Saturday, April 25, 2020

Cuisine & Screen: Home Edition, Part 5

Hey everyone! We good? Hanging in there? Kinda sorta? I hope you've at least gotten outside a bit to enjoy this beautiful spring we're having. My Lamb's Ear are certainly loving these warmer temps.

I don't know about you, but I'm missing dining out. But, the recipes I'm sharing with you this week are easy, involve few ingredients and are inexpensive to make! (Side note - I'm scaling all recipes down by about 6 servings, so these serve 1 or 2. We don't all have spouses and 3 kids!! So adjust accordingly.)

One of my favorite things to make for breakfast (or brunch or lunch or dinner) is Shakshuka. Here's how I made it this week:

Heat about 1 TB of olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Saute half a diced onion and half a diced bell pepper (any color) for about 5 minutes, then add one clove of minced garlic. After about a minute, add in 1/2 tsp or so of ground cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. I add a dash of cayenne because I love spice. Stir in a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes. If the sauce is looking too thick, add in about half a can of water. Taste for seasoning. Crack 2-3 eggs directly into the sauce and season them with a little S&P. Cover the pan with a lid for about 6 minutes. Then, hopefully, your eggs will have that perfectly jammy yolk. Spoon some sauce and an egg onto a plate, garnish with sour cream/greek yogurt, cilantro and feta cheese. Sublime!

In recent years, I've discovered my love for French Onion Soup and I made a shortcut version for myself this week:

Saute half a sliced onion in about 1/2 TB olive oil and 1/2 TB butter, for about 10 minutes. The longer you let them cook, the more caramelized the onions will get, but I added some liquid to get the cooking process moving a bit. Add half a can of beef consomme (you can also use beef stock or broth), a splash of Marsala (because I love it) and a splash of water. Add in some fresh thyme (if you have it) and a little S&P. I added a drop of sour cream and dijon just to enhance the flavor and add some richness. Taste for seasoning. Ladle in ramekins, put a piece of bread on top, cover that bread with cheese (any white you cheese you have will do!) Broil for a few minutes (don't walk away!) Then enjoy.

Finally, if you're tired of making banana bread with all those leftover bananas, try my favorite dessert, Bananas Foster:

Melt about 1 TB of butter with 2 TB of brown sugar in a saute pan over medium heat. Once that's all nice and syrupy, add in a pinch of salt, a pinch of cinnamon and a sliced banana, and let it cook for a few minutes. OFF THE HEAT, splash in a bit of spiced rum or banana liquour (or both!) and stir to combine. Pour this over vanilla ice cream and garnish with whipped cream if you're a real glutton like me. OBSESSED.

Molly's Game - A Sorkin screenplay, so you had best pay attention because it moves FAST. It will easily keep your attention though, and Jessica Chastain is fantastic as real-life underground poker game runner Molly Bloom. (Btw, where is this woman's Oscar?) A great supporting cast. LOVED.

All The Presidents' Men - I can watch a young Robert Redford in anything. What a babe. This film was in the vein of "Spotlight", "The Post" and the 5th season of "The Wire", so if you're into investigative journalism and politics, this will be up your alley.

On the Waterfront - The only thing better than a young Robert Redford is a young Marlon Brando. Mother may I?! This is one of the early mobster films, and it's rightfully considered a classic. Just look at the Oscars it won. It's full of family drama, romance and class struggles. I enjoyed this a lot.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Cuisine & Screen: Home Edition, Part 4

I'm excited to share this recipe for one of my favorite breakfasts as a child, and still today. My aunt got this recipe from my grandmother's neighbor, but whatever the origin, its been in my family for years! They freeze well and are great for when you don't want to cook breakfast.

Sausage & Cheese English Muffins
-6 english muffins, split open (save the baggie they come in for storage!)
-1 pound ground sausage (Neese's is the best)
-2 jars Old English Cheese ( find it near the cream cheese) OR sub 1 jar + 4-5 American cheese slices
-1/2 stick of butter

Cook and drain the sausage in a large skillet. Add the cheese and butter, stirring to combine and letting everything melt. Spread spoonfuls evenly on english muffin halves. Let cool briefly, then stack them in the baggie and stick in your freezer! To reheat, put one in your toaster oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or if you're impatient like me, heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds, then toast it in toaster for about 3 minutes.

Margarita - 2 ways
My House Margarita is pretty simple - 2 ounces reposado tequila, 1 ounce Cointreau (or other orange liquour), 1 ounce lime juice, 1 ounce simple syrup - but I recently adapted a recipe from Ree Drummond and loved this change up. It's a Fancy Margarita, and worth it if you have the time and ingredients.

-1 ounce simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water boiled, then cooled)
-6 cilantro leaves
-4 mint leaves
-2 ounces tequila (reposado or blanco)
-1/2 ounce vodka
-2 TB lime juice
-2 TB lemon juice

Put everything in a cocktail shaker and muddle for about 10 seconds, until you smell the herbs release their fragrance. Add ice, shake and pour in a glass. Or drink it right out of the cocktail shaker, who cares.

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse - Having just watched "Apocalypse Now", I thought it only appropo to watch this documentary about the making of the classic film. I had no idea the chaos that went on behind the scenes, how far over-budget it went, and that production was halted several times because Martin Sheen had a heart attack and Marlon Brando didn't know his lines, among other disasters. Really fascinating if you're a fan of the Coppola film.

Ben-Hur - Again, I thought it was appropo to watch this film during Easter. It was beautifully shot and kept my attention longer than many old films, but at 4 hours? It's really hard. Charlton Heston rightfully won an Oscar for his portrayal of a slave turned Chariot racer, and if you've been to Rome, it's fun to see some of the landscape.

Marathon Man - I've seen this film several times but it's a classic, and always worth re-visiting. Dustin Hoffman at his finest, and Laurence Olivier at his creepiest. Super suspenseful film, incredible score. You'll want to sleep with the lights on.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Cuisine & Screen: Home Edition, Part 3

We celebrated my dad's birthday this week! It was really nice to see my parents and spend some time with them, and it's always fun to celebrate a loved one.

We started with Dirty Martinis (our favorite). This recipe is for one:
2.5 ounces good quality vodka, ice cold - keep it in the freezer! (Ketel One/Absolut are house favorites)
0.5 ounce dry vermouth
0.5 ounce olive brine

Chill a martini glass in the freezer. Shake all ingredients, then pour into the glass. Garnish with hand-stuffed blue cheese olives (not the store bought kind! Stuff them yourself!) ENJOY.

This Beef Tenderloin recipe was adapted from a dinner party my friend and I were hired to work in high school. We assumed the 2 servings of everything leftover were for us...turns out, they were for a couple coming late. That couple did not get dinner, because my friend and I had eaten it all. It was a bit of a disaster. But the beef was fantastic and I've never forgotten it!

Beef Tenderloin
-1 1/2 pound beef tenderloin
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/2 cup butter
-1 onion, thinly sliced
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-8 ounces sliced mushrooms
-1/2 cup red wine
-1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
-1 tsp Italian seasoning
-2 tsp hot sauce
-1 cup beef broth
-1 tsp flour

Sprinkle the beef with the salt and pepper and put in a foil lined pan. Bake at 450 for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms and cook for about 8 minutes. Add the wine, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Whisk the beef broth and flour into this mixture, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the beef from the oven, top with this sauce, then bake for 40 minutes more, or until 135 degrees (for medium rare) or 145 (for medium).
Beef Tenderloin, Blue Cheese Scalloped Potatoes, Sauteed Kale
Finally, on a separate note, I am loving this recipe for Caramel Chicken (which you could also make with Salmon). I made Rice with Coconut Milk instead of water and WOW, what a difference it made - I couldn't stop eating it!! Serve this dinner with Broccoli Rice, a recipe I use often because I LOATHE food waste. This recipe is a great way to use the entire vegetable, especially these days when we should reduce our trips to the grocery store as much as possible!

Selena - omg! This was such a fabulous film and a tour de force by J. Lo. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't know much about Selena and how beloved she was, but this film made me a fan. So tragic.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle - certainly a fun and entertaining escape. This had very little to do with the 1995 classic, but I was on board. Jack Black makes me laugh out loud in anything and everything.

Apocalypse Now - probably my dad's favorite movie. I had seen this before in high school, but my interpretation of it 16 years later was obviously different. Based on Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," this Coppola classic definitely describes "the horror" (get it?) of the Vietnam War. I've been watching Martin Sheen in "Grace and Frankie" lately, so it was quite a change of pace to see him as a tormented, brutal soldier. Brilliant music. Not for the weak-stomached.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Cuisine & Screen: Home Edition, Part 2

How's everyone doing today? Practicing social distancing? Staying home, save for taking a few walks to enjoy the beautiful blooms that spring brings? (I'm grateful for this beautiful wisteria in my backyard!) I thought I'd just check in and offer a brief recess from the crazy news updates with a few things I've been cooking and watching lately.
Beautiful Wisteria!


I had all the ingredients for a classic Pasta Puttanesca, so I thought I'd do my own riff on that. It's really savory and satisfying, and you likely have most of these ingredients in your pantry (maybe not the anchovies, but they should become a pantry staple!)

-olive oil (eyeball it, go around the pan twice)
-1/2 onion, diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-8 mushrooms, chopped (I used button)
-1/4 green olives, pitted and chopped
-1 TB capers
-3 anchovy filets, minced
-14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
-2 TB tomato paste
-splash of white wine (I had some open so thought I'd splash it in!)
-red pepper flake to taste
-8 ounces long pasta such as linguine, spaghetti (or when those are both GONE from the shelves, try a fun noodle like Fusilli Col Buco)

Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil for about 5 minutes, then add in the mushrooms with a sprinkle of salt. Meanwhile, bring some water to a boil and cook your pasta. Once the mushrooms have cooked down a bit, add in the olives, capers, anchovies, diced tomatoes and tomato paste and bring to a boil. Add a splash of wine only if you have it open because you've been drinking it. I like spice, so I added a generous amount of red pepper flake. Taste the sauce for seasoning (it should already have plenty of salt with those ingredients!), then transfer the cooked pasta to the sauce and serve it up.
Pasta Puttanesca
I've been straying from my usual egg breakfast to indulge in some super satisfying Overnight Oats that you can customize and make however you want:

-1/2 cup oats
-1/2 cup milk OR plain greek yogurt
-1/4 cup craisins OR raisins
-1/2 an apple OR pear, diced
-palmful of nuts
-1/2 TB brown sugar
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp vanilla
-pinch of salt

Combine all of these, cover and put in the fridge overnight. Eat the next morning. It's so yummy!!

City of Gold - documentary about beloved LA food critic Jonathan Gold's impact on the food scene in LA and beyond. As a food blogger, I LOVED this film.

Citizen Kane - Rosebud...if you don't know, you'll know at the very end. I watched this in a Film Studies class at UNC but can't say for certain if I was 100% sober during the viewing (it was a night class and we had to make it fun!), so I decided it was worth a re-watch. It was indeed very good (it should be, as it's widely regarded as the best film of all time), though it dragged a bit in places. Cinephiles will appreciate.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner - a pretty dated concept (obviously); decent performances by iconic movie stars

Close Encounters of the Third Kind - entertaining with beautiful visual effects, but a touch too long. Ahead of its time at the time!