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Cookbook Review: The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz
The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook: From Cauldron Cakes to Knickerbocker Glory - More Than 150 Magical Recipes for Wizards and Non-Wizards Alike
I am a Harry Potter fanatic. I love all things Harry Potter - the books, the movies, books about HP, and I collect anything I can find from bookmarks to blankets to games and other memorabilia. In December 2010, I discovered the Harry Potter Cookbook on the official HP Facebook fan page. I found it on Amazon.com and posted the link on my Facebook, saying that it was at the top of my wish list. By that night, my sister-in-law had ordered it for me, and it arrived just in time for my birthday.
My first impression of the book was that it was beautiful - purple hardcover, with gold script and embellishments on the cover. The pages are thick, and look old fashioned, with rough edges, putting me in mind of a spell book that you might find in Diagon Alley or within the cupboards of a Hogwarts classroom.
The book starts with a forward written by George Beahm, author of Fact, Fiction and Folklore in Harry Potter's World and Muggles and Magic, then continues with an introduction and helpful hints from the author of the cookbook, Dinah Bucholz. To give you an idea of the recipes you'll find in this book, the table of contents is as follows:
- Chapter One: Good Food with Bad Relatives
- Chapter Two: Delights Down the Alley
- Chapter Three: Treats from the Train
- Chapter Four: Recipes from a Giant and an Elf
- Chapter Five: The Favorite Cook's Dishes
- Chapter Six: Breakfast Before Class
- Chapter Seven: Lunch and Dinner in the Dining Hall
- Chapter Eight: Desserts and Snacks at School
- Chapter Nine: Holiday Fare
- Chapter Ten: Treats in the Village
Each chapter has its own introduction with information from the books, history and interesting facts. After a quick flip through, countless recipes caught my attention, along with the bits of information and history in the margin of each recipe. For each dish, there's a blurb about where in the novels it was talked about/made/eaten, and where exactly you can find it - for example in the recipe for Harry's First Birthday Cake: Chocolate Layer Cake, it says "It's hard to imagine a woman so heartless that she wouldn't ever, ever bake - or at least buy - a birthday cake for her motherless nephew. But such is indeed the case for Harry Potter, who meets his first birthday cake when he turns eleven, courtesy of Hagrid (see Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Chapter 4). Then in the margin, there's a brief history of chocolate and how it came to be the chocolate that we know and love today. I'm amazed at how much research and work must have gone into this book - the recipes include pretty much every food item that was ever mentioned in the books or movies.
Over the next couple of years, I'd like to work my way through the
entire book and try every single recipe, just to say I did, plus there's
not really anything that I wouldn't be willing to try. Things I want
to try the most: pumpkin pasties, treacle tart (Harry's favorite
dessert), Knickerbocker glory, Petunia's pudding, strawberry and peanut
butter ice cream cones, crumpets, pumpkin juice, chicken and mushroom
pies, Kreacher's French onion soup, beef stew with herb dumplings, Irish
soda bread, over-sized blueberry muffins with crunchy tops, Molly's
meatballs with onion sauce, herby roast chicken with onion-garlic mashed
pull-apart breakfast rolls, Yorkshire pudding, glazed carrots,
shepherd's pie, peppermint humbugs, chocolate éclairs, banana fritters
with caramel sauce, no-bake chocolate-bottom pumpkin tart, creamy dreamy
chocolate gateau and Christmas trifle.
For me, the only thing that's missing from this book is a recipe for Butterbeer, which is mentioned often in the books and movies. I was kind of disappointed about that, but luckily I've found recipes for it around the internet and I plan to give it a try.
The recipes in this book are easy to follow and most of them include items that people probably have readily available in their fridge and cupboard. The majority of the recipes are great for kids to help adults with (my eight-year-old nephew loves this book as much as I do), and then other recipes that have both adult and children versions (for instance, the kid's version of the "Guinness" stew uses cola instead of beer), and recipes that require deep frying or boiling sugar that are only recommended for adults to do so the kids don't get hurt.
I can't include the actual recipes here for obvious copyright reasons, but as I try the recipes, I'll review them and post my results. If you're interested, feel free to bookmark this page and check back often. If you buy the book and try the recipes yourself, I'd love to hear what you think and what your favorites are!
So far, the only thing I've had time to try from this book was the pumpkin bread. I'd been given a can of pumpkin purée ages ago, and it just sat in my pantry until I finally decided to try this recipe. It was easy to make - about 10 minutes prep time and an hour cooking time, and the results were delicious - tasty and moist - definitely the best pumpkin bread I've ever had.
Note: If you buy a can of pumpkin purée to make this recipe and you're looking for a way to use the rest of the can, why not try my own personal recipe for simple, delicious pumpkin pancakes.
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