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Tracy Frank, Published January 31 2013

5 Things Friday: Five recipes inspired by fiction

Editor’s note: “5 Things Friday” is a weekly feature in SheSays that runs on – you guessed it – Fridays. It focuses on quick tips, ideas, activities and more – all in bunches of five. If you have a “5 Things Friday” suggestion, contact us at shesays@forumcomm.com.

FARGO – Reading is one of my favorite pastimes.

It helps me relax, it entertains, and it inspires.

I love learning about new worlds, new cultures and new ways of life as I’m drawn into the lives of the characters about whom I’m reading.

A fun way to enhance the experience is by making some of the foods featured in the stories.

Here are five recipes inspired by some of my favorite novels.

Amelia Peabody Emerson’s Cucumber Sandwiches

Cucumber sandwiches are a favorite nosh to accompany afternoon tea for Amelia Peabody Emerson, a British Egyptologist who also solves mysteries in the novels by Elizabeth Peters set in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

In addition to lunch or an afternoon snack, cucumber sandwiches also make great party fare.

This recipe for cucumber sandwiches comes from www.cooks.com.

Cucumber Sandwiches


2 medium cucumbers

1 tub whipped cream cheese spread


1-2 packets of dry Italian dressing mix

1 package rye or wheat cocktail bread (other recipes use regular white bread with the crusts cut off).


Wash cucumbers well. Using a fork, scrape down the cucumbers lengthwise leaving “stripes” all the way around. (Or peel them if you prefer.) Slice the cucumbers into ¼-inch slices or thinner. Set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together cream cheese and dressing mix; combine well.

Using a butter knife, spread a thin layer of the mixture onto the individual slices of small cocktail bread

Next, add the sliced cucumber and a small amount of dill.

You can serve it as an open-faced appetizer or add another slice of bread to turn it into a sandwich.

Harry Potter’s Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice

My husband, Tristin, and I read the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling together and became enthralled with the characters and their magical adventures, so of course, we had to try butterbeer. Tristin found a recipe for Harry Potter’s Butterbeer online at www.tablespoon.com, and it’s been a hit when we’ve made it for family or brought it to parties.


1 cup light or dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons water

6 tablespoons butter

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cider vinegar

¾ cup heavy cream, divided

½ teaspoon rum extract

4 12-ounce bottles cream soda


In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring often, until the mixture reads 240 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and ¼ of the heavy cream. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Once mixture has cooled, stir in rum extract.

In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of brown sugar mixture and remaining ½ cup of heavy cream. Use an electric mixer to beat until just thickened, but not completely whipped, about 2 to 3 minutes.

To serve, divide the brown sugar mixture between 4 tall glasses (about ¼ cup for each glass). Add ¼ cup of cream soda to each glass, then stir to combine. Fill each glass nearly to the top with additional cream soda, then spoon the whipped topping over each.

Pumpkin Juice

Pumpkin Juice doesn’t seem to have the universal appeal of butterbeer. My daughter and I don’t like it nearly as much as my husband and son do. But it’s still a fun, tasty treat, especially around Halloween or Thanksgiving or if you’re having a Harry Potter movie marathon.

Tristin came up with this recipe himself, but there are plenty of recipes online, too.

Blend apple cider and pumpkin puree in a blender until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of pumpkin spice for each quart of liquid. The more pumpkin puree you use, the thicker the drink and stronger the pumpkin taste will be.

Kelsey Hayes’ chocolate-chip peanut butter cookies

In the Tiger’s Curse series by Colleen Houck, the protagonist, Kelsey Hayes, talks about how her mother showed her love for her family by making chocolate-chip peanut butter cookies. Kelsey later makes those cookies for the man she falls in love with.

The recipe came from a 2001 Martha Steward show, Houck says on her website. You can find it at www.marthastewart.com.

Peanut-Butter Surprises


2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup solid vegetable shortening

½ cup granulated sugar

1¼ cups firmly packed light-brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ cup creamy peanut butter


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpats (These are nonstick baking mats, but I just used parchment paper). Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda, and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, shortening, granulated sugar and 1 cup brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until fully combined between additions. Add vanilla; beat to combine. Gradually add dry ingredients; mix on low speed until fully combined. Add chocolate chips; mix on low just until combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; chill until firm, about 1 hour.

In a small bowl using a rubber spatula, stir together peanut butter and remaining ¼ cup brown sugar.

Drop 1 tablespoon of dough at a time onto baking sheets, spacing cookies about 2 inches apart. Make a thumbprint in the center of each cookie. Fill thumbprint with 2 teaspoons peanut butter mixture. Top with a second tablespoon of flattened dough. Carefully mold dough to cover the surprise.

Bake until firm, about 12 minutes, rotating halfway through. Transfer baking sheets to wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Remove cookies from baking sheets, and let cool completely on wire racks.

Alexia Tarabotti’s

Sugared Roses

At one point in the Alexia Tarabotti series by Gail Carriger, one of the characters ate sugared rose petals. One of the things I love about reading books on my Nook is I can instantly Google “sugared rose petals” to see if it is something people really did eat.

Sure enough, there are several recipes online. This is one recipe I really want to try, but haven’t yet because I haven’t been able to find roses grown without pesticides.

They look like a great way to top cakes or cupcakes in addition to being a unique treat on their own.

This recipe is from www.ehow.com.

Sugared Roses

Make sure the roses you purchase are marked edible or if using your own roses, make sure they are clean and free of pesticides and insects.

Place the whites of one egg into a small bowl. Discard or store the yolk for later use.

Whisk the egg whites for 30 seconds or until light and foamy.

Dip a watercolor paintbrush into the egg whites and paint the petals of the edible roses. Use just enough to give the petals a light coat. Set the painted roses on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.

Sprinkle finely ground sugar over the wet roses to coat them.

Set the baking sheet in the refrigerator and allow them to dry for two hours.