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Award-winning recipes to enjoy watching the Oscars

'Barbie': Pink meringue 'sandwiches.' (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
'Barbie': Pink meringue 'sandwiches.' (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

When I was young, I developed an early obsession with the Academy Awards. It became a marker of how grown-up I was. Each year my mother let me stay up a bit later; You can watch for 30 minutes. You can watch for an hour. Until finally I was allowed to stay up until nearly midnight (Eastern time) to watch the entire broadcast. I’m not sure exactly what it was that grabbed my attention. There were so few movies I had actually been allowed to watch at a young age. But the dresses, the jewelry, the glitz, the glam; I thought I’d outgrow it, but the truth is, I still look forward to the awards show with the glee of a child or the seriousness of someone in the industry.

As you settle in front of the television this year, what will you eat and drink? Like the Super Bowl or watching a long movie, you don’t want to be hopping up and down cooking, reheating and spending time in the kitchen. You need finger food that can be made ahead of time and served simply.

With that thought in mind, here are three recipes that honor some of this year’s best movies. It’s all a little tongue-in-cheek, but the recipes are solid and ideal to serve at any gathering.

First up, an ode to Best Original Screenplay nominee “May December” and the opening scene where Julianne Moore puts dozens of hot dogs on the grill. I used good Italian sausage and wrapped them in puff pastry (Frozen and pre-made. Keep it simple.) and baked a version of pigs in a blanket. Serve with good Dijon-style or grainy mustard and you’ll be all set.

To honor Best Picture nominees “Oppenheimer” or “Maestro,” for that matter–, you might want to pass around chocolate cigarettes and martinis. Or how about mini roast beef sandwiches to honor the poignant Christmas dinner scene in “The Holdovers”? How about blood orange juice and soda water over crushed ice to honor “Anatomy of a Fall”? Crude, I know!

And then “Barbie” and the land of pink fluff: gorgeous pink meringue cookies sandwiched with pink whipped cream make a perfect finger food dessert.

Or a Portuguese egg custard tart, that’s inspired by “Poor Things” and Emma Stone’s remarkable performance and gigantic appetite.

And the award goes to….

‘May December’: Pigs in a blanket

‘May December’: Pigs in a blanket. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

The opening scene of “May December” introduces us to Gracie Atherton-Yoo, played by Julianne Moore, arranging dozens of hot dogs on the grill for a 4th of July picnic party. “I don’t think we have enough hot dogs,” she says, introducing some humor in an otherwise dark film. What’s better to serve on Oscar night than pigs in a blanket, my riff on that scene. Here, I use hot Italian sausage, but you could use chorizo or your favorite sausage and pre-made frozen puff pastry.

Makes 8 pieces.

Ingredients

  • 7 ounces frozen puff pastry
  • 2 hot or sweet Italian sausages or chorizo, about ½ pound
  • 1½ teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Dijon-style or grainy mustard, plus more for serving
  • 1 egg or egg white
  • White sesame seeds


Instructions

  1. Thaw the pastry in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Cook the sausage: place the sausage in a medium skillet and cover with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 5 minutes. Drain the water from the skillet and add the oil. Cook the sausage, flipping from side to side, for about 3 minutes per side. Remove from the heat and cool. Cut into 8 pieces.
  4. Meanwhile, roll out the thawed pastry: working on a lightly floured surface, cut the pastry into 2 equal pieces. Working with one piece, roll the pastry out into a rectangle about 9 x 5 ½ inches. Using a pizza wheel or small, sharp knife, cut the pastry on the diagonal into four equal triangles. Repeat with the remaining pastry. You should have 8 triangles.
  5. Brush one pastry triangle with a touch of the mustard. Place a piece of the sausage at the base of the triangle, opposite the narrow end. Roll the pastry up over the sausage towards the narrowest point. Place on the prepared baking sheet, seam side down. (At this point, the pastry-wrapped sausages can be covered loosely and refrigerated for up to 2 hours before baking.)
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position a rack in the center.
  7. Beat the egg in a small bowl. Using a pastry or barbecue brush, brush the pastry with the egg and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 16 to 18 minutes. Serve hot or warm with mustard for dipping.

‘Barbie’: Pink meringue ‘sandwiches’

‘Barbie’: Pink meringue ‘sandwiches.’ (Katny Gunst/Here & Now)

Everyone knows Barbie’s favorite color.  These pink meringue cookies scream “Barbie.” A soft, pillowy fluff of a cookie filled with a pink whipped cream. You sandwich two cookies together with the filling and you’ve got perfect Oscar night “Barbie” food. Unlike Barbie (who doesn’t really eat) you will devour these cookies.

You can achieve a good pink color in these cookies two ways: buy or order freeze-dried strawberry powder or use a few drops of red food coloring. The cookies need to sit in the oven for at least an hour (or preferably overnight) so plan your time accordingly. Don’t sandwich the cookies with the cream until just before serving. These cookies are perfect to serve at any Mojodojo Dream House. Remember: there are no calories in Barbie Land!

Makes 15 stuffed cookies.

Ingredients

The pink meringue cookies:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup powdered (confectioners’) sugar
  • 6 egg whites, room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons freeze-dried strawberry powder or 2 to 3 drops red food coloring


The pink whipped cream filling:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons freeze-dried strawberry powder or 2 to 3 drops red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Instructions

  1. Make the cookies: place a piece of parchment paper on two cookie sheets. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the two sugars and set aside.
  3. Separate the eggs and add the egg whites to a large mixing bowl. (Save the yolks for hollandaise and/or the Portuguese tarts.) Add the salt and cream of tartar to the egg whites. Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites for 2 to 3 minutes, or until foamy. Continue beating, adding the sugar mixture one tablespoon at a time. Beat until the whites hold stiff peaks and look glossy, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  4. You can shape the cookies several ways. The easiest is to use a tablespoon and drop them on the prepared cookie sheet giving the top a kind of gentle swirl. You can also pipe them from a pastry bag or add to a small plastic bag: fill the bag with the mixture and, if using a plastic bag, cut a tiny hole from one corner. Pipe about a tablespoon’s worth onto the cookie sheet, separating the cookies by an inch. You should have around 30 cookies.
  5. Bake on the top and bottom shelves for about 2 to 2½ hours, or until the meringues are crisp on the outside. They shouldn’t be soft; if they are, they need to bake a bit longer. You can test them by carefully removing a cookie from the baking sheet and lightly tapping on the bottom; it should sound hollow.
  6. Turn off the oven and set the door ajar. Leave the cookies in the oven for at least an hour or close the oven door after an hour and let sit overnight to dry out.
  7. Just before serving, make the pink cream filling: in a medium bowl, using a hand or stand mixer, whip the cream for 3 minutes. Add the sugar and strawberry powder (or food coloring; add enough to get a rich pink color) and whip until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla and whip until the cream holds its shape.
  8. To form the cookies (don’t do this more than an hour before serving): remove the cookies from the parchment paper. Add about a tablespoon of the cream to the bottom (flat side) of the cookie and sandwich it together (flat bottom side to flat bottom side) with another cookie. Repeat.

‘Poor Things’: Portuguese custard tarts (pastéis de nata)

‘Poor Things’: Portuguese custard tarts (pastéis de nata). (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

Actress Emma Stone reportedly ate 60 of these Portuguese egg custard tarts while playing Bella Baxter in the film “Poor Things.” She is quoted as saying that eating the tarts “was more challenging than the nudity.”

You might only want to eat one or two of these rich, delicious little tarts. This recipe uses frozen puff pastry instead of homemade pastry; it’s a huge time saver and makes the recipe very approachable. Be sure to leave time to thaw the pastry and then roll it and chill it for about 30 minutes while you make the custard. The pastry is placed into a muffin pan, topped with the custard and baked. These are best served warm or room temperature on the day you make it. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and ground cinnamon just before serving.

Makes 12.

Ingredients

The pastry:

  • 7 ounces frozen puff pastry (preferably all-butter pastry)


The custard:

  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ cup, plus 1½ tablespoons whole milk
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg yolks, whisked


Topping:

  • Confectioners’ sugar and ground cinnamon


Instructions:

  1. Thaw the puff pastry in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  2. Working on a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into a 12-inch square. Roll the pastry into a log or cigar shape, rolling tightly. Wrap with plastic and place in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes or the refrigerator for about 45 minutes, or overnight.
  3. Make the custard: in a medium bowl, whisk the flour and 1½ tablespoons of the milk in a bowl and set aside.
  4. In a medium-sized pot add the sugar, cinnamon stick and water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until thickened, about 220 degrees on a candy thermometer. You don’t want to stir the mixture.
  5. In a small pot heat the remaining ½ cup of milk over medium heat until just bubbling along the edges.
  6. Whisk the hot milk into the flour mixture until smooth. Then whisk the sugar syrup into the mixture (carefully remove the cinnamon stick; it will be quite hot) and whisk until smooth. Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes and whisk in the vanilla and the yolks. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the custard while you roll out the pastry.
  7. Heat the oven to 500 degrees. If your oven goes to 525 degrees, do that. Place a cookie sheet in the oven while the oven preheats.
  8. Working on a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled pastry until it’s about 1 inch thick. Trim the ends and cut into 12 half-inch slices. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll each slice into a 2 ½-inch circle. Place the circle of pastry into the bottom of a muffin tin, pressing on the bottom and working a bit up the sides to flatten the pastry against the tin. The base/bottom of the pastry should be a bit thicker than the sides. Place in the refrigerator until chilled, about 15 minutes.
  9. Remove and divide the custard between the 12 pastry shells.
  10. Place the muffin tin on the baking sheet and bake for about 15 to 18 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the custard is bubbling and almost brown in some spots. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking rack for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the tarts from the muffin tin (if they feel stuck use a flat kitchen knife to work your way around the outside of the tart to help loosen it) and cool for another 5 minutes on the baking rack. Place the confectioners’ sugar in a small sifter and sprinkle over the still warm tarts. Top with a touch of cinnamon. You can bake these up to four hours before serving or place them in the oven during a commercial break at the start of the show.
  11. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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