I feel like we’re in kind of a lull period right now, entertainment-wise. Well, as much of a lull as there can be in the era of 3000 channels, On Demand, DVR, Netflix, Hulu, etc etc etc. God bless us, everyone- we are truly living in the Golden Age. Queen Elizabeth ain’t got shit on this.
Like I said though, we have a bit of down time at the moment. A lot of my favorite shows just wrapped up, it’s still post-Oscar crap movie season, and all of our most beloved celebs have taken a time out to dust off their dumpster attire and congregate in the desert to be photographed pretending to like cool music. (Three day music festivals are the setting of 97% of my nightmares.) (The other 3% are dinner parties at Donald Trump’s house; I have no real explanation for that.)
So what is a boy to do- read? Acknowledge friends and family? Get off the couch and learn to become a productive member of society? That all sounds nice, Mr. Huxtable, but not really my bag. As I noted earlier, we live in a time where entertainment is constantly at our fingertips; you just have to think outside the box. *reclines, strokes cat*
That’s how I stumbled upon the newly released indie film It’s a Disaster. God, I feel like an a-hole even saying “indie film.” I’m so not a snob about what I watch. Bridalplasty is currently at the top of my Netflix queue. That’s the show where women compete with each other for a new plastic surgery procedure every week so that they will look acceptable for their husbands at their wedding. This is a real thing that happened in your world, and I watch it. So yeah, I guess I’m not really an “indie film” aficionado.
This one happened to catch my eye though- for one, it stars David Cross, who plays possibly the funniest TV character of all time, Tobias Funke of Arrested Development. Second, it also stars Julia Stiles, who once did this:
Right off the bat I’m intrigued; so I gave it a shot.
Without giving away too much, the run down is this: Cross and Stiles’ characters are a newly dating pair who go to a friend’s house for a “couples brunch,” which is exactly as miserable as it sounds. This ordinarily awful affair turns extraordinarily awful when they come to realize that the world outside their brunch is under chemical warfare attack and they are trapped in the house, awaiting their inevitable death alongside all of their frenemies.
Sounds hilarious, right? Well, it is. Absolutely hilarious. The art of the dark comedy is a delicate one, and this movie totally nails it. All of the characters (besides Cross, who is the newbie of the group) are pretty terrible people- self-absorbed, pretentious, yuppy. Everything one would expect out of couples brunch-havers. While this would normally make for a hard to watch movie, particularly since the entire plot takes place in one house and its characters are carrying the whole thing, it works here because the dialogue is so fantastic.
It also worked because as obnoxious as the characters are, they are to some to some degree exaggerated versions of myself and people I know. I mean, I totally related to Stiles’ character, on the brink of the apocalypse, lamenting that she never got to watch The Wire. (I swear I’ll get around to it soon!)
Bottom line: if you get the chance, give this movie a chance. It is definitely a hidden gem, and I hope it goes on to get the recognition it deserves. Right now has a limited theater release (very limited, like probably only junky arthouse cinemas converted from old crack dens), so your best bet is to stream it on Amazon, which is what I did. I had to shell out ten bucks though, so maybe just wait until it comes out on DVD.
This movie opens us up for a broader dialogue about brunch in general. I find this to be quite a controversial, polarizing topic. Brunch lovers vs. brunch haters- it’s like the Bloods and the Crips for yuppy white people.
I find myself somewhere in the middle, however. On the positive side, it is a theoretically perfect activity. Mid-day feast on every type of breakfast food imaginable? Hitting the booze at noon with complete societal approval- nay- encouragement? How the hell could this go wrong?
Well, let’s just say the fairytale isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. For starters, you have big crowds and long lines. Everyone else had your same genius idea to come to this hip new brunch spot today. Do you really want to interact with strangers on a Sunday? Not to mention traffic, parking, etc. Secondly, you have the prices. Are you willing to shell out $8 for that weak Bloody Mary? (EXCEPTION: bottomless mimosas. These are the crown jewel of the brunch world. However, with cheap booze comes hoards of people, which brings us back to problem number one.)
It is for these reasons that 95% of brunch plans made on a Saturday night are backed out of on Sunday morning (fact). Here’s the best of both worlds solution: hold your own brunch. This is where my recipe comes in. If the apocalypse were indeed to happen during Sunday brunch, this is what I would want to be eating. While I love almost all breakfast foods, nothing is better to me than a side of crispy crunchy hash browns. Here I have spiced it up (literally), added some veggies, and tossed a poached egg on top to transport this from side dish to main event. It is also vegetarian if that matters to you, but if you want to meat it up you can always add some bacon or sausage (in fact, I encourage it.) Here’s how it goes…
Start by finely mincing some onions and peppers.
Add them to a skillet along with some garlic, and let them cook for a few minutes until softened.
Add shredded potatoes, stir, let them cook for another couple minutes, throw the whole thing in the oven for 30 minutes.
When it comes out, it will be browned and beautiful, like so:
You can serve this as is for a delicious side dish, but for a main course I like to jazz it up with a poached egg on top. Poaching an egg can be tricky business if you’ve never done it before, but once you get the hang of it, it’s no big deal. The smitten kitchen has a great step-by-step tutorial. Here is my abridged ten-second tutorial on Vine. (Also, follow me on Vine! And Twitter! And Pinterest! And Facebook! And Instagram!)
So yeah, however you want to figure out how to poach an egg, do it. And put it on top of the hash. And then immediately do this:
And cry at the beauty of it all.
So make this recipe, invite your yuppy friends over, and have them supply the bottomless mimosas. But make sure they are people you’d be willing to spend the apocalypse with, just in case.
Spicy Veggie Breakfast Hash with a Poached Egg
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 russet potatoes, peeled and shredded in the largest holes of a box grater
1/2 white onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp chipotle powder
Minced fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
For Poached Eggs
3 tbsp white vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. After shredding the potatoes, squirt them with the juice of the lemon to keep them from oxidizing and turning brown.
In a medium sized cast iron skillet (or any oven-safe pan), melt butter with olive oil and toss in onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until slightly softened. Add garlic and cook for a minute more. Then add potatoes, season well with salt and 1/2 tsp chipotle powder. Stir well and let cook for about 3 minutes, until potatoes just start to soften.
Transfer the skillet to your preheated oven and let bake for about 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and crispy. Garnish with fresh minced parsley, if desired.
Now for the poached eggs (these can be made ahead of time and reheated in hot water). Bring a pot of water with 3 tablespoons of white vinegar to a boil, then reduce it to just below a simmer- there should be little to no bubbles rising to the surface. Crack egg into a separate small dish, swirl the water with a large spoon, and drop the egg in. The white should start to form around the yolk. Let cook for about 4 minutes and remove with slotted spoon. Repeat process with the rest of the eggs.
To serve, cut the hash into four pieces and serve each with poached egg on top. Season the egg with salt and black pepper.