Eat & Watch: Lamb Lollipops with Homemade Mint Pesto & Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

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Martin Scorsese films tend to be intense stories filled with drama. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is no exception. The movie stars Ellyn Burstyn – who won an Oscar for this role – as Alice, a recently widowed mother who finds a way to support herself and her son, Tommy, by singing and waitressing. In Alice’s determination to make a new life for herself, she and Tommy meet a variety of people during their journey who change their lives in both positive and dangerous ways.

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In the very beginning of the movie, Alice, Tommy, and her husband Donald (before his death) are shown sitting down to dinner. Alice makes lamb for Donald “just the way he likes it.” When she asks her husband how he likes the lamb, he replies “It’s okay” without looking up from his plate. Alice proceeds to talk to herself when Donald and Tommy don’t respond or acknowledge her effort to make conversation. After more uncomfortable silence, Alice asks her son if he likes the meal, to which Tommy responds, “I hate lamb.”

Alice tries hard to please her family, but still ends up frustrated by their unengaged attitudes and disrespect. The movie shows how Alice comes into her own after the death of her husband, and even though she doesn’t have all the answers or know exactly what she is doing, the point is that she’s trying. In her struggle for independence, Alice attempts to figure out what she wants and is taking her life into her own hands.

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While there is an assortment of food in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, the lamb consumed early in the movie represents an important moment for Alice, and for viewers getting to know the main character. While you’re watching this Scorsese film, make and enjoy Lamb Lollipops with Homemade Mint Pesto. These lamb lollipops are a surprisingly quick and easy dish to make while still being insanely delicious and juicy.

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After making homemade mint pesto for the first time, I questioned why I ever buy pesto from the store. This mint pesto, while subtle so as not to be overwhelmingly minty, is fresh and packed with flavor and all it takes is a food processor to combine all of the ingredients. Buy the lamb already “frenched” (or use this helpful step-by-step) so all you have to do is sear and bake it.

I can’t get enough of these succulent lamb chops. The first bite was everything I hoped and imagined it would be, and then some. The warm lamb lollipops are blanketed in the fragrant mint pesto, and every bite is thoroughly satisfying. Garnish the pesto crust with toasted pine nuts, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and a mint leaf.

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Lamb Lollipops with Homemade Mint Pesto Recipe

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Food Images by A Dash of Cinema; Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore image by Warner Bros.

Eat & Watch: Smoked Salmon Chowder & Trading Places

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The holidays are almost over, but there’s still time left to bundle up and watch a few more seasonal movies. A great movie to watch in spirit of the new year is the 1983 comedy Trading Placesstarring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy.

In this movie, two successful businessmen – the Duke brothers – make a bet about whether nature or nurture plays a role in determining someone’s life. They give beggar Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) a job at their Philadelphia commodities-trading firm, and take away all that wealthy Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) has. They predict that Valentine will start acting like a successful, wealthy businessman, and that Winthorpe will become homeless, jobless, and desperate.

As predicted by the Duke brothers, Winthorpe falls to new lows in his new life of poverty. At the company holiday party, he is seen stuffing meat and salmon into his filthy and grungy Santa costume.

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Later, when Winthorpe is on the bus, he pulls out the salmon fillet from his grey Santa beard and proceeds to eat it. Winthorpe is clearly feeling defeated and has hit rock bottom. I won’t spoil what happens in the movie, but it’s definitely worth watching. It’s humorous while also having serious undertones of economic inequality and racial and cultural stereotypes.

Inspired by Santa Winthorpe and his hearty piece of salmon, Smoked Salmon Chowder felt like a delicious meal to watch with this movie. Chowder is warm – perfect for these cold winter months – and the smoked salmon gives the chowder a blast of flavor.

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In addition to the smoked salmon, the other ingredients also play a starring role in this chowder. I chose purple potatoes to give the soup some much needed color (otherwise it would have a mostly beige and yellow tone). Fresh corn on the cob gives the chowder a nice crunch, and the dill garnish gives it a clean herb taste without being overbearing.

Topped with oyster crackers or warm crusty bread, this Smoked Salmon Chowder may become a regular on the meal circuit. This recipe involves smoky bacon, fresh carrots and celery, and heavy cream – lots of goodies in every bite!

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Smoked Salmon Chowder Recipe

P.S. I’m moving! Sign up for the A Dash of Cinema Newsletter for food and film articles, and to be notified when the new site launches: http://eepurl.com/bKZaaH

P.P.S. Another great holiday movie and meal!

Food Images by Lauren Jessen // Trading Places stills from Paramount Pictures

Making a Move and New Newsletter!

Ever since I started A Dash of Cinema, I have blogged on WordPress.com. It has been an incredible journey so far. I have watched lots of movies, cooked a variety of food, and have documented these two loves along the way. In my attempt to take this blog to the next level and create more great content for you, I will be switching to a self-hosted platform in the new year.

So what does that mean for you? If you’re on WordPress.com reading my posts, you’ll no longer see them in your dashboard or receive emails about new posts.

BUT, if you want to keep reading A Dash of Cinema, I’d love that! The blog name will stay the same, so the domain won’t be anything different than you’re used to. You can stay in the loop on when the new site is launched by signing up for the *NEW* A Dash of Cinema Newsletter below.

I used to do a series called ‘That’s a Wrap!’ where I linked to cool food and film articles I discovered throughout the week. This Newsletter will be similar, with links to food and film articles, posts you may have missed from the week, and any updates to share.

Thank you so much for reading over the years, and I can’t wait to see you on the new and improved A Dash of Cinema! Until then, have a safe and warm holiday!

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Eat & Watch: Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes & Dead Poets Society

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When I watched the classic film Dead Poets Society a couple of months ago, I couldn’t help but notice the scene where Mr. Keating, the character played by Robin Williams, helps himself to a mountain of freshly whipped mashed potatoes. When I think of mashed potatoes, my mind immediately thinks of one of the best times of the year – Thanksgiving.

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Instead of making mashed potatoes in boiling water as I usually do, I tried making them in my slow cooker. This Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes recipe allows for a lot of freedom with ingredients and for trying new flavors. Garlic, sour cream, butter, whipped milk, cheese, green onions, bacon, ham – any and all of these tasty ingredients can be tossed in for added flavor.

While eating these mashed potatoes, enjoy Dead Poets Society, a movie about an English teacher who inspires his students to seize the day and helps them discover their love of poetry. It’s a beautiful and moving film, and Robin Williams – as always – is inspiring and energetic in his performance.

Have a happy Thanksgiving, and enjoy these mashed potatoes and movie combo!

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Eat & Watch: Homemade Baby Ruth Candy Bars & The Goonies

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If you’re not feeling trick-or-treating or going out to any Halloween parties this year, spend the night at home watching classic Halloween movies (or horror films, if you’re into that) and making homemade candy. Since Halloween falls on a Saturday, your entire day can be filled with spooky festivities or spending time by the stove stirring caramel and layering sugary sauces to indulge in that evening – I prefer the latter.

I’ve always wanted to try making homemade candy. After watching the 1985 adventure comedy film, The Goonies, I figured this was the perfect time to give homemade candy a go. The Baby Ruth candy bar makes an appearance in one of the scenes that involves Chunk, one of the young boys in the group of friends. The Goonies is about a group of young friends who find a treasure map and attempt to find the treasure where “X” marks spot. A group of criminals, the Fratellis, is also after the pirate treasure, creating a challenge for the group of friends along the way.

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The scene that involves the Baby Ruth candy bar is when Chunk is captured by the Fratellis and tied up to a chair in the basement next to Sloth, the deformed brother of the Fratelli sons. Chunk befriends Sloth by offering him a Baby Ruth, and together they break free and escape the basement. Though there is a variety of food in the movie (mainly because Chunk likes to eat), the Baby Ruth stands out because it is how Chunk and Sloth become friends, which ultimately saves their lives.

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In my attempt to make a homemade Baby Ruth, I set aside a good three to four hours. Candy takes time to make, so start it when you have plenty of time to do things right. Many recipes will say to use a candy thermometer, but I share David Lebovitz’s belief that “there’s nothing like your senses to tell you when food is prepared to your liking.” When the caramel becomes the color of an old copper penny you’ll know it’s ready. The mixture will get frothy and thick, so when you see those things you’ll know you’re doing something right.

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Baby Ruths consist of nougat, caramel, peanuts, and chocolate – this is my take on the beloved candy bar:

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That’s a Wrap!

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For the most part, the temperature has significantly cooled. Last weekend, however, was so warm that it warranted indulging in a strawberry sorbet popsicle from Popbar. I am eager for the holidays, which in my mind officially begins on Halloween. From then on it’s a whirlwind of excitement, holiday lights, hot chocolate, and festive activities. Oh, and there’s also this. It’s not a truly fulfilled holiday season unless Bill Murray’s in it. Until then, let’s wrap up the week with a recap…

RUN THE SHOW: Hollywood’s top showrunners.

MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING: Is being turned into a TV comedy series.

CAT CORA: And how she overcame sexism in the kitchen.

LOBSTER LOVE: Behind Maine’s mysterious lobster bonanza.

MAKEOVER: Written recipes get a new look.

SELF-PUBLISHING: Why Hollywood keeps turning to it.

SMARTIES: The retro candy is thriving.

POTAYTO, POTAHTO: How to make potatoes.

SUCCESS: How to succeed in Shondaland.

Have an enjoyable weekend!

Image by Lauren Jessen