OH, HELL YES, PLEASE!!!!

I’m leaving this picture bigger than I normally do because I want to be sure you get the full effect of the wondrous RDJ at work here.

Do you feel compelled to go see this movie yet? If not, just keep staring until the answer becomes yes.

So. It was with some trepidation that I went to see this movie. Yes, I  love RDJ, but my love for Holmes greatly outweighs that love and I did not want to see him wronged by Hollywood!

And he was not. Now, before Saturday, if you’d asked me, I would have said that I like my Holmes posh and repressing his insanity awesomeness, but RDJ plays it simmering just below the surface and it totally works – he’s got this wide-eyed, middle-distance stare where you just know his brain is miles ahead of the situation. Oh, it makes me weak in the knees! And Watson is super-cool – not a hint of bumbling or idiocy here. Jude Law’s Watson is one who may not be quite as fast as Holmes, but is definitely right on his heels.

And they have amazing chemistry! They have an easy, casual, and obvious affection for one another (The movie takes place right before Watson leaves Baker Street for greener pastures and Holmes is obviously not happy about the changes that will happen to their friendship once Watson is happily married off to Mary.) and it gives Holmes a depth that he doesn’t always have.

I thought Guy Ritchie did a really good job with it, too – it has lots of quick cuts and some quirky camera work (though it works!) and there is, of course, his trademark mumbling (I’m not entirely sure it’s not to hide RDJ’s British accent – it’s hard to tell how good it is because it’s impossible to hear him clearly at all!) which made me long for subtitles.

Mostly I’m excited for the obviously set up sequel – I always wonder why the Holmes movies avoid Professor Moriarty (I mean, come on, he’s the Napoleon of Crime – how can you not put him in your movie?!) and I think, in this case, it was to make him all the more ominous – the plot here is beneath his interest. So I’m hoping, hoping, hoping that I’m right and that we’ll see him soon!

My rating: GO! GO NOW AND SEE THIS MOVIE! REPEATEDLY!

Christmas morning brunch!

So one of those challahs my mom made went into the Drunken Caramel French Toast.

Super-easy – you make everything the night before (and it basically involves smooshing everything into a 9×13 pan) – and super-duper-yummy! Then…we had a throwdown. A cinnamon roll throwdown that pitted my dad’s grandmother’s cinnamon roll recipe:

against this year’s challenger, Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls.

Despite being at a disadvantage (I had to translate my recipe from Spanish, but it was oh, so worth it!), I declare myself the winner. I think the pumpkin cinnamon rolls came out a bit softer than my dad’s and I liked the extra depth of flavor the pumpkin added. But he still says he won (even though by the time we used the stale cinnamon rolls in a bread pudding, there were fewer of mine left in the pan). But it can’t all be sweets, so I also made a Rosemary Bacon Quiche With a Hash Brown Crust (plus two mini-quiches that are bacon-free for me).

This was a big hit! I like the idea of quiche (Eggs and cheese? Yes, please!) but am never fond of it in reality (it’s the pie crust – hate it every time!). The hash brown crust actually makes this lighter than it would ordinarily be. A nice twist on a traditional dish!

The rest of Christmas Eve Day dinner!

After all those appetizers, I decided to stick with something fairly simple for the actual dinner part of things, the Roasted Potato and Leek Soup With Crispy Shallots.

Very rich and very tasty – despite the fact that I totally burned the shallots (they went much faster than anticipated!). To go with it, my mom made not one but two challahs!

Isn’t it beautiful? No, we didn’t really eat two challah for dinner, but I needed one to go with the soup and one for the next morning (all shall be revealed soon!)… For dessert we had a problematic Eggnog Brulee.

It ended up tasting pretty good, but the consistency is not as smooth and creamy as a brulee should be – it was too reminiscent of rice or tapioca pudding for me. The eggs didn’t cook during the stovetop part of it all, but the brulee took a LOT LONGER than anticipated to cook, so maybe that had something to do with it?

Christmas Eve Day hors d’oeuvres!

After breakfast, it was back into the kitchen to press on for the next round of cooking! Up next were our hors d’oeuvres – first we had Chipotle Honey-Roasted Peanuts.

They were…pretty tasty – there were some setbacks, though. I couldn’t find chipotle chile powder, so instead I used Emeril’s seasoning which I don’t think ended up being as spicy as the chipotle chile powder would have been which was what these were really missing – the honey and sugar made them nice and sweet, but there was no heat to follow up. Also…I burned them a little bit. We were doing fine until those last 40 seconds. But they are far from inedible and I’d definitely try it again, maybe adding a considerable amount of cayenne if I still don’t have chipotle chile powder. Next, we had Brie en Croute.

I’ve done this before with jam, but the combination of the bourbon, brown sugar, and walnuts was super-duper yummy! The brie gets all soft and mushy and salty which pairs really well with the sugar-bourbon mixure. Success! Then there were Dates Stuffed With Gorgonzola Feta (because I couldn’t find spreadable gorgonzola).

Another good combination of sweet and salty – yum! We also had caviar. No, not caviar-caviar, Eggplant Caviar.

Very good, but (and I never thought I would say this) a little on the garlicky side for me. Ironically, my dad, who swears he hates garlic (he doesn’t really – he just doesn’t know that he likes it), loved this. There were also Mini Cheese Balls. These were a very clever idea (moosh a combination of cream cheese and chevre around a grape and roll in chopped pistachios) that didn’t really work out very well (my mom, the zen master of the kitchen, was finally able to finagle a solution).

As far as taste goes, they were good enough, but a little bland and lacking in the grape to cheese ratio, but that may have suffered because of the technical difficulties. And finally, there were Polenta Cups With Sweet Peppers, Manchego, and Almonds.

These…were not my favorite. I’ve never been a fan of polenta – it’s just so bland! – and here it was cold (I forgot to bring them to room temperature before serving) and slimy to boot. The filling would have been nice if I’d left out the olives (I hate olives! Also? I didn’t know you could get them pre-chopped.), but I like to follow the recipe (particularly the first time). Finally, as a palate cleanser that I totally forgot to serve, there was Orange Sorbet.

Super-yummy + super-easy = hard to beat. So, yes, mostly successful and yet, strangely unfulfilling this year. I’m choosing to blame the vicious, vicious cold that was clawing at me while I was doing all of this for my food…ennui. My tastebuds were warning me that by the time all the food was here, I wouldn’t really be able to taste it so why put in all the effort!

Stupid food ennui.

Christmas Eve Day breakfast!

So as not to overwhelm you with food and posts and pictures, I’ll try to break everything up as much as possible. The holiday baking actually began at 10:00 pm on the 23rd. Unwise, but worth it for the detour to Up in the Air it allowed us. Thanks to this late night, we had a lovely, freshly baked Cranberry-Apple Coffee Cake Wreath waiting for us the next morning!

It was very yummy – I don’t think I’d ever had a yeasted coffee cake before and it was very nice – sweet but not too sweet. And also useful because I was able to use the leftover cranberry bits from the cranberry liqueur I made. Nothing goes to waste!

To go with it, I also made scrambled eggs and added chives, goat cheese, and some lemon zest. Super tasty!

Catching up!

Oh, so good. Bittersweet, uncertain, open-ended, and more depressing than uplifting, but still, oh, so good. George Clooney is just…the man is just amazing. My mom compares him to Cary Grant – he makes every role seem effortless (I hope he doesn’t fool the Academy too well because if he hasn’t already won some awards, he deserves one and soon!).

And he’s surrounded by amazing people, too – unknown (or at least I didn’t know them) people, at that! Sure, Jason Bateman plays his boss, Zach Galifidjklsafndos (the guy from The Hangover) is one of the people he fires, and so is J.K. Skinner, but his main supporting cast (Natalie and Alex) are people I’ve never seen before (I recognized both of his sisters – one of them is Reese Witherspoon’s friend with a baby in a bar from Sweet Home, Alabama and the other one played…someone’s mother? In some movie? You’d recognize her if you saw her.)

So, yes, go see it and then tell me if you think his character learned anything or if he’ll fall back into his comfortable, and isolating, lifestyle. I can’t decide.

My rating: Go forth and see it!

Decisions, decisions…

I’m still having trouble figuring out my Christmas Eve dinner menu, but I decided to take a break to focus on tonight’s dinner menu and ended up making Sunny Anderson’s Huevos Rancheros with Black Bean Puree.

I have been meaning to make this dish for nearly a year or so now – I wanted to make it while I was house-sitting for my parents a while ago, but they didn’t have the right size ramekins, so I went to the market, bought the ingredients, and then brought home the ramekins…and proceeded to not make the recipe.

I wish I hadn’t waited so long because it’s super-easy and super-duper-yummy. I used the food processor to make the salsa in addition to making the puree and that made everything go all the faster.

And paired with the aforementioned cranberry margaritas? Perfection!