Apparently everyone but me was aware of the amazing Oscars after party – The Governors Ball, where the cuisine takes centre stage as the preeminent entertainment and enjoyment.
I just discovered Chef Wolfgang Puck prepares dinner for 1,500 – WOW!! The only reason I researched the Oscars, and came to realize food was such an important part following the awards ceremony, was because a wonderful, creative friend gathered a gregarious group, inviting them to wear their pajamas and bear a box of their favorite Chinese take-out. So I was intrigued about the evening fare for this entertainment industry event.
However, you don’t need 300 chefs in your kitchen and 600 waiters to serve your spread, in order to throw a great Oscars party. Far from the glitz and glamor of the red carpet, these appetizers are elegant, yet quick and easy to make and perfect to enjoy along with a good dose of celebratory celebrity.
HERBED GOAT CHEESE MELON PARTY BITES
Cut half of 1 small watermelon into 1-inch-thick slices. Cut slices into 25 rounds, using a 2-inch round cutter. Scoop just enough melon from tops to form indentations, using a melon baller. Stir together 1 (4-ounce) goat cheese log, softened; 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil; juice from half a lemon; and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Spoon into indentations. Chill one to two hours. Garnish with fresh basil and freshly ground black pepper.
PARMESAN TUILES WITH HEIRLOOM TOMATO SALAD
6 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons flour
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups finely diced heirloom tomatoes
1 tablespoon snipped chives
1 teaspoon coarsely chopped tarragon
2 teaspoons olive oil
Heat the oven to 400F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the parmesan cheese with the butter, flour and a generous pinch of pepper and mash the ingredients until a dough forms. Form the dough into a 4-inch log. Cut the log into 12 equal slices and arrange the slices on the baking sheet. Using your fingers, press the slices into 1 1/2 inch rounds.
Bake the tuiles on the lowest rack in the oven for about 7 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until the tuiles are golden brown and sizzling. Let the tuiles cool completely, then transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate and blot any excess oil.
In a small bowl, toss the tomatoes with the chives, tarragon and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the salad over the tuiles and serve right away.
Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, September 2011
MANGO TEQUILA SHOOTERS WITH CHILI LIME SHRIMP
FOR THE MANGO SHOOTERS
2 ripe mangoes, pitted, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup peeled, coarsely chopped seedless cucumber
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup tequila
FOR THE SHRIMP
1 bunch green onions, coarsely chopped
1 – 2 serrano chilies, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fresh lime juice, plus zest of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil, plus extra for brushing pan
24 shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
24 4-inch bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
In a food processor, puree mangoes, lime juice and cucumber until smooth. Stir in cilantro, onion, bell pepper and salt. Refrigerate, covered for 2 to 3 hours.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, puree green onions, chilies, cilantro, salt, lime juice and zest, cayenne pepper and olive oil until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook the shrimp.
When mango mixture is chilled, place each shrimp on a skewer in a flat, non-reactive dish, then pour the marinade over the shrimp, turning to coat. Brush a large nonstick sauté pan with olive oil and heat over medium-high.
Remove mango puree from the refrigerator, add tequila, and divide between 24 shot glasses. Cook the shrimp skewers for 1 minute per side or until the thickest part is no longer translucent. Place a shrimp on top of each shot glass and serve immediately.
GINGERED PEAR, BRIE AND CANDIED PECAN TARTLETS
8 ounces brie
30 pecan halves (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 packages frozen phyllo cups, defrosted
Place brie in the freezer for 45 minutes to an hour, until very firm. Heat oven to 375F. Put pecans on a baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 8 minutes, or until just toasted. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine lemon juice, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 cup water, and ginger. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cut pear into 1/4 inch cubes, removing peel, core and stem. Stir pear cubes into hot lemon mixture. Cool to room temperature, transfer to a bowl and refrigerate.
Remove brie from freezer, cut off the rind, and cut the cheese into 1/4-inch cubes. Drain the liquid from pear mixture and stir in Brie cubes. Reserve, refrigerated until ready to assemble the tartlets.
Coat a piece of foil with cooking spray and set aside. In a small sauté pan, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon water, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until large bubbles form on surface, about 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in toasted pecans, tossing to coat. Transfer pecans to the prepared foil and use a spatula to separate them. Cool.
To assemble the tartlets, heat the broiler to low. Cover a baking sheet with foil. Place phyllo cups on baking sheet and put a rounded teaspoonful of the pear and Brie mixture in each tart shell. Broil the tarts for 2 to 3 minutes or until the cheese is lightly browned on top. Top each with a pecan half.
Recipe adapted from Shape Magazine, December 2013
1/4 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon minced onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 package of German whole rye bread
herbed cream cheese
In a small bowl, combine poppy seeds, sesame seeds, garlic, onion and salt.
Using a 2-inch round cutter, remove 24 rounds from bread. Spread 1 teaspoon of the cream cheese on each round, top with a piece of salmon, and garnish with a sprinkle of the poppy seed mixture.
Recipe adapted from Family Circle, January 2015