Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas with the Movies and the Bible

Yesterday we had a delicious Christmas feast that included recipes from both of our cookbooks, Cooking with the Movies and Cooking with the Bible (as well as some recipes by other chefs).

We started off with a cheese and fruit platter and cold cooked shrimp--pretty standard appetizers--with a loaf of oregano bread that we made in the bread machine. Various wines, of course, added to the festivities!
Our first course was a Greek lemon soup--served chilled, with strawberries and mint garnish--absolutely delicious.

Then we had the salad: Spinach Salad with Bitter Herbs (from Cooking with the Bible's Passover meal).

Spinach Salad with Bitter Herbs

1 package fresh spinach
2 endive (leaves only)
1 head Boston lettuce
1 head red cabbage, shredded
1 bunch arugula
1 bunch radicchio
1 handful watercress, chopped
½ cup fresh basil
¼ cup fresh oregano
4 eggs, hard-boiled
2 cups walnut oil/berry vinaigrette

Wash all the greens and toss into a large salad bowl. Crumble the hard-boiled eggs over the salad, and serve with a walnut oil/berry vinaigrette. Yield: 8–12 servings

The main course was a combination: Roast Lamb with Rosemary and Gleaner's Artichoke and Cheese Casserole (from Cooking with the Bible) and Pea Timbales and Fried Parsnips and Apples (from Cooking with the Movies).

Roast Lamb with Rosemary

1 leg of lamb, 5–7 lb.
3 cloves garlic, mashed
salt and pepper
½ cup butter
¼ cup fresh rosemary leaves
½ cup celery leaves, shredded
¾ cup green pepper, cubed
4 small sprigs rosemary
1 cup mint jelly
¼ cup orange juice
fresh mint leaves (optional)

To get the most flavor out of a good leg of lamb, start the process with the lamb at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Rub the meat all over with the mashed garlic; sprinkle well with salt and pepper. Place on a rack in a large roasting pan. Pour the butter over the lamb and drizzle with fresh rosemary leaves; surround with celery leaves and green peppers. Place entire sprigs of rosemary on top of the other greenery. Cook for about 1–1½ hours, until tender. (At this temperature, the meat would most likely be rare. One can use a meat thermometer: 145°F for rare, 160°F-170°F for medium. Do not overcook.) Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes prior to serving.

Mix the mint jelly and the orange juice in a small pitcher and pour over lamb while cooling. Cover with fresh mint when serving, if desired. Yield: 8–12 servings

Gleaner's Artichoke and Cheese Casserole (the photo is an adaptation of the following)

8 fresh artichokes
2 cups tap water
¾ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup fresh tarragon
lemon water
½ cup Spanish onions, chopped
3 Tbsp. pine nuts
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 eggs
3 cups firm goat's milk cheese
cayenne pepper
4 cherry tomatoes
¼ cup lemon juice

Wash the artichokes and cut them off at the base of the stem. In a large pot, combine water, cider vinegar, and tarragon. Place artichokes in a steamer or colander basket above the liquid and steam for about ½ hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Remove the leaves from the chokes and scoop out the “meat” at the bottom of each leaf with a sharp knife, placing it in some lemon water to keep it fresh. When all the leaves have been removed, slice off the membrane, making sure to scoop out any remaining fibers (they're a nuisance!). With a sharp knife, hollow out the artichoke shell, place the heart in a large bowl, and mash. When all the hearts of the chokes have been removed and mashed, add the onions, pine nuts, and garlic, and stir well. Using an electric mixer, beat in the eggs and the cheese; then add the meat of the leaves as well. Stuff each shell with the artichoke/egg/cheese mixture to the brim; sprinkle with a bit of cayenne pepper, and place a halved cherry tomato, cut-side down, on top of each choke.

Arrange in a large baking dish with just a small amount of water mixed with 1/4 cup lemon juice. Bake for about 30 minutes. Serve piping hot. Yield: 8 servings
Pea Timbales
3 c. water
1 tsp. salt
4 c. peas, fresh or frozen (thawed)
3 sm. pearl onions, finely chopped
¼ c. very fine plain breadcrumbs
2½ tsp. fresh mint, chopped
¼ tsp. Cayenne
2 eggs
¼ c. Parmesan cheese, grated
½ c. whipping cream
sour cream
mint leaves
Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bring the water and salt to a boil in a small pot; add the peas and cook for only 2 minutes or so. Drain and run under cold water until cool.

Place the peas, onions, breadcrumbs, mint, and Cayenne in a blender and whir for 1–2 minutes; with the motor running, add the eggs, then slowly pour in the Parmesan cheese and the whipping cream. Blend well.

Lightly grease a large muffin pan with Crisco®, making sure the surface and sides of every well are oiled to prevent sticking. Pour the pea mixture into each well, filling it about two-thirds full. Bake for 30–35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Allow to cool for 5 minutes; using a rubber spatula, go around the edges and carefully spoon the pea muffins onto a large platter. If desired, decorate each with a dollop of sour cream and a mint leaf. Yield: 12 servings

Fried Parsnips and Apples

½ c. butter
4 parsnips, peeled and julienned
2 Red Delicious apples, skin on, diced
½ tsp. allspice
fresh rosemary sprigs

In a large frying pan, melt the butter, then add the parsnips, apples, and allspice. Cook over a medium heat until well-browned, the parsnips bordering on crispy. Drain on a paper towel, then transfer to a large platter, making a wide and thin layer. Arrange the lamb on it, surrounded by sprigs of fresh rosemary for decoration. Yield: 6–8 servings

For dessert, Rusty made a hot milk cake, and our guests brought additional confections, such as hot butter rum cake, cheesecake, fruit cake, cranberry cake, and brownies.

At the end, everyone was quite satisfied and ready for a long winter's nap!

Happy Holidays to all!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Review of Cooking with the Movies

This is nice: we just received word of a nice review from Midwest Book Review:

The review reads, in part:
...a film enthusiast's delight and thoroughly kitchen cook friendly, "Cooking with the Movies: Meals on Reels" is especially recommended for film buff culinary shelves and community library cookbook collections.

Scroll down to The Cookbook Shelf for the full listing/review.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Here's a short video description of our other cookbook, Cooking with the Bible: Recipes for Biblical Meals:

Also available in hardcover:

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving with the Movies

Many people are interested in what chefs might serve on the holidays at their own homes. After all, if someone spends so much time in the kitchen cooking for others, how much energy will be left to prepare a big meal for themselves?

Thanksgiving this year, for us, was a relatively simple affair. We prepared some tried-and-true recipes from our own book Cooking with the Movies for a small number of guests. Halfway through the afternoon we were asking ourselves, "Have we forgotten something, or have we just become efficient?" because our cooking was well ahead of schedule. But the lack of stress allowed us more time to enjoy ourselves and our company!

We started out with a Tarragon Bread, made in the bread machine.

To top the fresh, warm bread, we made some Guacamole: our recipe includes onions, tomatoes, and a few secret ingredients in addition to the avocados.

We also had some select cheeses: New York cheddar and Jarlsberg.

The real appetizer was Steamed Artichokes.
We served them with a vinaigrette for dipping. The basic vinaigrette that we use all the time is one part Balsamic, one part olive oil, 2 crushed cloves garlic, a teaspoon of mustard, and salt and pepper to taste.

Finally, the turkey: Pavo Méxicano (Turkey Mexican-style).
from the film What's Cooking?
1 23-lb. turkey
Mixed Vegetable Stuffing (see next)
1 c. butter, melted
whole jalapeño peppers
Concord grapes
(If turkey has been frozen, make sure it is completely
defrosted; this may take several days).

Preheat oven to 325°F.
Wash the turkey inside and out, making sure
to remove the neck and giblets that are usually
stuffed inside the cavity of the bird. Pat dry.
Place in a large roasting pan on sheets of aluminum
foil arranged perpendicular to one another
so that the pan is completely covered and
there is enough foil left to lift the bird from the
pan when holding all sides. Stuff the turkey just
before placing it in the oven (as per the instructions
that follow). Bake covered for 4–5 hours,
basting about every 20–30 minutes with melted
butter. (If desired, test with a meat thermometer
to ensure that it is thoroughly cooked [165°F
for inner breast, 180°F for the legs] and safe to
serve.) Uncover and cook for the last half hour
to brown the top.
Remove turkey from the oven and let it stand for
20–30 minutes before slicing. Place the turkey
on a large serving tray that has been completely
laid out with greens, and decorate the perimeter
with whole jalapeños and Concord grapes.

Mixed Vegetable Stuffing
2 c. Vidalia onion, chopped
2 c. celery, diced
2 c. carrots, peeled and chopped
3 c. corn off the cob
3 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
1 c. butter, melted
2 tsp. thyme
2 tsp. parsley flakes
2 tsp. sage
½ tsp. Cayenne
½ tsp. salt
½ c. pecan bits
1½ c. dried mixed fruits
1½ c. chicken broth
4 c. bread, cubed
Mix the onions, celery, carrots, corn, and tomatoes
in the butter; transfer to a skillet and
cook over a low heat. Stir occasionally, until the
onions are soft but not brown. Mix the seasonings
with the pecans and dried fruits, then fold
into the vegetable mixture. Stir in the chicken
broth and simmer for a bit. Add the bread
cubes and mix well. The stuffing should be wet
as it is placed in the bird. Stuff the turkey (but
do not “pack” it), reaching deep into the cavity.
Smear the stuffing all over the top of the bird,
and along its sides. Place leftover stuffing in a
small roasting pan, and cook alongside the turkey,
uncovered, for about 2 hours.
One of the side dishes: Garlic Mashed Potatoes.
from the movie What's Cooking?

8 lg. Idaho or russet potatoes, peeled and cut
into halves
2 lg. onions, chopped
¼ c. milk
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. pepper
3 cloves garlic
½ c. butter, melted

Place the potatoes and onions in a large pot and
cover with water; bring to a boil and cook until
a fork stuck into a potato easily breaks it apart.
Drain the water. Place the potato halves into a
food processor and whip to a fluffy consistency,
adding the milk to facilitate the process. Remove
to a covered casserole dish, and stir in the
onions, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. Put garlic
cloves through a press, and add to the butter,
stirring quickly. Make a well in the potatoes
and pour in the garlic butter, allowing it to sit.
Mix all ingredients together in the dish as the
first dollop of potatoes is served.

Thanksgiving is not complete without cranberry sauce. We made a special Cranberry and Orange Mêlée.
from the film What's Cooking?
2 pkg. whole cranberries
4 whole oranges
1 c. sugar
3 sprigs mint
Boil the cranberries until soft; drain and allow
to cool. Zest the oranges and discard the shredded
peel. Cut the oranges in quarters, remove
any seeds, and cut away as much of the pulp as
possible. Put the cranberries in the food processor
with the orange zest, orange slices, sugar,
and mint and blend until a thick, pourable liquid.
Serve at room temperature as a side dish
for the turkey.

This side has become one of our favorites: Butternut Squash Latkes.
from the film Mostly Martha
2 lg. butternut squash
2 onions
2 eggs
1 tsp. lemon juice
2¼ c. flour
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
¼ tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. Cayenne
½ c. grapeseed oil
A view of the batter.
Frying the latkes.
Peel, seed, and grate the squash; strip the onions
and grate them also. Transfer the squash
and onions to a colander and press out any
excess moisture. In a separate bowl, combine
eggs, lemon juice, flour, cornstarch, garlic powder,
salt, and Cayenne; add the squash and onions,
and mix well. (If the mixture is too wet,
add a bit more flour.) Heat the grapeseed oil in
a large frying pan. Drop a heaping spoonful of
the mixture into the oil and press down with a
spatula to flatten. Fry until brown and crispy
on the edges, cooking each side for about 3–5
minutes. Drain on paper towels placed on a
large platter and keep warm until serving.

We also served a refreshing Fruit Salad, with strawberries, blackberries, pears, bananas, pineapple, apples, and oranges. (To keep the apples and pears from turning brown, sprinkle with lemon juice.)
We finished the meal with Two-crust Apple Pie. This can be prepared the evening before. It is easy to make and not too heavy or sweet--a lovely way to complete the feast.
from the film What's Cooking?
4 med. Granny Smith apples
⅔ c. sugar
¼ c. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp. butter, very cold

Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Peel, core, and slice the apples, making the
slices as even as possible. Mix the sugar, flour,
nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
Stir in the apples, and pour into a pastry-lined
pie plate. Dot with very cold butter, and cover
with the top crust, sealing the edges. Cut slits
in the top for venting.
Bake for 40–50 minutes until golden brown.

Wishing everyone a blessed Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

King David's Chocolate-Covered Coconut Macaroons

From our first cookbook, Cooking with the Bible: Recipes for Biblical Meals. We made these for a church event this past weekend.

King David's Chocolate-Covered Coconut Macaroons

3 ½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut
¼ cup matzoh cake meal
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, separated, plus 1 egg white
6 oz. imported bittersweet chocolate
¼ cup water
1 tsp. almond extract

Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 325°F.

In bowl, mix together coconut, matzoh cake meal, and 1 cup of the sugar. Add eggs and extra egg white and mix with fingers until well blended. Gently shape about 2 tablespoons dough into a pyramid and set on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, leaving about 2″ between cookies. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden on top. Cool completely.

In saucepan, melt chocolate with the water, almond extract, and remaining Vacup sugar. Bring to boil; then simmer slowly for a few minutes until mixture starts to thicken. Cool slightly. Holding each macaroon with 2 fingers, dip half the cookie into the chocolate so that it is half black and half white. Allow to dry for a few seconds while tilted over a dish, then place on wax paper. Repeat with remaining cookies. Cool completely.

Yield: 16 macaroons

Source: King David's Chocolate-Covered Coconut Macaroons recipe reprinted by permission of Recipe Gold Mine ( ).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dinner on November 3, 2010 was really special!

Rusty cooked a delicious dinner for guests last evening. Four courses, all from our cookbooks.

The meal started with Creamy Artichoke Soup:

This recipe is from our cookbook Cooking with the Bible: Recipes for Biblical Meals. It is featured in the chapter "Esther Saves Her People," which tells the story of Esther and the background for Purim. The full recipe can be found here:

The next course was Marinated Pear and Gorgonzola Salad with Arugula, Seared Duck, and Candied Walnuts. This dish is from the film Mostly Martha (Bella Martha), which we featured in our cookbook Cooking with the Movies: Meals on Reels.

The main course was Poached Salmon in Light Basil Sauce over Butternut Squash Latkes, again from Mostly Martha. (I made the latkes--and though it's a lot of work to grate a whole butternut squash, these "pancakes" are really worth it!)

Finally, dessert: White Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse. Again, from Mostly Martha. The mint adds a delicious flavor too.

Another fabulous feast from Chef Rusty!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Book Launch!

On Monday, September 27, 2010, we held a book-launching dinner/party at our house to celebrate the publication of Cooking with the Movies: Meals on Reels. We cooked up a storm, of course, picking recipes from different movies that we feature in the book. Here are some photos of the dishes we served.

Turtle Soup from "Babette's Feast":

Sa Lach Dia with Lime and Crushed Peanut Vinaigrette from "What's Cooking?":

Dixie Biscuits and Homemade Peach Jam from "Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored":
Chef Rusty ensures that there's enough for everyone:

Champandongo from "Like Water for Chocolate":
Coca-Cola Basted Ham from "Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored":
Southern String Beans from "Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored":
Poached Salmon in a Light Basil Sauce with Butternut Squash Latkes from "Mostly Martha":
Candied Sweet Potatoes with Walnuts, Cranberries, and Marshmallowettes from "What's Cooking?":
Codornices en Petalos de Rosas from "Like Water for Chocolate":
Bool Kogi from "Tampopo":

Our guests were not shy!

Carved Watermelon Fruit Basket from "What's Cooking?":

Chef Rusty delivering dessert:
Carrot Cake from "Gosford Park":
They could hardly wait for the sweet course:
Lined up for dessert:
Blueberry Pie with Latticed Crust from "What's Cooking?":
There's always room for ... blueberry pie!
Tired but happy chefs Rusty and Anthony:
Here's to great reviews and brisk sales!