One-Off’s

Sometimes inspiration strikes and the spontaneous desire to create supercedes the desire to do the grit work. Such is the case with these event treats that were cooked up, but never blogged about (sorry, ghouls).

HEPATITIS V(ampire) Lasagna

Hepatitis-V (vampire) was a dish served during a dinner party for the finale of True Blood.  It was a delicious favorite and as far as I know… no one was infected.

John Carpenter’s The Thing

This stuffed eggplant creeped everyone out while we watched John Carpenter’s classic The Thing.

 

ALIEN PIZZA BURSTER

Most people guess that the Alien leaping out of this pizza was made of fish (really, guys?).  But it’s baked pizza dough, and had no acid for blood, I assure you.

Walking Dead’s GLENN CLAFOUTIS

So, yeah, Glenn’s fate came to a smashing end and as he pretty much caved in to death.  Next morning I made this for breakfast.  Here’s looking at you, Glenn!  Well, maybe with uni-vision.

And that about wraps it up.  Sorry I haven’t been actively cooking up more horror treats, but I plan to remedy that once I’ve moved into our new dungeon, er, kitchen!

Trick or Treats: Halloween Classics

Happy Halloween, ghouls and goblins!

Being a bit of a wandering spirit and soul-searcher, I often grasp for meanings behind events and objects and Halloween is loaded with metaphors, symbols, and psychological implications. This year I delve into the classics of movie horror for modern philosophical truths.  It begins with the master symbol- that mascot of Halloween: The Pumpkin.

BREAKFAST:  PUMPKIN PANCAKES

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We have all heard the tale that pumpkins carved into jack o’lanterns ward off evil spirits, a legend that goes back to Irish folk lore, a festival named Samhain, and a clever, manipulative drunkard named Stingy Jack.  But the carved pumpkin represents more than meaning to us.  Beginning with its color- a product of the fall season- orange has symbolically become the primary color of Halloween. The idea of carving images- regardless of its origins- is the perfect representation for expressing our own fears.  I would dare say it’s the first image of “horror” we typically encounter, and symbolizes that which scares us.  Plus it makes great pie.

Pancake dish: PumpkinPancakeMix01Though not made from scratch, it is from a pumpkin mix that my ghoulfriend Tiana bought for me on a trip in Big Bear.

The pancake is highlighted with sugar, butter, and blueberries in the shapes of a ghost, a cat, and a bat.  My pumpkin movie recommendation:  Trick ‘R’ Treat featuring that rascal of a character, Sam.Sam_trickrtreat1

 

APPETIZER:  FRANKENSTEIN GUACAMOLE

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Who is Frankenstein but a bunch of parts sewn together?  Is it so different than modern cloning or DNA sequencing? And why is he green, anyway?  Certainly the idea must have come to Mary Shelley while she was pondering the best elements of the men she knew in her life.  Wasn’t it originally titled: How to create the perfect companion and what could possibly go wrong? Perhaps she wasn’t allowed to have pets.

The other element of Frankenstein is raising the dead.  Ah, if we could bring our once loved ones back from the netherworld… but would they return the same?  Stephen King explored that in Pet Semetery. As far as the patched-up frankensteins of the world go, a handful of good movies explore this like The Re-animator, and the classic comedy Young Frankenstein. And this season’s American Horror Story is working that angle, too. My favorites have been from Buffy the Vampire Slayer including an episode in the first season as well as the Adam story arch in season 4. And Buffy herself came back from the dead- twice in fact.

Guacamole:  Avocados, tomatoes, dash of salt, sun-dried tomatoes, sliced olives, and lemon zest. Garnish with blue corn chips.FrankieDipSM_02

 

APPETIZER:  DRACULA SOUR CREAM AND BEAN DIP

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Geeze, where to begin with vampires, let alone Dracula- the Elvis of the immortal dead. What’s our fascination with them?  Is it immortality, or their sustainability and dependence on human blood? And why garlic but not onions? The fear of vampires is pretty clear—they are creatures of the night (traditionally), need our blood to survive, can hypnotize us, and are immortal- possessing skills and knowledge from having lived hundreds of years. You know the movies and you already watch all the shows- there’s even a new series called Dracula. My favorites are The Lost Boys, Let Me In, Near Dark, Nosferatu, 30 days of Night, True Blood, and of course Buffy versus Dracula.

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APPETIZER:  WOLFMAN SALAD

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The wolf man is all about the full moon and transformation. On Halloween we don masks and costumes, allowing ourselves to express other sides of our personality. There is a freedom experienced, where our inhibitions are given room to explore. Halloween allows us the opportunity to be something we are generally not, perhaps because of moral standards imposed by society. Whether zombies, monsters, or vampires- there is a curious part in each of us to imagine what it would be like as these characters. For one night we get to play, to pretend in a safe and fun environment. But what if we couldn’t stop ourselves and had no control over our inhibitions? Enter the full-moon aspect of the wolfman syndrome….

 

APPETIZER:  WOLFMAN BEAN DIP

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This is almost a reversal of the idea of unleashed inhibitions. This is Jekyll and Hyde. What if you had no control over what you became and what was unleashed was a monster?  Would you chain yourself up every cycle, or accept what you are and deal with the moral consequences? In itself, that’s a very terrifying idea. The movie MASK comes to mind, which asks the question- what if you were born a little differently, perceived by society as a monster? Could you live with yourself?  Perhaps this is the most frightening element of all because it deals with real issues. Painful and shameful truths. Misfits of nature. Outcasts of society. Suddenly we are away from playful territory, and that Halloween mask doesn’t look so scary anymore.

 

MAIN COURSE:  Mummy Mushroom Pappardelle

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This one came out terribly, and I almost didn’t share it.  But it’s an effort and perhaps it will inspire someone out there to make a better version. The mummy is kind of a one-trick pony—it’s the dead awakened, still wrapped in its cloth strips. Why hasn’t there been a sexy mummy movie, or have I missed something? My favorite is still Abbot and Costello, and the first segment of Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, with Christian Slater.

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Dish:  Pappardelle noodles wrapped over a large mushroom, served over a bed of noodles mixed with fresh mushroom sauce

 

MAIN COURSE:  WITCH PIZZA

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One thing I do find really interesting is that except for witches, there aren’t many good remakes of the original classics!  Universal failed in their recent attempts at Frankenstein and The WolfmanThe Mummy movies weren’t really about mummy’s, and Coppola’s Dracula was sub-par. But witch movies and tv shows abound plenty.  It’s all about girl-power- male wiccan’s and warlocks are pretty rare. If wolves are the virile symbols of Halloween, witches are the female mascots. Dabbling in the dark arts, being part of a sisterhood—perhaps it is the outcry to female oppression, particularly pre-puritan times. Traditionally in old media, witches were old, haggard outcasts as perceived in Shakespeare and in The Wizard of Oz. But I’m glad the image has been transformed in recent times, embracing youthful vigor and female sexuality that only witches can exhibit.  From Buffy, Charmed, and The Craft to this year’s fabulous American Horror Story:  Coven…  it’s all about female desire and power unleashed.Craft1

 

 

PIZZA: chopped olive & pesto for the hat, eggplant for brim, cheese over a large mushroom, and zucchini for the hair.
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DESSERT:  Pumpkin Crème Brulee

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I admit, I can’t bake.  I hate it.  But another effort here in trying to mix pumpkin puree with the traditional crème brulee batter.  It needed more time in the fridge.  Perhaps next year I’ll perfect it.

What demons –both in and out of the closet- scare you the most?  What’s your favorite Halloween character?  Whom to do you wish to be this year?

And most of all… what’s your favorite scary movie?

Happy Halloween!

 

Hannibal the Cannibal

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Elegance, sophistication, and refined presentation define the characteristics of a dinner party that Hannibal Lecter would formally invite you to. This week celebrates the season finale of the brilliantly written new series Hannibal on NBC, which is like no other procedural. If you haven’t seen the first thirteen episodes, you’re in for a twisted ride. Luckily it has been renewed next season (another 13 eps), so we can happily get our gothic, epicurean delights fulfilled yet again. The series is a prequel to the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon, following the flowering relationship of admiring Dr. Hannibal Lecter and exceptionally empathetic FBI agent Will Graham. Fans would know that two movies were based on this novel- the first, Manhunter, directed by Michael Mann starring William Peterson as Will Graham and Brian Cox as Dr. Lecter. Petersen_GrahamIt was later remade as Red Dragon with Ed Norton as Graham, and Anthony Hopkins reprising the role of Hannibal.

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The latest series stresses Hannibal’s palatable passions, titling each episode after a thematic course. One has to wonder where Dr. Hannibal has honed his exceptional skills. Was there a Le Cordon Bleu that he may have attended and perhaps dined with (or upon) his fellow classmates? Or was he simply practicing from legendary recipes, the likes of Larousse Gastronomique and Escoffier. Might he even have been a fan of Julia Child?  Julia_03After all, in 1976 during the sixth season of her show there was an episode covering brains, sweetbreads, and tongues! Imagine if these were not from cow as she professed, but rather from humans.  Could there be real Hannibals out there, refining their art on unsuspecting diners? So popular is Hannibal’s cuisine that the show’s cooking consultant, Janice Poon, hosted her own blog sprinkled with telling anecdotes from the daily production challenges.

Today we recreate some of his more memorable courses from both the TV series and the movies. In typical Dinner Macabre style, all our dishes are primarily vegetarian and edible, which makes it challenging. Any heartless chef could use real meat components  and there’s lots of websites devoted to that. But where’s the creativity? Let’s carve up some fun, shall we?

Bon Appétit, cannibals!

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THE CLASSIC:  Liver and Fava Beans (Paella)

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One unsuspecting census taker is all Lecter needed for this recipe, along with dried Fava beans and a charming chianti. Liver_OperationTaken directly from Silence of the Lambs, this is a versatile dish that can easily be re-heated and served for a nutritious, protein-rich breakfast.

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Dinner Macabre substitute:  Oyster mushrooms for the liver, simmered in wine sauce for color and flavor.

 

 

THE FLUTIST:   PEPPERED TONGUE

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This is a great way to serve up at that untalented woodwind musician, or perhaps the unrelenting gossip columnist who just can’t keep her mouth shut (we’re talking about you, Freddy Lounds).  In episode ten (“Rôti”), escaped mental patient Dr. Gideon displaces a tongue from a patient (pictured above).  Inspired by this horrific gesture, I present a culinary option slathered with peppercorns:

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This is pure oral pleasure for Hannibal.  Another way to silence one’s critics.

 

WASTED MINDS:   BRAINS!

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Ingredients:  Annoying co-worker of a loved one (i.e. Paul Krendler, Hannibal).  Known otherwise as the zombie’s delight, this unpopular course requires an acquired taste, not to mention the acquired victim. The sophisticated serial killers enjoy baking this with the brain-stem attached, which is not unlike the giblets of a Thanksgiving turkey.  In fact, this brainy treat is the perfect Thanksgiving substitute which can be carefully stuffed and baked.

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Dinner Macabre substitute:  noodle brains, shaped and molded accordingly.

It was the first meal that Julia Child cooked for her husband, but rather disastrously.  Popular belief would claim it was cow’s brains that she used, but foodie serial killers around the world suspect otherwise.  What better way to silence critics of her show?

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Trivia:  So what do Hannibal and Martha Stewart have in common?  MARTHA_TONYBelieve it or not, Martha Stewart admitted that she had broken up her relationship to Anthony Hopkins (who knew they were dating?) because…. get this… she could not get past the image of him as Dr. Hannibal Lecter!  Think I’m kidding? Click the below link to hear this from the chef’s mouth herself.  Incidentally, this is from the podcast of one of my favorite NPR shows, “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me”.

Martha Stewart Plays “Not My Job”

And that’s it this week.  Let me know what your favorite Hannibal meals are and what you’d like to see us further create.  Until then, have some friends for dinner. Bon Appétit!

BonAppetit

Happy Easter!

 

When Easter falls on the finale of The Walking Dead…Bunny05sm

The casserole dish was Zucchini Au Gratin prepared with apple-smoked Gruyere cheese.  Turned out fantastic!

Zombie Bunny:  American eggplant covered with melted cheese (mozzarella, provolone, pepper-jack); a mushroom for the nose; corn-nuts for the bottom teeth (eggplant for the tops).

 

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