- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The 77th Academy Awards is Sunday, and if you’re like me, the only red carpet you’ll see that night will be on TV. Although we didn’t receive gold-embossed invitations, we still can party.

For the past 20 or so Oscar nights, I’ve hosted an Academy Awards bash and served foods inspired by that year’s nominees. Food and movies are my two favorite hobbies. I even wrote a cookbook on it last year, “Movie Menus” (Villard).

This year, there were lots of movies that, for one reason or other, were just not very menu-inspiring. Some of them, including “Beyond the Sea,” “The Polar Express” and “Blade,” even made me lose my appetite.

No matter. For this year’s Oscar night, I’ve already developed a menu. It includes:

• Wine in honor of the deliriously delicious “Sideways.”

• Cobweb soup, in honor of my family’s favorite: “Spider-Man 2” (It’s a yummy butternut squash soup with spray-cheese topping as the web.)

• Herbed olive puree and chickpea dip, inspired by recipes from ancient Greece to go with the movie “Alexander.”

• Focker’s Fondue, without the unfortunate addition. (If you’ve seen the movie you know what I’m talking about.)

• A double scoop of green Jell-O in honor of “Shrek 2.”

Besides amusing food, everyone will be required to take my quiz on food-film trivia. Whoever answers the fewest questions correctly has to do the dishes.

Here are three easy-to-make recipes to get you started on your own Oscar-night party menu. The first recipe, for milk and honey griddle bread, is based on a recipe from ancient Greece, so it’s perfect with “Alexander.”

The mini pancakes are great eaten with salami and cheese or grilled veggies, and so are a perfect movie snack food.

The next two recipes, also inspired by “Alexander,” are party favorites because they can be made days in advance, taste way better than anything you can buy and get even more yummy with time, just like a good movie.

Milk and honey griddle bread

This and the following recipes are from “Movie Menus.”

4 ounces feta cheese

3 tablespoons honey

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

Olive or vegetable oil

In a large bowl, mash feta cheese, honey and salt together with a fork until well combined. Add flour and mix until a dough forms. Using your hands, knead dough in the bowl until smooth.

Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Divide dough into 12 equal portions and, on a lightly floured work surface, roll each section into a very thin circle, about 3 inches in diameter.

Lightly oil a nonstick pan and over medium-low heat cook the circles until golden, about 1 minute per side. Serve warm. Makes 6 servings.

Herbed olive puree

½ cup pitted whole oil-cured black olives

½ cup pitted whole brine-cured green olives

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon fennel seed

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, mint and basil

Zest of 1 lemon

6 pita breads, cut into quarters and warmed

Combine black and green olives, onion, olive oil, garlic, fennel seed, cumin and coriander in a food processor and puree until smooth. Place in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate and allow flavors to mingle for at least 6 hours. Bring to room temperature, stir well and top with minced herbs and lemon zest. Serve with warm pita bread pieces. Makes 10 servings.

Chickpea dip

1 large Vidalia onion, diced

½ cup olive oil, divided

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 bay leaf

1½ cups vegetable or chicken broth

Salt and pepper

2 large garlic cloves, chopped

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Minced fresh mint

Pita bread quarters or corn chips

Saute onion in 1/4 cup olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until golden, about 10 minutes. Add chickpeas, oregano, bay leaf and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until chickpeas are tender and liquid is absorbed, about 1 hour. Discard bay leaf, season with salt and pepper and allow to cool slightly.

Put mixture into a food processor along with garlic, lemon juice and remaining 1/4 cup olive oil. Pulse until well combined but still coarse. Serve chickpea dip topped with lemon zest and fresh mint and accompanied by pita quarters or corn chips. Makes 10 servings.

Francine Segan is the author of “Shakespeare’s Kitchen,” “The Philosopher’s Kitchen” and “Movie Menus.”

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