Even as a movie fan, I have to admit that, when it comes to the Oscars, I’m sometimes more interested in the fashion than I am about who wins, especially when the Oscar nominations by and large echo those of other awards, like the Golden Globes, Screen Actor’s Guild and BAFTA–call it a case of “awards show fatigue.” I know I will probably get around to seeing most of the nominated performances at some point down the line (I mean, come on there are 8 films vying for Best Picture alone!)…like when the films end up on HBO, Netflix or Amazon. Of course, that doesn’t mean I can’t have some fun coming up with a menu inspired by a few of this year’s Oscar nominees!
Todd Haynes’ I950’s Sirkian drama Carol offers us a richly evocative, sumptuously detailed urbane world, where its title character, exquisitely portrayed by Cate Blanchett, coiffed and manicured to mid-century perfection, dressed in sensuous furs, lingers over martini-fueled lunches with the object of her desire (Rooney Mara), leisurely puffing one cigarette after another. Throw in a hypnotic, nuanced score by Carter Burwell and nocturnal Manhattan scenes, to quote one reviewer,”shot, at times, in an almost Wong Kar-wai-esque neon blur” and you’ve got me thinking of a strong, classically boozy cocktail like the Manhattan. I made mine with Bulleit Bourbon and Italian Sweet Vermouth, adding a few dashes of both Spiced Cherry and Angostura Bitters, garnished with a thin slice of orange and a maraschino cherry.
Normally, I avoid the Red Dye #4, formaldehyde laden variety–but to my delight I found a jar of delicious natural maraschino cherries sans artificial color at a neighborhood wine store…which led to me dropping more than one cherry into my cocktail!
- 2 oz. Bourbon (or Rye Whiskey)
- 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
- 2 dashes Spiced Cherry Bitters
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- 1 thin slice orange
- 1 (or 2) Natural Maraschino Cherry (such as Tillen Farms)
Place the bourbon, sweet vermouth and bitters into a cocktail shaker with a 2-3 ice cubes, then shake to blend. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with orange and maraschino cherry.
The Danish Girl:
Yes, this film is about the trailblazing Einer Wegener who was one of the first transgender women, braving the early attempts at male-to-female sexual reassignment surgery to become Lily Elbe–so I could’ve come up with something that played with the whole male/female dichotomy. But being a Pastry Chef, I couldn’t help myself. I had to make some Danish pastry…though not just any danish. I decided to make the Danish Kringle, which done properly, is a thing of beauty–a cross between puff pastry and yeast dough. The other layers are crispy and flaky while the inner ones are moist and tender. And, hidden inside the layers of dough is a sweet filling–in this case a layer of almond paste and a layer of cherry-fig preserves–which can only be revealed by cutting into the pastry. I made two different shapes of the Kringle, one a long strip braided (or “corseted”) down the middle and one twisted into the traditional knot, both of which, in my opinion, symbolizes the constraints place upon Einer/Lily in the early days of the transgender experience. And you thought I was just indulging in some pithy word play!
Making the Kringle takes time…so prepare to spend a couple of days on it.
The results, however, are worth the effort.
- 12 oz. Unsalted Butter
- 2 1/4 tsp. Dry Active Yeast
- 1/4 cup Lukewarm Water
- 1/4 cup lukewarm Whole Milk
- 1/4 cup Sugar
- 3/4 tsp. Kosher or Sea Salt
- 2 tsp. Lemon Zest
- 1/4 tsp. Ground Cardamom
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 1 Egg
- 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
Cut the butter into 1/2″ thick pieces then arrange them in between two pieces of parchment paper and flatten into a 10″ square with a rolling pin. Chill until ready to use.
Whisk together the yeast, water, milk, and sugar; let stand for about 5 mins., then whisk in the egg and vanilla. In a stand mixer or food processor fitted with a dough blade, mix together the flour, salt, zest and dissolved yeast/egg to form a smooth dough. Turn the dough out into a grease bowl and let it rest in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap for at least 30 mins. About 15 mins. before you plan to roll out the dough, take the butter block out of the refrigerator.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a 12″ square, stretching out the corners so that the it’s thickest in the middle. Place the butter block in the center (corners lining up at the center of each side), then fold each corner of dough towards the center to completely encase the butter. Carefully roll the dough out into a 8″ x 14 ” rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds, then rotate it 90° and roll the dough out again in the same size rectangle and repeat the tri-fold. Wrap the dough in plastic film and chill for an hour. Repeat the roll and fold procedure another two times, then wrap the dough and refrigerate overnight. When you’re ready to use the dough, cut it in half and form into whatever shape you choose (see photos). Fill the Kringle with your choice of sweet filling (e.g. fruit preserves, almond paste, sweeten cream cheese). Brush the Kringle with egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 tbsp. milk or water) and sprinkle with coarse sugar and/or finely chopped nuts. Bake at 350° for 20-25 mins. or until golden brown.
You can’t talk about The Revenant without mentioning the vicious bear attack on Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Hugh Glass, or how he survives the bitter cold by taking shelter inside the carcass of a dead horse. Since I already paid tribute to The Danish Girl with pastry…so no “bear claws” here…I came up with something even better…or at least more creative–Pig in a Meat Blanket! That’s right, you heard me. It’s a seasoned pork tenderloin wrapped in meatloaf, then strips of bacon. Yeah, it may seem rather twisted, but I guarantee the finish product is no joke.
To make this meaty loaf of goodness, take any favorite meatloaf recipe (you’ll need about a little more than 1 1/4 lbs of meat mixture), flatten about half of it onto a foil-lined baking pan, then place about an 8″ seasoned strip of pork tenderloin in the center (I used salt, pepper, garlic powder and a little smoke paprika). Cover the pork with the remaining meatloaf mixture, pressing in around the pork the seal in the seams. Arrange 3-4 strips of thick-cut bacon diagonally across the top of the meatloaf. Bake at 350° for about 40 mins.
This is one movie both Rina and I saw in the theater and thoroughly enjoyed. Boy, that Aaron Sorkin can write some mean dialogue! Michael Fassbender is captivating as Jobs, but it’s Kate Winslet, whose pitch perfect portrayal of Joanna Hoffman, who we love. In honor of Steve’s Polish right hand (wo)man and confidante, I give you my Apple Pie-rogis–cinnamon apple-filled dumplings pan-fried in browned butter, dusted with powdered sugar, drizzled with salted caramel sauce and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Tbsp. Sugar
- 1/4 tsp. Kosher or Sea Salt
- 1 Egg
- 1/2 cup Sour Cream
- 3 Tbsp. Butter, melted
Whisk together the dry ingredients in mixing bowl, then make a well in the center. Whisk together wet ingredients, then pour it into the center of the well. Mix everything together with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms, then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead dough until smooth. Let the dough rest covered with plastic wrap for about 20-30 mins. before rolling out.
For the filling I simply sauteed a couple of small diced Pink Lady apples in a tablespoon of butter, until just tender, then sprinkled in a tablespoon of brown sugar and 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon.