Tag Archives: Tomato Paste

Lisa’s Pizza | “The Room”

Ingredients Purchased by Blake Stilwell

Pizza Cooked by Blake Stilwell

Eaten by Blake Stilwell

Blog Post Written by Blake Stilwell

No movie has enjoyed cult status quite so hard or fast as Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room.” It is exceptional to the world of cult film for a number of reasons, the main being because it is arguably one of the worst movies ever made, yet still draws a considerable crowd at every screening. Another reason is that the Writer, Director, Producer, and Star (but not caterer) will appear in person at many of them. He even took it on a world tour that saw screenings in Europe, Australia and India, among other places. There is even a communal ritual to watching “The Room” in a theater and this involves a lot of yelling, drinking and throwing of cutlery.

Spoon

Spoons play a large part in the scenery of The Room. For some reason.

The cult status of “The Room” eclipses “the Toxic Avenger” in its campiness, “Troll 2” in its difficulty to watch or take seriously, the Rocky Horror Picture Show in audience engagement and “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” in unintentional hilarity. And that movie has Nic Cage. Yes, the Room is a very powerful movie.

Also unrivaled in “The Room” is the absolute worst idea for a pizza ever. In the movie, Lisa (Juliette Danielle) orders a pizza as a way to make Johnny (the aforementioned and ubiquitous Wiseau) either feel better about not getting promoted or celebrate his promotion, I’m never quite sure (he doesn’t get promoted, but she didn’t know that, though she makes it sound like she does… whatever). Maybe Johnny is just easy to please and a pizza would cover both outcomes. I guess Lisa would know.

Her pizza order, to me, is one of the most incredulous things about this movie. I was not surprised to find that what she ordered is not the pizza Johnny and Lisa end up eating in the movie, either. Some believe this is what we in the industry call a “continuity error.” I don’t think so.  The guys at Rifftrax perfectly sum up this situation:

That’s right. Lisa’s pizza is half pesto and artichoke, half pineapple and Canadian bacon: the Domino’s WTF Special. This is a terrible idea, not just because pineapple on pizza is an abomination and God will surely punish humanity for it, but because it is the mortal sin of going halfsies on a pizza: you can’t mix two sauces. White pizza, Alfredo, Tomato, or Garlic Butter just don’t mix. The sauce is the one thing you have to agree on.

Maybe this is Wiseau’s purpose. Maybe this pizza is a metaphor for Lisa and Johnny’s torrid love affair. Maybe the symbolism is deeper here than we know. Today, I make the pizza slices that were the first wedges in the cracks of Johnny and Lisa’s perfect romance.

Its ingredients are pretty simple, with not much work or costs involved. It is really easy to make pizza crust from scratch (bread flour, yeast, sugar and a little salt). It’s also easy to make pizza sauce from scratch (tomato paste, water, olive oil, spices). The only issue with this is that the crust is time intensive and the sauce will be hit or miss. Buying pre-made crust and sauce is really inexpensive and there are a lot of delicious kinds out there, so you get the good feeling of scratch cooking without the time or cleanup costs. And after watching the Room, you’re going to want to feel like the night wasn’t a total wash.

My ingredients:

– Instant pizza crust mix

– Pesto

– Artichokes

– Garlic butter

– Pizza sauce (I bought Furmano’s Original… not spicy, but good. I also added garlic, because garlic is the bacon of spices and seasonings)

– Pineapple tidbits

– Canadian bacon

Make the crust as directed. It will instruct you to bake it a bit before adding toppings. Please don’t ignore this step, your pizza will be come a muddled mess… I mean… more so. On the pesto-artichoke half, use a thin layer of garlic butter before spreading the pesto. It makes the pesto spread smoother and distribute more equally. Not that it’s terribly difficult to spread pesto in the first place, a little garlic butter will also make that side of the pizza more saucy and prevent the crust from getting too dry.

photo copy

And you know what to use to use to spread the pesto around, don’t you?

Then arrange your artichokes. Looks pretty good right? Now comes the heart-wrenching part (that was not an artichoke pun)… Adding tomato sauce to the other side. Also, pineapple.

photo_2

You’re tearing me apart, pizza!

If you’re going to be true to this recipe, like Johnny was to Lisa, go light on the cheese. Some of us can’t have cheese anyway. I had to be true to the recipe like Lisa was to Johny and use a cheese substitute. Veggie Shreds’ Mozzarella is actually a really good one. Pop it in the oven for about ten minutes at 375, and it comes out a nice golden brown.

photo_5

I honestly thought the combination of sauces was going to be a terrible, terrible mix… like they would mix together as the pizza dough rose and create some ungodly mix of pesto, garlic, tomato, pineapple juice, hot ham water, and whatever the artichokes were soaked in (brine?). The two sides actually were able to stay distinct (for the most part) and left me with two impressions:

1) Pesto-Artichoke is a great combination that I am definitely coming back to.

2) Only nondescript Franco-Belgian Creole-Cajuns would like pineapple on pizza.

It would probably be best for you and your on-again, off-again lover to settle on a cheese pizza, just like the cast did in the movie. Cheese pizza is something everyone can get behind.

Friends

Cheese pizza for all your friends!

Also, do not wash this pizza down with Lisa’s  “Scotchka.”

Do not drink “Scotchka” at all.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Vinnie’s Prison Tomato Sauce | “Goodfellas”

By Blake Stilwell

As far back as I could remember, I always wanted to be able to cook like a gangster. Even before I wandered into the Red Lobster for my first job, I knew I wanted to … okay, I’m just kidding. Hey, I love this movie. Everything about it is perfect. It used to make me smile every time I went to the Subway when I lived in Red Hook because my stop was by Smith and 9th and Jimmy was going to have Karen whacked on the corner of Smith and 9th.  I’m one of those goody-good people who work shitty jobs for bum paychecks and take the subway to work every day that Henry Hill talked about. Even now, every time I’m introduced to a large group of people at the same time, I think of this scene:

Of course, everything is great until the wiseguys get pinched for a shakedown. But if movies and television have taught me anything, it’s that mobsters don’t go to prisons like the rest of us. This is illustrated in one of my favorite food scenes in any movie ever made. It’s like Henry (Ray Liotta) said: Dinner in prison is a big deal. But a big dinner shouldn’t be just for wiseguys. It’s time for the big family dinner to make a comeback!  This week, so I’m posting a recipe that could please a crowd, maybe even the family.

While everyone was in prison, Vinnie was in charge of making the tomato sauce for the pasta dish. Vinnie was played by Charles Scorsese, director Martin Scorsese’s real-life father. Scorsese also cast his mother Catherine to play Tommy’s (Joe Pesci) mother. Luckily for us (and film history) he also got Catherine to cook the food seen in the film… namely the food Vinnie is cooking for the prison dinner pasta dish.

Why is lucky for us? In this scene, you don’t hear much about the ingredients involved…  Thin sliced garlic, oil, veal shanks, beef, pork, 3 small onions, 2 big cans of tomatoes. Based on this sliver of information, I could have devised an Italian-style sauce from this… but would anyone want to make a tomato sauce hacked together by some medigan from Southern Ohio? No, it’s lucky for us Catherine Scorsese cooked the food in Goodfellas because she was able to give her meat sauce recipe in to Entertainment Weekly in a 1990 article, the year Goodfellas was released.

For meat sauce:
1/2 lb. piece shank of veal, whole
1/2 lb. pork sausage
light olive oil
medium onion, chopped small
5 large garlic cloves or more, whole
6-oz. can tomato paste
2 28-oz. cans Italian-style tomatoes (preferably Redpak brand)

For meatballs:
1 lb. ground mixture of veal, beef, and pork
1 egg
grated Locatelli and sardo cheeses (this may require a trip to a deli, a Whole Foods, or a specialty store)
fresh parsley
garlic salt, optional
salt and finely ground red pepper
2 T tomato sauce
bread crumbs if needed for consistency

photo (2)

Yes they do, in fact, sell this one pound meat mixture. No need to buy three pounds of separate meats.

Sauté sausage and veal in a large pot in olive oil until a little brown. Put aside. Sauté onion and garlic cloves in the same pot until golden. Add tomato paste and 3 paste cans of water to pot. Put tomatoes through a sieve to get rid of seeds and add to pot. Cook on low flame.

When sauce starts to bubble, add salt and red pepper to taste and simmer for a while, stirring every now and then from the bottom up. Don’t put in any oregano; it keeps repeating on you.

Add the large pieces of veal and pork. Cook uncovered until meat comes apart with a fork.

Mix meatball ingredients together and roll into egg-size balls. Put raw meatballs in the sauce — do not fry them. When meatballs float to the top of the sauce (don’t stir until they do), they should be done. Simmer and stir a few more minutes.

photo

Always listen to your mother. Also, always listen to Academy Award winning Director Martin Scorsese’s mother.

Remove pieces of veal and pork, slice, and serve as a side dish with meatballs. Serve sauce over spaghetti or whatever pasta you want.

_________________

So that’s Mama Scorsese’s recipe verbatim.

photo (3)

And it is definitely worth the time and effort.

If you need clarification, I recommend a cup of bread crumbs, and minimal cheese. If the meatballs still aren’t the consistency you like, add some more, just don’t make them mealy. This makes a pretty good amount of food. The recipe originally printed says “two hearty eaters” but this will cover more like five. After cooking this recipe, I have to wonder what Paulie was slicing the garlic to make…

In reality, of course, prison is not this good. I mean, it might have been for Henry, Vinnie, Paulie, and those guys. This movie was based on the non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, after all. But just think of Jimmy, that poor Irish bastard, he was probably having a much harder time in Atlanta.

Now… take me to jail.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,