Anticipating this year’s Academy Awards, the Three Points cooks turned to Old Hollywood for inspiration this weekend. By that we mean two of the restaurants that are synonymous with Movieland’s Golden Years: The Brown Derby and Chasen’s. Together they hosted Hollywood elite and produced some classic recipes that proved even stars love their comfort foods, like Chasen’s Chicken Pot Pie and Chili.
On the menu for our multi-city Oscar viewing parties:
The Brown Derby Cocktail. A refreshing aperitif of bourbon, grapefruit juice and honey syrup. Grapefruit seems to have been a theme at The Brown Derby, whether in cocktails or cakes. Go for the fresh-squeezed juice suggested and use leftover grapefruit segments, as we did, in another throwback salad, tossing with chunks of avocado and this old-fashioned fruit salad dressing.
Cobb Salad. The Brown Derby, so the story goes, is progenitor of this classic American salad, created from leftovers by Bob Cobb, a co-owner. We all know it and love it. . . though its original form included chicory and watercress, which are far less likely to appear on today’s menus. So, we went with mixed greens. The recipe also calls for boiled (boring) chicken. So we poached it Pierre Franey style (a warm bath with carrots, celery, onion, bay, thyme, marjoram, garlic and—our twists—lemon pepper and a hit of ginger).
Chasen’s Chili. Legend has it that Elizabeth Taylor loved this chili so much she had orders of it flown to Rome while she was filming Cleopatra (and conducting a torrid affair with co-star Richard Burton). The list of ingredients is pretty simple in comparison to today’s more complex recipes, but something about the combination produces one damn, fine chili. (We suspect that browning the beef and pork in butter before adding to the pot has something to do with the crazy tender, succulent results. Don’t skip this step if your diet can take it.) In honor of the Oscars, served with sparkling Cava. A award-winning combo, indeed. We think Liz would approve.
Brown Derby Grapefruit Cake. We went with the LA Times Magazine’s modified version of this cake, sans candied grapefruit peel. Goosed with a little grapefruit essence from Aftelier Perfumes, the cake packed a tart punch to counterbalance the cream cheese frosting.