Trekquinox Episode 08: Side Dishes – Bread, Food Cubes, and Gagh

So the infamous Heart of Targ did not stand alone; it came with a number of side dishes – to wit, Quadrotriticale Bread, Food Cubes, and Gagh (specifically Wistan Gagh, even). Two of these are quite basic, so I think we can safely cover them all in one post.

Quadrotriticale Bread

Menu Item #7 "Quadrotriticale Bread", or just plain Bread
Menu Item #7 “Quadrotriticale Bread”, or just plain Bread

Earl had brought this one to my attention when I’d set him to do some research on the foods of Star Trek, since it is not only mentioned but actually forms the crux of an episode plot. The Enterprise is brought to a space station using an ultra-high priority signal – the equivalent of “Defcon 1″ indicating a state of possible war – only to discover a nervous trade attaché wanted them to protect a shipment of fancy grain called quadrotriticale. Not only that, but the dialogue actually references it being a derivative of the real world grain triticale, developed in Canada. Yes, the famous Mr. Spock actually had a line in which he got to say “Canada”.

SPOCK: Quadrotriticale is a high-yield grain, a four-lobed hybrid of wheat and rye. A perennial, also, I believe. Its root grain, triticale, can trace its ancestry all the way back to twentieth century Canada…

Anyway, at the end of the day it’s just wheat, and so suitable for making dinner rolls. As a lover of cheese, I decided to make them cheese buns.

Food Cubes

Menu Item #8 "Food Cubes", or Diced Roasted Potatoes
Menu Item #8 “Food Cubes”, or Diced Roasted Potatoes

Star Trek was all about the primary colours, and particularly when it came to food. At this scene of a diplomatic reception about the ship, you can see coloured cubes of food. It was never clear what they were, but they were clearly futuristic… I guess. Anyway, this sort of nonsense is pretty iconic in the original series. I wasn’t even going to bother, but at some point during our correspondence Earl mentioned “I can’t wait to see what you’ll do for food cubes!” In the words of Barney Stinson, challenge accepted! So I had to figure out something that could be cubed, coloured, and would actually taste good. Since I have a good recipe for oven-roasted potatoes, I thought it could work with the application of food colouring (a vital ingredient more than once this night!).

Food cubes, uneaten
Food cubes, uneaten

I actually did make these, but they were taking a bit longer to cook than I’d anticipated, and by the time they came out dinner was over! And no one had the space to go back and stuff them in. So they sat looking picturesque on the dining room table for the rest of the evening. Happily, for those of us who stayed over (well, obviously me, I live here) they were waiting for us in the morning as a form of multicoloured hash brown – perfectly acceptable breakfast food! As it happens, yellow doesn’t work very well, despite being closest to a roasted potato’s natural colour. To get that vibrant, sports-car yellow that showed up on the TV show you kind of need to use chromium paint, which is highly toxic. But I think the blue and red turned out nicely. I’d probably up the concentration of food colouring even more next time, or work out a better technique for application to get an even spread, but I was happy enough with these results. Particularly since this dish could best be described as too little, too late. No, actually – too much, too late.

Klingon (Wistan) Gagh

Obviously gagh was mentioned in that episode I discussed earlier, in which Riker catalogues all the Klingon food he can get on the Enterprise (and later on the Klingon ship itself, still alive and wriggling). But it was also mentioned in a different episode, shown here in this part of the video menu:

Menu Item #9 "Gagh", or Garlic Pasta
Menu Item #9 “Gagh”, or Garlic Pasta

In this episode of Deep Space Nine, Ezri Dax (left) is a “joined symbiont” – the humanoid Ezri has chosen to bond with a Trill symbiont named Dax, following the death of the previous host Jadzia – and so while her personality is much different, she still has the memories of her previous lives. The previous combined entity Jadzia Dax had ordered 51 crates of gagh to celebrate General Martok’s 51st birthday, each of a different variety. Now that her humanoid half is Ezri, she is made nauseous by the thought of all that gagh and has it destroyed. But first she gets to describe all the various types of gagh. This episode marks the first time we have any inkling that there are different types of gagh. Obviously just written for this joke scene. Still, the final type she describes, wistan gagh, is the one that’s packed targ’s blood. Which is what it’s being served with! So clearly whatever I made must have been wistan gagh.

This one was pretty easy – it’s supposed to be worms, so it was clearly going to be a pasta of some description. The Italian Centre here in town has an excellent variety of some truly odd-shaped pastas, including one thick corkscrew variety which would make an excellent “serpent worm”. All I needed was some food colouring to make it look purplish and a recipe for pasta that would work as a side for steak. (If I could have found some plastic agitators from a kid’s toy that would have made them appear to move, I totally would have done that! But I didn’t find one.)

Anyway, after some experimentation I decided on a very simple pasta dish, since anything more complex tended to be drowned out by the flavours of the steak main dish. This ended up being Spaghetti Aglio e Olio – spaghetti, garlic and oil. Very simple, very tasty, very easy. Which was handy.

This replaced a different recipe that also involved Parmesan cheese, and I had also planned to steam some bok choi to sit atop it, in a desperate attempt to add a vegetable to the mix. But that too fell to the side in my rush. I guess the asparagus soup would mark the last vegetable in this dinner. Regardless, I would make this as a side dish or even as a stand-alone pasta dish again, even without the need to meet certain arbitrary theme goals. So it was all good.

For this entry I even have a good bit of trivia for you! The reason that the Star Trek uniforms for different sections were bright yellow, blue, and red, and probably the reason that the foods were equally bright and primary, is simple – it was one of the first TV shows shot in colour. So they were trying to maximize the impact by colouring everything, rather than going subtle.

Also, in the original Star Trek, the colours (while somewhat inconsistent, particularly to start) eventually settled down so that yellow was command, blue was science/medical, and red was engineering (and security, sadly for those nameless red ensigns who died at the beginning of every show; maybe they wouldn’t have died if they’d been wearing something less visible at a distance). Upon the release of Star Trek: The Next Generation in the mid-eighties, the colours had changed so that Captain Picard and Commander Riker were in red. The reason for the change? They had already cast Patrick Stewart and Johnathan Frakes in those roles, and both actors looked terrible in the gold – they didn’t have the colouring for it. So they just changed all the uniforms.

And so while Star Trek is famously racially colour-blind, they are not so in the art department. And with that cheesy segue, here are some cheese buns.

Cheese Buns

(This recipe is designed for a stand mixer with a dough hook. If you don’t have one, find out how to make bread dough using the strong-arm method and then just substitute where appropriate.)

½ stick (¼ cup)   butter
½ cup   milk
3 tbsp   sugar
¾ cup   warm water (105°F to 115°F)
4 tsp   instant yeast
1 tsp   salt
3½-4½ cups   flour

1 stick (½ cup)   butter
½ cup   green onion, chopped
1-2 tsp   garlic, minced
2 cups   cheddar cheese (or Gruyere is also good)

  1. Place milk, sugar, salt, and butter in small saucepan. Heat over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool to lukewarm.
  2. Dissolve yeast in warm water in mixing bowl. If butter mix is still hot, add 3½ cups of flour first and then add butter mix. (Otherwise add butter mix first.) Turn mixer to Speed 2 for one minute.
  3. Continue mixing for 2 minutes, adding additional flour ½ cup at a time, until dough clings to the hook and cleans sides of bowl.
  4. Knead on Speed 2 for 2 minutes longer, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Should be slightly sticky to the touch.
  5. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover. Let rise in a warm place, free from draft, for an hour (or until doubled in bulk).
  6. While dough is rising in bowl, immediately start melting the remaining butter in the existing saucepan. Sauté the garlic in the butter. Remove from heat and stir in the green onions, leaving to cool for the remainder of the hour.
  7. Punch dough down into a small rectangle and place on floured surface. Roll out to a 12″×24″ thin rectangle.
  8. Spread filling evenly onto the dough, leaving ½” around edges. Sprinkle half the cheese (1 cup) on top.
  9. Roll lengthwise into a jelly roll. Cut the roll into 16 pieces (or however many holes your muffin tin has). Place pieces into lightly greased muffin tin. Cover with a towel and let rise for another hour.
  10. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes.

Roasted Potatoes

These are basically the roasted potatoes from the Feast of Thrones pork roast, only sadly missing the pig fat part. Just dice the potatoes into cubes (if you care about that look) and then do the roasting exactly the same as described, only in their own dish rather than around the pork roast. I tried soaking the potatoes in water with food colouring, which was good for permeation but gave a very light, watery, pastel colouring. Better to mix it with a small amount of water and coat them after roasting.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

1 lb   spaghetti (uncooked weight)
6 cloves   garlic, thinly sliced
½ cup   olive oil
¼ tsp   red pepper flakes
¼ cup   chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 cup   finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (buy it pre-mixed and pre-grated)
1 tbsp   butter (optional)

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through but firm to the bite, about 12 minutes. Drain and transfer to a pasta bowl.
  2. Combine garlic and olive oil in a cold skillet. Cook over medium heat to slowly toast garlic, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low when olive oil begins to bubble. Cook and stir until garlic is golden brown, about another 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir red pepper flakes, black pepper, and salt into the pasta. Pour in olive oil and garlic, and sprinkle on Italian parsley and half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; stir until combined.
  4. Serve pasta topped with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

It’s not traditional, but for extra richness you can add 1 tbsp butter when you toss with cheese.

This entry was posted in Food and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>