I’ve been watching the Oscars since Bob Hope hosted them. That’s a very long time. However, my first “Oscar Party”, was only about 18 years ago. Hosted by my dear friends and NYC neighbors Lynn and Lee, the evening was sure to be filled with great food and drink (often with Lee’s famous margaritas), and cast with friends and neighbors from all across the Tri-State area.
When I left Chelsea and moved westward, I assumed Academy Award watching with friends, food and cocktails would continue, but soon discovered I was wrong. While the Oscars, or rather watching the often cheesy and cringe-inspiring broadcast was an annual event in my world, it wasn’t everywhere else.
So what do you do when you are just itching to see sparkles, tuxedos with trains, rambling speeches and the visible effects of botulism toxin injected into foreheads? Host your own Oscar Party! Which is exactly what I’ve done the last few years.
Oscar parties, like Super Bowl parties and other viewing event gatherings are some of the easiest things to host in my view. That’s because the entertainment portion of the evening is a given, and all you have to do is provide tasty treats for folks to shovel into themselves in between cheering, groaning, etc. Sometimes I’ll just make a dessert and maybe signature cocktail, and do the rest pot-luck or pizza delivery. Everyone is still going to have a good time.
My approach to the Oscar Party is pretty straight forward: make something a few days ahead that will only get better over time; make sure it is easily balance on lap in front of the screen (so as few utensils needed as possible); and “lite” or “heart friendly” is not an option. Let’s face it – what could be better than chowing down on mac and cheese, chili or BBQ brisket sliders while watching all those rich pretty folk who haven’t eaten for days so they can fit into that dress or tux? And speaking of fitting into that dress, this year’s party had an added feature which will probably be part of my annual event tradition now on.
I had cleared out my closets a few weeks before Oscar Night, so I invited my guests to do the same and bring with on Sunday night. After a rousing game of Oscar Bingo, my living room turned into a fashion swap-meet. Dull moments in the broadcast were replaced with “that would look AWESOME on you” and “this would go great with something I just bought.” Best of all, at the end of the night 9 BIG bags of clothing and accessories made their way to an awesome local charity’s thrift shop.
By the time everyone went home that night, they not only had some dessert in a doggy bag, they had a new outfit too! I’m not sure what I’ll serve next year, but the party will be re-named the What Were You Wearing Party from now on.
My Oscar night menu incorporated ease, fun, cheese and chocolate (as every good menu should!) I started with a baked brie with tangy jam and pecans for the cheese category, and for fun, indian-spiced popcorn in individual boxes, seasoned with garam masala, cumin, chili, salt and brown sugar.
Finally, since no Oscar event is complete without a goody-bag, I made some quick and easy chocolate bark with almonds, pistachio, dried cherries, and candied ginger and orange peel. Basically I used up all the odds and ends from my holiday baking, chopped and sprinkled over melted dark chocolate. Heaven in a goody bag.
Hope you give some (or all) of these recipes a try for your next Oscar party, friend’s movie night, or living room swap meet! Enjoy! 🙂
Oscar Party Menu
- Baked Brie with Cherry and Black Current Jam and Pecans
- Masala Popcorn
- Slow Cooker BBQ Brisket
- Light Brioche Rolls (I like to make these since I find them very easy, but feel free to buy your favorite slider rolls and save this step)
- Rat Bastard Mac and Cheese
- Creamy Coleslaw Dressing
- World Peace Cookies
- Chocolate Chip Salted Shortbread Cookies
- Butterscotch Potato Chip Cookies
- Chocolate Bark
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon garam masala powder (I found a nice brand in Whole Foods)
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
If you have a hot air popper, you can make the popcorn in that, but you don’t need to run out a buy one. It’s actually very easy to make popcorn in a heavy pot with a good lid on your stove top.
Heat the oil in a medium size pot or deep pan (about 4 quarts or larger – one that comes with a lid) over medium heat until it is melted. Add the popcorn and cover with lid. DO NOT WALK AWAY. When you hear the corn start popping, shake the pan every few seconds so the kernels are evenly distributed. It should only take about a minute or two for all the kernels to pop. When the popping starts to slow, turn off the heat, but still keep the pot covered and keep shaking.
When the popcorn finishes popping transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
This is pretty much the easiest recipe of the bunch. Take a wheel of brie and slice the top rind off. Place in an oven-safe baking dish (you may want to butter or spray the dish so clean up is easy), top with your favorite jam (a tart jam like sour cherry, raspberry or apricot works best) and nuts, cover and bake at 350F until it’s gooey. Serve with crackers or toast for dipping.
This makes enough to dress two bags of coleslaw mix (take this short cut – it’s a good one), or about 8-10 cups of raw shredded cabbage and carrots. I like to dress half the cabbage, saving half the dressing for later, and let it sit overnight. About an hour before serving, add in the rest of the cabbage and dressing and toss.
This is one of my favorite things to give as gifts around the holidays, or when you just want a little treat for your friends.
Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. Melt 8 or more ounces of your favorite chocolate (I like doing this with 72% bittersweet from Trader Joe’s) over a double boiler. While the chocolate is melting, chop up an assortment of roasted nuts and dried fruits. I like some salted nuts (like pistachios), some unsalted (almonds), dried cherries, sultanas (golden raisins), candies orange peel and candied ginger.
Pour the melted chocolate onto the lined pan and spread out so it is about 1/4-1/8″ thick. Sprinkled the chopped nuts and fruit over the melted chocolate (be generous). Let chill until the chocolate has hardened, then break up or cut up into pieces.
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