Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dinner and A Movie: Shirley Valentine

Moschári Stifado

This time, Susan had chosen Shirley Valentine for

See here for the brilliant round-up.

It's hard to imagine anyone who hasn't yet seen this film; we certainly had seen it at least twice when they showed it on ITV in February. Not being one for watching films ad nauseam, I wasn't going to, I only wanted to relish the beginning again, when Shirley shares her woes with us - and the kitchen wall:

“I’ve been a wife and Mum for so long, I’ve forgotten what I wanna do. Isn’t that right, wall?”

Of course, this beginning is only a taster of what this quirky comedy about a middle-aged woman's journey to self-discovery has in store. Willy Russell's brilliant script kept me glued - not all that surprising, when it contains unforgettable dialogue nuggets such as this one,

“Yes, Milandra, I’m going to Greece for the sex. Sex for breakfast, sex for dinner, sex for tea and sex for supper!”

“Sounds like a good diet to me”

“Haven’t you heard of it? It’s called the F-plan!”

The acting is a treat, too, from Shirley's husband Joe (Bernard Hill), whose dinner is literally in the dog, to her friend Jane, played with the usual fervour by Alison Steadman, and Tom Conti's portrayal as smooth talking Greek restaurateur Costas. Pauline Collins, however, following on from her success in the stage version, surpasses them all in the lead role.

What sort of recipe would they inspire?

Midlife Crisis. Former Selves. New
Mykonos. A mountain piled high with brilliant white houses. Flecks of intensely blue and turquoise woodwork. Splashes of Mediterranean sky and sea.
The table, only a couple of steps from the beach, set for one. The sunset. The infamous boat journey.

It probably should have been something symbolic of transformation and renewal, but all I could think was: Greek Food! Stifado!! We had discovered it either in Crete or Corfu, brought back a cookery book from there, and cooked this dish frequently for a while. And then we forgot about it again. Strange, how that happens. Slipping into routines, getting stuck in a rut. Forgetting all the other things you used to love. A little bit like Shirley.

So, out came the book - Greek Cooking, Editions Dimitri Haïtalis - and off we went. -- I say "we", because I did the shopping and invited the rest of the family, but my BH did the cooking. I thought that was only fitting. After all, if Shirley's husband had been able (and willing) to cook, then maybe, just maybe, she would have had more me-time to stay in touch with her real self.

Here's the recipe as it appears in the book. Note the italics! It goes without saying that we used a lot less than a teacup of oil. The gloriously unspecific "an amount of water" also needs interpreting!! As you can see above, we used rather a lot. Of course, my BH isn't happy unless the pot, however large, is nearly full. One of the reasons why I had to invite additional eaters!!

Moschári Stifado

Beef Ragout with Onions, Vinegar and Tomato Sauce

Serves 6

1 1/2 kg of beef
1 kilo small onions (pickling onions)
1 teacup vinegar
1 teacup olive oil
2-3 ripe tomatoes, finely diced
1 bay leaf
2 cloves of garlic
pepper corns

Cut the beef into bite-sized pieces, peel the onions. Heat the olive oil in a pan, and brown the meat, add the onions (you probably have to do this in batches) and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, the tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, bay leaf, salt and pepper, and an amount of water. Simmer for about 2 hours, either on the stove or in the oven.

We had the stifado with new potatoes and lots of vegetables,

and the infamous Greek wine, Retsina - the only table wine made from real tables, as the saying goes.


Cakelaw said...

What a delicious looking stew - it sounds amazing!

Zabeena said...

Thank you! The photo doesn't actually do it justice. The vinegar intensifies all the tastes, I think, and I love the amount of small onions. But maybe the best thing about it is the happy memories!

zlamushka said...

Hi there,

Just read your inquiry about Tried and Tasted event. Sure you can participate even thought you are not vegan., I am not either (well, I try to be) :-) look forward to see what you come up with :-9

NIall Harbison said...

Good looking stew there :) Think you nailed the consistency. People turn their noses up at things like stews on menus in restaurants but I can only hope that recesion brings them back to the fore as Id have a stew over a fillet steak any day!

Gabi said...

Your stifado looks great- nice to meet you for dinner and a movie ;)

Zabeena said...

zlamushka: thanks, I'll have my entry up soon!
niall: thank you very much! Yes, I'm sure the recession will have an effect on which cuts we buy, cook and eat, and nothing quite beats a tasty stew!

Zabeena said...

Thank you Gabi, nice to meet you, too. I loved your Greecification of eggs and chips, too!

Susan @ SGCC said...

This Stifado looks absolutely wonderful! I am drooling over your picture! Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

I hope to finally have the roundup posted sometime tomorrow.