Tag Archives: review

10 Cloverfield Lane Review

10 Cloverfield Lane Review

10 Cloverfield Lane. Photo property of Paramount Pictures. Fair use courtesy of Wikipedia.

As promised in my “Top 5 Horror Movies of 2016” post, this is my full 10 Cloverfield Lane review. I must admit that a J.J. Abrams produced “blood relative” of the 2008 film Cloverfield did not appeal to me at first. Cloverfield was an average flick in my opinion, and my relationship with JJ Abrams has always flipped between love (Lost S1-3, Westworld, Star Trek) and hate (Lost S4-5, Star Trek). However, I had read many good reviews about 10 Cloverfield Lane, and thus felt it might be worthy of my time. How very right these reviews were! While I wouldn’t necessarily categorize this film as horror, I will say that this film is one of the best of 2016, in any genre.

While not exactly a sequel, 10 Cloverfield Lane presents a different perspective of the 2008 found footage film, but works as it’s own entity as well. The premise is simple enough. Michelle Elizabeth Winstead plays Michelle, a young woman who leaves her fiancée and drives off into the night, only to get into a terrible car accident. She wakes up in a cell, and is told by her captor, Howard, played by John Goodman that they are safely hidden in a bunker, the world above them in the midst of a doomsday attack. What starts off as the beginnings of another survivalist/torture porn horror films turns into something much more interesting and creative, evolving into a tense thriller with hints of sci-fi. The film slowly builds tension, never allowing you to get too comfortable, and keeps you questioning the outcome, despite the title.

John Goodman is fantastic in a subtle, creepy performance. Shifting eyes and awkward social behavior bring about nervous laughter, but he keeps us on edge, holding back so that we never know what will set him off. Michelle is strong and relatable, who keeps you rooting for her until the very end. Winstead plays her with a balanced amount of strength and caution, as we uncover her new surroundings with her. Her character makes rational decisions and learns and grows in a logical way that wraps up the movie nicely.

The film is ultimately satisfying, avoiding stereotypical genre clichés and really engaging the audience from the moment we wake up with Michelle in her cell. A solid, well crafted story that kept me on the edge of my seat, it presents a new way of handling sequels and invasion stories, quietly asking: “where were you when this happened?”.

Did you like my 10 Cloverfield Lane review?  What would you do if there was a zombie apocalypse?

Directed by: Dan Trachtenberg
Released: 2016
Starring: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.

Gordon Ramsay’s Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Gordon Ramsay's Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Gordon Ramsay’s Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

One of my most popular recipes on my blog is my review of Gordon Ramsay’s Sticky Toffee and Chocolate Pudding. I had never tasted sticky toffee pudding before but now I actually prefer this to plum pudding.   This recipe has become one of my favourite desserts over the holidays and has since become an annual tradition.

The original post was written in the first year of my blog, and has consistently done well.   When I look back at this post, I’m proud of how far I’ve come!  But I cringe when I look back at those beginner photos.  Since this dessert is one of my favourite recipes, I wanted to do the post justice, so I decided to reshoot the sticky toffee pudding this year.

Gordon Ramsay's Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Gordon Ramsay’s Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

I also modified the recipe a bit, as my current boyfriend is lactose intolerant.  I substituted the double cream with coconut milk and it worked out very well. The coconut milk adds a light, creaminess to the sauce, but needs to simmer a little longer to reduce and thicken.  I also omitted the cocoa for this version, I prefer letting the sweet flavour of the dates shine through.

I’m still a Gordon Ramsay fan and have reviewed a few more of his recipes over the years, like his scrambled eggs.  These days I’m busy creating my own recipes and look to him more for tips and techniques.  I love how easy this recipe is, and his sticky toffee pudding continues to impress my friends and family.  Light and fluffy, this slightly bittersweet pudding soaks up the lightly salted toffee sauce perfectly.  This sticky toffee pudding makes for a delightful dessert to indulge in over the holidays.

Gordon Ramsay's Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Gordon Ramsay’s Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Gordon Ramsay's Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

51

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Gordon Ramsay's Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Ingredients

    For the pudding:
  • 1 cup medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp espresso, cooled
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • For the toffee sauce:
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

    For the pudding:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Butter a sponge cake mold and line with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper as well, ensuring that all the sides are properly covered. Instead of a sponge cake mold, 8 x 175ml-200ml pudding basins can be used as well.
  2. Make espresso.
  3. Place the dates, sugar and water in a saucepan and simmer gently for 10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the dates are soft. Let cool.
  4. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In two batches, fold into the wet mixture with a spatula until just combined.
  5. Blend dates in a Magic Bullet or similar food processor until smooth.
  6. In a separate large bowl whisk together the dates, butter, vanilla and espresso. Add eggs and whisk again until well blended.
  7. Carefully pour into the prepared baking dish of choice and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick emerges fairly clean when inserted in the thickest part.
  8. For the toffee sauce:
  9. Place all the sauce ingredients into a saucepan and simmer, stirring frequently, until the butter and sugar have dissolved and the sauce is smooth. Reduce sauce until thickened, about 10 minutes. Keep warm and give it a stir every once in a while to prevent a skin from forming on top.
  10. When the pudding is cool enough to handle, but still warm, run a small knife along the sides, then invert onto a serving plate. Peel off the baking parchment. Pour a generous drizzle of warm toffee sauce over the puddings and serve immediately.
http://iseehungrypeople.net/2016/12/05/gordon-ramsays-dairy-free-sticky-toffee-pudding/

Gordon Ramsay's Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Gordon Ramsay’s Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

What dairy free desserts do you like to make over the holidays?  Did you like this dairy-free version of Gordon Ramsay’s Sticky Toffee Pudding?  Let me know!

Review: The Babadook

The Babadook Movie Review

The Babadook Movie Review

Moody, beautifully shot with a haunting, ominous soundtrack, The Babadook slowly reels you in and gets under your skin. The feature debut of Australian writer/director Jennifer Kent, The Babadook tells the tale of a widowed single mom Amelia (Essie Davis) her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) and the tragedy that has haunted their family. One fateful night when the husband was driving pregnant Amelia to the hospital, their car was involved in a fatal accident that left her newborn son fatherless. Ever since then, she has been unable to deal with her grief, refusing to celebrate Sam’s birthday, and living a very sheltered life. Needless to say, Sam grew up to be a bit of a odd child, so when he reads the darkly disturbing The Babadook storybook and claims to see monsters, this doesn’t strike his mother as strange at first. However, as he continues to persist that he is telling the truth and his behavior becomes more erratic, Amelia starts to believe that there might be something more to the book than just a creepy story.

Essie Davis anchors the film with her portrayal of Amelia, playing the character with a balanced intensity that starts off as a fragile and mourning widow who is gradually driven to a sleep deprived state on the brink of madness. Noah Wiseman lets loose as the unhinged kid, making us question whether he is possessed or just a real brat. The stage for their performance is an overly gloomy, German impressionistic palette inspired house, almost humorous in it’s obvious attempt to be as dark and creepy as possible.

*spoiler alert* The theme of grief is an interesting monster analogy, threatening the family unit as Amelia slowly loses grip on reality. The longer she denies the existence of the Babadook – a monstrous version of her dead husband – the stronger the Babadook becomes. He represents her suppressed grief and until she deals with what she is repressing, it continues to grow and come back to haunt her in a terrifying form.*end of spoiler*

There was quite the hype surrounding The Babadook after it premiered at the end of 2014 with William Friedkin, the director of The Exorcist being quoted as saying “I’ve never seen a film more terrifying than The Babadook”. This is quite the statement coming from the man who made the “scariest movie of all time”, and having read that I have to say I was disappointed. While I was at first drawn into the story by the strong performances and elegant cinematography, the grieving monster became such an obvious connection early on that The Babadook no longer felt like a threat. The tensions shift throughout the film, first the child terrorizing the mother than the mother terrorizing the child. This made the film feel a bit disjointed at times, the audience losing interest as their sympathies shift.

While The Babadook is a fun ride through a fantastical reality of nightmares and demons, it nonetheless wraps up a bit too neatly, choosing to end on a childlike note instead of really opening the door to hell.

Written and Directed by Jennifer Kent

Released 2014. Available on DVD as of April 2015

Starring Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Hayley McElhinney and Barbara West

Here’s my attempt at some Babadook art – what do you think your greatest fear would look like?

The Babadook

The Babadook