Jobal Naberrie's Side Dishes
Padmé Naberrie -- who was named "Amidala" when she ascended to public service on Naboo -- is a politician and diplomat, thus she learned to eat what was presented to her, using a technique that was sort of eating without actually tasting or consuming the food. Outside of her mother's home, food was of secondary interest to her. During dismal state and committee banquets, sometimes sponsored by beings with food desires completely foreign to her, she would mentally recount the dishes her mother would typically serve to keep her spirits up and to help her appetite. Over time, she came to realize that what made her mother's food so wonderful were the accompaniments and side dishes. There were made to complement the main dish, but they were also fantastic on their own. Padmé recalled the many midnight kitchen raids that she and her sister Sola would make, eating the cold leftovers with only the light of the appliances to illuminate their little crime.
When things got tense and she needed to maintain her perspective Padmé would sometimes recite her mother's recipes to herself. She told Dormé, her senatorial decoy and aide, that it was a way to remember the comforts of home, and to remind herself that she is no different that any other being -- she had parents who loved her and wanted the best for her. The being sitting on the other side of the table being stubborn about the negotiation -- he or she had parents and family, too.
Dormé took to remembering Padmé's murmurrings, not only to help her impersonate the Senator better, but because the recipes sounded good! When the situations seemed really hopeless, the aides would make these special dishes for Padmé; the Senator was always delighted and astonished at their efforts. She was so taken with the side dishes that she'd sit on the floor, like she did with Sola when they were kids, and eat the treats straight out of the serving bowl, with a spoon!
When Sola and Padmé were little, they would yelp at the tiny pieces of onion in some of the food, going so far as to tediously pick them out of sauces, making a little pile of them on the edge of the plate before they'd eat the sauce. Knowing they'd either tire of their pickiness or just eventually learn to enjoy onions as an ingredient, Jobal simply evolved a stuffing that didn't have onions in it. Knowing that children love sweet corn, she made the new stuffing out of cornbread and dotted with corn kernals, too. It was so good that sometimes she'd end up making cornbread just to make the dressing to accompany any roast. She still serves this onion-less dressing for her grandchildren and other picky eaters.
This started out as a rich, many ingredient stuffing, the only one offered at the Naberrie table. As children, Padmé and Sola couldn't deal with some of the stronger flavors here, so Jobal developed the cornbread version, above. Since that dressing is now presented alongside this one, this recipe lost the ingredients that migrated to the kid-pleasing concoction: mushrooms, corn, and cheese. Even without those components, this is still a rich stuffing.
This version is made up of whatever bread she had on hand. Jobal would often save the heels of bread, crusts, and leftover pieces in the freezer till she needed them. She'd roughly tear the bread up, mixing different types -- brown, whole-grain, white, crusty -- giving her stuffing a nice variation in taste and texture from bite to bite. The quantity of ingredients is actually quite variable, since it depends on how much bread there is. (By the way, breads like bagels or soft pretzels also make GREAT stuffing! Just be sure that some inner crumb is exposed to soak up the stock, unless you like really dry stuffing. If you use a salted or seasoned bread, be careful about seasoning the mixture.)
Double Baked Stuffed Potatoes
No matter what's in the oven, Jobal makes sure she places potatoes in any empty space so they can bake along with the main dish, whether she needs them for the meal or not. Even if baked potatoes are not part of that meal, they are a versatile ingredient to have on hand. Anyway, as a humanitarian worker, Jobal could not in good conscience waste resources, and baking potatoes was a good way to use excess heat. Thus many of her best recipes -- the ones she felt good about serving -- made good use of odds, ends and leftovers!
Garden Bounty Stew
The Naberries are avid flower, vegetable and herb gardeners. They lived in the countryside before their children started school, but even in the capital city of Theed, they managed to live in a house with enough grounds to plant crops. Flowers from the cutting garden filled vases year round, and every meal was blessed with harvested edible plants. At the height of the hot weather, the plants would bloom quickly, and Jobal had to scramble to keep up with the profusion. She'd can or bottle vegetables when she had a lot of one thing. But sometimes, she would run across some vegetables she'd missed during the big weekly harvest. So she'd sometimes have a large amount of a variety of vegetables, all at once. It would be a shame to let it go to waste -- no matter how plentiful the crop was -- so she developed a quick and simple vegetable casserole to deal with the bounty. Once cooked, the mixture could be frozen, to be thawed for soups, stews and casseroles once the garden was not so prolific. But actually, it rarely lasted that long!
In a microwave-safe, lidded container, place olive oil, onion, garlic and stir together. Cover and microwave on high for about three minutes, stir, and add eggplant, return the microwave for another 5 minutes. Stir, and check to see if the eggplant is cooked; if not, return to the microwave for another 5 minutes.
Stir in the peppers and tomatoes, cook another 5 minutes, then stir in the herbs, pepper and salt, and cook for another 5 minutes.
If you do not want to cook this recipe in a microwave, it can be done on the stovetop in a very large pot, or a wok. Cook the vegetables in the same order as above.
Serve as a side dish, or 6 as a main meal. Serve over rice or with bread.
Cheese and Pasta
This is definitely a hefty side dish that should actually be a full meal, completely unadorned and unaccompanied. Indeed, that's the way Padmé prefers it, straight out of the chiller. When it's first cooked, it can be goopy and liquidy. As it sits and chills, it gets more solid, till at last it can be cut into blocks! Sometimes Jobal slices it up and panfries the slices for a delicious but caloric treat.
Butter a baking tray and put the pasta in it (can use any shape or strand, but small tube pastas like macaroni or shells work best). Pour the cheese sauce over and fold to combine completely. Sprinkle over with breadcrumbs. Place in an oven heated to 400°F/195°C till the top is browned and the cheese sauce is bubbly.
This dish stretches a handful of mushrooms, where the fungi could perfume and flavor a whole pot of cornmeal. When they were smaller, Jobal made the dish with a finer grind of cornmeal, to make it more like babyfood. As her children grew older, she used the more traditional coarser meal. On sitting, the polenta thickens and congeals, so it can be sliced and panfried for breakfast the next day. That is, if Jobal didn't find spoonmarks in the dish from her night-time raiders!
Heat the oil and melt the butter in a skillet. Cook the shallots in the butter till golden, then add mushrooms and cook till the juices have evaporated. Set aside.
In a large pot or saucepan, heat the milk to boiling and then gradually whisk in the cornmeal, to avoid lumps. Stir in the pepper sauce and cheese. With a wooden spoon, beat till the mixture thickens, then add the mushrooms. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into the buttered baking pan and serve immediately, or allow to cool.
To serve after cooling, slice the polenta and place on a buttered baking dish and bake at 375°F/170°C for 15 minutes. If desired, top with melted butter and/or grated cheese.
This is a comfort dish that is actually lefover creamed spinach combined with leftover rice and heated together to form a creamy green-flecked mess. It's green color was weird enough that kids would eat it! It's also delicious enough to raid the refrigerator in the middle of the night. Jobal remembers that Padmé went through a phase when she was about three years old when she would eat nothing else. At least it was reasonably nutritious!
Jobal hated to waste bread, and if she had a substantial amount of a loaf left, she'd make flavorful croûtons, for use as a garnish for salads, to use instead of breadcrumbs in many dishes, or as the main ingredient of a stuffing. Sometimes she'd pack them in a jar to give as a housewarming gift, along with a casserole and salad. It was always well-received, and people begged her for the recipe. Like many intuitive cooks, she had no recipe, and Padmé volunteered to stand at her elbow and watch how she did it, measuring as her mother proceeded. Since then, her mother would include a card with the very simple formula on it every time she gave the crunchy morsels away. Padmé grinned when she learned that many people just ate them straight out the jar as a snack, they were so good! She did, too!
Mushrooms with Breadcrumbs
Sola and her mother would go to the local woods and parks to pick mushrooms, since they preferred the savor of the uncultivated fungi. They were expert pickers and could gather many bushels in just a few hours; in contrast, Ruwee and Padmé never picked them. They had been told by a soothsayer that they could not ever touch them in the wild, for if they did, they would inadvertently poison their loved ones!
Padmé valued this very easy recipe, since finding something as earthy and natural as woodland mushrooms on Corusant was impossible. It was something she could only have if her staff planned for it by bringing dried or frozen wild mushrooms with them from Naboo. Domestically-grown fungi were just not the same!
Ruwee & Sola's Potato Casserole
Though Ruwee Naberrie was a decent enough cook, he left the arena of the kitchen to his wife, who was really talented. But from time to time, he had to step in when his wife was away or sick. When Jobal was pregnant with Padmé, she was forced to spend a lot of time at the summer retreat in Varykino to escape the heat of the city. Ruwee was teaching at the university, and had Sola with him, who had started school, so the two of them stayed in Theed. This dish was very unlike Jobal's meals, and was made quickly with packaged and canned foods. In addition, Ruwee and Sola really enjoyed "one-dish" meals -- they'd cook something in one dish, and eat out of it, too! Sola liked this potato casserole best, and always teased Padmé that no matter how much she ate, Sola would always have had more, by dint of the fact that she was simply born first!
Brown Sugar Sweet Potatoes
This side dish is delicious done in the oven, but the Naberries commonly made it by taking advantage of the times they needed to light a bonfire to rid the property of burnable trash. The girls helped Jobal prepare this simple dish, which they'd toss into the embers of the fire. They'd tear into the packets and scorch their fingers and tongue, but it was worth it! Any extras were taken home and could be converted into pies, cake or even ice cream, or simply be eaten cold as is!
Sweet & Peppery Rutabagas
This root vegetable was one Sola and Padmé always insisted should be grown in the garden in Theed. The leaves were so big that the young girls used to pick them and put them on their heads as rain- or sun-covers; sometimes they'd use the stout stems for pretend sword fights, or as framing for temporary houses they'd build in the garden for their dolls. When the plants were young, the bulbous roots were tender and sweet, and they'd enjoy eating them like apples. When it came time for harvest, Jobal would be lucky to find a few large roots that had escaped her daughters' snacking! This is how she prepared the tougher, older roots.
Most people like carrots, especially children. But one can get tired of plain carrots, chopped into coins and boiled, served buttered. When the girls were small, sometimes Jobal would make a fancier, more sophisticated carrot dish for her and Ruwee. The girls insisted on having some, reasoning that their parents were reserving the better of the two dishes for themselves! Jobal realized this was a good way to get the picky eaters to try new dishes -- thus broadening Sola and Padmé's palates.
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Special Potatoes By: Rosie