This week, the cooking decisions are a little difficult. My family is coming to town as I write this (Saturday). I suspect that we will be sharing a number of meals out. I don't have quite enough stamina to pull off entertaining, so I won't be cooking for them. Besides, this is their first visit to Los Angeles, they should see more than our tiny apartment. Since my family aren't huge beef eaters (they've alread expressed a keen interest in going to Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles), I know that making anything with beef will be a safe bet not to be repeated. Tgis blends nicely with my being intrigued with the idea of dishes involving pounding meat. You know, yaking a cheap cut of meat, pounding it thin and then braising it until very tender. One recipe, Braciole as I've always known it or Involtino as it's known in Italy, is a dish I've always enjoyed when I had it but it's an proved elusive on the menus of restaurants I've gone to. I also wonder if my enjoyment of the dish was connected to the evening I was having or to the tastiness of said dish.
In one instance, it was after seeing Patrick Stewart's A Christmas Carol on Broadway and involved one of the stranger evenings I've ever had in a restaurant. I was in New York's Little Italy for the first time. I was with the infamous Gideon and the restaurant was a little eccentric. The waitress had a screaming match with her boyfriend on the phone just after taking our order. She ran our on us sobbing all the way. The cook declared that the joint was closed after us. He brought our food out family style along with a big jug of home made house red. He also joined us – not in our meal but in hoisting a glass of wine (which he declared was on him). Naturally, he was hilarious. He and Gideon could have toured the comedy circuit. I laughed until I cried and the food tasted great. The only other time I tried it was in Atlantic City at a restaurant of the same name. That time, it was in the middle of a night devoted to dancing with very attractive young men. I don't remember much save for my feet were killing me on the ride back to Philly and I'd had a very good time. IN both instances, I have no clue if the food was as good as I recall. However, I trust both Anne Burrell and Giada DeLaurentiis who have made each version. Giada's is in my cookbook, thus I am compelled to give it a try.
The other dish is one my mother made frequently, but I've improved as I became a more experienced cook. That's pepper steak – not to be confused with Steak au Poivre, which I have at some point. The former involves thinly pounding a cheap cut of beef, cutting it into strips and stir fraying it with green and red bell peppers and other ingridents. It's wonderful over rice. My variant is to brown the beef than braise it for a short while in beef stock with a touch of soy sauce. When the liquid evaporates, I remove the beef, stir fry the veggies, add a little flour to make a roux, add more stock and return the beef. Jon likes beef to be fork tender, and I've found that stir frying alone doesn't get it there. I don't season anything with salt because of the soy sauce and the possibility of packaged beef stock (alas, I've had no time to make any). I've recently learned to add fresh ginger and slivers of fresh spinach and shredded carrots just before serving. It works nicely. And I can do my veg prep in the middle of the night.
Revisiting DemonWe had the first of the interviews for the online release of Demon Under Glass. I'd been living with the characters and their stories for s few weeks now while working on the web series, so I was prepared to revisit the concepts and issues behind the film. I was delighted to find how much it still resonated with these actors. It was also delightful to see them again. Being an artist is by necessity a selfish endeavor. We're always chasing new projects or working on our crafts or promoting what we've done. And we're all likely to still have day jobs. It's very difficult to keep up with each other when not working together. Add LA's expansive geography to the mix and it gets even more difficult. To quote the ever quotable Phil, you move to a new neighborhood in LA and risk never seeing anyone again. That's one of the many reasons I like the Facebook thing. I've reconnected with folks from most of my projects without breaking stride. Thus, it was wonderful to be in the same room with Jack Donner (Dr. Richard Bassett) and Scott Levy (Captain Steubbins). I won't spoil the interview here by detailing it. Suffice it to say that they remembered the characters well and gave some wonderful comments about them and how they viewed Simon and Joe McKay. Jack had some fascinating views on how he saw Bassett's lief post Delphi that I am likely to use in the web series. Scott's views reflected his real life experience as a US Marine and he was most interested in reprising the role to haunt the survivors in their nightmares. It was a real hoot. I can't wait to do the next wave this Wednesday.
Another fabulous thing that happened related to Demon Under Glass was finding a cadre of heretofore unknown fans. I knew there were quite a number out there. We'd have spikes in sales of the novelization of the film now and then. And there would be spikes in the blog hits when I talked about the film. But I finally chatted with some who had been doing some amazing things on youtube with our footage. This highly creative group even made 3D avatars of Simon and Joe that live in an online community (here are those links: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
As I've said earlier, my family is in town making sure I'm well on the mend. I have to go now as I'm tired out from doing some tourist type things in Hollywood today. I'll detail those adventures and the fun stuff we're doing this week next Sunday. I also have a lot to say about season and series finales from my slate of TV shows.