For Christmas, my friend Erin (the heretofore referenced “number one reader”) decided to indulge both the classic film fan and the latent foodie in me, and thus gifted me with Francine Segan’s book Movie Menus: Recipes for Perfect Meals with Your Favorite Films. The result of years of research, Segan’s book provides updated, time-tested recipes inspired by some of the greatest films Hollywood has to offer. Most of the recipes are quite easy to prepare, and the menus range from delicious appetizers to succulent entrees and even some decadent-looking desserts.
Segan groups the recipes by genre–from ancient Greece and Egypt, through the Renaissance and Victorian eras, straight through the American war years and today, each chapter provides multiple dining options as well as a list of suggested movies to accompany each menu. Each chapter also offers an introduction to set up the genre/historical era and concludes with party-planning tips for setting a complementary dining scene for your prepared menu. And for the movie buff in all of us, the book is sprinkled with classic quotes befitting each recipe as well as fun trivia facts and movie stills from each genre.
For the first of what will be many recipes I tackle from this book, I decided to make one of the appetizers from the initial chapter, an herbed olive spread. Segan suggests this yummy treat could accompany such films as Spartacus, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Ben-Hur, and Titus (though, thankfully, she does warn you to eat BEFORE watching this rather disturbing adaptation of Shakespeare’s play).
Herbed Olive Puree (serves 10)
1/2 cup pitted whole oil-cured black olives
1/2 cup pitted whole brine-cured green olives
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, mint, and basil
grated zest of 1 lemon
6 pita breads, cut into quarters and warmed (or toasted baguette slices)
Combine the olives, onion, olive oil, garlic, fennel seed, cumin, and coriander in a food processor and puree until smooth. Place in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow the flavors to mingle at room temperature for at least 6 hours.
Stir well and top with the minced herbs and lemon zest. Serve with warm/toasted bread.
As you can see, I chose to leave the pimentos in the green olives (thus the tiny specks of red). Frankly, I have never found a green olive that DIDN’T have something stuffed in it–pimentos, garlic cloves, even jalapenos–and I didn’t feel like taking the little red devils out of each of those suckers. I don’t think it altered the intended taste at all (besides, you need a pop of color to counteract all that green!). In fact, I quite enjoyed this spread–it has a little bit of a kick from the cumin and fennel seed, and the mint and lemon add a nice counterpoint. This may be a little salty for some, but I found it to be delicious!
I could not find pita in my local store (go figure), so I chose to serve this spread with Old London Melba Snacks brand crackers (the sea salt variety). As I mentioned before, the spread is already salty because of the olives, so if you’re overly sensitive to salt (or trying to reduce your sodium intake) you might want to try a different flavor cracker.
Overall review: Exhaustively researched and impeccably presented, Movie Menus is a fun addition to both your classic movie memorabilia and your cookbook collection and, from my brief experience with the recipes thus far, a tasty one, too!
[Thanks, Erin! :)]