Baked Israeli Coucous with Scallops and Mozzarella

I saw the movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower last week.
I cried through the entire movie. Understand that I do not usually cry during movies. The last time this happened to me, I was in the depths of some serious teen angst, and wailed my way through the entirety of Rachel Getting Married. 

Which, needless to say, I am never watching again. 

The thing is, even though I like to think that I've left my teen angst behind, some of the experiences portrayed in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and the feelings of being so young and so hurt and so confused and simultaneously so in love with life, I still carry all those with me. 
The film reminded me of some of the better/worse mistakes that I, as well as friends of mine, have made in the past several years. And it was excruciatingly painful, to see some of those mistakes reenacted all over again. I wanted to leave the theatre and go sob in a pillow, granted I didn't because I needed to find out what happened. 

Lately, whenever I realize that I have to go the grocery store AGAIN I feel a desire to start weeping with the exhaustion of growing up, because Number One on The List of Things People Do Not Tell You About Adulthood: 

You have to go to the grocery store ALL the time.

Which is frequently the anthesis of a GREAT TIME.  
I have been trying to convince myself that grocery shopping is really fun by ending things on my list in exclamation points and buying things like: Scallops! Cheese I Can't Afford! Chocolate! 

Actually the scallops I made were really great. I folded them into israeli couscous with fresh mozzarella, green beans and mushrooms. This meal was so beautifully delicious, the sheer memory of it makes me want to cry, almost as much as this did: 


Baked Israeli Couscous with Scallops and Mozzarella 

 I cooked israeli couscous (a larger version of normal couscous), combined it with some sauteed mushrooms and green beans, and added uncooked scallops and soft pieces of fresh mozzarella cheese. I baked it in a heavy glass pan in the oven at 375 F for about ten minutes, until the scallops went from translucent pink to a creamy white.  

Chocolate Whiskey Rum Bundt Cake

So I just watched the movie High Fidelity for the first time. It's fabulous
My favorite part of the film is this concept about The Top Five. In the film, your Top Five is a crucial part of your identity, a musical litmus test of your hipness, snobbishness and finally, personality. I've been thinking about my Top Five: 

Joni Mitchell     

Amy Winehouse
Bob Schneider

And then I'm stuck. I like all these whiny singer-songwriters, and I feel like I need a real BAND to complete my list. The thing is, I love so much, and picking my fifth... It's too hard. Maybe Louie Armstrong, but he's not a band. I kind of have this serious thing for The Rolling Stones. I'm actually reading this book right now: 

It's really interesting. It's also very, very long. He did a lot of drugs.

Anyways, I'm just not sure about who my fifth is.

On a similar musical note, since winter break began, I've rediscovered my adoration of Earth Wind & Fire:

It's kind of embarrassing. 
I love it.

I don't think that Earth Wind & Fire is exactly Top Five material for me. Maybe Top Ten, but no one cares about your Top Ten. I don't think my love of Earth Wind & Fire would impress the music snobs in High Fidelity. Actually I doubt that any of my Top Four + One I Haven't Figured Out Yet will impress anyone, music snob or not. 


Anyways, I started wondering what's in my Top Five of Favorite Things to Cook/Bake:

Scrambled Eggs
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Homemade Spinach Pasta
Desserts With Rum and Whiskey

Desserts with Rum and Whiskey are undoubtably The Best. There is something about the boozy, luscious quality of the liquor, that when paired with sugar and flour and butter, simply equals perfection. 

This Chocolate Whiskey Rum Bundt Cake is no exception. 

I mean, this cake is basically the reason to have a Top Five of Favorite Things to Cook. 

This recipe calls for American Whiskey, and forgive me, but I am not really a snob about liquor and figured no one would never be able to taste any difference, so I used what was left of our Irish Whiskey and then some Rum, because I really like Rum, and because I couldn't find any American Whiskey in our kitchen.  Anyways, as soon as I had combined this inventive duo with the rest of the batter, my brother informed me that we had a massive handle of Maker's Mark in the pantry. C'est la vie. 

Also, I added frosting, because obviously, a Chocolate Whiskey Rum Cake is not decadent enough. 

Also, did you know you can spell Whiskey two ways? Whiskey with and 'e' and Whisky without an 'e'. 

Who and what are in your Top Fives? 


Chocolate Whiskey Rum Bundt Cake
barely adapted from Gourmet Today by Ruth Reichl 

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process), plus 3 tablespoons for dusting pan
1 1/2 cups brewed coffee
1/2 cup American whiskey (Or Irish Whiskey or Rum or a combination of them all or whatever)
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, left at room temperature for 30 minutes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 325 F. Butter Bundt pan well, then dust with 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder; knocking out excess.
Combine coffee, whiskey, butter, and remaining 1 cup cocoa powder in a 3-quart heavy saucepan and heat over moderate heat, whisking, until butter is melted. Remove from heat, add sugar, and whisk until dissolved, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and cool for 5 minutes. 
Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
Whisk together eggs and vanilla in a small bowl, then whisk into warm chocolate mixture until well combined. Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined (batter will be thin and bubbly). 
Pour batter into Bundt pan. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan on a rack. 
Run a thin knife around sides of pan, then invert cake onto a rack. Sift confectioners' sugar over cake OR frost with My Favorite Chocolate Frosting. 

My Favorite Chocolate Frosting


Adding this frosting unfortunately makes this cake look like a large chocolate doughnut. Which is okay. Only, massive doughnuts however delicious they actually are, are not photogenic or attractive looking. Also, sprinkles are always nice. 

1 cup butter, softened
4 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/4 cups baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter. Gradually beat in confectioners sugar, cocoa and vanilla. Add enough milk until frosting reaches spreading consistency. Frost and sprinklelify. 

The Best Pie Crust

My favorite part of Waitress:

"What are you thinking about hon?"

"I'm thinking I'm gonna make an I-hate-my-husband-pie."


"I don't think we can put that on the menu hon."

It's an incredibly charming uplifting film. It's quirkly and loveable. And the story is centered around pie. Pie as a symbol of 

love. Pie as comfort. Pie is everything that people love and hope for. Some how pie dough has a reputation for trickiness. And certainly I've

had some miserably failed pie crusts. But this pie crust. This pie crust is something else. Simple. Thick. Flaky. Delicious. And when paired with a

filling of butter and cinnamon soaked apple, it's about as close to heaven on a fork as you can get. 

Basic Pie Crust from BAKED

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

3 cups flour

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup water

In a food processor whirl together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut the VERY COLD BUTTER into small pieces and blend until the mixture forms into pea-sized chunks. Dribble in water and whirl until dough just comes together. 

Take dough out of processor and knead until dough comes together. Divide into two, wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer for one hour before using.