It’s Cops ‘N Killers month on Nightmare on Film Street, and Twin Peaks, 1990’s wacky noir television series created by Mark Frost and David Lynch, has plenty of both. FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) comes to the quaint, quirky town of Twin Peaks to investigate the death of local beloved teenager Laura Palmer, and the unfolding mystery is a wild ride to say the least.
Agent Cooper is equally quirky as the town, charming, and sharp as a tack. His childlike curiosity is what makes him a great detective – and it’s not limited to crime. He has keen observations on the picturesque Pacific Northwest landscape, the often eccentric citizens, and of course the food that he’s frequently describing with glee. Mention Twin Peaks and anyone familiar can quote “You know, this is – excuse me – a damn fine cup of coffee.”
It’s true that Twin Peaks makes amazing use of food to showcase both place and character. One of the key settings is the Double R Diner where Norma (Peggy Lipton) serves up humble small town diner fare and of course, her famous cherry pies. And it’s not limited to cherry; peanut butter pie, huckleberry pie, and more appear in the series. Cooper and team return often for sustenance and to unpack what they’ve learned about the case. Lynch has said of diners “There’s a safety in thinking in a diner. You can have your coffee or your milkshake, and you can go off into strange dark areas, and always come back to the safety of the diner.”
Food permeates the series; there’s breakfasts at the Great Northern Inn, awkward family dinners in several awkward family homes, elaborate donut spreads at the police station. And then, as mentioned, the coffee. Agent Cooper’s effervescent personality is certainly fueled by caffeine. Whether damn fine, black as midnight on a moonlit night, or – ahem – even a little fishy, coffee is everywhere.
You can find many recipes for Norma’s cherry pie (that look absolutely delicious) and I’m sure most of you are capable of making a damn fine cup of coffee. So for this we’re doing something a little different and slipping into the red room of Agent Cooper’s dreams. Or is it the Black Lodge? There, the dead are alive, time and space are irrelevant, and nothing’s as it seems. Things are sometimes – backwards? Like…cherry cider and coffee pie?
Yes, we’re flipping two of the most standout Twin Peaks foods, and the result is quaint, quirky and delicious.
Red Room Cherry Cider
I had a brief moment of snobbery at the thought of using Jello of which I am ashamed. After all Agent Cooper is from the big city and is never is condescending. Plus, the bright red color it results in is perfectly reminiscent of the heavy velvet red room curtains.
- 6 cups apple cider
- 1 3 ounce package cherry Jello
- 2 cardamom pods, cracked
- 2 slices ginger
- 1 cinnamon stick
Heat all ingredients in a pot, and gently simmer for at least 10 minutes. Serve hot.
Black Lodge Coffee Pie
Adapted from A Taste of Home. Note: these women’s magazines are great for beautifully simple recipes particularly when you’re going for a small town feel. We’re swapping out the topping for cocoa chevrons for the iconic red room floor, whipped cream on the side.
For the crust:
- 6 ounces chocolate wafers
- 4 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Pinch salt.
Heat oven to 350°. Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor. Press evenly in a 9 inch pie dish and bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool before fill ng.
For the filling:
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ½ cup flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups milk
- 3 tablespoons instant coffee granules, crushed
- 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- cocoa powder to garnish, slightly sweetened whipped cream on the side
In the top of a double boiler (or in a heat safe bowl over a boiling pot), mix sugar, flour, and salt. Add milk gradually and stir until smooth. Cook and stir until thickened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in coffee granules.
Temper the egg yolks by stirring a small amount of the hot liquid into them, then add all to the pan. Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla extract. Cool thoroughly, pour into crust and chill.
For the garnish: you can sprinkle the cocoa evenly or get crafty. Make chevron strips out of paper and arrange across the pie. Sprinkle cocoa powder between the strips, then peel them off. Serve with whipped cream on the side.
As Agent Cooper says: This must be where pies go when they die.