Thursday, February 9, 2017

"Dinner and a Movie - 12 themed movie nights with recipes to share and enjoy" - Popeye [Spinach] Pies for the SAG Awards

Date I made this recipe:  Sunday, January 29, 2017 – Screen Actor's Guild (SAG) Awards

Dinner and a Movie – 12 themed movie nights with recipes to share & enjoy by Katherine Bebo
Published by Ryland Peters & Small
ISBN: 978-1-84975-441-5; © 2013
Recipe:  Popeye [Spinach] Pie – p. 102

Well our TV and movie awards season is underway, and this past Sunday, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards were handed out and a good time was had by most (exception:  those who did not walk away with an award).  I like the fact that the SAG Awards are handed out at a dinner (dinners are way more relaxing) and that they are brief.  Kudos to the producers who bring that sucker in at two hours and change, something the Academy Award producers have yet to achieve. In fact, I do believe they are close to wrapping up last year's Oscar production and whew, in the nick of time too, as the 2017 Oscars will be held on the fast-approaching date of February 26th

Happily, when it comes to awards shows, I have "themed" cookbooks at the ready and this is one of them.  Granted, the SAG Awards go to both TV and film actors, producers, directors et al., but I have yet to find a cookbook compilation that addresses only TV shows. It stands to reason as movies were around before episodic TV but maybe some day soon, someone will join together as "man and wife," recipes from a number of TV shows, rather than just producing one per TV show, such as the I Love Lucy Cookbook, Edith Bunker's All In The Family Cookbook, or The Walton Family Cookbook (all of which I own), and the like.  Food for thought (pun intended).

Now normally, I tell my readers a bit about the book and then add some pertinent stories and then finish it up with the recipe.  But because there is so much about and in this book to discuss, I'm going to tell you right now that the recipe for the Popeye [Spinach] Pie is way down at the bottom, and if you want to skip there, be my guest.  I made this recipe (from the "Comic Book Hero" chapter) because my husband loves Popeye.  Loves him, loves the movie with Robin Williams and Shelly Duval, loves the whole shebang.  In fact, he wears often a Popeye bicycle jersey when out and about, and after I bought him a Popeye bendable figuring, he installed it on one of his bicycle handlebars which of course, generates a lot of conversation from fellow riders.

So that's my story and I'm sticking to it and so if you want to bail on me now, please continue to scroll down.  For those who want to see what this book is all about, follow along with Mitch as we discuss the Dinner and a Movie cookbook.

The Dinner and a Movie cookbook is comprised of 12 themed movie night menus.  At the beginning of each "chapter" or menu, there's a list of about 20 or so movies that fit that genre.  For kicks, I decided to see how many movies of each genre I have seen; my "scores" are listed below.  Each chapter contains also a cocktail befitting the genre, a popcorn befitting the genre, and a handful of other recipes that also work well with the theme.

Okay then, here are our 12 movie night menu "nominees:"
  1. Girl Power
  2. Fright Night
  3. The Big Apple
  4. Best of British
  5. Western
  6. The Golden Age
  7. Mob Squad (not to be confused with the TV show, the Mod Squad!)
  8. Sci-Fi
  9. Action-Adventure
  10. Comic Book Heroes
  11. James Bond
  12. Bollywood

All right then, let's get going and so "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!"  (Bette Davis, in the movie, All About Eve.)

Girl Power
  • Girl Power movies include: Thelma & Louise; 9 to 5; Steel Magnolias; The Devil Wears Prada, and Bend it Like Beckham.  
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score:  I've seen 18 out of 25 "Girl Power" movies which is amazingly high. So...I guess I like "chick flicks?" 
  • Girl Power food and beverage "highlights:" "Silk Stocking," (a cocktail); "Butter Toffee Popcorn," and "Mean Girl Muffins."

Fright Night
  • Fright Night movies include: Carrie, Jaws, The Shining, The Silence of the Lambs, and Sixth Sense.
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score:  I am not a horror flick chick and so my total number of movies viewed is a measly 8 out of 23.  I would like to point out though, that in the early 80's, some friends and I went to a late-night double feature of two movies included in this list, Eraserhead (what an odd, odd movie), and Night of the Living Dead so there's that. 
  • Fright Night food and beverage "highlights:" "Bloody Mary," "Paranoia Popcorn," and "Coffin Sandwiches."

The Big Apple (movies about NYC)
  • The Big Apple movies include:  When Harry Met Sally, Taxi Driver, King Kong, Gangs of New York, Breakfast at Tiffany's.
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score:  All told, I've watched 18 out of 26 "Big Apple" movies, although this list did not include movies like You've Got Mail which is too bad since my husband and I were in NYC when it was being filmed.  In fact, I went to Zabar's (Deli and grocery store) the day before they shot the scene where Meg Ryan stands in the "cash only" line despite not having cash.  And let me tell you from personal Zabar's shopping experience, that scene was not a work of fiction.  The sign at the register says "Cash only" and they mean it, dammit! 
  • The Big Apple food and beverage "highlights:" a "Manhattan" [cocktail] (of course!), "Raspberry and White Chocolate Popcorn," and a "Rollin' Reuben" sandwich.

Best of British
  • Best of British movies includeBridget Jones's Diary. Watership Down, A Fish Called Wanda, Mary Poppins, and Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score:  I've seen 13 out of 25 which is not too bad considering I am not even remotely British.
  • Best of British food and beverage "highlights:" "Nutty Popcorn," "Posh Pimms," (a Pimms cup is the summer go-to drink for all of England.  Or so I read), and "Sausage Rolls."

  • Western movies includeTrue Grit, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, City Slickers, and Back to the Future Part III. 
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score:  My viewing score in this category is a pathetic 6 out of 20.  Well, I was never fond of horses so....  As a note, one of the movies in this category is The Magnificent Seven which is  great movie based on a Japanese movie, Seven Samurai, directed by the late but legendary Japanese director, Akira Kurosawa.  Andy is a huge fan of his films, and when we first started dating, we watched a few of them on our own "Dinner and a Movie" night. 
  • Western food and beverage "highlights:"  "Lynchburg Lemonade," (a mix of lemonade and Jack Daniel's), the popcorn is "Popcorn Nachos," and, in a hilarious nod toward the movie, Blazing Saddles, "Blazing Backed Beans." (Yes, especially when watching that scene.)

The Golden Age
  • The Golden Age movies include:  Casablanca, It's a Wonderful Life, Singin' in the Rain, Holiday Inn, and a Streetcar Named Desire (I just have to:  "Stellllllaaaaaaaaa"). 
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score: I am pleased to report that I've seen 18 out of 20 of the movies listed here.  What can I say except I am an old soul who loves classic and timeless movies?
  • The Golden Age food and beverage "highlights:"  "Casablanca Cocktail" made with gin, likely because of this memorable line in the movie, Casablanca: "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine." The popcorn option is "Lover's Popcorn," (made with vanilla bean), and a sweet treat option is "Sparkling Diamond Cupcake" (The movie reference is Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and the song "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend.")

Mob Squad
  • Mob Squad movies include:  The Godfather Trilogy; Goodfellas; Married to the Mob; Pulp Fiction; The Usual Suspects. 
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score:  If the author would have separated each Godfather movie instead of grouping them as a "trilogy," I would have done better in this category, but since she didn't, I've watched only 9 of 25 (some of them through my fingers because of the violence).
  • Mob Squad food and beverage "highlights:" "Espresso Martini" made with espresso (coffee) and vodka, each of which I like separately but cannot envision enjoying a mix of the two in a martini glass. The popcorn is "Public Enemy Popcorn," made with dried mushrooms and some black truffle and that's a yum, and who wouldn't love "'Got a Beef' Lasagna?"  I almost made that one but switched it up at the last minute.  Let me just also add that all the food in this category was Italian (not that popcorn is Italian) and I could have made every single recipe.  Still might!

  • Sci-Fi movies include:  Avatar; WALL-E; Independence Day; Alien; Planet of the Apes (probably the original).
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score:  This category was a challenge because there are movies that I think I've seen but probably haven't (like The Terminator) and so I'm going to err on the side of caution and say I've watched 10 out of 25.  The movie, The Matrix, is in this sci-fi grouping and I will confess to being one of those people who enjoyed the movie even if the whole concept of "human" artificial intelligence was too much for me! "Wait...what just happened?  Who are they again?  What?!"  I will also tell you that I saw the movie Spaceballs eons ago while traveling with a friend to Chicago on an Amtrak train.   And you know what, when you're "trapped" on a train or a plane, suddenly some of these movies don't seem so bad or so corny – like this one!  (Love me my John Candy, may he rest in peace.)
  • Sci-Fi food and beverage "highlights:"  a "Blue Moon" cocktail made with tequila, blue Curacao, lime juice and lemon sorbet, our popcorn is "Gremlin Popcorn" and there's a recipe for "Death Stars" cookies, guess where that idea came from? (Hint, it contains the famous line  "I am your father," which by the way is the actual movie quote and not, as many believe, "Luke, I am your father." But seriously, doesn't the latter quote sound better?)

  • Action-Adventure movies include:  Indiana Jones; Mad Max; Pirates of the Caribbean; Harry Potter; Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score:  Ugh.  I've only seen 6 out of 24 of these movies.  I guess I'm not into swashbuckling, either.  That said, one of my favorite concert band pieces to play for all time is music from the Pirates of the Caribbean.  But have I seen any of the "Pirates" movies?  No, reader, I have not. But the music is boss!
  • Action-Adventure food and beverage "highlights:"  "Paradise Island Punch" is a nod toward the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, The Beach.  Your popcorn is "Peanut Butter Popcorn," (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids) and then there's Hannibal's Jalapeno Poppers for the 1983 movie, The A-Team featuring actor Mr. T, he of the "I pity the fool" fame. 

Comic Book Hero
  • Comic Book Hero movies include:  The Avengers; Iron Man; Popeye; X-Men; The Incredibles.  When I was in my community band, we played music from The Incredibles for one of our summer concert series and it was a big hit.  It's also very fun to play.
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score:  At first blush, I don't think I'm going to do very well in this category but let's count and... nope.  As expected, I've seen a big 5 out of 26 movies and my only excuse is "I'm not a guy."  My husband read a lot of these comic books that were made into movies, whereas I read Archie, Ritchie Rich, Nancy, and every once in a while, Superman, and with the exception of the Archie comics, I read all the rest when visiting my grandma.  Grandma lived with my aunt and uncle and their family, and my cousins had quite the stockpile of comics that I read and re-read and re-read again every year while visiting. It was my very favorite thing to do as soon as we got there with the exception of hugging grandma, of course.
  • Comic Book Hero food and beverage "highlights:" "The Hulk's Smash" (tequila, Midori, Cointreau and lime juice), your popcorn is "Captain American Popcorn" (red, white, and blue), and the "entree" is the recipe I made for tonight's dinner, "Popeye Pie."  My husband loves Popeye.  Loves him, and this movie with the late Robin Williams is one of his favorites.  And so as tempting as some of the other dishes were (well, pretty much all of them), this was what I had to make. 

James Bond
  • James Bond movies include: Dr. No; Goldfinger; Casino Royal; The Spy Who Loved Me, Octopussy, and 21 other James Bond movies and only James Bond movies, go figure!
  • Ann's Movie-Watching Score:  I've seen ummm...2 out of 26?  Again, I'm not a guy.  Guys are mostly (although not always), the ones to watch James Bond movies.  But this gal loves her martini ("Shaken, not stirred") and will even put aside the fact that the "007 Martini" calls for a "dash of vermouth."  I like my martini really, really dry which is to say even a "splash" is overkill.
  • James Bond food and beverage "highlights:" "007 Martini," "Coconut Popcorn," which I gather is a nod to all the coconut [suntan] lotion-covered bathing beauties in these movies who emerge from the sea looking perfectly tanned, perfectly "not-drenched" with salt water, and with nary a hair out of place.  I wish.  And then there's "Diamonds Are Forever Steak."

  • Bollywood movies includeSalaam Bombay!; Slumdog Millionaire; Bend it Like Beckham; Monsoon Wedding, and Bride & Prejudice. 
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score: This is the final category, and seeing how "Bollywood" movies have only been a "thing" for the past couple of decades, I think I can be forgiven for not cleaning up in this category.  My score here is only 4 out of 25, but I absolutely loved all four:  Slumdog Millionaire, Bend It Like Beckham, Monsoon Wedding (loved, loved, loved), and Bride & Prejudice
  • Bollywood food and beverage "highlights:" a non-alcoholic "Rose Petal Drink," "Bombay Popcorn" that contains ghee (clarified butter), curry and mango chutney, and there's also "Chicken Tika Masala" for your Tika Masala fans.

So that concludes tonight's 2017 SAG Awards movie review, and now let's get on with the "show" and talk about the recipe – Popeye [Spinach] Pie.

Andy and I love spinach but prefer it to be mixed in with something rather than eaten "raw" in a salad.  In fact, Creamed Spinach is a favorite of mine even though I never had it growing up. 

The recipe is really simple:  use a store bought crust, fill a muffin tin with the dough, add the filling, add a raw egg in the middle, top with more crust and bake.  This pie's spinach filling, a mix of spinach and arugula, was divine, such that I kept eating it instead of putting it in the pie. 

Here's what didn't quite work though:  the egg in the middle of each pie was almost overdone and the crust needed a bit more time in the oven. But of course, had I left them in longer so the crust could brown, I might have incinerated the filling and who wants an incinerated spinach filling besides nobody ever?

The recipe suggests using ready-made shortcrust pastry, but when I Googled it to find out what it was (basically, a pie crust), I found a very easy recipe to make at home and so went with that.  Since I had already decided to make just half the recipe, it seemed easier to just make half the crust as well.

The thing that I loved about the recipe in general is that you use a muffin pan to make your individual pies and that was fun.  And I can easily see making these in a mini muffin pan for party appetizers, sans the egg but double the filling.  This one is going into the tickler file.

The instructions to tell you to bake the pie in the oven "for 10 minutes until the egg is just set and the pastry is just cooked," but as I alluded to above, these two items did not play well together in the oven and so the egg was almost cooked through instead of "just set," and the crust was a tad underdone.  Not that we didn't eat it anyway, but next time around, I'd like to get it right.

Here then, is your recipe:

Popeye [Spinach] Pie – Makes 8 pies
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to glaze
1 small onion, finely chopped
8 oz fresh spinach
1 cup ricotta
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
2 ½ cups rocket/arugula, finely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly chopped tarragon
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 lb ready-made shortcrust pastry (Ann's Note: this is basically a ready-made pie crust.  I made my own pastry crust; recipe is below)
8 eggs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

You will also need a large, heavy baking sheet, a round cookie cutter, and two 4-hole muffin pans.

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Put the baking sheet in the oven to heat for at least 30 minutes.  Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion and fry for 5 minutes until golden.  Let cool.

Steam the spinach until just wilted, refresh in cold water, then squeeze out as much moisture as possible and roughly chop.  Beat the spinach and onion into the ricotta with the Parmesan, rocket/arugula and tarragon.  Season well with salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Roll out the pastry on a clean, lightly floured work surface.  Cut out 8 circles with the cutter.  Use these to line each muffin cup.  Fill each pie with some of the ricotta mixture.  Ann's Note:  to make your own short-crust pie dough, see below.

Make a small dent in each filling.  Break the eggs one at a time, separating the yolks from the whites.  Slip a yolk into the indent of each pie.  Season with salt and pepper.

Roll the pastry offcuts into long, thin ropes an cut into 16 lengths.  Use these to make a cross on the top of each pie, sealing the edges with a little water.  Brush lightly with olive oil.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until the egg is just set and the pastry cooked.  Ann's Note:  I think we are missing an instruction here.  The recipe calls for you to put a baking sheet in the oven to heat for at least 30 minutes, but then never again mentions what you are to do with it!  My guess is that you put the muffin pans on top of the [heated] baking sheet but that is only a guess.  I did not do that so perhaps that is why my pie crust was a little underdone...or not!  We will never know.

Serve hot.

145 grams all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter (1/4 pound), cut into 1/8-inch pieces
3 tablespoons ice water

Put flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor.  Add butter and quickly cut it into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add ice water and mix briefly, about 30 seconds, to form a soft dough.  Remove dough, shape into a thick disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.  Bring to cool room temperature before rolling.

To roll, lightly flour dough and counter.  Roll out gradually, periodically letting dough rest for a moment before continuing.  This makes rolling easier and will keep dough from shrinking back during baking.

Ann's Note:  at this point, the instruct you to roll out the dough so it will fit in a 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan but you will be using a muffin pan so adjust your dimensions accordingly.  The author also suggests you chill the dough for an hour before baking; we did not do that.

No comments: