Because honestly, lunch was one of the best parts of the day in school anyway.
Sometime a few months ago, I discovered the Youtube channel “Binging With Babish” and fell instantly in love. Binging With Babish is run by a filmmaker and amateur chef, who got curious about what the food depicted in movies and television actually might taste like – so he started trying the food out, trying to recreate the dish as depicted wherever possible, even if it was something utterly terrible-sounding like the candy breakfast pasta from Elf. Or, he would come up with his own creation, like with the pigeon pie in his Game of Thrones episode here.
That was actually the first of his videos I saw, and gives a good idea of his approach; he’s smart about cooking, he tries to stay true to the spirit of the original dish, and he’s funny. I was sold, and I’ve been watching his videos a lot in between movies for the Crash Course.
And when I saw he had a cookbook just come out, it immediately went on my Amazon wish list – and arrived as one of my Christmas gifts, courtesy of an aunt and uncle (thanks, Peter and Ellen!). I immediately started flipping through it and making notes; there are some of the recipes featured in the videos, but also some that make their inaugural appearance in the books. Of course I wanted to play. And then I noticed – about a dozen or so of the recipes correspond with movies from the Crash Course list, which offers the perfect excuse to play around.
And thus has the Movie Crash Course acquired a Home Ec elective. Going forward, after I review any of the movies from the list that have a corresponding recipe from Binging with Babish – either something from the book, or something on his Youtube channel – I’ll try it out, and report back. There are some exciting-sounding things to try out, like a French Toast recipe inspired by Kramer Vs. Kramer, a gelato inspired by Roman Holiday and crème brulee for Amelie. Some things sound really ambitious, like the Peking Duck from A Christmas Story; although, I’m going to be spared the most labor-intensive dish, fortunately (he has a recipe for the timpano from Big Night, a movie which is not on my list), but the last recipe on the list is going to be the fussy “courtesan au chocolat” pastry from Grand Budapest Hotel – that is three chocolate cream puffs, in three different sizes, stacked on top of each other and bedecked in Wes Anderson pastels.
And my first recipe….well, I already tried it, and was honestly hoping to have it featured here today: it’s a recipe for dinner rolls as tribute to The Gold Rush, inspired by Charlie Chaplin’s dancing-dinner-rolls schtick. And I did try it out this weekend.
However. Much as I love this cookbook, he does assume that the reader has a standing mixer, which can knead bread dough by proxy for the cook. I….do not have a standing mixer. So instead of the thorough 3-minute mechanical kneading the dough should have gone through, it only got about a minute and a half of me with a bowl and a wooden spoon trying to mimic the motions of a hand mixer as well as I could before my right bicep went numb.
And then to add insult to injury, my yeast was a little on the aged side. Still able to proof, but not quite so enthusiastically. And I was also cooking in the middle of a flippin’ arctic weather system that has settled over New York like a glacier for the past several days, so the advice to “let the dough rise two hours in a warm place” was pretty much impossible. I forged ahead anyway, even as far as “slashing the rolls with a sharp knife before putting them in the oven” – but all my knives were too dull.
So my rolls were….well, they were actually downright tasty. I ate two with dinner the night I made them, and then a further three as a midnight snack the next night and brought two to work with me yesterday. But what they weren’t was photogenic. So I’m considering this a test run, and will be trying again on a warmer day with fresher yeast and a sharper knife for the shaping step. And….maybe I’ll hint broadly for a stand mixer when my birthday rolls around first, as well. I’ve actually got ample time – the next featured recipe isn’t until I get to a cocktail from Casablanca and that’s quite a ways off yet.