Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I would like to take a few minutes to talk about soup.
My dad said the best thing to me. He told me that love is like soup…and he was right.
Everyone has their own kind of soup, or their own idea of love. If you are chicken noodle, and someone else is clam chowder, they will keep giving you clam chowder, thinking that they are making you feel loved, but all you really want is chicken noodle. It all boils down to either one of two things, either you find someone else who is also digging on the chicken noodle, or find someone who cares you enough to take a step back and be like, “Hey, I keep giving you this awesome clam chowder and you’re not happy. Well hell, what kind of soup would you like?” From there they can either say, “Oh, all I have to do is give you chicken noodle and you will feel loved? That’s easy.” OR “Ewww, chicken noddle. I could never give anyone chicken noodle.”
And then you know.
I think I might be French onion. My boyfriend thinks I’m soup-du-jour. I’m sure I’m not lobster bisque…too heavy. I wouldn’t like to be baked potato soup either, because all you can taste is the bacon after a while. He might be alphabet soup.

I would like to give everyone the opportunity to show me some love, and send me some soup. (okay, not actual soup, but a favorite soup recipe..and yes, I realize that it is nearly 1,000 degrees outside)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Here Comes Trouble

Clearly these ladies are trouble...all but the one in red (that's me, and I'm a sweetheart). These are my best friends, Susan, Karen, and Robin. Robin is the brunette. Susan and Karen are the blonde twins.
This picture was taken at my birthday last year. Since then Susan has moved to Ireland to live with her boyfriend Brian. They were here for a visit last week, so I volunteered to make dinner for everyone.
"Just bring wine guys." Of course, they forgot the wine. Shenanigans.
I made french bread, roasted cauliflour (from 28 Cooks), a sort of osso-bucco dish with orzo, and an Irish Cream cake for desert.

In honor of Ireland, here is the recipe for the Irish Cream cake:
Bailey’s Irish Cream Cake

1 pkg cake mix, yellow
4 ounces pudding mix, instant chocolate
3/4 cups oil
1/8 cup water
1/4 cup vodka
3/8 cups irish cream liqueur
4 each eggs
Combine cake mix, pudding mix, oil, water, vodka, liqueur and eggs in bowl. Beat until smooth. Pour into greased and floured 10 inch Bundt pan. Bake at 350 F 40 to 50 minutes or until done. Remove from pan and cool completely. Mix a glaze of Bailey's and powdered sugar to a thick consistency and drizzle over cake.

I didn't take any pictures of the food, but I did take pictures of the aftermath.

Stupid entertaining.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Ray's Last Day

I found this recipe here, at Cream Puffs in Venice. I will grant you that my pictures aren't as pretty, but I had to take the picture when it was all wrapped up and on its way to work with me...and I wasn't about to take pictures in the middle of the break room during Ray's shindig. That would be a little wierd, even for me, "Wait, no one eat that...we're all going to take pictures of it until we get a really pretty one!"
Ray was my boss, and a super-cool guy. He actually doesn't eat desserts, or fruit, or sugar, but hey, I can't let that limit my pot-luck offerings. "Seriously sir, I know it's your day and all, but it isn't like I'm going to cater to you."
I'm a jerk.
It was delicious though.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I think I might be in heaven. There is a story, which I have included below, from this weekend's NY Times that makes me very happy. What are my two first loves? (okay, besides Al) That's right, movies and food. Combine the two, and well, you can count me in.
Please see the article below and smile with glee like me.

Eat Drink Make Movie: Hollywood's Next Course

CINEMA'S relationship with food and drink has always been a complicated affair. Sometimes it's abusive, as Mae Clark, with her face full of grapefruit, learned from James Cagney in "The Public Enemy." Sometimes it's unrequited, as Tony Shalhoub learned from ungrateful customers in "Big Night." Now and then it amounts to a glorious epiphany, as in "Sideways," when Paul Giamatti rhapsodized to Virginia Madsen about the delicate, even haunting properties of pinot noir.

A little bit of food can go a long way in the movies: think of Sue Lyons's lollipop in "Lolita," the chicken salad sandwich in "Five Easy Pieces" or Diane Keaton's pastrami on white with mayo in "Annie Hall."

And occasionally food threatens to steal the show, as in "Babette's Feast" and "Like Water for Chocolate."

The eating and drinking in these films are as much a reflection of character as the clothes the actors wear or the manner in which they speak. Such culinary verisimilitude has usually delighted critics but has not always translated into popularity among filmgoers: the roughly $71 million in domestic ticket sales for Alexander Payne's "Sideways" (2004), which matched that of the Lasse Hallstrom film "Chocolat," represents the high-water mark for movies that dwell on food and fine wine.

In the coming year, however, a wave of ambitious studio films will try to capitalize on Americans' growing appreciation for all things epicurean. On Nov. 10, 20th Century Fox is scheduled to release "A Good Year," in which a London investment banker, played by Russell Crowe, inherits a vineyard in Provence. And Warner Brothers just finished filming a remake of the German film "Mostly Martha" in New York, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones as a controlling chef and Aaron Eckhart as her culinary opposite, an earthy Italian-American named Nick. Also on the horizon is "The Food of Love," based on the novel by Anthony Capella, which reimagines the Cyrano de Bergerac story as a contemporary romance set in Rome with gastronomy as the poetry of seduction. The project, scheduled to shoot in September, will combine two of the director Peter Chelsom's greatest passions: romance and Italian food.

What's more, Nora Ephron, a food enthusiast who helped make the joy of cooking and eating so palpable in "Heartburn," which she adapted from her own book, will write and direct Columbia Pictures' planned adaptation of the Julie Powell book "Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen," inspired by Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."

And for every reverie on the restorative qualities of food and drink there is a dysfunctional cousin: Fox Searchlight's fall release "Fast Food Nation" is the writer-director Richard Linklater's dramatized version of Eric Schlosser's nonfiction book about the truth and consequences of the fast food industry, while the producer Craig Perry ("American Pie") is looking at a fall start date for "All You Can Eat," set in the bizarre world of competitive eating, for New Line Cinema.

With more and more 20somethings trading in beer mugs for stemware, farmers markets bursting at the seams and Wal-Marts stocking organic produce, America clearly is in the midst of a feeding frenzy, particularly among the growing legions of foodies and gourmands. The Food Network holds 65 million monthly viewers in its thrall, and sales of "gourmet" foods and beverages are expected to top $53 billion next year.

To some extent these developments may reflect a search for refuge. "Food is that thing that people retreat to for comfort and safety," said Lisa Shotland, an agent in the Creative Artists Agency's lifestyle group, "and in these uncertain times that just becomes more and more the norm."

Or it may be that the chef has become "the new rock star," as Denise Di Novi, the producer of "The Food of Love," maintains.

"The qualities that make a man sexy have expanded beyond traditional male roles," she said. "Great chefs embody the things that make all great artists appealing, in that they're creative, committed and passionate."

Whatever the source of the impulse, American studios are clearly out to challenge the notion that great food films have to be imported, though it usually worked that way in the past.

"Tampopo," Juzo Itami's inspired 1985 meditation on sex and the quest for the perfect bowl of ramen, ushered in a kind of foodie film renaissance that continued with "Babette's Feast" (1987) and "Like Water for Chocolate" (1992). The genre appeared to peak in 1994 with Ang Lee's "Eat Drink Man Woman," with its exhilarating display of kitchen savvy by a semi-retired Taipei chef played by Sihung Lung, who prepares sumptuous Sunday dinners for his three daughters.

The movie appealed to the aspiring chef in all those who appreciate the textured effect of a precise julienne cut, revel in the magical qualities of fresh herbs and seasonal produce, or think nothing of spending the better part of the day fashioning a stock from scratch.

"Big Night," released in 1996, offered a rare American-made challenge to the culinary heights of "Eat Drink," with its story of the Italian chef Primo, played by Mr. Shalhoub, who views his cooking as high art that cannot be compromised for the red-sauce crowd. "If I sacrifice my work, it dies," Primo tells his beleaguered brother and partner, Secondo, played by Stanley Tucci. The quiet denouement, in which a breakfast of scrambled eggs acts as a sort of olive branch for battling brothers whose business has failed, is often cited as one of foodie cinema's most profound moments.

"That film strikes a chord," said Linda Carucci, the Julia Child director of culinary programs at Copia, a center for food, wine and the arts in Napa Valley. "It evokes a really powerful emotional response. The passion of Primo and Secondo is contagious. When I heard those eggs sputtering, I thought of my father. Everybody has memories of food."

Mr. Chelsom said he was such a fan of "Big Night" that he wouldn't "look at it" for fear it would influence "The Food of Love." Instead, he said, he prepared by grazing at "all the best restaurants" in Rome and interviewing the chefs: "I realized it's a very high art, and that there is meaning and feeling in food beyond what I imagined."

In "The Food of Love," as in "Big Night" and the original "Mostly Martha" (2001), cooking is portrayed as the most intimate thing that can be shared between two people. In the script for the as yet untitled "Mostly Martha" remake, the star chef's decision finally to reveal the secret of her saffron sauce to her fellow cook Nick is seen as a sign that she's dropping her guard and opening her heart.

That same intimacy was at the heart of "Sideways," an extended paean to California food and wine that wound up affecting an industry. Fox Searchlight, the film's distributor, and the Santa Barbara Conference and Visitors Bureau and Film Commission coordinated their efforts to produce "Sideways: The Map" and "The Sideways Guide to Wine and Life," which generated a 30 percent bump in tourism in Santa Barbara County wine country. What's more, sales of pinot noir, the preferred grape of the film's protagonist, Miles (Mr. Giamatti), rose sharply.

But audiences and critics that same year rejected "Spanglish," in which Adam Sandler played the chef and owner of a Beverly Hills restaurant modeled on the French Laundry in Napa, whose master chef, Thomas Keller, consulted on the film.

Perhaps viewers found that the cooking scenes were all presentation and no soul. The film's climactic moment — an opportunity to see Mr. Sandler use his skills to entice his star-crossed love interest, Paz Vega — amounts to a tease. Rosy pink chops are dropped in a sauté pan before a quick cut to the squeeze-bottle flourish. The moment is so glossed over that it's as antiseptic as the kitchen's gleaming surfaces. We see Ms. Vega nibble on an asparagus spear before cooing, "I will remember every taste, forever."

"A completely ludicrous movie with good food styling," said the chef and author Anthony Bourdain. "The food looked good, but I didn't believe for a second that Adam Sandler made it or ever worked in a kitchen."

Mr. Bourdain — who watched his memoir, "Kitchen Confidential," morph from what he calls a "dark, absolutely uncompromising" big-screen vehicle for the director David Fincher and Brad Pitt into a short-lived sitcom on Fox — sees chefs as romantic renegades, an intriguing blend of bravado and sensitivity, who exist "a little apart from normal society."

These kitchen maestros "are confident, fairly brutish in the way they conduct themselves," he said, "and yet spend a lot of time drizzling sauce over an artfully cut piece of fish. I can see why that would be an attractive character."

In creating such protagonists, producers have typically tried for believability, while sometimes giving short shrift to moviemaking fundamentals. In "Tortilla Soup" (2001), for instance, the food was meticulously created and designed by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger of the Border Grill in Los Angeles, but the film, a Mexican-American take on "Eat Drink," strained under the weight of imitation.

In the recent "Last Holiday" Queen Latifah, as an aspiring chef, was coached by experts from the Food Network, but the movie stalled at just over $38 million at the box office.

Mr. Chelsom said the producers of "The Food of Love" would not skimp on expertise and would recruit "top level" food consultants. "We're making a film about authenticity in cooking so we really got to get it right," he said.

When it comes to getting it right, several of the new films may have an edge, in that they appear to pair the right director with the right project. The director Ridley Scott, a connoisseur of French wine and Cuban cigars, owns a vineyard in Provence, the setting of "A Good Year." Scott Hicks, the director of the "Mostly Martha" remake owns a vineyard in the Adelaide Hills of Australia. And Mr. Chelsom divides his time between homes in Beverly Hills and Lunigiana, in Tuscany, where, he said, "they produce amazing olive oil, the best I've ever tasted."

If the sudden confluence of food-oriented movies begins to sound like a glut, that shouldn't be too surprising, given the subject matter.

"The gorging of food is very American," Mr. Perry, the producer of "All You Can Eat," said in reference to his own film. "What we've done is tap into that weird relationship we all have with food and yet make it both funny and heartfelt."

And when it comes to food as entertainment, the saturation point is likely still in the future, said Ms. Shotland of Creative Artists: "Every time I think it can't get hotter, it gets hotter."

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I think that we can safely say...these cupcakes have a drinking problem

In honor of the second installment of Pirates of the Caribbean, I decided to make rum cupcakes. Admittedly, they were mostly in honor of Johnny Depp, but I tip my cupcake to all pirates everywhere. My friends convinced me to dress up. I won’t lie, I half-assed my costume (well, it was less of a costume and more of just a tee shirt with a jolly roger on it), but they went all out. We had a pre-pirates bash at my place. I served Pirates Booty (a great cheesy-poof snack), oranges to ward off the scurvy, gummy fishies, and these rum cupcakes.
It was a great night, filled with a lot of “aarrrrgh” and calling each other scallywags. Robin kept poking me with her fake sword during the movie, which could have been annoying if the movie had been better, but as it was, it was just amusing.
I was worried when I first made these babies. Let me tell you, the batter (don’t pretend like you don’t lick the batter) tasted a lot like rum. I got a little tipsy just by licking the bowl. Once baked though, they were perfect. Not too alcohol-ish, but just right. The frosting was a little greasy, but good.
I got this recipe from another blog, but I can’t seem to track down who it was, so thank you, mysterious blogger. I tip my pirate hat to that blogger.

“If ye gets the urge, try your hand at these, scurvy scallywags!!!!!” That was fun to say.

Rum Cupcakes
1 package (18.25 oz) yellow cake mix
1 c. Rum (I used the cheap rum and it didn’t seem to matter)
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding
4 eggs

Combine all ingredients and mix until smooth. Pour into cupcake liners until 3/4 full. Bake according to cake box directions. Let cool completely.

Coconut Buttercream Frosting
4 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 pinch table salt
1 pound unsalted butter (4 sticks) cut into pieces. Softened, but still cool.
1/4 c. cream of coconut
1 tsp. coconut extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine whites, sugar, and salt in bowl of standing mixer. Set bowl over saucepan containing 1 1/2 inches of barely simmering water. Whisk constantly until opaque and warm. Should be about 120 degrees. About 2 mins.
Transfer bowl to mixer and beat whites on high speed with whisk attachment until barely warm and whites are glossy and sticky, about 7 mins. Reduce speed to med-high and beat in butter 1 piece at a time. Beat in cream of coconut and extracts. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Continue to beat until well combined, about 1 min.
(I had to put my frosting in the fridge for a few minutes, to get it to thicken up a little)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Little Discs of Joy

Al and I were both under the weather today...and nothing says comfort like an english muffin pizza.
I made mine with veggies, but I had to make Al's with meatballs. Meatballs aren't very pretty things and not worth taking pictures of. These were exceptionally good. Just a little olive oil, some oregano, some parmesan, some mozzarella, zucchini, and tomato.

Oh, the Mediterranean

This pasta was good. I got it off the Mediterranean Diet website. It's called Pasta Franchese.
In case you don't already know, I'm one of those people who is pretty much already on a diet. I lost 100 lbs. a couple of years back...and really, how many peole can say they have lost that much weight? Yeah, that's what I though! Not many! Now I like to keep a little bit of extra weight around just for fun. Actually, no, that's not the plan at all. Now I just pretend to be dieting all the time. Oh sure, I'm good for a couple of days, but then the little voice inside of me says, "What does this girl think she is doing? Maybe she didn't get the memo, but I lost 100 lbs. for her, and all she can do is keep trying to starve me. I think I earned a cheeseburger."
Oh, little voice, you are very bad indeed. Thus, the diet continues.

This whole Mediterranean Diet seems to be going pretty well though.

2 cloves garlic
2 medium fresh tomatoes
1 cup lightly steamed cauliflour (okay, so this was supposed to be peas, but Al doesn't eat peas)
3 tbsp. white wine
2 tsp. capers
1 tsp. olive oil

Saute all together on the stove top and throw on top of some whole wheat pasta.
And it was good.