Monthly Archives: February 2005

The Morning After: Chocolate Cake!

February 28, 2005

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INT. MR. R’S MANSION–BEDROOM–DAWN

Mr. R. tosses worn invitations to the coveted Oscar parties on the bed. He unfastens the diamond cufflinks from his new tuxedo and places them on a gold tray in his cherry armoire.

The early morning light fills the room as he sinks into the plump, king-size bed. He falls back on the pillow and looks at the clock on the nightstand. It reads 6:32AM.

His eyes lock on a dish carefully placed next to the clock. A decadent slice of warm, chocolate cake is accompanied by an icy glass of milk.

After-Party Chocolate Cake

8 oz. bittersweet Scharffen Berger chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

6 eggs, separated

1/2 c. sugar

confectioners sugar

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees.

2. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the side wall with a strip of parchment paper.

3. In the bowl of a double-boiler, combine butter and chopped chocolate. Add water to bottom of pan and place bowl over pan. Melt chocolate over medium heat until smooth. Remove bowl from pan and cool slightly.

4. Beat egg whites with an electric mixture until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar and beat until glossy and stiff.

5. Whisk egg yolks into chocolate mixture. Whisk in a dollop of egg whites to lighten. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites with a rubber spatula.

6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until cake is set (center may be giggly), about 40-45 minutes.

7. Cool cake for 20 minutes and remove sides of pan. Continue to cool. Dust with confectioners sugar.

This flourless cake has a light, mousse-like texture. Best served warm.

Just a Sandwich!

February 26, 2005

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INT. MR. R’S MANSION–KITCHEN–AFTERNOON

In one corner of the massive kitchen, a small kitchen table stands with two chairs. It is an old wooden table that could be found in any normal-sized home, but looks distinctly out of place in this house.

Caryn sits at the table that is now covered with food magazines and the same weathered cookbooks previously seen on her own desk. She is intoxicated with her reading when she is startled by Mr. R. coming in through the back door.

She looks up, unable to transition from her dreamworld into reality so quickly. Mr. R. passes through the kitchen without speaking to her.

When the door closes, she exhales.

The door to the dining room swings open again and Mr. R pokes his head in.

MR. R

I’m not in the mood for much dinner.

Maybe just a sandwich.

He leaves as quickly as he appeared. Caryn reluctantly starts cleaning up the table, disappointed.

CARYN

Just a sandwich.

She stacks the coobooks and magazines together.

CARYN

There’s no such thing as just a sandwich.

Chicken-Asiago Sandwich on Focaccia

6 oz. chicken breast

2 oz. Asiago cheese, sliced thinly

2 squares of focaccia (about 4″), halved

1/2 cup baby greens, such as arugala, spinach, or mixed

1 Tablespoon butter

1 Tablespoon olive oil

salt

pepper

1. Place the chicken breast between two sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap and pound to 1/4 inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Melt butter in heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned on one side (1-2 minutes). Turn chicken over and top with Asiago cheese. Cook until browned and cheese melts (another 1-2 minutes).

3. Toast focaccia halves in toaster. Brush olive oil on top halves.

4. Cut the chicken into two pieces and divide between the two bottom slices of focaccia. Top with the greens and remaining focaccia.

Serves 1 grumpy employer.

Aroma Therapy: Focaccia!

February 24, 2005

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INT. HOLLYWOOD MANSION–KITCHEN–DAY

Laden with bags of groceries, Caryn stumbles across the room where she hoists the purchases onto the counter. Exhausted already, she rests against the refrigerator.

INT. DINING ROOM–MOMENTS LATER

Caryn peeks her head through the door. The room is empty.

CARYN

Hello?

The house echoes with her voice. Convinced that there is no one around, she creeps into the room to explore.

INT. LIVING ROOM

Caryn is barely noticable in the expansive room of leather and dark, polished wood. She bumps a chair on her way through the room, but is careful to return it to its exact original position.

INT. LIBRARY

The books stretch from wall to wall, floor to ceiling. Caryn takes a handsomely bound edition off the shelf and examines it. When she opens it, the binding cracks for the first time.

A thud sounds from the other end of the house. Caryn jumps and puts the book back.

INT. KITCHEN

Caryn is relieved to find FLORA, the housekeeper, putting the groceries away. She helps Flora unpack the bags.

CARYN

Oh, hey Flora.

Flora smiles warmly at Caryn and speaks with a thick Mexican accent.

FLORA

Hi. How are you?

Caryn takes a large bunch of rosemary from the bag and inhales it deeply. She runs her fingers through the needles.

CARYN

Flora, what do you say we warm up this house with some fresh bread?

Flora smiles again. Caryn grabs a pound of flour from a bag, but it slips in her hands and the soft, white flour explodes all over the counter.

Caryn and Flora burst into giggles.

Rosemary-Onion Focaccia

(for bread machine)

1 Tablespoon active dry yeast

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 1/4 cups warm water (about 110 degrees)

1/2 cup olive oil, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chopped sweet onion

Coarse sea salt or kosher salt

1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of the sugar over the warm water. Let stand at room temperature until foamy.

2. Add the flour to the pan of the bread machine and make a well in the center.

3. In the well, add 1/2 cup of the olive oil, remaining sugar, table salt, and water-yeast mixture.

4. Use the dough-only cycle of the bread machine to process the dough, adding the rosemary and onion at the mix-in warning (about 5 minutes into the kneading cycle).

5. Line a large, heavy baking sheet with parchment paper and brush the paper with olive oil. Turn the dough out onto the baking sheet. With oiled fingers, pat dough into a rectangle or oval about 1 inch thick.

6. With your finger or the handle of a wooden spoon, make deep indentations in the top of the dough. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Cover and let rise for 20 minutes.

7. Preheat oven to 350.

8. Uncover dough and sprinkle with the coarse salt. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

Yield: 1 large focaccia

Breakfast for Dinner: French Toast!

February 20, 2005

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INT. HOLLYWOOD MANSION–KITCHEN–EVENING

A sprawling kitchen of marble and stone nearly swallows Caryn as she bends intently over the stove. She hardly seems to notice that this kitchen might better fit in a story-book palace. Her forehead is curled into an odd shape of worry over a plate of the same chicken we’ve seen before.

LAUREN, a petite woman with chestnut hair cut crisply at her chin, enters from one of the many rooms. The heels of her Manolo Blahniks click pristinely on the tiled floors.

LAUREN

He’s been waiting for his dinner for ten minutes.

Caryn garnishes the plate with a bright sprig of fresh parsley and whips it off the counter.

CARYN

It’s right here!

INT. DINING ROOM

Caryn’s hand trembles as she places the plate onto a setting at the end of a very long mahogany table. She waits patiently by the chair, swallowed again by the expansive view of Los Angeles at her back.

MR. R, every bit of his brooding and handsome screen persona, strolls in, dressed comfortably in standard Hollywood black. He stops abruptly before reaching the table.

MR. R

What’s that?

CARYN

Um, well, it’s a variation of chicken piccata with nicoise olives and–

MR. R

I don’t eat olives. Make something else.

She stares at the plate, unable to move.

MR. R

What are you waiting for? I’m starving!

She immediately snaps the plate back to the kitchen again.

INT. KITCHEN

Lauren is reviewing some papers at a counter when Caryn tosses the plate into the sink with a loud clang. Lauren looks up with a smirk and begins to gather her things.

LAUREN

There’s some leftover bread in the cabinet. Maybe you should start with something easy…like a sandwich.

She laughs to herself and clicks out the door again. Caryn opens the cabinet to find the remnants of a hearty country loaf of bread. She gently squeezes it and then shrugs her shoulders.

INT. DINING ROOM–LATER

Mr. R lounges at the table, absorbed in a dense book when Caryn enters again with a fresh plate and a small pitcher, still steaming. She places the plate in front of him, even more tentative than before, and waits.

Mr. R leisurely puts his book down and examines his dinner.

CARYN

I know it’s usually for breakfast, but–

He looks at her for the first time.

MR. R

Do you plan to ramble on while I eat?

She backs up immediately to the kitchen.

CARYN

Sorry….sir.

INT. KITCHEN–MOMENTS LATER

Caryn finishes cleaning the marble counters, shaking her head and mumbling to herself. She lovingly removes her cast-iron skillet from the hot water in the sink and dries it with a towel.

CARYN

Guess I’ll take you home again.

She stops and looks toward the door that leads to the dining room.

INT. DINING ROOM

Caryn quietly peaks her head through the door to survey the damage of her first, and probably last, day.

Mr. R’s seat is empty and the plate is wiped clean.

Country French Toast

4 thick slices of a rustic, country loaf of bread

3 eggs

3 Tablespoons milk

3 teaspoons sugar

Cinnamon

Butter for cooking

Confectioners sugar (for decoration)

1. Whisk the eggs, milk, and sugar in a bowl large enough to dip the bread slices. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon.

2. Melt butter in a wide, heavy skillet over medium-high heat.

3. Dip one slice of bread in the egg mixture and coat evenly. Place in hot skillet.

4. Sprinkle the egg mixture with cinnamon again and repeat #3 with another slice of bread until skillet is full.

5. Flip each piece when nicely browned on the bottom (about 2 minutes).

6. When all slices are browned and cooked through, transfer to a plate and sift confectioners sugar lightly over the top.

7. Serve with butter and hot maple syrup.

Serves 2.

Tips:

-Use a hearty loaf of bread with a thick crust. Slightly stale bread works nicely as it absorbs the batter.

-A cast iron skillet will ensure a nicely browned toast that doesn’t stick to the pan.

-Flip each slice only once to avoid toughness.

Chicken Piccata!

February 9, 2005

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INT. CARYN’S APARTMENT–NIGHT

WINNIE, bubbling with Vietnamese enthusiasm, and her boyfriend, VIC, a burly softy, lounge on the floor around a coffee table that once was covered with a delicious spread. Caryn removes the plate that holds the remnants of tender chicken breasts, still dripping with golden sauce.

VIC

What are you gonna make him first?

She stops and looks at Vic. Winnie looks too.

WINNIE

Honey, she’s serving what you just ate!

VIC

Chicken piccata? You’re going to make chicken piccata on your first day?

CARYN

What’s wrong with chicken piccata?

Vic squirms.

VIC

Nothing, except, probably not the best thing to serve to one of Hollywood’s hottest actors!

Caryn sits back down and leans forward towards Vic.

CARYN

Look, I’m not even remotely qualified for this job. And–

VIC

They don’t know that. I told them you have lots of experience. No one asked any questions.

CARYN

Don’t worry. They’ll figure it out on the first day that I’ve never even worked in a restaurant, let alone been someone’s personal chef.

Winnie laughs and starts clearing the rest of the dishes from the table.

WINNIE

I think you’re gonna be great!

CARYN

I think it’s gonna be a disaster.

She fiddles with her fork.

CARYN (CONT’D)

This is the last time I ask you to help me get a job.

Vic grins at her, a big toothy one.

WINNIE

Where’s the chocolate cake?

Susina!

February 5, 2005

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INT. CARYN’S APARTMENT–BATHROOM–DAY

Water from the faucet splashes into the soap bubbles, washing them away. Caryn, dressed in cleaning day sweats, is bent over the claw-foot tub, scrubbing the sides with vengeance.

From the other room, there is a loud knock. Caryn sits up and listens, unsure if it is the stereo that of course is blaring loudly too. She shakes it off and resumes her work.

INT. CARYN’S APARTMENT–LIVING ROOM–MOMENTS LATER

Caryn dries her hands as she surveys the freshly cleaned apartment. She stops and looks at the door, still wondering about the knock. When she opens the door, she discovers a small white box wrapped neatly in brown and white ribbon waiting at her feet.

The note inside the box reads: “Congratulations on the new job! See you tomorrow. Love, Winnie and Vic.”

She plops down on the couch and Punky immediately appears out of nowhere to check out the sweet scents. Caryn focuses her attention on a tantalizing confection smothered in chocolate and pistachios. The perfect selection to help forget about the aforementioned new job…

Susina Bakery

7122 Beverly Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90036

(323) 934-7900

Hours:

Mon-Thu 7am-7pm

Fri 7am-10pm

Sat 8am-10pm

Sun 8am-9pm

A marvelous European patisserie, owned by former Spago pastry chef Anna Delorefice and partner Jenna Turner. Apparently they deliver.

Oh, Baby: Baby Artichokes!

February 3, 2005

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EXT. CALIFORNIA COUNTRYSIDE–DAWN

Waves of a dark ocean crash onto the rocks of a deserted beach, protected by the sandy hills lumbering high overhead. At the top of those hills, fields of green crops stretch out to meet the early morning sun.

The crops, though, are not alone. Eager CROP WORKERS are lingering between the aisles, ready to get to work. One FARMER walks with his BROTHER.

FARMER

February’s a little early.

The two men stop to examine the crop. The farmer bends down and gently cups the pointed leaves of a fresh, round artichoke. He slowly pulls it aside to reveal smaller, seemingly fragile baby artichokes hiding from the light beneath their mother.

He looks up at his brother, a broad smile creeping across his face.

FARMER

Yeah, okay.

A sharp, machete-like knife hacks at the base of the baby chokes and they fall softly to the ground.

CUT TO:

A sharp kitchen knife slices right through the heart of a baby artichoke, the halves instantly starting to brown.

INT. CARYN’S APARTMENT–KITCHEN–EARLY EVENING

Caryn sings along to the pop song blaring from the stereo as she methodically cleans the artichokes, dowsing them with lemon juice every few seconds. Water simmers in a pot on the stove. Soft butter waits in a small saute pan.

The unusually warm breezes blow through the screen door. It is February in other parts of the country, but not here.

A stem rolls off the counter and Punky chases it under a desk full of cookbooks and papers scattered about. She is planning something.

But for now, Caryn is content with the workings of her baby artichokes. The petite greens positively sparkle…

Baby Artichokes Sauteed in Lemon Butter

2 lbs. baby artichokes (12-15 artichokes)

2 large lemons

2 tablespoons butter

salt

pepper

1. Juice half of a lemon into a bowl of cold water. Cut the other half into wedges for the cleaning of the artichokes.

2. Clean the artichokes by peeling off the leaves until the yellow, tender leaves are revealed. Cut a 1/2″ off the tops (the green part) and cut off the stem to 1/2″. Peel the remains of the leaves off the stem with a knife. Slice the artichokes in half and rub them with lemon to keep from browning. If necessary, use the pointed tip of a vegetable peeler to scoop out the fuzzy centers. Drop the halves into the bowl of water.

3. Bring a medium-sized pot of water to boil.

4. Drain the artichokes and drop in boiling water. Boil until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain.

5. Melt butter in small saute pan. Add drained artichokes and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 3-5 minutes.

6. Squeeze juice of remaining lemon half (or whole) over the artichokes and saute for 1 minute more. Serve with lemon wedges.

(Serves 2)

Bruschetta!

February 1, 2005

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EXT. LOS ANGELES CITY STREETS–DAY

Caryn weaves the old Honda through the ever-present traffic of the city. It was a nice car in its day, but that day has long passed. She turns the radio up to drown out the noise of her brakes as she squawks to a halt at a red light.

The MAN in the polished Mercedes next to her scowls at the Honda, baffled that any car can make the exact noise of an ailing heifer. Caryn turns away to avoid eye contact when she spots a sign on her left that reads “La Brea Bakery.” She sits up in her seat.

The light changes, but Caryn whips her car between oncoming traffic and into the valet parking lot of the bakery. She hops out and dashes to the store, calling back to the valet ATTENDANTS.

CARYN

I’ll only be a minute!

The attendants shake their heads in wonder, but before they can gripe, she returns and is squawking the car back into traffic.

She can’t wait. She opens the bag from the bakery to reveal a loaf of bread that looks like any country loaf. But when she tears off an end, soft, perfumed cloves of garlic appear from their hidden caverns inside.

Caryn nibbles on her bread as if it was her only ration for the week.

INT. CARYN’S DUPLEX APARTMENT–KITCHEN–NIGHT

A pile of tomatoes drains on the counter while Caryn minces fresh garlic. A buzzer on the fridge goes off and she dashes to the oven to remove a cookie sheet of small bread slices. Olive oil has painted the surfaces of the toasted slices a tender green.

Punky paces the area around his food bowls, occasionally letting out a piercing MEOW to let Caryn (and the neighborhood) know that he is hungry.

Caryn puts the bread slices piled high with cheese and a tomato mixture in the oven. It is no time before she pulls the cookie sheet out again, the bruschetta now glistening with the tomatoes and the cheese lovingly melted over the sides.

She tosses some fresh, torn basil over the bruschetta and sits down to escape the headache of the city. As she sinks her teeth into the first, crusty slice, the phone rings, pulling her back to reality. She reaches for the phone and Punky seizes the opportunity to steal his own slice of bliss from Caryn’s plate…

Bruschetta

3-4 medium tomatoes

1 fresh country loaf of bread (or other rustic loaf)

4-6 oz. whole-milk mozzarella**

2 garlic cloves, minced

6-10 basil leaves

olive oil

salt

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Peel, core and chop the tomatoes. Lightly salt the chopped tomatoes and place in a colander. Set colander over a bowl to catch juice. Let sit for 30 minutes.

3. Slice loaf into 4 thick slices and then cut slices in half. Depending on the size of the loaf, slices should be a little larger than bite-size. Brush olive oil on both sides of the bread and place the slices on a cookie sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, about 5-10 minutes.

4. Cut mozzarella into slices to fit each bread slice, up to 1/4” thick.

5. Mix tomatoes and garlic together and drizzle with a little olive oil.

6. Top each toasted bread slice with mozzarella and a generous spoonful of the tomato mixture.

7. Bake until cheese melts and begins to brown, about 10-15 minutes. It’s okay to boost the oven temperature a bit to decrease cooking time—just make sure the bread doesn’t burn on the bottom.

8. Tear basil leaves over the tops of the bruschetta and serve

**Whole-milk mozzarella melts faster and more evenly than part-skim, which means it starts to get that brown, bubbly crust before the rest of the food becomes overcooked.