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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tuesday Talent: Tom Degnan

By Howard Shapiro
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Here’s something that might happen with a play, but not with a movie: You go to see it again and because of a different interpretation, or the way an ensemble clicks, or maybe a fresh staging that literally moves the play in a new direction, it’s as if you’ve never seen it before. The production you’re watching has given it a new and different life.

That’s what’s happening at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, where Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, an American classic, is playing out as if our besotted, bewitched and brilliant playwright of the last century had written it last night.

I’ve seen strident Cats and dark Cats and even a pensive one. But I’ve never been swept by a Cat as blistering, fast-moving and, simply, moving as the production Thomas Ouellette has conjured — and with the same cast that bounds on and off the stage in the flighty Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare’s trickster comedy that alternates at the festival in repertory with Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Imagine, turning a story into a piece of theater that’s a joy to watch by methodically plucking a taut, raw nerve over three acts. A more modern play, also with an addict at its center and a doomed family patriarch, has become known for just that — the popular August: Osage County. But Williams’ play, more subtle and simpler in its plot, has no big mystery hanging over it to boost its tension, as does August. It’s just one sultry Southern night with a family haunted by the crushing end of stability.

That’s because Big Daddy (Joe Vincent, who makes the character a wily mix of straightforward and dismissive) is dying – something we learn early on but he doesn’t know. He runs his 28,000-acre plantation in the Mississippi Delta as a captain of Southern power, using the land’s force of nature to complement his own.

His wife (Jo Twiss, in a soaring performance that nicely shifts the play’s energy to her character) is a robust Southern lady he has come to hate. His outlandishly handsome son Brick (daytime TV and theater actor Tom Degnan, piercing in his iceberg indifference) is a failed sports announcer and a top-notch lush, his daughter-in-law Maggie (the hot, dogged Australian actress Eleanor Handley) is a childless, alluring tigress. His other son and daughter-in-law (Rob Kahn and Carey Van Driest) are fertility machines who have provided him with grandchildren but no joy.

And that’s the fabric of the family, accompanied by a laundry list of indelible stains that tracks through Williams’ manufactured worlds: fizzled loyalty, impotence, drunkenness, shame, jealousy, lying and — oh!, let’s not forget — sexual misgivings, which this production puts out there center-stage, even though other Cats may have it drift curiously in the background.

Bob Phillips creates a high-ceilinged plantation bedroom with liquor tables on both sides, and a sweeping outside balcony to the rear, and costume designer Lisa Zinni dresses Handley’s Maggie in a red form-fitter that Handley gives a language of its own. Thom Weaver brings a moonlight to the last scene that empties Degnan’s Brick of any substance left in him but the booze. And Ouellette’s direction manages to let in a thin ray of something like hope in the final seconds. This Cat doesn’t have claws, it has daggers.

Contact staff writer Howard Shapiro at 215-854-5727, hshapiro@phillynews.com, or #philastage on Twitter.


Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Through August 5 at the Pennyslvania Shakespeare Festival, on the DeSales University campus, 2755 Station Ave., Center Valley, Pa., near Quakertown. Tickets: $25-$52. Information: 610-282-9455 or www.pashakespeare.org. The cast is performing Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in repertory with Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/phillystage

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Good Catholics Use Condoms

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saturday Beefcake: Bedtime

Saturday Beefcake: Foreplay & Then Some

Saturday Beefcake: Surf & Turf

Saturday Irish Beefcake, Perfect for Happy Hour

This recipe is from a highly regarded seafood restaurant, The King Sitric Fish Restaurant in Dublin.

Smoked Salmon and Crab Roulade

225g/8oz Crab meat, freshly cooked.
2 teaspoons of Horseradish Sauce.
4 tablespoons of natural Yoghurt. (Fage! If you care)
Nutmeg and freshly ground Black Pepper.
8 slices of smoked Salmon,wild or organic.

1. Mix the crabmeat,horseradish,yogurt and seasoning.
2. Lay the smoked Salmon on a sheet of cling wrap and spread with the crab meat.
3. Roll as tightly as possible. Leave to chill for at least four hours.
4. Slice and serve with some mixed lettuce leaves and drizzle with a little Olive oil or Balsamic vinegar.

Photos of the very handsome Paddy O'Brian in appropriately green Diesel underwear accompanies this very east, delicious recipe.

Saturday Beefcake's Redux with Chris Nogiec and Kevin McDermott

There have been other arancini recipes posted here. This one was stolen from Chow.com with and posted here with some modifications. The pictures were stolen from photographer Kevin McDermott, the subject of which makes for delicious fantasizing.

Arancini are small Italian rice croquettes traditionally from Sicily. Their name translates to mean "little oranges", which is indicative of their shape, size, and color. They are usually filled with cheese, though centuries of experimentation have resulted in varieties with anything from meat to vegetables.

I’ve adapted the recipe from its traditional, deep-fried goodness into a whole-grain, health-packed kind of goodness. The recipe is now vegetarian.

What to buy: Short grain Brown Rice, sometimes called Sweet Brown Rice, is used in brown-rice sushi and is sticky enough to use here.

Use a dry, unoaked white wine like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.

The arancini can be formed and chilled up to 12 hours ahead of time. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to finish them, bread and bake them.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, two tablespoons
White Onion, small, minced
Whole Grain Rice, two cups
Dry White Wine, one third cup [see above and below]
Broth, vegetable four and a half cups
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, one cup, finely grated [Pecorino is good]
Mozzarella, one pound, diced [the recipe called for fresh--our take: not necessary]
Basil, one bunchm fresh, stems removed
Grape Tomatoes, two cups, (Can substitute peas for this and leave out the cheese)
Olive Oil to spritz
Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, half cup
Eggs, six large, lightly beaten
Dry Whole Wheat Breadcrumbs, two cups
Oven pre-heated 350F

1. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent.
2. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently to coat each grain with olive oil, about two minutes.
3. Add white wine and cook until almost completely evaporated.
4. Add broth, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until rice is completely tender and almost overcooked, not al dente (as for traditional risotto). Stir occasionally, and if rice starts becoming dry, add water.
5. When rice is finished, stir in cheese and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from heat and spread risotto on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Set aside to cool.
6. Place about one quarter cup risotto in your palm and use it to enclose a piece of mozzarella, a basil leaf, and a cherry tomato. (Moisten hands and pack rice into tight spheres.)

7. Place arancini on a tray and repeat. Cover in plastic and place in the refrigerator to chill, at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.
8. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set up separate shallow containers with flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs. Working with one arancini at a time, roll in flour, egg wash, and finally breadcrumbs.
9. Place a finished ball on the baking sheet. Repeat until all balls are breaded. (Use one hand for the dry ingredients and the other for the egg wash.)
10. Spritz the arancini with olive oil, then bake until golden. 6-10 minutes depending on your oven and the size of the arancini.

Prosecco is not only a good subsitute for cooking the rice but also great accompanimnet for cocktail hour. The rice would also be excellent cooked with beer.

Chris Nogiec is also an excellent photographic subject and a perfect accompaniment for photographer Kevin McDermott.

Black and White Saturday Beefcake From Kevin McDermott

This recipe is re-posted with renewed delight, very delicious black and whites from Kevin McDermott photography ...

From epicurious.com

For cookies
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg

For icings
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Make cookies:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a cup.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add egg, beating until combined well. Mix in flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately in batches at low speed (scraping down side of bowl occasionally), beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix until smooth.

Spoon 1/4 cups of batter about 2 inches apart onto a buttered large baking sheet. Bake in middle of oven until tops are puffed and pale golden, and cookies spring back when touched, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack and chill (to cool quickly), about 5 minutes.

Make icings while cookies chill:

Stir together confectioners sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl until smooth. Transfer half of icing to another bowl and stir in cocoa, adding more water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to thin to same consistency as white icing.

Ice cookies:

Turn cookies flat sides up, then spread white icing over half of each and chocolate over other half.

• If you can stand the wait, cookies taste better if cooled without being chilled

According to the William Greenberg Bakery:

The key to eating a black and white cookie, according to Jerry Seinfeld, is to get some black and some white in each bite. “Nothing mixes better than vanilla and chocolate,” says Jerry, explaining the art form in episode 74 of Seinfeld.
New Yorkers are fiercely loyal to this quintessential regional confection. Sophisticated black and white cookies have been fashioned by hand and made fresh daily at Manhattan’s William Greenberg Bakery since 1946. These classic cookies, voted “Best of New York,” are delicious comfort treats etched into the childhood memories of New Yorkers. They are legendary, they are mythical, but above all they are supremely delicious.

If you didn't grow up in New York, chances are you've never tasted the cake-like texture topped with matching half moons of dark chocolate and vanilla icing. The black and white cookie is, in fact, not a cookie but a flat, thinly frosted cake, like someone has sat on a cupcake. Cookie convenience, cupcake taste. You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy them.

Good Morning from Saturday Beefcake

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Saturday, July 21, 2012