Archive for October, 2009


Is That Your Final Movie?

October 10, 2009


Well, yes, sadly, it is. For now. But we’re really going out with a bang and not a whimper.

2008’s best picture Slumdog Millionaire, I hope and somewhat predict, will go on the list of greats that the Academy has picked for best picture.  It’s a firecracker of a movie.  I loved that the last movie used a game show as a conduit for telling the story.  I love game shows (if they’re good ones–Jeopardy, What’s My Line and not crappy ones– Deal or No Deal;  and can someone kill Family Fued already, please?) for the most part) and I love movies so this movie is perfect for moi.

2008’s best was a good choice from a bumper crop year:  The Reader (Kate Winslet deserved her Oscar), Milk (pretty good–James Franco was great) Frost/Nixon (totally underrated–incredible performance by Frank Langella, he deserved the Oscar more than Sean Penn, in my opinion) Benjamin Button (ghastly, ghastly,ghastly).  And Revolutionary Road was robbed.

We watched Slumdog, our last Oscar winner about 10 days ago and I haven’t had the heart yet to post.  I’m a bit too reluctant  to end this journey of  film watching.  All good things end, so they tell me, so I guess that goes for things that are great, too.  Bad movies included, (except for you, Cavalcade, you really sucked) Sigh, I really loved doing this project.  Planning the meal, cooking the meal, eating the meal and watching, for the most part, some terrific movies was always a highlight of my week.  But we’ll forge on; there’s been talk about doing movies that should’ve won (e.g. Some Like It Hot, GoodFellas) and that would be fun, but it’s in the “We’ll see” pile for right now.  The 10 nominations thing is going to drive me crazy, too; I might just go to an Oscar party and have someone else do the cooking.  That would be fun!

For our last meal (sounds kinda like we’re on Death Row here)  we went with the fine cuisine of India.  Cooking Indian food is a blast: there are so many different spices and textures and smells, well, it’s just heaven.  Luckily for my wallet, whole foods sold pretty much all of these exotic spices in bulk instead of those expensive jars. I think I drove the store cashier a little crazy with my tiny bags or cardamom seeds and fenugreek seeds, but it was worth it. For dinner we went with a Lamb Vindaloo recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking. I wish it was possible to google smells, because this meal was a treat for all senses:  yes, it even felt great.  To eat.

  • 2 t whole cumin seeds
  • 2-3 hot, dried red chili peppers
  • 1 t black peppercorns
  • 1 t cardamom seeds (take seeds out of the pods)
  • 3-inch stick of cinnamon
  • 1½ t whole black mustard seeds
  • 1 t whole fenugreek seeds (if available)
  • 5 T white wine vinegar
  • 1½ to 2 t salt
  • 1 t light brown sugar
  • 10 T vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced into fine half-rings
  • 1 1/3 c water (or broth/stock)
  • 2 lb boneless lamb (or pork or beef) shoulder meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1-inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 small, whole head of garlic, with all the cloves separated and peeled
  • 1 T ground coriander
  • ½ t ground tumeric
  • Grind cumin seeds, red chilies, peppercorns, cardamom seeds, cinnamon, black mustard seeds, and fenugreek seeds in a coffee- grinder or other spice grinder. Put the ground spices in a bowl. Add the vinegar, salt, and sugar. Mix and set aside.

    Heat the oil in a wide, heavy pot over a medium flame. Put in the onions. Fry, stirring frequently, until the onions turn brown and crisp. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon and put them into the container of an electric blender or food processor. (Turn the heat off.) Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water to the blender and puree the onions. Add this puree to the ground spices in the bowl. (This is the vindaloo paste). It may be made ahead of time and frozen.)

    Dry off the meat cubes with a paper towel and remove large pieces of fat, if any.

    Put the ginger and garlic into the container of an electric blender or food processor. Add 2 to 3 Tablespoons of water and blend until you have a smooth paste.

    Heat the oil remaining in the pot once again over a medium-high flame. When hot, put in the lamb cubes, a few at a time, and brown them lightly on all sides. Remove each batch with a slotted spoon and keep in a bowl. Do all the lamb this way. No put the ginger-garlic paste into the same pot. Turn down the heat to medium. Stir the paste for a few seconds. Add the coriander and tumeric. Stir for another few seconds. Add the meat, any juices that may have accumulated as well as the vindaloo paste and 1 cup water (or stock). Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer gently for an hour or until meat is tender. Stir a few times during this cooking period. Serves 6.

    For a side we had some spinach fried rice
    1 cup Basmati Rice
    1 cup chopped spinach(frozen)
    1/2 red onion finely chopped
    2 green chillis
    1clove garlic
    1″ pc ginger
    1tsp canola oil
    1tsp ghee
    1tsp jeera
    1 tsp garam masala powder
    salt to taste


    Cook basmati rice with 1 1/2 cups water.let it cool and separate the grains.
    Meanwhile blanch the frozen spinach.Allow it to cool slightly
    In a blender make a thick paste of the spinach,green chilli,ginger and garlic.
    In a anon stick skillet heat oil and ghee.Add jeera and saute onions
    Add the spinach paste and saute for 4-5 mins.
    Mix the rice evenly with the spinch mixture in the skillet.

    And for dessert, we dabble a bit with the world’s most expensive spice, saffron.
    Saffron Poached Pears w/ a Champagne Sabayon

    6 cups water
    5 ½ cups sugar
    ¼ cup lemon juice
    1 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
    Zest of 2 oranges, in strips
    1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
    4 Bartlett pears

    Champagne Sabayon
    4 egg yolks
    ¼ pound sugar
    1 cup champagne
    ¼ teaspoon white pepper, finely ground

    For Pears:
    Bring all ingredients to simmer, then remove from heat and steep 10 minutes. Discard orange zest and vanilla pod.

    Peel, halve, and core pears and put them in saffron syrup, covered with double layer of parchment paper to keep pears submerged. Poach at very gentle simmer 15-20 minutes, or until pears yield to paring knife. Cool pears and syrup separately, then store pears in poaching syrup.

    For Champagne Sabayon:
    Whisk all ingredients together in large bowl set over simmering water until fluffy, thickened, glossy, and hot. Use immediately, or chill in ice bath, then fold in ½ cup cream, whipped to soft peaks, and chill up to 1 day.

    To Serve:
    Spoon warm or cold Sabayon over poached pear half, and garnish with pomegranate seeds or a few chopped pistachios.

    Well, I guess this is it,  the end. Fin. It’s a wrap. To borrow from 1965’s best picture “So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night!” or even better, here’s someone who always says it best: