Andrea Bricco Photography
From left: bacon-wrapped dates, edamame guacamole and kale salad.
Wolfgang Puck and his crew of master chefs will cater the 85th Academy Awards Governors Ball on Sunday Feb. 24. Now, it might seem a bit intimidating to be cooking for 1,600 of the Hollywood elite, but Puck is a seasoned veteran. He's been catering the event for 19 years now.
We've been doing this for a long time, so it's not intimidating anymore,” Puck said. “It really is the biggest party of the year in Los Angeles. It's almost like the Super Bowl for Hollywood.
But that doesn't mean that the menu is old hat. This year, he'll be keeping an eye out for the many vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free diets in the crowd. The list of dishes includes items like kale salad with grilled artichokes, edamame guacamole and a beet and walnut salad with farro. Of course, there'll also be more traditional items on the menu, too, like Puck's famous chicken pot pie, bacon-wrapped dates and mini Kobe beef burgers.
Puck won't be cooking all of that alone. The chef staffs his kitchen with 350 of his best and brightest for the event, so wrapping 2, 750 dates becomes less of a mise en place nightmare.
And with a little help from the pros, your party won't be quite as cumbersome.
Serving small bites makes the experience more like a cocktail party than a black-tie dinner,” Puck told TODAY.com. “It allows people to try a variety of dishes. Adding more vegetarian and vegan dishes to the menu gives people options and helps ensure that everyone will find something they like.
The Austrian-born chef agreed to share some recipes so that you and your guests can dine like the stars. Try these at your own Oscar party:
Bacon-wrapped parmesan-stuffed dates
You'll need a wooden toothpick to secure each stuffed and wrapped date for baking and serving. People will love these so much that you might want to plan on making multiple batches.
- 18 large dates, preferably Medjool, slit lengthwise and pitted
- 18 pieces good-quality Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano, each about 1 by 1/4 inch
- 6 slices good-quality smoked bacon, cut crosswise into thirds
Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Insert a piece of Parmesan into each date. Then, wrap each date with 1 piece of bacon, securing it with a wooden toothpick.
Arrange the dates 1 inch apart in a shallow baking pan. Bake for 5 minutes. Then, using tongs, turn the dates over. Continue baking until the bacon is crisp, 5 to 6 minutes longer.
With the tongs, transfer the dates to paper towels to drain, carefully patting them dry with more paper towels. Serve immediately.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups, 10 to 12 servings
Serve with your favorite chips or fresh vegetable crudités for dipping.
- 1 cup shelled edamame
- 3 ounces sour cream
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium-sized ripe Hass-style avocados
- Freshly ground black pepper
Put the edamame, sour cream, lime juice, and olive oil in a food processor fitted with the stainless-steel blade. Pulse until pureed.
With a sharp knife, cut the avocados lengthwise in half, cutting around the pit. Twist the 2 halves between your hands to separate them. With a sharp-edged tablespoon, scoop out and discard the pits.
Scoop the avocado pulp from each half into the food processor bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper and process until smoothly blended, stopping once or twice to scrape down the bowl.
Carefully transfer the guacamole to a serving bowl. Serve immediately.
Kale salad with date compote
You'll find the baby and micro greens for this colorful, flavorful salad in well-stocked supermarkets or farmers markets. Feel free to substitute other tiny greens you might prefer.
- 2 cups baby kale leaves
- 1/2 cup baby wild arugula leaves
- 1/2 cup micro red sorrel leaves
- 4 large red radishes
- 1 large shallot
- 1 small head Belgian endive
- 1 small bulb fennel
- 1 tablespoon each chopped fresh chervil leaves, chives, tarragon leaves, and Italian parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup Date Compote (recipe follows)
- 4 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
- 2 tablespoons well-aged (preferably 50 years) balsamic vinegar
Sort through, trim, and thoroughly rinse the kale, arugula, and sorrel. Pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Pile the greens into a large salad bowl.
Trim the radishes. With a mandoline or a small, sharp knife, cut them into the thinnest possible slices. Put the slices in a bowl of ice-cold water to soak and turn crisp.
Trim the shallot and cut it crosswise with the mandoline or knife into the thinnest possible slices. Put them in a separate bowl of ice water.
Trim the Belgian endive and cut it into thin matchstick-sized strips. Do the same with the fennel bulb. Add the endive and fennel to the leaves in the salad bowl, along with the chervil, chives, tarragon, and parsley.
Drain the radishes and shallot thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. Add them to the salad bowl.
Put the lemon juice in a small mixing bowl. Add the sugar and the salt and pepper to taste and stir with a whisk until the sugar and salt dissolve.
Whisking continuously, drizzle in the olive oil to form an emulsion.
Toss the salad ingredients with enough of the lemon juice dressing to coat them lightly but thoroughly.
Arrange the salad mixture attractively on individual chilled serving plates. Garnish with small spoonfuls of the Date Compote, sprinkle with the sliced toasted almonds, and drizzle lightly with aged balsamic vinegar.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups
This simple compote may be used as a garnish for salads, as a spread for crostini topped with tangy cheese, or as a condiment with roast poultry or meat, especially lamb.
- 2 cups pitted dates, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup crushed toasted almonds
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon minced preserved lemon or freshly grated lemon zest
- Pinch fleur de sel or fine sea salt
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper
Put the dates, almonds, olive oil, water, lemon, fleur de sel, and pepper in a small nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat; then, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until it reaches a thick, jam-like consistency, 10 to 15 minutes.
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