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: 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

What I Watched: July 2015

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There were more homemade meals this month than actual movie-watching, though I did manage to start off the month with a couple of new ones. If you haven’t already seen Saving Private Ryan, you absolutely must. During the second half of the month I gravitated toward movies I love but haven’t seen in a while. It’s fun to revisit a movie you haven’t watched in years – it either makes you remember why you loved it so much, or you question why you liked it at all and analyze how your movie preferences have changed.

What movies did you watch this July?

Images: {1, 2, 3, 4, 5}

The Best of Billy Wilder

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There are few movies that make me repeatedly cry-laugh. The Birdcage is one of those movies. Some Like It Hot is another. The director of Some Like It Hot, Billy Wilder, is one of American cinema’s premiere writer-directors. With gorgeous films such as Sabrina, The Apartment, and The Seven Year Itch, to name a few, Wilder has demonstrated his talent for writing and directing time and time again.

Billy Wilder was born in Austria in 1906 and became a screenwriter in the 1920s. He originally studied law, but shortly after he obtained a newspaper writing job where he conducted interviews and covered stories on crime and personal profiles. Wilder eventually made his way to the United States, and ultimately to Hollywood, after escaping the rise of the Nazis in Germany. This fantastic interview in The Paris Review gives a thorough look at Wilder’s background and provides insight into his life and work.

Whether you are a big Billy Wilder fan, have seen one of his movies, or are just starting to learn about his work (if you’re new to Wilder’s films, Sabrina is a great starting point), these films are absolutely must-see.

Best of Billy WilderWhat are your favorite Billy Wilder movies?

Images: {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10}

That’s a Wrap!

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This week was all about homemade meals. From clam linguine to an improvised Farmers Market meal to a heart pizza, there was no shortage of trying new recipes and experimenting with fresh ingredients. On my radar movie theater-wise: Trainwreck and Irrational Man. After being on the verge of a cold for more than half the week, I’m looking forward to getting some extra sleep this weekend. For now, let’s wrap up the week with a recap…

GET INVITED BACK: A variety of gifts to bring every type of host/hostess.

CROSSING AMERICA: Routes from some of the greatest literary road trips.

PART II: Oh, the good ol’ Hollywood sequel.

DON’T WASTE: Use this handy chart to avoid food waste.

PARTY TIME: Throw an oyster bash.

THIRD PLACE: Jurassic World is now the third highest-grossing film in history, behind Titanic and Avatar. 

TERMS TO KNOW: A useful glossary of wine-tasting terms.

PRO TIPS: Baking tips from pastry chefs around the country.

Have a great weekend!

Image by Lauren

That’s a Wrap!

It’s always nice to have productive weeks – this was one of them. It was also filled with lots of good food, mainly ice cream (and banana splits from Oddfellows). Maybe it was the long holiday weekend that kick-started a week of focus and inspiration. If only every other work week could be four days long. I’m looking forward to an eventful weekend, starting with the Taylor Swift concert. Until then, though, lets wrap up the week with a recap…

BEHIND THE SCENES: I love glimpses into people’s days, and Gayle King’s hustle is inspiring.

GIADA: Giada de Laurentiis has a restaurant in Vegas with the best chocolate lava cake I’ve ever had. This is a great inside look at the restaurant.

FOOD PROPS: The food stylist from The Astronaut Wives Club tells all.

STEP ASIDE, WAFFLE CONES: There’s a new cone in town.

FEMALE FILMMAKERS: And how Hollywood discriminates against them.

FAST FOOD: How McDonalds started in China.

ASIAN IMMIGRANTS: Starting to (very slowly) get some respect on TV?

MARIE CURIE: Production has started on a movie about this two-time Nobel prize winning scientist. Can’t wait to see the final feature!

MOVIES TO ADD TO YOUR LIST: The best films of 2015 so far.

DRINK UP: Tea may be strengthening your bones. Cheers to that!

VERY CREATIVE: A cake with wallpaper print. How cool.

LOCATION SCOUT: Secret filming locations in Paris.

Image by Lauren