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

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

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

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Eat & Watch: ‘Magic’ Lima Bean and Kale Salad & Into the Woods

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I’m not one to immediately think of using giant Lima beans in recipes, but I was inspired when I watched Into the Woods and saw how powerful the magic white beans were. These beans made the Witch quickly age and a beanstalk grow high into the sky where giants live. Though the cast was stellar, I didn’t love the movie. I did, however, love this salad.

While these beans won’t grow you a beanstalk to climb, Lima beans have some impressive health benefits. They’re high in fiber, packed with protein, and rich in magnesium. Also, they’re a fantastic source of energy.

There are a variety of ways to use Lima beans, but I thought they’d go well in a salad with some dark greens, nuts, and cheese. Simple, quick, and tasty. This ‘Magic’ Lima Bean and Kale Salad is a great appetizer when you’re watching Into the Woods or Jack and the Beanstalk

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‘Magic’ Lima Bean and Kale Salad

Ingredients

4-5 lacinato kale leaves
2 cups of spinach
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 ½ cups of cooked large white Lima beans
½ teaspoon of sea salt
1/3 cup of walnuts (lightly toasted and chopped)
1/3 cup of almonds (lightly toasted and chopped)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
¼ cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

How to Prepare

1. Wash the kale and spinach and let dry. Chop the walnuts and almonds.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the cooked large white Lima beans. Stir the beans – about 3 minutes on each side – until they’re golden and a little bit crunchy.

3. Add the kale, spinach, and salt to the saucepan. Stir until kale softens.

4. Add the garlic, walnuts, and almonds. Stir until everything is mixed together.

5. Add the lemon juice and give all of the ingredients one last good mixing.

6. Remove from heat and serve onto plates. Add Parmesan cheese on top and enjoy!

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Images: Food photos by Lauren; movie shots from ‘Into the Woods

Flourless Brownie Cupcakes

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I was inspired to try making flourless brownies while standing in the middle of the baking aisle at the grocery store. I was curious as to what flourless brownies would taste like and decided right then and there that I was up for the challenge. Turns out, it’s not so challenging, and these flourless brownies were more delicious and rich than brownies I’ve ever made with flour. This was also my first time using coconut sugar (a sugar produced from the sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm) and arrowroot powder (a starch that comes from the rhizomes of several tropical plants) – very exciting. The top of the brownies are crispy/crinkly (insert word here for ‘top of brownie perfection’) and the insides are soft and decadent. Chocolate lovers, you won’t regret making these.

I wish I could capture the smell from the oven when these brownies were baking – it was unbelievable (and a good sign that my brownies were turning out alright). Try them for yourselves – they’re a healthy alternative to white sugar-loaded brownies and you’ll feel a little less guilty for eating four or five of them fresh out of the oven.

No butter, no flour, no problem. But – if you are craving brownies with flour, these are a winner.

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Ingredients

6 Tbsp. coconut oil
7 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
2/3 cup coconut sugar (or granulated sugar)
2 ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tbsp. arrowroot powder
A dash of salt

How to Make Flourless Brownie Cupcakes

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare your cupcake tin with liners.
2. Over low heat, combine coconut oil and semisweet chocolate chips until melted. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Combine the eggs, vanilla, and sugar for 3 minutes with a handheld mixer.
4. Add the melted chocolate and coconut oil and mix.
5. Add cocoa powder, arrowroot powder, and salt to mixture. Use the handheld mixer to combine all ingredients until the batter is smooth.
6. Scoop batter into cupcake liners until they are each half filled. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let the brownie cupcakes sit in the warm baking pan for a couple more minutes. Remove brownie cupcakes and enjoy warm!

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{Photos by Lauren}

Breakfast Frittata

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When it comes to eggs, I don’t usually think to bake them. Boil or scramble them, sure. But bake? This was new to me. I attempted my first Breakfast Frittata out of desperation for a cheesy egg combination (while also getting in my greens). Luckily this frittata doesn’t take too long to whip up, so have this recipe on hand when for those mornings when you wake up hungry. I baked my frittata in the pan, but you can also bake the mixture in a pie crust (which would make it a quiche). If you like meat as part of your breakfast, bacon or ham would be great additions.

You’ll Need

2 tablespoons of butter
1 sweet onion, minced
2 cups of chopped broccoli
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1 cup of chopped green pepper
2 cups of spinach
1/2 cup of parsley
1 cup of grated mozzarella
1 cup of grated Parmesan
6 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preparation

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a medium non-stick, oven-safe pan over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add onion, broccoli, garlic, green pepper, and spinach. Cook until vegetables are soft.

3. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, salt, and pepper.

4. Add egg mixture over vegetables. Sprinkle cheese on top.

5. Let the mixture cook in the pan for 5-7 minutes until the bottom and top have begun to set, then place the pan directly into the oven for 20-30 minutes (until the center has set). When completely cooked, flip or slide the frittata onto a large plate. Let cool or enjoy hot.

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{Photos by Lauren}

Homemade Matcha Latte

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I have only recently gotten into matcha. Matcha is made from whole green tea leaves, which is finely ground into a smooth powder. Matcha is a traditional part of Japanese culture, and it has been used tea ceremonies since the 12th century.

After experiencing just one cup in the form of a matcha latte, I was hooked and got my very own whisk and canister of matcha powder. The process of making a cup of matcha is not only soothing, but the health benefits are also incredible: in terms of nutritional value and antioxidant content, one glass of matcha is the equivalent of 10 glasses of green tea. Matcha boosts your metabolism and gives you energy while also calming your mood. Pretty great, right? In my book, matcha > coffee.

There are many ways to enjoy matcha – you can blend it with sparkling water, add it to lemonade, sprinkle it over pancakes, or mix it into batter (hello, matcha chocolate cake!). The possibilities are endless, and I’m excited to try out more recipes.

Here’s how I make my daily matcha latte:

You’ll need

1 bowl
A bamboo whisk
1 teaspoon matcha powder
3/4 cup milk of choice (cow’s milk, unsweetened almond milk, soy milk, rice milk)
1/4 cup boiling water

Preparation

1. Bring 3/4 cup of milk to a simmer in a small pot over medium-high heat. Keep an eye on this so the milk doesn’t burn or form a skin.

2. Place 1 teaspoon of matcha powder in a bowl, and slowly whisk together with 1/4 cup boiling water. Whisk the matcha briskly in a “W” motion until frothy.

3. Add in warmed milk of your choice, tipping cup slightly to create more foam.

4. When finished, rinse your whisk thoroughly and let dry.

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{Photos by Lauren}

Woven Gingerbread Cookies

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Happy winter! ‘Tis officially the season to get into the spirit, and with Christmas this week, everything feels a bit more festive. I attempted these Woven Gingerbread Cookies (recipe here), and they turned out really well. Weaving the dough is so much fun, but it’s definitely a time commitment. When the dough starts to get soft after chilling, pop it back in the freezer for a short while (10 minutes) so you can roll it out again with ease. Because you’ll need strips of the gingerbread dough, the pieces are a bit more fragile. If you’re attending any holiday parties this week, these cookies will be a sure hit.

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{Photos by Lauren}

Classic Challah

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Hanukkah begins tonight at sunset, and in honor of the holiday, what better way to celebrate than to make classic challah? It took two attempts to make this braided bread, but I finally got it right on the second try. What resulted was a deliciously fluffy pull-apart bread that will be perfect for French Toast. Because the dough has to rise for at about 2.5 hours, definitely plan ahead. I used this recipe, but ended up only needing about 6.5 cups of flour. Also, make sure that the water is lukewarm. For braiding, I watched this video – it was so helpful! I can’t wait to try out variations of challah – including ones with cinnamon, poppy seeds, and ham and cheese.

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{Photos by Lauren}