Skip to content
Join our Newsletter
Join our Newsletter

Finger foods for Oscar night

Movie-themed appetizers are easy to serve to a crowd before, during or after this weekend's Academy Awards show

The Academy Awards are on Sunday; a fine time for friends T to gather in the TV room, watch the stars, and nibble on some moviethemed bites.

With regard to the latter, today I present six recipes inspired by six of the movies nominated.

English Stilton is sometimes called "the king of cheese." I blended it with cream cheese to create a topping for a royally rich canapé, accented with a walnut half. It's wonderful and would leave even a king speechless.

For The Fighter, a film about boxer "Irish" Micky Ward, I thought something Irish would fit the bill. That country is well known for its smoked salmon and soda bread. I've combined the two into a tasty appetizer that your guests might fight over.

The movie The Kids Are All Right is set in California, and when I think of the food served there, fresh, light and Mexican-influenced comes to mind.

There are some passionate scenes in film, and the avocado tree has been referred to as "the tree of passionate love." So I decided to top crisp rounds of tortilla with a tangy salsa made with tomato and avocado. I believe your guests will find these tasty bites are all right.

The actors in True Grit spend time on the range, where I'm sure a nicely spiced cowboy steak would taste mighty fine.

Rather than serve up a big slab of meat, I sliced the steak and cooked it on skewers, making it much easier to eat while sitting on the couch and enjoying the show.

Toy Story 3 is nominated for best picture, and it inspired me to create a fun appetizer that looks like Mr. Potato Head. To make it, I set a cooked, chili-spiced miniature potato on a cucumber round. I then gave the potato black peppercorn eyes, a pine nut nose and a hat made of roasted red pepper.

To represent the dark and light sides of the movie Black Swan, I came up with a recipe called black and white shortbread. In it, mild tasting, pale shortbread cookies are sandwiched with dark-coloured cookies, rich with attitude and the bold flavour of cocoa.

Blood-red jam or jelly holds the cookies together, and blood is something you see quite a bit of in this movie.

I cut the cookies into star shapes to symbolize what the Oscars are all about -movie stars -but you could cut them into any shape that appeals, such as rounds or diamonds.

Eric Akis is the author of the recently published Everyone Can Cook Slow Cooker Meals. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.


> In Thursday's Go section, Tasting columnist Garth Eichel will suggest some wines and beer to go with Eric's Oscar appetizers.



This recipe was inspired by the movie The Fighter, a film about boxer "Irish" Micky Ward. Ireland is well known for foods such as smoked salmon and soda bread, and those two items taste great together.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Makes: About 6-8 servings

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup large-flake oats

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup cold butter, in small cubes

1 1/3 cups buttermilk

1/2-3/4 lb. sliced cold smoked salmon (lox)

* sliced green onion and cream cheese, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the flours, oats, baking soda and salt in a bowl, and whisk to combine. With your fingers, 2 forks or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour mixture until thoroughly distributed. Gently mix in the buttermilk until a loose dough forms, then turn it onto a floured surface.

With floured hands, shape the moist dough into a round loaf about 6 inches in diameter. Place the loaf on the baking sheet. With a floured knife, cut a shallow X into the centre of the loaf. Bake the soda bread for 30 minutes, or until the loaf springs back when touched lightly in the centre. Let the loaf cool to room temperature.

Arrange the salmon on a platter and top with green onion. Set a bowl of cream cheese on the platter. Cut the soda bread in half and slice. Allow guests to top slices of the soda bread with cream cheese, salmon and green onion.


This recipe is from my book, Everyone Can Cook Appetizers. These canapés are lightly textured and richly flavoured, definitely suitable for royalty.

Preparation time:

20 minutes

Cooking time: None

Makes: 16 canapés

1/4 lb. Stilton cheese, at room temperature

1/4 lb. cream cheese, at room temperature

2 Tbsp butter, at room temperature

16 small crackers or toasted baguette rounds

16 small walnut halves

Remove any rind from the Stilton, and then crumble into a bowl. Add the cream cheese and butter, and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is light and smooth. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe a small, but tall mound of the mixture onto each cracker or baguette round. Top each canapé with a walnut half. Chill for 30 minutes to firm up the cheese mixture, then cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve.


Meaty skewers to serve on the range, or in your living room while watching the Oscars and wondering if True Grit will win best picture.

Preparation time:

10 minutes

Cooking time: 4-6 minutes

Makes: 16 skewers

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp coarsely ground pepper

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp dried thyme

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1 1/4 lb. strip loin or rib eye steak, cut into 16 strips

2 Tbsp olive oil

16 skewers (if wooden, soak in cold water at least 1 hour before using)

to taste ? salt

- steak sauce

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the strips of steak and olive oil and toss to coat. Preheat your grill to medium-high.

Thread a strip of meat on one end of each skewer. Season the skewers with salt. Grill the skewers 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until medium rare in the centre. Arrange skewers on a platter with a bowl of steak sauce alongside for dipping.


Crispy rounds of tortilla topped with a tangy salsa made with tomato and avocado. I believe your guests will find these tasty bites all right.

Preparation time:

30 minutes

Cooking time:

About 5 minutes

Makes: 24 mini tostados

2 (10-inch) wheat tortillas

- vegetable oil

1 ripe, medium avocado, peeled and pitted, flesh cut into tiny cubes

2 Tbsp lime juice

2 medium on-the-vine tomatoes, finely chopped

3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

- pinches sugar and ground cumin 1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce, or to taste

to taste ? salt

1/3-1/2 cup sour cream 24 small sprigs of cilantro, for garnish

Use a 2-inch round cookie cutter to cut each tortilla into 24 small rounds. Pour 1/8-inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet set over medium to medium-high heat. Cook the rounds of tortilla, in batches, about 30 seconds to 1 minute per side, or until golden and crispy. Drain the tortilla rounds on paper towels.

Combine the remaining ingredients, except garnish and sour cream, in a bowl. To make the tostados, place a teaspoon or so of the sour cream in the centre of each tortilla round. Divide and top with the avocado/tomato mixture. Garnish each tostado with a sprig of cilantro and serve.


Mr. Potato Head, from the movie Toy Story 3, inspired these fun, "tapas-style" bites. Feel free to be even more adventurous in how you decorate them with edible ingredients.

Preparation time:

25 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Makes: 16 potato bites

16 miniature white potatoes (about 1 1/2 inches long)

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp chili powder

and white pepper to taste ? salt

32 whole black peppercorns

16 pine nuts

2 Tbsp mayonnaise

1/2 tsp fresh lemon zest

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

16 (1/4-inch thick) slices of English cucumber

1 small roasted red pepper, cut into 16 small rounds (see Note)

Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Gently boil until just tender, about 10 minutes (don't let them overcook or the skin will split). Drain well and place in a bowl. Toss in the oil, chili powder, salt and pepper, and cool to room temperature.

Make eyes by pressing two black peppercorns into each potato. Make a nose by inserting a pine nut into each potato.

Combine the mayonnaise, lemon zest and lemon juice in a small bowl. Use a small spoon or melon baller to scoop out some of the centre portion of each cucumber slice. Place a small amount of the mayonnaise in the centre of each cucumber slice. Stand a potato on each cucumber slice. Set a round of roasted red pepper on top of each potato and serve.

Note: Roasted red peppers are sold in jars at most supermarkets.


These cookies sweetly represent the light and dark side of the movie Black Swan. The cookies can be baked several days before serving. Sandwich them together with jam or jelly just before serving. Any leftover cookies can be frozen for another time.

Preparation time:

40 minutes

Cooking time: 15-18 minutes (per sheet of cookies)

Makes: About 24-36 cookies (depending on size and shape)

For the white shortbread

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup icing sugar, packed

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp cornstarch

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of your stand mixer, and beat until well combined and light. Beat in the flour and cornstarch.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and press into a 1/2-inch thick disc. Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness, ensuring it does not stick to the surface as you do so. Use a cookie cutter to cut the dough into cookies. (I used a 2-inch tall, starshaped cutter, but you could use any shape that appeals.) Place the cookies on the baking sheet. Chill the cookies in the refrigerator 20 minutes. (Chilling them helps the cookies hold their shape during baking.)

Preheat the oven 325 F. Bake the cookies 15-18 minutes, or until very pale golden on the edges. Cool on a baking rack.

For the black shortbread

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup icing sugar

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cocoa

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of your stand mixture and beat until well combined and light. Beat in the flour and cocoa until well combined. Roll out, cut, chill and then bake as described for the white shortbread. Before baking, ensure any excess flour on top of the cookies is removed.

To finish

- strawberry or raspberry jam or jelly

Place the white shortbread, smooth side down, on a work surface. Spread a 1/2-teaspoon or so of jam or jelly on each cookie. Set on the black shortbread, smooth side up.

Arrange cookies on a serving tray and enjoy.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks