With special guest chef, Akmenos son of Bane
Welcome to Day 4 of your sneak peek at my special 5-Course Wild Magical Banquet menu!
Do you like the furniture I picked for the restaurant dining area? Yes, I know you have to imagine it because right now I’m somewhat, er, between real estate opportunities, but just close your eyes and take a look. Lovely deep umber timber from the Wrianglia Delta mangroves, hand-carved into chairs which have these very convenient gaps in the back for a tail to slip through. Not like those pesky human chairs, which show no consideration for the anatomy of an upstanding hornung like myself. Although, I guess I would be upstanding if I couldn’t sit down, wouldn’t I? Ha!
But I digress. Marvel at the furniture, at the dark polished grain of the table-tops. The soft shimmer of green-glassed lanterns that cast the whole floor in a light just the right balance of intimate and festive. And behold, as your loyal cook (who most certainly wouldn’t accidentally poison you, at least not deliberately) brings forth your next side dish.
And let’s not forget that Omnium Gatherum, fine purveyor and literature dark and twisted, is offering you, dear reader, a free copy of a certain tome, recounting my latest adventures, entitled Sons of the Curse, for the mere act of recreating my recipes yourself, and somehow painting them in invisible fragments of light on this infernal window. To learn more, click your clicking thing on this scrawl of letters.
Main Course: Side Dish
Dwarvish Smashed Potatoes
If there’s one thing dwarves are good at, it’s smashing things. Rocks, hostile empires, potatoes. Pretty sure they have to smash their bread too, but I’m hoping my last time among these fine folk will have cured them of that for good. I imagine the fusion of bread and beer will spur something of a cultural revolution among the dwarves, and they might even be calling it “Akmenos Bread” by the time the phenomenon reaches the outside world. Rolls off the tongue much more neatly than “Beer Bread”, don’t you think?. But we’re not here to reminisce about places I’ve been held prisoner by people much smaller than me, we’re here to learn how to smash a potato, Dwarvish style.
The trickiest part about this will probably be getting the paper. Paper, as you know is a precious commodity much valued by warlocks, sages and seers, and can only be purchased at great expense from those colourful traders who make the trek from Farport and places beyond, over the horizon, places of silk and spice and other mysteries. The secrets of paper are such that even a highly travelled adventurer like myself remains oblivious to how it is constructed. Parchment, no problem. Rice sheets, I can do. Even Papyrus, which can actually be soaked in wine and chewed on for a handy snack with digestive benefits. But paper? Nope.
So, before you start, sneak into your local library, find the dustiest book you can find in the darkest corner, slip it under your cloak and make haste back to the kitchen before the librarian sees you and sets her gargoyles on you.
1kg roasting/baking potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
Salt & Pepper
Dried Mixed Herbs
Finely Chopped Garlic
Boil a pot of potatoes, cooking 1 – 2 per dinner guest as required. When cooked, toss lightly in olive oil. On an oven rack, place a piece of your stolen paper and brush oil on that, too. Don’t worry if the inks run, most inks are either delicious or, at the very least, not deadly. Place the potatoes on the paper and gently crush with a potato masher, so they look like so:
Dress up the potatoes with a generous dose of freshly ground salt and pepper and olive oil, then add your favourite toppings. I used onion, parmesan, Italian herbs, and finely chopped garlic, but there’s no reason not to add salmon, bacon, diced starfruit, pickles and even crispy locusts. A family favourite. Place under the grill and brown.
Serve alongside your mains, which are very nearly ready to roll out of the kitchen. Charge your glasses, folks, the main event is on the way!
Akmenos, son of Bane, is the youngest and least murderous of all his brothers, preferring a nice lime souffle and a spiced caramel sauce to the sorts of political intrigue, assassination and global destabilisation he has found himself embroiled in, ever since that unfortunate incident in the imperial banquet hall back in Kriikan. Unexplained poisonings aside, he’d really like it if you followed his adventures in Brothers of the Knife, Book 1 of the Children of Bane series, and Book 2, Sons of the Curse. The more of you who read his book, the sooner he can get back to pottering in the kitchen, smoking his pipe (if only he could find it), and drinking tea.
Dan Rabarts vehemently denies that this recipe may have been originally posted on his cooking blog, Freshly Ground, several years ago, and that Akmenos has plagiarised his work for his own gain.
If you’d like to learn how Akmenos brought the wonder of beer-bread to the dwarves, read on below the tag.
The dwarf paused, rocked on his heels. “You’re Bane’s spawn?” He smiled, a crooked broken-toothed parody of mirth. Then he reached into the nearest brazier and extracted a glowing iron. Smoke curled from its ember-bright tip. “What is your name?”
Akmenos gulped. Much as he abhorred water, he also harboured a healthy dislike for red-hot pointy things. “Akmenos. And please, I’m no threat, not really, just in the wrong place at the wrong time and all that. I’m a chef, well, a cook, but I hope to be a chef one day. This is all really just one big misunderstanding, I assure you.” He leaned back against the wall, hard, as the bright smoking tip weaved closer, taunting, terrifying. “I don’t even know what I’m doing here, but I can tell you that whatever you’re cooking in that oven, you need more yeast. I can tell by the smell that it’ll be hard as old rock. Probably break a few teeth, I’d say. Give me an hour and a mixing bowl and a jar of honey and a pint of stout, and I can show you how to make a loaf that’ll rise like a cloud and taste like sunshine and mead and be a pleasure to eat. Like as not, you’ll even be able to cut it with a knife and won’t need that hammer you’ve got there just for breaking it open, like I guess you do now.” He shivered. The smoking iron hovered an inch from his nose.
The poker lowered, to reveal the head guard looking at him in genuine surprise. “You can tell all that, just by the smell?”
“And you say you can make bread using beer?”
Akmenos nodded again.
The guard shoved the iron back in the brazier. He barked orders as he strode away, and before Akmenos quite knew what was happening, his hands were free and he was up to his elbows in dark nutty flour, yeast from his own pockets, and beer as black and bitter as old paint. A crowd of enthralled dwarves crowded around to see the hornung witch make his magic bread.
Someone, kindly, brought him a cup of tea.
Brothers of the Knife, Chapter 14 – Book 1 of the Children of Bane, by Dan Rabarts (Omnium Gatherum, 2019)