Farm Fresh and All Right: Dinner and a Movie

Staying in? We've got you covered -- both on the culinary and entertainment fronts. Now presenting Dinner and a Movie -- a guide to a do it yourself evening of food and film.

While the rest of the country is covered in snow, many of us in the Valley have citrus growing in our yards and fresh produce at any Valley Farmers' Markets. To celebrate that fact and actress Annette Benning's Golden Globe win last weekend, this week pairs an at-home farm-to-table entrée salad and Arizona wine with the film, The Kids Are All Right (2010).

Film: The Kids Are All Right (2010)

Popcorn Alternative: Popcorn with honey butter drizzle, tangerine segments, and dark chocolate shavings.

Entrée: Farm fresh local greens tossed with balsamic vinaigrette topped with over medium egg, roasted red pepper, crispy pork, fried pork wrapped Black Sphinx Dates stuffed with peppercorn chevre.

Beverage: Page Springs Cellar Vino del Barrio Red Table or your favorite Arizona produced Red.

Get the rundown on the movie and the recipes after the jump.

Film Breakdown: The Kids Are All Right (2010) is a bittersweet film that examines each facet of family love, even the painful ones. A lesbian couple, played by Benning and Julianne Moore, is facing the reality of their eighteen year old daughter preparing to leave for college. Meanwhile, the daughter, played by Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland 2009) and their fifteen year old son, played by Josh Hutcherson (Zathura 2005) contact the sperm donor who is their biological father. Mark Ruffalo plays the sperm donor who owns a farm to table restaurant and small farm. (Available on DVD or Cox On Demand)

Make it a double feature: American Beauty (1999) Annette Benning, Kevin Spacey.


Popcorn with honey butter drizzle, tangerine segments, and dark chocolate shavings.

Whisk a bit of honey (to taste) into melted butter. Pour over popcorn. Segment a tangerine (I have tangerines in my backyard, but you can use oranges, Clementine's, etc.) and place pieces in the bowl. Shred dark chocolate over the bowl and toss like you would a salad.


Farm fresh local greens tossed with balsamic vinaigrette topped with over medium egg, roasted red pepper, crispy pork, fried pork wrapped Black Sphinx Dates stuffed with peppercorn chevre.

Recently, I asked Chef Christopher Gross what he thought the most important technique a home cook should learn. He said the best thing a home cook could do to improve was to use recipes as a general guideline for a dish and to trust your instincts and be adventurous and use the ingredients that are in season and available. It is in this spirit, we approach tonight's entrée.

While the Valley has many choices for farmer's markets, the one closest to my neighborhood is the Tempe Farmer's Market. The are open from 8 until late (sometimes past midnight) and carry a variety of local products including: bread, vegetables, greens, meats, a wide selection of cheeses, and other dairy products. They even carry all natural, locally produced cleaning products.

One of the characters in the film is a farm-to-table chef and there are many scenes with characters gardening, holding fresh produce, or passing a salad bowl around the table. These scenes inspired an entrée salad topped with crispy pork and a farm egg. I asked the kind folks at Tempe Farmers' Market about local products and they showed me an impressively wide variety.

I came home with these:
-cured smoked fully cooked boneless pork loin, sliced (The Meat Store)
-black sphinx dates (Arizona Date Gardens)
-peppercorn chevre (Crow's Dairy Goat Cheese)
-day old kalamata bread, ( the day old breads are marked down)
-bag of locally grown mixed greens
-dark chocolate (Wei of Chocolate)

Dressed Greens: Clean the salad greens and place in large bowl. One option is to drizzle some olive oil (or vegetable oil) over it, add a few squeezes of lemon juice (or whatever citrus you have in your backyard), a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper and toss.

Another option is to place a bit of oil in a bowl and whisk in a honey and a little vinegar. I've used red wine, balsamic, herb infused, and white wine vinegar with a little stone ground mustard. If you have some fresh herbs, chop those up and throw in, the idea is to put your own spin on it. You want each leaf to be coated but you do not want so much as a puddle in the bottom of the bowl. Place a mound of dressed greens on the plate. From there, top salad with pepper slices, stuffed dates, crispy pork, or whatever you bring home from the Farmers' Market. The beauty of salad is that you can add just about any fruit, nut, vegetable, or protein and have a tasty dish.

For the Roasted Red Pepper: I tossed our red pepper in a cast iron pan and roasted it, turning frequently, then rubbed off the skin when it cooled a bit and sliced it into strips.

For the Crispy Pork: Fry as you would bacon until desired crispness. In fact, bacon, pancetta, or proscuitto are work well too.

For the Fried Pork Wrapped Dates stuffed with Peppercorn Chevre: Slit open the date, remove the pit, and fill with a bit of the chevre. Cut a slice of pork into strips and bind the date closed with the pork and fasten with a toothpick. I fried mine in the same pan I had used to crisp the pork.

If you like eggs: slip an over easy egg on top of the salad right before you are ready to eat it. Once you cut into it, the yolk runs out and becomes part of the dressing.

Break the bread, pour the wine, and enjoy.

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