Gail Simmons Dishes Up Recipes For The Perfect Oscars Party!

Gail Simmons on Access

By Gail Simmons

1 large garlic clove, peeled
Kosher salt
6 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
11⁄2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of a 17.3-ounce package), thawed about 20–30 minutes at room temperature
Flour for handling pastry
3 medium Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes (assorted colors if possible), halved
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 large egg
1⁄4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Heat the oven to 375°F with the rack in the middle. Thinly slice the garlic, then mound 1⁄2 teaspoon salt on top. Using both the blade and flat side of a chef’s knife, chop and scrape the mixture into a paste. In a small bowl, combine the garlic paste, ricotta, thyme, lemon zest, and a pinch of pepper. Set aside.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unfold the thawed puff pastry onto a well-floured surface, then roll it out to a roughly 13-inch round (this doesn’t have to be a perfect circle; the more rustic the better!). Transfer it to the prepared baking sheet and dock the center of the pastry with a fork.
Leaving a 1 1/2-inch border, spread the ricotta mixture over the dough, then arrange the roma tomato slices on top. Scatter the cherry tomatoes, drizzle with the oil, then sprinkle with the oregano and a pinch each of salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and 1 teaspoon water. Fold the edge of the pastry up and over the filling (if the pastry is sticking to the parchment, refrigerate for 10 minutes, then continue folding). Brush the folded dough with the egg wash.
Bake the tart for 20 minutes, then sprinkle with the Parmesan. Continue baking until the edges are puffed and golden, 5 to 10 minutes more. Allow the tart to cool slightly. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature.

By Gail Simmons

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
3 packed tablespoons coarsely chopped basil
2 packed tablespoons parsley leaves
3 packed tablespoons coarsely chopped tarragon
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and quartered
1 clove garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chives, finely chopped, plus more for garnish

Assorted cut vegetables, pita, crackers or baguette slices of your choice, such as:
1 English cucumber, cut into 1⁄2- by 3-inch sticks
6 large radishes, trimmed and cut into eighths
6 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1⁄2- by 3-inch sticks
1 medium red pepper, peeled and cut into 1⁄2- by 3-inch sticks
4 large celery stalks, cut into ½- by 3-inch sticks
1 medium jicama, peeled and cut into 1⁄2- by 3-inch sticks
2 freshly-baked pita, cut into 8 wedges each, or pita chips
Thinly sliced baguette or your favorite crackers or bread sticks

In a food processor, combine the mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, basil, parsley, tarragon, avocado, garlic and lemon juice. Pulse until herbs are chopped and the dip is smooth. Gently fold in chives. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Thin with a teaspoon or so of water if desired.

Spoon the dip into a medium serving bowl. Garnish with a pinch more chives. Arrange piles of the assorted vegetables around the bowl on a large platter and serve.

By Gail Simmons
Adapted from Food & Wine, November 2017

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted, plus more for brushing
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons licorice root powder
2 teaspoons ground anise seeds
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup chopped soft black licorice chews (3 ounces)
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-inch-square baking pan with paper or foil, leaving 
2 inches of overhang on 2 sides. Brush the paper with butter.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cocoa powder, 
licorice root powder, anise and salt. In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter with both sugars, then whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients, then three-fourths of the chocolate and licorice chews. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Gently press the remaining chocolate and licorice chews into the batter.

Bake the brownies for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, with a few moist crumbs attached. Let the brownies cool completely, then lift them out of the pan using the paper. Cut the brownies into 12 rectangles and serve.

Make Ahead: The brownies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Notes: Licorice root powder is available from Kalustyan’s.

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