The Weekend Dish – The Oscars

The 85th Academy Awards will be held in Hollywood this Sunday. hollywood sign

In honor of this occasion and sparked by a conversation with my backyard daughter, I have compiled a few recipes and ideas inspired by the best picture nominees for those of you hosting a party or simply in the mood for some culinary amusement. Most of these recipes are accessed through a link by clicking the name of the recipe and, in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit most of them I have not tried yet, but they sound good to me so I am sharing.

Argo, the Iranian hostage crisis film: as I see it there are two ways to go here, either Iranian cuisine or food from the seventies. For the Persian option Kababs and/or Persian  flatbread, and if you choose the seventies tie-in how about rumaki or break out your fondue set.

Amour, the French tale of an aging couple facing tough decisions brought on by medical circumstances: I have to go with the French themed dish here and I like the LA Times Madeleine suggestion, theirs is a pistachio madeleine  or you can stick with the traditional madeleine.

Beasts of the Southern Wild, the story of a young girl and her father in a Louisiana swamp called the Bathtub during a flood: for this one I am inspired by the Southern setting and Emeril Lagasse’s jambalaya or this cheese beignet recipe sounds good.

Django Unchained, the story of a freed slave looking for his wife with the help of a German bounty hunter: once again, using the Southern setting as inspiration, I like fried chicken tenders for this film. When I make them I dredge chicken breast tenders in a mixture of flour, salt, pepper, lots of dried sage (at least 1 Tbsp), and thyme; then add about a 1/2 inch of vegetable oil to a frying pan and heat until medium hot. Add chicken and cook on one side until browned, turn and cook until browned on the other side and meat is cooked through, about 3-4 minutes on each side.

Les Miserable, the story, set in early 19th century France, of an ex-convict, Jean Valjean, who for years has been pursued by a relentless police inspector, Javert: a loaf of French bread (since it was the theft of a loaf of bread that sent Valjean to prison in the first place) is a natural selection and this Crustless Leek and Gruyere Quiche recipe sounds delicious.

Silver Linings Playbook, the story of a man, Pat Solatano, trying to get his life back on track after being in a treatment center, for bi-polar disorder, and recently released into the care of his parents: I have to choose crabcakes here or this quick Crab and Avocado Toasts appetizer for a different take on crabby snacks and this recipe for Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed With Goat Cheese because it can be a date even if you only have Raisin Bran.

Life of Pi, the story of an Indian boy drifting at sea after a shipwreck on a raft with a tiger: I am going with an Indian influenced appetizer I tried recently,  Sweet Potato Lettuce Wraps, when I made these I used endive instead of the iceberg lettuce and I used ground cumin and didn’t add dried chilies to the sweet potatoes. I served it at a party and it got favorable reviews.

Lincoln, follows Lincoln’s efforts to pass the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution: according to the LA Times, it’s been said that Lincoln’s favorite dessert was apple pie so how about making some mini apple pies in his honor.

Zero Dark Thirty, the story of the hunt for and capture of Osama bin Laden: I am going to have to go with dark chocolate here and leave it at that. Choose your favorite dark chocolate.

paramount pictures melrose gate

There you have it, get busy and enjoy.

~ Susan

The Weekend Dish – Curried Butternut Squash Soup

curried butternut squash soup

There are a few food scents that upon detection send me to my “happy place” – cinnamon, cloves, roasting garlic and to a slightly lesser extent coffee and cooking bacon. A new addition is curry. This month, I have been making dishes with curry more than usual and I have noticed it is beginning to have that happy effect on me. Recently, returning home after making this soup, I am transported to my aroma therapy happy place. The faint curry scent coupled with the delicate squash create an olfactory bouquet I view as a little gift to myself. In the five seconds or so I am mentally reveling in this gift, my daughter exclaims, “mmm, smells good!”, a bonus gift!

The squash, with the help of a few supporting ingredients, is elevated to a smooth, warm, savory delight and allowed to shine.

_MG_8721soupFor this simple yet elegant soup. . .

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 Tbsp chopped, seeded jalapeño pepper
1 tsp curry
6 cups cubed, peeled butternut squash (about 3 pounds)
4 cups water
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp dry sherry

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Add onion; cover and cook   5 minutes. Stir in jalapeño and curry, and cook 2 minutes. Stir in squash, water, and salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until squash is tender. Place half of the squash mixture in a blender ; process until smooth (or can be processed in pan using a hand held blender). Pour the puréed squash mixture into a bowl. Repeat the procedure with the remaining squash mixture. Return the puréed squash mixture to the pan and stir in the sherry. Can be brought back up to a simmer and kept warm.

curried butternut squash soupThe perfect dish for warming a cold, winter day.

Try it this weekend and see if you will be transported to your “happy place”.

~ Susan