The first thing any discerning Tamriel traveler will notice on the front of Insight Editions’ gorgeous The Elder Scrolls Official Cookbook is a Sweetroll. It’s a beloved item of Skyrim players, many of whom look like someone just stole one from us (or so the guards say). Fear not, though — now we can make more! An essential salt pile, Horker Loaf, as well as a candle horn all give the distinct impression of being among the Nords, though the cookbook also takes into account the favored dishes of Morrowind and and elsewhere.
Any tome from Insight Editions is going to be exquisite, and this cookbook is no different (the layout is also simple and easy to read). But it is a little better than typical cookbooks, even themed tomes. For one, every single recipe is accompanied by a lush photo. That might not seem like much, but having a visual reference for your dish is an important part of knowing what exactly you’re aiming for (especially since they are based on food within the game — food you can craft and eat there especially). From familiar recipes like Apple Cabbage Stew to new creations like Bosmer Bites, each recipe is accompanied with a level bar. Most are accessible for beginner or intermediate cooks (even something as complicated as White River Salmon — basically a savory fish pie — came out perfectly). Ingredients are mostly common, but when there are more obscure selections, author Chelsea Monroe-Cassel has included helpful tips and substations to make preparing the meals more practical.
And on a practical note, the cookbook features a very helpful one-page index for which dishes are gluten free, vegan, or vegetarian — and crucially, which ones can easily be adapted to any of those specifications. Further, the cookbook starts off with basic spice combos (named things like Stormcloak Seasoning, Imperial Mushroom Sauce, etc) that are used in some of the recipes. Helpfully, each recipe includes a “pairs with” note, to help in meal planning.
The real Honey Nut Treat of this cookbook though it the lore throughout. Opening chapters reveal the preferences of each culture in Tamriel, from Redguard and Khajiit to Bretons and Dunmer. There’s also a note on the celebrations of the regions and what recipes they use in each. The recipes themselves come with short descriptions and histories, as well as handy notes on how to serve it. For example, Kwama Egg Quiche’s description reads: “Originally only known the Vvardenfell, this recipe traveled with Dunmer fleeing Morrowind after the Red Mountain’s eruption and has been well received through much of Tamriel, albeit with various regional tweaks to the ingredient list. The lightly seasoned filly and crisp crust can satisfying even the pickiest palate.” Simple Garlic Bread is noted as being “good for your health, stamina, and magicka.”
The cookbook covers Sides, Starters, and Snacks, Baked Goods, Soups & Stews, Main Courses, Desserts, and a robust Drinks menu. Of note, there are instructions for making mead along with a variety of different types, including Honningbrew, Black-Briar and Juniper Berry. (Always start with the recipe, but one change I made to Nord Mead was to cut the honey content down significantly). There’s also a Khajiit favorite, Skooma, as well as a cozy Spiced Warm Milk with Honey.
Speaking of honey, it’s worth noting that most of these meals are rich and heavy. After a feast of White River Salmon accompanied by Moonsugar Carrots, Cheese Scones, Grilled Leeks, and Honey Nut Treats with a flagon of Nord Mead, I was ready to sleep through all of Frost Fall. But, these are meant to be hardy meals — what Nord would settle for anything less? Just climb up to High Hrothgar a few times and you’ll burn it off.
As for its specs, the book is 8 in. × 10 in. and 192 pages, and though it has a traditional binding it lays pretty flat on a kitchen counter. The only quibble is that for as lovely and detailed as the book is, its page numbers are absolutely minuscule, which can be an issue when looking for a specific recipe. But the fonts are big enough elsewhere and the pictures large and clear enough to be able to find what you’re looking for even if the candlelight around you is not strong enough to illuminate the bottom of the page.
For those who are looking to create a cozy homestead or even open your own inn for passing adventurers and a potential Dragonborn, this cookbook is a must-own for fans of the Elder Scrolls franchise no matter your cooking level.
The Elder Scrolls: The Official Cookbook will be available to purchase on March 26th for $35.