Thursday, March 9, 2017

"TCM (Turner Classic Movies) Movie Night Menus," & "The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous Cookbook" - Pizza and Pasta for Oscar Night 2017!

Date I made these recipes:  February 26, 2017 – Academy Awards (Oscars) 2017

TCM (Turner Classic Movies) Movie Night Menus – Dinner and Drink Recipes Inspired by Films We Love by Tenaya Darlington and Andre Darlington
Published by Running Press
ISBN: 978-0-7624-6093-9/© 2016
Recipe:  Bowtie Pasta with Spicy Vodka Cream Sauce – p. 35 (Menu intended for the 1933 movie, "Female" along with a Vodka Tonic and Boozy Olives, the last two recipes not listed here.)

The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous™ Cookbook – Recipes and Entertaining Secrets from the Most Extraordinary People in the World by Robin Leach
Published by Viking Studio Books
ISBN: 0-670-84245-1; © 1992
Purchased at Barnes and Noble (Used) – Roseville, MN
Recipe:  [Wolfgang Puck's] Whole Wheat Pizza with Chanterelles and Eggplant – p. 117

Sometimes it is a good thing to be woefully behind with these posts because it gave me the opportunity to talk about the kerfuffle at the end of this year's Oscars when the Best Picture winner was announced.

In case you missed it, here's what went down:  Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway (a/k/a Bonnie and Clyde, the movie of which is now 50 years old), came on stage to announce the winner of the Best Picture.  They read the list of nominees, then Warren opened the envelope but appeared puzzled by the envelope's contents.  After turning the envelope practically inside out, he showed it to Faye.  She thought he was stalling, said "You're impossible," and announced the "winner," the film La La Land.

And so there was much rejoicing and the La La Land crew came up to give thanks and a couple of them started their acceptance speeches.  Suddenly, the stage was filled with other people all looking at the envelope as well as some of the show's staff talking into headsets, and then the third speaker from the film finished up his speech by saying "We lost by the way."

What?  What was he talking about?  Turns out, there was an envelope mix up and the Best Picture went to Moonlight, not La La Land.  So the La La people cleared the stage, the Moonlight people took the stage, gave short and stunned acceptance speeches and then the program ended.

Immediately, people went to work figuring out what went down and it wasn't long before we learned that Warren and Faye were given the wrong envelope by the team representing the accounting firm, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the firm that has been tabulating the Oscar votes for the past 83 years.  Oops.  Turns out PwC keeps two sets of each "winning" envelope on hand which is a good idea, unless the envelope handed to Warren and Faye was the envelope of an already-announced award (Best Actress, Emma Stone), in which case it was a bad idea.

So okay, to recap:  Warren and Faye did not read the right name, PwC goofed with the envelope, the producer for La La Land took the bull by the horns and practically shoved the correct envelope into the camera showing that Moonlight won (way to take control of the situ, dude), the show ended, everyone went to the after-parties and so the end, right? 

Wrong.  Within hours, there was call for an "investigation" and I'm sorry, what?  This was not Watergate.  This was not a matter of national security, this is the Oscars folks. Oscars are about films.  And in the end, this incident, unintentional as it was, likely helped Moonlight more than it hurt.  Historically, most people have a hard time remembering who won Oscar's most prestigious award, but not this year.  This is the year that Moonlight made history on many levels (African-American picture, African-American cast and director of a movie about African Americans and LGBT issues), and to me, this boo-boo only ensured we will remember this film and so it's a win-win all around.

Still, this was not my favorite award show snafu moment, not by a long shot. In 2010, a very stoned (drunk? other?)  Elizabeth Taylor (she had trouble with pain meds and, apparently, alcohol) was selected to present the 2001 Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama, and to this day, that debacle is my absolute favorite award-announcement-gone-wrong moment.

First, she thought the nominees were listed inside the envelope and so started to open it (the winner is inside the envelope).  When the audience clued her in, she said "Whaaaat?  I don't open this?" and then "I'm new at this.  I usually like to get them [awards]!"  Ha!

Then host Dick Clark stepped in to help her out saying "read the nominees first."   Then she said "What is this [envelope] for?  Oh I see."  Oh dear God.

So then she read the nominees (finally) and then opened the envelope and started pulling it apart looking for the name.  (I am laughing as I write this).  And finally, she said "And the winner is...and it's flashing 'envelope'." Yes, Virginia, she read the message on the teleprompter, the message that said "envelope" as in "Read it already" and seriously, I about slid out of my chair.

Finally – finally, she read the winner's name and the way she said "Gladiator" (Best Motion Picture – Drama) was hilarious. She sounded half surprised, half delighted and again, half out of it.  And as if that wasn't enough, she tried to close out the show, thanking everybody for coming and Holy Snort-able Moment, Batman, can someone get this woman offstage and quickly? Here's the clip:

Naturally, and just like this year's Oscar debacle, this video went viral.  Saturday Night Live did a spoof of it as did an actor friend of mine who used to throw his arms out dramatically while at the same time saying "Glaaaaaaadiator."  You might have had to be there but it was hilarious.  Poor Elizabeth.  Still, every year without fail, I not only re-watch the clip, but I do my own imitation of her presenting the award.  Priceless!

So sorry, Warren and Faye, as good as this moment was, Elizabeth takes the day!

And now on with our story, (already in progress) - the 2017 Oscars and what I made on movie night.  Actually, we need to take another slight detour because one of the books I used on Oscar night was TCM Turner Classic Movies Movie Night Menus and Robert Osborne, long-time host of the TCM channel passed away last week at age 84. 
Turner Classic Movies was a start-up cable station that was owned originally by media mogul Ted Turner (thus, the name).  If memory serves, Ted initially wanted to colorize classic  black & white films, something that had the film community up in arms in two seconds flat.  You think this year's Oscar kerfuffle was bad, you ain't seen nothing!

At any rate, that idea went apparently by the wayside and today you can find a wide variety of classic films, in black and white and color, on this station with commentary and interesting trivia provided by Robert Osborn who signed on with TCM from the beginning (1994).  I loved Robert's commentary as he had great things to say about great films.  He also had insightful things to say about some not-so-great films as well. He'll be missed.

Unlike the other "dinner and a movie" cookbook I used for the SAG Awards, this one highlights only 30 films that have stood the test of time and then provides a menu for us to follow that is tailored to each movie.  Just like the other book, specialty cocktails are provided in every category.

Here's a sampling of some of the movies in this book:
  • The Divorcee (1930)
  • Grand Hotel (1932)
  • The Thin Man (1934) - This film's menu featured a dry martini, naturally.  Nick and Nora fans will know what I mean!
  • The Philadelphia Story (1940) I hate to say this but I never warmed up to this film despite it's A-list cast of Katharine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, and Cary Grant.
  • Casablanca (1942) – "Round up the usual suspects."
  • Adam's Rib (1949) – possibly my favorite Katharine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy movie of all time.  Added bonus:  the hilarious actress, Judy Holiday, played Kate's legal client and she played it to perfection.
  • The Sting (1973) – This movie is memorable to me because it was the first time I was asked out on a date to go to the movies.  I was 15 at the time, the guy, 16.  Unfortunately, and due to conditions of out of my control, the date never happened and it was years before I watched this movie.  (For the record, the boy was not the problem.  Just had to clarify that!)
  • The Big Chill (1983) – "We took a secret vote.  We're not leaving.  We're never leaving."
  • Moonstruck (1987) – Andy and I so loved this movie, we walked back up the aisle at our wedding to the tune "That's Amore."  This easily could have been a family documentary.
 So that's the sampling and I'm happy to say that I have seen 22 out of the 30 on the list which is not bad at all.  Alas, I did not see the movie, Female, associated with one of tonight's entrees – Bowtie Pasta with Spicy Vodka Sauce – but this film was released in 1933 and I am not quite up on my 1930's film viewing.  I'll have to see if I can find this and watch it sometime.

I am also happy to report that out of the list of 30 films, there are only a few of the ones I have seen that I don't like:  the aforementioned The Philadelphia Story (and also the musical that followed a few years later, High Society, staring Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra); Giant (1956); and An American In Paris (1951).  Let's parse these!

It is rare that I hate on Katharine Hepburn, but I just did not like her character in The Philadelphia Story. She played the very snotty and spoiled Tracy Lord and I just could not deal.  That said, I did like the way she said Cary Grant's character name:  "C. K. Dexter Haven."  Nice ring to it, no?

Then there's Giant, a film staring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean, a movie that was sort of the precursor to the TV show, Dallas.  I read the book, Giant, by Edna Ferber, but just did not like it on the big screen.  Rock Hudson's character in particular just drove me nuts.  He played a Texas cattleman with an ego as big as the state of Texas.  At any rate, put me down for "no, thank you."

You may be shocked to see An American in Paris on the list but try as I might, I just cannot get into this story because there's just too much music and dance and this is hilarious because I like music and dance!  That said, the movie's music, written by George Gershwin, is the stuff of legend and I've performed many of the movie's songs both in my community band and as a vocalist at various and sundry performance venues.

I could go on and on also about some of the rest of the movies but we would be here all night so let's move on to the second featured cookbook, The Lifestyles of The Rich and Famous Cookbook by [the show's host] Robin Leach.

The title of the cookbook is the same title as this show that aired pretty regularly from 1984 to 1989, and then very sporadically until 1995 before disappearing from the airwaves.  The show was hosted by a Brit – Robin Leach – who brought us into the living room and lives of the rich and famous so we could all see how the other half lived, lucky us.

The thing that I remember most about the show was not who was showcased but Robin Leach himself.  The guy had a booming voice, prompting one comedian, I don't remember who, to mimic the guy in a sketch:  "I'M SHOUTING AND I DON'T KNOW WHY!"  I still use that line from time to time even though nobody ever knows what I am talking about!

Since it had been a long, long time since last I saw the show, I went to YouTube to reacquaint myself with Robin's intro and was surprised/not surprised to see it
featured a brief clip of a very young Donald Trump walking with a much younger Michael Jackson.  Wow.  Talk about doing the Time Warp again!  Indeed, this book is stuck in a time warp and so let's discuss the who's who and the what's what of my second featured cookbook.

The book's recipes are broken into categories, and within each category is a recipe submitted by someone a) rich, and b) famous because that's how this thing works.  Our categories for best rich and famous people's recipes are: "Extravagant Affairs;" "Casual Entertaining;" "Relaxing at Home," and "Favorite Recipes of the Rich and Famous."  I feel like I'm playing a special edition of Jeopardy!

Under "Extravagant Affairs," we have an entry titled "Congratulations Elizabeth and Larry," and what do you know, no sooner did I talk about Elizabeth Taylor above than here she is featured with her 8th (and final) husband, Larry.....somebody.  (Had to look that one up.)  Actually, Larry Fortensky to whom our Liz was married from 1991-1996.  Larry and Liz's wedding feast was featured in the book and included "Fettuccine with Seafood" and "Roast Chicken with Morel Sauce."

Alas, Larry and Liz were unlucky at love as were two other celebrities listed in the "Casual Entertaining" section:  Ivana Trump, The Donald's first wife, and Wolfgang Puck and Barbara Lazaroff. Wolfgang is known as the official caterer of the Academy Awards Governors Ball and up until they got divorced, wife and business partner, Barbara Lazaroff worked in the business with him.  No matter as Wolfgang's food is good and was a perfect pairing to go with the TCM Cookbook's pasta dish.

Another couple who bit the dust were the "Relaxing at Home" team of Bruce (now Caitlin) and Kris Jenner, and unless you've been living under a rock, you know how that whole story played out so no need to go there.  Also found under the "Relaxing at Home" category were former pro baseball player, Steve Harvey, and his wife Candace Garvey and wow, you want to read the saga of someone who "played the field" (sorry, I could not resist the pun), check out his bio on Wikipedia.  Let's just say the man had a lot of women and children in his life, plural.

Then we have "Favorite Recipes of the Rich and Famous," and I don't know why some of these people were listed here and not elsewhere in the book, but I did not write the book so there you go.  It is here we find recipes from actress Joan Collins, actors Jerry Lewis and Roger Moore as well as Regis and former TV show partner, Kathie Lee (now Kathie Lee Gifford).   Rounding out this category was a submission from The Beverly Hills Hotel that made me laugh because the book is all about rich and famous people and then, inexplicably, a building appears.

Given that tonight was a night celebrating movies, I really wanted to make a recipe from someone associated with Hollywood versus someone who made a name in another field, but that was somewhat hard to do as the latter outnumbered the former.  So I decided finally that Wolfgang Puck was close enough because of his famous Oscar party connection and so I was good to go.

I was all set to make a Wolfgang pizza (he's famous for his pizza) and even selected one – "Black Forest Ham and Goat Cheese Pizza" - as that sounded delicious, but I started getting a nagging feeling I made that before, and sure enough, I did!  Check out my blog postings from February 2009 and there you will find it.

Since I knew I wanted to make pasta from the other cookbook, I just simply substituted another of Wolfgang's pizzas and it was a winner.  The recipe is for a Whole Wheat Pizza with Chanterelles and Eggplant and it was great even if I did make a few adjustments that are noted in the recipe recap below.

And so, dear reader, we had ourselves a pizza and pasta Oscar-viewing night and it was grand but I have to tell you that I felt like I was dining out at a Sbarro restaurant.  Anybody remember Sbarro?  It was a fast-casual pizza and pasta place, popular in the 1980's and maybe early 90's.  And do you know what kids?  They are still operating!  And not only are they still operating, but apparently they are in the food court in the Rosedale Mall, a mall I just visited this afternoon.  I guess I don't get out much anymore.

This then concludes Oscar Night 2017 with its attendant trauma-drama as well as all the dirt that's fit to print about some of the celebrities involved in this and past Oscars.  Good times.

Until next year....

Bowtie Pasta with Spicy Vodka Cream Sauce – serves 2 – from TCM (Turner Classic Movies) Movie Night Menus
1 jar (12 ounces) roasted peppers in olive oil, drained (Ann's Note:  it would figure that the minute I needed to find roasted peppers in oil, I couldn't, not even from an Italian grocery store!)
1 small clove garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup vodka
½ pound bowtie pasta
¼ cup heavy ream
1 sprig fresh basil, leaves sliced into ribbons, for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish

(Ann's Note:  notice that tomatoes are nowhere to be found in this recipe.  Instead, it's red peppers and tomato paste.  I must say though, I thought it was refreshing!)

Puree the peppers and garlic in a blender until smooth, then pour the mixture into a saucepan over medium heat and add the tomato paste, pepper flakes, and vodka.  Stir.  In a separate pan, start cooking your pasta, according to the box instructions.

Simmer the vodka sauce for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the sauce tastes sweet-hot, without being too bitter.  (If it still tastes bitter, cook it a few minutes more or add a teaspoon or two of sugar.  The cream will also mellow it.)

Add the cream to the sauce and stir.  Heat gently.  Drain pasta and separate into warmed bowls.  Ladle sauce over the pasta and top with fresh basil and black pepper.

Whole Wheat Pizza with Chanterelles and Eggplant – serves 4 – Wolfgang Puck's recipe is from The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous™ Cookbook – Recipes and Entertaining Secrets from the Most Extraordinary People in the World

For the Whole Wheat Dough
Ann's Note:  I cheated an purchased an already-made and non-whole wheat pizza dough to save time, but if you like to make dough, then rock on.
1 enveloped active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
1 cup cool water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
Pinch salt
3 ¾ cups whole wheat flour

For the topping
1/3 cup olive oil
2 medium eggplants, trimmed and sliced ¼-inch thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper
½ pound chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and sliced ¼-inch thick
2 cups freshly grated mozzarella cheese
¼ pound fresh goat cheese, cut into ¼-inch cubes
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium leek, cleaned, trimmed, and thinly sliced
4 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
Fresh thyme sprigs

Ann's Note:  As you'll see, the recipes calls for you to sauté only the eggplant and mushrooms, but I took it up a level and sautéed all but the tomatoes and I loved the result.  Leeks are great when softened and I wasn't sure I wanted that full flavor that raw ones bring.  It's up to you but I think you'll like the result. That said, the by-the-book instructions follow.

To make the dough
In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let proof for 5 to 10 minutes.  In a separate bowl, combine the cool water with the olive oil, honey, and salt.  Place the flour in the bowl of a food processor.  With the motor running, slowly pour the olive oil mixture, then the yeast through the feed tube.  Process until the dough forms a ball around the blade.  Transfer to a buttered bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in bulk. 

Punch the dough down and knead it on a lightly floured work surface for about 1 minute.  Divide into 4 equal parts and roll into tight balls.  Place on a tray, cover with a damp towel, and let rest for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Ann's Note:  Hmmm....interesting that he suggested to refrigerate overnight because here's what often happens:  chilled dough does not roll out very easily. Ours was refrigerated when I bought it and then got stored overnight in the fridge and Andy had a hell of a time rolling it out.   This is not the first time this has happened and after this, I will make a mental note not to do that.   If at all possible, buy it fresh or make it fresh. 

Roll or stretch each ball into a circle 7 to 8 inches in diameter.

Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 500F.  Lightly dust a wooden pizza paddle with flour or semolina.  Working with one circle at a time, place the pizza dough on the paddle. Ann's Note:  We don't have a pizza stone and we most certainly don't have a pizza paddle, are you kidding me, Wolfgang?  So here's what we did instead:  we set the oven to 450 and cooked the pizza 10-12 minutes (Wolfgang's cooking time for the whole thing), and then we lowered the temp to about 350 and baked it another 10 minutes or so.  And we used a "regular" pizza pan because that's what is in most people's kitchens.  Worked fine.

One final Ann's Note:  My grandmother used a boxed hot roll mix for her pizza dough and to this day, I can still taste how glorious that crust was.  It still contained yeast but the dough ended up being thick without being deep-dish thick and I loved that.  She was also a master at spreading that dough out on the pizza pan; I am most decidedly not a master at that.  In fact, so frustrated do I get by that endeavor that I turn that job over to Andy who does a much better job with it. 

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