Nominees for the Academy Awards have been announced, and it’s full steam ahead to catch the films we’ve missed by Oscar night on March 7.
We like Oscar parties with their casual/couch potato ease, but we turn our noses up at theme food with cutesy names reflecting the contenders. (Ooh. Except maybe provencal herb flavoured popcorn in homage to Julia & Julia. Oh, the hypocrisy!)
Give us an interesting popcorn buffet, an array of tiny nibbles, and Wolfgang Puck.
An Oscar party wouldn’t be complete without Puck’s signature Smoked Salmon Pizza with Dill Crème Fraiche and Caviar, a favourite since he opened Spago in 1982. This is the 16th consecutive year that Puck has been picked by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to design the menu for the Governors Ball, the celebration that immediately follows the Academy Awards presentation.
This yummy pizza always makes an appearance.
SMOKED SALMON PIZZA WITH DILL CREME FRAICHE AND CAVIAR
6 ounces pizza dough (homemade or purchased)
1 tablespoon chili and garlic oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons dill cream
2 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon
1 tablespoon Sevruga, Beluga, or Osetra caviar; less expensive salmon roe or just chopped fresh chives.
Place a pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500°F. On a lightly floured surface, stretch or roll out the dough into an 8- inch circle, with the outer edge a little thicker than the inner circle.
Brush the dough with the oil and arrange the onions over the pizza. Slide a pizza paddle or rimless baking sheet under the pizza and then slide the pizza onto the pizza stone.
Bake until the crust is golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. With the pizza paddle or a large spatula, carefully remove the pizza from the oven and set it on a cutting board.
Use a knife, an icing spatula, or the back of a spoon to spread the Dill Cream over the inner circle.
Arrange the slices of salmon so that they cover the entire pizza, slightly overlapping the raised rim.
Sprinkle the chopped chives over the salmon. Using a pizza cutter or a large sharp knife, cut the pizza into 4 or 6 slices.
If you like, spoon a little caviar in the center of each slice.
1 1/2 cups sour cream
3 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons fresh dill leaves, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
WOLFGANG PUCK’S PIZZA DOUGH
Yield: Makes four 8-inch pizzas dough:
1 package active dry or fresh yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F.)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and honey in 1/4 cup warm water. 2. In a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour and the salt. Add the oil, yeast mixture, and the remaining 3/4 cup of water and mix on low speed until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and clusters around the dough hook, about 5 minutes. (The pizza dough can also be made in a food processor. Dissolve the yeast as above. Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse once or twice, add the remaining ingredients, and process until the dough begins to form a ball that rides around the side of the bowl on top of the blade). 3. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead by hand 2 or 3 minutes longer. The dough should feel smooth and firm. Cover the dough with a clean, damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot for about 30 minutes. (When ready, the dough should stretch easily as it is lightly pulled). 4. Place a pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. 5. Divide the dough into 4 balls, about 6 ounces each. Work each ball by pulling down the sides and tucking under the bottom of the ball. Repeat 4 or 5 times to form a smooth, even, firm ball. Then on a smooth, unfloured surface, roll the ball under the palm of your hand until the top of the dough is smooth and firm, about 1 minute. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest 15 to 20 minutes. At this point, balls can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days. 6. To prepare each pizza, dip the ball of dough into flour, shake off the excess flour, place the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface, and start to stretch the dough. Press down on the center, spreading the dough into an 8-inch circle, with its outer rim a little thicker than the inner circle. If you find this difficult to do, use a small rolling pin to roll out the dough.