Tag Archives: family
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Journey 2: Mysterious Island
This is definitely a movie for the family. Featuring the impeccable acting skills of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, this was a follow-up to the Jules Vernes-inspired blockbuster Journey to the Center of the Earth. Like Journey to the Center of the Earth, the sequel is inspired by one of Jules Verne’s fantastical 19th-century adventure novels, fluffed up with a contemporary interpersonal relationship issue (this time it’s a clever teen and his step-dad) and some humor elements (brought to us courtesy of Luis Guzmán).
The premise is somewhere out in the Pacific Ocean is a perpetually hidden island. The grandfather of the teen supposedly went in search of it. When the kid picks up a signal with mysterious coordinates, he is sure it’ from Grandpa. The Rock graciously agrees to go to Palau to help him find this island. I think he’s a former Navy Seal or something. And what an island it is! Gold flowing from a volcano, gigantic bees and tiny elephants! What a trip!
This movie is less terrible than I thought it would be. Whoever wrote the script has a decent sense of humor, if a lowbrow one. I found myself chuckling a couple times, in spite of myself. So if you are looking for something silly, exciting, and not too scary, this is a perfectly passable Friday evening movie.
Post by Alison Hein.
Yay! We’re on vacation and escaping the miserable cold and snowy weather back home! Our traditional winter getaway to the French Caribbean was never more welcome.
One of my favorite things to do while away (besides enjoying the tropical sun and sugary sand) is to poke around in the kitchen of the house we rent. Our hostess, Veronique, has stocked charming Casa Azul with many intriguing cookbooks. A little French salad cookbook filled with glossy photos caught my eye. Paging through, I came across a lush and colorful fruit salad – Salade Arc-en-ciel. I used a different assortment of fruit than the original recipe calls for, but the golden pineapple, vibrant orange, lush green kiwis and ruby red grapes conspired to create a festive Rainbow Salad (recipe name translation).
A little rum to assist the maceration process is also very nice for depth and flavor (and vacation-y, too), but feel free to substitute a rum extract or omit the alcohol entirely if little ones will be enjoying the fruit. The traditional French crème fraiche topping is also lovely and different when blended with sugar and vanilla. The sour cream-like texture and density perfectly complements the rum-soaked tropical fruit. Then, finally, the pièce de résistance – a dusting of finely chopped, lightly salted pistachios.
Close your eyes and imagine balmy breezes and whistling surf. Now dig into this little gem of a fruit concoction, and for just a few moments, you will be transported to a French Caribbean breakfast in bed.
1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
1 orange, peeled and chopped
2 kiwis, peeled and sliced into rounds
1 banana, peeled and sliced into rounds
1 cup seedless red grapes, cut in half
¼ cup orange juice
1 teaspoon rum
1 teaspoon honey
½ cup crème fraiche (or substitute yogurt or whipped cream)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons finely chopped pistachio nuts
Place all prepared fruit in a large bowl. Mix together orange juice, rum and honey. Pour sauce over mixed fruit and toss gently to cover. Place in refrigerator and let chill at least one hour before serving.
Mix together crème fraiche, sugar and vanilla to make topping. Place chilled fruit salad in four individual serving bowls. Garnish with a dollop of crème fraiche topping, and sprinkle each serving with chopped pistachio nuts.
Makes 4 servings.
Recipe adapted from Les Salades by Christian Teubner
Post by Alison Hein.
Some of you may recall Flowerpot Bread as a 70s fad, and right you would be. Baking with terra cotta, however, is an ancient process. The Greeks prized this method for its even heat and durability. Once you go through the fuss of seasoning your flowerpots, you can pull out this fun party trick anytime.
In this version, I’ve brushed the simple white bread loaves with a light egg wash and dotted them with poppy seeds. Any bread dough will work – just remember to fill up the pots only halfway at the first rise, and don’t let them get too tall at the second rise or they may topple over in the oven. The terra cotta holds a steady temperature, which helps keep even heat during baking, and also gives the rising a little boost.
Try it out on a lazy weekend – for a breakfast in bed packed full of surprise and delight.
3 new 4-inch terra cotta flowerpots
Vegetable oil for treating pots
A few days before baking bread, rub flowerpots all over with oil. Heat oven to 300°. Place oiled flowerpots on a baking tray, and bake in the oven for a few hours to seal and season. Let cool before using. Repeat process after use as needed to retain smooth oiled surface.
½ cup tepid water
1 tablespoon (2 packets) dry yeast
1½ cups milk
¼ cup sunflower oil
¼ cup honey
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 egg, separated
5½ cups white flour
Oil for rising
Flour for kneading and shaping loaves
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
Add water to large food processor, or large bowl. Gently sprinkle yeast on top to cover surface. Set aside until yeast begins to activate, about 10 minutes.
Pour milk into small heavy pot over medium heat. Cook without stirring until the milk is scalded (tiny ripples begin to form across the top of the milk), about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly, then add oil, honey, salt and egg yolk to scalded milk. Retain egg white. When tepid, pour milk mixture into food processor or bowl. Gently pulse on food processor dough setting or stir until mixed in. Add white flour, about a cup at a time, until mixed in. If using food processor, gently pulse until dough is compressed and begins to pull away from side of bowl. Be careful not to over mix or dough will become tough. If making bread by hand, turn out onto floured board and knead gently for about five minutes. Add about ½ teaspoon oil to large bowl. Place dough in bowl. Turn and flip so oiled side faces up. Cover with light tea towel and set in warm, non-drafty place to rise. Let dough rise for about one hour, until doubled in size.
Punch down dough. Turn onto floured board and shape into 3 equal-sized balls. Oil flowerpots, and place one ball inside each pot. Dough should fill pot about halfway. Cover loaves with light tea towel and set in warm, non-drafty place to rise. Let loaves rise for about one hour, until dough is one to two inches over the top of the flowerpot.
Preheat oven to 350° about 15 minutes before dough is finished rising. Using a fork, beat egg white with about a teaspoon of water. Gently brush egg wash on top of loaves, then sprinkle each with a teaspoon of poppy seeds.
Place loaves in oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes until browned. Cool for at least 1 hour before removing from pots and slicing.
Makes 3 loaves.
Post by Alison Hein.
The spiced tea blend we know as “chai” is actually called “masala chai” in the part of the world where it originated. “Chai” is simply the word for tea in Hindi. It’s the “masala” part that captivates us – an aromatic spice blend that calls for all kinds of exotic flavors. Tangy ginger and mysterious cardamom often dominate these blends. Everyone has their own secret recipe, though, and the list of possible additives is long: allspice, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, fennel, liquorice root, nutmeg, peppercorn, and even rose petals. Strong black tea leaves are boiled with the spice blend, then mixed with warmed or steamed milk to create masala chai.
In our usual manner of American abbreviation, it is now possible to purchase a packaged liquid of chai tea latte concentrate. This mixture is simply mixed with an equal amount of milk, warm or cold, to conveniently create an instant chai tea latte. And, with some experimentation, I’ve found that it makes a sweet and spiced scented muffin base. You can try this with your favorite recipes – simply substitute half of the milk called for with chai tea latte concentrate (a recipe calling for 1 cup of milk is now converted to ½ cup milk and ½ cup chai tea latte concentrate).
I plan to continue experimenting in the future – think chai tea pancakes, waffles or scones. But in the meantime, give these muffins a try. The aromas emitted while baking are mysterious and mouthwatering. Not too sweet, and warm from the oven, they are curiously lovely with a cup of strong black tea… curiously lovely for an exotic breakfast in bed.
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup chai tea latte concentrate
½ cup milk
2 cups white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350°. Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Stir in chai tea latte concentrate and milk.
In separate bowl, mix remaining dry ingredients. Combine dry ingredients with chai mixture. Spoon into lined muffin tin and bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly on rack before removing muffins from tin.
Makes 10 to 12 muffins.
Post by Alison Hein.
Enough with this winter already! Snow, ice and an iffy furnace have caused the chill to permanently settle into my bones. So, I decided to start the day with a little extra heat, in the form of petite and piquant jalapeño peppers. These little green jewels can pack a surprising amount of kick, so strew them with caution if you are sensitive to fiery flavors.
Whole wheat tortillas stuffed with a tangy Mexican cheese blend host the fresh, fragrant jalapeños. Serve these quesadillas straightaway as an aromatic starter or snack, or breakfast-ize them, as I did, by enhancing with a gob of fluffy scrambled eggs. A dollop of sour cream mellows the spice, while a smidge of fresh chopped tomatoes and cilantro enhance the Latin flavors and add dramatic color.
So fight back – bundle up, cover up. Or fire up – a breakfast in bed guaranteed to melt some ice.
1 jalapeño pepper
1 whole wheat tortilla
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup Mexican cheese blend
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon milk or cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon sour cream (or queso fresco)
1 tablespoon diced fresh tomatoes
1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a small baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
Wash jalapeño pepper. Slice off stem end. Remove seeds and ribs with paring knife. Slice pepper into thin rounds and set aside. Place tortilla on a flat work surface. Brush lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle about two-thirds of the cheese on top. Strew about two-thirds of the sliced jalapeño on top. Fold tortilla in half. Brush again with olive oil, and sprinkle the remaining cheese and jalapeños on top, retaining a little of each for garnish if you like. Fold tortilla in half again to form a quarter round. Brush with remaining olive oil. Add a sprinkling of cheese and jalapeño on top, if you like. Place in preheated oven, and bake until cheese is melted and beginning to bubble, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Cook eggs while quesadilla is baking. Melt butter in small, heavy pan over medium low heat. Break eggs into small bowl and whisk well with milk or cream. Add eggs to heated pan and allow to cook slowly and gently. Stir and lift frequently with wooden spoon to avoid sticking. Season with salt and pepper.
Place quesadilla on plate. Spoon eggs out gently on top of quesadilla. Top with sour cream, chopped tomatoes and cilantro. Serve with hot sauce on the side, if you like.
Makes 1 serving.