Instead of serving a sit down dinner at your Oscars viewing party, offer a smörgåsbord of snacks like Wolfgang Puck does at the Governors Ball. Provide a hearty mix of homemade and store bought appetizers. Have a cheese plate with several different types of cheese, crackers, flatbreads, crostini, and grapes. A platter of salumi — salami, proscuitto, chorizo, etc. — with olives compliments the assortment of cheeses. Order a couple of sushi platters from your favorite sushi restaurant. Supplement these grocery store goodies with easy to make dishes: smoked salmon pizza, blue cheese popcorn, smoky chipotle hummus, and gingery chicken satay with peanut sauce.
For the recipes, please read more.
Two 12-inch store-bought partially baked pizza crusts
Extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
1/4 cup drained capers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3/4 pound sliced smoked salmon
- Preheat the oven to 450°.
- Drizzle the crusts with olive oil, season with pepper and bake for 10 minutes. Let cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, shallots, 2 tablespoons capers, 1 tablespoon dill and the lemon juice.
- Spread the cream cheese mixture on the crusts. Top with the smoked salmon, remaining 2 tablespoons capers and 1 tablespoon dill. Cut into wedges.
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1/3 cup white popping corn
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (1/3 pound) piece assertive blue cheese, frozen
1/2 cup coarsely chopped lightly toasted walnuts
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- In a large, partially covered saucepan, heat the oil and 1 kernel of popcorn until hot enough to make the corn pop. Add the remaining popcorn and cook, partially covered, shaking until all the corn is popped.
- Transfer the popcorn to a large mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. While popcorn is hot, grate the blue cheese over the popcorn. Add the walnuts and chives and toss until evenly coated. Serve immediately.
Makes 10 cups.
2 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)*
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
21/2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chilies**
1 large garlic clove, minced
11/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 4-ounce jar sliced pimientos in oil, drained
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 6-ounce packages roasted-garlic bagel chips
- Reserve 3 tablespoons garbanzo beans for garnish.
- Blend remaining garbanzo beans and next 7 ingredients in processor until smooth.
- Add pimientos; process, using on/off turns, until pimientos are coarsely chopped.
- Transfer hummus to medium bowl. Stir in cilantro. Season hummus to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with reserved garbanzo beans. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.) Accompany with bagel chips.
*Sold at Middle Eastern markets, natural foods stores and some supermarkets.
**Chipotle chilies canned in a spicy tomato sauce, sometimes called adobo, are available at Latin American markets, specialty foods stores and some supermarkets.
4 large shallots
4 large garlic cloves
2 stalks of lemongrass, bottom 6 inches only, outer leaves peeled, inner stalk cut into 1-inch pieces
2 serrano or jalapeño chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise 1 inch thick
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Light a grill.
- In a mini food processor, combine the shallots, garlic, lemongrass, chiles, ginger, soy sauce, coriander and ground pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce and process to a fine paste. Transfer half of the seasoning paste to a large bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat.
- Thread the chicken strips onto skewers. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil and let stand for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium saucepan. Add the remaining seasoning paste and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil, stirring. Whisk in the peanut butter and the remaining 1 tablespoon each of brown sugar and fish sauce and bring to a simmer. Transfer the sauce to a blender, add the lime juice and puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl.
- Grill the chicken skewers over a hot fire until lightly charred and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter or bowl and sprinkle with the cilantro. Serve with the peanut sauce.