Oscar Party

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This time of year we are inundated with award shows. I am looking forward to Sunday and viewing the Oscars with daughter and other besties!  What an amazing excuse to share an evening withy friends and family and celebrate creativity!

Over the years I have had many kinds of award show parties. When I was pregnant I had a pajama viewing party. For several years I created menus themed to the nominated films and songs. There are so many ways to have fun with the food and activities. I think that a pool is the key. Everyone kicks in an agreed amount. Even a couple of dollars is fun. It just makes the stakes a little more personal. Even doing fun activities like filming the party or burning a CD with each guest’s favorite songs. Mostly I look at it as a chance to dress up and have a high styling really good time. I have a TV in the kitchen and like to tray pass some hors d’oeuvers. If you want a party where everything is ready and you can just watch the show substitute the coconut shrimp with a shrimp cocktail. Play with cheeses, breads and dips. Be bold. I love to mix and match different flavors. Use some of your fun serving pieces that sit around collecting dust! Fill up on the festivities! What ever kind of party you have use your imagination to and allow all of you guests to be creative and celebrate life!

Hot Artichoke Dip
1 8 ounce package cream cheese
1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cup sour cream
1/2-cup mayo
1 can non-marinated artichokes (coarsely chopped)
4 Cloves garlic
2 Tablespoon chopped dill
Salt
Pepper
Few dashes Worchester sauce

Throw it all in a bowl mix it up. Put in baking dish and cook uncovered at 350 until it is bubbly and brown (about 35 minutes.) Serve with crackers, crusty bread or crudity. I must admit my favorite way to serve it is using a small round loaf of bread and turn it in to a bread bowl by cutting off the top of the loaf and scooping out the bread (save it for dipping.) Just pour the dip into the bread bowl and again bake until bubbly and golden brown. For larger gatherings (This is such a hit that I would do this for anything over 4!!!!!) double the recipe and use a large round loaf. I also buy a little extra bread and slice it as it goes fast.

Noni’s Olive Tapenade
4 Large Garlic Cloves
2 Cups pitted Kalamata olives or other brine-cured olives
4 anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons drained capers
1teaspoon each fresh chopped rosemary, thyme
3 tablespoons lemon juice
5 tablespoons olive oil
Rinse the olives in cold water. (this makes the tapenade less salty) Finely chop garlic cloves in food processor. Add 1/2 the olives, anchovies, capers, thyme and rosemary. Process until almost smooth. Add the lemon juice. With machine running gradually add olive oil. Blend mixture until smooth. Then coarsely chop the remaining cup of olives and mix in. Season tapenade to taste with pepper. Transfer to small bowl.
Serve with toasted French bread.

Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Dip
4 small heads of garlic
1 large eggplant
1/4-cup olive oil
1-teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 450
Separate garlic cloves without peeling and tightly wrap together in foil. Prick eggplant with a fork. In a shallow baking dish, roast garlic and eggplant in middle of oven until very tender. About 45 minutes.
Unwrap the garlic and peel, transferring to a food processor. Scrape the flesh from eggplant into the food processor, discarding the skin. Purée mixture until smooth and with motor running, add oil and vinegar until combined. Season dip with salt and pepper and serve with pita bread.

Fresh Mozzarella Balls
16 Tiny Mozzarella balls (baconcini)
1/2-cup flour seasoned with dried thyme
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
1 egg
Canola or peanut oil for frying

Heat 2 inches of oil in deep fry pan or electric wok to 375. Dry off Mozzarella balls thoroughly using paper towels. Dip in the flour then the egg and then roll in the breadcrumbs. Deep-fry the balls for 1 minute or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with spicy Marinara sauce.

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Shrimp with Coconut
3 Pounds Shrimp
3 cups shredded coconut (on a plate)
2 cups pancake mix
1 cup orange juice
1/2-cup coconut milk (more to thin the batter)
2 eggs
1-teaspoon cayenne pepper

Peanut oil for frying
Set deep fryer or wok for 375. In a bowl mix pancake mix, eggs O.J. coconut milk and cayenne pepper. Holding by the tail dip each shrimp into the batter, roll in the coconut and drop into bubbling oil. Do not over crowed the fryer; cooking several batches as necessary. Fry until shrimp are golden brown; about 3 minutes. (Don’t over cook, as the shrimp gets tough). Drain on a brown bag. Serve hot.

Tiny crab cakes with Remoulade Sauce
1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 small red onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, minced
1 green bell pepper, minced
3/4-cup fine breadcrumbs
1/2-teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1/4-teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Mix all above ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Shape the crab mixture into 24 small cakes. In a heavy skillet, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Sauté the crab cakes for 5 minutes per side until golden brown.

1 egg
2 egg yolks
2 dill pickles, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons balsamic
3-tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups olive oil
1/2 cup minced parsley
Fresh pepper

Place all ingredients in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. With it still running, pour the oil through the feed tube in a steady stream to make a thick sauce. Dollop over crab cakes.

Veggie moon rolls
This is a great addition to a party. I love the flavor and they are always a big hit. It is a great balance and is enjoyed by vegetarian friends as well as non-vegetarians. These are similar to traditional egg rolls, but so much less fussy. They were created by a major disaster when a tray of uncooked egg rolls dumped in my car on the way to a party in Malibu. We had noticed a Chinese restaurant so I sent someone to buy egg roll wrappers while I scraped the stuffing from the disinagrated and smashed wrappers. The restaurant was only willing to sell us the round pot sticker wrappers. We figured out how to stuff them and the guest just flipped. We have never made them the old way since then and they are always a big hit.
1-tablespoon olive oil
1-teaspoon sesame oil
Pinch of sea salt
1-cup carrots
1 each red and yellow bell peppers,
Halved and sliced
1 1/2 cups snow peas, thinly sliced
1 cup green cabbage, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1-teaspoon fresh ginger
1/4-cup fresh cilantro
2-teaspoon sake
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/4-cup hosin sauce
1-tablespoon chili sauce
1-package pot sticker wrappers
1 egg, beaten

Heat wok over high heat until very hot. Add oil and salt, then garlic and ginger. Cook for a minute and then add the rest of the veggies and cook about 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to a bowl and add sake, vinega,hosing sauce, chili sauce and cilantro.
To make moon rolls, place 2 to 3 tablespoons of filling in the center of the wrapper. Using your fingers or a pastry brush spread egg all around the edges. Fold in half and pinch the edges tightly. The look like little half moons! Heat 3 cups of canola or peanut oil on high heat. Drop egg rolls in batches of 3 and cook for one minute.
Dipping Sauce
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 inch fresh ginger, finely minced
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/2 cup orange marmalade
4 Tablespoon rice vinegar (and/or sake)
Using enough liquid to make a smooth, but not runny, consistency.
Serve with: Chinese hot mustard
And let everyone make their own dipping sauce by blending the two together.

Chicken Satay with peanut sauce
I created this sauce to go with chicken satay for cocktail parties. I am pretty adventurous when it comes to creating menus for parties. If a client says that they want something or if a certain combination of food sounds good to me, I’m always up for trying it. Most caterers would never sell something that they have never made before, but I so love the process of creating new things. It also keeps me on my toes! This sauce evolved through many parties. The thing was that people loved it, but it wasn’t quite right to me. There was even one party in Malibu (about one hour from my kitchen) Where I realized that I left the sauce in my fridge. On a wing and a prayer and a client’s well-stocked kitchen I whipped up a replacement sauce. It was a huge hit and to my surprise the hostess asked me to make it again for another event! Because I added a little of this and a little of that I knew that I could not replicate it! I was a little nervous considering I had never been completely happy with my sauce. I voiced my concern to my sous chef and she said not to worry that they would say, “I can’t believe that this sauce is even better than the wonderful last one.” It was in that moment that the thought of doing it a saucepan and not in the food processor was born. I realized that it was not the flavor of the sauce that I was not happy with, but the consistency. I thought that warming the peanut butter would open it up enough to meld with the rest of he flavors and be the perfect texture. The guests and the hostess flipped at the party and it has been loved by many ever since.
Makes 48 Skewers
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2-teaspoon curry powder
1/2-teaspoon salt
1-teaspoon cumin
1-teaspoon pepper
1/4-cup olive oil
Soak 48 6-inch bamboo skewers s in cold water for one hour. In a small bowl combine curry, salt cumin, pepper and olive oil. Place each breast in between plastic wrap and pound to 1/2 inch thick. Cut breasts into 48 3×1 inch strips. Thread one skewer into each chicken strip and place in a jellyroll pan. Spoon marinade over each skewer, turning to coat well. Place in the refrigerator for one hour. (You can do this the day ahead and cover with plastic. Using a stovetop grill, arrange skewers along each side of the grill making sure that the bare ends of the skewers do not get burnt by the flame. Grill on Medium-high heat until golden brown about 3 minutes per side.
Peanut sauce
2 cups peanut butter
1/2-cup fresh limejuice
1/2-cup fresh orange juice
1/4-cup soy sauce
1/4-cup rice vinegar
1/2-cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons crushed pepper
2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
5 cloves garlic
1 cup coarsely chopped peanuts
1/2cup fresh cilantro

Mince the garlic and ginger. Coarsely chop the peanuts. In a medium sauce pan over low heat add the peanut butter, limejuice, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, peanuts and red pepper. (You can add half first if you are shy about the kick.) Taste the sauce and add more soy and peppers to your taste. Remove from heat. Add the fresh cilantro just before serving. You can either serve it warm or at room temperature!

Beef Sate with Horse Radish Sauce
Makes 48 skewers
2 pounds New York or fillet Steak, trimmed
3/4cup olive oil
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak 48 6-inch bamboo skewers in water for one hour. Cut the steak into 48 3inch x 1-inch strips. Stick a skewer into each strip lengthwise and arrange on a baking pan. Whisk together oil, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Drizzle over the meat and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight. Heat the grill or stovetop grill to medium high. Arrange the skewer of steak on the grill so that the sticks do not touch the flame. Grill until medium rare about one minute per side.

Horse Radish Dipping sauce
1 16-ounce tub sour cream
6 tablespoon prepared horseradish (or to taste)
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Whisk together in a small bowl. Add pepper to taste.

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