Last weekend, a group of friends decided to devote a Sunday afternoon to watching Angels in America: an HBO mini-series adapted from Tony Kushner’s play of the same name that focuses on the social and political consequences from the AIDs epidemic of the 1980s. Running at a total of 6 hours, we managed to watch only four the of the six chapters (watching the remaining 2 the next night). Seeing as how this 4 hours of material, we thought it could be fun to pair a meal with our viewing. Trying to be clever yet not too campy, we went for the following menu:
◊ Caprese Salad with Balsamic Vinegar
◊ Roasted Cauliflower
◊ Deviled Eggs with Curry and Paprika
◊ Angel Hair Pasta with Leek-Squash Purée
◊ Angel Food Cake with Lemon-Lime Curd and Fresh Fruit Assortment
While I would love to share all of these with you, I am only going to focus on three of the menu items, starting with the cauliflower – I love this recipe! The beauty of Roasted Cauliflower is that while it is utterly simple to do, the result is so addictive you’ll be going back for thirds. We paired it with this event given its “cloud-like” resemblance. Give this heavenly recipe a try by clicking HERE.
This next dish, Angel Hair Pasta with Leek-Squash Purée, will take a little more explanation than the cauliflower – let me start by saying, aside from being “Angel Hair Pasta”, this dish was an attempt to create a vegan pasta that even meatlovers could enjoy. I didn’t want the basic tomato sauce, and tossing the pasta with roasted vegetables also felt uninspiring. Walking through the aisle at my local co-op, I noticed all of the beautiful summer produce. It was then I happened on a thought: pureed vegetables…plus pasta…can it work? The answer is undeniably YES!
I chose a vegetarian warhorse: the leek. When sauteed, these onion-like vegetables take on a sweet, subtle taste with a butter-like texture; making them perfect for a “butter-less” sauce to go with pasta! Sort of sticking to the “angelic” theme, I wanted the second vegetable to also be light, making the summer squash that were buy 1 get 1 free an awesome coincidence! The rest of the recipe was pure improv – it basically was a soup that I added wine to for an extra edge of taste. I used my handy-dandy food processor, but feel free to an immersion or standing blender. Learn how to make this unique vegan pasta dish by clicking HERE.
You knew this last one had to be on the menu – it was too easy. A cake so beautifully white in color, with a texture equally light and fluffy, that is “must be fit for angels.” Angel Food Cake was thus the first pairing I came up with for this dinner. The cake is made with no butter or oil, only sugar, flour, and a TON of egg whites. The history of Angel Food Cake is relatively obscure, but most agree the cake’s origin was a frugal means of using up leftover whites (the yolks having been used for noodles, custards, etc).
Funny thing is, my predicament was the exact opposite. How was I going to use up 12 whole egg yolks?! The other half of this pairing was going to acknowledge the story’s prominent theme of same-sex relationships. Per the suggestion of my friend and CK regular Tim Wilfong, we selected a potpourri of colorful fruit to top the cake. Originally intending to just use whipped cream, I couldn’t shake the idea of wasting 12 whole yolks. The perfect solution was using the logic of its origins: custard. Having just bought a ton of limes and lemons from the store, a lemon-lime curd sounded all too perfect, and it was…almost too perfect…like we couldn’t stop eating the stuff kind of perfect. Click HERE to check out how to make this beautiful cake and custard duo (or to make use of an entire carton of eggs, in case you’re curious).
At first I thought I might pair an external work with these recipes, but then researched the actual soundtrack for the movie. It was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media. The soundtrack was both composed and conducted by Thomas Newman. Newman’s film repertoire is quite impressive, with titles such as The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and Finding Nemo to his name. When I also saw that Steve Kujala (a jazz/contemporary flutist who I’ve long admired) is one of the performers, I knew I had to use this soundtrack for the musical pairing. Below is the opening title from the miniseries. Again, definitely check out this HBO series when you have the time – it is a beautiful story. Enjoy!