How often during a movie have you wanted to sink your teeth into the dishes on the screen? The masterminds in Hollywood know how to conjure the most appealing images, and even some story lines leave us feeling hungry. So next time you’re opting for a cozy night in with dinner and a movie, why not use the film as the inspiration for your menu? Here are my three picks to recreate at home.
Eat, Pray, Love + Spaghetti all’Amatriciana
Have you ever fallen in love with your food? Liz Gilbert sure did in Italy, and Julia Roberts devouring a Margherita pizza in Naples will have you aching to follow suit. In fact, the entire Italy leg in this three-part trip to self-discovery may make you drool, but few food scenes on the big screen are more iconic than Roberts eating spaghetti in Rome.
Spaghetti all’Amatriciana: Each region in Italy has its own twists on the classics, but this basic recipe for Amatriciana sauce (with my slight variations) should nicely do the trick. Check the pantry because you may already have a few of these items on hand. Here’s what’s needed:
- 2-3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 28-oz can peeled tomatoes with juices
- 4 oz thinly sliced pancetta or chopped unsmoked bacon
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 2-4 cloves minced garlic (I prefer more than less)
- a few large basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 12 oz dried spaghetti
- finely grated Pecorino or Parmesan Reggiano
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (optional)
First, puree the tomatoes until creamy (with a regular or immersion blender) and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over low-medium heat and add the pancetta or chopped bacon. Saute it until the pork turns golden brown (the crispiness will depend on your preference). Then toss in the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for a minute before adding the pureed tomatoes, basil, and salt. Reduce the heat to low and stir occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until the sauce thickens. During this time, boil a pot of water and cook the pasta. Finally, incorporate the sauce into the pasta and serve with some parsley, cheese, black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Julie & Julia + Hollandaise sauce with potatoes and veggies
Julia Child may not have approved, but I think Julie Powell’s take on cooking through Childs’ cookbook was genius. Despite her difficulty at times, Amy Adams (who plays Powell) has a knack for making fans want to jump on the bandwagon and try a few recipes themselves, while Meryl Streep is simply marvelous as Mrs. Childs. Since many chefs would agree with these two women that there is no such thing as too much butter, here is a hollandaise sauce recipe!
Julia’s Hollandaise Sauce: In addition to eggs, you can drizzle it over boiled potatoes and steamed or grilled vegetables. There is also an easier blender version to this recipe, but it involves uncooked eggs, which I am hesitant to try. Here is a recipe variation that I learned while watching Childs’ TV show (or you can try the one linked)!
- 1 lemon
- 1 stick of unsalted butter
- 2 egg yolks
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- a bowl of cold water
According to Mrs. Childs: Squeeze the juice of one lemon into a small sauce pan and sprinkle salt and pepper. Place the sauce pan over low heat and stir occasionally. On the side, whisk the egg yolks in a second small sauce pan until they become thick and fluffy. Add a small bit of butter (about a teaspoon). Once the lemon juice has reduced a small amount (there won’t be a lot to begin with), remove the pan from the heat, place it in the bowl of cold water for a minute, and then whisk the juice into the eggs (in small bits at a time).
Place the pan back over the stovetop and continue whisking. Childs’ tip is to repeatedly remove the pan from the heat for a few seconds at a time as you whisk (to control the heat and thickening process). The yolk mixture is ready to remove from the heat completely when the mixture is creamy enough to see the bottom of the pan between strokes.
Continue whisking the yolk mixture off the heat and add more teaspoon-sized pieces of butter one at a time (letting them blend completely before adding the next). You’ll want to eat this soon after it’s finished or keep it warm in a thermos!
Chocolat + Chocolate gravy over biscuits, pancakes, or waffles
Who says you can’t eat dessert for dinner? Warm up a cold winter weekend with this movie and a few chocolate recipes. (The Johnny Depp scenes won’t hurt, either.) From hot chocolate with chili pepper to decadent sauces and enticing candies, there is no limit to the confectionery madness.
Chocolate Gravy: The gravy will be the superstar while biscuits provide the perfect base. Of course, you can add it to pancakes or waffles if you’re more interested in breakfast than dinner.
- 1/4 c cocoa
- 2-3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 3/4 c sugar (I like ½ cup dark sugar instead)
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 2 c milk
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1-2 tsp vanilla
Mix the cocoa, flour, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl until there are no lumps. Then pour the milk and continue mixing until it’s well blended. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it feels like gravy (which should take between 7 to 10 minutes). Immediately after removing the sauce from the heat, stir in the butter and vanilla. Spoon this creamy piece of heaven over fresh biscuits (or whatever else you choose) and ignore any guilt!