Recipes for a Lite Oscar Night
Whenever I go to a party centered around a televised event (which happens exactly twice a year -- to watch the Superbowl and the Oscars), the food served is usually fried, greasy and full of carbohydrates.
Don't get me wrong: I love my salt, oil and sugar just as much as the next movie buff, but when the Academy Awards runs more than three hours, eating so much heavy food often leaves me stuffed and too comatose to even find out who won Best Picture.
So I asked two chefs for Oscar night snack suggestions and they served up five recipes that will please your palate on Sunday night without leaving you reaching for a bottle of Tums on Monday morning.
These first two recipes are from organic chef Edmund Lui, who specializes in nutritious gourmet foods and works in the Northern New Jersey and New York City areas. His Tomato and Leek Dip and Chicken Skewers make for healthy and tasty appetizers.
Another New York chef, Aja Tahari Marsh, also shares a recipe for Roasted Tomato Squash Bruschetta; plus a Cinnamon Almond Dip that makes a healthy sweet treat and a refreshing, non-alcoholic Hibiscus Ginger Cooler.
Tomato and Leek Dip
4 organic roma tomatoes
2 leek stalks
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp of salt
2 qts of cold water
Combine the salt and water in a pot and bring to a boil. While the water is heating, wash and clean the tomatoes and leeks. Cut the tomatoes into quarters (once length-wise and then width-wise). Cut off the green leaves of the leeks and discard. Cut the leek stem in half length-wise and chop into 1/2 inch pieces. When water is boiling, add the leeks and let sit for about 30 seconds. Remove and set aside. When the water returns to a boil, add the garlic and let sit for about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove the tomatoes and garlic. Place the cooked leeks, tomatoes and garlic into a blender and puree until a smooth consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm with toasted pita bread.
About 2 pounds skinless chicken breasts sliced into 1/4 inch thick, 1 inch wide strips 1 lemongrass stem
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp tamarind paste
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp agave nectar or brown sugar
juice of 1/2 lime
Soak the bamboo skewers in cold water for about 30 minutes. Then thread the chicken, one strip per skewer. Remove the husk of the lemongrass stalk. Using the back edge of a knife, bruise the lemongrass to release its flavors Place in a large ziplock bag with oil, soy sauce, tamarind paste, garlic, cumin, coriander, lime juice, and sweetener. Close the bag and shake until mixed well. Add the chicken to the bag. Seal the bag and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Preheat the broiler to medium or grill over medium-hot coals. Cook chicken for 2-4 minutes on each side.
Roasted Tomato and Squash Bruschetta
Prepared crostini, about 20 pieces, or whole wheat crackers 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese (optional)
For the tomatoes: 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
For the squash: 2 cups diced zucchini or yellow squash
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
pinch chili flakes (optional)
Preheat oven to 375F.
Toss the tomatoes with the oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet for 20 minutes, or until the majority of the liquid has evaporated and they are soft and chewy. Meanwhile, toss the squash with the chili flakes, thyme, oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Roast the squash on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet for 15 minutes or until golden.
Mix the tomatoes and squash together and place about 1 1/2 tablespoons on each crostini or cracker. Top with crumbled goat cheese (optional).
Cinnamon Almond Dip
Makes about 1 cup
3/4 cup almond butter, unsweetened
1/3 cup water, plus more as needed
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp honey or agave (optional)
In a food processor, or with a whisk in a mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients until well incorporated, adding more water if necessary. Serve with your favorite fresh fruits and vegetables. Keeps for two weeks well-covered in the refrigerator. You can also make it chocolatey by adding 2 teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder.
Hibiscus Ginger Cooler
Makes about eight 8 oz. servings
1 1/2 tbsp peeled, grated ginger 10 thinly-sliced rounds of ginger (peeled or unpeeled)
9 cups water
1/3 cup dried hibiscus flowers or 6 hibiscus tea bags
1/4 cup agave nectar, honey, or organic sugar (or, to taste)
2 tbsp fresh lime juice (optional)
Bring ginger and water to boil in a medium pot. Add hibiscus flowers and simmer 10-15 minutes. (The longer you simmer, the stronger the ginger flavor). Remove from heat, stir in agave and lime juice until incorporated. It should only be slightly sweet - just enough to take the edge of the tang of the hibiscus. It is not necessary to strain the ginger or the flowers, but you may if you prefer.
Transfer the cooled tea to a pitcher. Serve well-chilled over ice.
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