bowl (We understand if your bowl isn’t square and fuzzy. We ourselves could only get a square bowl), garnish with green onions, and serve!

 

Faux-Bug-Monkey Meatballs with toothpicks!

 

Faux Bug-Monkey Meatballs

1 cup green or brown lentils
2 cups vegetable stock
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil; divided use
3 tablespoons coconut oil; divided use
8 ounces cremini mushrooms; minced
4 cloves finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced or grated ginger
4 tablespoons Chinese garlic chives, finely chopped (or a mix of the green part of scallions and regular chives)
1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Prepare lentils by rinsing them and adding to a pot with the vegetable stock and liquid smoke. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat down and simmer covered until all the liquid is absorbed and lentils are tender (about 15-20 minutes).

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons coconut oil over medium heat in a medium sauté pan. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms have lost all moisture and have become crispy. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Add 3/4 of the lentils to a food processor and pulse until a thick paste forms. Pour into a large bowl, along with the reserved lentils, the cooked mushroom mix, chives, peppercorns, salt, sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, cornstarch, breadcrumbs, and the remaining vegetable oil and coconut oil. Stir thoroughly to combine.

Cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Form into small meatballs, about 1 tablespoon each. Place the meatballs on a parchment or sil-pat lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the balls every 10 minutes.

 

For the sauce:

1 clove minced garlic
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4-1 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
3/4 cup vegetable stock or water
3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
Cornstarch slurry (2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved into 1 tablespoon water)

To the skillet the mushrooms were cooked in, add the garlic, red peppers flakes, and Sichuan peppercorns. Stir for about 30 seconds, until the garlic is fragrant.

Add the vegetable stock, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Stir to combine, making sure to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet left from the meatballs. Bring to a simmer.

Add the cornstarch slurry and continue to simmer for about 2 minutes, whisking constantly, until the sauce has thickened. Add the meatballs to the sauce, and stir to coat them.

Garnish with sliced green onions and serve with toothpicks.

 

The opening scene of our recent Jedi Adventures arc features the Jedi eating noodles at a street vendor on Coruscant. For these noodles we wanted a fast and easy recipe, since these would have needed to be dished out quickly as people ordered them. The sauce requires no cooking and can be made while the water for the noodles are boiling.

Noodles, with extra sambal oelek for serving

 

These noodles are seriously delicious and so easy. They’re great for weeknight dinners when you want something fast with as little effort as possible. They are also quite tasty cold, making them wonderful to pack for lunch.

 

Noodles!

 

The sauce is rich, creamy, and just a little spicy. It starts with sesame paste (sometimes called tahini) and peanut butter. Together these create the rich, luscious base of the sauce. Soy sauce and rice vinegar are added for flavor, sugar for a touch of sweetness, and sambal oelek for just a bit of heat. Then hot vegetable broth is added to thin out the sauce.

 

 

Tabletop One’s Tips:

  • Almost any type of round, Asian noodles work for this dish.
    • At normal grocery stores, look for fresh noodles in the Asian section. They will often have vacuum-sealed packets of noodles.
    • If buying dried noodles, look for “white noodles”; noodles made with white flour instead of semolina. Italian pasta is made with semolina wheat flour, which gives it its distinctive yellow color, but imparts a flavor that is not ideal for this dish.
  • Tahini can be found either with the other nut butters, or the “international” aisle, specifically the Greek or Mediterranean section.
  • Sambal oelek is a Southeast Asian chili paste and can usually be found where ever your store sells sriracha (probably the most famous maker of sriracha, Huy Fong, also makes a sambal oelek. It also has a rooster on the jar.)
  • This recipe is easily scaled up to make more than one serving.

 

Coruscant Street Noodles [serves 1]

6 ounces fresh wheat noodles (or 3 ounces of dried noodles)
1 tablespoon sesame paste/tahini
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sambal oelek chili paste, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup hot vegetable broth
1 tablespoon chopped green onions

Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the package.

While the noodles are cooking, make the sauce by combining the remaining ingredients, except the green onions. Stir until it forms a smooth, even sauce.

When the noodles are cooked, drain them and toss with the sauce, and place into a bowl.

Top with the chopped green onions and serve immediately.

 

Bug-monkeys, also known as monkey-bugs or “those gross things.” Served to the crew in episode 3, they were described as “little diced-up bits of meat with toothpicks” and were in a square, fuzzy bowl.

This one took a while to figure out. Were they chunks of whole meat? Were the diced-up bits formed together to make bigger pieces? What does a bug-monkey even taste like?

After some discussion we decided they were small meatballs that had a slight fish taste. We spent some time figuring out exactly what that meant. At one point we even threw out the idea of frog legs! But eventually a pork-fish blend was settled on. We picked flounder for its light flavor, thinking it would blend well with the pork.  The rest of the dish was based on a favorite cocktail meatball recipe of ours.

The final product!

We didn’t have any square, fuzzy bowls, but we did have this adorable Chewbacca bowl!

 

First, let’s start with the aromatics and seasoning. Garlic, ginger, and Chinese chives build the foundation of this recipe. Chinese chives have a wonderful garlic taste to them that works great in this dish.

Garlic, ginger, and chives

Next comes the Sichuan peppercorns. This spice has a unique “mouth numbing” property that’s hard to describe until you’ve tried it. We like ours with a fairly course ground, but you can grind yours as finely as you like. We used a mortar and pestle, but feel free to use a spice grinder.

Sichuan peppercorns

Ground Sichuan peppercorns

After that we add salt, sugar, sesame oil, and soy sauce for added flavor, and cornstarch and breadcrumbs to help bind the meatballs together.

The meatball mixture before mixing (not shown: breadcrumbs)

 

Once the mixture is well combined, we roll them into balls using about 1 tablespoon of the mix. They are then placed on lined baking sheets and placed in the fridge for an hour to firm up. The recipe says to use parchment paper, but silicone baking liners like the one in our photo will work as well.

Meatballs on a lined baking tray

 

When the meatballs are ready to be cooked, heat up some oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the meatballs on all sides until they are deep brown. Don’t worry if your skillet or pan doesn’t hold all the meatballs at once. Work in batches and keep the cooked meatballs on a plate while you cook the remaining ones.

Our first batch of meatballs

 

Once the meatballs are cooked we’ll begin making the sauce. In the same pan you cooked the meatballs you’ll add minced garlic, Sichuan peppercorns, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 30 seconds until fragrant, stirring the whole time to make sure the garlic doesn’t  burn.

Garlic, peppercorns, and red pepper flakes

 

Then we’ll add the fish sauce, stock, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Stir well, making sure to scrape up any browned bits left in the pan from the meatballs.

Waiting for the sauce to simmer

 

Once the sauce begins to simmer, add the cornstarch slurry and stir until thickened.

Adding the cornstarch, then whisking

 

 

Once the sauce has thickened add the meatballs back in and stir to coat.

Meatballs being coated in sauce

 

Pour into your square, fuzzy bowl (or whatever you have lying around), garnish with some sliced green onions, and serve!

The final product

 

Tabletop One’s Tips:

  • Make sure the flounder is ground well. Using a food processor is highly recommended.
  • Not sure your guest’s will like the fish? Don’t worry, it can be substituted with ground chicken, turkey, beef, or even more pork.
  • We highly recommend heading to your local Asian grocer to get Sichuan peppercorns and Chinkiang vinegar (or buying from an online source). They really make this dish. If you can’t get them the Sichuan peppercorns can be substituted with ground black pepper. The Chinkiang vinegar can be substituted for 2 parts rice wine vinegar, 1 part balsamic (1 tablespoon Chinkiang vinegar= 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon balsamic).
  • Shaoxing wine can be replaced by a dry sherry or a dry Chinese rice wine. It can also be replaced by more broth if you do not want to use alcohol.

 

Bug-Monkey or Monkey-Bug Meatballs (makes about 40 meatballs)

16 ounces ground pork
12 ounces ground flounder flesh (may substitute sole, haddock, or cod)
4 cloves finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced or grated ginger
4 tablespoons Chinese garlic chives, finely chopped (or a mix of the green part of scallions and regular chives)
1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Add all ingredients except vegetable oil to a large mixing bowl. Stir until completely combined.

Form into small meatballs, about 1 tablespoon each. Place the meatballs on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for an hour.

Heat the oil in a cast iron or stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat. Pan-fry the meatballs until browned on all sides and cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside on paper towels to drain.

 

For the sauce:

1 clove minced garlic
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4-1 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
2 teaspoons fish sauce
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock or water
3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
Cornstarch slurry (2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved into 1 tablespoon water)

To the skillet add the garlic, red peppers flakes, and Sichuan peppercorns. Stir for about 30 seconds, until the garlic is fragrant.

Add the fish sauce, stock, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Stir to combine, making sure to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet left from the meatballs. Bring to a simmer.

Add the cornstarch slurry and continue to simmer for about 2 minutes, whisking constantly, until the sauce has thickened. Add the meatballs to the sauce, and stir to coat them.

 

Garnish with sliced green onions and serve with toothpicks.

The finished meatballs, complete with toothpicks.

 

 

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