Thursday, September 12, 2013

Office Space - Chochkie's Deconstructed Jalapeno Popper Pizza

Work doesn't suck, what sucks are demeaning, mind-numbing, thankless, robotic, soul sucking jobs, I think that's the essence of this movie. I think this dialogue sums up so much... 
Peter Gibbons: The thing is, Bob, it's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care.
Bob Porter: Don't... don't care?
Peter Gibbons: It's a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don't see another dime, so where's the motivation? And here's something else, Bob: I have eight different bosses right now.
Bob Slydell: I beg your pardon?
Peter Gibbons: Eight bosses.
Bob Slydell: Eight?
Peter Gibbons: Eight, Bob. So that means that when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That's my only real motivation is not to be hassled, that and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.

When I made the menu for this movie, I remembered the Chochkie's waiter spiel as Potato Skins and Extreme Poppers. What it actually was - Pizza Shooters, Shrimp Poppers and Extreme Fajitas. Really, I think any recreation from the garbage those american corporate chain restaurants this movie spoofs will work. I wanted to do a mash up with the popper concept because I have tried to make poppers several times before and as it turns out, I just don't have the jalapeno popper gene. I do however have the pizza gene. It's really a deconstructed jalapeno popper and I really loved it a lot!

3 cups flour
1 TB sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp onion power (optional)
2 tsp garlic powder (optional)
1 packet active dry yeast
1 cup warm water

Mix the flour and salt, set aside. Put the sugar in a bowl, add the warm water and yeast. Let sit for a minute until the yeast get foamy. Mix the water/yeast mixture with the flour mixture, add 1 TB olive oil and knead for about 10 minutes. coat a large bowl with olive oil, lightly coat the dough ball with olive oil, cover the dough bowl with a warm moist towel and let sit for 30 minutes. Add onion and garlic powder, if using, knead again for 10 minutes, roll out your dough and add your sauce and toppings.

8-10 jalapenos, with gloves on, stem and slice in half, then remove the ribs and seeds. It will still be spicy, but if you like pain, leave in the ribs and seeds. Or just choose something in between. Coat with oilve oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast at 400 for 20-30, unit soft and slightly charred.

Use vegan sour cream or vegan cream cheese. I used a cashew cheese base, thinned out with water and about a TB of squeezed lemon juice added.

I made my own Cheddar style cheese, which I'm not prepared to write down the recipe yet (i'll keep you posted though). Daiya Cheddar style shreds will work.

Preheat the oven to 475 with your pizza stone in the oven. After heated, carefully removed the stone with oven mitts, coat the bottom of the stone with olive oil and place your rolled out dough onto the stone. Dock you pizza dough by poking fork holes into the dough, avoiding the outer crust ring. Bake for about 12-15 minutes. To make the cheese ultra melty and gooey, turn on your broiler (the thing you probably use for storage underneath your oven), remove pizza and stone from the oven, put into your broiler for about 30 seconds.

That's my little girl, Hazey Jane : )

"Okay. Sounds like a case of the Mondays"

"t's NOT wrong. INITECH is wrong. INITECH is an evil corporation, all right? Chochkies is wrong. Doesn't it bother you that you have to get up in the morning and you have to put on a bunch of pieces of flair?"


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Spirited Away - Dragon Rolls

On the road trip to their new house, 10 year old Chihiro and her parents come upon a covered tunnel that the parents wish to explore. With a hesitant and fearful Chihiro in tow, they pass through the tunnel and find an abandoned amusement park of sorts on the other side. They come across a stand with a kitchen, filled with a plethora of food, to which the parents help themselves to. As Chihiro discovers her parents have taken the form of pigs, she flees in fear and runs into Haku who urges her to return to her land before sunset. Chihiro doesn't make it in time, in turn being stuck in what turns out to be a spirit world, a resort of sorts for the supernatural where fantastical monsters reside. Haku becomes her mentor to the world as she tries to help her parents and make her way back home. 

I love coming of age stories where there is a female protagonist, they are relatively so rare. And on top of that, the character provides such a healthy narrative. She is vulnerable, smart, resourceful and brave. The story is a metaphor for entering the scariness of adulthood without losing one's identity. It also contains great commentary on environmentalism. It's on my list of movies to show my future children, along with all of the enchanting Hayao Miyazaki films.

I chose to pair this movie with Dragon Rolls in honor of Chihiro's dragon friend. My favorite restaurant is in L.A., it's called Shojin, it's an all vegan microbiotic Japanese restaurant. When we lived in L.A., it was our place for celebratory occasions, they have the best sushi! Their dragon roll contained shitake and avocado in the center, with avocado and thinly sliced bbq seitan on the outside, served with unagi sauce. There are different ways to make dragon rolls, but I am assuming since they are sushi goddesses at Shojin, their way is the best way. I nixed the seitan, although I recommend it with.

Sushi rice recipe here

Unagi Sauce:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup mirin *

On a low flame, heat all ingredients together until liquid is reduced by half, stirring frequently.

For the filling:
Shitake Mushrooms sliced thinly. 
For the marinade, I just took some unagi sauce before it reduced, mixed it with shitake in a small bowl and let sit, refrigerated for 30 minutes.

Thinly sliced cucumbers, sliced longways.
There is a lot of mushiness, the cucumber will create a crunchy balance. Carrots are a good addition to the cucumber as well. Next time I will add the sliced bbq seitan, I think it makes a really nice addition.

The avocado on the outside can be tricky, I just sliced the avo super thin, cut them to adjust the width, then draped them over. 

* Mirin is a rice cooking wine, you can find it in most well stocked supermarkets or an Asian market.

Trailer : 

Vegan Mofo #2

Friday, September 6, 2013

Benny and Joon - Caramelized Fennel Grilled Cheese with Juniper Berries

I wish I had seen this recently, I think the last time was in the 90's, it will be a lovely one to revisit. It's such a charming film and contains one of the iconic quirky Johnny Depp roles. It's a love story between two societal rejects, Joon and Sam. Juniper (Joon) is considered mentally ill (the story alludes to schizophrenia), she lives with her brother Benny who becomes responsible for housing Sam when Joon looses a bet in a poker game. Sam isn't mentally ill but his whimsical otherworldliness and unique life lens make it difficult for him to do things such as build relationships or a career. Being that the two can't really live independently, it makes for a difficult partnership but one they wish to pursue perhaps with an "us against the world" perspective.

There is a famous scene at the end where Sam is making grilled cheese sandwiches with an iron. Perhaps hinting at the absurdity of normality being the only way to function independently. I didn't make these sandwiches with a iron, although I would like to try it someday.

Caramelized Fennel Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Juniper Berries

One large bulb of fennel
4 slices of bread
Daiya cheese (or any vegan cheese)
Olive Oil
*1/2 tsp Juniper Berries
** (optional) Tomato slices

To caramelize the fennel, first thinly slice the bulb. Coat a frying pan liberally with olive oil, place the slices down and sprinkle with sea salt. Keep the flame on low-medium and allow for the slices to slowly brown and release their sugars. Don't try to speed up this process. When one side begins to turn brown, pour about 1/4 cup of water into the pan and flip to cook the other side and add juniper berries to the pan. If when the other side is  cooked to a golden brown and it is sticking to the pan, either add a little water or a little white wine to deglaze the pan.

Coat the bread slices with palm oil free vegan butter, place butter side down in a pan and top the bread with your vegan cheese, then fennel slices, then the other slice of bread butter side up. To help melt the cheese, when the first side is almost golden brown to completion, squirt a little water into the pan (close to the wall of the pan as to not make the bread soggy) and cover the pan with a lid. The water will bubble and steam causing the cheese to melt. Flip and brown the other side.

*Juniper Berries are what makes gin taste like gin. They are often used in stews but are a wonderful accompaniment to fennel. They are strong, bite into one and it will taste like you are drinking a martini. The idea in this recipe is to infuse the oil and fennel with a juniper berry essence.

** Tomato slices go so well in grilled cheeses and as luck would have it, with fennel too. Add it if you wish.

"Except for being a little mentally ill, she's pretty normal"

"You can't throw him out, I won him!"

Trailer : 

Vegan Mofo #1