So last week, I showed you how I prepared the Five-Spice Mix from the section on basics. This week, we’re going to sip on something delightful while I wax poetic, as promised, on the way this Big Damn Cookbook is organized.
First off, I have to admire Chelsea Monroe-Cassel’s ability to blend creativity with organization to present a seamless cookbook experience. There are five main food sections: the Basics; Shipboard Living; Recipes From The Border And Beyond; Recipes From The Core Worlds, Upper Crust, and Recipes From The Core Worlds, Underbelly. These distinctions provide a distinct narrative flow, beginning with the background before introducing the crew and gradually giving you an idea, as with the series, not only of the setting but the overarching plot as it goes from space western to planet-spanning sci-fi conspiracy. Not a lot of cookbooks are actually fun to read, but this one definitely is, even if you’re unfamiliar with (or perplexingly, not a fan of) the Firefly ‘verse. To add further utility to the volume, Ms Monroe-Cassel then adds indices for courses as well as for nutrient information and culinary conversions. I’ve stated previously that I’m a fan of her very clear directions: added altogether, this makes for a cookbook that I’ll actually reach for again and again because it collects information I both want to and can use with ease.
Also, as a Firefly fan, I loved so much how Ms Monroe-Cassel presents this as a tome started by Kaylee for keeping in the Serenity’s galley, with in-character notes from each contributor (and the occasional interested party.) I could hear each crew member’s voice in my head as I flipped through the book, with each of the recipes definitely according to what we know of their contributor. It really feels as if the characters compiled this book together, which makes for such a satisfying read.
So let’s toast the very talented Ms Monroe-Cassel with glasses of Shimmerwine, using a recipe from the Upper Crust of the Core Worlds contributed by Inara (and lightly edited here for format):
1/4 cup orange liqueur or water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger
Dash of edible gold luster dust
Chilled champagne or other bubbly wine
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the liqueur, sugar, and ground ginger. Stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from heat. Stir in the luster dust, just enough to give the syrup a good shimmer, then let the syrup cool.
When you are ready to serve, pour about 1 Tbsp of the syrup into the bottom of your glass. Top up with champagne and adjust the level of shimmer, if needed. Serve immediately, as the shimmer will settle over time.
My lovely assistant Karin and I tried this on an empty stomach while we were prepping other foods and got absolutely slizzard. It is a shockingly potent, extremely delicious drink that had us giggling through an evening’s worth of cooking — insert parallels to Inara here. It’s also a fun and easy twist on the usual champagne cocktails: definitely a drink to make when you’re looking to impress. Pictures don’t quite do it justice, but the one on the left comes closest, I think, to depicting in it all its gleaming glory.
If you haven’t already, check out Part I of this series with the terrific Five-Spice Mix basics recipe. Next week, we’ll talk about the graphics of this gorgeous cookbook and try out a delicious (and healthy!) soup from shipboard life. Do join me!