I’m by no means a great cook. In fact, I would consider myself average at best. I do indeed consider myself a great book collector, and no that doesn’t stop at cookbooks. I’ve gathered a collection of cookbooks from some of my favorite fandoms and because I have them, I felt that to justify having them I HAD to make some of the recipes.
It was a great strategy on their part because now I basically only cook from these books and am a repeat offender for many recipes inside. As a novice-level cook, I’m going to share some of the pros and cons of my favorite nerdy cookbooks and hopefully help you choose one that’s right for you.
I want to start by saying I really have enjoyed all of these cookbooks, so when I go over the pros and cons, keep in mind they are objective. One person’s con is not another’s.
Heroes’ Feast by Kyle Newman, Jon Peterson, and Michael Witwer
This official Dungeons and Dragons licensed cookbook is full of recipes inspired by the different races including humans, elves, dwarves, and halflings. It has two additional categories called Uncommon Cuisine and Elixirs & Ales. Uncommon Cuisine has recipes inspired by some of the humanoid species such as Dragonborn while Elixirs & Ales is, as you would expect, various types of drinks.
Visually this book is everything a Dungeons and Dragons fan could wish for. We have beautiful original art, and the photography for the dishes makes your mouth water. I mean, they make ingredients I don’t even care for look appetizing. Each of the recipes has a paragraph with some lore or background information on the dish which makes it fun for players who are using it.
As far as I can tell, none of the authors has a professional culinary background which is both a pro and a con. They have all worked on official DnD books before so obviously the cookbook resembles a module in some ways which is super exciting to me as a player. This also means that most, if not all of these recipes, are beginner-friendly. I would say the one con I might expect is that if you’re experienced and looking to make a complicated dish, this may not be the cookbook for you.
One of the big pros for me in this cookbook is that the ingredients list is very clear on what exactly you’re looking for. For example, it never says oil. It says “¼ cup neutral-tasting oil, such as vegetable, canola, safflower, or grapeseed.” The directions are also listed in paragraphs rather than numbered, but that’s more of a preference thing and I still find them very easy to follow. All in all, this is one of my personal favorites, and I would recommend this to any DnD player, not just ones who love to cook.
One of my favorite recipes is from the Dwarven Cuisine section called “Bangers and Smash.” This one has to be one of my favorites because it’s simply delicious, but pretty simple to make so you will definitely be repeating this one. I also find it really easy to change this one up by adding your own twist with your favorite seasoning, without compromising the recipe at all.
Cooking for Wizards, Warriors and Dragons by Thea James and Isabel Minunni, and illustrated by Tim Foley
I was so excited for a cookbook that featured so many nerdy things between its covers. If you have a wide range of fandoms from The Witcher to The Kingkiller Chronicles, then this is the book for you! This cookbook might look smaller and more compact, but it still has 125 recipes inside. Each recipe is inspired by its own series, and they’re not grouped together by series but rather by the type of dish (ex: Soups & Stews) as you’d expect.
Let’s start with what might be some of the cons for people. This cookbook isn’t for the person who wants to flip through it and look at all the pictures, because, well there are no pictures of the food. All of the art inside is hand-drawn and beautiful, but this cookbook is far more text-heavy than the others. Another thing I noticed is that sometimes the instructions don’t spell every single step out for you. That hasn’t stopped me, a beginner cook, from being able to execute any of them.
Let’s talk about the pros now, because honestly, they outweigh the cons by a lot for me! This looks like a book more than any of the others, at least to me, so if you’re into reading your fantasy this will blend right into your collection. This book also includes some of the lesser-known fandoms such as Dragon Riders of Pern.
You get such a wide variety of geek culture in this cookbook, and my favorite thing about it is that it includes so many books! It’s extremely hard to find recipes that are inspired by books, but also ones that do it well! This cookbook is extremely good at actually drawing from the source material to make a recipe that encompasses the feeling of the fandom it’s from. It also has an introduction to reach recipe.
My favorite of the recipes that I have made from this book is the “Leg of Turkey with Gravy, Sage and Thyme.” It’s inspired by The Bone Witch series and takes about half an hour of preparation and an hour and a half to cook. This recipe cooks for four, but it’s easy to double it and makes for a great feast, so to say, when you have guests over. Also, there is something so satisfying about serving an entire turkey leg on a plate.
World of Warcraft: The Offical Cookbook by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel
Let me start off by saying that I don’t support or condone Blizzard’s actions, however, this cookbook is written by a woman and I did spend over 10 years of my life playing this game before I gave it up very recently.
This cookbook is honestly the easiest for beginners in my opinion. All of the recipes have a skill level assigned to them so it’s very easy to pick one to cook based on your confidence as a cook, or just how much effort you feel like putting into making a meal that day. This cookbook also has a list of its own spice mixtures and a page of dietary restrictions.
This book is also visually stunning. The pictures of the food are delicious, the hand-drawn art inside features images from the game, and even the recipes have pictures from in-game food. My last pro is that even though this cookbook is for one specific game, there is a good variety of dishes from light and lean meals to that heavy comfort food we all love.
The categories are organized by type of dish such as sides, desserts, and drinks. Most of the recipe titles are from in-game food as well, adding that extra element of immersion. I enjoy that. However, that could make the titles misleading for those not familiar with the game and just glancing through them.
My biggest con with this book though is the availability of some of the ingredients. If you live in a small town like me, finding a can of haggis can be a difficult task. There are substitutions you can find, but you’ll have to look them up yourself as the book doesn’t offer any.
One of my go-to dishes from this book is “Ironforge Rations.” Don’t judge me. I guess I just love dwarvish foods. This dish is a super easy comfort dish that’s great for having an evening meal with your family. I like to refer to it as my fancy sloppy joes. There’s not a ton of ingredients you need for this and you can simplify or add to it as much as you want. This is sadly the dish you need a can of haggis for, but you can choose your own substitute if you can’t find it.
Cook Anime by Diana Ault
So we have had two books with beautiful art, one that looks like a book, and now we add one that looks like a graphic novel. The art style of this book is really fun to look at. It mixes photographs with illustrations in the same image making its style stand out from all the other cookbooks I’ve seen. This is also one of the only cookbooks I’ve seen centered around anime, with only a few other exceptions. This cookbook also divides food by type of dish (ex: Main Dishes).
So there are some really neat features I want to talk about in this cookbook. The first is that each recipe has a facts section. In this section, there are categories such as anime facts, food facts, and a list of the animes this dish has been featured in. My favorite part of the facts section, however, is the cultural facts. A lot of times we don’t really think about where the food we love comes from and what it means to the culture of origin, and this cookbook does a really great job of trying to remedy that.
The ingredients lists are well organized and the instructions of the recipes are easy to follow for most dishes.
I will say that because this cookbook is so stylized, they compromised some of the recipes to maintain an aesthetic. For example, many of the recipes don’t have pictures, which is fine, but I think recipes like Taiyaki, where you use a specific type of pan to make it, would really benefit from an image to help people unfamiliar with the dish. I also think the way the side dishes are organized is a bit hard to follow at times.
With all that said, these aren’t deal breakers for me because they do a couple of things to compensate for it. There’s an extensive index of animes and an index of recipes. That way, if you’re interested in making something from your favorite anime—for example, Fairy Tail—you can easily find a dish from that. There’s also a section called Japanese Pantry which is very helpful because a lot of the ingredients inside are non-traditional for western-based cooks.
My favorite recipe from this book so far has to be the Omurice. This dish is featured in so many animes such as The Garden of Words. It always looks so good and I’d been dying to try it. All of the ingredients are easily accessible and it is a great way to use your leftover rice. I find that this dish is a great introduction to the cuisine in this book due to the ease of making it and the flavor palette.
The Unofficial Harry Potter College Cookbook by Aurélia Beaupommier
Am I in college now? No. But I was in college once not long ago and can therefore say that this cookbook is appropriately named. It is full of mostly sandwiches and desserts, as any college student would have it. There’s also a selection of drinks with alcoholic versions available for some. Everything in this book is unofficial but deeply inspired by the Wizarding World. For example, Ron’s Usual is corned beef because Mrs. Weasley always forgets that he doesn’t like it.
This cookbook is fantastic for anyone who likes to keep it simple, or anyone with a limited budget in mind. Some of the recipes have as few as 4 ingredients while still being a great dish. The instructions are as clear-cut as it gets and the cookbook is inclusive with recipes for all diets.
This is another cookbook with beautiful photography inside, done by Aline Shaw. Each recipe has its own image and proves that simple doesn’t mean flavorless. Each recipe also has a sentence referencing the book and the inspiration behind it. I can honestly not express enough how user-friendly this cookbook is.
Of course, we have to talk about what some people might consider cons. For anyone who loves to cook and make interesting dishes, this is not the book for you. The recipes are all very simple and while they have some main courses that aren’t sandwiches or salads, you’re not going to find a feast in this book.
Design-wise, there’s a ton of blank space under the recipes since they each have their own page and they’re so short. I think there’s fair warning that this is no complicated beast with the title claiming it to be a college cookbook, and I personally use the blank part of the page to take notes. Sue me for writing in a book, but this is no signed Leigh Bardugo book. It’s a cookbook, and taking notes is a great way to remember any alterations you made to a dish.
All in all, this is a great cookbook for anyone who doesn’t want to make grand meals all the time and wants simple straightforward recipes inspired by the Harry Potter universe.
One of my favorite things to make from this cookbook is the Butterbeer Ice Cream. This is super easy to make and is great for a Harry Potter marathon with your friends and family around the holidays. You can easily substitute the vanilla ice cream out for a dairy-free option or leave the nuts off for those with allergies. The combination of flavors really reminds you of a butterbeer from Universal and gives you those warm Hogsmeade feelings.