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Saturday, February 25, 2012

An Oscar Party's Best Snacks

Unless you use a dvr to record the Oscars so you can compress the show to fifteen or twenty minutes of highlights, you'll need some good snacks to keep you going during the 3+ hour festivities.

The easiest route is to order-in.

A large pizza with your favorite toppings and a green salad will do nicely. Getting one from Dominos is ok. From Pizzeria Mozza in West Hollywood or Milo + Olive in Santa Monica would be even better.
If you want to treat yourself but do very little cooking--just enough so you showed you care about what you eat--a big bowl of freshly made popcorn, seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and tossed with a goodly amount of melted sweet butter will definitely keep you happily snacking through the first hour. (Be sure to have plenty of napkins for buttery finger-and-face-clean up.)

On the other hand, you could put in the time to prepare an elegant dinner party, served in front of the television.

Prosciutto and a soft cheese like triple cream with crackers for an appetizer, home made gnocchi with fresh vegetables, grilled lobsters stuffed with sautéed onions and shiitake mushrooms and a banana walnut chocolate cake and coffee at the end would be delicious.
This year, we'll have a simplified version of a dinner party for our friends who are coming over to watch the Oscars.

During the opening monologue and the first awards, we'll have a homemade tapenade with butter-olive oil fried lavash crisps as an appetizer.
For the main course, we'll have a tossed arugula salad with carrot rounds and a reduced balsamic-olive oil dressing and a spaghetti with farmers market vegetables.
We'll save dessert for the last half hour so. As the final awards are announced, we can be enjoying a plate of Valencia orange sections and a selection of the chocolates I've been making (and devouring at an alarming rate).

Tapenade


Better quality olives produce a better tasting tapenade. Use whatever olives you enjoy. Green, black or red. The choice is yours.

Yield: 4

Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

2 cups, pitted olives, black oil cured or cracked green
1 cup Italian parsley, washed, finely chopped
2 tablespoon capers
1 garlic clove, peeled, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne, a light dusting
2 anchovies (optional)
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

Directions

Put all the ingredients into a blender and pulse until the olives, capers, and parsley have combined into a paste. Slowly drizzle olive oil into the pulsing blender until you have the desired consistency.

Lavash Crisps

Fresh lavash is available in most supermarkets. If you live near a Middle Eastern market, you will find a good selection of whole wheat and white flour lavash. Check the labels and find ones without chemicals.
Yield: 4 servings

Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

2 large sheets of lavash
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

Directions

Spread a single sheet of lavash on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the sheet in half. Lay that sheet on top of the first and cut in half again. Cut the lavish into pieces approximately 2" square.  Stack them up and put aside. 

The uncooked squares can be stored for several hours in the refrigerator in sealed plastic bags.

Place a layer of paper towels on a large plate or cookie sheet.

In a large frying pan, melt half the butter, add half the olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Heat the oil over a low flame. Cook the lavash in batches. 

Add lavash squares to the pan being careful to avoid overlaps.

As they cook, be careful they don't burn. Turn when they brown on one side and remove when they are brown on the second side. 
Remove the lavish crisps and place on the paper towel. Do not overlap. Place a paper towel on top.

As you fry the crisps, add more butter and olive oil as needed.

Serve the crisps at room temperature. To keep them crisp, serve immediately or store in an airtight container.

Variation
Just before serving, on top of the lavash crisps sprinkle freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese with rosemary.