Host a stay-at-home Oscar party
Sunday is the night the stars come out when the 87th annual Academy Awards get under way on ABC. Tens of millions will be watching as the entire Hollywood galaxy of glamor and glitz gathers to honor its own.
We movie fans have a favorite way to celebrate the evening in some sort of style. Some like to get cozy in sweat pants and T-shirts and curl up on the sofa with a big bowl of popcorn and a glass of champagne. Others prefer to dress up to attend elegant affairs or with friends and neighbors gathered around various television sets throughout the house.
If the latter is your style of Oscar watching and you've invited a small group over to watch the winners (and the losers), you'll want to serve something worthy of the occasion. Put the dishes in the spotlight along with the Best Picture nominees, but keep it simple; offer an array of goodies themed to the night pairing plate to picture and you can cast a party that's sure to get raves.
Here are some suggestions:
I know we all have a favorite film that we'll be rooting for. I loved them all this year, but favorites include "Birdman," "Boyhood" and "American Sniper." The nominee "Grand Budapest Hotel" delighted me to no end.
Speaking of the latter, what better way to honor Wes Anderson's latest gift, this time about a legendary concierge at a famous hotel, than with a tray of Hungarian pastries. This includes everything from strudels to nut rolls that you can make ahead. But if you aren't baking inclined, visit a local Hungarian bakery and pick up a tray of sweets. There are several in the Metro Detroit area, including Alex Kocssisko's Fancy Pastry Shop in Allen Park that plans to have plenty available. Kocssisko says he offers all the favorite Hungarian pastries and will be open Saturday morning so you can stop by and pick up a platter.
If you plan it right, you can literally hit two birds with one stone and honor "Whiplash," starring Detroit's own J.K. Simmons, who portrays a fearsome, abusive conservatory music teacher to a promising young drum student and "Birdman," starring Michael Keaton. Keaton plays an actor most famous for his movie role years ago of a comic book superhero. Bourbon-Glazed Chicken Drumettes with a blue cheese dipping sauce would suit that theme quite nicely, with drumsticks playing a dual role.
"Selma," the well-known story about Martin Luther King and the U.S. civil rights struggles in Selma, Alabama, might bring to mind foods such as hush puppies and banana pudding. If you want to go the savory route, create some crab hush puppies served with a tartar sauce.
The thriller, "Imitation Game," starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the British cryptanalyst Alan Turing, calls for imitation and that calls for krab with a "k." This form of kamaboko, a processed seafood made of finely pulverized white fish flesh (surimi), shaped and cured to resemble leg meat of snow crab is commonly used in sushi. Stop by a local sushi bar and pick up a tray or two of krab sushi or fill wonton cups with a krab salad.
The painful and riveting film about Navy Seal Chris Kyle, "American Sniper," should surely win some accolades. How about creating some American sliders made from ground beef or steak. Better yet, an assortment of shooters made with your guests' favorite spirits will hit the bullseye. See Box for shooter recipes.
My real challenge with pairing the picture with plate was the "Theory of Everything," the story of the relationship between the famous physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife. Then I read that Hawking is a fan of curry, so I put on my thinking cap and came up with a curry dip to to serve with vegetables, shrimp or chicken fondue or deviled eggs spiked with curry powder.
But perhaps the easiest theme is "Boyhood." The film took 12 years to shoot but you can quickly conjure up some suitable snacks to represent: bowls of popcorn, Cracker Jacks and some peanut butter and jelly cupcakes served with a little glass of milk in just minutes. You can even create a sundae bar and let your guests concoct their own treat. Don't forget bowls of M&Ms.
All of these are simply suggestions, mind you, but I've illustrated ways you can have just as much fun on Oscar night as the stars do. Get the picture? May the best movie win.
Gale Gand's Apple Strudel
Love the "Grand Budapest Hotel" ? Then you'll want to create this dessert from pastry chef Gale Gand, who found this family-favorite recipe in her Hungarian grandmother's recipe file. Adapted from Epicurious. Serve with whipped cream and/or caramel ice cream.
3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
6 Granny Smith apples (about 3 pounds), peeled, cored, chopped
1/2cup plus 11 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/4 cups walnuts, toasted; 1/4 cup coarsely chopped, 1 cup finely chopped
6 (17-by-13-inch) sheets phyllo pastry or 12 14-by-9-inch sheets phyllo pastry, thawed if frozen
Melt 1/4 cup butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add apples and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup sugar and salt; stir until sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Add raisins and cook until almost all the liquid is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts. Spread apple mixture in rimmed baking sheet; cool.
Line another rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt remaining 1/2cup butter. Transfer 1 large phyllo sheet to baking sheet (if using small phyllo, place 2 sheets of phyllo on baking sheet, overlapping slightly). Brush lightly with melted butter. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar and 3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts. Repeat with 4 more large phyllo sheets (or 8 more small sheets), melted butter, sugar, and walnuts. Top with remaining phyllo sheet; brush with butter.
Spoon cooled apple mixture lengthwise down phyllo, starting 3 inches in from 1 long side and leaving 2-inch border at short sides. Using parchment paper as aid, roll up strudel lengthwise. Place strudel, seam side down, on parchment. Tuck in ends to enclose filling. Brush strudel with butter; sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Do ahead: Can be made 4 hours ahead. Chill.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake strudel until golden brown, about 40 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Using serrated knife, cut into 8 slices. Sprinkle strudel with powdered sugar and serve with caramel ice cream or whipped cream. Serves 10.
Per serving: 451 calories; 25 g fat (10 g saturated fat; 50 percent calories from fat); 58 g carbohydrates; 46 g sugar; 39 mg cholesterol; 118 mg sodium; 4 g protein; 5 g fiber.
Krab Salad Stuffed Wontons
Recipe adapted from Ellie Krieger. Use real crab if desired but fake crab if you want to keep with the food/film theme to celebrate "Imitation Game."
For the wonton cups
18 wonton wrappers, thawed if frozen
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the dressing
2 tablespoons. fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon. finely grated lime zest
1/4 teaspoon. salt
1/8 teaspoon. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil
For the salad
1/2 pound imitation krab (or lump crabmeat)
1 stalk celery, finely diced (1/4 cup)
1/2 cup peeled and finely diced ripe mango
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions (white and green parts)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
To make the wonton cups, brush both sides of the wonton wrappers with the canola oil and gently press each wrapper into a mini-muffin tin so it forms a cup shape. Sprinkle with the salt and bake until browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool cups and remove from the tin. To make the dressing, whisk together the lime juice and zest, the salt, black pepper and red pepper. Add the olive oil and whisk until well combined. To make the salad, in a medium bowl, gently toss together the krab or crab meat, celery, mango, scallions and cilantro. Add the dressing and combine. Fill each cup with the crab salad and serve immediately.
Yield: 18 wonton cups (3 wonton cups per serving)
Per serving: 170 calories, 17g carbohydrates, 9g protein, 7g fat (1g saturated), 1g fiber, 32mg cholesterol, 448mg sodium
Bourbon-Glazed Chicken Drumettes with Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce
Salute both "Birdman" and "Whiplash" with these drumettes. Recipe adapted from Bon Appetite.
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, peeled, thinly sliced
1 cup bourbon, divided
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
30 chicken drumettes (about 4 pounds)
Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce
Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup bourbon; boil until most of liquid is absorbed, 6 to 8 minutes. Whisk in 1/4 cup bourbon, ketchup, hot pepper sauce, tomato paste, and brown sugar. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season marinade with salt and pepper. Remove marinade from heat; cool to room temperature.
Place chicken drumettes in 15-by-10-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Pour marinade over and turn drumettes to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Place cooling rack atop prepared baking sheet. Arrange drumettes on rack, spacing slightly apart. Spread any remaining marinade from dish over drumettes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake drumettes (still on cooling rack) until cooked through and brown in spots, about 45 minutes. Transfer drumettes to serving platter. Serve Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce alongside. Makes 16 servings.
Per serving: 241 calories; 10 g fat (5 g saturated fat; 37 percent calories from fat); 7 g carbohydrates; 6 g sugar; 101 mg cholesterol; 657 mg sodium; 28 g protein; 0.3 g fiber.
A take on "American Sniper," these sliders will go down easy.
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup water
8 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 14.5-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
Arugula leaves (optional)
18 small soft rolls, split horizontally
Mix all meats, panko, 1/2 cup water, 6 tablespoons cheese, egg, egg yolk, 1/4 cup parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in large bowl. Form into eighteen 2-inch-meatballs.
Heat vegetable oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry meatballs until brown all over. Transfer to plate. Pour off drippings from skillet. Reduce heat to medium. Add olive oil to skillet. Add onion, garlic, basil, and fennel seeds. Sauté until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add all tomatoes with juices. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Reduce heat to low, cover with lid slightly ajar, and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
Puree sauce in processor until almost smooth. Return to same skillet. Add meatballs. Cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer until meatballs are cooked through, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes longer. Do ahead: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.
Place arugula leaves on bottom of each roll, if desired. Top each with 1 meatball. Drizzle meatballs with some of sauce and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons parsley and 2 tablespoons. cheese. Cover with tops of rolls. Serves 6.
Per serving: 708 calories; 35 g fat (10 g saturated fat; 44 percent calories from fat); 59 g carbohydrates; 6 g sugar; 162 mg cholesterol; 1,307 mg sodium; 39 g protein; 5 g fiber.
Crab Hushpuppies with Tartar Sauce
Give this southern favorite a twist by using crab in the classic batter of cornmeal and buttermilk to honor "Selma." They're crisp, fluffy, and delicious. Recipe from Gourmet.
For tartar sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet pickles
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped drained capers
2 teaspoons grainy mustard
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
About 6 cups vegetable oil for frying
1 garlic clove
2 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoon well-shaken buttermilk (not powdered)
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 cup cornmeal (preferably stone-ground)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup jumbo lump crabmeat (about 7 ounces), picked over
Make tartar sauce:
Stir together all the ingredients and season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Heat 2 inches oil to 375 degrees in a wide 5-quart heavy pot over medium heat. While oil heats, mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt, then whisk together with eggs, buttermilk, and scallions in a bowl.
Whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl, then stir in buttermilk mixture until just combined. Stir in crabmeat.
Working in batches of 10, carefully drop tablespoons of batter into oil and fry, turning occasionally, until golden-brown, about 3 minutes per batch. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet and keep warm in oven. Return oil to 375°F between batches. Makes 40.
Serve hush puppies with tartar sauce.
Cooks' Notes: Tartar sauce can be made 2 days ahead and chilled.
Hush puppies can be fried 5 hours ahead and chilled (covered once cool). Reheat in 1 layer on a baking sheet in a 450-degree oven, about 10 minutes. Makes 8 servings.
Per serving: 486 calories; 38 g fat (5 g saturated fat; 70 percent calories from fat); 26 g carbohydrates; 3 g sugar; 95 mg cholesterol; 518 mg sodium; 11 g protein; 2 g fiber.
Curried Vegetable Dip
Stephen Hawking is a big fan of curry. Here's a delicious way to honor the famed physicist to serve with shrimp or vegetables. Dip can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered.
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup finely chopped peeled and seeded cucumber
1 scallion, trimmed and finely chopped
Scallion greens, sliced diagonally
Whisk together all ingredients except celery, cucumber, and scallion until smooth, then stir in vegetables. Makes about 11/2 cups or 12 servings.
Per serving (per 2 tablespoons): 78 calories; 8 g fat (3 g saturated fat; 92 percent calories from fat); 1 g carbohydrate; 0.2 g sugar; 14 mg cholesterol; 152 mg sodium; 1 g protein; 0.3 g fiber.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes
Celebrate "Boyhood," with a take on the perennial kids' favorite sandwich. Recipe from Food Network.
Baking spray with flour
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1 cup grape jelly
Peanut Butter Frosting, recipe follows
Candy bars, crushed with a rolling pin, such as Reese's Pieces, Butterfinger, Nutter Butter, Heath Bar, or small sandwich cookies, for decorating
Peanut Butter Frosting
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line one 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper cupcake liners. Gently spray the liners with baking spray and set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt over a large piece of paper. In a large bowl, cream the butter and granulated sugar with a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, egg yolk and vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Pour in the milk and continue to mix until smooth (the batter may look curdled at first, but will smooth out). Pick up the paper with the dry ingredients and gradually pour into the wet ingredients. Continue to mix just until blended.
Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared tin, filling the cups about three-quarters full. Bake until the tops of the cupcakes spring back to the touch and are not too golden, about 20 minutes. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes, and then allow to cool completely on a wire rack before filling, frosting or decorating.
Fill a squeeze bottle with the grape jelly and screw on the cap. Carefully insert the tip of the squeeze bottle as far as it will go into the tops of the cupcakes. Gently squeeze about 1 tablespoon jelly inside of each cupcake. Ice the tops of the cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting to cover. Decorate with your favorite candy.
Peanut Butter Frosting:
Beat the peanut butter, butter and cream cheese with a hand or stand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Slowly add the confectioners' sugar and continue to mix until the frosting is smooth. Mix in the milk and continue to mix until it reaches a good spreading consisting. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Per serving: 495 calories; 22 g fat (11 g saturated fat; 40 percent calories from fat); 69 g carbohydrates; 47 g sugar; 97 mg cholesterol; 238 mg sodium; 7 g protein; 1 g fiber.
"American Sniper" didn't have a sweet ending, but these shooters should help appease.
2 teaspoons chilled white crème de cacao
2 teaspoons chilled Balaton or Morello cherry juice
2 teaspoons chilled heavy cream
1 (1-ounce) piece chocolate (not unsweetened) for shaving
Put crème de cacao in shot glass. Hold a regular teaspoon upside down over liqueur (spoon should be at a diagonal, with only the tip touching the liqueur), then gently pour cherry juice over curved part of spoon to float it on top of crème de cacao.
Using a clean, dry teaspoon, gently pour cream into glass in same manner, creating a third layer. Shave some chocolate over cream using a vegetable peeler. Makes 1.
Planning an Oscar party? Here are some tips to make your soiree an award-winning event:
■Roll out the red carpet for your guests — literally! If you don't have a rug that stretches from the front door to the living room, pick up a few yards of inexpensive red felt from a fabric store. Sprinkle gold star confetti along the path for a touch of Hollywood glitz.
■Find gold stars at a party store and hang them from the ceiling, accented with gold serpentine and black balloons.
■Visit GreatEntertaining.com and print out copies of the Oscar Party Prediction Form from the site, and gather predictions before the show begins. Award a small prize for the person who gets the most answers right, or collect a small donation from each guest and give away the pot!
■Host an Oscar trivia contest, with winners to receive a bag of gourmet popping corn or a pair of movie tickets. Write Oscar trivia questions on an index card and test your guests' knowledge during commercial breaks. (Check out Oscars.com for lots of trivia.)
■Make up funny award names like Most Ridiculous Outfit, Biggest Hair and Worst Acceptance Speech. Nominate your stars of choice during the show.
Shooters: Concoct your own special shooter for the evening such as a Silver Bullet (1 1/4 ounces gin, 3/4 ounce Scotch and lemon twist for garnish) or the Red, White and Blue, a layered shot so each ingredient is poured on top of the previous (pour 1/3 ounce grenadine into shot glass, float 1/3 ounce peach schnapps on top, followed by floating 1/3ounce blue curacao).