While You Were Sleeping…I was cooking my ass off you lazy bastard

White Christmas and Miracle on 34th Street have been playing as a double feature for the last couple of weeks on the Sundance Channel, so I tried to get into the classic holiday movie spirit (like Rina) and settled in for some “inspirational” viewing.  Four hours later, I was less than inspired to come up with anything for this week’s post.  I mean the only food mentioned in White Christmas was liverwurst sandwiches and buttermilk–that’s what Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) offered up as a romantic midnight snack to Betty Haynes (Rosemary Clooney).  Blech!  And the only thing that “stuck” in my mind after watching Miracle on 34th Street was little Susan Walker (Natalie Wood) demonstrating her bubblegum blowing skills to Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn)–what kind of parent lets their kid chew sugary bubblegum at bedtime?!?

No, the movie that got me thinking of food was the delightful romantic comedy While You Were Sleeping (1995).

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 1.26.54 PMSet in Chicago, it’s the story of a lonely lovelorn transit booth operator Lucy (Sandra Bullock) who, on Christmas Day, unexpectedly finds herself rescuing the object of affection, a handsome attorney named Peter (Peter Gallagher) who is mugged on the subway platform and pushed onto the tracks by a couple of thugs.  As she hovers anxiously around the comatose Peter, Lucy makes a comment about marrying him that is misinterpreted by a sympathetic nurse, who in turn later introduces her as Peter’s fiance to his family.  Overwhelmed by their flood of gratitude for saving his life and immediately drawn in by their welcoming embrace, Lucy allows herself to live the fantasy of being part of the Callaghan family.  Who can blame her?  While they initially accept her because they think she is Peter’s fiance, they offer her their love because they see what a wonderful person Lucy truly is, something ironically the self-absorbed and now comatose Peter never noticed.

Peter’s younger brother Jack, on the other hand, is not blind to Lucy’s finer qualities and finds himself “leaning” towards her, despite his earlier suspicions about her status as his brother’s fiance.  Likewise, Lucy realizes that she’s falling for Jack, who is not some “perfect vision” behind glass but a human being and true gentleman who walks her home in the snow and wants to hear her story.

And despite her shlumpy clothes and unkempt hair, Jack sees Lucy’s beauty and potential.  So, in the spirit of this, I present my Pear Fritter–a thing of beauty made from the seemingly throwaway scraps of donut dough (leftover from Eggnog Malasadas in last week’s post).  Instead of reforming the scraps of dough left after having cut out the rounds to roll out again (which often changes the texture of the dough, making it tough), just fold in some pieces of diced pear, proof and fry the dough to golden brown.  To finish, I dipped the fritters in maple bourbon glaze.  I should point out that when Jack finally sits down with his dad to tell him he doesn’t want to be in the family business (after his conversation with Lucy), he softens the blow with a box of donuts!

Incidentally, speaking of pears…we can’t forget the memorable exchange between Peter and his ex-girlfriend, the gloriously bitchy silicon-enhanced Ashley Bartlett Bacon (Ally Walker).  Her name alone was enough to inspire the creation of Ashley’s Bartlett (Pear) Bacon Pizza!  It’s a thin-crust pizza because a woman like Ashley would never dig into a Chicago-style deep-dish (too many carbs).

Ashley’s Bartlett (Pear) Bacon Pizza

1/2 recipe Pizza Dough

1 Bartlett Pear (or D’Anjou), cored and sliced

4 Thick-Cut Smoked Bacon, cooked, cut into 1″ pieces

1/2 Small Yellow Onion, thinly sliced

4 oz. Crumbled Aged Blue Cheese

As for the object of Ashley’s ire, whom she calls a “one-balled bastard,” we thought a single meatball slider would be the perfect way to honor Peter and his solo testicle.

One (Meat) Balled Bastard Slider

1 lb. Ground Turkey or Beef

1 Small Onion, chopped and sauteed

1 Garlic Clove, finely minced

1/2 cup Bread Crumbs

4-5 dashes Hot Sauce

1 tsp. Sea or Kosher Salt

1/2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1 tsp. Chopped Fresh Thyme

1 tsp. Chopped Fresh Sage

2 tsp. Chopped Fresh Parsley

1/2 tsp. Dried Oregano

1/3 cup Dry Red Wine (reserve half for de-glazing skillet)

2 cups Marinara Sauce (about 1 jar)

Grated Parmesan Cheese

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands until just combined.  Using a 1 oz. scooper, portion out the meatballs, then roll them in between your hands to finish forming into round balls.  Brown the meatballs on all sides in a heavy skillet in olive oil on medium heat.  Deglaze the skillet with the reserved red wine, then add the marinara sauce.  Simmer on low for 5 mins. to finish cooking the meatballs.

Rosemary Garlic Focaccia Rolls

Yield: 12

1/2 tsp. Dry Active Yeast

1/4 cup Warm Water

1/3 cup All-Purpose Flour

Dissolve yeast in the warm water and stir in the flour.  Cover and set it aside to proof for about 30 mins.

1/2 tsp. Dry  Active Yeast

1/2 cup Warm Water

2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Dissolve yeast in the warm water, then whisk in the olive oil.  Combine mixture with the proofed starter.

1-1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour

1/3 cup Bread Flour

1 tsp. Sea or Kosher Salt

1 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Rosemary

1 Garlic Clove, finely minced

In a food processor fitted with a dough blade, combine the dry ingredients by pulsing a few times.  With the machine running, slowly pour in the wet ingredients.  Pulse at 10 second intervals until dough comes together and is smooth and elastic.  Turn the dough out into a greased bowl, then cover with plastic wrap and proof in a warm place until doubled in size.  Divide the dough into 12 pieces and form into balls.  Place the dough balls on an olive-oiled sheet pan, spray or brush with more olive oil and allow to double in size.  Bake at 375°F for about 18-20 mins. until nicely golden.

To assemble, split the rosemary garlic focaccia roll, then tuck in a meatball, spoon a little sauce onto the meatball and finish with a sprinkling of grated parmesan.

One (Meat) Balled Bastard Slider

And finally, to toast the holidays, I’ve created a liqueur that is sure to be more palatable and enjoyable than Grandma Elsie’s eggnog, which Lucy is warned to “sip slowly.”  Whether added to coffee or simply served over ice, my Gingerbread Creme is guaranteed to give you that warm fuzzy feeling.

IMG_3509

Gingerbread Creme

Yield:  about 2 quarts

2 cups Heavy Cream

2 tsp. Ground Ginger

1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

1/2 tsp. Ground Cloves

1/2 tsp. Ground Allspice

1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg

1/4 tsp. Ground Cardamom

1/2 vanilla bean, split and scrape

2 strips Orange Peel

pinch of salt

2/3 cup Premium Vodka

1/3 cup Light Rum

2 Tbsp. Orange Liqueur

8 oz. Guinness Stout, reduced to 2 oz.

1 Tbsp. Molasses

1  can Sweetened Condensed Milk (14 oz.)

Bring the cream to a simmer, then whisk in all the spices, vanilla, orange peel, and salt to combine.  Strain the liquid into a large pitcher, then whisk in the remaining ingredients.  Chill the liqueur before bottling.

 

Author: Puddingyrl

I'm a pastry chef (geek) whose appetite invariably exceeds the actual size of my stomach. Skinny jeans be damned! My innate curiosity usually leads to full-blown obsessions--culinary and otherwise--which is why you'll find me sticking my finger in the proverbial pudding...if not licking the whole damn bowl. Given my varied interests, I figured blogging is a good way for me to explore those ideas that are always nibbling at my brain. Along for the ride are two of my girlfriends who share some of my obsessions and have no problems diving headlong into that bowl of pudding. After all, it's more fun to share the calories!

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