We love to entertain in our house, especially because entertaining usually means we have an excuse to go all out and cook something really fun and creative. And having a theme, like the Oscars, just takes it to the next level. We loved throwing theme parties when we were in the city and there were definitely some memorable menus as a result – our 80’s party, our make-your-own-panini party, our “Cinco de Derby” party (when the Derby and Cinco de Mayo fell on the same day). All of these will be coming to the blog this year, I promise, but for now, we’re focused on award season and we came up with this menu last weekend that we think is sure to be a winner!
We figured the Golden Globes were a good excuse to “practice” our menu, since it gave us ample time to tweak and perfect what we needed to. Plus, we wanted to post the menu as far enough in advance as we could and give you plenty of time to plan ahead for Oscar weekend, now just 6 weeks away – March 4th! For appetizers, we tried to come up with three things that would class it up a bit, complement each other, and go well with champagne (the obvious Oscar drink of choice), so we went with deviled eggs (an entertaining staple), a crudité and a mushroom nut dip which I have dubbed “faux” gras – a vegan, low-fat version of this gourmet appetizer that everyone can now enjoy! I don’t know about you, but pâtés and foie gras are something I really missed when I was pregnant, so I’m pretty psyched that I came up with such an amazing substitute and one that is healthy to boot! Now I actually prefer this healthier option over the real thing.
The BLT deviled eggs I dreamed up because I love any good excuse to make deviled eggs and I wanted to put a fun twist on them. They were such a hit that they will definitely be showing up on some upcoming brunch menus! Bacon just seemed like a no-brainer and I wanted to add fresh watercress and tomato since they’d give the dish a nice pop of color. The avocado in the egg yolk mash was a last-minute add on (because I had some avocado left over from my green goddess dip) and it made the yolks that much creamier and more flavorful. Marc isn’t a huge fan of deviled eggs in general but he thought that was a definite game changer.
If you’re adventurous enough to serve a main course at your Oscar party too, I would highly recommend going the veal chop route. We pan seared it to get that golden crust on the outside and then cooked them the chops in the oven with some fresh chives and dry white wine, which keeps them so moist. It was simple and elegant and paired so well with our morel risotto. Speaking of the risotto, it was honestly one of the big surprise hits of the night for me, mainly because I experimented by making it in the Instant Pot (which I’m slowly but surely getting the hang of) and it honestly came out so well, I had to pinch myself! I couldn’t expect a better risotto if I’d ordered it straight from Italy. I usually shy away from risottos because they can be somewhat onerous to prepare and, in my experience, don’t always hit the mark (soggy risotto is no one’s fave). But making it in the insta-pot (am I the only one who calls it this?!) eliminates both risks entirely, turning out a luscious risotto with the touch of a button. When you’re entertaining, saving time and being able to rely on a full proof kitchen appliance is absolutely key!
All in all, we prepared the whole menu in about 2-3 hours, so you won’t spend your weekend slaving away on this, which leaves plenty of time to decorate and dream up some fun Oscar games! You can even prep the faux gras and green goddess dip the day before, which is a nice time saver too. And if you’re feeling really creative, like Marc, you can build your very own crudité “fence,” a la Blue Hill Restaurant in New York, which is just such a beautiful way to present your fresh vegetables. Comment below and let us know if you’d like some tips on how we built ours!
- 12 medium-sized cremini mushrooms, chopped
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 1 small shallot peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 1 cup toasted walnuts
- 2 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
- 2 tsp minced fresh thyme
- 2 tsp fresh parsley
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp truffle oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Step 1 Heat the olive oil a skillet or wide saucepan. Add the shallots and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and cook until they’re soft and cooked through, another 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Step 2 In a food processor, combine the walnuts, lemon juice, rosemary, thyme, parsley and brown sugar. Add the cooked mushroom mixture and the truffle oil and process until completely smooth. Taste, and add salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice, to taste.
- Step 3 Scoop into a small serving bowl and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm. Serve with bread, crackers, or on small toasts. We love serving it with gourmet salts or jam too!
Green Goddess Crudité
A deliciously healthy dip, made with watercress, which everyone is saying is the new kale! Leftovers can double as a great dressing or sandwich spread.
- 2 cups packed watercress sprigs (stems are okay to include)
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 3 TBSP chopped fresh chives
- 1 TBSP green onions, chopped
- 1 TBSP lemon zest
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup crème fraîche
- 1/2 an avocado, chopped
- 1 1/2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
- 2 anchovy fillets
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1 tsp dried tarragon
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Assorted cut-up vegetables (for dipping) - we used carrots, radishes, mushrooms, celery and a red pepper
- Step 1 Combine first 4 ingredients in a food processor and blend until the herbs are finely chopped.
- Step 2 Add next 8 ingredients and continue to blend. Scrape down sides of bowl occasionally, until the dip becomes smooth. Then season with tarragon, garlic salt and salt and pepper.
- Step 3 Transfer the dip to a bowl , cover and chill while you assemble your crudité plate. Get creative and make a fence likes ours!
BLT Deviled Eggs
Our creative take on the deviled egg. A fun way to add some fresh pops of color and taste to this classic appetizer.
- 6 hard boiled eggs
- 2 TBSP mayonnaise
- 1/4 of an avocado, mashed
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 slice of applewood bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 2 TBSP diced tomato
- A handful of watercress sprigs
- Step 1 Hard boil your eggs (or cheat and buy them pre-hardboiled!)
- Step 2 Cover 6 eggs with cool water by 1 inch. Slowly bring water to a boil over medium heat. When the water has reached a boil, cover and remove from heat. Let sit 12 minutes. Transfer eggs carefully to a colander and place under cool running water to stop the cooking.
- Step 3 Once cooled, cut your hardboiled eggs in half the long way and scrape out the egg yolks with a metal spoon.
- Step 4 Mash the egg yolks with the mayonnaise, mashed avocado, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and smoked paprika until smooth. Mix in about half of the bacon crumbles, then season with salt.
- Step 5 Fill the hard egg whites with the yolk mixture. Top each egg with chopped tomato, a sprig of watercress, and more crumbled bacon.
Pan-Fried Rosemary Veal Chops
A deliciously tender chop, simply elegant for a night of entertaining or a romantic dinner for two.
- 2 veal chops, pounded thin
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 TBSP butter
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary or chives
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pound the veal chops using a meat cleaver between wax paper. Season the chops generously with salt and pepper.
- Step 2 Spread flour on a plate and dredge both sides of the veal chops in the flour. Shake off any excess lightly.
- Step 3 Heat an oven-safe pan over medium high heat and melt the butter. When heated, add your veal chops and sear for 3 minutes each side.
- Step 4 Add your rosemary or chive sprigs and the dry white wine before putting in the oven. Cook for 14 minutes, until the internal temperature reads 145 to 150 degrees at the center. A properly cooked veal chop should be just a bit pink along the bone, not red.
Pressure Cooker Morel Risotto
Take the stress out of making risotto from scratch! Pressure cooking the rice for this dish results in such a tender, creamy preparation, you'll never look at this dish the same way.
- 1 TBSP olive oil or butter
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
- 1 and 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth (vegetable broth will lend a more yellowish color)
- 7-8 dried morels, kept whole
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- 1-2 TBSP mascarpone cheese
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish
- Step 1 Soak morels in luke warm water for about 15-20 minutes – they will start to plump up. Heat the oil over high heat in your pressure cooker using the sauté function. Add the onions, and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in the rice, taking care to coat it with the oil. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly so the rice won’t stick together.
- Step 2 Stir in the wine and continue to cook over high heat until the rice has absorbed the wine, about 30 seconds. Stir in 3 cups of the broth and the morels, making sure you scrape up any rice that might be sticking to the bottom of the cooker.
- Step 3 Lock the lid in place and cook at high pressure for 4 minutes. Stop and manually release the pressure by twisting the valve carefully.
- Step 4 Turn on the sauté function again and stir vigorously. The risotto will look fairly soupy at this point, but don’t worry! Stir every minute or so as the risotto boils, until the mixture thickens and the rice is tender but still chewy, no more than 4 minutes. If the mixture becomes dry before the rice is done, stir in an extra 1/2 cup of broth.) The finished risotto should be slightly runny
- Step 5 it will continue to thicken as it sits on the plate
- Step 6 Turn off the heat. Stir in the Parmesan and mascarpone and then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, garnished with a little fresh parsley.