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Archive for Academy Awards

FOOD FUN: Oscar Party Sushi

If your Oscar party will include sushi, how about a platter that looks like a director’s slate?

This fun idea comes from SushiShop, which isn’t selling the “director’s slate” platters but developed this as part of an advertising campaign.

You can make it yourself with:

  • 10 pieces of salmon nigiri (fish atop rice pads)
  • 10 pieces of tamago nigiri (egg custard)
  • 24 pieces of pieces of black caviar roll in green soy wrappers (or a cucumber wrap), topped with a dab of green mayonnaise (or a piece of edamame)
    Your local sushi restaurant can create this for you, or work with you to create a different design with different sushi varieties (check them out in our beautiful Sushi Glossary).



    Cut! Eat! Photo courtesy


    Unless you’re a mogul, you can buy affordable black lumpfish caviar or black capelin caviar. We found 12 ounces for $29.99 and $14.95, respectively, on Amazon.

    Check out the different types of caviar.



    RECIPE: Parmesan Popcorn, Jalapeño Popcorn

    Following up on our “Diet Oscars” menu, here’s a recipe for flavored popcorn. In addition to movie-watching (or movie award show-watching), gourmet popcorn goes well with cocktails, wine and beer.

    Don’t like cheese or rosemary? Head to, the website of the The Popcorn Board, for scores of flavored popcorn recipes.

    The recipes yield four quarts of flavored popcorn: 16 one-cup servings (or for our family, four one-quart servings).

    We made these recipes with imported Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese because we love the superior flavor; but you can use domestic Parmesan. You’ll get better flavor if you grate it freshly, rather than buy pre-grated (and please, nothing from a can!). Here’s the difference between the imported and domestic versions.



    Brighten up cheese popcorn with some rosemary. Photo courtesy


    Ingredients For 4 Quarts

  • 4 quarts popped popcorn
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely crushed rosemary (fresh or jarred)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt (or substitute sea salt)
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper, optional

    1. PLACE popcorn in a large serving bowl.

    2. MIX butter, olive oil and rosemary together in a small bowl; microwave 20 seconds to melt butter. Stir butter mixture and pour over popcorn; toss. Sprinkle cheese, garlic salt and pepper over popcorn.

    3. TOSS again and serve.



    Kick up the cheese popcorn with jalapeño.
    Photo courtesy



    Ingredients For 16 One-Cup Servings

  • 4 quarts popped popcorn
  • 2-3 teaspoons jalapeño green hot sauce or more to taste (you can substitute whatever hot sauce you have)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (substitute cheese with brewer’s yeast for a low fat alternative)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt

    1. PLACE popcorn in a large serving bowl. Sprinkle popcorn with hot sauce, Parmesan cheese and garlic salt.

    2. TOSS and serve immediately.


    It’s a pleasant surprise: home-popped popcorn is one of the healthiest snacks you can enjoy.

    It’s full of polyphenols, antioxidants that help to neutralize the free radicals that contribute to aging. In fact, popcorn has one of the highest levels of polyphenols of any plant food.

    It’s also a whole grain, packed with fiber. If you use just a little butter or cheese, you’re adding a bit of cholesterol; but it’s just as easy to skip the cheese, use olive oil, and pile on lots of herbs and spices.

    Note that prepackaged, store-bought microwave popcorn is less good for you, made with chemicals and synthetics for flavoring and coloring.

    So pop it yourself—it’s easy enough! You can also make the following recipe without oil; but the amount we use is neglible. For an interesting twist, experiment with other oils you may have on hand: nut oils, sesame oil, etc.

    Ingredients For 3 Cups

  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • Brown paper lunch bag
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

    1. COMBINE the popcorn and oil in a bowl and mix to coat. Add to bag and sprinkle in the salt. Fold the top of the bag over twice to seal in the ingredients.

    2. MICROWAVE on full power for 2-1/2 to 3 minutes, listening until you hear pauses of 2-3 seconds between pops and remove the bag from the microwave. (Even tough there may be some unpopped kernels, to continue cooking risks burning the popped kernels.)

    3. OPEN the bag carefully, releasing the hot steam; then pour into a serving bowl.



    TIP OF THE DAY: The “Diet” Oscar Party


    We especially like Tribe hummus with
    toppings—although you can always add your
    own toppings
    to plain hummus. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    “What are you serving for the Oscars?” ask our friends.

    Last year it was a high-calorie gourmet feast, including rich appetizers, duck lasagna with a flight of wines, a cheese plate and a choice of four desserts (cream cheese-frosted cupcakes, Grand Marnier brownies, hazelnut shortbread and tropical fruit salad), followed by several liqueurs sent to THE NIBBLE for tasting.

    The only healthful, moderate-calorie dish of the evening was the fruit salad.

    This year, as we thought about sitting down and eating over four hours, our New Year’s resolution angel popped up and said: “Do you think all those trim stars eat lasagna and cupcakes? Make this year the “healthy Oscars!”

    Point taken! We planned to buy some of the ingredients already prepared, as we won’t have the time to do everything from scratch as we did last year.

    Here’s our lower calorie, better-for-you menu for this year’s Academy Awards:


  • Diet sangria: a blend of red wine, diet orange soda, fresh fruit and a touch of Grand Marnier.
  • Flavored and plain club sodas: individually customized with lemon and lime wedges and an assortment of flavored bitters.
  • Wine spriters: diluting both the calories and the alcohol impact.
  • After-dinner coffee or espresso: from our Keurig and Nespresso machines, which make it easy to provide different strengths, flavors and decaf.

  • Crudités: a colorful, flavorful, tempting selection. The best thing to fill up on is raw veggies!
  • Dips: nonfat Greek yogurt with herbs and garlic and three different flavors of hummus with toppings (we especially like Tribe Natural’s Mediterranean Style, Spicy Red Pepper and Zesty Spice & Garlic). Here’s how to add your own toppings to plain hummus.
  • Seafood: One of our friends, whose family owns restaurants, is bringing a large plat de mer—what a luxury! Otherwise, we’d have gotten a sushi platter.


  • Salad bar: a build-your-own dinner salad with two lettuce options, salad vegetables, beans, lentils, olives, capers, gherkins, grilled chicken (Perdue Short Cuts) and chipotle-flavored tuna (Bumble Bee).
  • “Salad pizza”: Our local gourmet pizzeria makes a “salad pizza”—10 vegetables on whole wheat dough. If anyone is still hungry, we’ll order one.

  • Fruit salad: five or six different fruits, depending on what looks good in the market on Saturday.
  • Micro cupcakes: one guest is bringing an assortment from Baked By Melissa, a New York City chain that makes many flavors of bite-sized cupcakes. Tthe size of a quarter, they’re about 50 calories each. The goal is to eat just one.
    Even if everyone leaves stuffed, they’ll be stuffed with good-for-you foods.



    A wonderful contribution to our “Diet Oscars” party. This plat de mer is courtesy Artisanal Restaurant | NYC.




    RECIPE: Popcorn Squares, A Whole Grain Alternative to Rice Krispie Treats

    These popcorn squares from are a crunchy companion to yesterday’s popcorn ice cream. They’ve got just the right amount of sweetness to satisfy, plus popcorn, a whole grain.

    While they’re appropriate munching for the Golden Globes or Academy Awards, they’re also good picnic fare.


    Ingredients For 12 Squares

  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup reduced fat peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup raisins, chips or mini M&Ms
  • 8 cups air-popped popcorn
    Halloween Option


    Popcorn squares are full of favorites like raisins, chips, M&Ms and peanut butter. Photo courtesy

    Press candy corn into the top when the pan comes out of the oven, before the squares are cool enough to slice. Candy corn will melt in the oven. M&Ms and chocolate chips do melt in the oven but solidify again as they cool.


    1. COMBINE corn syrup, sugar, brown sugar and peanut butter in a large saucepan.

    2. BRING to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly; boil 2-3 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat.

    3. COMBINE popcorn and raisins in large bowl; pour hot mixture over popcorn and toss carefully with wooden spoons to mix until well-coated.

    4. SPRAY a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray; press popcorn mixture into pan and cool completely.

    5. CUT into squares and serve.

    Find more fun popcorn recipes at



    TIP OF THE DAY: Popcorn Ice Cream, Store Bought Or Homemade

    Yes, it’s popcorn ice cream! Photo courtesy


    Lights, camera, ice cream fun!

    Getting ready for the Golden Globes this Sunday? Can’t wait to see Tina Fey and Amy Poehler do their thing?

    Here’s just the “golden” treat to serve: Caramel Popcorn Ice Cream.

    Head to Baskin-Robbins and stock up on the flavor of the month, Movie Theater Popcorn Ice Cream. The “show-stopper” features popcorn-flavored ice cream with crisp butter popcorn-flavored rice crisps and a salty caramel ribbon.

    Bring home quarts, or enjoy a Movie Theater Popcorn: two scoops of popcorn ice cream with caramel topping, whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry on top, in a freshly baked waffle bowl.

    You can get a free waffle cone upgrade with the purchase of a double scoop of ice cream, at participating locations. And if you want it for the Academy Awards on March 2nd, put some into deep freeze and resist the temptation to eat it before then.


    We’ve got the scoop on how to make your own popcorn ice cream, with two recipes below.


    This recipe is from by chef Andy O.C. Husbands of Tremont 647 and Sister Sorel in Boston’s South End. It’s adapted from his book Wicked Good Barbecue (with co-authors Andrea Pyenson and Chris Hart). It‘s a big hit with his customers.

    For maximum flavor, let the popcorn steep in the custard overnight.

    Ingredients For 1 Quart

  • 4 cups popped popcorn + more for garnish (store-bought or pop your own)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt


    1. If popping your own corn, PLACE the popcorn kernels and oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Holding the pan by the handle, quickly shake it back and forth over the burner. When the first kernel pops (after 1 to 3 minutes), cover the pan and continue to shake it while more kernels pop. When the popping slows to 1 to 2 pops every 10 seconds, remove the pan from the heat and transfer the popcorn to a bowl. Measure out 4 cups of popcorn and reserve. Save the extra popcorn for garnish.

    2. WARM the half-and-half, heavy cream and vanilla bean in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, until you see small bubbles forming around the edges of the pan. Do not let the mixture reach a boil, or the half-and-half will curdle. Remove from the heat and set aside.

    3. BEAT the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is thick and light in color, 2 to 3 minutes. Keeping the mixer on medium, gradually add about half of the hot cream mixture to the egg yolks, mixing until smooth. Pour the contents of the mixer bowl into the remaining cream in the saucepan; mix well.


    A third take on popcorn ice cream. Photo courtesy Breaking Bread Blog.

    4. PLACE the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture registers at 180°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the pan from the heat and discard the vanilla bean. Pour the custard into a large metal bowl and stir in the 4 cups of popcorn. Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

    5. STRAIN the popcorn custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing down on the popcorn to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When the ice cream is almost frozen, add the sea salt and churn to fully incorporate.

    6. GARNISH servings of ice cream with the reserved extra popcorn.

    The popcorn ice cream in the photo above right is from Sheryl D. of Breaking Bread Blog, whose love of caramel popcorn inspired her to develop the recipe.

    Sheryl observes that the popcorn “gives [the ice cream] toasty undertones and provides thickening via the starch in the popcorn. So…you get [creaminess] without needing much cream or eggs. This allows the caramel flavors to shine.”

    “This ice cream is fantastic with caramelized peanuts, peanut sauce or other nuts or strong flavored fruits like cherries,” says Sheryl. “Caramel popcorn of course is a natural accompaniment.”

    She also suggests a brownie sundae with caramel corn ice cream, garnished with candied pepitas, cacao nibs, chocolate foam and morello Cherries

    Here’s her recipe.

    Check out the different types of ice cream in our delicious Ice Cream Glossary.



    FOOD HOLIDAY & RECIPE: Peach Ice Cream

    Peach ice cream. Photo courtesy


    It’s National peach Ice Cream Day. Peaches originated in China and have been cultivated since about 1000 B.C.E. Here are more peach facts.

    To celebrate the holiday, QVC has sent us chef David Venable’s recipe for homemade, fresh peach ice cream. If you’d like a classic custard-base French ice cream, try this peach ice cream recipe. You’ll also find a delicious peach cobbler recipe—great with the ice cream.



  • 4 cups fresh sliced peaches or defrosted frozen peaches
  • 1 can (9.6 ounces) peach nectar
  • 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

    1. PURÉE 3 cups of the peaches and 1 can of peach nectar in a food processor until smooth.

    2. COMBINE the peach purée with the condensed milk, heavy cream and whole milk in a medium size sauce pan. Place 3 tablespoons of the mixture into a small bowl, and sprinkle the gelatin onto the mixture; set aside.

    3. BRING the saucepan mixture to a slight simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat.

    4. POUR 1 cup of the heated mixture into the small bowl (with the gelatin). Stir until gelatin has dissolved.

    5. STIR gelatin mixture into the remaining ice cream and refrigerate overnight. Take the remaining peaches and chop them into 1/4″ pieces. Refrigerate until ready to freeze ice cream base.

    6. POUR the chilled ice cream base into an ice cream maker and begin to freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. After the ice cream freezes to the point of soft serve, add the chopped peaches and allow the machine to run until peach pieces are distributed throughout. Continue to freeze according to the directions.

    Make this peach ice cream recipe with honey.



    ACADEMY AWARDS RECIPE: Oscar Statue Cookies

    You’ve got plenty of time between now and Sunday night to bake a batch of these impressive Oscar statuette cookies, developed by Lauryn Cohen of

    You don’t even have to buy an Academy Award-shaped cookie cutter: Here’s a free downloadable Oscar cookie template and circle for the statuette base..

    The recipe makes approximately two dozen coookies.



  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

    Everyone wins with an edible Oscar. Photo courtesy

    Preparation For Dough

    The dough can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

    1. WHISK flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.

    2. COMBINE cream butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until mixture is pale and blended.

    3. ADD eggs, one at a time, mixing until eggs and extra yolk are fully incorporated into sugar mixture. Add vanilla extract and beat. Reduce mixer to low and add flour mixture, a little at a time, until dough is fully combined, taking care not to over-mix.

    4. DIVIDE into two disks and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate dough for at least one hour, or preferably 2 to 3 hours.


    Coat the royal icing with edible gold glitter:
    You’re ready to hand out the awards! Photo
    courtesy The Baker Shop.


    Preparation For Baking

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Remove dough from the refrigerator and let it sit for a minute or two so it is easier to roll out.

    2. PLACE dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll out with a rolling pin to approximately 1/8″ in thickness.

    3. CUT out statuette and circles with cookie cutter or template, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If you are using the template, simply place it on top of dough and cut around it with a sharp knife. You may already have a 2.5″ diameter circle cookie cutter for the base. If not, look for a small cup or glass to use in its place.

    4. CUT slits into the middle of the circle cookies that are big enough to fit the base of the Oscar cookies. Bake 10-11 minutes, or until cookies are just starting to become golden in color around the edges. Remove from oven, and if the slit in the circle cookies has filled in during baking, use a sharp knife to re-cut the slit before the cookie cools.




  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • Edible gold glitter (if you can’t get the glitter, you’ll still have gold-tinted icing)
  • Small paint brush


    1. MIX all ingredients together for 7 to 10 minutes, until icing stiffens. If icing appears too stiff, add more water, one teaspoon at a time. You want the icing to be thin enough that you can pipe it easily. Tint the royal icing gold (see instructions below) and frost the circle cookies for the base.

    2. DECORATE cookies when cool. Place royal icing into a piping bag fitted with a very small round tip.

    3. OUTLINE the outside of the cookie. Keep the tip about 1/2 inch above the cookie as you ice. This helps achieve a straighter line.

    4. FILL IN or “flood” the cookies, adding about a teaspoon of water to the remaining royal icing until it becomes more of a liquid consistency. Fill a squeeze bottle with the “flood” icing and squeeze the icing inside the outline you just created, so it almost covers the cookie. Then take a toothpick and gently move it around to help fill in the cookie completely.

    5. DRY the cookies completely (usually 1 to 2 hours). Then, lightly moisten the surface of each cookie with water using a paint brush. Coat in edible gold glitter. Affix statue to base by inserting statuette cookie into base.
    You’ve worked hard: Give yourself an award!

    1. PLACE 10 drops of yellow food color in a mixing dish. Add one drop of red food color; mix with a toothpick.

    2. TEST the color on a piece of dough or white bread; let sit for 3 minutes to see the color when dried. If the color is too light, add another drop of red to your mixture and retest; if the color is too dark or too orange, add more yellow.

    3. BLEND color, a bit at a time, into the royal icing.



    ACADEMY AWARDS: A Themed Cheese Board As Oscars Food

    What the king ate after the speech:
    A Stilton from purveyor Neal’s Yard. Photo
    courtesy Whole Foods Market.


    We’ve received dozens of recipes for themed cocktail recipes for Oscar parties. For example, combine gin with Earl Grey Tea, and call it The King’s Speech cocktail.

    Fatigued at the idea of 12 different “Best Picture” cocktails, we’ve published just two over the past month.

    But the idea of an Oscar-themed cheese board caught our interest. Here are suggestions from, one of the finest online cheese purveyors, on how to create an Academy Awards cheese board:

  • The Fighter: Aged Roquefort (it’s a salty punch)
  • The Kids Are All Right: Goat cheese (goats are kids, too, and goat cheese is always all right)
  • The King’s Speech: Cheddar, Stilton or Wensleydale, iconic English cheeses
  • The Social Network: Any mixed milk cheese—two or more milks connecting socially
  • Toy Story 3: Flosserkäse, an aged Swiss cheese with woody notes
  • True Grit: A washed rind cheese like Epoisses or Livarot, a challenging stinker for turophiles with true grit
  • Winter’s Bone: Comte, the great Swiss mountain cheese, as complex as nature
    Discover the world of fine cheese in our Cheese Section and Cheese Glossary.


    ACADEMY AWARDS: A Cocktail For Your Oscar Food

    Starfruit = star cocktail = Academy Awards
    fare. Photo courtesy Moet et Chandon.


    A week from today, you’ll probably be watching the Academy Awards. What will you be drinking?

    While you’re watching the stars, nibble on a few with The Starlet cocktail. It uses star fruit to give star quality to any drink.

    The recipe is courtesy Moët et Chandon, the official champagne of the Academy Awards. The limited-edition Gold Award Season Moët & Chandon Impérial is a stunner.


    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 4 mint leaves
  • 3/4 ounce good-quality silver tequila
  • 1/2 ounce elderflower liqueur (we love St. Germain)
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 3 ounces Moet & Chandon Imperial
  • 1 slice starfruit (carambola) for a rim garnish, four slices for the effect shown in the photo
  • Preparation
    1. In a cocktail shaker, use a muddler or a wooden spoon to muddle the mint leaves. Add simple syrup and lime juice and stir to combine.
    2. Add tequila and elderflower liqueur and fill shaker with ice.
    3. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain into a glass and top with Moet & Chandon. Garnish with starfruit.

    Starfruit is a caloric bargain: one cup has just 40 calories. It is very low in fat and Sodium; high in dietary fiber, vitamin C and copper; and a good source of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and potassium. Use it often as a garnish and enjoy it as a snack.


    PRODUCT: Champagne For The Golden Globes

    Stock up on this limited-edition bottle.
    Photo courtesy Moet et Chandon.


    Going to a Golden Globes party this weekend?

    Bring a bottle of the official Champagne!

    Moët & Chandon returns as the official Champagne of both the 2011 Golden Globes and the Academy Award. Its limited-edition Gold Award Season Moët & Chandon Impérial bottle is a beaut.

    The limited-edition bottle retails for $39 and is available through March 31st wherever Moët & Chandon is sold.

    The Champagne will continue to age well for the next 10 years, so you may want to stock up. It’s an impressive gift to give year-round.

  • Bone up on the different types of Champagne.
  • Make our favorite Champagne cocktail, with St. Germain Elderflower liqueur. It’s amazing!
  • The correct way to pour Champagne.
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