Monday, February 25, 2013

A casual Oscar night gathering...

My sweet friend, Janice, is having a serious case of Empty Nest Syndrome right now. Her kids have all moved out, her mother-in-law, who lives with her for half the year, has gone back to Florida, and her husband got a job in Pennsylvania, and only gets to come home every other weekend, I believe. Thus, the poor dear is rattling around her big, beautiful house all alone. So when she asked me to come over and watch the Oscars with her and her daughter, how could I refuse? And I'm very glad I didn't, as it was a very cozy vibe (as evidenced in picture, left), enhanced by witty banter, catty criticism, and hearty laughs.

Most importantly, we had a wonderful spread of movie-themed eats. There were rice crackers for Life of Pi and hummus to dip them into and also samosas, hush puppies and crawfish dip for Beasts of the Southern Wild, gingerbread (reported to be Lincoln's favorite dessert), Canadian maple cookies for Argo, white coconut cake for Django Unchained, spanakopita (vaguely Middle Eastern tie-in) for Zero Dark Thirty, French bread for Les Miz and baked Brie and macarons for Amour, and even some cookies called Sarah Bernhardts, named after the famous French stage and film actress.

As for my contributions, you have to know that I made "crabby snacks and homemades!" Well, I did make crabby snacks, and I also made braciole (as the mother did every Sunday in Silver Linings Playbook), but my "homemades" were Reame's Noodles. Ha ha. OH! I need to share an anecdote here, if I may. Recently, I noticed that I had had some spikes in page views on this blog, so I went to my statistics program to see where the hits came from. Most of them seemed to be coming from Huffington Post, which was confusing to me. So I clicked on the link and found THIS:

A shout-out from HuffPo! I'm FAMOUS! Can my cookbook deal and Food Network show be far behind? Tee hee. Ok, ok. I'll try to get my over-inflated ego under control and just share how I made the braciole. This is a great weekend project, as I used my slow cooker in a two-day process. Don't freak out! It's mostly passive time, and the flavorful results are worth the wait. Start on Saturday night for a great slow-cooked meal on Sunday, preferably while watching the Eagles game or the Oscars.

Crock Pot Braciole

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 large bay leaf
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup red wine
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 - 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes (with basil)
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar, optional

For the braciole:
1 small onion plus 1 large shallot, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (or Fontina)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 eggs
half a bunch of Italian parsley (mostly leaves)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
16 oz. sliced Baby Bella mushrooms
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter, and then saute the onions until tender. Add the garlic, red peppers, and dried herbs and pepper flakes and cook for a few minutes more. Pour in the red wine and balsamic vinegar, and cook for a few more minutes until the wine is reduced. Place this mixture into the crock pot and stir in the canned tomatoes, salt, pepper, and sugar (if using). Cook the sauce on low overnight or on high for about four hours.
When the sauce is close to the end of its cooking time, prepare the braciole filling. In a food processor, mix the onion, shallot, garlic, bread crumbs, Parmesan, mozzarella, two tablespoons of olive oil, eggs, parsley, and black pepper until almost smooth. Spread about one tablespoon of the filling in each piece of meat (leaving some space around the edges) and roll up from the longest side. Tie in several places with kitchen twine. In a large skillet, heat two tablespoons of olive oil and brown the braciole on all sides.
Remove the bay leaf, then submerge all of the browned braciole in the prepared sauce in the crock pot. Add another couple of tablespoons of olive oil (if needed) to the skillet, and saute the mushrooms until tender. Place the mushrooms on top of everything in the crock pot, and cook on low for six to eight hours (or high for three to four hours) until the meat is tender. Remember to remove the strings before serving over noodles. (You can make "homemades," but I prefer Reame's Frozen Noodles.) Garnish with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

1 comment:

Randi said...

wow, cool that you got a trackback. I love those frozen noodles. In fact, you turned me on to them.