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What to Eat While You're Drinking Champagne, You Fancy Person, You

February 14, 2014

Champagne Is a Chameleon

With that telltale “pop,” opening a bottle of Champagne signals it’s time to celebrate. But why save this sparkler for special occasions? Lucinda Scala Quinn, food executive editorial director, pairs Champagne and sparkling wines with spicy dinners and even with simple breakfasts.

“It’s like a little black dress,” she says. “Dress it up tonight with jewels and an updo and wear it with your Hunter boots tomorrow. You mustn’t think about Champagne being just one way.”

Related: Pucker Up with These Delicious Valentine’s Day Cocktails

Photo Credit: Martha Stewart Cooking School

Spice Is Nice

“I love to have Champagne with spicy Thai or Mexican,” Lucinda says. “There’s something about the effervescence that cuts through the spice.” See for yourself what bubbles can do when paired with this spicy pad thai.

Pad Thai Classic Stir-Fried Noodles

1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
4 tablespoons peanut or safflower oil
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
2 to 3 ounces pressed tofu, cut into 1/4-inch slices, then into 1 1/2-inch pieces
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Coarse salt
8 ounces dried rice stick noodles
8 ounces bean sprouts, rinsed and drained (about 4 cups)
3 scallions, trimmed, flattened with the side of cleaver, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon dried shrimp, chopped
1 tablespoon salted radish (optional)
1 cup dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Condiments, such as cayenne pepper, sugar, thinly sliced English cucumber, lettuce leaves, lime wedges and Thai Chile-Vinegar Sauce, for serving

1. Toss pork with sugar in a small bowl to mix. Combine tamarind concentrate, soy sauce, and fish sauce in another small bowl.

2. Preheat a 14-inch carbon-steel wok over medium-high heat until very hot. Add 2 tablespoons oil and swirl to coat sides and bottom. Cook garlic, turning over with a wooden spoon until golden, about 15 seconds.

3. Add pork, spreading into a single layer and cook until golden on all sides, about 1 minute. Add tofu and sear, pressing it against the sides of the wok, 10 to 20 seconds. Remove to a plate; set aside.

4. Season eggs with salt and pour into wok. Cook until the eggs start to set, about 1 minute. Using a spatula, cut into large pieces, and transfer to a shallow bowl or plate.

5. While meat rests, reheat wok over medium-high heat until sizzling-hot. Add 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat sides and bottom. Cook noodles, tossing and turning often and pressing against the sides of the wok to sear, until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes.

6. Push noodles up sides of wok and add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to bottom of wok and 2 to 2 1/2 cups bean sprouts and the scallions. Cook, tossing and turning, until wilted, about 20 seconds. Add dried shrimp and toss briefly with spatula. Add soy-sauce mixture. Cook, tossing and turning, about 30 seconds. Incorporate noodles. Transfer pork mixture to wok along with 1/2 cup peanuts and egg; toss gently to combine.

7. Divide among bowls and sprinkle with cilantro to serve. Remaining bean sprouts, additional peanuts, and other condiments should be served on the side.

Related: 53 of Our Sweetest Valentine’s Day Dessert Recipes

Way to Her Heart

Champagne paired with fancy French fare might seem like the ultimate romantic meal, but Lucinda has other ideas. “If someone gave me a bottle of Champagne and made these ooey, gooey, sticky ribs, I’d be their valentine forever.”

Baby Back Ribs Marinated in Tamarind Sauce

1/2 cup tamarind pulp
2 1/3 cups boiling water
1/4 cup minced garlic (about 8 cloves)
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup light-brown sugar
2 racks baby back ribs (about 4 pounds)

1. Place tamarind pulp in a bowl, and add boiling water. Let soak for 15 minutes. Pour through a fine sieve; discard solids. You should have 2 cups liquid.

2. Stir together tamarind liquid, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and brown sugar until sugar has dissolved.

3. Place ribs on a roasting pan or a rimmed baking sheet. Pour marinade over ribs, and cover pan with plastic wrap. Marinate in refrigerator overnight, flipping ribs once while marinating.

4. Preheat oven to 300. Let ribs stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Cover pan tightly with parchment and then foil, and cook until meat pulls away easily from bones, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. Transfer ribs to a rimmed baking sheet; tent with parchment and then foil.

5. Pour pan juices into a saucepan, and skim off excess fat (you should have about 3 cups juices). Boil the juices over medium-high heat until reduced to about 1 cup, about 20 minutes. Pour 1/2 cup sauce into a small bowl.

6. Preheat the broiler. Brush both sides of ribs with sauce in bowl. Broil ribs until sauce is bubbling and blackened in places, about 2 minutes. Brush broiled ribs with remaining sauce in pan. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 1-rib servings, and arrange on a platter.

Related: Quick, One-Pot Meal Ideas To Feed the Whole Family

Better than Brews

A trio of spicy salsas adds heat to a top-your-own-taco bar. “Champagne is kind of heady; it’s like an upgrade on beer,” Lucinda says. “The bubbles with the slight edge of sweet cut through a cheesy, hearty meal like tacos.”

Taco Bar

1 head romaine lettuce, shredded and refrigerated (until crisp and dry)
8 radishes, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
1 cup fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
3 limes, cut into wedges
1 pound queso fresco, crumbled, or Monterey Jack, shredded
8 ounces sour cream
Roasted-Tomato Salsa
Salsa Verde
Salsa Cruda
Poached Chicken
1 to 2 packages corn tortillas (12 count)

Cook’s Note
To keep the toasted tortillas warm, wrap them tightly in a dish towel, then in foil. Place in a 200-degree oven for up to 30 minutes. Remove foil, and transfer tortillas — still folded in the towel — to the buffet.

1. Arrange lettuce, radishes, and cilantro on a large platter. Place limes, cheese, sour cream, and salsas in separate serving dishes. Place chicken and pork in separate warm serving bowls. Garnish chicken with cilantro.

2. Toast each tortilla in a hot skillet or directly over a gas flame until softened, 15 to 20 seconds per side. Stack tortillas in a dish towel, keeping them wrapped.

3. Arrange all of the ingredients so that guests can make their own tacos.

Related: 20 Classic Comfort Food Recipes from Martha Stewart

Breakfast in Bed

“A Dutch Baby is so easy to make, but has such a wow factor. It’s just eggs, milk, vanilla, and butter; but it still feels special.” Emphasize the impressiveness of this puffy pancake with a fizzy sparkling drink.

Blueberry Dutch Pancakes

To make four individual pancakes, you will need four little cast-iron skillets, 6 1/4 inches to 6 1/2 inches in diameter. You can use one 12-inch cast-iron skillet instead; it will take about 20 minutes to bake.

4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup blueberries, plus more for topping
Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Blend together eggs, milk, flour, granulated sugar, lemon zest, and salt in a blender.

2. Heat four 6 1/4- to 6 1/2-inch cast-iron skillets over high heat. Divide butter among them, and melt. Divide batter among them, then scatter with berries. Bake until puffed and cooked through and tops are set, 15 to 18 minutes. Top with berries, and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately.

'Role with It

Lucinda likes to play up the high/low contrast of serving Champagne with simple fare. These profiteroles might seem fancy, but they’re basically just “ice cream sundaes, 2.0,” she says.

Semifreddo Profiteroles

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg white, if needed
Chocolate-Macadamia Semifreddo
Chocolate Sauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Bring butter, sugar, salt, and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; stir in flour. Return to medium-high heat; stir with a wooden spoon until batter pulls away from sides of pan, about 4 minutes.

2. Transfer batter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until slightly cooled, about 2 minutes. With mixer on medium speed, add eggs 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Test batter for doneness by dabbing it with your finger; as you pull away, a sticky thread should form. If not, add the egg white 1 teaspoon at a time.

3. Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch round tip, and fill with batter. Pipe 1 1/2-inch diameter rounds 2 inches apart on lined sheet. Gently smooth peaked tops with a moistened fingertip.

4. Bake until golden brown, 28 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. If not using immediately, store at room temperature in an airtight container up to 3 days, or freeze up to 1 month.

5. To assemble profiteroles, halve them horizontally, and fill with a 1 1/2-ounce scoop (3 tablespoons) of semifreddo. Top profiteroles with chocolate sauce.

More from Martha Stewart:
36 Dinners You Can Make in Just 15 Minutes!
42 Slow-Cooker Recipes Worth the Wait

We did’t wanna stray too far from the basics. Try Emeril’s festive champagne cocktail!