The Daily Meal

25 March 2016

Pop Culture: Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

Lets get this out of the way....Batman v Superman isn't a good movie. It just isn't. Structurally it is a mess. You can almost hear the way they put the writing room together. "Hey guys, we can't screw this up, all hands on deck." The writing is so poor that it is hard to understand how Batman v Superman made it to screen in its current form. There will be plenty of people who really enjoy this movie, but I love They Live and I know its not a good movie. If you saw the trailers and were worried that they told you the movie, well you had a legitimate worry. Before we go deeper into the negative lets go positive.

Ben Affleck is an amazing Batman. If you, like I, love the Frank Miller Batman then you will see this as the definitive interpretation of the Caped Crusader. But be warned, this isn't a child friendly Batman. He kills. He kills a lot. His fighting scenes are the best Batman has looked in battle since...ever. What makes it work is the opening 20 minutes of Batman v Superman. Here the spectacle of Man of Steel, the destruction of Metropolis, becomes Bruce Wayne's personal horror. Those first 20 minutes are beautifully presented. Unfortunately the next two hours happened.

Sticking with the good, Jeremy Irons as Alfred is the standout of this movie. The few scenes he is in make me want to order my tickets to The Batman right now. He represents the only moments of joy and levity in what is a dreary depressing movie.

Wonder Woman is fine. She isn't great, but she works. I think she would have had a bigger impact if not for the reveal in the trailer that ruined the movie. Gal Gadot looks the part, and delivers most her lines with enough charm that I am cautiously optimistic for her stand alone film.

Almost every scene with The Daily Planet is pointless. They don't matter. Just fluff.

Well, just like Wonder Woman, I can't ignore the horror any longer and must dive into what was wrong with Batman v Superman. This movie is all over the place. There is no editing through line to hold it together. Instead of focusing on the destruction of Metropolis as the tie to hold the focus they invent other set pieces as the main impetuous of the plot, and it never pays off. By the time you get to the rushed and forced final battle with Doomsday (again ruined by the marketing) there is no emotional engagement. You just don't care.

Then there is Lex Luthor. *sigh* Why? Just.....why? His motivation is...moving the plot forward I guess? He is never, in the entire movie, not once menacing. He is just annoying. You never understand why he is doing anything, nor do you believe that he is a threat. I hope Jesse Eisenberg never reappears in the DCEU, just retcon him out.

Doomsday is a low rent Hobbit extra with random undefined powers. He comes in and disappears with little resonance. He only exists for the twist in the last 5 minutes.

Lois Lane is in the movie. Yay? She isn't so much a character as a thing for Superman to save. And the chemistry that they had in Man of Steel is GONE.

The rest of the Justice League is introduced. In the least realistic manner possible. One in particular is completely laughable. DC wanted to do something different than Marvel did. The story pays a heavy price for it.

The epic fight scene between Batman v Superman is wonderful. Fun. Exciting. It is straight out of the Dark Knight Returns. And ends with a total whimper. They completely cop out of any weight or stakes by finding a way to have every fight scene magically take place in an uninhabited area.

The running time...is easily 20 minutes too long. So many unnecessary, unfocused scenes. Batman v Superman is 5 separate better films blended together into a dense mess.

Then there is the final 5 minutes. WB swings for the fences with a huge unexpected turn. At first I was bewildered. Then I was PISSED. Then I was grudgingly admiring. By the last minute I think to myself 'you know what, that kind of saves the film.' Then the last 5 seconds of the film negate all the emotional weight of the movie.

Batman v Superman isn't a good film. But it is not awful. There are elements of greatness in this film. The elements of this film that are good, are REALLY REALLY GOOD. The fight scenes look great. Batman is compelling. I didn't even mention the dream sequence that is stunning. But neither Lex nor Superman have any real motivation. Much of the dialogue is stilted and wooden. The editing is horrific. I am torn on the future of the DCEU, especially if Zack Snyder directs Justice League pt 1, but there is enough meat on the bone for me to BARELY recommend you seeing Batman v Superman in the theater

6/10

PS: When filming a tight shot with just a character's face on the screen YOU ARE ALLOWED TO USE A STEADY CAM

PSS *Spoiler* They kill Jimmy Olsen. With out bothering to mention his name.



04 February 2016

Tonight's Episode: Up your Super Bowl Party

So you want to throw a Super Bowl party. Don't settle on Generic Wing Emporium when you can class up the party with these amazing wings.


DAB ON ‘EM WINGS
Ingredients:
.3 cup Crown Royal Canadian Whisky®
.3 cup Honey
.25 cup Soy sauce
2 Tablespoons Thai chili sauce
1 packet (0.75-ounce) stir-fry seasoning
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
4 pounds chicken wing drumettes
3 scallions (green onions), finely chopped (optional)
.25 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

Directions:In a large bowl, combine whisky, honey, soy sauce, chili sauce, stir-fry seasoning, and garlic. Add drumettes, tossing to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in refrigerator for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

Set up grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat. Oil grate when ready to start cooking. Let drumettes stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Place on hot, oiled grill. Cook for 12 to 18 minutes or until cooked through, turning occasionally. Transfer chicken to a platter. Sprinkle with chopped scallions and peanuts (optional).




You have the wings. You have guacamole. You have veggie plate no one will touch. Don't settle for bottles of pale flavored fizzy water. Upgrade your Super Bowl with these delicious cocktails

The Golden Gate
1.25 oz. Bulleit Rye 
0.5 oz. blackberry syrup
2 dashes bitters
Add ingredients to an ice-filled rocks glass. Stir and serve. 






KEEP POUNDING PUNCH (Serves 25):*recipe created by Kevin Deidrich
Ingredients:
750 ml. Bottle of George Dickel Rye
10 oz. Lemon Juice
5 oz. Ginger Syrup
15 oz. Sparkling Water
7 tbsp. Simple Syrup
Muddled Raspberries
Muddled Mint leaves
Directions:
Mix ingredients in punch bowl, add muddled fruits, chill and serve with ice.




ORANGE CRUSH PUNCH (Serves 6):
Ingredients:
9 oz. CAPTAIN MORGAN® Coconut Rum
9 oz. Orange juice
6 oz. Cranberry juice
3 oz. Ruby red grapefruit juice
 Directions: 
Combine all ingredients including Captain Morgan Coconut Rum in a pitcher and stir.




30 December 2015

Tonight's Episode: Wood-Fired Bavarian Alps in Western Washington

Over the Thanksgiving weekend The Girl and I decided to head to Bavaria for a traditional Christkindlmarkt. Luckily we now live in Seattle, so its a short 30 mile drive. "But wait a minute...." you say "when did you move to Seattle?" Hey, it happened and this isn't the time or place to discuss that Im trying to tell a story. "Sorry." Its ok, did you have any on topic questions? "Actually, yes, how are you driving from Seattle to Bavaria? I thought that was in Germany. Did Elon Musk finally build a James Bond villain super car?" Ok, first, I really need to stop talking to myself. Secondly, Western Washington has its own Bavaria.
Photo courtesy of ingejohnsson.photoshelter.com


I could wax poetic about the little town of Leavenworth. This hamlet in the Cascades reinvented itself as a Bavarian village, located where Icicle Canyon runs into the Wanatchee, is nestled in some of the most stunning landscapes in America. Approaching from Seattle US 2 (when open) is a scenic highway unparalleled for its beauty. 



The town really dresses itself for Christmas. Beautiful towering trees. Sledding hill in the center of town. Snow on the riverbanks. If you are there early enough in the year the hiking up Icicle Canyon is stunning.

And yes, they have restaurants. This tiny village of 2,000 people has 26 restaurants, a brewery, wine tasting rooms, a distillery. The main focus of most of the restaurants in town are, unsurprisingly, German. You can start off with something super authentic like King Ludwig's. This about as kitsch and authentic as you can get. The traditional rouladen, Thinly slicked beef rolls filled with a scrumptious filling of pickle, carrot and bacon, is especially tasty. They also have large family style platters that can be rather intimidating unless you brought a hungry brood.

A slightly different take on German cuisine can be found at Uncle Uli's Pub. This is the dive sports bar taking a spin through the Alps. Stop here for a section segregated from children, live sports fix, and a burger with a bratwurst patty.

The culinary highlight for us was a stop at a restaurant with no discernible Germanic influence, Sulla Vita. This upscale European small plate restaurant is tucked in between Icicle Brewery and the tasting room for Baroness cellars.

The first dish was a flank steak with wild mushroom marsala. This was a good dish. The meat was cooked well, the mushrooms were very nice, it was just missing something. Maybe just a bit more salt, maybe a little red pepper. Its a very solid dish, but just missing that extra something to make it memorable. 


The other two dishes we tried were far more successful. The first, a scallop piccata with crispy speck. This beautiful white wine sauce has just enough lemon to offset the richness, the scallops are just cooked through. Every bite is wonderful, but dipping the accompanying pita in the sauce is particularly delicious.

The third dish was a surprisingly delicious chorizo and sharp white cheddar stuffed mushroom. I'm not sure how this dish didn't end up a soggy grease bomb, but it was bright and biting with just a touch of heat. 

Leavenworth is a beautiful town in a picturesque setting. Busy weekends will turn this tiny hamlet into a mad house, but it is well worth it for the quaint village in a stunning natural landscape. Add in some very solid restaurants, and you end up with the perfect weekend get away just a short drive outside of Seattle. 




07 December 2014

Recipe: Challah & Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Salted Bourbon Caramel

I don't bake much. That's The Girl's territory normally. I do have my moments of glory though. Take this wonderful winter dessert that I debuted at Thanksgiving dinner.  A rich, decedent bread pudding that is perfect for your holiday party. 




Ingredients:

For the Bread Pudding:

1/2 loaf Challah bread (I prefer the sweetness of challah but a good brioche will work.)
4 eggs
2 cups water
2 cans sweetened condensed milk 
1 stick cinnamon 
1 Tbsp almond extract 
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins (Sultana or Currants work best)
1 cup butter in small cubes 
1 cup sweet potato puree (canned or roasted sweet potato)

1) Dice the bread into half inch squares and hold in reserve in a 9 by 13 ungreased Pyrex dish.

2) In a saucepan over medium heat combine butter, water, condensed milk, raisins, and cinnamon stick. Melt butter and allow to heat for 10 minutes.

3) Remove from heat, and remove cinnamon stick. Add spices and sweet potato. Whisk in the eggs one at a time.

4) Fold cream base into bread and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

5) Bake covered for 30 minutes or until set. While bread pudding is in oven begin the caramel (see below). Return to oven under broiler for 2-3 minutes. 

6) Top with caramel and serve!


For the Caramel:

3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup butter
2 Tbsp Raw Coconut Syrup or Cane Syrup (Light Corn Syrup will work but less flavor)
2 Tbsp High Quality Bourbon (I use Four Roses. Trust me, only use what you drink.)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

1) In a heavy saucepan on medium-high heat combine sugar, butter, syrup, and cream. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently.

2) Reduce heat to medium, boil gently for 3 minutes.

3) Remove from heat. Stir in bourbon, vanilla, and salt.

Let me know how your bread pudding turns out and have a happy and safe holiday season!

15 October 2014

Recipe: Crab and Pancetta Mac N Cheese (with Orzo)





Everyone has a go-to Mac n Cheese recipe. Mine is a surf and turf using the sweetness of lump crab and the saltiness of pancetta. The recipe below is optimized for a party, serving 10 people as a side and 6 as a main course.

Ingredients:
16oz Jumbo lump crab meat
12 oz pancetta, thin deli sliced, cut into strips
5oz unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups whole milk
6oz shredded white cheddar
6oz gruyere 
3oz shredded parmesan
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 teaspoon fenugreek 
1 teaspoon salt 
16oz orzo pasta

Directions 
1. Cut the butter into one ounce cubes. Place 4 ounces of butter in a small pot and melt slowly over low heat.

2. Add the crab meat and cook for 3-5 minutes. 


3. When cooked remove from heat and remove crab meat. Place crab meat in a large (3qt) pyrex baking dish. Preheat oven to 400 degrees


4. In a small pan cook the pancetta until slightly crispy. Combine with crab meat.


5. Place a pot on high heat with heavily salted water for boiling the orzo.


6. Melt 1 ounce butter in medium sized pot over medium/high heat. Add the flour and cook for about 2 minutes stirring constantly until the mixture browns and develops a nutty smell.


7. Stir in the heavy cream and bring to a boil. Add the milk and, again, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes.


8. Add the pepper, fenugreek, and salt to the cream sauce. Stir.


9. While this is simmering your water should have reached a roaring boil. Add orzo to your pot of boiling salted water.


10. When your cream sauce has simmered for 3 minutes slowly add the cheddar and gruyere cheeses, a handful at a time, and stir until fully incorporated.


10. When the pasta is fully cooked pour the pasta into a colander to drain off water. Place the pasta in the pyrex dish, mixing well. Add cheese sauce, again mixing well.


11. Top with mixture of panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Bake 5-10 minutes, until bread curbs brown. Serve immediately 

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