A great way to celebrate the Academy Awards is to create a buffet with dishes inspired by each of the 9 nominated best picture films. This idea was suggested to me by facebook friend Malissa Lichtenwalter. Malissa got me started with a few ideas and created a number of others. The fun thing about this concept is that you can do it again year after year and since the nominated films with be new, the menu will always be different.
Here are my ideas. You’ll find recipes for a number of these suggestions below.
Because Hugo spent a lot of time in a French train station stealing food to survive, I decided to prepare a platter of fresh croissants and fresh fruit.
"Midnight in Paris"
The idea of a late night snack in Paris made me think of croque monsieurs, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, and a glass of red wine. Prepare bite-sized mini sandwiches on a platter so guests can sample more items on your buffet.
"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"
The activity in this movie happens in New York and I immediately thought of the soft pretzels that you find at street vendors. I made mini version of these with a side of spicy mustard.
This movie centers around baseball. Two traditional foods at a ballpark are popcorn and hot dogs. But, I decided to make small bags of red hot popcorn with a spicy crunchy coating and mini hotdogs with hot mustard. You'll find the recipe for the mini hotdog buns as part of the pretzel recipe below.
"The Tree Of Life"
This movie has flash back scenes of 1950s Texas. Growing up in Texas, my family always enjoyed fried chicken on Sundays so I thought I'd create a platter of mini drummettes, the drumstick portion of chicken wings. Rather than frying the chicken, however, I just coated them with a packaged dry coating mixture and baked them.
War Horse takes place during World War I. I thought of military rations that the solders had while in the trenches. I took small tin cans and printed simple labels on them and filled them with smoked meats, English biscuits and dried fruit.
This movie is in black and white, so I made cookies in black and white by dipping half of a sugar cookie in tempered chocolate. I used a star shaped cookie cutter in honor of the stars coming out for the Academy Awards.
Set in Hawaii, this movie inspired me to make a fun drink for the occasion, the Blue Hawaiian, with colorful garnishes like an orange slice, pineapple wedge, cherries and a small umbrella.
I couldn't resist making a chocolate pie to acknowledge this movie. If you haven't seen it yet, the chocolate pie plays a major role in the film and your guests my be wary of having any unless they trust you implicitly.
Many of the dishes were simply made or used prepared foods from the grocery store. Other dishes, like the Pretzels, Mini Hotdogs, Red Hot Popcorn, Black & White Cookies, Blue Hawaiian Cocktail, and Chocolate Pie, used specific recipes that are listed below.
yields 16 pretzels
the dough can also be used to make 36 mini hot dog buns (see recipe below)
1 tbl Sugar
2 tbl Flour
1 pkg Active Dry Yeast
1/2 cu Warm Water, 110 degrees F
6 tbl Butter
1/2 cu Milk
1 tsp Salt
3 1/2 - 4 cu All Purpose Flour
2 lg Eggs, room temperature, slightly beaten
2 quarts Water
1/2 cu Baking Soda
1 Egg Yolk
2 tbl Water
Coarse Sea Salt
Place sugar, flour and yeast in a medium sized bowl. Slowly add the 1/2 cup of warm water and stir to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes. Separately, melt butter in 1/2 cup of milk, either in the microwave or in a small pot over medium low heat. Once, blended, set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.
Place 3 1/2 cups of flour in a large bowl. Form a well in the center and add eggs. Start to stir and gradually add in milk mixture, followed by yeast mixture. Continue mixing until dough forms. If dough is sticky, gradually work in additional flour until dough holds together and is only slightly tacky. Knead dough on a work surface for 10 minutes.
Melt an additional tablespoon of butter and swirl it around the insides of a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and roll it around a bit to coat all sides with butter. Cover the bowl with a towel and allow the dough to rise for 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.
After dough has risen, mix 2 quarts of water with the baking soda and bring it to a boil. Punch down the dough in the bowl and then divide into 16 equal parts. Roll each part into a 20" long rope. Form a long "U" shape on your work surface with the long sides about 4" apart. Cross the long sides over each other two times and then fold the open ends down over the bottom of the "U". You might have to play with the shape a bit to give it a true pretzel shape. Repeat with remaining dough. Working with three pretzels at a time, gently drop the pretzels into the boiling water. Boil for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes and then remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel. Repeat with remaining pretzels.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Transfer pretzels to a baking sheet. Mix egg yolk with 2 tablespoons of water and liberally brush mixture onto pretzels. Sprinkle pretzels with salt and bake for 15-20 or until golden brown.
Mini Hot Dog Buns
Use the same recipe as above for making the dough. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide it into 36 equal sized portions. Roll each portion into a 2" log. Place logs side by side, with about an 1" space between them, on a baking sheet, like keys on a piano. You're leaving the space so that the buns will rise and eventually tough each other when baking. Make as many rows as you need to use all of the dough, keeping the rows about 1" apart from each other. Cover baking sheet with a towel and let dough rise for 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until buns are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Pull mini buns apart and partially slice them on one side for stuffing with mini wieners.
Red Hot Popcorn
couresy of Ann Cook
3 bags Natural Microwave Popcorn, 3.5oz size, popped with all the "old maids" picked out
1 1/2 sticks Butter or Margarine
1/2 cu Karo Syrup
9.5 oz bag Red Hots (or about 1 1/2 cup)
Melt butter, karo and red hots on the stove. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile put popped popcorn into a large greased roasting pan (I use one of those disposable turkey pans). Pour syrup over the popcorn and stir. Bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees. Stir every 15 minutes. When done, pour onto wax paper to cool. Break into pieces and store in a sealed container or bag. For more of a ballpark feel, you can also add about 1 1/2 cups of shelled peanuts to this mixture during the last 15 minutes in the oven.
Black & White Cookies
sugar cookies dipped In chocolate
3/4 cu Butter, softened
1/2 cu Granulated Sugar
1 lg Egg, beaten
1 tsp Vanilla
2 1/4 cu All purpose Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
10 oz Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
Mix together flour and salt in a large bowl. Separately, blend butter, sugar, egg and vanilla. Combine mixture with flour mixture and form into a dough. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to about 1/4" thickness. Using the cookie cutter shape your choice, cut shapes from dough and place them on a baking sheet. Rework the scraps of dough to make as many cookies as possible. Bake cookies for 14-18 minutes or until they are just slightly starting to show some color on the edges. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool completely.
Place 3/4 of the chocolate in a microwave oven safe container. Microwave for two 35 second intervals, stirring between each interval. Check the temperature. Your goal is to get the chocolate to 122 degrees F, no higher. So, keep microwaving in much smaller intervals, 5-10 seconds at a time, until you reach this temperature. If the temperature gets too high, the chocolate will not harden properly. Once the ideal temperature has been reached, add in the remaining chocolate and stir until it melts and the temperature comes down to 89 degrees F.
Dip half of the cookie into the tempered chocolate and let as much extra drip off as possible. Place on parchment paper and allow chocolate to harden.
Blue Hawaiian Cocktail
2 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Blue Caracao
1 oz Cream of coconut
1 oz Light Rum
Pinch Superfine Sugar
1 cup Ice
1 wedge of Pineapple
1 wedge of Orange
Blend all ingredients except pineapple and cherry in a blender and pour into a tall glass. Garnish with pineapple and cherry and serve.
1 1/4 cu All Purpose Flour
6 tbl Butter or Margarine, diced and cold
3 oz Cream Cheese, diced and cold
Combine flour, margarine and cream cheese and mix together with your hands, breaking margarine and cream cheese down into smaller bits. Continue blending until the flour has been incorporated and dough holds together. Roll into a ball and flatten slightly. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.
After an hour, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unwrap dough and roll it out on a floured surface to a circle about 2" larger than your pie pan. Transfer dough to pie pan. Roll any excess dough extending over the edges onto the rim and crimp the top using a fork or your index finger of one hand and your thumb and index finger on the other. This is a delicate dough that might slide down the side of the pan during baking. Be sure to press the crimped edges into the top rim of the pan. Poke the bottom of the dough multiple times with a fork and place the crust into the oven for 18-20 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely.
8 oz Bittersweet Chocolate (60% cacao or higher), chopped
1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
1 cup Granulated Sugar
4 lg Egg Yolks, beaten
1 1/2 cu Milk
2 tbl Butter
1 tsp Vanilla
Put chocolate into the top of a double boiler over hot simmering water. Stir until melted. Add flour and sugar and continue to stir until well blended. Separately, whisk together milk and eggs. Gradually pour this mixture into the chocolate, stirring constantly, until full blended. Cook until mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla. Pour into cooled pie crust and refrigerate for 4 hours or longer until ready to serve.
Whipped topping ingredients
1 cu Heavy Cream, chilled
1/2 cu Powdered Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
Whip cream until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and whip until stiff peaks form. Pipe whipped cream along the outer edge of the pie and slice to serve.