Every year, I try to cook something new for the holidays. Unfortunately, I’m the proud parent of a picky eater, and have several food allergies, so recipes can be difficult to line up. When I first put my hands on the instant bestseller World of Warcraft: The Official Cookbook, I thought I was going to end up with bizarre recipes that were quirky, nerdy, and fun, if a bit odd. I got so much more, though. This amazingly well designed collection of 100 WoW recipes is actually thoughtfully assembled with features that make accommodating eaters of all stripes a snap. Also, every bite of it is delicious.
Let’s start with a couple of quick highlights before we get into the meat (heh) of the book. The book features a dietary information chart that helps identify vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options quickly. The Azerothian Feasts guide gives suggestions for 7 different holidays, with a brief description of the holiday. The first chapter covers spice blends that are used in various recipes, pies, icing, and glazes. It’s like having an ingredient vendor on hand.
After perusing the extensive list of options, I opted to try out a holiday meal to satisfy the picky eaters, and offer unusual choices to introduce my kids to new foods. I decided on the following four recipes, and found them each to be great choices:
- Spicy Vegetable Chips
- Tracker Snacks
- Versicolor Treats
- Winter Veil Roast
Spicy Vegetable Chips
For my holiday meal, I started with Spicy Vegetable Chips. As you can see highlighted above, the ingredients include parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, and beets. Not all ingredients are shown in the picture, but what I’d like to focus on is the veggies themselves. This is the first time I’ve prepared parsnip, (cooked) carrots, or beets successfully. I measure that success, of course, in the number of people who will eat the dish. Not only did everyone in the house eat it, everyone enjoyed this dish. Other than a couple of over-cooked sweet potato chips, these turned out so well that I forgot to take a picture before they were all gone. Seriously, parsnips are officially a hit in my house. Beets didn’t win any hearts, but they added some nice variety, so that’s a win!
Every meal needs an appetizer. For this sumptuous meal, I opted for Tracker Snacks. In case you’re wondering, yes. It’s bacon. Yes, it was made better by this recipe. How does one make bacon better? Brown sugar, for starters, with a WoW-based spice mix to offset the sweetness a touch. Tracker Snacks were enjoyed by all, but our daughter stopped a bit shy of eating her full share, because they were too sweet for her. More for me, so I didn’t complain! I’m a carnivore at heart, so this just made me happy.
Awakening the vanilla fever (without using any actual vanilla) was the Versicolor Treat. This recipe instantly slammed me back into my early days of World of Warcraft, and the little things that made the world more tangible somehow. I’ve always loved the idea of the Versicolor Treat, so I latched on right away. Now, this is a meringue dish, which can be finicky. Thankfully, I’m a seasoned egg-beater, and have made them many times before. This is the only recipe I made alterations to, but I’m glad I did. I’m sure the recipe would work in its regular state, but I don’t like fruity desserts, so I used 3 finely crushed peppermints instead of the instructed fruit flavoring. They turned out beautifully, if slightly pink. I also didn’t have the requisite red gel food coloring, but a little regular red food coloring worked just fine. If you use non-gel coloring, be very light-handed, or you’ll end up with fewer swirls and more blobs of red.
Winter Veil Roast
I saved the best for last, of course. The Winter Veil Roast is an exquisite example of a holiday treat. Lightly seasoned, the roast begins its life as a well-done roast. I cooked ours a little longer than necessary, because my kids can’t handle too much pink in their beef. But it roasted up beautifully. As you can see, the juices were still intact, and cutting into it was easy and smelled amazing. The sauce is where this recipe shines, though. A red-wine sauce spiced with cubed ginger and ground cinnamon made the entire house smell like the holidays, and brought everyone quickly to the table. This dish was best served hot, but was also nice left over. It also left me with the urge to revisit all my classic Christmas toys sitting in the bank. You know, classic holiday stuff!
The only true criticism I have is that the book goes a tad overboard on the Pandaren-cook theme. Most of these recipes existed in Azeroth long before our furry friends were re-discovered, and it felt a bit contrived.
Overall, I am super pleased with World of Warcraft: The Official Cookbook. The recipes may have slightly odd names for a non-Warcrafter, but most are still descriptive enough to let you know what you’re getting into. The recipes call to mind the best and brightest parts of the World of Warcraft cuisine, of course, with real-world shifts to make them come to (delicious) life. I’m more than a little confident it has earned its place in our lifetime collection of cookbooks. At the very least, I have to cook all of my favorite foods, especially the Conjured Mana Buns, which are at the top of the list.
Disclaimer: The author was provided a copy of this product for review purposes.