Back when President-elect Barack Obama was still slugging it out for the Democratic nomination, I took to the kitchen to soothe my frazzled nerves. (Cooking relaxes me.) What I came up with was a Hawaiian and African inspired savory supper that I called Barack pie.

On the eve of the most important inauguration of our lifetime, I’ve been fiddling in the kitchen and what I’ve come up with is an easy, but fancy, menu to celebrate the Obama family and this landmark presidency. If you’re looking for an elegant, tasty way to cap off the historic day, perhaps this menu will work for you, too.

Symphony in Black

Inauguration 2009 Celebration Menu

In Honor of Barack and Michelle Obama

Black Grape and Baby Arugula Salad

Black Cod with Miso

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Taittinger Prestige Rose champagne

Black Grape and Baby Arugula Salad

Yield: 6 servings

Having lived in L.A. for three years, I became a huge Caesar salad fanatic. Out there, Caesars are an art. I was looking for a salad to take me out of my Caesar rut and recently I came across this salad from Padma Lakshmi’s latest book, “Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet.” I make it without cheese, you can decide whether or not it needs it. What I can assure you is that the peppery arugula and black pepper are perfect compliments to the sweet black grapes and pear. Not to mention, this salad is a gorgeous thing to behold. You could just serve this and the champagne and be good to go!

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Dressing

2 and ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil

¾ tablespoon balsamic vinegar

¼ teaspoon fresh ground black peppercorns

a few drops of orange oil

Salad

2 dozen seedless black grapes, cut in half

7 cups baby arugula

2 ripe firm Bartlett pears, peeled and sliced

2 cups loosely packed, stemmed fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon fleur de sel or other sea salt

4 ounces pecorino, sliced as thinly as possible

1.  In a small bowl, whisk together ingredients for the dressing. Set aside.

2.  In a large platter or salad bowl, toss together the grapes, arugula, pear slices and cilantro.

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3.  Pour dressing over salad, toss again.

4.  Grind the sea salt over the salad.

5.  Lay slices of cheese over salad and serve immediately

Black Cod with Miso

Yield: 2 servings (double or triple, as necessary).

This dish is inspired by the Nobu classic. So elegant, so simple.

1/3 cup yellow or white miso
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/8 cup sugar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce (a soy sauce with citrus works well)
4 good turns fresh black pepper
1/8 cup canola oil
2 6 oz. cod fillets (use black cod/sablefish if available)
 
1.  Preheat broiler on highest setting.
 
2.  Blend first 4 ingredients in food processor (a mini food processor is perfect for this amount). Slowly add the oil while machine is running and continue until all the ingredients are blended, about 20 seconds after the oil is added. Toss cod fillets with half of the miso mixture and place in baking pan.
 
3.  Broil fish 6-8 inches from heat until dark gold (about 3-4 mins). Turn heat down to 450°F, move pan lower in oven, and cook for 5 more minutes.
 
4.  Plate fish and drizzle the remaining half of the miso over the fish. You can also add a side of sautéed spinach and drizzle that with the miso mixture.

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Black Bottom Cupcakes

Yield: 18-20 cupcakes

This recipe is from my mother-in-law, the inimitable Mary Clampet, who makes these so perfectly, I don’t even try. But since she can’t come to your house and bake you up a batch. Here’s the recipe.

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2 Bowls

1st: Combine and let sit:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips

2nd:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup water
1/3 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon vinegar

1.  Fill cups 1/3 full of chocolate mixture.

2.  Plop on cream cheese mixture (about 1 mounded tsp)

3.  Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes.