Tag Archives: marinara

“Never, Ever, Ever…” Vol. III

16 Apr

It’s time again for a little Southern Catholic guilt to encourage (shame) you away from the pre-made and towards something homemade, healthier… and better! It’s Volume III of ‘Never, Ever, Ever…!”

Just what you have been waiting for, I am sure.

As a reminder, Vol. I involved vinaigrette. Vol. II was broth. Today I give you Vol. III…tomato sauce!

It must be evident by now that along with my chicken obsession (here and here), I am also obsessed with tomatoes and tomato sauce. I’ve already had two posts about red sauce. The first detailed my friend David Hendren’s amazing tomato recipes, his homemade tomato sauce and his Habenero Salsa. That post was followed by “A Tale Of Two Spaghettis‘, concerning the ‘dueling sauces’ made by my mom and her dear friend Barbara Doyle.

All three sauces are terrific and I encourage you to try each! Often, however, we need to cook fast, which causes people to reach for something like this:

Prego

Don’t reach for the jar, though! Instead, you want to reach for this:

san M

In the time it takes you to boil water and pasta, you can have a wonderful homemade marinara, tastier and healthier than anything from a jar. It’s a breeze, particularly if you have your pantry stocked with a few simple ingredients. The recipe also has many variations, depending on your mood.

Click here to continue and find out how! Continue reading

Sunday Night Vegetable Roast

18 Jul

There’s a terrific Farmers’ Market I visit every Sunday, the Atwater Village Farmers’ Market. Conveniently, it’s 5 minutes from my house, and also directly across the street from Bikram Yoga Silverlake where most days I am either torturing people or being tortured in what we lovingly refer to as ‘the hot room.’ (Best workout on the planet. But I digress.) “Farmers’ Market Sundays” have helped create traditions at the house. A few times a year, for instance, we have a Farmers’ Market Dinner, where friends bring to the house whatever they liked from their Farmers’ Market.  We cook it all up and have a great meal.

“Farmers’ Market Sundays” also led to Sunday Night Vegetable Roast. A little backstory: I often take time on Sundays to cook. I make broth, I put up vegetables and fruit, I prep for the week. My hometown friend Doneane Beckcom Reese recently turned me onto Salad In A Jar, which works incredibly well and gives you fresh, ready made salad every day. Wine is certainly most always involved and I’m usually writing at the computer at the same time. For me, it’s a great way to relax before Monday rears its head. 

One of the things I love to do on Sundays is roast a lot of vegetables. Roasting veggies is my favorite way to prepare them. It’s fast, easy, healthy and tastes so good. There are perks to a Sunday Night Vegetable Roast. First, you end up with an amazing dinner. Roast all your veg, grill some chicken or fish, and you have one of my favorite meals on the planet:

Roast Veggie Dinner

Grilled Ahi Tuna with roasted tomatoes, potatoes, asparagus and zucchini

Also, if you double or triple your quantities, you have a bunch of vegetables that will keep all week and be ready for a plethora of fast prep dishes. It makes breakfast very easy, for instance. As an avowed egg fanatic, I can attest that roasted vegetables in your fridge help create excellent breakfasts every morning. 

Below, then, I’ll tell you how to best roast your vegetables, and then give you some of the varied dishes you can create with them later in the week. Try doing this some Sunday. Even if you are not much of a cook or are too busy to cook much during the week, taking a couple of hours on a Sunday to prep food is a great idea. You can precook a bunch of different things, all at once, and have a lot of tasty items to pull from the fridge.

BASIC ROASTING

Roasting vegetables is easy. Seriously. Take, for instance, the tomatoes and asparagus pictured below. You toss them with a little olive oil and salt & pepper, stick them in a 400 degree oven, and roast. That’s it.

Tomatoes and Asparagus prepped for roasting

Tomatoes and Asparagus prepped for roasting

I don’t know of a single vegetable that won’t work perfectly this way. Cooking time differs, certainly. Asparagus roast fast.. only a few minutes if they are thin, perhaps 10 minutes if they are thick. Tomatoes… well, it depends on how you like them. I like to roast tomatoes down big time, maybe even get a little bit of black here and there. So for tomatoes this could be 45 minutes to an hour. For you, 30 minutes might be ideal. Just check the oven every ten minutes or so, you’ll know when you want to pull them out. Cherry tomatoes are perfect for this prep, btw. They are little pops of wonder in your mouth.

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Food IN Film: Finally!

21 Mar

“On Food And Film”: it’s a blog about two of my biggest passions, with a sidebar here and there about other things. And while I have occasionally combined the two, my favorite being “In Praise of the Martini… and Diane Keaton” (love me some Keaton, goodness), I’ve yet to do a true Food In Film post.

So here we go.

When thinking food in film, an obvious choice is the wonderful movie Big Night. I learned quite a bit about cooking watching that movie and along with many other terrific food moments, the preparation, presentation and eating of the timbale/timpano will forever be in my mind. (I will also say I would be happy watching Isabella Rossellini eat for two hours, thank you very much.) Big Night is also a surprising movie, given things don’t work out the way you think they should at the end. This unusual resolution leads, however, to the remarkable final scene where the brothers, after a huge climactic fight, end up quietly eating together after Stanley Tucci prepares eggs. It’s a subtle and beautiful way to show their reconciliation and their continued love for each other as brothers. What an ending:

A movie doesn’t have to be about food to have a great food moment. Take Annie Hall, with Woody Allen and Diane Keaton laughing and squirming while trying to corral live lobsters into a pot. They are so charming. The scene is made even better, of course, by Allen’s pitiful and hilarious attempt to recreate the moment after they have parted, a very telling and incisive moment about the lengths we all can go to recreate what has been lost:

For true romance, the spaghetti moment in Lady and the Tramp cannot be beat. It’s the first movie I ever saw and my love for cinema, food and romance was cemented for life.

Meryl Streep’s manner of separating eggs in The Hours is a standout. After years of doing it a different way, I watched the scene in amazement and have done it Meryl’s way ever since. And I have to mention the “Christmas Dinner finale” in A Christmas Story, a funny and lovely way to end what was already a terrific picture. This final scene is beautifully shot and wraps the film up in a warm, enjoyable way. If you haven’t seen it, you will never eat duck again without thinking of this scene:

And all was right with the world.” Indeed.

The moment the bitter food critic Anton takes a transformational bite of the title dish in Ratatouille made me gasp out loud. I was not a huge fan of the film to that point (though I am a huge Brad Bird fan) so the moment snuck up on me completely. In just a few seconds Bird captures the breathtaking quality food has for so many of us. I watched that moment and thought, ‘Yeah, that’s it.”

It’s wonderful when a moment can capture your feelings that way. The above mentioned blog post is devoted to another similar moment: Diane Keaton taking a sip of a martini in Somethings Gotta Give:

These are all wonderful and continually resonate for me. If I had to boil it down, though, there are ultimately two standouts, one a quick moment, one an entire film. For the quick food moment in a movie, my favorite is the marinara prep in The Godfather:

How I love that! Even though we are amongst mafioso killers, this quick little moment captures so much about food, its preparation and family. My own family revolved completely around food, so the idea that even in the midst of such turmoil the Corleone family always keeps food in the forefront is a great one. And of course, it involves Clemenza. Ah, Clemenza. Clemenza is responsible for one of the great pieces of dialogue about food in a movie: “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”

Finally, for a movie about food, I can think of no better example than Babette’s Feast.

 Babettes_feast_(1988)

This is a bit ironic, given the food that is prepared in Babette’s Feast is nowhere near as appealing to me as the food in, say, Big Night or Julie and Julia. But as the movie quietly, beautifully goes about its business, it gently sets up one of the most moving and remarkable endings I’ve ever seen. I won’t reveal the end or it’s incredibly rich themes here but rather encourage those who have not seen it to take a look at this beautiful film. What the movie says about food, art and redemption might make even the hardest heart burst into joy, the joy one can feel when eating an incredible meal, the joy we can feel when watching such a sublime movie.

What are your favorite moments? Click on comments and let us know!

 

A Tale of Two Spaghettis

3 Aug

While we had a wonderful marinara recipe last week, care of my good friend David,  can you really have too much spaghetti? I think not. Few things are as enjoyable to me as a great bowl of pasta, and cooking it can be just as wonderful. For instance, check out one of my favorite ‘food and film’ clips from ‘The Godfather’, with Clemenza making his spaghetti sauce:

Life doesn’t get much better, even for a Mafioso. And so, this week, I give you

‘A Tale of Two Spaghettis’

I grew up in a neighborhood that seems rare today. Everyone knew, well, everyone. While we weren’t so traditional as to have sidewalks, we had big wide streets on which to ride bikes and run. There were kids of all age groups so it seemed for each person there was almost always some else with whom to play. Part of the intimacy of our particular neighborhood stemmed from it being relatively small. It was also slightly isolated in a weird way. We were buttressed on one side by a 4-lane highway, on the other by a deep cement drainage ditch followed by a wide reservoir that led to one of the local refineries. From the perspective of today’s parents, both sides of the neighborhood must seem a terrible danger… and I guess they were. As a kid, though, both sides were a thrill.

Click here to continue reading and get the recipes

When Friends Cook Vol. 1

27 Jul

There are few things I enjoy or appreciate more than someone cooking for me. Given how much I love to cook, this doesn’t happen often. And to be honest, given how particular I can be, particular being a code word for control freak, it took a while for me to let go and enjoy someone taking the cooking reins. Years ago I almost destroyed a friendship when said friend roasted a chicken for me in my own kitchen. I couldn’t resist giving notes in the guise of questions that started with ‘Are you sure you want to…?” The friendship thankfully survived and I learned to shut up. Age and a debatable amount of maturity have further enabled me to sit back and enjoy a friend preparing a meal, even in my own kitchen.

Martinis certainly help.

One such friend is one of my best friends, David Hendren. He is a terrific artist. (Click here to check out a little of his art.) He is also an excellent cook. In exchange for using a shed in my backyard as his studio, a plus as it means he is often around, he cooks a meal every month or so for whomever happens to be around that evening. These are lovely nights for me. I can sit back, relax, focus on good conversation and enjoy what is always an amazing meal.

David is a better tinkerer than I in the kitchen. Some of the best meals he has prepared were dishes he threw together without a recipe, replicating something he enjoyed at a restaurant or trying an idea based on what was fresh at the market that afternoon. Two of his best dishes I ask for him to repeat are tomato-based. One is a spicy salsa with a hell of a beautiful kick. The second is a tomato sauce/marinara that is incredibly versatile. Both are outstanding. Given it is summer and vine ripe tomatoes are plentiful, I asked him to donate these two recipes to the blog. (One actually uses canned tomatoes but we’re not sticklers here at On Food And Film.)

Click here to read more about David and get his two killer tomato recipes