The swamp's culinary delights

Fantasy: Gourmet fare from `Shrek' might seem creepy, but for the green ogre, that's a good thing.

May 23, 2001|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Although special effects and celebrity voices steal the show in the movie "Shrek," the green ogre's approach to fine dining stands out as the best example of what-you-see is not necessarily what-you-get, and that's a good thing.

This is gourmet fare on a whole different level - nearly subterranean. Slugs, ants, snakes and other critters that send chills up our spines make his stomach growl with hunger. While we'd lunge for a can of Raid, he'd ask you to please pass the salt and pepper. Shrek makes slurping down a snail or crunching down on a beetle look, well, almost appetizing.

He's the Emeril of the back-then bayou, a Swamp Thing With Skills, slaving away over a bubbling cauldron of bog sludge at the end of the day. Did you ever see the Incredible Hulk sit down to dinner by earwax candlelight? And could that other big green thing mix a martini? Didn't think so. Like his arch-nemesis Lord Far- quaad, Shrek is a Rat Packer (and rat eater, as you'll see later) when it comes to sousing it up. Shrek likes his martinis dirty, that is, with olive juice. He makes a truly eye-opening aperitif, using peepers as his olive garnishes. But when it comes to courting his true love, bachelor habits like this one fall by the wayside.

When Shrek embarks on a heroic quest to save a damsel in distress, he unexpectedly ends up falling for her. In one romantic dinner by firelight he shows off his resourcefulness by grilling some weed rats on a spit.

Now, what girl wouldn't be swept off her feet by finger-lickin' good eats like that?

Encouraged by her enthusiasm, he offers to cook for her back home. Princess Fiona sets a great example for kids everywhere: getting past outside appearances to appreciate what's underneath. (Don't be fooled by all those myths and stories about ogres grinding up human bones and sucking our bodies dry. Shrek doesn't devour a single screaming person, and there were lots of them. Instead, he snacks on the fields of onions and pumpkins they leave behind when they flee.)

As evident in kids' reactions to the movie's food scenes during a recent sneak preview - peals of laughter, not inattentiveness - they have a lot in common with big, green ogres. They'll put just about anything in their mouths when they're young, though when they're older it's hard to get them to put anything in their mouths they don't want there. But put a spoonful of sugar on it, and more than medicine will go down their throats.

In this case Heinz is using "Shrek" to promote its new variation of a tried-and-true favorite in a new shade - green ketchup. We've included some recipes that will help your kids appreciate the full flavor spectrum that sometimes appears in places you least expect. These treats will make your finicky cherubs scream - for more. Bon appetit!

Shrek's Baked Weed-Rat Meatloaf

Makes 4 servings

WEED-RAT BODIES:

1/2 cup Heinz Shrek Green EZ Squirt Ketchup

2 egg whites, beaten

6 ounces ground turkey

6 ounces ground beef

1 onion, chopped fine

2/3 cup oatmeal, uncooked

salt and pepper to taste

GARNISH:

2 carrots

8 raisins

1 small pack of spaghetti noodles, uncooked

1 can of spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the ingredients for the bodies and shape into 4 little rat-shaped loaves on a baking sheet. Shape them to a point (the nose) in the front and rounded in the back. Bake for 45 minutes in preheated oven or until desired doneness.

While meatloaf is baking, cut 8 coins (circles for rat ears) from the carrots. Use the remaining carrots to make 4 long, thin strips for tails. Steam the circles and strips until they are crisp and tender. Do not overcook!

Cut little slits in each loaf for the ears near the pointed end, and place the carrot coins in them for ears.

Make a tiny slit in the rounded wide end for the tail and place a carrot strip in it for the tail. Use the raisins for the eyes. Break the uncooked spaghetti noodles into pieces and place around the "nose" (pointed end) for whiskers.

Heat the spaghetti sauce and place a large spoonful of sauce on a plate.

Place a meatloaf rat on top of the spaghetti sauce and serve.

Ants in the Sand

2 graham crackers

1 small bottle of chocolate sprinkles

Place graham crackers in a plastic sandwich bag and crush with a rolling pin.

Add chocolate sprinkles to bag to make ants.

Variations: raisins (beetles), red hots (ladybugs), mini chocolate chips (spider eggs).

Bugs on a Swamp Log

1 jar of peanut butter

1 bunch of celery stalks (washed)

1 small bag of chocolate chips

Spread peanut butter along the center of the celery. Place chocolate chips on top of the "log."

Variations: cream cheese or processed cheese spread with raisins.

Baskin-Robbins' Shrek Swamp Pie

1 quart Baskin-Robbins Shrek'd Out Chocolate Mint ice cream

1 pre-made chocolate-cookie crust in pie pan

1 tub thawed whipped topping (8 ounces)

1 bottle green food coloring

1 bottle yellow food coloring

1 pack gummy worms, snakes and frogs

1 green gel tube

Set the Baskin-Robbins Shrek'd Out Chocolate Mint ice cream on the counter for 5 minutes to soften, then empty the ice cream onto the chocolate-cookie crust, smoothing to fill entire pan.

Place swamp pie in freezer for 15-20 minutes.

Mix the whipped topping and green and yellow food colorings together until you reach your desired swamp color.

Cover the ice cream with a thick layer of the whipped topping.

Place swamp pie in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to set.

Decorate the swamp pie with your gummy worms, snakes, frogs and drizzle with the green gel.

Place back in freezer or serve immediately.

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