Pizza and a Movie #3: Texas BBQ Chicken Pizza with Prosciutto and The Black Scorpion (1957)

The Black Scorpion centers on a misunderstood prehistoric creature who is accidentally freed from his underground cave by a volcanic eruption and proceeds to roam all of Mexico in search of friendship and understanding.

Unfortunately, he is unable to find it, so instead he decides to slash his way through thousands of locals, demolish infrastructure, and create economic chaos in an attempt to weaken the peso.

Click here for the Recipe!

Pizza and a Movie #2: Hula Heat Pizza and The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

It was 1979 when my parents first got cable television for the family… or what passed for cable television at the time.  The nation had yet to be introduced to even the seedlings of the multi-channel services movie fans have piped into their living rooms today.  Before everyone knew HBO, Z Channel, Showtime, Encore or Cinemax, they all knew ON-TV.

ON-TV was what was known as a “scrambled UHF” service, the height of broadcast sophistication at the time.  During the day, the UHF station (channel 52 where I grew up) aired its regular programming grid of Hercules cartoons and William Bendix in Life of Riley reruns.  But at 7 in the evening, ON-TV would begin transmitting recent motion pictures over the air to the station, and the image would immediately scramble on home televisions, the sound cutting out entirely.  In order to watch the movies, a converter box with a single “on-off” knob had to be rented for a whopping nineteen dollars a month.

Nineteen dollars a month.  I was ushered into puberty for the price of nineteen dollars a month.

ON-TV gave me the first opportunity to see movies which my yet-to-hit-double-digit age would have prevented me from seeing in an actual theatre.  And unlike the networks, ON-TV played the films totally uncut and unedited, finally allowing me to obtain a meager grasp of understanding on the subject of sex.  Smokey and the Bandit, Silver Streak, Animal HouseThe Deep… to this day I can’t watch any of them without still experiencing a faint twitch of pre-adolescent Catholic guilt.

It was one regular school night at home when my parents and sister came together in the living room to watch a movie starring Roger Moore entitled  The Spy Who Loved Me, and my mother allowed me to watch with them.  No one else in my family was particularly fond of James Bond, so I had no idea what to expect.  But this was the only movie playing on the only movie channel the family had, so it was automatically an event.

By the time the opening sequence –  featuring not one, but two love-making scenes and a ski chase down the side of an Austrian mountain – gave way to Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does it Better” and the film’s titles, accompanied by a bevy of naked women, swollen in all the right places, trampolining through the air and doing cartwheels on the tops of semi-automatic pistols, I was pretty sure I was watching the greatest motion picture ever produced.

Click here for the Recipe!

Señor Verde’s Slow Cooked Montezuma Chicken (Music by Sergio Mendes and ‘Brasil 66!)

For those of you out there who’ve been looking for that perfect dish to serve alongside a healthy dose of Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 on your iPod, you’ve come to the right post.

Show of hands, please?

How many of you out there don’t even own any Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66? Another show of hands, please?

For shame.

What is the fun of a meal this colorful, vibrant and swimming in flavor if you don’t serve it up with music to match its rich, kaleidoscopic, south of the border beauty?

Fear not.  I’m not hear to pass judgment.  I’m here to help.

Continue reading “Señor Verde’s Slow Cooked Montezuma Chicken (Music by Sergio Mendes and ‘Brasil 66!)” »

Herbed Avocado Spread and Harold, the Neighborhood Hitchcock Double

I have a very weird history with the avocado.  It extends back to being a child, though I don’t think I ever actually ate an avocado and subsequently learned to love its flavor, until I was well into my thirties.

I originally made this spread as the crowning ingredient to a Sunday afternoon grilled chicken, Swiss and bacon burger. Since then, I have gone back to it over and over again, incorporating it into one new meal after another: BLT’s, salads, tuna and sausage paninis. It’s a thick creamy spread with abundant chunks of avocado and a nice kick from the white wine vinegar and Kosher salt. Best of all, it’s got a slim ingredient list and takes all of about five minutes to put together.

Herbed Avocado Spread from

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 4 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 pinches Kosher salt
  • black pepper to taste

Dice or mash the avocados in a non-reactive bowl.  Add chives, parsley, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper.  Fold together until well combined.

My first memories of avocados are tied to some interesting visuals, including an Alfred Hitchcock doppelganger, a framed photo of a black and white cat that wasn’t mine, and two inadvertently bloodied inner thighs.

Continue reading “Herbed Avocado Spread and Harold, the Neighborhood Hitchcock Double” »

Señor Verde’s Baked Chicken with Hot Pepper Gravy

Last Sunday afternoon was spent at the Farmer’s Market Sur La Table “Knife Cutting Essentials” class run by Martin Gilligan, former Executive Chef at the Kyoto Grand Hotel and Gardens in downtown Los Angeles.  It was an education long overdue for me as my chopping, slicing and dicing skills up to this point have been self-taught and rather inefficient by my own admission.
Continue reading “Señor Verde’s Baked Chicken with Hot Pepper Gravy” »

Summer Tomato and Bell Pepper Soup

Here’s a soup so tangy and packed with flavor, I refused to share it with anyone… not even MG. In fact, I went out of my way to call him up after I polished off my first bowl to say, “I made an amazing soup tonight… and guess what? You’re not getting any of it!” I guess that’s a little bit of the “baby brother” coming out of me. I am the youngest of four, after all.

Or it could just be that I’m a jerk.

But guess what? I don’t care. This soup really is that good. Let this soup bring out the snotty selfish possessive brat in you.

And luckily, it’s as incredibly easy to make as it is powerfully delicious, so I suggest doubling the recipe below and making two batches, labeling one “Yours,” and the other one “NOT YOURS.” Then invite over loved ones to feast on it.

Not only was it a quick prep, but the ingredient list is also amazingly simple. The only ingredient I didn’t already have in my kitchen was the goat cheese which is a nice finishing touch, but isn’t even necessary to make this baby sing.

Serve it cold in the warm months, and heat it up the night you trim the Christmas tree.

And no, a grilled mozzarella, tomato and basil sandwich wouldn’t hurt the situation either, in case you might have been concerned about that.

Summer Tomato and Bell Pepper Soup from Epicurious

  • 2 1/4 cups tomato juice
  • 1 1/3 cups finely chopped tomatoes (about 11 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup (generous) finely chopped roasted red bell peppers from jar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon prepared white horseradish
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • Generous dash of hot pepper sauce
  • Fine sea salt
  • 4 1/3-inch-thick rounds soft fresh goat cheese
  • 6 grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
  • Additional extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)

Combine first 8 ingredients in large bowl; whisk to blend. Season soup to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled and flavors blend, at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 6 hours ahead. Keep chilled.
Ladle soup into 4 bowls. Top each with 1 goat cheese round and 3 grape tomato halves. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and basil. Drizzle with oil and serve.