Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Apple Torte

We've prepared this several times in the past, but it's so good, it's worth repeating. This is an apple torte based on the film Big Eden directed by Thomas Bezucha. (We had planned to include Big Eden in Cooking with the Movies, but we ran out of space in the book. But petition the publisher for a sequel!)

Pike’s Apple Torte

7 Tbsp. butter
2 c. Red Delicious apples, skinned, cored, and sliced
4 eggs, well beaten1
½ c. sugar
¾ c. all-purpose flour, sifted
2 8-oz. packages cream cheese
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. lemon zest
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ c. chopped walnuts

1 c. Granny Smith apples, cored, pared, and thinly sliced
½ c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a small frying pan, melt half the butter and fry the apples in it until soft, about 3-4 minutes on each side. (Do not allow to burn.) Pour out into a large bowl, and mix together with the remaining butter and all other ingredients.

Generously butter a 9” round funnel cake pan. Pour the mixture into it.

In a large bowl, combine the topping ingredients. Individually place each apple slice on top of the cake mixture, in a fan shape, or some other clever way.

Bake for 60 minutes, or until the center is set. Allow to cool on a wire rack before serving.

Yield: 8-12 servings

Released 2000

Written and directed by Thomas Bezucha

Starring Arye Gross as Henry Hart, Eric Schweig as Pike Dexter, Tim DeKay as Dean Stewart, Louise Fletcher as Grace Cornwell, George Coe as Sam Hart, Nan Martin as Widow Thayer, O'Neal Compton as Jim Soams, Corinne Bohrer as Anna Rudolph, Veanne Cox as Mary Margaret Bishop

Awards: 2001 Cleveland International Film Festival Best Film and Best American Independent Feature Film (Bezucha); 2001 Florida Film Festival Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature (Bezucha); 2000 L.A. Outfest Audience Award for Outstanding Narrative Feature (Bezucha) and Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film (Schweig); 2001 Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival Jury Award for Best Fiction Feature (Bezucha); 2000 San Francisco International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival Audience Award for Best Feature (Bezucha); 2000 Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival Audience Award for Favorite Narrative Feature (Bezucha); 2001 Toronto Inside Out Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival for Best Feature Film or Video (Bezucha)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

"Titanic" Anniversary

Some very important Titanic events are just about upon us.

First is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the wonderful ship on April 15. While it may seem "odd" to mark the anniversary of a disaster of such proportions, it does provide an opportunity to reflect on how much safer ocean travel, and travel in general, is now than it was 100 years ago. At the same time, it's a chance to remember how unforgiving the sea--or any natural habitat--can be to those who downplay the necessity for adequate preparations.

Second is the impending re-release of James Cameron's movie Titanic, in 3D, on April 4. At the time of its original release, Titanic was the most expensive film ever made. As of 2010, it was still the highest-grossing film of all time, but it was quickly surpassed by Cameron's own Avatar. (Current figures list Avatar with almost $2.8 billion worldwide gross, with Titanic at $1.8 billion.) It remains to be seen whether the 3D version will be as successful as the 1997 film.

Evoking the spirit of Titanic, our brother and sister-in-law (one suspects she did the bulk of the cooking) prepared a dinner based upon the menu presented to first-class passengers during the Titanic's maiden voyage.

The menu consisted of the following dishes:

--Consommé Olga
--Sauté of Chicken Lyonnaise
--Green Peas
--Creamed Carrots
--Boiled Rice
--Cold Asparagus Vinaigrette
--Waldorf Pudding

They used recipes from our book Cooking with the Movies: Meals on Reels, which features a full chapter on the film Titanic--and we're happy to say, their guests left not a morsel behind!

They were good enough to send along photos of their dinner party, and we've provide the recipes below for those readers who wish to try their hands at some Titanic cooking. Bon appetit!

Consommé Olga

10 c. beef stock
¾ lb. lean ground veal or beef
1 egg white
1 turnip, finely chopped
1 leek, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
½ tomato, chopped
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper

6 lg. sea scallops
½ bulb of celery root, blanched and julienned
4 leek whites, blanched and julienned
4 sm. carrots, shredded
8 sm. gherkins, julienned
fine old port

In a large pot, heat the stock to a simmer. In the meantime, in a large bowl knead the meat and the egg white with the vegetables, salt, and pepper. Add to the stock and simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Strain through muslin, cheesecloth, or a very fine sieve, and return broth to the pot. Heat until very hot, but not boiling.

Gather the serving bowls and line them up on the counter or table for easy access. Slice the scallops into wafer-thin pieces, and place a few in the bottom of each bowl. Add a dollop of the combined julienned and shredded vegetables (and pickles), then ladle the hot soup over them. Finish off with a half jigger of fine old port, and serve immediately.

Yield: 12–15 servings

Sauté of Chicken Lyonnaise

⅓ c. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
3 eggs, beaten
6 boneless chicken breasts
4 Tbsp. butter
5 shallots, thinly sliced
5 chanterelle mushrooms, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. white wine
½ c. cognac
½ c. chicken stock
2 tsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. granulated sugar

In a large bowl, mix the flour, thyme, salt, and pepper. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs lightly (just to break up the yolks). Dip each chicken breast in the eggs, then cover with the flour mixture.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet or electric frying pan. Place the breasts in the pan and cook for 10 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside, covered.

Add the remaining butter to the pan, and stir in shallots, mushrooms, and garlic; cook until golden brown. Add the wine and cognac and cook for about 1 minute, then add the stock, tomato paste, and sugar. Boil for several minutes so that the mixture begins to thicken. Return the chicken to the pan, and cook for 5 minutes, turning once.

Serve on a large decorative platter.

Yield: 6 servings

Green Peas (Pea Timbales)

3 c. water
1 tsp. salt
4 c. peas, fresh or frozen (thawed)
3 sm. pearl onions, finely chopped
¼ c. very fi ne 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. Decorate each with a dollop of sour cream and a mint leaf.

Yield: 12 servings

Creamed Carrots

1 lb. carrots, peeled and julienned
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp. prepared horseradish, well drained
⅓ c. whipping cream
fresh tarragon

Place the carrots in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover. Cook for 4–5 minutes, keeping the texture al dente . Drain the water, and set the carrots aside. Over a low heat, combine the butter and flour, stirring frequently to prevent lumping. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg, mixing well. Fold in the horseradish and cream and bring to a boil once again. Cook until the mixture is slightly thickened. Pour over the carrots.

Place the carrots onto a serving platter and sprinkle with fresh tarragon.

Yield: 6 –8 servings

Boiled Rice

4 c. water
½ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. butter
2 c. Carolina long-grain rice
1 handful chives, chopped

Bring the water to a boil; add the salt and butter. Reduce the heat to very low and pour in the rice. Simmer, partly covered, stirring occasionally until all the water has evaporated or been absorbed. Sprinkle with chives. Cover tightly, and serve when needed.

Yield: 6 –8 servings

Cold Asparagus Vinaigrette

2–3 lb. thin stalk asparagus
2 c. water
½ c. walnut oil
¼ c. white wine vinegar
1¼ tsp. fresh tarragon, minced
1 tsp. dried mustard
2 cloves garlic, mashed
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 c. almond slivers, toasted

On a cutting board, trim the tough root ends of the asparagus and toss; wash the stalks in cold water. Place the water in a pot fitted with a steamer, and cook the asparagus until al dente (still dark green, but beginning to soften—about 5 minutes). Drain water and remove asparagus to a glass dish, arranging the stalks all in the same direction.

In a mixing cup, combine the oil, vinegar, tarragon, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper and whisk well with a fork. Pour over the asparagus and chill until serving. Arrange on a small platter of toasted slivered almonds.

Yield: 6 –8 servings
Waldorf Pudding

2 c. raisins
2 Tbsp. lemon zest
20–30 lady fingers
5 eggs
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1½ c. whipping cream
2 Tbsp. rum
4 Tbsp. granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine the raisins and lemon zest.

Line the bottom of a greased French-style cake mold with rows of lady fingers separated by rows of the raisins/lemon zest mixture. Put a second row of both on top of the first row.

Make a sauce with the eggs, cornstarch, whipping cream, rum, and sugar, and mix well. Pour this sauce into the mold, place in a pan filled with water (bain marie), and bake for approximately 1 hour.

Cut into ½" slices and place on individual dessert plates.

Yield: 8–12 servings