February 25, 2012

And the Oscar goes to…

I’m an avid movie buff!  I love movies, theater, acting, pretty much anything artistic.  I even dreamed of becoming an actress at some point in high school when I was so sucked into the performing world that it felt like I was living in a different reality for a while.  I think it was a phase… I got over it, though, but the love for the movies has lingered on. 

Loving the movies, I obviously love any award ceremony dedicated to the seventh art, including the Oscars.  Every year before the big event I watch all the movies nominated for Best Picture.  This Sunday will be an Oscar Sunday again.  I was about 12 years old when I watched my first Oscars ceremony.  After that, I watched it every single year with no exceptions.  While at home in Romania, I would wake up at 3 AM to watch the Oscars live, and then rush to school to be in class by 8 AM.  They were interesting times, but I guess that any child is fascinated by celebrities and dreams of becoming a movie star.  I know I did – I wanted to become Julia Roberts.  It hasn’t happened yet…

Anyway…leaving behind my unfulfilled dreams, this Sunday is going to be all about the Oscars!  So, I won’t be cooking much.  What a crime, right?  I’ll be making only finger food.  Did you know that celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck feeds more than 1,500 Hollywood big shots at the Governor’s Ball, every year?  He’s been doing it for 18 years.  Apparently, chef Puck is not a movie aficionado, but got the gig cooking for the Governor’s Ball because celebrities had been heading to his restaurant, Spago, instead of the Academy’s official party.  Don’t worry; he doesn’t cook for 1,500 people alone.  He has a team of 300 cooks preparing the meal.  Regardless of the menu, the classics – mini kobe burgers, smoked salmon and the famous gold-covered chocolate Oscars – are always on the menu.  Just like Wolfgang Puck, I will definitely have these three dishes on my Oscar menu on Sunday:  Vegetarian BruschettaWalnut and Chocolate Cake and Prosecco with Berry Ice Cubes.         

Vegetarian Bruschetta
Adapted from Click Magazine (December 2011)

Serves: 15+ servings


·         1 baguette, sliced
·         5 carrots, finely grated
·         4 celery stalks, finely chopped
·         3 apples, grated
·         Mayonnaise
·         Salt
·         Black pepper
·         Chives, chopped
·         Lemon triangles


In a large bowl, combine the carrots, celery and apples together.  Mix well.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add as much mayonnaise as you want to make the mixture nice and creamy. Spread the mixture on the bread slices and sprinkle with a few chives on top.  Add a lemon triangle to each bread slice.  

This simple but ingenious little sandwich incorporates the perfect combination of sweet and savory.  The celery gives it a nice crunchy texture, while the lemon adds a touch of acidity, which wakes up your taste buds!

Walnut and Chocolate Cake
By Simply Romanesco inspired by my Grandma Vicki

Serves: 30+ servings

Ingredients for the Cake:
·         8 eggs
·         420 grams (1 ¾ cups) sugar
·         210 grams (1 ¼ cups) flour
·         250 ml (1 cup) heavy cream
·         100 grams (1 cup) walnuts, toasted and chopped
·         1 ½ Tablespoons cocoa
·         8 grams (1 teaspoon) baking powder
·         A pinch of salt

Ingredients for the Ganache:

·         300 grams (10 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips (recommended: Nestle morsels)
·         200 ml (¾ cup) heavy cream
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions for the Cake:

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Coat a 14 by 10-inch pan with butter and flour.  

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and walnuts.  In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks, sugar and heavy cream with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.  Add the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula until incorporated.  In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt on medium speed until they hold medium-firm peaks.  Carefully, fold the egg whites into the egg yolks, sugar, flour, cocoa and walnut mixture. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes until a tester comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes in the pan on a rack, then turn out onto the rack to cool completely.

Instructions for the Ganache:

Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl.  Combine the heavy cream and vanilla extract in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Cook until small bubbles appear on the outside edge of the cream.  Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate chips.  Using a fork, gently stir until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

When the cake has cooled completely, spread the chocolate ganache evenly on top.

This cake is pure chocolate heaven – it’s light and fluffy, the walnuts add another level of texture, and the rich chocolate ganache seals it in. 

To end this special night and to toast to the winners and nominees, you must try this colorful, fancy, and very easy to make Prosecco with Berry Ice Cubes drink! 

Prosecco with Berry Ice Cubes
Adapted from Food Network Magazine (June 2011)


·         1 bottle of Prosecco (Prosecco is an Italian sparkling wine)
·         Raspberries
·         Blueberries
·         Ice Cube Tray


Put a couple of raspberries and blueberries in an ice cube tray.  Fill with water and freeze until firm.  Drop the berry ice cubes into champagne glasses and fill with prosecco.   

While the celebrities will enjoy a hip Moët & Chandon cocktail, Adrian and I will be sipping on this bubbly, fruity and fun prosecco drink.  The berries float around sinking in the end to the bottom of the glass like rocks to the bottom of the sea, getting soaked in alcohol and perfuming the drink with lovely sweet, fruity aromas…  It’s just what you need on an extravagant Oscar night.  Poftă Bună! (Bon Appétit!) and may the best actors and movies prevail! 

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