Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Get The Reels Turning!

Movie Party.jpg
Fall is here and the temps are starting to drop. I love sailing, hiking and hanging out at the beach in the summer. Sometimes when autumn arrives, I’m relieved that I don’t have to rush out and can just enjoy hanging around the house watching movies and making popcorn. Hence, our movie-inspired parties! Gather a few friends and have a girls’ afternoon at home. We’ve included some recipes, you may or may not make, some goofs you may or may not see, and some discussion questions you may or may not entertain. Enjoy!

The Other Boleyn Girl


Nominated for Teen Choice Award
Choice Movie Actress in a Drama: Scarlett Johansson

Interesting Facts and Goofs

1. Factual errors: In the film, Mary Boleyn's first child is a boy. In reality, her first child was a girl, Catherine. She did not have a son, Henry, until several years after Catherine's birth.
2. Anachronisms: When Anne is standing on the execution block making her speech, behind her can be clearly seen a painted metal drain (down) pipe with metal bands fixing it to the wall.
3. King Henry named a warship after Mary Boleyn that was originally thought to be a typo in the history books by the author.
4. Anne kept King Henry at bay for 6 years.
5. Dover Castle is the Tower of London in the film.
6. The scenes of Anne on the scaffold were based on eyewitness accounts. No one expected her to be executed and no coffin was available after her death. Her body was put in an arrow box and her head carried off by two of her ladies.
7. Henry Carey, Mary and Henry’s son and Elizabeth’s cousin, became Elizabeth’s chief political advisor and confidant for the 45 years of her rein.
8. Catharine of Aragon, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, was originally promised to King Henry’s older brother Arthur. When Arthur died, Henry agreed to marry her. She was 8 or 9 years his senior.
9. Lady Rochford, George’s wife, later admitted at her own execution that she lied about the incest between her husband and his sister, Anne.

Discussion Questions

1. What do you think about the idea of ambition as a sin or a virtue?
2. Do you think Anne was in love with the king and vice versa?
3. In what ways were Anne and Mary culpable and/or victims in their situations?
4. How did your feelings about Henry changes as the movie progressed?
5. How did you feel about the way women were treated/behaved in the film?

The Afternoon

Serve with Tea, cream, sugar and lemon.

Cucumber Sandwiches

1/2 large cucumber, peeled and sliced very thinly
3/8 cup soft butter
1 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
10 slices bread
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Pepper to taste

Lightly salt the cucumber slices and place them in a colander to drain for 1 to 2 hours. Then combine the butter and garlic and apply to 1 side of each slice of bread. In a small bowl, stir together the lemon juice, olive oil, and pepper. Add the cucumber slices, coating them well. Arrange the cucumber on 5 of the bread slices, top with the other 5 slices, remove the crusts,
and quarter. Serve immediately. Makes 20 tea sandwiches or 15 fingers.

Currant Scones

2 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter cut in pieces
½ c dried currants (dried cranberries, blueberries,
raisins or apricots may be substituted)
1 large egg
½ c heavy cream
2 to 3 tsp cream or milk
1 tsp grated orange zest (optional)
Cinnamon and sugar (optional)
Clotted cream and jam for serving

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425F. Have a large ungreased baking sheet ready. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with 2 knives or a pastry blender, tossing the pieces with the flour mixture to coat and separate
them as you work, until the largest pieces are the size of peas and the rest resemble  breadcrumbs. Do not allow the butter to melt or form a paste with the flour. Stir in the fruit.  Whisk the egg, heavy cream and orange zest and add all at once. Mix just until the dry
ingredients are moistened. Gather the dough into a ball and knead it gently against the sides and bottom of the bowl 5 to 10 times, turning and pressing any loose pieces into the dough each time until they adhere and the bowl is fairly clean. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and pat the dough into an 8-inch round about ¾ inch thick. Cut into 12 wedges and place at least ½ inch apart on the baking sheet. Brush the tops with the cream or milk and if desired, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake until the tops are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool. Makes 12 small.

Movie Party.jpg


“Goofs for The Other Boleyn Girl”. USA: Internet Movie Database. December 7, 2008.

Rombauer, Irma and Marion Becker and Ethan Becker. The Joy of Cooking. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997, pp. 791.

“Savory Tea Sandwich Recipes.” USA: Great Party Recipes. October 8, 2008.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Poblanos and Black Beans and Corn Oh My!

Vegetarian Adventure Part 2.jpgI’ve been busy cooking lots of great things - Poblanos Stuffed with Veggie Chorizo, Black Beans and Corn; Brazilian Rice; Fresh Figs with Garlic Feta Cream; and Oven Roasted Shiitakes with Garlic and Coarse Salt! I was hoping I would learn some things about cooking from this experience and so far, I’m not disappointed.

I’m a decent cook, but I mostly follow recipes. I can only credit myself with one unique recipe - my breakfast burritos (see below). I’ve already come up with an alternative to the flour tortillas I normally use - a poblano pepper seared in a bit of olive oil!

I also had a bright idea to freeze leftover tomato paste. Even though it comes in a small container, I frequently find I don’t even use all of that! This time I thought, “I’m going to put the rest of this into the ice cube tray and freeze it.” Voila! I’ve already made use of some of the frozen paste. I have also done this with leftover fresh herbs - basil, parsley, cilantro, etc (I put a bit of water in the tray with the herbs) - but I frequently forget to use them.

I have some of the Tupperware Fridgesmart Containers. I really love these things for keeping vegetables fresh. I have considered buying a couple more since I frequently don’t have enough space, particularly when the farmers’ market is in full swing. This time, to save space, I trimmed the carrots and celery so I could fit more in the container and I immediately thought, “I should be throwing these into a pot for broth!” I think I’m going to need a bigger freezer...
Christine’s Favorite Breakfast Burritos
Breakfast Burrito.jpg1 ½ Eggs
1 Morningstar Vegetarian Breakfast Sausage
⅛ c grated Mexican Cheese Blend
Tortilla or a poblano seared for 3-4 minutes on each side in olive oil over medium-high heat
Salsa to taste (I like Pace Medium heat)
Cilantro to taste (fresh is best, but I also use the stuff in the tube)
Adobo Seasoning to taste (I prefer Rico, but Goya will do)
Chilis in Adobo Sauce mashed in a food processor, to taste
Seared Peppers.jpg
Defrost and chop up the sausage. Add it to a small fry pan with some cooking spray to heat and brown it a bit. Mix the egg, adobo seasoning, and a spoonful of the chilis in adobo sauce (this adds heat, so be careful). Add the egg mixture to the sausage in the pan. When the egg is mostly cooked, add salsa to taste and get it hot. Add the cheese and melt it. Turn off the heat and mix in the cilantro. Serve in a tortilla or pepper.

I tend to make a couple of days worth and reheat it. Aficionados would say eggs don’t reheat well, but since the salsa adds moisture, they reheat fine for my taste.

Happy Cooking!

~Chef Christine

Monday, November 17, 2014

Amuse Bouche

Amuse Bouche Graphic.jpg
The holiday (party) season is almost upon us! One of the best parties I ever threw consisted of a bunch of small appetizers - amuse bouche, in French. It means ‘entertain the mouth’. I love this idea because it didn’t require me to make a big meal or provide seating around a table, so I was able to invite more ladies. This party idea suggests you have each lady bring an item, but you may choose to make them yourself. I’ve included some recipes from Finger Food which I made and liked, but you can use any appetizer recipes. I’ve also included my recipe for mulled wine, at the end. This is a Thanksgiving favorite in my family!


Have each person bring a plate of small bites. Suggested recipes are listed. The hostess is responsible for set up and clean up.


Curried Nuts

4 c. Mixed Nuts
1 egg white
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
Preheat the oven to 300F. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 10 min. Whisk the egg whites until frothy, add the nuts, curry powder, cumin and 1 tsp salt. Toss together and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes. Cool.

Wild Mushroom Pate on Melba Toasts

¾ oz dried wild mushrooms (porcini, chanterelles, morels)
¼ c butter
¾ lb Portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp brandy
¼ c heavy whipping cream
1 tsp fresh thyme
¼ tsp juniper berries ground
30 mini melba toasts
crème fraiche (to serve)
30 fresh Italian parsley leaves

Soak the dried mushrooms in a bowl with 1 cup hot (not boiling) water for 2 hours or until soft. Drain, saving 2 tablespoons of the soaking liquid. Discard any pieces of mushroom that are still tough and woody after soaking.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat, then add the mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the dried mushrooms and soaking liquid and cook for another 5 – 8 minutes, stirring regularly. Pour in the brandy and cook for 2 minutes or until evaporated. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Transfer the cooked mushroom mixture to a food processor with the cream, thyme, juniper berries and ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper and blend for 4 – 5 minutes or until finely chopped.

Spoon the pate into a bowl and refrigerate, covered for at least 3 hours or until chilled. Put a teaspoon of pate on each toast and top with ½ teaspoon crème fraiche and fresh parsley leaf.

Polenta wedges with mozzarella and tomatoes

1 tbsp olive oil
1 2/3 c polenta
¾ c grated Parmesan
2 ½ tbsp pesto
1 c thinly sliced mozzarella
12 cherry tomatoes cut in quarters
½ c fresh basil, larger leaves torn

Lightly grease an 8 X 12 inch baking pan with the olive oil. Bring 4 cups lightly salted water to a boil in a saucepan. Once the water is boiling, add the polenta in a steady stream, stirring constantly to keep lumps from forming.

Reduce the heat to very low and simmer, stirring for 20 – 25 minutes or until the polenta starts to come away from the sides of the pan.
Stir the parmesan into the polenta and season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the polenta into the baking pan, smooth the top with the back of a wet spoon, and leave for 1 hour or until set. Once the polenta has set, carefully transfer it onto a cutting board and cut into 24 2-inch squares. Cut each square into 2 triangles. Cook the polenta in batches on a preheated, ridged grill pan for 2-3 minutes on each side or until warmed through.

Spread each triangle with 1 teaspoon of the pesto, top with a slice of mozzarella and a tomato quarter. Season and toast under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese is just starting to melt. Garnish with basil and serve immediately.

Hazelnut cream squares

4 eggs separated
½ c superfine sugar
½ c self-rising flour
2/3 c ground hazelnuts
2/3 c unsalted butter, softened
½ c chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella)
½ c confectioners’ sugar, sifted
cocoa powder to dust
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch, shallow, square cake pan and line the bottom with baking parchment.

Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer in a bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, beating until thick and glossy. Beat the egg yolks into the mixture, one at a time. Sift the flour over the mixture, add the ground hazelnuts, and fold in with a metal spoon. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with 2 tablespoons boiling water in a small bowl, then fold into the sponge mixture. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until cooked. Leave in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. Cut the sponge in half horizontally through the center.

Beat the hazelnut spread and the remaining butter with an electric mixer until very creamy. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar, then gradually add 3 teaspoons of boiling water and beat until smooth. Fill the cake with the icing and refrigerate until the filling is firm. Dust with the cocoa powder, then cut into squares.

Mulled Wine

Inexpensive Red Wine - I usually buy a Bota Box of Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon
Mulling Spices - I make my own by wrapping whole cloves, whole allspice, whole nutmeg (cracked open), whole cardamom split, and whole star anise in cheesecloth and tying it up with cinnamon sticks (World Market is a good place to buy inexpensive spices)
Sliced oranges

Pour the wine into a large pot or crock pot with the mulling spices and simmer for until hot. In the crock pot, this can warm for several hours. Serve in mugs with the sliced oranges and sugar to taste.

Happy Holiday Season!