Oscar Night Party With Cowie

Few people get to walk the red carpet, so why not bring the big night into your home by hosting an Oscar night party? Celebrity event planner Colin Cowie visits The Early Show on Tuesday to offer suggestions.

For Decor:
Comfort is key. The evening is perhaps four or more hours long, so make sure you have enough comfortable seating for your guests. You may need extra cushions on the floor. Since the living room or TV room will serve as your setting, use your coffee table as the dining table. A sideboard or console could perhaps function as a side bar. Also, consider an elegant chocolate brown and gold color theme associated with the Academy Awards.

For Food
Remember, as host, you'll want to be glued to the sofa with your guests, not chained to the stove, so preparation is essential. Ready-to-go foods can either be pre-prepared, store bought, or ask your favorite restaurant to fill up a serving dish of yours that you can then simply preheat before serving.

Cocktails/Beverages: Preset a do-it-yourself bar for guests to refresh their own drinks throughout the evening. Include assorted liquor and mixers, ice, lemon and lime wedges, green olives, and a shaker. Choose one pre-made cocktail. Cowie suggests Sangria. Also, have champagne on ice with glasses ready for a "Best Picture" toast.

Nosh Foods: On your coffee table preset something for everyone to snack on: crudite platter (with only green & white vegetables), assorted cheese and sliced baguette, spiced nuts, popcorn, and a big bowl of M&Ms.

Courses: During commercial breaks, retrieve trays of ready-to-go foods from the kitchen

Appetizer: Layered Cobb Salad preset in bowls on tray and refrigerated
Entree: Lasagna can be prepared days in advance. Either refrigerate or freeze, then bake on the day of the party.
Dessert: Chocolate Pot Au Creme served in espresso cups preset on tray and refrigerated

For Fun:
As guests arrive during the Oscar pre-show, pass each a printed ballot for them to give their winning predictions. During the announcement for "Best Picture" serve champagne and toast to the celebrations, as well as the winner of the Oscar ballot.

The "winner" should also receive a prize. Fill a basket with movie-themed items. Have each guest bring a movie-related gift to contribute to the Oscar Basket Prize such as movie tickets, DVD, champagne, maybe a book on Hollywood, etc.


Cocktail Du Jour: Sangria
One bottle Dry Spanish Red Wine
3 oz. Orange Curacao
1 oz. Lemon Juice
3 oz. White grape juice
3 oz. Orange juice
2 oz. Sugar or Simple Syrup
Fresh fruit Garnish- Orange, Lemon & Lime wheels, Slices of Melon

Place three each of the orange, lemon and lime wheels in the bottom of a large glass pitcher and muddle them together with the lemon juice, orange juice and the simple syrup using a long wooden spoon. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Top with club soda and serve over ice in a large stem wine glass. Garnish with fresh seasonal fruit. Serves six.

Nosh Foods:
Spice Dusted Toasted Peanuts

(Serves 8)

1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound raw peanuts, shelled
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
10 to 12 whole dried small red chili peppers, for garnish (optional)

  1. Mix the coriander, cumin, and cayenne together in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Place the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the peanuts, and toast them, stirring continually, until they are lightly browned, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Dust the peanuts with the spices and toast for another 2 to 3 minutes. Season the peanuts to taste with salt and pepper and then spread out to cool on a bed of paper towel. Once cool, place in a bowl and serve. (For an added color accent, you might garnish them with some beautiful little dried red chili peppers)

Appetizer: Layered Cobb Salad

For salad
3 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (1 1/4 lb)
2 California avocados
1 head romaine, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide slices (8 cups)
6 bacon slices, cooked until crisp, drained, and finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes (3/4 lb), seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 to 3 oz Roquefort, crumbled (1/2 to 3/4 cup)
2 bunches watercress, coarse stems discarded
2 hard-boiled large eggs, halved and forced through a coarse sieve
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives

For dressing
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Make dressing:
Whisk together all dressing ingredients except oil in a bowl, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.

Make salad:

  1. Bring 5 cups water to a simmer in a 2-quart saucepan, then simmer chicken, uncovered, 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat and cover, then let stand until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and cool completely. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
  2. Halve, pit, and peel avocados, then cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
  3. Spread romaine over bottom of a 6- to 8-quart glass bowl and top with an even layer of chicken. Sprinkle bacon over chicken, then continue layering with tomatoes, cheese (to taste), avocados, watercress, eggs, and chives.
  4. Just before serving, pour dressing over salad and toss.

Cooks' note: Dressing can be prepared 1 hour ahead and chilled separately, covered. Makes 4 to 6 main-course servings.

Entree: Lasagna (Recipe From "Effortless Elegance," by Colin Cowie)
Tomato Sauce
Lasagna Noodles
Bechamel Sauce
1 1/2 cups grated imported Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 pounds fresh mozzarella in water, drained and sliced
Additional Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Spread a thin layer of Tomato Sauce over the bottom of a 15 by 10-inch baking dish. Cover the sauce with a layer of the lasagna noodles. Spread about 3/4 cup of the tomato sauce over the noodles, then spoon about 2/3 cup of the Bechamel Sauce over the tomato sauce.
  3. Next, sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese over the sauces. Arrange 1/3 of the mozzarella slices over the top.
  4. Repeat layering the noodles, the sauces and the cheese 2 more times. Add one more layer of the noodles over the top then spread them with the remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake the lasagna for 30 minutes or until it is bubbling around the edges, the top is brown and any exposed noodles are crisp. Remove from the oven and let the lasagna stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 12

NOTE: The lasagna can be assembled ahead, covered and refrigerated or frozen. Before baking, let it stand until it is at room temperature.

Tomato Sauce

5 cans tomatoes
3 shredded carrots
2 onions
1 fennel
1 head celery
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp herbs d' Provence
1 sprig thyme
2 whole bay leaves
2 oz. olive oil
1/2 cup sugar
Salt and pepper to taste.
1cup chopped basil
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Chop the vegetables finely. Sautee in a large pot with the olive oil. Add the seasonings and the blended tomatoes. Cook till sauce begins to thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste, sugar. Remove from heat, add cilantro and basil. Allow to cool and refrigerate.

Bechamel Sauce
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
Salt and pepper

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble, about 2 minutes. Gradually stir in the hot milk. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, continuing to stir, 2 to 3 minutes longer or until very thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Chocolate Pot Au Crème Served In Espresso Cups

(Serves 6)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
4 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped coarsely
1 package raspberries

  1. In a small pot, bring cream and milk to a slow boil. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Set aside
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until smooth, not foamy
  3. While stirring constantly, slowly mix the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture
  4. Strain through a fine sieve and pour into individual espresso cups.
  5. Place newspaper in the bottom of a pyrex pan large enough to hold all the espresso cups, transfer the cups to the pan and fill the pan with hot water
  6. Place the pan in a preheated oven at 250 degrees for 1 hour. Let cool, top with raspberries and serve.

Additional resources:
Kustom Kreations for U- KustomKreations4U@msn.com - 516-270-2009
Plum Party - Plumparty.com