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Food and Film, an Oscar Celebration: Casablanca and Moroccan Game Hens

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The Oscar's, or Academy Awards, have become an international yearly tradition for film fans the world over. Millions of people look forward to the one day of the year when a gold plated little naked bald man takes over the media universe. Whether you love or hate the choices of the academy members, the fact-of-the-matter is, the Oscar's are a cause for celebration -- and what better way to celebrate than with food! This year we'll celebrate with some great food from the films which have taken home the Oscar for Best Picture.

Casablanca (Best Picture, 1943): Whenever you see a Top Ten movie list or survey, you will always find the classic World War II drama Casablanca on that list. The storyline itself is pretty simple: What happens when fate brings two former lovers together in the exotic and mysterious Moroccan city of Casablanca? Interesting is the fact this film, considered as one of the all-time greatest, only won 3 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director (Michael Curtiz) and Best Screenplay. Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains were both nominated, but didn't win. Though most of the interior shots of Casablanca were inside a bar (club) and food was sparse, when it comes to Casablanca and Morocco, there is no dish more famous than Moroccan Game Hens.

This classic dish, which cost dearly in the finest restaurants in the world, is actually quite easy to prepare at home. It will take about 2 hours of your time (1 of those hours for marinating) but the final result will be well worth the time. Due to the fact game hens are quite small, we usually serve one per person (this also makes for a very nice presentation). All four game hens will fit into a typical roasting pan.

Ingredients needed to make Moroccan Game Hen (serves 4):

  • 2 lemons
  • 1 orange
  • 4 Cornish game hens, split in half
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Steps:

  1. In a small bowl squeeze the juice from the lemons and orange. Cut the rinds in quarters.
  2. In a large roasting pan place the quartered lemon and orange rinds. Place the hens on top of the rinds, skin-side up. Pour the juices over the hens.
  3. Into a food processor or blender add all the remaining ingredients and puree into a paste.
  4. Spread the paste over the hens and let sit at room temperature 1 hour.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 400.
  6. Place in oven and roast 1 hour, basting often.

The internationally bestselling cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards, "Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals," is now in it's third printing and available worldwide in both hard cover and e-book versions. The paperback version will be released March 4, 2014.

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