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5 Recipes to Spice Up Your Gay Oscars Party

5 Recipes to Spice Up Your Gay Oscars Party

Out chef Susan Feniger provides recipes for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres to impress guests.

The Academy Awards ceremony is this weekend. And for the LGBT community, this gala is much more than an awards ceremony. Hollywood's biggest night celebrates everything the gays hold dear: creativity, celebrity, and a healthy dose of competitive drama.

Oscar night is also an opportunity for queer people to come together. After all, viewing parties are the equivalent of straight America's Super Bowl parties. Beer and chicken wings might go over fine at both, but when hosting, it's always a treat to impress guests.

For tips on throwing a fabulous fete, The Advocate's editors turned to Susan Feniger, the famed lesbian restauranteur known for her popular Los Angeles establishment, Border Grill, which she helms with Mary Sue Milliken.

Below, Feniger and Milliken shared a few recipes to spice up your Oscars festivities. And don't miss her, and many other talented food and wine vendors, at Simply diVine, a fundraiser for the Los Angeles LGBT Center at Hollywood Forever on Saturday, March 24.

01-border-margs_0Border Grill Margarita

Almost as many legends surround Mexico's most popular mixed drink, the margarita, as there are needles on a cactus paddle. Our favorite story credits Mexican hotelier and restaurateur Danny Herrara with mixing up the first margarita in the 1940s when a visiting American actress named Marjorie (or Margaret, as he heard it) was "allergic" to straight tequila.

Serves 1

4 lime slices
Margarita salt or coarse kosher salt
2 ounces anejo tequila
1 ounce orange liqueur, such as Triple Sec
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup ice cubes

Arrange 3 lime slices to cover a small plate, and cover another plate with salt to a depth of 1/4 inch. Place a martini glass upside down on the limes; press and turn to dampen. Then dip the glass in the salt to coat the rim.

Combine the tequila, orange liqueur, lime and lemon juice, and ice in a cocktail shaker and shake. Pour into the prepared glass, garnish with the remaining lime slice, and serve.

02-carne-asada-tacosCarne Asada Tacos

Makes 16 tacos

Carne Asada Marinade:
1/3 cup cumin seeds
6 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, cut in half, and seeded if desired
4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
3 bunches cilantro
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
3 pounds skirt steak, trimmed of excess fat

For Serving:
16 4-inch corn tortillas, warmed Salsa Fresca (see recipe below)
Border Guacamole (see recipe below)

Lightly toast cumin seeds in a dry medium skillet over low heat just until aroma is released, about 5 minutes. Transfer seeds to a blender. Add jalapenos, garlic, salt, pepper, and lime juice and puree until cumin seeds are finely ground. Add cilantro and olive oil and puree until smooth.

Cut steak into 6 pieces. Using hands, generously cover meat all over with marinade and roll each piece up into a cylinder. Arrange rolled steaks in a shallow pan and pour on remaining marinade. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours.

About 30 minutes before cooking, remove meat from refrigerator. Unroll steaks and place on a platter. Heat the grill or broiler to very hot.

Cook steaks just until seared on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium rare. (Or pan fry in a hot cast-iron skillet lightly coated with oil.) Transfer cooked steaks to a cutting board and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes. Then slice across the grain into diagonal strips and then dice. (Tough yet flavorful steaks like this should always be cut across the grain so that no one bite will contain too much muscle.) Serve immediately on corn tortillas, topped with Salsa Fresca and Border Guacamole.

Salsa Fresca

Makes 2 cups, or 6 appetizer servings with chips

4 medium ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and finely diced
1/4 red onion, minced
2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded if desired, and minced
1 bunch cilantro, leaves only, chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir and toss well, and serve. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator no more than 1 day.

02-1-guacBorder Guacamole

Making great guacamole is still an art form. Our secret? Keep it simple but bold, use the best ingredients possible, and no tomatoes to water down the nutty, rich avocado flavor.

ripe California avocados, preferably Hass|
6 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 medium red onion, diced
4 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cut the avocados into quarters. Remove the seeds, peel, and place in a mixing bowl. Mash with a potato masher or fork until chunky. Add the remaining ingredients and combine with a fork. Serve immediately.

03-cucumber-margCucumber Jalapeno Margarita

Makes 1 cocktail

2 slices Persian cucumber
2 to 3 slices jalapeno
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1 ounce Simple Syrup (see recipe), to taste
Ice, for cocktail shaker and glass
2 ounces Patron Silver tequila
1 cucumber slice and/or jalapeno slice, for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, combine cucumber, jalapeno, lime juice, and Simple Syrup. Using a muddler or the back of a spoon, mash the cucumber and jalapeno until they start to break up and release their juices and oils. Add ice and tequila and shake to combine. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with a cucumber slice and/or jalapeno slice. Serve immediately.

Simple Syrup

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar or agave nectar

Combine water and sugar or agave in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cool and reserve in refrigerator.

04-grilled-fish_0Grilled Fish Tacos with Radish Cucumber Slaw

Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds Arctic Char*
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 4- to 6-inch corn tortillas, warmed**
Salt, to taste
6 lettuce leaves, torn in half Radish Cucumber Slaw (see recipe)
Avocado, peeled, seeded and sliced, for garnish
Pink grapefruit, peeled and segmented, for garnish

Preheat a medium-hot grill, broiler oven, or pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Drizzle the fish with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and cook until barely done, for 2 to 3 minutes per side, depending on the thickness. Remove the fish from the grill or pan, let cool slightly, and then pull apart into large flakes.

Place the warm tortillas on a work surface. Line each with a piece of lettuce and top with chunks of fish. Top each with a very generous spoonful of Radish Cucumber Slaw with lots of juice. Finish with slice of avocado, one grapefruit segment and serve immediately.

* For more info about sustainable seafood choices and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program, go to

** To warm, dip corn tortillas in water, shaking off excess. Toast, in batches, in a nonstick pan over moderate heat, about 1 minute per side. Wrap in towel to keep warm.

Radish Cucumber Slaw

4 pickling cucumbers, skin on, cut in half widthwise, fine julienne on mandolin
1/4 small jicama, peeled, fine julienne
6 red radishes, fine julienne
2 habanero, stemmed, seeded, fine julienne
1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil blend Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place all the ingredients in a bowl, combine well and let stand, covered, for at least 30 minutes. You can store this salsa in the refrigerator up to 48 hours.

Copyright (c) 2018, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger,

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