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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

More Good Movies You Might Have Missed...

by Jill Eisner
Information Services

Hi Everyone,

Here's a selection of films from our collection that I recently enjoyed.  Let me know what you think!


This is 40


Written and directed by Judd Apatow. Starring Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Jason Segel, Megan Fox, John Lithgow, Albert Brooks, and Melissa McCarthy.  2012, rated R.  Comedy.

This Is 40 is a candid and heartwarming comedy about the challenges and rewards of marriage and parenthood in the modern age. After years of marriage, Pete and Debbie are approaching a milestone meltdown. As they try to balance romance, careers, parents and children, they must also figure out how to enjoy the rest of their lives. 

Jill's note--Be forewarned, this movie is quite raunchy but extremely hilarious! 

Love Crime


Directed by Alain Corneau. Starring Ludivine Sagnier, Kristin Scott Thomas.
2010, not rated.  Mystery/Thriller. In French with English subtitles.

Within the sterile offices of a powerful multinational corporation, two women come to a face-off. Isabelle is a young executive under the orders of Christine, a powerful woman she absolutely idolizes. Confident of her control over Isabelle, Christine leads her into a confusing, perverse game of seduction and domination. A dangerous game that goes too far, to the point of no return. 

This Must Be the Place


Directed by  Paolo Sorrentino, starring Frances Mcdormand, Sean Penn and Judd Hirsch.
2011, rated R.  Comedy/Drama

An interesting departure for Sean Penn.  With the character of Cheyenne in This Must Be the Place, Penn proves there's no role he can't master. Cheyenne, a bored, retired rock star, learns that his father is close to death, and travels to New York to reconcile with him, only to arrive too late. He embarks on a quest to find his father's nemesis and persecutor, an ex-Nazi war criminal taking refuge in the U.S.  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

FPC at the CSA

I started off this past week reading Culinary Intelligence, The Art of Eating Healthy (and Really Well) by Peter Kaminsky.  His theory is that if you eat things with a high Flavor Per Calorie (FPC) ratio, then you will be eating less,  more healthfully, and will naturally lose weight. Ha!

He advocates eating the best of what's in the markets, so fresh fruits and veggies figure prominently. Sure, that works for weight loss as well as flavor, but how does that square with going to Murray's Cheese Shop in the city and buying all manner of delicious cheeses, very high in FBC, and then, of course, eating them?  Oh, OK, self-restraint has to figure in there too, I suppose.

My family and I took part in a Greenwich Village food and history tour for Mother's Day, where we were absolutely stuffed with all manner of fabulous meats (sopressata from Faicco's!), pastries (cannoli from Rocco's!), artisanal olive oils and vinegars (O and Co.'s basil olive oil and a mango balsamic vinegar drink!), and  breads (Tuscan baguette from Amy's! with Murray's cheeses!).  Afterwards, we came home to an evening with good friends for dinner, and of course enjoying some more of the goodies that I had purchased on that tour.

There really was no losing weight that weekend, although we ate some undeniably great food, high in FPC.  When my husband and I went on a tour of Italy two years ago, I did lose weight, because 1), I ate only things that looked exceptional (high in Flavor Per Calorie!), and, key difference, 2) we walked all day, every day.

The weekend progressed with Mother's Day dinner on Sunday, when we had Seared Scallops with Prosciutto from Tim Ferriss' The Four Hour Chef, prepared by my son-in-law and sons.  These were good, especially since I didn't do any of the work, but they were a bit bland.  Maybe next time add some chopped fresh herbs and a dash of cayenne pepper to the basic seared scallops recipe for a little more pizazz er, FPC?

I just joined Dogwood Farms CSA at Duke Farms in Hillsborough ( and found out that one of the first things that will be available are radishes.  I've always wanted to love radishes served as an appetizer as the French do: red radishes pretty as a picture served with fresh butter and salt, preferably sitting at a little farmhouse porch in Provence...Reality  - taking a bite of radish and having your taste buds blasted by peppery-ness so pungent that that French daydream disappears in a flash. Too much FPC!
Lunch at work.
Pink Lady radishes have changed my tune.  I found them in the organic section at Wegman's.  This variety is not red, but a gorgeous fluorescent pink, and here's the best part:  mild enough to enjoy with butter and salt on brown bread, even in the middle of New Jersey!

I scarfed down three (small) open faced radish sandwiches, while I was making this great salad, which would be just right with grilled fish, chicken or steak, or on its own for lunch, with or without wedges of hard boiled egg or a can of tuna.  I think this recipe would be good with any variety of radish, but if you can find the  Pink Ladies, they're beautiful and delicious.

(You can find current and back issues of Bon Appetit,  Cook's Illustrated, Saveur, and more at our Library.)

White Bean and Radish Salad, adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2013

1 anchovy fillets, packed in oil, drained (or you can substitute a half (or whole) can of tuna if you are a sissy so wish)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon drained capers
1/3 cup (packed) flat leaf parsley + 1/4 cup leaves left whole
3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 15 oz. can or cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch radishes, trimmed, cut into thin wedges
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and quartered

Put the fish, olive oil, capers and parsley in a blender and blend until coarsely pureed (or use an immersion blender or food processor).  Put the puree in a bowl, and mix in the vinegar, salt and pepper.  Add the beans, radishes, scallions and olives.  Mix well, taste and add more vinegar, salt and pepper if desired.  Cover and chill, garnish with the whole parsley leaves..  Tastes best after several hours marinating.

This is a basic white bean/vinaigrette recipe.  Feel free to substitute whatever looks good in the market - cherry tomatoes and feta? cucumber with mint and red onion?   Definitely high in flavor, fiber, taste and nutrition.  Take that, Murray's Cheese Shop!

Diane Whitman
Reference Librarian
Twitter: @whitlibrarian
Accidental FPC Hound

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Fish Stories/Salmon

I hated the smell of salmon cooking when I was a kid.  Well, not just salmon, but basically anything strong smelling, including shrimp. A whiff of blue cheese would send me running out of the kitchen. Friday afternoons I would feel a heavy cloud of doom approaching as I realized that we would be having fish for dinner - again - in our Catholic household. Many a piece of fried flounder got stuffed into my napkin, or covered with ketchup and choked down, nose pinched.

Now I love fish (and smelly cheese too), and wonder what it was that made me hate it so much.  I first learned to like and cook white fish fillets in my twenties.  I was a much later convert to the stronger flavor of salmon.  I would always try a bite of it, and say, yes that's good, but I don't want any more.

Then I saw it on a menu on vacation at Mohonk Mountain House with a maple soy glaze, and decided to throw caution to the wind and order it.  I ate the whole thing.

Salmon with Tomatoes:  I could eat this right now!

Since then, I've cooked salmon  50 differerent ways:  with butter and leeks, grilled with a mustard glaze, you name it, I've tried it.  But this preparation beats them all:   Salmon with Melting Cherry Tomatoes, (by Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa - Foolproof).  It creates a crispy seared crust on the salmon without overcooking it, while  the accompanying balsamic tomatoes and onions enhance the fish with just the right balance of sweetness and acidity.

That seared crust which smells so divine to me now is the result of something called the Maillard reaction, technically a chemical reaction between an amino acid and sugar which creates that change in color, texture, aroma and flavor which is so delectable.   There was an experiment done by Cook's Illustrated where they had people taste bread with the crusts removed from two types of bread:  one which had a browned crust, and the other where the crust was just lightly colored.  Tasters overwhelmingly preferred the taste of the bread from loaves whose crusts were browned, even when the crusts were not present.

What does this mean for our salmon?  Yes, the outside crust of the salmon is crunchy and delicious, but the whole of the fish is infused with that transformed, fuller flavor.  The first time I made this with awesomely fresh salmon from the Lobster House in Cape May, and it was probably the best salmon I ever ate.  The next time it was with salmon from Costco, but it was still very, very good.   Try this easy, wonderful recipe, and you may make some converts too.

Salmon with Melting Cherry Tomatoes, adapted from Ina Garten's The Barefoot Contessa - Foolproof

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped sweet onion, like Vidalia
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half through the stem
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 Tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tablespoons julienned fresh basil

one 2 lb. salmon fillet (with or without skin) cut crosswise into 4 pieces
Preheat the oven to 425 for at least 15 minutes.

In a 10" non-stick saute pan, heat up the olive oil.  Add the onion and cook over medium heat until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook for 10 - 15 minutes or until the juices have somewhat evaporated and the tomatoes are soft.

Brush the fillets all over with olive oil, and lightly salt and pepper them.  Heat a 12" cast iron skillet over the highest heat possible for 5 minutes.  Set the timer for this - you don't want to forget it, and it will smoke!  Carefully add the fillets face down (leave the skin side UP if the fillets you are using have skin on them).  And here's the important point - set a timer and do NOT move them for 4 minutes!  Then, turn them over so the skin side is down, and place in the oven for 8 minutes exactly.  Remove from the oven to a platter, cover with foil and let rest to continue cooking from the residual heat for 5 minutes.  (At this point, I removed the skin and scraped away the grayish underbelly of the salmon fillets, but you can skip this step if your diners don't object to fish with skin.)

Gently reheat the tomatoes, add the balsamic vinegar and the basil and fold in.  Serve the beautiful salmon fillets over the tomatoes.

Enjoy, including that wonderful Maillard reaction smell!

Diane Whitman
Reference Librarian
Reformed Picky Eater