Futurama: A Break Room Gourmet Romance

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So with Valentine’s Day on the way this week, it wouldn’t do if I didn’t post some recipe inspired by that lurve sort of thing. This Hallmark holiday has saturated the blog-o-sphere with chocolate, strawberries, and more anatomically-incorrect hearts slathered with pink and red royal icing than you can shake a shamrock-covered shillelagh at. This is the time of year for expensive restaurants, overpriced candy, and paper cards saying that “I choo-choose you”. Yes, I know many of you choose to dread or eschew this day. I’m not one of them, and I’m certain the subjects inspiring today’s recipes would not either.As you probably gathered from the title and header image, I’m talking about Fry and Leela from the sci-fi Simposonian hit series, Futurama. Professor Farnsworth pays these two lovebirds only a little more than dumpster-dwelling Zoidberg, and that still doesn’t keep them from being their squishy-romantic selves. Case in point: in the episode “Fry and Leela’s Big Fling” Fry surprises Leela with this fancy dinner put together entirely from items he found in the Planet Express break room.

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This makeshift delightful meal consists of Ramen with a Cremora Sauce, “Xerox-blackened” Chicken, and a Cherries Cough Drop Jubilee. While I’m sure some of those ingredients sound thoroughly disgusting, especially the “wonderful nighttime sneezy, coughy, stuffy-head so I can rest dessert”, it shows what lengths of resourcefulness Fry will go to take care of the woman he loves. He shows that being romantic doesn’t have to be expensive, all it takes is some effort and creativity.
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And a few, non-perishable items.

Now don’t worry, I will not make you use cough drops or a Xerox machine to make up a dinner like this on your own. Non-dairy creamer, however, can make a decent béchamel sauce because it will not break.

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Whole cloves are the thumbtacks of the culinary world.

However, you are welcome to use milk, or even better, dehydrated milk.. On a side note, if you and your partner often deal with the milk spoiling before using it up, powdered milk is a great, affordable alternative for those who don’t use it enough. You will have a ton of leftover sauce. Keep on hand for other recipes. I ended up making a veggie lasagna with mine.

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That is a plastic fork, btw. No reason why your flatware can’t be thrifty AND classy!

I will admit the Kroger near me has a disappointing spice blend selection, so I ended up making up my own blackening seasoning from my arsenal of spice tubs from Dekalb Farmers’ Market. Feel free to use whatever your favorite blend you have, but make sure to taste it or check it for salt so you don’t oversalt the chicken.

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Once you go blackened, you never go…never mind…

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The cherries jubilee turned out delightful. They’re not in season right now, but canned dark cherries work just great. I used kirshwasser for the liquor, which already has a bit of a cough syrup flavor to it (try it in your coffee with a dash of cinnamon).

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For the pyros at heart.

It also is about 90 proof which is perfect for flambéing the fruit. You will want to use a barbecue lighter to light it, otherwise the steam from the pan will put the flame out.

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Food blogger note: Never stage your shot after scooping ice cream.

Before I post these recipes, I’d like to end on another sappy, romantic note. Below is the wedding gift to my husband and I from our good friend (and flower dino-girl puppeteer) Sketch MacQuinor: A Futurama-style picture of Carter and I riding a T-Rex with flower petals and a lightsaber. You’re welcome.

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Happy Valentine’s Day and stay hungry, my friends!

Blackened Chicken Ramen with Cremora Cheddar Béchamel

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1.5 Tb paprika
  • 1 Tb garlic powder
  • 1 Tb onion powder
  • 1 Tb ground thyme
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2-3 dashes cayenne pepper
  • 3 Tb butter
  • 6 Tb all purpose flour
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 onion peeled
  • 1 cup non-dairy creamer (or powdered milk)
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1.5 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 2 packs of ramen noodles
  • Salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once completely melted, gradually stir flour into the butter with a rubber spatula until mixed into a paste-like roux. Scrape the roux out of the pan and into a separate bowl.
  2. Mix water and creamer into the saucepan with a wire whisk until fully dissolved, turn a back-burner on the stovetop onto medium heat and allow sauce to come to a simmer while prepping other ingredients.
  3. Prepare the blackening seasoning by mixing the the rest of the herbs and spices (with exception to the nutmeg) in a small bowl. Pin the cloves through the bay leaf like you would a thumbtack onto the onion. When the saucepan starts to simmer, add the onion and stir intermittently, reducing the heat if needed to keep it from scorching or boiling. Let cook about 20 minutes.
  4. Start heating a medium skillet on the stovetop with a thin coat of oil or cooking spray on medium high heat. Put chicken and 1.5 tablespoons of the blackening seasoning into a ziplock bag. Seal and shake to coat. Season each side with salt and add chicken to the pan when hot. Cook, flipping once until the internal temp reaches 165 F. Remove and allow to rest on a cutting board.
  5. Remove the onion from the sauce and discard when 20 minutes is up. Stir and melt cheese into sauce gradually with a whisk. Add the roux, one tablespoon at a time, whisking until sauce is desired thickness. Stir in the nutmeg and add salt to taste. Remove from heat and cover with lid to keep warm until ready to serve.
  6. Cook up ramen according to package directions, leaving out the seasoning packets. Distribute noodles between two bowls. Slice chicken into bite sized pieces and top each bowl of noodles. Ladle desired amount of sauce into each bowl. Garnish with some extra blackening seasoning and serve.

Cherries Jubilee


Serves 2-4

Ingredients

  • 2 Tb sugar
  • 1, 15 oz. can of dark, pitted sweet cherries in syrup
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup kirshwasser
  • vanilla ice cream

Instructions

  1. Pour half the syrup from the can into a frying pan and heat on medium high heat. Stir in the spices and sugar until the latter is melted and reduce the liquid by half.
  2. Reduce the heat to low. Pour in the kirshwasser. Stir around for half a minute and then light the liquor with a barbecue lighter. Let burn out completely.
  3. Scoop ice cream into bowls and serve cherries with syrup on top.