Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Cookie’s Food

First off, I’d like to thank “this board” for taking the time to hear my proposal, er, read my blog. Now, we’ve all heard of the movie of Atlantis, a science fiction action-adventure film that was released by Disney back in 2001. “Now, some of you may ask, ‘Why Atlantis?’” It’s just a flop, isn’t it? “Well, that is where you’d be wrong.” Atlantis: The Lost Empire is the exciting journey of a cartographer and linguist who leads a ragtag band of specialists/plundering vandals to the greatest archeological find in recorded history. Sure, it didn’t perform as well as expected at the box office, but money’s not what’s important. (Unless you’re an “adventure capitalist.”) Atlantis is really all about discovery, teamwork, and adventure.

The lost continent of Atlantis is just a legend, right? So to go on an expedition to find it, you’ve got to be crazy. (Crazy, passionate, quirky, snarky, sweet.) The characters all have such strong, differing personalities. I wish the movie was twice as long, so I could learn more about each one. One of my favorite parts of Atlantis is when the team makes camp. The others finally accept Milo and they eat, and pitch up tents, and just talk. However, they probably would prefer to just skip that eating part. Cookie’s great and all, but his food doesn’t look much like food. When he slops “the appetizer” onto everyone’s trays, he calls it Caesar salad, escargot, and Oriental spring rolls. I call it…well I really don’t know what to call it! (I don’t even know what it is.) But I know it contains the four basic food groups: beans, bacon, whisky, and lard.

Recipe makes about 4 cups of beany cornmeal mush.

Ingredients

¼ pound dry pinto beans, rinsed and soaked in water overnight

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 small garlic clove, minced

¼ pound bacon, cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons ketchup

2 tablespoons molasses

2 tablespoons whisky

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon lard

6 cups water

1 cup yellow corn meal

Salt

Directions

Rinse the beans and soak in water overnight. Drain.

Place room temperature bacon pieces in a pot and bring to medium heat. Once the bacon pieces begin to crisp, add the onion. Cook the onion for 5 minutes and add the garlic. Cook for 30 seconds. Add beans and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the beans for 1 ½ hours.

Add ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, whisky, and lard and continue simmering for 30 minutes. Bring the beans back to a boil and add the corn meal. Stirring constantly, cook until thickened, about 3 minutes. (If it’s too thick, add some extra water.) Season with salt. Come and get it!

AtlantisTLEAtlantis M

“Thank God I lost my sense of taste years ago.” I’m just kidding. The stuff isn’t pretty, but it’s not that bad. (I don’t think you’ll be seeing any mushroom clouds if you dump it into a fire.) So are you ready for the main course? Oh, you say you couldn’t eat another bite. “Ha ha ha, don’t you worry. It’ll keep and keep and keep.”

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Advertisements

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Croissant

The Holiday Season is winding down, but we’re not out of it just yet. We still have the sixth of “Januervy” to consider. Of course it’s Epiphany, but did you know it’s also Topsy Turvy Day? (Yes, I’m talking about the one from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.) Hunchback has always been one of my top Disney movies, (Even as a kid, I liked how serious it is. The only thing I hate is Quasimodo getting his heart broken.) so every year I try to do something silly to celebrate Topsy Turvy Day. Unfortunately, every year I end up completely forgetting about it, waking up on the 7th, and immediately thinking, “Dang it! I missed it again.” Well it’s not happening this year! I came prepared. Sort of. I haven’t come up with actual topsy turvy, upsy daisy things to do yet. And it’s not like I can just stroll on down to the Feast of Fools and bob for snails or play “Dunk The Monk.” But I can at least watch Hunchback and eat yummy food. (Yeah, that’s as far as I’ve gotten, but what can you expect when I keep missing the holiday?) Ah, what food, pray tell? Here’s a hint. It’s from another wonderful song from this movie. (My Hunchback soundtrack has a lot of miles on it.)

In “A Guy Like You,” Hugo compares Quasimodo’s physical appearance to a croissant, which is a strange compliment but Hugo means well. (After all, he’s the fat, stupid one with the big mouth.) But everyone loves croissants, so since Quasimodo is shaped like one, there’s no question that everyone loves him. He’s my favorite character. I think that’s more because of things like his kindness, and courage, and the fact that “Out There” makes me cry, but I’m desperately trying to justify making croissants here. So croissants it is. And these babies are not for the faint of heart. They take days to make and can be a bit of a pain, but stick around ‘til the end and you won’t be disappointed.

Recipe makes about 1 dozen croissants.

Ingredients

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups, plus 2 tablespoons bread flour

½ cup, plus 1 tablespoons water, cold

½ cup, plus 1 tablespoon whole milk, cold

¼ cup sugar

1 tablespoon instant yeast

1 ½ teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 ½ sticks unsalted butter (with the highest butterfat content you can find), cold, for laminating

1 large egg, plus 1 teaspoon water for egg wash

 

Directions

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flours and salt. Add the sugar and instant yeast. Add the water, milk, and the 3 tablespoons of butter. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed for 3 minutes. You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl once. Turn out the dough onto a very lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth, about 3 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and flatten slightly. Place the dough on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

After making the dough, prepare the butter layer by cutting the 2 ½ sticks of butter in fourths, lengthwise. Arrange the butter sticks into a rectangle on top of a piece of parchment or waxed paper. Place another piece of paper on top and smash and roll the butter until it becomes an even 9 X 6 (L X W) inch rectangle. Wrap the butter slab and refrigerate overnight.

Begin the laminating process by unwrapping the dough and laying it out on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out into a rectangle with the width of it facing you. Ultimately, you’ll want the rectangle to be large enough to completely encase the butter slab without any overlap, so it’ll be about 14 X 9 inches. Place the butter slab in the center of the dough so its length is facing you. Fold the top and bottom sides of the dough so they meet in the middle without overlapping. Pinch the center and both ends together to completely seal in the butter. Turn the dough rectangle 90 degrees so it resembles a book. Completely cover the dough with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Unwrap the dough “book” and place on a lightly floured surface. Gently roll the dough out so it’s a rectangle 24 inches in length. We’re more worried about length than width, so the dough can get little wider but you don’t want more than a couple of inches. Gently run your hands under the dough to keep it from sticking. This is also where things start getting tough. If you notice the dough is fighting back or the butter is beginning to ooze, place the dough back into the fridge for 10-20 minutes. Once the dough has reached the desired length, fold one end (Top or bottom.) toward the center of the dough. Then fold the other end on top of that one. Now that it’s stacked, make sure all the edges line up perfectly. Turn the dough 90 degrees so it resembles a book again. Completely cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Unwrap the dough and repeat the rolling and folding process. Place the dough book in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Then unwrap the dough and repeat the rolling and folding process again. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Unwrap the laminated dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out into a 24 X 9 inch rectangle. If the dough begins fighting back, fold it into thirds and place in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes. Once the dough has reached the desired length, gently lift it up about an inch and allow it to shrink on both sides. Doing this now will keep the dough from shrinking after it’s been cut. If the edges of the dough rounded while being rolled, you can trim a bit off so they’re straight. Measure and mark the dough with a knife or pizza cutter, so you will be able to cut out triangles that are 3 inches wide and 9 inches long. Cut out the triangles and cut a ½ inch slit in the center of the flat end of each one. With the flat side toward you, place your hands on each side of the slit. Press your hands forward so the sides of the croissant, or the legs, get longer as you roll the dough all the way to the point. Press just enough so the layers will stick together, but be careful not to squish them. Bend the legs so the croissant forms a crescent shape and place on a baking sheet. Repeat the rolling and folding with each croissant. Leave room between the croissants on the baking sheets. Whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash and brush a thin layer on each croissant. Refrigerate the remaining egg wash. Let the croissants proof somewhere warm, but not too warm that the butter oozes out, until they have increased in size and the dough springs back when you gently press the surface, 1 ½-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with the racks in the top and lower thirds.

Brush the croissants with the remaining egg wash and bake for 10-15 minutes. Rotate the trays and bake another 10-15 minutes or until they are fully browned. Remove from the oven and let rest on their sheets for a couple minutes. Move the croissants to a wire rack and cool completely. Now you can finally eat them.

hunchback-croissant-2hunchback-of-notre-dame-croissant

My croissants aren’t perfect looking, but they’re not too shabby for my first try and they taste so good. Since I had a lot of down time while making these, I did quite a bit of thinking and I realized Quasimodo really is like a croissant. With their many layers, there’s a complexity to them that you don’t understand until you take a closer look and see them for who/what they truly are.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Pocahontas

Hardtack (Ship’s Biscuits)

“Seasons go and seasons come steady as the beating drum.” Isn’t that the truth? I can’t believe we’re entering another season already! Time just keeps pushing us along, leaving us to make choices and find our own paths in life. You’d think after all the times I watched Pocahontas I’d be prepped for this. Pocahontas is another one of my go-to Disney movies. It’s absolutely stunning and always makes me feel like a pile of mush by the end of it. The title character is courageous and understanding and has taught me to look just around the riverbend and to paint with all the colors of the wind.

Today I’m taking a cue from my beloved movie and being a little daring by making hardtack. Yeah, that’s got nothing on traveling to a new world or uniting different peoples, but it’s scary in its own right. This food (Does this still count as food?) has sustained many a traveler, soldier, etc. at sea and on foot so I’m curious to experience it first-hand. Plus, Meeko can’t seem to get enough of these biscuits, so they must be good right?

Recipe makes about seven 3-inch biscuits.

Ingredients

3 cups flour

1 1/2-2 teaspoons salt

Less than 1 cup water

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Gradually mix in water until the dough comes together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to a 1/2 inch thickness. Use a cookie or biscuit cutter to cut out rounds of dough. Mine were 3 inches in diameter but you can make them any size. Place the rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet and use a skewer or similar tool to poke a liberal amount of holes into each round.

Bake hardtack for 4 hours, turning over halfway through baking. Remove from the oven and cool completely. (If you actually want to eat one without soaking it in hot milk or something for at least 30 minutes, now would be the time because they’re still kind of soft.) Let the hardtack sit overnight to harden. Now they’re ready for anything!

Variations: Traditional hardtack was baked multiple times to extend its shelf life, so if you want to make true “molar breakers,” bake them again and let them cool completely.
There are no holes in the hardtack in the movie, so you can try making some that aren’t docked, like the one in the picture below. They get a little puffier and stay a little softer than traditional hardtack.
You can also replace the water with milk and add 2 teaspoons of sugar and 3 tablespoons of softened butter to make a tastier dough. This will result in softer hardtack that won’t keep as long.

pocahontas-meekojohnpocahontas-meeko-hardtack

Turns out hardtack’s not all that bad. I can say that because I’m not like the settlers aboard the Susan Constant who had nothing else to eat besides hardtack and gruel for months. But I do think it’s pretty good in a survivalist sort of way. I even embraced my inner John Smith and gave a softer one to a raccoon. (Yes, a live raccoon. It’s a long story.) She ate it, so I guess she liked it. Unsurprisingly, she’s camera shy, so I had to settle for a picture with my Meeko stuffed animal instead. (He’s the one that makes the fun raccoon noise when you squeeze him!) Playing with toys and hardtack makes me wonder if I’m really on the right path. As weird as it is, it’s the one I’ve chosen and I’m sticking to it.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!