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I am all about tradition. Even as a young child, I always enjoyed re-occuring events based on a date, an event, or time. I don’t know what it is about me that just loves a good ritualistic event. Maybe it’s the food. Most likely…Now that I am an adult and getting older and recently married, I have started thinking more about traditions, what they mean to me and what kinds of traditions I want to start for my own family.

When we lived in Vermont, we used to have Roberto’s girls with us every other weekend, and I loved cooking special things when they were there. Especially in anticipation of Movie Night. We would rent a movie and then make fun food, perfect for watching and eating at the same time. Recently Roberto and I decided that we really need to bring back Movie Night – even if only for us. A time to get our jammies on and eat fun foods. We have done this three times so far and it seems to be sticking. We have prepared some really fun finger foods and menus that I want to share in case anyone else has Movie Night and is looking for recipes, or wants to start a Movie Night tradition of their own.

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So for our first official movie night, a few months ago, we watched Simply Irresistible. I made Lisa’s Olive Stuffed Cheese Ballsand Curried Deviled Eggs. We also mixed Greek Yogurt with Sumac, Za’atar, Sesame Seeds and Olive Oil and scooped it all up with warm whole wheat pita bread. For dessert we had leftover Key lime pie with strawberries that my mom had sent home with us after a visit. It was a great time. The movie, Simply Irresistible is with Sarah Michelle Gellar. A cooking movie where the emotions she puts in her food while she is cooking, affects those who eat it! Really cute film, especially if you are a die-hard Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan like we are, and therefore are bound to watch anything that has any of the stars from that show in it for all eternity.

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The next movie night we had was kind of themed without meaning to be. I had Lentil Koftas with cucumber salad on the menu with a side of Greek style green beans. As we were frying the koftas, I was looking for a plate to put them on, so they would stay warm. Our good friend, Tony had given us a Tagine for a wedding present that he and his partner, Jonathan had carried back with them from a recent trip to Morocco. It had a lid and looked nice, so I decided to use it as a serving platter. Plus I have really been dying to use the Tagine! Don’t worry, I just made Chicken Tagine this weekend – so you will be seeing it in its primary use in a little while!

We ended up getting The Kite Runner as a movie and the theme of the movie really fit well with our menu. The koftas were really great, and I plan on making them again.

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I have made the green beans for ages and they were a perfect accompaniment. Recipes to follow. The movie was excellent. It is one of those films that you can’t shrug off for several days. I had read the book and felt the adaptation was perfect.

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For our third movie night we really wanted to try Elle’s Mango Buffalo Wings from last month’s Royal Foodie Joust.
I love the spicy and vinegar combination of buffalo wings, but I have never made them at home. When Elle entered the contest last month with a mango buffalo wing, I knew I would love it, so I got the ingredients to make them. They were wonderful, the perfect combination of spice and sweet that I adore with that vinegar hot sauce note. However, the movie, I Am Legend was not a big hit. There is a very bad scene in the movie involving an animal and I just couldn’t take it…I am a big wuss when it comes to these kinds of movies.

However, this one bad movie has not deterred us from continuing the tradition of movie night! Join us for movie night and let us know your best creations!

Lentil Koftas

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1 cup brown lentils
1.5 cup bulgur
1 1/2 cups finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon Frieda’s Garlic Delight paste
2 eggs
2 TBS Shawarma Seasoning (cumin, coriander, curry, sumac, saffron, black pepper)
1 teaspoon of salt, or more to taste
ground black pepper to taste
Flour for dusting koftas
lemon slices, for serving

Cucumber Salad

1 medium cucumber, seeded and sliced very thinly
1 tsp sumac
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
juice from one lemon

Put the lentils with 1.5 cups of water in a medium (4 qt) pan. Cover pan and cook on low heat until water is absorbed and lentils are cooked, 15-20 minutes.
Put the bulgur in a large bowl, and add the cooked lentils. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon and cover the bowl.
While the bulgur is absorbing the liquid of the lentils, cook the chopped onion in the olive oil until soft. Add the tomato and garlic pastes, and cook until the onions are very soft.

Check the lentil mixture for doneness. If the bulgur is too dry, add some more boiling water slowly, then cover for another 10-15 minutes. I had to add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water – you don’t want it to be too dry, but you also don’t want it wet.

In a bowl, mix the thinly sliced cucumber, parsley, sumac, lemon juice and salt. Mix thoroughly. Place in fridge until serving time.

When the lentil/bulgur mixture is at the right consistency, add the cooked onion mixture, the parsley, cilantro, Shawarma Seasoning, salt and pepper and 2 eggs. Mix throughly. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

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Now form the koftas: take a chunk about the size of a fig, and roll in your palm and fingers to give it an oblong shape. Shape all of the mixture in this way and then dust them with flour. Heat a large pan with olive oil and add the koftas to the pan – be sure not to crowd then. Fry lightly on each side about 3 minutes until they are golden.

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Arrange decoratively on a plate with lemon slices. Serve with cucumber salad.

Greek Green Beans

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1 lb fresh green beans, washed and cleaned with ends snipped off.
1/4 cup olive oil
one large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 14. oz can of stewed tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
salt & pepper to taste
feta cheese as garnish

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Sautee onions garlic in hot oil until pale golden in color and aromatic. Add the beans and sautee together until well coated in the oil. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and oregano and cook covered for about 30-40 minutes or until beans are tender. It is even better if you cook it for an hour, and best the next day. Serve hot, garnished with feta cheese crumble.