It's time to plan a tasty little star-studded Oscar number based on this year's crop of movie contenders. The 83rd annual Academy Awards will air Sunday
The updated Western “True Grit” is rife with clever food puns. Serve your guests chili, beef jerky, cornbread, s’mores or Cowboy Caviar (check out the half-million Internet entries if you need that one.)
Other movie titles are a bit more of a stretch.
Lots of red wine is swilled and spilled in “The Kids Are All Right,” but the dad/donor character inspired us to adapt a recipe from, ahem, “Macho Nachos” instead.
Well, you get the picture.
And the nominees are:
• Duckfat Vanilla Milkshake for a “Black Swan” (Duckfat is a restaurant, not an ingredient.)
• The King Will Be Speechless Chickpea Crowns
• “The Kids Are All Right,” But He’s a Macho Nacho
• “The Fighter” Knock-Out Pumped-Up Popcorn
• “Inception” Quick Caffeinated Wings
• Cowboy Skewers With “True Grit” Polenta Cakes
Cowboy Skewers with ‘True Grit’ Polenta Cakes
Makes 16 skewers
1 pound beef flank or sirloin steak, about 1-inch thick
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, crushed (see note)
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (16-ounce) tube prepared polenta, sliced into 1/2-inch slices
Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, light a hot fire in a charcoal or gas grill.
Slice the beef across the grain into thin strips. Carefully ease the beef strips onto skewers, snaking each strip so it looks like a series of S’s on the skewer. You may have more than one strip of beef per skewer. Place the beef onto a large plate or platter. Whisk together the barbecue sauce, lemon juice, crushed garlic, red and black pepper and salt in a bowl. Set aside half the sauce. Pour or brush the remaining sauce evenly over the beef and allow to marinate for 5 to 10 minutes then discard.
Place the skewers and polenta on the grill and cover. After 3 minutes, flip polenta and skewers, brushing meat with some of the reserved sauce; cover and cook for 3 more minutes, until meat is done and polenta is soft, warm and features grill marks. Serve with remaining sauce.
Look for polenta in the produce section or in the ethnic foods aisle.
To crush garlic: Place clove on a cutting surface. Place large chef’s knife over the top of garlic with blade laid flat on top; use fist to apply pressure. Hit a few times until garlic crushes and oils are released.
Per skewer: 104 calories (76 percent from fat), 3 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), 14 milligrams cholesterol, 12 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams protein, 171 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.
Adapted from “Party Snacks!” (Harvard Common Press) by A.J. Rathbun Duckfat Vanilla Milkshake for a ‘Black Swan’
Makes about 2 milkshakes or 12 shot glasses
3-1/4 cups half-and-half
2 vanilla beans
6 egg yolks
5 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
3 medium scoops vanilla ice cream (about 3/4 of a pint), softened until just melty at the edges
Black licorice sticks, dark cake sprinkles, whipped cream, cherry, for garnish, if desired
For the creme anglaise: Place the half-and-half in a small, heavy saucepan. Using a sharp paring knife, carefully split the vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the cream, then add the hulls. Set the pan over medium heat and, stirring occasionally, bring the cream to a bare simmer. Off the heat, allow the cream to infuse for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt in a medium, heavy, heatproof bowl until light and frothy, about 2 minutes. Secure the bowl in position by wrapping a damp kitchen towel around the base. Remove the hulls from the warm cream mixture. Whisk constantly, very slowly and gradually pour the cream mixture into the yolk mixture until it is all incorporated.
Rinse, but don’t dry, the saucepan. Pour the cream and egg mixture into the pan, set it over medium low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats a wooden spoon to the degree that you leave a crisp-edged, clear trail when you draw your finger across the back of a spoon, about 12 minutes.
Set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl and strain the custard into it. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap, pressing it right onto the surface of the custard and poking several holes with the tip of a paring knife for the steam to escape. Allow the custard to cool to lukewarm and then refrigerate until well-chilled, at least 4 hours and up to 4 days.
To assemble: Place 1 cup of the chilled creme anglaise and the ice cream in a blender and pulse several times to begin breaking up the ice cream. With the motor off, use a flexible spatula to mash the mixture down onto the blender blade. Continue pulsing, stopping and mashing until the mixture is well-blended, thick and moving easily in the blender jar, roughly 30 to 90 seconds. Pourinto a chilled glasses, garnish and serve at once.
Per milkshake: 402 calories (57 percent from fat), 26 grams total fat (15 grams saturated), 239 milligrams cholesterol, 36 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams protein, 141 milligrams sodium, no dietary fiber.
Per shot glass: 67 calories (57 percent from fat), 4 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 40 milligrams cholesterol, 6 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 24 milligrams sodium, no dietary fiber.
Adapted from “Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes: 100 Classic and Contemporary Recipes” (Norton) by Adam Ried The King Will Be Speechless Chickpea Crowns
Makes 24 crowns
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 ounces small white mushrooms, sliced
1 (16-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1-1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 (17-ounce) package puff pastry, thawed in refrigerator
1 (9-ounce) jar hot mango chutney
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring regularly, for 4 to 5 minutes, until golden. Reduce the heat to medium, add the mushrooms and cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring.
Add chickpeas, pepper, salt and parsley. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes more, stirring regularly. Using a large spoon, transfer the mixture to a food processor. Pulse 5 to 6 times, until the mixture is blended but still a bit chunky.
Spread the sheets of puff pastry out (no need to roll), and cu t into 21/2-inch squares (you should have 24). Put 1 tablespoon of chickpea filling into each square. Pull up the squares’ corners so they meet, making a small pyramid. Pinch them together.
Place the crowns on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. They should be crisp on the outside and will probably open a bit at the top (this is OK). Serve on a large platter with hot mango chutney.
Per crown: 158 calories (52 percent from fat), 9 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 17 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 148 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.
Adapted from “Party Snacks!” (Harvard Common Press) by A.J. Rathbun On the section cover: ‘The Kids Are All Right,’ But He’s A Macho Nacho
Makes 1 (12-by-18-inch) tray or equivalent
1 pound ground chorizo
4 to 5 ounces corn tortilla chips
6 ounces (about 2 cups) shredded Mexican cheese (choose one known for superior melting qualities)
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 fresh jalapeno, sliced (use gloves; do not touch eyes after handling)
1/4 cup torn fresh cilantro
1/2 cup sliced green onions
Preheat oven to 475 degrees, or preheat the broiler, with the rack position about 7 inches from the heat source.
Cook chorizo in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. When done, drain the meat thoroughly.
Arrange the chips in a single layer on baking sheet or ovenproof platter. Sprinkle chips with half the cheese. Spoon meat over top, covering each chip with meat. Sprinkle meat with other half of cheese. Sprinkle chips with red onion and dot with slices of jalapeno.
Bake nachos for 4 to 6 minutes, or broil, until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Garnish with cilantro and green onions.
Per serving: 225 calories (68 percent from fat), 17 grams total fat (6 grams saturated), 33 milligrams cholesterol, 8 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams protein, 519 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.
Adapted from “Macho Nachos” (Potter) by Kate Heyhoe ‘Inception’ Quick Caffeinated Wings
Makes 12 wings
12 meaty chicken wings
1/4 cup black pepper-based steak seasoning (such as McCormick’s Grill Mates)
3 tablespoons instant espresso powder
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
Chopped scallions, for serving, if desired
Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Place wings on baking sheet.
In a small bowl, combine the steak seasoning, espresso and brown sugar. Add the olive oil and mix with your fingers to make a paste. Rub wings liberally with spice mixture, covering both sides. Let sit for 20 minutes to absorb flavors and adhere to the skin.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake the wings for 20 minutes, or until done. Garnish with chopped scallions.
Per wing: 133 calories (65 percent from fat), 10 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 16 milligrams cholesterol, 6 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 284 milligrams sodium, no dietary fiber.
Adapted from “Wings” (Wiley) by Debbie Moose ‘The Fighter’ Knock-out Pumped-up Popcorn
Makes 14 cups
3/4 cup vegetable oil
8 medium cloves garlic, smashed, peeled and minced
2-1/4 teaspoons chili powder
Scant 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (4-ounce) bag plain popped popcorn
Place oil, garlic, chili powder and cayenne in small saucepan over very low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
Place popcorn in a large bowl. Pour the spice mixture over and toss to coat; using hands is best, but be sure oil is not too hot. Season with salt to taste.
Per 1-cup serving: 138 calories (77 percent from fat), 12 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 7 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 5 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.
Adapted from “Party Food” (Morrow) by Barbara Kafka