I get to use my favorite first line again: Welcome back to the table readers! It’s been tough to get into the *mood* to write the back logged reviews I’ve had since being in the hospital and our subsequent stay in San Antonio but I’m really excited to be getting back into it. I had thought the hospital would yield a lot of good reading time but that turned out to not be the case. Between stress and the endless family and nurse visits there actually wasn’t much down time. My husband and I are slated to be back home just in time for our two-year wedding anniversary which is a real gift. As I’ve mentioned many times before my Recipe and a Read posts are my absolute favorite. Not only is this just in general a fun post but it really lets me flex my cooking chops and try out new and exciting dishes. Today, we’re going back around the globe and cooking a very traditional Dutch recipe: hutspot. I’d never heard of this before but it’s cozy and perfect for winter weather (even though it’s been 80 here in SA).
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Ketterdam is a gritty, dark, brutal world that we, the reader are thrust into right out of the gate. Enter Kaz Brekker, aka “Dirtyhands”. He’s a cut-throat thief with a penchant for unlikely escapes and the leader of a gang called The Dregs. These are a group of misfits and outcasts serving Kaz in the underbelly of Ketterdam. When Kaz is abducted in a seemingly impossible scenario he soon learns that the very world he knows is on the brink of complete chaos.
Greed may do your bidding, but death serves no man.
The Grisha are people with the ability to wield different materials and perform incredible feats of magic. From Heartrenders with the ability to control another’s body, to Squallers manipulating the very air we breathe, these are beings with fantastic abilities. What Kaz learns in his abduction is that a scientist is being held in an impenetrable ice fortress in a land called Fjerda. This scientist has discovered a way to unlock the Grisha’s power by manipulating a seemingly innocuous plant. When fed to the Grisha it gives them unimaginable power, forms an instant addiction and slowly kills them from the inside out – all while making them the perfect weapons.
Kaz is offered an ungodly sum of money to do the impossible – break into a fortress that’s doors have not been breached in it’s entire history, steal the scientist back and bring him across the sea to Ketterdam with that same rag-tag team. The dangers are seemingly insurmountable, the obstacles are nearly endless but Kaz isn’t one to turn down a sum that large or glory that big.
No mourners. No Funerals. Among them, it passed for ‘good luck’.
Six of Crows is told from alternating points of view between our six main characters. We’ve got a heartrender, a sharp shooter, a wraith, a privileged boy used for leverage, a Fjerdan fugitive, and Kaz, the theif. As Kaz forms his team and begins to plot their journey across the sea and plans to break into the impenetrable fortress that is the Ice Court we’re given insight into the various characters, their backgrounds and their relationships with one another.
What shines the brightest for me is Bardugo’s world building skill along with the character development. The world building in and of itself is enough to make any fan on fantasy excited. It doesn’t get caught up in traditional fantasy tropes and has a bit of a steam-punk vibe. In all honestly, that’s not my favorite setting for fantasy novels but it really worked here to create a gritty, realistic world that itself was sinister and overwhelming. However, what blew my socks off time and again was the development into not one but all of the characters of this book. Each character was grounded, given a realistic background and such vivid detail into their motives and personality that I’m surprised it could all fit into the 465 pages.
Though he’d trusted her with his life countless times, it felt much more frightening to trust her with his shame.
While this is a YA novel, it wasn’t just the detail to each individual character that gave me pause and left me in awe of Bardugo’s writing skill but the depth of the relationships between each of the characters. There is some romantic subplot taking place here and when I first got the inkling of it I was a bit weary about it creating an unrealistic narrative in such a high-stress story-line. However, much like the characters and the world around them – this was grounded in reality. It was written in a way that was accessible and didn’t fall victim to the dreaded “instalove” or ill placed romantic moments in the middle of a battle field.
None of these characters are good or noble but for the life of me I couldn’t not love them. I was rooting for them and hoping they’d come out on the other side because I had a need to see how their story would develop and grow and I’m excited to continue on with the remainder of the series. There’s an incredible amount of backstory at play here that directly affects how these characters interact with one another and how it shapes the choices they make. I continually found myself shaking my head at the layers and complexity involved in the development of this story. Overall the pacing was fantastic, it did lull for me a bit here and there but my general take away was awe and enjoyment. This is a more fantasy centered novel but I think readers of all genre’s could enjoy the sheer amount of skill at play here.
And because I’m a self-admitted cheese ball, my favorite lurrrve quote: I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all.
Long Story Short:
Suggested For: Fans of heist related books, general fans of fantasy, those looking for a fantasy series set in a gritty, semi-steam punk world.
All right my dudes! Now that we’re done with our review – onto the recipe! I’ve been cooking for my in-laws here pretty much every night because a) it helps me de-stress and b) it feels good to do something for others during a stressful time. Soooo my serving sizes are based on who is eating here but it’s pretty easy to cut down. However, from my research it seems this is usually made in a very large quantity.
- Servings: 5
- Pans: 2
- Prep-Time: 10 minutes
- Cook-Time: 45-60 minutes
- 1 pound carrots (roughly chopped)
- 1 pound onion (roughly chopped)
- 1 pound (yellow yukon or red) potatoes (roughly chopped)
- 1/2 pound sausage (sliced or cut however you prefer)
- 1/2 pound smoked bacon
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2-3 teaspoons paprika
- 2-3 teaspoons oregano
- 2-3 teaspoons parsley
- In my research for this dish I’ve found that it’s generally served with a myriad of different meats. So feel free to serve this with braised beef (klapstuk), various sausages or just on it’s own!
- The traditional recipe calls for yellow yukon potatoes, but I vastly prefer red potatoes so feel free to substitute!
- I’m huge on spices so I added in my own little flair with the paprika, oregano and parsley but note that the traditional recipe does not call for this!
- NOTE: I found while cooking this boiling onions and carrots kind of smells weird, and really strong so be prepared!
- Place carrots and onion in a large pot – JUST COVER with water.
- Place the bacon on top and cover. Boil 35-40 minutes until soft and tender.
- Remove from water but reserve cooking liquid.
- Boil potatoes in same cooking liquid until falling apart.
- Meanwhile while potatoes boil, cook sausage in separate pan.
- Mash potatoes with the carrots and onion.
- Add salt, butter, paprika, oregano and parsley.
- Serve sausage (or other meat) alongside hutspot.
Quote: They were invited to the Hertzoon home for dinner, a grand house on the Zelverstraat with a blue front door and white lace curtains in the windows. Mister Hertzoon was a big man with a ruddy, friendly face and tufty gray sideburns. His wife, Margit, pinched Kaz’s cheeks and fed him hutspot made with smoke sausage, and he played in the kitchen with their daughter, Saskia.
Music Mood: Come Away by Sons Of The East
Have you read Six of Crows, if so, what did you think? What are some non-traditional *for you* recipes you like to make with your family? Drop me a note in the comments and let me know!