The Cantina Scene: Penny Dreadful Victorian Pub Fare


From the very first preview of Penny Dreadful, I was hooked. It didn’t hurt that Billie Piper (Rose from Doctor Who) was a character, but the charming Eva Green and Timothy Dalton stole the show. Add in the fact that it features some of the most infamous characters of Victorian and Classic literature that it is with nail-biting I wait for Season 2. I decided to dedicate this month’s Cantina Scene to Showtimes’ Penny Dreadful.

Pub fare is warm and filling. With a few nights searching online and pouring through some Victorian cookbooks (harder to find than you think folks) I brought down the meal to a few warm items that will keep you warm on a cold Winter’s day. In honor of Penny Dreadful, many of these items hold secrets, or just encase other foods….secrets upon secrets.

Smoking Bishop


If Smoking Bishop sounds familiar to you, you’ve likely been reading Charles Dicken’s novels. This warm red-wine punch beverage is filled with the smells of oranges, cloves, lemons and port. For the uninitiated think of it as hot Sangria. It is called Smoking Bishop from the steam that rises from it after heating. We skipped the 1/4 tsp mace that the original recipe called for, as I wasn’t really feeling it. If you want to get super authentic, add that in.  Warning, like a good investigation in the Penny Dreadful world this drink takes time (over 24 hours to prepare) and is best served under the cover of darkness.

You Will Need:

  • A heat-resistant punch bowl and ladle
  • Large pot and medium sized saucepan
  • Small knife
  • Cookie Sheet
  • 5 oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • 30 whole cloves (these are expensive, so see if you can raid someone’s pantry first)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Allspice
  • A thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 750ml bottle of red wine (the cheap stuff is fine)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 bottle Ruby Port

The night before you want to drink this concoction, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Scrub the oranges and lemons to remove any dirt or fruit wax, as it will make things taste nasty and isn’t really all that good for you. Using a small knife, cut 5 small slits into the oranges and one lemon. Set the other lemon aside for decoration. Insert one clove into each slit on each piece of fruit. Set them on a cookie sheet (I recommend putting foil underneath for easier cleanup) and roast the fruit in the oven for 75 minutes. The fruit will lose some of it’s original luster. When it’s done, take it out to cool. Put any cloves that have fallen out while roasting back into their slots.

In the saucepan add cinnamon, allspice and ginger root to water. Stir together and bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring frequently until the liquid is reduced by half. This will take a few minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In the large pot, pour in the bottle of red wine and heat over medium until it boils. Reduce the heat and let it simmer. Pour in the sugar and stir until it disolves. Let the wine simmer for 10 more minutes. Add in the spice mix and then remove the whole mess from heat.

In the punch bowl, place the oranges, lemon and wine mixture. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and put in some place warm and safe for 24 hours. An oven that is turned off is ideal, but make sure no one turns the oven on while it is in there.  After the time is up, slice the lemon and oranges and juice them into the spiced wine. Pour into a metal strainer and put the mixture back in the big pot on the stove. Add the bottle of porn and stir over a medium heat until hot, but do not boil.  Taste it and add more sugar as you like. Put in heat safe mugs and slice up the remaining lemon to decorate.

Drink, but don’t do anything you’ll regret.

Baked Scotch Eggs


You Will Need:

  • A small sauce pan to boil eggs
  • 4 eggs (I boiled 6 because I’m terrible peeling eggs. My dog was a great help with cleanup)
  • 1 extra egg for coating later
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs or equivalent
  • 1lb spicy Italian sausage
  • Cookie Sheet

Place 4 (or 6 like me) eggs into the small sauce pan and cover with cold water, an inch above the egg. Place on the stove and boil. As soon as the eggs boil, remove the pan. Let sit for 10 minutes. Put eggs in a bowl with cold water (makes it easier to remove the shell). Hit the top of each egg gently to crack the shell and then remove the shell. Set aside.

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Set out a small bowl of flour, one with a beaten egg and one with the breadcrumbs. Form four patties out of the sausage and set aside. Take an egg, roll in flour and then form the sausage patty around the egg. Dip in egg and then roll in breadcrumbs. Set on a cookie sheet. Here I again recommend lining the cookie sheet with foil for easier cleanup (sorry Victorians). Repeat with remaining eggs. While this treat is usually fried, the baking will save you some calories and having to do an elaborate frying set up. Bake in the over for 35 minutes, or until when you slice the scotch egg in half, the meat is not pink next to the egg. These come out super hot, so make sure to give them at least a few minutes to cool so you don’t burn your mouth.

Do You Have Plans For Dinner?


Vampires in a Hole


While this is honestly just a name change for the classic British “Toad in the Hole,” it seemed like a more appropriate name. Especially since we are serving it with garlic mashed potatoes (see below).

You Will Need:

Four sausages in their casings (get English ‘bangers’ if you want to be spot on authentic

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt (Kosher preferred)
  • a pinch of black pepper
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 9×9 casserole dish
  • Cooking spray, or vegetable oil to coat casserole dish

Wisk together the flour, salt and pepper. Make a hole, or well, in the center of this. Pour in the eggs, milk and melted butter and whisk together until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.

Coat a casserole dish with vegetable oil or spray with cooking spray. Place on the rack in the bottom third of the oven. Preheat the oven with the dish still inside to 425 degree Farenheit. While the over is heating up, put the teaspoon of vegetable oil in a skillet and then lightly brown the sausages on at least two sides.

Pull the oven rack out with the casserole dish and put in the sausages. Pour over the set aside batter and then cook for 20-30 minutes or until the batter is risen and golden in color.

Eat immediately, but when you smell the deliciousness you’re going to want to eat it immediately anyhow.


Garlic Warded Mashed Potatoes

You Will Need:

  • 1 Large saucepan
  • 8 medium red potatoes, quartered
  • 5 peeled garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup milk, warmed
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesean cheese (spring for the real stuff, it tastes so much better)
  • garlic salt to taste

Place the quartered potatoes and garlic in a large saucepan and then cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the items simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Drain out the water. Add the rest of the ingredients and mash the potatoes together with a fork. Devour and drive away the foul blood-drinking demons with your breath alone.


Sticky-Situation Toffee Pudding

photo (3)

I did study abroad in Scotland when I was in college, and at my time in the pubs I discovered this dish that blew my mind and tormented me when I returned home to CA because I could not find it anywhere. Thankfully, the internet gave me a chance to revisit the deliciousness that is Sticky-Toffee Pudding. As those on Penny Dreadful appear to get in some of the most compromising positions on television, we decided to give this a whirl.

You Will Need:

– For the Cake

  • Small saucepan
  • 1 1/4 cups of dates, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 8 Tbsp butter at room temperature (one stick if you don’t want to count)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • a cake pan
  • a large bowl of water to rest cake pan in while in oven
  • cooking spray and flour for cake pattern

-For the toffee sauce

  • 6 Tbsps butter (3/4 of a stick)
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • medium saucepan

Preheat the oven to 350 Degree Fahrenheit. Oil and flour the cake pan and set aside.

In a small saucepan combine water, baking soda and dates. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and set aside.

Place salt, flour into a bowl, whisk together and set aside.

Combine butter and brown sugar. Beat until light and airy (about five minutes). This is done really easily with a hand mixer or standalone mixer. Add vanilla and eggs in until incorporated. Mix in dates mixture. Mix in the flour mixture. Do not over mix. Pour into prepared pan.

Place an oven safe bowl of water in the oven and rest the cake pan gently on top. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Test with a knife or toothpick to make sure it is cooked all the way.  Use extreme caution when removing the bowl and cake pan.

To prepare the toffee sauce, melt butter over medium heat. When it becomes foamy, add brown sugar and vanilla. Stir and then let the mixture turn the color of maple syrup with the heat. This should take about five minutes. Pour the cream in as a slow stream and mix together for about two minutes. Pour over warm cake and enjoy.

Notes from Dr. Frankenstein’s Journal

  • This meal uses a lot of the same ingredients so I was able to keep costs down by using flour, eggs, milk and sugar that I already had in the house. If you want to keep the meal around 30$ completely cut out the alcohol.
  • This is an incredibly heavy meal. You may want to skip the scotch eggs or dessert and enjoy over a couple days.
  • The Smoking Bishop is much stronger than it looks, so pace yourself
  • None of these items seems to be able to bring human beings back to life.


Oh and here’s a preview for Season Two, which airs April 26, 2015 on Showtime:

The Cantina Scene is a monthly column written by Victoria Irwin featuring a nerd-themed meal that you can pass off to your non-nerdy friends and family. All meals are designed to be done inexpensively, so you’re not breaking the bank. We would love to hear your ideas for themes, recipes, and plans to take over the world. Showtime did not pay me to do any of this. I am merely an enthusiastic Penny Dreadful fan. Email [email protected]


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