Monday, March 30, 2009

Moonstruck --- Dinner and a Movie

Susan from Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy and Marc from No Recipes are co-hosting a fun event called Dinner and a Movie. This month’s installment features the 1987 Norman Jewison film Moonstruck.

This delightful romantic comedy features excellent ensemble performances and an Oscar-winning performance from Cher.
She plays a 38-year-old Italian-American widow named Loretta Castorini who says "yes" to her longtime boyfriend Johnny Cammareri's (Danny Aiello) marriage proposal, then falls in love with his estranged brother Ronny Cammareri (Nicolas Cage) when she has to visit him at his bakery in order to invite him to their wedding.

Moonstruck has always been one of my favorite movies, because it portrays a true slice of life in Brooklyn, New York, the place where I have lived my entire life.

Although I'm not Italian, I'm married to a native born Italian, and have many friends of Italian-American descent who live in the Brooklyn Heights and Carroll Gardens neighborhood where scenes from the movie were filmed. When I first saw Moonstruck in the theater years ago I laughed and cried and elbowed my husband with bouts of recognition during a few scenes when something being portrayed was uncannily true to people we knew or situations we've seen happen!
Throughout my 34+ year marriage I've experienced the unconditional love of "alla famigilia," and the Italian- American's love affair with love, food, opera and music, and respect for family and friends. It's alway passionate, never dull!

To see more about Brooklyn Heights you can read some of the blog posts I did about the neighborhood here and here.

It's an historical neighborhood with incredible views across the East River to lower Manhattan.

Brooklyn Heights neighborhood.

This is the beautiful house on Cranberry Street that was used as the Castorini family home in the movie. It sold a few years ago for almost 4 million dollars!

There was actually once a Cammareri Brothers Bakery located in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, located at Henry and Sackett Streets. Recently the Cammareri's paired with Monteleone, a pastry shop at 355 Court Street, between Union and President Street, to sell their bread along with the pastries ... another marriage made in heaven!

Because I think Moonstruck's Johnny Cammareri was a "baccala" --which is also known as an Italian slang word for a less than smart person -- for letting Loretta's love slip from his life in the movie to his brother Ronny, I prepared my version of "Baccala Florentine" as my dinner recipe.

First I purchased a nice two pound piece of baccala -- preserved salt cod fish.

Since it is salted, all baccalà requires soaking before it can be used. I usually soak it at least three days, keeping it in the refrigerator and changing the water often.

There are many ways to prepare baccala and this is one of our favorites.


2 lbs. of salt cod --soaked in water at least 48 hours

6 boiled potatoes, peeled, cubed and kept warm

2 cloves of garlic-chopped

1 bunch scallions (green onions) rinsed and chopped

two celery stalks chopped

1 cup black oil cured olives or green Sicilian olives

1 cup vinegar cured green and red peppers chopped

1 tablespoon capers

3 tbs. of tomato paste

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup of water

1 tablespoon dried oregano --more or less to taste

2 teaspoon dried basil or handful of fresh basil leaves if available --more or less to taste

1 cup of water

1/2 cup of olive oil

1/2 cup of flour

pinch of red pepper if desired

Cut fish into 4 inch pieces, and roll it in flour. Heat oil in a skillet, and brown fish on both sides. Set fish aside on a platter and keep warm; add garlic, scallions, and celery to the skillet and saute till soft adding more olive oil if needed. When vegetables are soft add the tomato paste. water and white wine and stir well until paste is dissolved. Add olives, capers, and peppers and stir well. Place fish on top and simmer slowly about 15 minutes. Turn fish over and simmer another 10 minutes making sure the sauce is not sticking to the skillet -- add a little more water or wine if needed. Season with oregano and basil and red pepper flakes to taste. Since the fish was salted I don't add salt to this dish but you can add some to taste if desired.

Serve over boiled, cubed potatoes.

We usually have baccala as part of the Italian tradition of the "Feast of the Seven Fishes" on Christmas Eve, but it is good to eat anytime!

It was fun to revisit a favorite old movie and cook a favorite traditional Italian dinner as part of this event.Thanks Susan and Marc! Be sure to visit their blogs to see more participants of a Dinner and a Movie!

I seem to be doing a lot of cooking lately. Next blog post I'll be back in Manhattan with more interesting sights to show you!


Diane@A Picture is Worth.... said...

Hi Pat,
Can you believe I haven't seen this movie?
Brooklyn Heights is beautiful...our tour bus stopped and let us make pics of the Manhattan skyline.

The recipe looks yummy too!

I'm going to have to check out this blogging event...sounds interesting!

MuseSwings said...

What a lovely idea! Moonstruck is an all time and often viewed favorite. Your wonderful recipe looks delicious! I really enjoyed this post

steviewren said...

What a fun idea to host a Dinner and a Movie! Moonstuck is an all time favorite of mine. Thanks for the tour of the Brooklyn sites that were filmed.

Joanne Kennedy said...

This is a great idea! I think I'm going to do this. Only I'll watch the movie and have pasta for dinner. I may do this tomorrow to surprise my sister.

I have not watched this movie in years! It will fun to see it again.

Pat, I have to tell you that I think you are the best cook. OK, so I wouldn't eat a lot of the things only because there is meat and/or fish in them but for those that do you are a dream cook. You always have such different things and you don't keep making the same things over and over again.

I bet your house smells like heaven most of the time with great dishes cooking on the stove.


P.S. So far, everything is still a go with escrow closing on the 13th of April so I'm keeping my fingers crossed about getting to see New York in the Spring time.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Pat, this sound delicious! I'll be right over for some! ;-)

I love "Moonstruck." It is one of my favorite movies, and I laughed and laughed and cried in it, too.

While no one in my family is from Italy, I grew up eating at an Italian restaurant that had what I feel is some of the BEST Italian food I've ever eaten. My father was one of the people who encouraged the owner to open a restaurant because her authenic Italian cooking was such a HUGE hit with everyone. There is nothing better than Italian cuisine! YUM-O!


Sheila :-)

Gina said...

Oh how I wish I could have joined you~ I loved this movie..years ago..must rent it again!! Have a wonderful week Pat "D

Jojo said...

That was such a fun post and we didn't have to spend a dime. Funny but I didn't even miss the popcorn!!! I love exploring with your posts.

Bo said...

Hi Pat...Dinner & A Movie...great idea...OK, even though I don't "do" fish, I think I'd have to have at least one bite of this looks very good! ;-) Bo

Lucy said...'ve peaked my interest. I saw that movie many years ago but now I think I'll get it and watch it again. So many places to visit there. The last time I was in NYC was 2001 in about June. I was with my kids and we went to the immigration building and then over to Statue of Liberty. On the way back on the boat I was hanging over the rail and asked my soninlaw what those two really tall building were over there. He told me they were the WTC. I was stupid. I really didn't know what they were or did. Then three months later happened. I've wished a million times we would have gone over there to see them and take the elevator to the top. Such is life.

Linda Lou said...

One of my all time favorites too! I love the scenes with Cher and Nicholas Cage, the shots of the city and the family scenes, so true to Italian family life!!

Anonymous said...

Fun post! Love the baccala! We usually make it at christmas :)

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I enjoyed the shots of Brooklyn and the info on the house, the bakery from Moonstruck - a really terrific movie. Somehow I missed the baccala reference in the movie, but it's another funny comment of many. I have never made baccala outside of Christmas eve, but I guess there's no reason not to change tradition. Yours looks great.

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Oh my g-d Pat, you're killen me here! This movie is on my top ten favs list. When Cher slaps Nicholas Cage and tells him to snap out of's just one of my most favorite lines, and the scene at Lincoln Center when they went to the just made me so happy (not that she caught her father, just the feel of the place...memories) We will have to watch this movie again next week (this week is booked) and figure out a meal. Probably past though...I have never attempted bacalla, but then there is always the challenge to give to my husband (lol). Great post.
♥, Susan

Vee said...

Oh I love reading one of your posts. It's an event!!

Would you believe that I've never seen Moonstruck? Never. I should remedy that.

Junie Moon said...

I love the whole theme "Dinner and a Movie", what a great project. "Moonstruck" is a great movie and it's fun to have that correlation with Brooklyn. And the dinner part looks great, I'll show the recipe to my husband.

Nola @ the Alamo said...

Whenever I find "Moonstruck" airing on tv, I stop what I'm doing and watch. It airs about once a month or so, and I enjoy it every time I watch! Cher is just perfectly, well, perfectly Cher! I never cared for Nicholas Cage until I saw him in this movie; now I'm a big fan (even more so after "National Treasure").

Elisa Day said...

I love that movie! Its one of my favorites!

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

If the Castorini family only knew...They should've held on to the house for a few more years. ;-)

Dinner and a movie -- what a great blog world idea!

Donna said...

One of my favorite movies! Your recipe sounds and looks delish!!!


Tara said...

Wow, Pat, I have never seen it cookoed this way---tempting!

Barb said...

Loved your post, wish I was there to eat with you.I love italian food ....Barb

nanatrish said...

Wasn't Moonstruck fun? Is the fish stinky in the fridge? or does all that salt cover up the smell? It sure looks delicious once you got it all fixed up. Yummy. You have so many neat places all around you. i would love to see it someday.

Proud Italian Cook said...

I could watch Moonstruck a hundred times and never tire of it, I love every character in it. Great post Pat, great sites, great baccala!

Anonymous said...

What an interesting recipe. The only time I have had salt fish is with ackee. I lived with a Jamaican family for a while and loved the cooking. :-) Like in your recipe you soaked the fish the day before you needed it. You can also make ackee soufle, but it was lost on my family. Hmmm.

How wonderful to be part of an Italian family- never a dull moment from the sounds of it. :-)

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Your dish looks wonderful, Pat! Baccala was a frequent visitor at my house growing up. This is by far my favorite way to enjoy it. Thanks so much for sending it over!

Lora said...

You know, I've never seen Moonstruck. But I keep hearing people mention it and I think I'm going to have to rent it.

CatHerder said...

that is one of my FAVORITE movies, ESPECIALLY the last 15 minutes or so when they are waiting in the kitchen for johnny cammereri....omg when the grandfather says "im confused" and wipes his eyes, i laugh out loud EVERY TIME, and when Olympia Dukakis says "do you love him" and she says "i love him awful"....."thats too bad" I JUST LOVE IT!!!!! OF COURSE I love the tail end when they sing "thats amore" (i actually have that tattooed across my back in script"...i need to watch it again soon!

ARLENE said...

Your posts always resonate, Pat. First, I love Moonstruck. I had to buy a copy since it was more cost-effective than renting it so often. I, too, have those moments of recognition while watching the film. My mom's family lived in Brooklyn for many years...a few old timers still do. As for baccala, I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole, but my paternal grandfather, who lived well into his 80's, began each morning with a Da Nobile (sic) cigar, a shot of Old Overall, and a piece of baccala.

Rita Kent at TesoroFino.Com said...

Yummy!!! Thanks so much for this lovely recipe.

Sue said...

Hi Pat....never would have known your weren't Italiano....Moonstruck. One of my all time favorite movies...Love Danny Aiello...and I always enjoy your little city tours..Love the night at the opera...But did you see Cosmo's Moon??

Brenda said...

Moonstruck is one of my favorite movies, too. I've seen it many times and never cease to laugh when Cher smacks Nicholas Cage across the face and says "Straighten up!"

I loved everything about the movie, the Brooklyn neighborhood, the bakery, restaurant, Cher's family home, and especially the big kitchen. (I wanted to move right in with the family!)

Wonderful pictures of your delicious food, too. Another great post, Pat. Thanks!