Sunday, January 01, 2017

Dinner and a Movie: Bridget Jones's Diary

I was recently horrified to learn that several of my dearest friends had never seen Bridget Jones' Diary, so I made it my personal crusade to rectify this abominable situation. I gave one of said friends the dvd and the even more entertaining novel as Christmas gifts, and tonight, we watched the movie together with a bunch of good friends, and I prepared a special themed buffet dinner. This was the menu I envisioned, and echoing Bridget's words, "Have sneaking suspicion am somewhat of a genius in the kitchen as well."

Cocktail Gherkins
Orange Marmalade Dip with Crackers
Blue Soup (Leek and Potato)
Turkey Curry with Jasmine Rice
Baked Ham and Cheese Omelette

The pickles on sticks and turkey curry were inspired by Bridget's mother Pam's New Year's Turkey Curry Buffet. And the blue soup, omelette, and orange marmalade dip were an homage to the tragic birthday dinner that Bridget tried to cook for her friends.
The appetizers included little cornichons on toothpicks (I didn't even bother to take a picture, but see above), and an unusual orange marmalade-topped cream cheese dip with crackers. In the movie, Bridget attempts to create a dessert called Orange Pudding in Sugar Cages, but you see them scooping the finished product up with crackers, and one of her friends describes it as tasting like marmalade.

At first, I was just going to serve orange marmalade with crackers, but that sounded pretty boring. Then I thought I might spread the crackers with cream cheese and top it with orange marmalade, but that sounded like a lot of busy work and still not very exciting.

So I did a Google search and found this recipe for a dip that turned out to be the surprise hit of the party! Many of my young friends are not very adventurous eaters, and they were surprised that something which seemed weird to them at first was so tasty. I took the picture below before I topped the dip with the toasted almonds, because it was prettier. The next time I make this, I think I might mix the almonds into the dip and let the marmalade be the only topping, because it would look nicer.

Orange Marmalade Dip
(Source: adapted from

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise 
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
8 large scallions, chopped
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
few dashes hot sauce, to taste
3/4 cup orange marmalade
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted and cooled

Mix the cream cheese, mayo, cheese, scallions, pepper, and hot sauce. Spread into an 8x8 dish, top with the marmalade and spread in a thin layer. Sprinkle on the almonds. Serve with crackers.

In the movie, Bridget tries to make a soup flavored with leeks, and she's supposed to tie the leeks together with kitchen twine. She does not have the proper twine, so she uses some blue string she finds that, of course, ends up turning the soup blue.

So I decided to make a leek and potato soup with the help of my trusty magic pot. It was quick and easy in the Instant Pot (only five minutes!), and it turned out velvety and luscious and DELICIOUS! Of course, you don't have to dye it blue to enjoy this leeky, potatoey goodness.

Instant Pot Leek and Potato Soup

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large leeks, tough outer leaves removed, halved, washed thoroughly and thinly sliced
3 large stalks celery, thinly sliced 
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground celery
4 medium to large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
1 cup cream
salt and pepper, to taste

On sauté mode, add the butter and olive oil to the pot and cook the leeks, celery, and garlic until the veggies are tender and just starting to brown. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and let continue to cook for a few minutes until the wine has almost evaporated. Stir in the thyme, granulated garlic, ground celery, potatoes, and vegetable or chicken stock. 

Cover with the lid and cook on soup mode for five minutes. Let the pressure come down for about ten minutes before doing a quick release. Using a stick blender, purée the soup until very smooth. Add the cream (or half-and-half or whole milk) and blend one more time. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

*If you're making this for a Bridget Jones dinner, add a little blue food coloring...but no string! 

For the first of two entrees, I prepared a curry with turkey and vegetables and served it over steamed jasmine rice (made in the IP, of course--three cups rinsed rice, three cups water, good pinch of salt, in the sprayed insert, on manual for four minutes, ten minutes rest then release). I couldn't find a recipe for the turkey curry, so I just made it up, and it turned our GREAT! Even one of the guests who swears she doesn't enjoy curry liked it!

Pamela Jones' Turkey Curry 
(as imagined by me)

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 lb. turkey breast cut into one-inch chunks
1 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon granulated garlic, divided
3/4 teaspoon pepper, divided

1 large onion, diced
1-2 chili peppers, seeded and diced (to taste)
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large dice
2 medium potatoes, peeled (or not) and cut into one-inch chunks
1 cup chicken (or turkey) broth
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon ground celery
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 can coconut milk

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

steamed jasmine rice

To a large skillet over medium-high, add two tablespoons of olive oil, add the chunks of turkey, sprinkle with a half teaspoon each of salt and granulated garlic and a quarter teaspoon of pepper, and cook the turkey until golden brown. Remove the pieces to a plate and reserve.

To the same skillet, add two more tablespoons of olive oil, and saute the onions and pepper(s) until tender. Add the garlic and cook another minute or two. Add the carrots, potatoes, and chicken stock, partly cover, and simmer for about five minutes or until the carrots and potatoes are tender. 

Stir in the curry powder, ginger, ground celery, cumin, turmeric, coriander, and the remaining half teaspoon of granulated garlic, then cook for another couple of minutes until the spices are very fragrant. Turn off the heat and stir the coconut milk, the remaining teaspoon of salt and half teaspoon of pepper (or to taste), the reserved turkey, and the chopped fresh cilantro.

Serve over steamed jasmine rice.

In the movie, nothing Bridget tries to cook turns out right, so Mark Darcy to the rescue! For the entree, he suggests they make omelettes and serve it with the "congealed green gunge" (caper berry gravy) that Bridget has produced. Since I was cooking for about eight people, I didn't want to be standing at the stove making individual omelettes for everyone.

So I found a recipe for a big ham and cheese pan omelette that you bake in the oven, and I also siphoned some of the eggs and cheese mixture off before adding the ham and made an individual portion in a ramekin for one vegetarian guest. What a terrific brunch dish, and of course, you can add whatever ingredients you have that please you. (I doubled the recipe that follows and baked it in a 9x13 casserole dish.)

Baked Ham and Cheese Omelette
(Source: All Recipes)

8 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
3 ounces cooked ham, diced

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon dried minced onion

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease one 8x8 inch casserole dish and set aside.

Beat together the eggs and milk. Add seasoning salt, ham, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, and minced onion. Pour into prepared casserole dish.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until eggs are set. (The individual one-cup ramekin took 15-20 minutes.)

For dessert, I suggest you pass around a few pints of Ben and Jerry's and a bunch of spoons. And to wash everything down with, I suggest that you choose vodka...and Chaka Khan!

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