Thursday, July 28, 2016

The 50 Best Animated Films (so far)

With LBA and SoBA in the house, I've seen my fair share of animated films.  So when this list came out, I knew I needed to comment.  There's a lot on Japanese anime on this list, which I haven't seen many of.  What say you? My comments in italic. From The Playlist via kottke.

50. "Brave" - I haven't seen this movie. When Mrs. BA took the boys to see this, I went to see Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
49. “The Pirates! Band Of Misfits” (2012) - haven't seen it
48. “Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs” (2009) - a cute film.
47. “Tokyo Godfathers” (2003) - haven't seen it
46. “Frankenweenie” (2012) - I think LBA and SoBA have seen pieces of this
45. “Zootopia” (2016) - "What.  Do.  You.   Call.  A.  Three.  Humped.   Camel?        Pregnant."
44. “Kung Fu Panda” (2008) - Jack Black is pretty good.
43. “Shaun The Sheep Movie” (2015) - haven't seen it
42. “Paprika” (2006) - haven't seen it
41. “Song Of the Sea” (2014) - haven't seen it
40. “Sita Sings The Blues” (2008) - haven't seen it
39. “Boy & The World” (2013) - haven't seen it
38. “April And The Extraordinary World” (2015)  - haven't seen it
37. “The Adventures of Tintin” (2011) - I grew up reading these books and I enjoyed this movie.
36. “Ponyo” (2008) - haven't seen it
35. “The Illusionist” (2010) - haven't seen it
34. “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” (2006) - haven't seen it
33. “Ernest & Celestine” (2012) - haven't seen it
32. “Wolf Children” (2012) - haven't seen it
31. “The Secret Of Kells” (2009) - haven't seen it
30. “The Emperor’s New Groove” (2000) - Disney, and based on its ranking not one of the better ones, but not bad.
29. “Mary And Max” (2009) - haven't seen it
28. “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit” (2005) - a bit creepy, but amusing.
27. “Lilo & Stitch” (2002) - more Disney, and a cute film.
26. "Winnie The Pooh” (2011) - the books are better.
25. “Rango” (2011) - For some reason SoBA and LBA have a thing for this one.
24. “A Town Called Panic” (2009) - haven't seen it
23. “Millennium Actress” (2001) - haven't seen it
22. “Monster House” (2006) - haven't seen it
21. “How To Train Your Dragon” (2010) - SoBA and LBA also tend toward sequels, and this one is actually not as good as the second one.
20. “Finding Nemo” (2003) - into the Pixar movies we go - Mrs. BA and the boys went to see the sequel a week or so ago - I have yet to see it.  This one would be higher on my list.
19. “Monsters, Inc.” (2001) - MIKE WAZOWSKI!  KITTY! One of my favorites.
18. “Toy Story 3” (2010) - appropriate that this is here, the others are better, but I still can't watch the end of this one without crying.
17. “Anomalisa” (2015) - haven't seen it
16. “Coraline” (2009) - haven't seen it
15. “The Lego Movie” (2014) - well it is AWESOME.
14. “Ratatouille” (2007) - Mrs. BA doesn't like this one, because she doesn't do rats.
13. “Chicken Run” (2000) - I've seen pieces of it, but it's not one of my favorites.
12. “Persepolis” (2007) - haven't seen it
11. “Wall-E” (2008) - doesn't do it for me.
10. “The Wind Rises” (2013) - haven't seen it
9. “Waltz With Bashir” (2008) - haven't seen it
8. “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009) - not a bad movie, but I wouldn't call it "animated"
7. “The Tale Of Princess Kaguya” (2013) - haven't seen it
6. “Inside Out” (2015) - I haven't seen this yet, but the boys have.
5. “The Triplets of Belleville” (2003) - haven't seen it
4. “It’s Such A Beautiful Day” (2012) - haven't seen it
3. “Up” (2009) - I don't know if this one should be this high?
2. “The Incredibles” (2004) - another good one but #2?
1. “Spirited Away” (2001) - haven't seen it

I'm wishing there were more Disney movies on this list.  101 Dalmatians?  Any of the Shrek movies?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Coffee-Caramel Creme Brulee

Mrs. BA and I just returned from a weekend jaunt to Boston, where she went on a field trip for her volunteer board work.  As part of that field trip, we enjoyed a really, really, really good dinner at The Country Club at Brookline.

We started with passed appetizers and cocktails in our private sitting room.  Then we moved into a private dining room and were served a deconstructed lobster roll (Mrs. BA, who's not fond of the crustaceans, was given a lamb carpaccio, which practically melted in her mouth).  We then had a cold summer squash soup, followed by the main course of a veal chop with crabmeat on top.  Dessert was a creme brulee.

So now, I need to have more creme brulee (I may have finished Mrs. BA's after finishing my own).  Here's a recipe that showed up in my inbox a while back.  Hey, I own a torch.  I have sugar and coffee in the house (from Epicurious).

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided 
  • 1/4 cup dark-roast coffee beans (such as French roast; about 3/4 ounce), crushed with mallet in plastic bag 
  • 1 cup sugar, divided 
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 2 cups half and half 
  • 8 large egg yolks 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 8 teaspoons raw sugar* 
Bring 1 cup cream and coffee beans to simmer in heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat; cover and let steep at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Stir 2/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber, swirling pan occasionally, about 11 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Add remaining 1 cup whipping cream (mixture will bubble up). Stir over low heat until caramel is smooth. Stir in half and half. Strain coffee-infused cream into caramel cream; discard coffee beans in strainer.

Whisk yolks, salt, and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in cream mixture. Strain custard into large measuring cup.

Arrange eight 2/3-to 3/4-cup ramekins or custard cups in roasting pan. Divide custard among ramekins. Add enough warm water to roasting pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins or custard cups.

Bake custards until just set in center, 65 to 70 minutes. Transfer custards from water bath directly to refrigerator. Chill uncovered until cold, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.

Sprinkle top of each custard with 1 teaspoon raw sugar. Using kitchen torch, melt sugar on each custard until deep amber. (Alternatively, preheat broiler. Arrange custards on small rimmed baking sheet; broil until sugar topping melts and browns, about 2 minutes.) Refrigerate custards until sugar topping hardens, at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour (do not chill longer than 1 hour or topping will start to soften). Serve custards cold.

*  Also called turbinado or demerara sugar; available at most supermarkets and at natural foods stores.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Space: The Final Frontier

Today is the anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing, July 20, 1969.  As of today (and for the foreseeable future, it would seem), there have only been 12 men who have walked on the moon.  They are part of a group of individuals who have been in space.  Anyone want to hazard a guess as to how many people that is?

(as of November 2013, from Wikipedia)

So on this anniversary, here is a list of those "Brave Astronauts" who journeyed to the moon.  Of that number, only seven are still alive. (originally from kottke)
  1. Neil Armstrong, 1930-2012
  2. Buzz Aldrin, b. 1930
  3. Pete Conrad, 1930-1999
  4. Alan Bean, b. 1932
  5. Alan Shepard, 1923-1998
  6. Edgar Mitchell, 1930-2016
  7. David Scott, b. 1932
  8. James Irwin, 1930-1991
  9. John W. Young, b. 1930
  10. Charles Duke, b. 1935
  11. Eugene Cernan, b. 1934
  12. Harrison Schmitt, b. 1935
Here's a video mashup of space movies, for your entertainment (Luc Bergeron's Space Story, via kottke)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Raspberry Coffee Cake

I commented recently that it's possible that raspberries are my favorite fruit. That was when my neighbor produced some raspberry pie for me.  Then a week or so later, I fell victim to a Costco impulse purchase after getting a sample of their new coffee cake.  Now, with this recipe, I can combine the two.  From Just So Tasty via BuzzFeed.

Raspberry Coffee Cake 
Prep time: 35 mins 
Cook time: 55 mins 
Total time: 1 hour 30 mins 
Serves: One 9-inch Cake, about 10 pieces 

For the Streusel
  • ½ cup cold, unsalted butter cut into cubes 
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned & leveled 
  • ⅓ cup lightly packed brown sugar, light or dark 
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 and ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon 
For the Coffee Cake
  • 1 and ½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned & leveled 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt, to taste 
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla 
  • ¼ cup sour cream, room temperature 
  • ½ cup buttermilk, room temperature 
  • 2 and ½ cups fresh raspberries (I do not recommend using frozen berries because they'll add too much water to the cake) 
For the Glaze
  • 3 tablespoons milk, half-and-half or cream 
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1 cup icing/confectioner's/powdered sugar 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease a 9 inch round springform pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray and lightly flour. Set aside. 
  2. Make the streusel. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugars & cinnamon used in the streusel whisking gently. Add the ½ cup butter cut into chunks and cut in using a pastry cutter or fork until the mixture is crumbly and similar in consistency to wet sand. Set aside. 
  3. Make the cake batter. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a separate large bowl using a hand-held or electric mixer beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add in the eggs and vanilla and continue beating until combined (about 30 seconds to 1 minute). Turn off the mixer and stir in the sour cream using a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Then turn back on the mixer to low and carefully add in about ½ half of the flour mixture followed by about ½ of the buttermilk. Repeat with the second half of the flour mixture and buttermilk until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl using your rubber spoon or spatula as necessary until well combined. 
  4. Pour/spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Place the raspberries on top of the cake batter to create an even layer. Then sprinkle the streusel on top of the raspberries by crumbling it in between your fingers & fists until an even layer of crumble covers the raspberries. 
  5. Bake in your prepared oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick in the center of the cake comes out clean. 
  6. Gently trace around the edges of the pan with a thin knife, then allow the cake to cool fully in the pan.
  7. To make the glaze, whisk together the milk/cream, vanilla & powdered sugar until a smooth consistency is reached and no lumps remain. Add a little extra milk/cream or powdered sugar as necessary. Then when ready to serve unclamp the ring around the springform pan, cut into pieces and drizzle with glaze.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The New Englandah Burgah

I'm one of those people that likes to dip bacon or sausage in maple syrup.  When I spotted this recipe, I knew that I've found something worthwhile trying to create at the launchpad. From Food52 via BuzzFeed.
The New Englandah Burgah
By Chef Jason Royal
July 19, 2010

Author Notes: This came from my mind when I was a student at The Culinary Institute of America. We had to create a menu item based on where we lived. Since I am from New England I created this burger with ingredients that you can find or originate in New England. This was a hit at both the CIA and at the restaurant I worked at. - Chef Jason Royal

Food52 Review: We were intrigued not only by the name of this burger, but by the juxtaposition of savory and sweet. This could easily go too far, but Chef Jason manages to rein it in, inspiring harmony rather than a cacophony of flavors. The burger themselves have a faint sweetness from the maple syrup, and this is enhanced by the grilled apples; the salty crunch of the bacon and the tang of cheddar provide the perfect counterpoints. This is a burger that requires a ravenous appetite and begs to be eaten in generous mouthfuls, each including all of the different components. - The Editors

Makes 2 large burgers
  • 1 pound 80-85% lean Black Angus ground beef 
  • 1/4 cup Pure New England maple syrup, plus more for basting 
  • 4 thick slices applewood smoked bacon 
  • 1 MacIntosh apple 
  • 4 slices Vermont cheddar cheese 
  • 2 Bulkie rolls 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • 2 bottles blueberry beer

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the beef, 1/4 cup maple syrup, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well using your hands. Form into 2 8-ounce patties. Set aside in the refrigerator. 
  2. Cook the bacon on the grill, in a skillet, or in the oven. Peel and slice the apple. Place in small bowl and sprinkle lemon juice over the slices to prevent browning. 
  3. Place the apple slices on grill and cook for about one minute on each side. Remove and set aside. 
  4. Grill the burgers over high heat, turn after 3 or 4 minutes and move to a cooler part of the grill. Drizzle some maple syrup over the burgers as they cook. Toast the buns as the burgers cook. 
  5. When the burgers are cooked to your liking, take two slices or more of bacon and place on top of each burger. Arrange some apple slices on top of the bacon. 
  6. Place a slice of cheese on top of each burger, cover the grill and let melt for about a minute. 
  7. Place the burgers on the buns. 
  8. Serve with blueberry beer. 
  9. Enjoy.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Independence Day! Toast to the Founders!

Today is the 240th birthday for the United States.  It is also the 87th birthday of The Brave Astronaut's Father - so if you see him, be sure to wish him a happy day.  The Clan will be in NY soon to wish him well along with my siblings. There is likely to be card playing, which comes with greasy cheese pizza and drinking.

So here's a few Sangria recipes to keep us lubricated during the visit.  Hey Brave Astronaut Sister get those ingredients.  The Brave Astronaut Brother should plan to stop at the NH State Liquor Store!

If anyone is interested, I would like the first and the last over the other two.

Strawberry Lemonade Sangria
Servings: 6-8
  • 2 lbs strawberries, sliced 
  • 1 lemon, sliced 
  • 1 bottle white wine 
  • 1 cup white rum 
  • 4 cups lemonade 
  • 2 cups champagne 
  • Lemon slices for garnish

Preparation: In a large pitcher, combine the strawberries, lemon, wine, rum, and lemonade. Stir until mixed. Chill for at least 4 hours. Add the champagne, then serve with a lemon slice on each glass!

Mixed Berry Sangria

Servings: 6-8
  • 1 cup blackberries 
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced 
  • 1 cup blueberries 
  • 1 bottle red wine 
  • 1 cup brandy 
  • 3 cups apple juice 
  • 2 cups lemon-lime soda 
  • Strawberries for garnish 
Preparation: In a large pitcher, combine the blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, red wine, brandy, and apple juice. Stir until mixed. Chill for at least 4 hours. Add the lemon-lime soda, then serve with a strawberry on each glass!

Mango Pineapple Sangria
Servings: 6-8
  • 2 cups pineapple, diced 
  • 3 mangos, diced 
  • 1 bottle red wine 
  • 1 cup brandy 
  • 3 cups pineapple juice 
  • 2 cups orange soda 
  • Pineapple wedges for garnish 

Preparation: In a large pitcher, combine the pineapples, mangoes, wine, brandy, and pineapple juice. Stir until mixed. Chill for at least 4 hours. Add the soda, then serve with a pineapple wedge on each glass!

Raspberry Peach Sangria 
Servings: 6-8
  • 3 white peaches, sliced 
  • 2 cups raspberries 
  • 1 bottle rosé 
  • 1 cup white rum 
  • 4 cups peach nectar 
  • 1 cup champagne 
  • Peach slices for garnish 

Preparation: In a large pitcher, combine the peaches, raspberries, rosé, rum, and peach nectar. Stir until mixed. Chill for at least 4 hours. Add the champagne, then serve with a peach slice on each glass!