TND Extra – Oscars 2012

February 29, 2012

My office runs a Super Bowl pool every year, and every year I get asked multiple times if I want to participate. I get tired of finding clever non-offensive ways to say no (in my office an unexplained ‘no’ is not an acceptable answer). Most years I don’t even know who’s playing – although this year I did because it’s impossible to live in Boston and not know that the Patriots have made it to the Superbowl. This year my standard response was that I didn’t care about the Super Bowl, but if someone wanted to handicap the Oscars I’d be in like Flynn. Nobody too me up on my suggestion.

Where everyone else plans Super Bowl parties, I plan Oscar parties. I usually try for some kind of unified food theme that encompasses the various movies that are up for the big awards. This year I was defeated in finding any kind of common theme, and the sheer number of movies nominated for Best Picture precluded trying to do dishes from all of them. In the end I counted which movies had the most nominations for the big six awards (actor, actress, supporting actor, supporting actress, picture & director) and took the top four. This left me with four movies which fell fairly neatly into four food categories, and conveniently allowed me to ignore the inconvenient outliers like War Horse, Hugo, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Cocktails – The Artist
Satan’s Whiskers
Ward 8

Appetizers – Moneyball
Spicy Caramel Peanut Popcorn
Texas Guacamole with Cumin Scented Tortilla Chips
Devilled Eggs
Mini Corn Muffin Corn Dogs

Main Course – The Descendents
Kalua Pork with Mango BBQ Sauce
Pineapple-Jicama Slaw
Kale Salad with Peanut Dressing
Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Potato-Coconut Bisque

Dessert – The Help
Sweet Potato Ice Cream with Toasted Marshmallows
Chocolate Raspberry Cups
Fruit Salad

I ended up making the food for the only movie on that list I hadn’t actually seen (The Descendents). But this is fine, I don’t watch the Oscars because I have made any kind of thorough informed analysis of the nominations. I watch the Oscars to mock the red carpet styles, roll my eyes at the award presentations, and generally have an excuse for a party. This is just as well, since the Oscars this year were oddly tame from the dresses to the speeches. Nobody was egregious, but nobody really shone either. Next year can Chris Rock and Tina Fey host?

Cocktails – The Artist
Because if you’re given the gift of a movie set in the hey dey of the cocktail you’d be a fool not to take advantage of it. Also, who can resist a drink called Satan’s Whiskers? Certainly not us.

Satan’s Whiskers
(makes 1 drink)

1 oz of gin
1 oz orange juice
0.5 oz Grand Marnier
0.5 oz sweet vermouth
0.5 oz dry vermouth

Mix together. Shake with ice, strain and serve garnished with a twist of orange peel.

Ward 8
(makes 1 drink)

0.75 oz orange juice
0.75 oz lemon juice
2 oz rye whiskey
1 tsp grenadine

Mix together. Shake with ice, strain and serve with a maraschino cherry. Depending on how much you like your guests you can use either standard maraschino cherries, or you can splurge and give them the incredibly addictively decadent Luxardo Cherries.

Appetizers – Moneyball
By which I anticipated, all kinds of ball park snacks, and I was not in any way disappointed.

Mini Corn-Muffin Corn Dogs
Recipe can be found here: Iowa Girl Eats

Linda Holmes from Pop Culture Happy Hour made these for a Super Bowl Party and posted the recipe. I took one look at it, and reposted it with the stern admonition that someone was making these for the Oscars, right? RIGHT? And lo, someone took the cue from my terribly subtle hint and did and they were exactly as dangerously addictive as promised.

Spicy Caramel Peanut Popcorn (brought)
I could not stop eating this, the sweet from the caramel with the kick from the spice was just perfect.

Devilled Eggs (brought)
There’s nothing bad to be said about a devilled egg. Ever.

Texas Guacamole with Cumin Scented Tortilla Chips (brought)
Corn + Tomatoes + Avocado + Onion + Homemade Tortilla Chips. What, exactly is not to love about this combination (of which I ate entirely too much)?

Main Course – The Descendents

Kalua Pork
(serves at least 10, but probably more)

My biggest problem with making this was resisting the temptation to add things to it. I kept having to restrain myself from tucking some slivered garlic into the slits that get cut in the pork, or giving it a brisk rub with some brown sugar. But, I heroically resisted and as result of my forbearance I achieved tender, subtly smoky pork with a faint floral/grassy note from the banana leaves.

5 lb pork shoulder
1 ½ Tbsp liquid smoke
2 Tbsp coarse salt (Hawaiian salt is traditional if you have it on hand/can find it, but kosher salt works just fine)
2 banana leaves*

Preheat your oven to 325-350.

Place a large double layer of foil (or use heavy foil) on the counter. Arrange one banana leaf on top of the foil.

Trim the hard fat cap from the pork (leave the internal fat that marbles the meat, this is why your meat will be succulent and tender). Stab the pork all over with a fork or sharp knife. Rub in the salt and liquid smoke. Place the pork on the banana leaf.

Cover with the other banana leaf and another large piece of heavy foil. Wrap the package tightly, crimping the edges of the foil. Place the package in a large roasting pan and add about 1” of water. Cover the pan with more foil, sealing the edges tightly. Roast for 45/lb, or until the meat is fall apart tender (for 5 lb of pork, this will be about 4 hours). Check about halfway through cooking to make sure that all the water hasn’t evaporated, add more if needed (do not open pork packet).

Carefully open the packet, and pour off any liquid that has pooled in the packet and reserve. Shred the pork with a fork (if the meat doesn’t basically fall apart when you try and pick it up you haven’t cooked it long enough and you should recover it and put it back in the oven for a while), and pour over as much of the braising liquid as you desire.

As a note of caution, the braising liquid is very salty, so I added ¼ to 1/3 cup to just moisten the pork and then served the rest on the side.

* If you can’t find frozen banana leaves, you can either skip them entirely, or I’ve seen suggestions that you can substitute 3-4 unpeeled whole bananas laid on top of the pork before you seal the packet. I managed to find frozen banana leaves (at Shaws so of all places, for people in the Boston area), so I have no idea if this works, but theoretically I can see that it would provide the same kind of herbal note that banana leaves do.

Mango BBQ Sauce
(makes 3 cups)

Because mangos are tropical, right? They grow in Hawaii? Also, because I resisted the temptation to add brown sugar to the salt rub for the pork, and am therefore allowed to serve bbq sauce on the side.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced or grated
1 serrano, minced (remove seeds or not depending on how spicy you like your food)
Salt & pepper to taste
½ tsp allspice
(generous) ½ tsp cumin
6 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 ½ Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup orange juice
2 Tbsp lime juice
6 Tbsp tomato sauce
2 cups diced mango (or 12 oz frozen mango, defrosted)

Saute the onion in the olive oil until softened, but not browned. Add the garlic, ginger, and serrano and cook for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the spices and cook for 30 seconds to bloom them. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 15-20 minutes until mango is tender. Puree until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pineapple-Jicama Slaw
(serves 8-10)

¾ of a fresh pineapple, peeled & julienned
1 medium sized jicama, peeled and julienned
½ head red cabbage, thinly sliced
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 2 limes
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp(ish) olive oil (I admit I didn’t measure precisely)
¼ cup chopped mint

Whisk together the lime zest, lime juice, rice vinegar, honey and olive oil.

Toss together the pineapple, jicama, cabbage and mint. Toss with the dressing and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Kale Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing
(serves 2-3 – multiply as needed)

1 large bunch kale
1 large carrot
6 Tbsp roasted, salted peanuts, divided
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 ½ Tbsp apple cider vinegar
(scant) 1 Tbsp brown sugar
¼ + ½ tsp kosher salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Juice of a (scant) ½ lemon

Remove the tough center vein from each kale leaf, stack, and then slice into thin ribbons.

Peel the carrot and discard the outer peel. Then continue to peel the carrot to create long curls. Reserve.

Roughly chop 3 Tbsp of peanuts.

In a food processor pulse the remaining 3 Tbsp peanuts, the vegetable oil, vinegar, sugar, ¼ tsp kosher salt and red pepper flakes. You’re looking for the dressing to emulsify, but not to become a smooth puree, you want it to have a nubbly texture. Season to taste.

Massage the kale with ½ tsp kosher salt, the juice of ½ lemon and half the dressing until the kale starts to break down a little. Add the carrots and chopped peanuts to the salad and toss with the remaining dressing.

Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes (brought)
There can, in my opinion, never be too many iterations of a sweet potato on the table and these were exceptionally tasty and not in any way an exception to that rule.

Sweet Potato-Coconut Bisque
(serves at least 8)

Even the concept of poi was vetoed as fast as I vetoed even the concept of spam sushi. So, instead I turned the traditional luau sweet potato/yam side of poi into a rich bisque flavored with coconut milk and lemongrass and ginger.

3 lb sweet potatoes
1 ½ pears, peeled & roughly chopped
1 large white onion, chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, minced (tender inside ends only)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
¼ tsp garam masala
2 cups water
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
15 oz can (full fat) coconut milk
1 tsp honey
Juice and zest of 1 lime

Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork and lay them on a foil lined baking sheet. Roast in a 375 oven for 40-60 minutes until cooked through. Allow to cool slightly and then peel.

While the potatoes are roasting, saute the onion and pear in a little olive oil until softened, but not browned. Add the lemongrass, garlic and ginger and sauté for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the garam masala and season with a little salt and pepper. Add the water, stock and coconut milk and bring up to a simmer. Add the roasted sweet potato and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add honey, lime zest and lime juice. Puree until very smooth. Season to taste with salt, pepper, additional lime juice and/or honey. You may need to add more water/stock to thin the soup to your desired consistency.

Serve with toasted coconut, chopped peanuts (or macadamia nuts if you’re feeling extravagant) and diced apple to garnish.

Dessert – The Help
I was too busy eating dessert to remember to take pictures of it.  Sorry.

Sweet Potato Ice Cream with Toasted Marshmallows (brought)
Y’all I have no words for how good this ice cream was. Homemade marshmallows toasted and folded into rich sweet potato ice cream. As I said above, there are pretty much no iterations of sweet potato that I don’t love, but this may be edging past sweet potato pie in the dessert category for favorite treatment of a sweet potato.

Chocolate Raspberry Cups (brought)
Chocolate + fresh raspberries. ‘nuff said.

Fruit Salad (brought)
A really welcome fresh taste that was brought in the (somewhat vain) attempt to balance the decadence of the rest of the meal.



  1. Petra, your mother made me one of your soups last night–properly credited of course–and it was tajieb hafna, as they say in Maltese.

    I’m a Massachusetts resident who has slipped off to Valletta for the winter. I’ve written a bit about art, literature, and gastronomy in recent years, and the last two books listed on my website may be of some interest to you.


  2. I always find that Malta is an excellent alternative to Massachusetts for the winter season.

    Glad you liked the soup. I’m slightly jealous of my parents that they got to go hear your lecture – I love explorations of social and cultural history.

  3. […] Recipe previously given:  Oscars 2012 […]

  4. […] Recipe previously given:  Oscars 2012 […]

  5. […] Recipe previously given: Oscars 2012 […]

  6. […] Recipe previously given: Oscars 2012 […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: