Julie Giuffrida is Test Kitchen coordinator for the Los Angeles Times.
Whomever you are rooting for, you’ll need nibbles during the show. Fun drinks and easy-to-prepare finger foods will keep you and your guests happy.
The Oscars show is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year, particularly here in Southern California. And it’s reason enough to host a party at home. Invite friends and family over for a night of glamour, red carpet fashion and awards announcements. Set up a cozy viewing area, dim the lights and serve up some delicious appetizers and drinks. With the right ambiance and company, watching the Oscars from home Sunday can be just as entertaining as attending the event itself. And certainly just as, if not more, delicious.
Finger foods are definitely the way to go on Oscars night. The show practically requires all-night grazing. Strategically place dishes of snacks like honeyed sesame walnuts or sizzled dates with za’atar, thyme and feta so that guests can easily reach them from their seats while they sip a glass of sparkling chili lemonade, bubbly bissap, brandy au cassis or a GCT (gin, coffee, tonic).
Set out snacks that are big on flavor and quick and easy to prepare so that you, too, can relax and enjoy the evening.
Here are some tips:
Grilled Asian beef short ribs can be marinated the day before and if you don’t want to fire up the grill, you can sear them on the stove top in a cast iron pan. Roll up the vegetarian wild mushroom strudel in the morning and bake it just before your guests arrive. It’s terrific hot from the oven and just as good at room temperature. Shrimp artichoke lettuce cups can also be prepared in advance — earlier in the day or even the day before. They will add color, flavor and texture to the table. The recipe for nori wraps with baked spicy peanut tofu (vegan) says it requires an hour, but 45 minutes of that is oven time, when you are free to do other things, like prepare a fabulous vegetarian carciofi alla romana tart. This spends 30 minutes in the oven baking. It is delicious served warm or at room temperature, so you can bake it in the afternoon if you like.
Honeyed Sesame Walnuts
These crackly caramelized walnuts are baked in the oven with a sweet and spicy honey, sesame, and chile powder blend for an easy party appetizer.
Time1 hour 15 minutes, largely unattended
YieldsMakes about 7 cups
Grilled Asian beef short rib appetizer
The soy marinade is flavored with brown sugar, red wine, ginger, garlic and sesame oil. The beef ribs are charred over a hot grill and served with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce.
YieldsServes 6 to 8
Sparkling Chile Lemonade
This bubbly lemonade comes with a kick of heat from the chile lemon syrup.
YieldsMakes 1 drink
Sizzled Dates With Za’atar, Thyme and Feta
Caramelized, hot dates pair well with cold, creamy feta — all slicked in za'atar-infused olive oil — in this easy appetizer.
Wild Mushroom Strudel
Flakey, buttery filo is filled with meaty wild mushrooms and gooey Gruyere cheese for a delicious appetizer or vegetarian strudel entrée.
Time1 hour 30 minutes
Brandy au Cassis
Crème de cassis adds floral berry sweetness to the classic brandy cocktail.
Time5 minutes, plus overnight freezing
YieldsServes 4 to 6
Shrimp artichoke lettuce cups
Tender-crisp shrimp gets a flavor punch from lemongrass and a slight crunch from blanched artichoke hearts, which make a nice modern stand-in for bamboo shoots or water chestnuts.
YieldsServes 4 as an appetizer
Hibiscus tea, fresh ginger and orange blossom water add fragrance to this bubbly drink, inspired by a traditional Senegalese beverage.
YieldsMakes 2 cups syrup (enough for 16 servings)
Nori Wraps With Baked Spicy Peanut Tofu
Peanut butter and chili crisp make a flavorful marinade for baked tofu served with rice and toasted seaweed.
Carciofi alla Romana Tart
Inspired by the classic Roman dish, artichokes are mixed with fresh herbs then baked in clusters on puff pastry until golden brown and crisp.
Time1 hour 15 minutes
YieldsServes 8 to 12
Coffee adds dark bitterness to the classic pairing of gin and tonic, all lifted with lots of muddled lime.
YieldsMakes 1 drink