For Your Degustation, part II

February 5, 2008

We’re about 19 days away from the big festivities of 2008 and we still don’t know if it’s going to happen. What? How can the Oscars not happen? Those in the know say (not me, I don’t know anything) that the writers’ strike is almost settled. Fingers are being crossed here that the cognoscenti are correct. Right now I need the Oscars; life’s just a little too drab when it’s Chicago in February and it’s snowed for the 115th time in 116 days.

Anyway here is what I am planning to make for the, hopefully, big night.

Appetizer for Atonement – from BBC on this day website:

Re: the Dunkirk invasion–When those who survived the evacuation arrived exhausted in England they were welcomed as returning heroes and offered plenty of tea and sandwiches as they boarded special trains.…- I’m going with cucumber sandwiches and some nice English Breakfast tea. Perfect for the red carpet hoopla.
From wikidpedia.com:

the bread is sliced as thinly as possible. The peel of the cucumber is either removed or scored lengthwise with a fork before the cucumber is sliced, and the slices of cucumber are dried gently with a paper towel before use. The slices of bread are carefully buttered all the way to the edges and the slices of cucumber placed in the sandwich just before serving in order to prevent the sandwich from becoming damp and thus losing its freshness. A few drops of lemon juice may be dashed on the cucumber slices, if desired. The crusts of the bread are cut away cleanly and the sandwich sliced diagonally twice, creating four small triangular tea sandwiches.

From There Will Be Blood – Arugula salad with a blood orange vinaigrette. Arugula, how Hollywood.

from Emeril: Ingredients needed:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh porcini, thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups arugula leaves, washed
  • 1 cup red dandelion greens, washed
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 blood orange, segmented
  • Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add porcini, season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper, and saute until tender. Remove from heat.

Combine arugula, red dandelion greens, red onion, and orange segments in a bowl. Toss with vinaigrette to coat. Divide salad among 2 plates and top with porcini mixture. Serve immediately.

Michael Clayton – NY Strip Steak

Yummy and appropriate: The movie is set(mostly) in NY and best supporting nominee Tom Wilkinson has a scene where he strips! Perfect.

I always like to do a Wolfgang Puck recipe for Oscar night because he is the primo Oscars chef. And this recipe includes flambeeing. I love to flambe!

New York Steak with Mushrooms
Serves: 4
12 scallions or new onions
4 New York Strip steaks (8 to 10 ounces each), cut 1 inch thick
Freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
1 pound fresh shiitake (or oyster) mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/3 cup Cognac or brandy
2 cups beef stock, reduced to 1 cup (in a skillet)
1 package enoki mushrooms, stemmed (available at many supermarkets)
  1. Heat a grill. When hot, grill the onions for about 2 minutes on each side, or until they are tender but crunchy. If you don’t have a grill, blanch the onions in boiling salted water. Drain and keep warm.
  2. Season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper. Reserve.
  3. In a heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of butter until bubbling slightly. Cook the shiitakes over high heat until they begin to brown slightly. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
  4. Carefully pour the Cognac or brandy into the hot skillet and ignite. Let the flame die out naturally. Reduce the Cognac to 2 tablespoons, scraping any loose bits that cling to the bottom of the pan. Stir in the reduced beef stock. Reduce the sauce until slightly thickened, but still very light. Return the mushrooms and their juice to the sauce and reduce more if necessary. Correct the seasonings.
  5. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, a little at a time. Stir in the enoki mushrooms. Set the sauce aside and keep warm.
  6. Grill the steaks on the preheated grill for 3 minutes on each side, or sauté them in a very hot skillet with a little oil for 3 minutes on each side, or until the meat is medium rare. Remove from the heat.
  7. If necessary, reheat the sauce very gently.

No Country For Old Men – This was a hard one, but I decided to go with what was a fairly strong motif throughout the fim–coins. so, naturally, I’m going to make Zucchini coins, friend-o:

1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
Vegetable oil, for shallow frying
2 small zucchini, sliced into 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick coins

Line a dish with paper towels and set aside. Whisk the cornmeal, flour, basil, salt, cayenne, and pepper in a bowl.Beat the eggs in another bowl.

Heat 1/4-inch vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking.

Working in small batches, toss the zucchini coins in the eggs, then coat in the cornmeal mixture to cover completely. Carefully drop the zucchini into the oil, and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side or until crisp. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on the prepared plate. Season with salt, cool slightly and serve.

Which leads us to dessert. And my favorite movie out of all the nominees: Juno. I don’t know how many years I made baked Alaskas for our Oscar night shenanigans, but it was a lot. Finally, about 2 years ago I gave up. Last year I made a very interesting Basil Ice Cream with chocolate shavings which wasn’t even tied into a movie. That’s kind of a shocker to me. This year, for Juno, because of a certain bit of dialogue (“Like the city in Alaska.” “No.”) I’m rolling out the old favorite, baked Alaskas. You’re welcome, Roxane. And Natalie.

Individual Chocolate Raspberry Baked Alaska: from Epicurious.com

4 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 whole large eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Raspberry ice cream, slightly softened
8 large egg whites Special equipment: 6 (8-oz) shallow ceramic or glass gratin dishes


Make cake:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, then line bottom with wax paper and butter paper. Melt chocolate and butter in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring, until smooth. Remove bowl from pan and whisk 3/4 cup sugar into chocolate mixture. Whisk in whole eggs and salt, then sift cocoa over and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into baking pan, spreading evenly, and bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out with a few crumbs adhering, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes, then invert onto rack and cool completely.

Cut cake into 6 equal pieces, then arrange 1 piece in each gratin dish, trimming to fit. Top each piece of cake with a large scoop of ice cream (about 1/2 cup), then freeze, covered, just until ice cream is hard, about 25 minutes (do not let ice cream become rock hard unless making ahead — see cooks’ note, below).

Make meringue just before serving:
Preheat oven to 450°F.

Beat egg whites and a pinch of salt with an electric mixer until they just hold soft peaks. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar a little at a time, beating at high speed, and continue beating until whites just hold stiff, glossy peaks, about 5 minutes in a standing mixer or about 12 minutes with a handheld.

Remove gratin dishes from freezer and mound meringue over ice cream and cake, spreading to edge of gratin dish. Bake on a baking sheet in middle of oven until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Serve immediately.

And again, yes, this is a lot of food and a bit of work. But it’s a four hour ceremony . You gotta do something during the bad songs and boring technical awards. This is my Oscar Night philosophy on food.

One comment

  1. Late addition to the menu–for There Will Be Blood a chocolate milkshake–probably a tiny milkshake as this menu is already pretty big–but then so is that “I drink your milkshake” line. http://tinyurl.com/2aph4y

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: