Celebrate the Oscars in style with a few award-worthy recipes…
With the glitz and glamour of the 2013 Oscars nearly upon us, no doubt tinseltown’s starlets are busy choosing their designer togs, practising their winning speeches and rehearsing their best gracious-loser smiles. If your invitation to this Sunday’s ceremony got lost in the post (what a coincidence – ours too) don’t be downhearted – invite your friends round and celebrate at home instead with an Oscars-themed feast.
With Skyfall nominated for several awards, there is surely only one beverage befitting a 2013 Oscars dinner party – the Martini. Simply pour gin and dry vermouth into a cocktail mixer with ice cubes, shake it up (don’t stir!) and strain into a chilled cocktail glass to create a tipple Mr Bond would be proud of.
While Thénardier’s unorthodox cooking style – ‘food beyond compare, food beyond belief, mix it in a mincer and pretend it’s beef; kidney of a horse, liver of a cat; filling up the sausages with this and that’ – might seem rather topical thanks to the recent horsemeat scandal, I’m not suggesting you rush out and buy cheap burgers. Instead, stock up on rustic bread, quality cheeses and a bottle of red and have a supper fit for a 19th-Century French revolutionary. Or perhaps try this recipe for classic French onion soup from simplyrecipes.com:
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
6 large red or yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 tsp sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups of beef stock, chicken stock, or a combination of the two (traditionally the soup is made with beef stock)
1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dry thyme
Salt and pepper
8 slices toasted French bread
1 ½ cups grated Swiss Gruyere with a little grated Parmesan cheese
In a large saucepan, sauté the onions in the olive oil on medium-high heat until well browned, but not burned (about 30-40 minutes). Add the sugar about 10 minutes into the process to help with the caramelisation.
Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the stock, vermouth or wine, bay leaf, and thyme. Cover partially and simmer until the flavours are well blended – this should take about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaf.
To serve, you can either use individual oven-proof soup bowls or one large casserole dish. Ladle the soup into the bowls or casserole dish. Cover with the toast and sprinkle with cheese. Put into the broiler for 10 minutes at 350°F, or until the cheese bubbles and is slightly browned.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life in the ‘Bathtub’ (a fictional place based on the Louisiana Bayou) is tough for little Hushpuppy, so a hearty meal is certainly in order. Louisiana Creole dish Jambalaya (recipe below from www.epicurious.com) should do just the trick – after all, she’ll need all the energy she can get to face those mysterious beasts heading her way…
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
3 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, minced
4oz extra-lean smoked ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
3/4 cup brown rice, uncooked
1 ½ lb medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped into bite-sized pieces
Add oil to a large non-stick saucepan. Over a medium heat, sauté onion, garlic, bell pepper and celery until the onion is translucent. Add the parsley, ham, chicken, bay leaf, and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes (with juice), tomato sauce, and 1 ¾ cups cold water. Gently simmer, uncovered, and stir occasionally for about 5 minutes. Pour rice into the pan and stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes or until rice is cooked and absorbs most of the liquid. Stir in the shrimp and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove the bay leaf and season to taste with cayenne pepper and salt.
Life of Pi
Although poor Pi had only a diet of raw fish and crackers to live on for the majority of the film, again I really don’t advise serving this to your party guests. Instead, take inspiration from Pi’s home in India and serve them this tasty veggie curry from www.bbcgoodfood.com.
1 large potato, diced
1 small butternut squash , peeled, deseeded and diced
1 aubergine, diced
6 tbsp tikka masala paste
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, sliced
680g-700g jar tomato passata
400g can coconut milk
2 red peppers, sliced
2 courgettes, diced
A few coriander sprigs, to serve
Rice or naan bread, to serve
Heat oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6. Toss the potato, squash and aubergine with 2 tbsp curry paste and 2 tbsp oil in a large roasting tin. Season, then roast for 30 mins.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Fry the onions in the remaining oil in a large pan until softened and golden – add a splash of water if they start to dry out. Stir in the remaining curry paste, cook for 3 mins, then add the passata, coconut milk and 100ml water. Simmer for a few minutes.
When the vegetables are roasted, tip them into the sauce with the peppers and courgettes. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until tender. Scatter with coriander and serve.
Argo is based on the fascinating true story of Tony Mendez’s top-secret operation to get six fugitive American diplomatic personnel out of revolutionary Iran. What better way to celebrate his success (and the film’s possible award win) than with a traditional Persian dessert? Try this recipe for Ghoriba and a special Argo-themed dip from www.fooditforward.com.
4 sticks softened, unsalted butter
5 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Beat butter with mixer until fluffy then add powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix well. Mix in flour one cup at a time until dough is no longer sticky. Form into balls or ‘S’ shapes and bake at 350°F for about 15 minutes. After they have cooled, dust them with powdered sugar.
For the dip, blend or process the following ingredients:
1 cup roasted salted peanuts
2 tbsp applesauce – homemade if possible
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tsp cinnamon
And voilà! Cut.