Designer gowns stepping out onto the red carpet?
It’s time to plan a tasty little star-studded Oscar number based on this year’s crop of movie contenders.
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: “Inception” Quick Caffeinated Wings, Cowboy Skewers With “True Grit” Polenta Cakes, 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 and Duckfat Vanilla Milkshake for a “Black Swan” (Duckfat is a restaurant, not an ingredient.)
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‘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.
Adapted from “Wings”
‘THE FIGHTER’ KNOCK-OUT POPCORN
Makes 14 cups
3/4 cup vegetable oil
8 medium cloves garlic, smashed, peeled and minced
2 1/4 teaspoons chili powder
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.
Adapted from “Party Food”
‘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 melting)
½ cup diced red onion
1 fresh jalapeno, sliced (use gloves)
1/4 cup torn fresh cilantro
½ 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 meat.
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 for 4 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish with cilantro and green onions.
Adapted from “Macho Nachos”
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. Whisking 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. Pour into a chilled glasses, garnish and serve at once.
Adapted from “Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes: 100 Classic and Contemporary Recipes”