A friend of mine watches the entire list of Oscar nominated films every year. From the animated and the shorts, to the best picture nominees, she watches them all. I have never paid particular attention to the Oscar nominated pictures, but these year I have enjoyed many of them. I was invited to join my friend in seeing a few of the obscure films, and decided to join the craziness, um, I mean fun! Over the past several weekends, we have been watching all of the films that we could find still playing in theaters.
We have made a little celebration out of it. We have been getting the group of friends together and have a meal, then head to the theater. For each meal, we have been coming up with a recipe that celebrates the film, at least in theory.
If you haven't been lucky enough to see all of the films, I have included a brief synopsis plus the recipe to try!
Written by Michael Haneke, Amour is a French language film centered on the love story of an elderly couple, Georges and Anne, two retired music teachers living together in Paris. When Anne suffers from a stroke, her adult daughter Eva comes to Paris to help her father take care of her mother. As Anne’s health declines and her life nears its end, Georges’ love and care for his wife is put to the ultimate test. Below is a recipe for madeleines – a traditional French dessert – sweet and lovely, perfectly representative of the unconditional love between husband and wife.
1 cup unsalted butter (melted)
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
Melt 1 cup of butter in a small pot over medium heat, approximately 20 minutes until brown. Strain butter through mesh strainer and discard solids. Allow remaining butter to cool while you prepare the rest of the dough. Use butter to grease 24 3-inch Madeleine molds.*
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine eggs and vanilla in large mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Mix powdered sugar into egg and vanilla mixture slowly. When combined, beat with electric mixer for about 5 minutes, until smooth and thick. Combine flour and baking powder in small bowl. Mix well. Pour ½ half flour mixture into egg mixture. Stir. Repeat with 2nd half flour mixture. Stir well. Add cooled butter and stir until combined.
Use spoon to fill madeleine molds, filling each mold until it is 2/3 to 3/4 full. Put in oven, and bake for about 12 minutes, or until the edges are golden.
Remove from oven and molds immediately. Allow cookies to cool inverted on racks. *Note: If you do not have a madeleine mold pan, you can use a mini muffin pan. You won’t get the traditional madeleine shape, but the result will taste just as good.
Argo is a film directed by and starring Ben Affleck, which dramatizes the events that happened during the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979, when at the height of the Iranian revolution, militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took 52 Americans hostage. Argo chronicles the story of six Americans who escaped while the hostages were being held and their attempts to flee the country and help the other hostages survive. The recipe below is for tabouli – a traditional grain salad made for centuries in Persia and Iran. This recipe will give partygoers a small taste of Tehran, Iran’s capital city.
2 cup fine bulgur
4 cups chopped parsley
2 cup chopped scallions
1 cup chopped fresh mint
1 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large ripe tomatoe, chopped
Wash bulgur well in cold water. Pour bulger into large mixing bowl and cover with cold water. Refrigerate for approximately 3 hours. After 3 hours, drain the bulgur in very fine strainer. Pour into large mixing bowl and combine with all ingredients. Mix well. Refrigerate for another hour.
Remove from refrigerator and garnish with extra parsley and lemon slices, if desired. Serve cold.
Beasts of the Southern Wild stars Quvenzhané Wallis (only 5 years old when she auditioned for the movie) playing a young girl named Hushpuppy who lives the “Bathtub” – or, the bayou area across the levees from New Orleans. The movie relates the events after Hurricane Katrina, when the residents of the Bathtub lost everything in the storm and were forced to rebuild with what was left behind. The recipe below is for boiled crawfish – a traditional Cajun Louisiana dish – perfect for an area teeming with sea creatures.
2 cups salt
2 ½ Tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
5 lemons, cut in half
3 tablespoons cayenne pepper
4 heads garlic
5 onions, cut in half
1 head celery
3 green bell peppered, seeded and diced
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 pounds smoked sausage, chopped
20 small red potatoes washed
8 ears of corn, shucked and cut in half
20 pounds whole crawfish (shell-on), rinsed
Fill two large stock pots with 5 gallons water, each (leaving room for many other ingredients). Mix half the salt, Old Bay, lemons, cayenne pepper, garlic, onions, celery, bell peppers, and oil into one pot of water and half of each into the other pot. Bring the mixtures to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
Add half the sausage, potatoes, and corn to one pot and half to the other, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add half crawfish to one pot, and half to the other. Simmer for 12 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Use a large colander to strain everything from the liquid in both pots. Pour remaining crawfish and vegetables onto a large serving tray covered with newspaper. Serve immediately.
Django Unchained is Quinten Tarantino’s latest movie, set in the South two years before the Civil War. Tarantino’s movie tells the story of a slave named Django and a German-born bounty hunter named Dr. King Schultz. Schultz is hunting a pair of brothers accused of murder, and he buys Django to help him find the brothers, with the promise that if they are successful, he will set Django free. While Django helps Schultz find his bounty, he remains focused on one task: to find his lost wife Broomhilda. The recipe below is for a Mint Julep with a twist. Mint Juleps are traditional Southern Whiskey drinks, known for being drunk by wealthy southerners in their plantation houses. This julep recipe contains a spicy kick – perfectly representative of those thrilling Tarantino films.
4 cups bourbon
2 bunches fresh mint
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and julienned
Remove mint leaves from stems. Place mint leaves in bowl and cover with 1/2 cup bourbon. Soak for 15 minutes. Remove leaves from bowl of whiskey. Wrap leaves in paper towel and wring over bowl. Set mint leaves aside.
To make simple syrup, mix 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 cup water in small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool.
Pour 3-1/2 cups bourbon into a large pitcher. Add 1 cup of simple syrup to bourbon in pitcher. Add small bowl of mint-infused whiskey to pitcher. Muddle remaining mint leaves with jalapeno slivers. Mix jalapeno and mint into pitcher and refrigerate for at least an hour. Add ice to pitcher and serve cold.
This movie is an epic retelling of the legendary novel by Victor Hugo and a version of the hit stage musical adapted to the big screen. Set in 19th century France, Lés Miserables tells the story of ex-prisoner Jean Valjean, Javert, the policeman who hunts him, and the characters who revolve in and out of their lives during post-revolution France. The recipe below is for a simple French baguette – the item that Jean Valjean was imprisoned for stealing – served with Brie, a traditional rich and delicious French cheese.
3 cups lukewarm water
8 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 large wheel Brie
Grease large 6-quart bowl. Pour water into greased bowl. Add flour, salt, and yeast into water. Stir well to combine, until there are no dry spots. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes by hand. Cover bowl and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours. Refrigerate overnight.
Scoop out about 4 piles of dough – each approximately 1/4 of dough – onto a greased counter or cutting board. Shape each pile of dough into a flattened oval. Fold each dough oval in half lengthwise and seal with the edge of your hand. Flatten, and fold and seal again. With the folded seam facing down, gently roll the dough ovals into log, approximately 12 inches log. Place the logs folded seam down onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with aluminum foil and allow to rise for 1-1/2 hours.
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
After the dough has risen, uncover and cut 3 or 4 shallow slashes onto the top of each dough log. Spray the baguettes with warm water using a spray bottle, and place in oven. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and pan and cool on rack.
Once cool enough to eat, slice into 3 inch thick pieces and serve with wheel of fresh Brie.
Life of Pi tells the story of a young Indian boy named Pi who is stranded at sea after he loses his family in a shipwreck. Pi finds himself in a lifeboat with a menagerie of animals – most notably, a tiger named Richard Parker, and he must figure out how to survive on his own with a tiger by his side. The recipe for saag and cod below pays homage to traditional Indian flavors and also to the flavors of the sea where the movie is set.
2 cloves garlic
2 large knob fresh ginger
4 tablespoons cumin seed
2 tablespoons coriander
4 teaspoons mustard seed
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon cardamom seeds
6 whole cloves
3 pounds fresh spinach
16 oz. paneer cheese (or haloumi)
3 cups buttermilk
1 cup heavy cream
Mince garlic and ginger. Combine cumin, coriander, mustard seed, red pepper flakes, cardamom seeds, and cloves in mortar and pestle and grind together.
Wash spinach and chop. Peel onions and chop. Cube paneer. Brown paneer over medium heat in canola oil, approximately 5 minutes. Remove paneer from pan and add onion to pan. Brown over medium heat, approximately 4 minutes. Add minced garlic and ginger and stir. Add spice mixture and stir. Add the spinach to the pan until wilted. Stir in buttermilk and cream and simmer over medium-low heat, approximately 8 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Add paneer to spinach mix in pan. Keep warm over low heat.
1/4 cup milk
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
8 fresh cod filets
1 cup vegetable oil
Crack eggs into mixing bowl and beat well. Combine with milk and stir. In a separate bowl, mix flour, paprika, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and parsley.
Heat vegetable oil in a large skill over medium heat. Dip each cod filet into egg and milk mixture, then into flour mixture. Fry four filets in oil, approximately 3 minutes per side. When cooked, remove from oil onto paper towel. Repeat with next 4 filets. Season with salt.
Spoon warm saag paneer onto large serving tray. Spread in even and thin layer around the bottom. Place 8 cod filets on top of saag paneer. Serve hot.
Stephen Spielberg directs Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln, a dramatization of Abraham Lincoln’s life and his final months as president. The movie tells the story of an America divided by civil war and Lincoln’s attempts to reunite and revive the nation. The recipe below is for apple pie – perhaps the most traditionally American dessert. Also, coincidentally, it has been reported to be Abraham Lincoln’s favorite dessert, and one that his wife Mary Todd made quite expertly.
2 9-inch pie crusts (buy frozen)
¼ cup flour
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 cup apples, cored and sliced
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line bottom of pie pan with one pie crust, defrosted per package instructions.
Mix apples, flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, lemon juice, and butter in large mixing bowl. Pour apple mixture into pie-lined pan. Top apple mixture and crust with second pie crust, defrosted per package instructions. Seal edges of two crusts together and flute. Cut 4-5 slits in top of top crust. Cover edge of crust with 3 inch strip of aluminum foil. Put pie in oven and bake 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on rack for 2 hours before serving.
In Silver Linings Playbook, a man recently released from a mental institution following the demise of his marriage meets a fellow sufferer of mental illness who recently lost her husband. The two form an unlikely bond and offer companionship for each other while grieving their own losses. This recipe for raisin bran cookies pays homage to an important scene in the movie, when the two, who often encounter each other running in their neighborhood, go out on their first date and order raisin bran for dinner.
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups of raisin bran
¾ cup butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 medium eggs
½ cup brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda, and cinnamon in bowl, and mix well. Crush raisin bran into small pieces. Mix cereal into flour mixture and stir. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar, until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat. Add cereal mixture and stir until well combined. Drop tablespoons of batter onto ungreased cookie sheet. Put in the oven and bake for 12-14 minutes, until slightly browned. Remove from oven and cookie sheet and cool on racks immediately. Serve cooled.
Zero Dark Thirty relates the story of American military and intelligence operatives’ hunt for Osama Bin Laden. The movie spans decades and locations across the world, as the hunt for the nation’s most important manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man is conducted. The recipe below is for Pakora – a traditional fried chicken dish from Pakistan, where much of the movie and the manhunt take place.
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups gram flour
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 ½ tablespoons dry coriander, chopped
2 tablespoons mint leaves, chopped
1 pinch baking soda
2 tablespoons water
Vegetable oil for frying
Chop chicken breasts into 3-4 inch pieces, and set aside. Mix gram flour, salt, chili powder, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, mint and baking soda in large bowl. Add eggs and beat vigorously. Add water and mix until batter is smooth. Heat several inches of oil in large skillet. Dip chicken in gram flour batter and fry in oil. When cooked through thoroughly, remove chicken pieces from oil. Dry on rack. Serve after cooling for 10-15 minutes. Note: Gram flour is flour made from ground chickpeas (garbanzo beans).
Your Turn: What are you serving while you watch the Academy Awards? Which is your favorite contender for Best Picture?
Categories: Food & Recipes