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Oscar Gold: Red Carpet Recipes

1 Mar

Whether you are hosting an Oscar party tomorrow night or simply want to make yourself a festive feast, here are some recipes that I put together for Lenox that are sure to delight.

tumblr_mhv3ppzdQt1rsdtszo1_1280SMOKED SALMON HORS D’OEUVRES

Here, three simple ingredients become bite-size luxuries: smoked salmon rosettes and smoked salmon pinwheels. Festive and sophisticated, these are the perfect match, in flavor and color!

ROSETTES

– 1 hothouse cucumber
– 8 ounces best-quality, thinly sliced smoked salmon
– 1/2 cup whipped cream cheese

Wash cucumber but do not peel; slice into 1/4-inch thick rounds, about 24. Slice the smoked salmon into 24 strips that are 1-inch wide by 3-inches long. Roll each piece loosely. Curl back the edges and flatten slightly so that it begins to look like a rose. Spread about 1 teaspoon of cream cheese on each cucumber slice and place rosette on top. Arrange on a platter.

MAKES 24

PINWHEELS

– 8 ounces best-quality, thinly sliced smoked salmon
– 8 ounces cream cheese
– 4 kirby cucumbers, sliced 1/4-inch thick

Put 2 slices of smoked salmon slightly overlapping. Spread with a thin layer of cream cheese to cover completely. Roll up like a jelly roll (beginning with short edge) and place in a piece of plastic wrap. Twist the edges so that you have a small tight sausage shape. Chill well. Slice thinly and place a slice on a cucumber round.

MAKES 24

SEARED SCALLOPS ON SWEET PEA PUREEtumblr_mhv48ztfEe1rsdtszo1_1280

This is great any time of the year as frozen peas are always available. Trendy pea shoots can be found at this time of the year in many farmers markets. You can make the pea puree ahead of time and reheat while you’re cooking the scallops.

– 2 10-ounce packages of frozen petits pois
– 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
– 18 very large sea scallops
– 6 tablespoons dry vermouth
– Handful of pea shoots or microgreens

Put the peas in a saucepan with salted water to just cover. Boil 2 minutes. Drain well and save 3/4 cup cooking liquid in a blender. Process until very smooth and thick (adding more liquid if necessary.) Add salt and pepper and return to saucepan.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large frying pan. Season scallops with salt and pepper and sear over high heat for 2 minutes per side, until golden and cooked through. Reheat pea puree until hot; spoon a mound onto each of 6 warm plates. Arrange 3 scallops on puree.

Add the vermouth and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the pan. cook 30 seconds over high heat until syrupy. Pour over scallops and top with pea shoots.

SERVES 6

tumblr_mhv5pluiI81rsdtszo1_1280FILET OF BEEF WITH WASABI-GARLIC CREAM

Kiss your butcher and ask him (or her) to cut you a nice 3-pound filet of beef and tie it like a roast. You can buy wasabi paste in a tube in most supermarkets and Asian food stores.

Serve with black rice tossed with a bit of grated ginger and your favorite vegetable: I’ve chosen diced carrots sauteed in sweet butter with fresh thyme.

– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 3-pound filet of beef, tied
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
– 2 very large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
– 1 tablespoon prepared wasabi

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle the oil on a rimmed baking sheet and toll the beef in the oil. Combine the sugar and 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Rub into the top and sides of the filet (but not the bottom or it will burn.) Roast 25 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer reaches 125 degrees for rare. Meanwhile, bring the cream and garlic to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce the heat and cook stirring until reduced to 1 cup, about 15 minutes. Push the softened garlic through a press; whisk back into the sauce. Add the wasabi, cook 1 minute, and remove from the heat. Add salt. Transfer the beef to a cutting board. Let rest 10 minutes. Gently reheat the sauce. Remove the strings from the beef and thickly slice.

Serve with the sauce.

SERVES 6

AWARD-WINNING CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CAKEtumblr_mhv7mjvQM21rsdtszo1_1280

This is the world’s simplest and moistest cake: just be sure to remove it from the oven while the center is still quite soft. Edible gold leaf is available in food stores specializing in Indian food products and in specialty baking shops.

– 10 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
– 5 extra-large eggs
– 16 ounces best-quality semi-sweet chocolate
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, espresso powder, or fresh orange zest
– 2 pints fresh raspberries, washed and dried
– A few sheets of edible gold leaf, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. butter the sides of the pan with 1/2 tablespoon butter. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with a pinch of salt until tripled in volume, about 8 minutes. Melt the chocolate with the remaining 10 tablespoons butter slowly over low heat in a medium saucepan; stir until smooth. Fold the chocolate mixture into te egg mixture with a flexible rubber spatula until completely incorporated. Add the vanilla (espresso or orange zest). Pour into the pan. Bake 18 minutes; the center will be quite soft. Let cool. Arrange the raspberries side by side on top of the cake. Top with gold leaf, if using.

SERVES 8

Two Movies That Made Me Hungry

15 Jun

Midnight in Paris and Passione.  French and Italian.  The first, a delicious confection. The latter, a lusty stew. The first, written, produced and directed by Woody Allen is charming and uproariously clever, a look-see into Paris in the 20’s, where the Fitzgeralds and Picasso and Salvador Dali mingle with the protagonist (no doubt, Mr. Allen) who is vested in 2009 but rooted in his fantasies. The more you know about Paris during that time, the more you will enjoy it, as much of the pleasure comes from the anticipation of the characters and events.  The latter, written, produced and directed by John Turturro was a musical soul-catcher, depicting life in Naples today built note by note, and dance step by dance step, into a Neapolitan version of Rent in which the protagonist experiences life in the moment through a historical lens.  The main character here is the music of Naples, narrated by Mr. Turturro, who shows both his intellect and insight, and an extraordinary ability to…dance!

Yet since we are talking about two of the world’s most notable food cities, one could not help find the references, though there were few.  In Midnight in Paris, Maxim’s was portrayed as Paris’s socio-gastronomic apex, whereas in Passione, Taverna Dell’Arte, the restaurant of one of the leading characters, Don Alfonzo, was in shadow, a mere suggestion of the dining culture in Naples.  The B-roll in each city provided but a glimpse of the culinary clichés we love:  outdoor cafes in Paris and covered outdoor markets in Naples.

I went to see Midnight in Paris with my husband.  It was one of the few dates we’ve had without our 15 year old daughter.  We, in turn, went to see Passione with our daughter, and with the man who knows more about life, food, and the culture of Naples than anyone — maestro Arthur Schwartz and his partner, the scholarly Bob Harned. What a joy to dance in our seats together.

If there are two food books that exemplify these movies, they would be Dorie Greenspan’s wonderful new, and award-winning book, Cooking Around My French Table, and Arthur’s encyclopedic, Naples at Table.  Read them both, see the movies, prepare a meal, buy the Passione soundtrack (available soon), and invite me to dinner.

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