Tuesday, February 26, 2013

An Oscar Party ~

It's all about the food! (And of course the drink, company, and that award show.)

I first saw these dangerously delicious "cheez-it-ish crackers" on a blog that I follow regularly, The Kitchen Lioness. Andrea, the author of this blog is an amazing photographer and writer. She is part of a cooking group (French Fridays with Dorie) that is cooking their way through Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table. I have this book - and good thing too, for this group does not post the recipes, just their results. Had I seen the recipe in the book before seeing her post I would have passed it up. The picture in the book does not do the crackers justice, not the way Andrea's does. I used her idea of shaping the crackers in the form of stars - it was the Oscars after all.

I was surprised by how much they taste like the name brand Cheez-Its, only better. Made with butter and my favorite cheese, Gruyère, and a bit of pepper; what's not to like.

The recipe calls for Aleppo pepper which I could not find (did not put in a lot of effort) so I subbed cayenne which was an option in the recipe. Aleppo is not as hot as Cayenne, still I used the same amount.

 Source: Penzeys Spices

These are crazy easy to make and horribly addicting. Dangerous to have around - you may want to make these only when there are others to share with - or maybe not.

Success meter (1-3):

These little crackers pair perfectly with a glass of champagne.

We always have an over-abundance of good food at our Oscar parties.

Cheese log w/crackers, Asian beef in crisp wonton cups, roasted sweet potatoes with aioli, and 
cheez-it-ish crackers.

Rice and cheese balls.

Focaccia with olive tapenade, broccoli salad, Mediterranean crunch salad, and three pizzas!

Photo credit goes to our lovely daughter who made the focaccia and olive tapenade.

Another equally delicious and fast recipe: Roasted sweet potatoes with a spicy aioli.

I roasted diced sweet potatoes tossed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper in a 400° oven until soft.

Mini coffee ice cream balls for dipping in chocolate fondue.
Half of the balls were rolled in ground chocolate covered coffee beans.

There are only three ingredients in the fondue: milk, cream and chocolate (a ganache), so be sure your chocolate is of good quality.

Photo credit: our daughter.
Thanks Ash - You saved the day !

Cheez-It-Ish Crackers
Makes about 50 crackers

8 Tbl. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
¼ lb. Gruyère, Comté, or Emmenthal, grated (about 1 cup)
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground white pepper (I used black)
Pinch of Aleppo pepper or cayenne (optional) I used cayenne)
1 cup plus 2 Tbl. all purpose flour

Put the butter, cheese, salt, white pepper, and Aleppo pepper or cayenne, if you’re using it, in a food processor and pulse until the butter is broken up into uneven bits and the mixture forms small curds. Add the flour and pulse until the dough forms moist curds again – these will be larger. There are times, though, when you pulse and pulse and never get curds – in that case, just process for a minute, so that everything is as moist as possible.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead it gently until it comes together. Divide the dough in half, pat each half into a disk, and wrap the disks in plastic. Chill for at least an hour, or for up to 3 days.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Working with one disk at a time, roll the dough out between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to a scant ¼-inch thick. Using a small cookie cutter (1 1/4 –inch diameter), cut the dough into crackers. Gather the scraps together, so you can combine them with the scraps from the second disk, chill, and roll them out to make more crackers. Place the rounds on the baking sheet, leaving a scant inch between the rounds.

Bake for 14 to 17 minutes, or until the crackers are lightly golden and firm to the touch; transfer the crackers to a rack to cool. Repeat with the second disk of dough (and the scraps), making certain that your baking sheet is cool. You can serve these while they’re still warm, or you can wait until they reach room temperature.

Crackers will keep for about 4 days in an airtight tin.

Around My French Table/Dorie Greenspan

Spicy Aioli

1 cup mayonnaise (I used ½ cup mayo and ½ cup non-fat Fagé yogurt)
2 Tbl. sriracha
1 tsp. smoked paprika (I used plain)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lime, zest & juice
Salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use.

Recipe source: 

Bittersweet Chocolate Fondue
Makes 8 servings

½ cup heavy (whipping) cream
½ cup milk
11 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Possibilities for dipping (Allow at least 6 items per person)

Small ice cream balls coated in cookie crumbs
Graham crackers
Banana chunks
Mini profiteroles
Angel food cake cubes
Pound cake cubes
Mini coconut macaroons

Warm the cream and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until hot and bubbling around the edges, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the chopped chocolate, let sit for 30 seconds, and then whisk until smooth. Pour the chocolate into 2 small decorative bowls.

Place the bowls on the table along with a platter of items to be dipped. Serve with long forks to make dipping easier.

Fondue can be made a day in advance and kept refrigerated. Reheat in a microwave or double boiler.

A Passion for Desserts/Emily Luchetti


  1. Cathleen, sorry I am so very late commenting on this wonderful post of yours - I wanted to thank you so much that you mentioned my blog and the photos!!! I cannot believe all the stunning food that you made for your Osars party and the Crackers look fantastic, respect! Now, of course, I need that "Oscar" cookie cutter, for sure!
    Thanks so much, again and do let me know how the Croissants turned out!

  2. Andrea, What a brilliant idea - I have never thought to do a google search for an actual cookie cutter! They are out there! I just cut a template from a piece a paper. It did the job. As for all the food, everyone brings a dish to share. I made the crackers of course, one of the salads, and the dessert. Still have not started the croissants...

    1. Oh! And the sweet potato dish! Made more than I realized. Really need to stop doing that. :)


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