Friday, February 11, 2011

Nibbles For Nods

Root For Oscar Nominated Stars While Dining On Primo Appetizers!

The 83rd Oscar Awards Ceremony is February 27th this year, same bat time, same bat channel as usual: ABC at 5pm Pacific and 8pm Eastern. It’s a great occasion to invite your best buds over for food & drink that look as cinematic as all the things you’ve seen on the silver screen together in 2010. Go ahead and treat my blog like a word puzzle, and see if you can find all the references to films and actors given Oscar nods this go around.

Get the Dipping Bowls in Your Living Room Ready!

Since fish dishes are the very definition of the word easy—in fact, they NEVER take over 127 Hours to make—seafood dishes like Tuna Tatare, diver scallops and crab cakes are part of my new Nana Network crusade to stop patronizing fast food joints as much…unless of course, there are Toy Story 3 items inside the kids’ meals! On Oscar Night, serve your guests Sautéed Crab Cakes with Three Sauces. This delicate appy features three very distinct sauces—their secret to perfection? Make sure you gently mix and form the crab cakes, thoroughly chilling them before sautéing.

Make Sure “The Kids Are Alright” With These Hot and Spicy Nibbles

Chipotle Spiced Cocktail Meatballs Simmered in Tomato Sauce and Served with Cilantro Cream owe that incredible taste many of us have a hard time identifying, to plain ol’ sugar—just a spoonful of sugar in the tomato sauce and the rich cream reduction, smoothes out this dish’s flavor, making it one your pals will come back for again and again! Who among us doesn’t love a meatball that’s soaked in spicy hot smoked peppers? Do me a favor! Post your guests’ reception of this appy to my Facebook page—your social network will love it, wink, wink!

When It Comes Time to Toast the Winners, These Cocktails are Worthy of The King’s Speech!
I’ve posted them before and I’ll post them again: Oyster Shooters are amazing for social gatherings like these. Shifting gears into coffee clatch territory, I think your Oscar Night friends would also approve of Mexican coffee—when it’s spiked with the tequila you’ve been saving, Mexican coffee is especially warm and welcoming—plus, who doesn’t love an excuse to pull out the cinnamon sticks and whipped cream? It’s a dessert and beverage all in one!

A Black Swan/White Swan Color Scheme in Your Decadent Oscar Night Dessert Offering

I’m making Chocolate & Marble Cake in homage to the movie most likely to score best picture, The Black Swan. In this movie, best actress hopeful Natalie Portman must perform in a ballet, not just as The White Swan, but as the Black one too—you can guess which one’s more decadent; however, in this tasty cake that goes great with Mexican coffee, it’s all sinfully delicious!

Even if all you do is rip open a bag of chips and gulp a couple of beers on Oscar Night, I hope you enjoy the fun—and if you should find yourself more in the mood for a formal affair than a nibble here and a nip there, contact me for recipes, catalogued in my Diary of an Extreme Party Planner project, where the ultimate Oscar Night menu will blow your black tie and tails off!

And the Oscar goes to…???

Sautéed Crab Cakes with Three Sauces

Servings: 4 to 6
Preparation Time: 30 minutes plus 1 hour to chill

1 ½ pounds lump crabmeat
3 cups Japanese (Panko) bread crumbs
4 green onions, thinly sliced (about ¼ cup)
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 eggs
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil

Tartar Sauce:
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
2 green onions, thinly sliced (about 2 tablespoons)
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Remoulade Sauce:
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup Dijon mustard
½ large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (about ½ cup)
2 green onions, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 medium anchovy fillets
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Spicy Lemon Aioli:
1 cup mayonnaise
Juice of 2 lemons (about ¼ cup)
4 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon hot paprika

Carefully pick through the crab meat to remove any shells.

Place the crabmeat, 1 cup of the bread crumbs, green onions, jalapeno and parsley into a bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, pepper and salt.

Gently combine the wet ingredients with the crabmeat, making sure to keep the crabmeat pieces in tact.

Spread 1 cup of the bread crumbs onto a baking sheet.

Form the crab mixture into 8 cakes. Place the cakes onto the bread crumbs. Sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs over top and around the cakes to coat. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook the crab cakes in batches, turning once, until both sides are golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

For tartar sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Chill.
For Remoulade sauce, combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Chill.

For spicy aioli, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Chill.

Serve the crab cakes on a bed of mesclun salad, lightly dressed with olive oil and lemon juice. Place a dollop of each sauce on the plate.

Chipotle Spiced Cocktail Meatballs Simmered in Tomato Sauce and Served with Cilantro Cream

Yield about 2 to 3 dozen meatballs
Preparation Time: 1 hour

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small white onion, finely diced (about ½ cup)
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 large egg
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 to 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeded and minced (about 1 to 2 tablespoon)

2 large shallots, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups cream
½ cup chopped fresh cilantroWhite ground pepper

Prepare the sauce by heating 1 tablespoon olive oil in a sauce pan over medium high heat.

Add the onion and cook until soft. Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and fresh oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.

Place the ground beef and pork into a bowl. Add the bread crumbs, egg, oregano and as much chipotle pepper as you like. Season with salt and pepper. Combine this mixture with your hands. Form into bite size balls (about 1-inch in diameter). Place each ball onto a baking sheet until all of the meatballs have been formed.

Add the meatballs to the sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.

Heat a saucepan over medium high heat. Cook the shallots in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil until just soft (you do not want them to turn brown). Add the cream to the pan. Stir in the cilantro. Reduce the heat to medium. Simmer the cream until it is reduced by half and thickened (about 20 minutes). Season with salt and white ground pepper.

To serve the dish, layer a serving platter or shallow bowl with the cilantro cream sauce. Use a spoon to scoop the meatballs from the sauce. Decoratively place the meatballs into the cream. Use extra cream to drizzle into the white sauce. Keep the dish warm on a heated serving tray, or serve several meatballs as a first course. Garnish with grated cheese and fresh cilantro.

Mexican Coffee

Servings: 8 cups
Preparation Time: 10 minutes

8 cups brewed coffee
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons instant cocoa powder
Whipped cream

Add the cinnamon stick and cocoa powder to the pot of brewed coffee. Allow the flavors to infuse for 5 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and pour the coffee into cups. Garnish with whipped cream.
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