For the eleventh year in a row, or, as my daughter put it, starting waaaaaaaayyyyy before she was born, we hosted an Oscars party at which to watch the Academy Awards telecast. Food, prizes, and fun were had by everyone, especially my six-year-old who was promised that she could stay up to watch the performance of “Let it Go,” and then lucked out when they decided to put the song on at 11:15. Don’t worry. She wasn’t tired. Or so she told me every ten minutes.
Though the party started small all those years ago, it has increasingly become one of my favorite nights of the year, and my food planning has gotten intensely more ambitious. Obviously I try to cram all of the food into an movie-themed pun, but it is a chance for me to step gingerly outside of my culinary circle and try something new. The standard are always there, of course.
We will always have beverages.
I will always make nachos. Because I love nachos.
We generally try to have a veggie tray of some sort.
Sometimes we have cheese and crackers, but these year I went with Hummus.
I had some pizza rolls in the freezer, so I threw those out there.
And then there were the foods that I really tried to associate with the nominated films. For instance, how could I sit back and see a movie called “Philomena” mentioned without incorporating some spanakopita in phyllo dough?
And then we come to my two big endeavors, one a rousing success and the other a…well, it was still delicious. For my first brave new food I chose to make a dip, which is something I have never done. And not a simple dip. A layered dip. A twelve layered dip. And it was very important to me that it have the right number of layers, due to my OCD mathnerdness. And I have to say, it was awesome. It looked good, it tasted good, and it was gone very quickly, which is the true measure of how great a food is.
But then I decided to try something slightly more ambitious. I was going to make a baked Alaska. Or rather, a baked Nebraska. And the reason I was going to do this was because Martha Stewart told me that it was very easy. As it turns out, Martha Stewart is not always honest and forthright.
To begin with, I was supposed to melt some chocolate, which required things I did not have, like a double boiler, so I constructed one out of two pots. This was not a good idea. And then I was supposed to separate eggs. This was not a good idea. And I was then instructed to “fold in” the chocolate. I have no idea what that means, and it was not a good idea.
My wife told me, as we stared at the mess that came out of the oven, that I maybe should have followed Martha’s instructions more closely. Like, for instance, maybe I should have not accidentally baked it in two pans that were stuck together, causing the bottom of the cake to not cook. But that was an accident. Anyway, I went to the store to get some pound cakes.
The ice cream went a little better, so once it was all frozen I chopped up the pound cake that did not fit into the mold and smooshed it all into the bottom of the ice cream dome. Perfect. Now all I had to do was make the meringue, apply it to the outside of the cake, and then bake it in the oven. No problem.
Okay, problem. First of all, people were over trying to watch a television program, so my electric mixer was a little obnoxious. Especially for the 10-15 minutes that Martha told me to whip the dang stuff. I was looking for stiff white peaks. When I eventually got to limp white peaks I decided that it was good enough and I slopped the stuff all over my cake and threw it into the oven.
When I pulled it out two minutes later it was supposed to look like this:
It looked like this:
Luckily, the cake was a huge success in the eating it department, and I can only pray that next year there will be no nominated films that end in “aska.”