Recipes Inspired by the 2015 Oscars Best Picture Nominees

02/17/2015 10:09 am ET | Updated Apr 19, 2015
  • Alphabet Gulyassuppe (Gulash Soup) - The Imitation Game
    Mathematician Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a curious fellow. For one, he doesn’t like sandwiches. He’d rather have a bowl of broth for lunch. What he does like is puzzles. And there is no greater challenge facing the allies during World War Two than cracking the elusive German code. Unraveling the chaotic soup of letters the Enigma Machine churns out every 24 hours requires more than the most fluent linguists and cryptologists. It takes a mind like Turing’s. For ‘sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine’. And sometimes it’s the most unlikely combination of flavors that will make a simple dish shine. This German classic of Gulyassuppe may at first glance resemble a simple tomato soup, but soon the differences will make themselves plain. The secret is the Teutonic rasp of caraway seeds, softened by the silkiness of pork fat and brazen confidence of paprika. It’s a curious combination, but it works. For texture and sustenance add a good shaking of alphabet noodles and allow them to lurk beneath the surface as undetected as U-boats. Or shuffle them to the surface and try to make sense of what you see. Don’t fret too much if you can’t make head or tail of your very own German Alphabet Soup. Lucky for you, the fate of the world doesn’t depend on it. For the recipe and step by step directions, go here.
  • Pea Soup with Potato Thyme Cream - The Theory of Everything
    If you can easily trace Stephen Hawking’s (Eddie Redmayne) theories of time and relativity, feel free to skip ahead to the recipe at the bottom. If, like the rest of us, you benefit from the relationship between space and quantum mechanics being explained by his doting wife Jane (Felicity Jones) with analogies of peas and potatoes, here’s something to do with them in the aftermath. For both cosmologists and cooks alike the most elegant proofs are the simple ones. Hence this genial combination of soups is an exercise in restraint. Peas, potatoes, onion and chicken stock are key players in the roast dinners which punctuate the lives of the world’s most famous scientist and these silken purees. And then there’s the thyme. As an herb it adds a depth of flavor and woodland twinkle. As a topic, its punning pal (time) provides meaty fodder for a life of mental exploration. Creating this supper could be seen as a gesture of devotion. Not quite the same as caring for a spouse stricken with ALS for 30 years, mind you- but it’s a fine expression of love nonetheless. For recipe and step by step directions, go here.
  • Semolina Grits with Mushroom Pecan Crumble - Selma
    If you’re going to embark on a 54-mile protest march from Selma to Montgomery, you’re going to need a decent breakfast. If you’re going to agitate for a Voting Rights Act in the face of racist terror, you’re going to want some comfort food. And if you’re going to spend a good spell of time Alabama, you’re going to want some grits. Dr King ( David Oyewelo) and his colleagues are well practiced at slowly stirring hominy (in Richie Jean’s kitchen) and public sentiments. In this dish it’s pure sibilance of the setting which seeded the idea of substituting corn grits for semolina. The other benefit of leaning on groats of wheat is how swiftly they’ll cook- which is perfect when you have many, many things to change. Joining in the throng are sturdy mushrooms for perseverance, crisp sage for wisdom and rosemary for remembrance. And as for the pecans clattering through? Well, beyond the much needed textural contrast they offer they’re rumored to be the key ingredient in Dr King’s favorite pie. For the recipe and step by step directions go here.
  • Chicken Drumsticks with Blistered Pepper Dipping Sauce - Whiplash
    How far is too far to be pushed towards greatness? It’s a question that will plague you after viewing the torment that Terence Fletcher (J.K Simmons) throws at aspiring jazz percussionist Andrew Neimann (Miles Teller) in Whiplash. You may also not have the stomach for the sight of more blood red taint on drumsticks, but if you do, might I suggest this dish? Here the blistering comes not from hours of traumatized practice in a soundproof room, but the searing burn of the oven and grill on vulnerable peppers and tomatoes. Depending on your appetite for salty language and hot tempers, you can adjust the seasoning and chilli level in the sauce to something you’re comfortable with. Once you’ve finished pulling all the meat from the drumsticks it’s up to you whether you want to cast them aside, get a girlfriend and make some friends, or get back to work mastering your double time swing. For recipe and step by step directions go here.
  • Chicken Under a Brick with Gin Mayo - Birdman
    Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) can’t escape the black cloak of Birdman. The comic book character who was once his ticket to fame is now a mocking specter, haunting any attempt to rehabilitate his artistic image and egging him into dangerous deeds. There is heavy pressure on Riggan from critics and co-stars to create quality art. It’s pressure that’s akin to the weight of bricks required to execute this classic dish. Here a bird is splayed and marinated in gin ( potentially left from method actors who insist on drinking it on stage), the heat of chilli and the sourness of lemon. The bricks hold the chicken down against the blaze of the grill. It’s served with a feathery slaw of bristly co-stars; shaved fennel and sprouts. And there’s an extra sly sousing of booze in the mayonnaise which gilds it all together. You can serve it on a platter and marvel at the bird-man appearance of it all, or if you really want to get meta, try and cleave the bird into 16 pieces, one for each of the visible cuts in the film. For the recipe and step by step directions, go here.
  • Hunter's Lamb Kebabs with Hummous and Flatbreads- American Sniper
    The most lethal sniper in U.S. history, Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) is brought up to believe: "There are three types of people in this world: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs." It’s the job of sheepdogs like him to protect the rest of us from the wolves. In this dish, the hunks of marinated lamb appear equally vulnerable. Skewered on rosemary branches, these kebabs borrow flavors of the classic marksman’s dish ‘cacciatore’ (translating from Italian as ‘hunter’s stew’) before sending them on a Middle Eastern tour. Pieces of lamb fillet are still held shoulder to shoulder with their traditional compatriots; tomatoes and olives, yet instead of being stewed for hours, they get a trial by fire over the grill. If you swaddle the burnished kebabs in pita bread and serve with sumac-sprinkled hummus you’ll find it’s fine fast food for hungry folk. The rosemary stems may warp slightly after the heat, but never fear--the end result is an upstanding dish that plays it straight down the middle. For the recipe and step by step directions, go here.
  • S'mores Birthday Cake - Boyhood
    We celebrate the advent of years with birthday cakes. Unlike Richard Linklater's opus Boyhood, this particular project won't take twelve summers to complete. Our delight in watching Mason (Ellar Coltrane) physically age from six to eighteen through the course of the film is matched by the spotlight Linklater shines on the minor milestones in Mason's Texas childhood; bike rides, road trips, baseball games and camping trips. It's by a campfire in the company of Mason's sometimes-absent father (Ethan Hawke) that we learn the key to a perfect s'more. A perfect s'more hosts a marshmallow that is toasted until it is 'honey brown, with no burns'. That's what's here adorning this birthday cake. The almond and flax layers of cake have the cinnamon and honey twinge of a graham cracker, but with more give. The chocolate ganache is rich and sweet as a square of molten Hershey bar and the marshmallows have mellowed and toasted on the crown. This is a sweet taste of childhood that's well worth waiting for. For the recipe and step by step directions go here.
  • Courtesan au Chocolat - The Grand Budapest Hotel
    “From the far away land of Zubrowka there lived a legendary pâtissier: Herr Mendl. He created a pastry that would captivate Zubrowka’s people for generations. Upon his passing his will stated that the recipe was never to be revealed. This recipe came from a 1963 recipe left lying on the floor in the kitchen of the Grand Budapest Hotel.” This is almost that famed dish. It requires persistence, cunning and grace to construct; fitting for the favored treat of a concierge as legendary as Monsieur Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) at an establishment as revered as The Grand Budapest Hotel in Nebelsbad. The chocolate center of the profiteroles is as dark as the forces swirling outside the borders of the nation of Zubrowka. The glaze is as sweet as the promise of young love between Agatha (the apprentice chef) and Zero (the lobby boy). The tottering visual effect is as endearing as the shared adventures of the troupe. Be sure to share it with a dear friend. And tidy up after you’re done. A job worth doing is worth doing spotlessly. For the recipe and step by step directions, go here.