I’ll admit something publicly. When I plan things, I tend to go overboard. This year’s menu for hors d’oeuvres during the Academy Awards broadcast was no exception. After last year’s filling dinner followed by filling snacks, we elected to skip dinner completely, and instead spend the whole evening drinking in the beautiful gowns and delicious wine, and dining on a variety of snackies inspired by this year’s nominees.
Maple Bacon Crackerjack
It would seem that this dish is simply a vehicle for getting bacon on the menu and in my mouth and, truth be told, it is a little bit. Thanks, Moneyball, for giving me the excuse to make a ballpark snack! But here’s the thing: I’ve discovered that making a candy coating for things is really simple. And maple syrup and bacon go together quite nicely. I worked off of a maple-bacon spiced nuts recipe from the Washington Post and Kitchn contributor, Sara Gillingham-Ryan.
Having made these candied nuts before, I knew that I could tweak it a little. Unlike the recipe, I fried the bacon beforehand, until it was “wobbly,” and set it aside until I spiced the egg mixture. This batch was 2 egg whites (beaten until frothy), some syrup, some brown sugar, tarragon, nutmeg, clove, sea salt, and some mixed pepper. I added in cashews and pecans and topped it off with popcorn until the mixture coated everything evenly. Then I baked it in the oven at a low temp (250 Fahrenheit) so as not to burn the sugars.
Having seen a lovely presentation of them on The Kitchn, I decided that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was enough of an excuse to try my hand at making this dish. I read up on the dish on a few different sites, and relied heavily on what was available in my local grocery store to complete out my idea. For a spread, I used an old “family recipe” for cucumber sandwich spread: 8 oz cream cheese, 8 oz sour cream, and a packet of Italian dressing mix. Let’s call that “schmear” for the time being. I got a white Vienna loaf and my other ingredients and went to town.
From the bottom up, the layers went thusly: bread, schmear, sliced and peeled cucumbers, bread, herring in dill sauce (found in the Swedish section of Cub!), bread, cooked and chopped asparagus, schmear, bread. I wrapped the entire thing in schmear like I was frosting a cake. I covered the outside with baby spinach leaves and the top with cucumbers, hard boiled egg slices, asparagus blooms and little salad shrimpies.
This. This was my triumph of the night. And I’m not even Swedish!
Savory Cookies with Soft Cheeses
To paraphrase Hannah Hart of “My Drunk Kitchen” fame, most of the time, food is just a vehicle for getting cheese into your mouth. These cookies looked delicious, and have absolutely no film connection. I just wanted to make them. And dammit, I’m glad I did! Another find from The Kitchn, these cookies combine the lovely cookie texture and short oven time with the biscuit-like flavors of Parmesan cheese, rosemary, cracked pepper and sea salt. And they go beautifully with nice creamy bit of goat cheese.
What? You say there’s movies about the 1920s, Europe, and the South this year? I suppose that’s enough of an excuse to make cookies with actual tea leaves in them. I’ve made these a couple of times because they’re so easy. This batch was a double batch with one bag of Lipton black tea and one bag of Celestial Seasoning Cinnamon Apple Spice. Great palate cleanser, and my brother-in-law couldn’t get enough.
Hawaiian Luau Burgers
As a tribute to the Descendants, I made a batch of mini-burgers by dicing up half of a red onion and mixing it with mild pork sausage to form the patties. For toppings, we went with sliced pineapple, and slices of Spam that I’d fried up in the pork fat from making the patties. These went pretty quick, too. Might have to try my hand at making full-sized burgers of them this summer!
Sardines and Spinach Pesto on Crostini
These were a lovely Pinterest find. The preponderance of World War I movies like War Horse this year was an excellent excuse to make something with sardines, and the pesto brought a beautiful shade of green to the spread. I put sardines on a few, and left some fishless for the non-sardine-inclined.