The Obligatory Super Bowl Snacks Post: Quick Eats
Back when I wrote for Behind the Steel Curtain I received a rather apologetic email from the man who was then the editor asking me to take on the task of writing a sponsored Super Bowl food post. I assume he was apologetic because it did look a bit sexist to ask the only woman on staff to do the recipe article.
And after all, there are plenty of women who can’t cook, and plenty of men who can. Most of the finest chefs in the world are male. And there was no reason to believe from anything I had written that I knew how to cook, either.
But I’m not easily offended and I have a sense of humor. I’m also a good cook, although I’ve never, ever thrown a Super Bowl party, and if I did the food would probably all come from Costco. (I had a friend back in the 80s who was a very good cook, but confessed to me after the first mega-supermarket made its appearance in Santa Fe, complete with upscale deli, that she now only “facilitated” food.)
So this post is not for those of you who have access to a Costco, which is stuffed to the brim with all sorts of lovely things you only have to heat up or put in bowls. It is also not for the sort of person who would make the “Snackadium” pictured above. Nor is it for those of you whose idea of cooking doesn’t extend any farther than the sort of things contained in the Hacker’s Cookbook I saw many years ago.
A sample recipe from the book was something to this effect:
- 1 jar Cheez Whiz
- Corn chips
Place corn chips in bowl. Open jar of Cheez Whiz. Pour over chips.
I kid you not. The premise of each recipe was that it had to contain only a couple of ingredients, required little or no actual cooking, and could be eaten with one hand (because of course you wouldn’t want to stop actually messing about on the computer just because you needed to eat.)
No, this is for those of you who want to put together some last-minute things with food you have in the house, and that is a little nicer than just throwing chips in a bowls and dumping out part of a jug of salsa. It does, naturally, infer you have a reasonable selection of stuff in the house, or can make a quick trip to the grocery store.
Green olive and cream cheese spread:
This recipe is actually rather like the Cheez Whiz recipe, except slightly more complicated to make and a lot more upscale.
Soften how ever much cream cheese you like, or start with the pre-whipped if you’re really in a rush. Chop up stuffed green olives—use the pimento ones, as they add a nice touch of color. Whip the cream cheese (or use the pre-whipped) and stir in the olives. That’s it. This has an unexpected depth and subtlety of flavor. You can either use it to make little finger sandwiches or serve it with crackers or pita bread or whatever. It’s particularly nice on those sort of lush buttery crackers like old-fashioned Ritz or Jacob’s Cream Crackers or some such.
I suppose you could also stuff it into something else—hollowed-out little tomatoes, etc. Or cut radishes in half, put a glob of cream cheese on it, and squash the other half gently on top. But that’s a lot of trouble.
Simpler is to spread it thickly on flour tortillas, roll them up, and cut them cross-ways into pinwheels. In this case, be sure you put plenty of olives so it doesn’t look like a saltine cracker sandwich. Or use the colored flour tortillas—it would look particularly nice on the red and green ones.
And for that matter there are loads of other things you can mix into cream cheese to make pinwheels. Chopped green chilis would be particularly nice. Or to stay with the cheese theme but move on, you could make some pimento cheese (grated cheddar, chopped pimentos, mayonnaise) and roll those up and slice them.
So you see, snack food is just an attitude more than a recipe.
Roasted Vegetables with Garlic Aioli
Let’s say you want something actually healthy, although I realize it is practically anti-American to have something healthy for Super Bowl food. You still want people to actually like it (if you can get them to sample it in the first place.) So try this:
Get a large cookie sheet or two. Preheat your oven to 450 while you prepare the veg.
You can use all sorts of vegetables, although my personal favorites are brussels sprouts (really!), asparagus, onions, strips of bell pepper, particularly the red, orange and yellow ones, mushrooms, and eggplant.
If you are using multiple types of vegetables you need to cut things so they will cook in more or less the same amount of time. To prepare the Brussels sprouts, chop off the stem end and cut them in half longways. Snap the tough end off the asparagus. Cut the onion into thin wedges—each quarter of the onion should probably be divided into four at least, depending on the size of the onion. Cut the mushrooms in half. Cut the eggplant into long slices – they will easier to handle if you cut it into strips which each contain an edge of skin. You might want to just discard the seedy middle as a result. Or use the baby ones.
For roasted vegetables to be really nice you can’t skimp on the olive oil. Throw all the cut-up vegetables in a bowl, drizzle them with olive oil, and toss the whole thing with your hands. (Warning—the eggplant and mushrooms will soak up any oil, so you might want to do them separately from the rest.) You don’t want the veg to be positively dripping or anything, but be sure they all have a bit of a coating of oil.
Oil your baking sheet and bung the vegetables on it (or them) in a single layer. I like to sprinkle a goodly bit of Herbes de Provence on them, but you could also use Italian seasoning, or nothing. Stick them in the oven. Don’t go too far away, as once they start to soften they will burn rather quickly. (Depending on your oven and how large you cut them, around 15-25 minutes.) Besides, you need to make the aioli.
The vegetables are done when you think they are. I like them roasted enough so they start to develop a fairly deep brown color on the top, but some people might think that was too cooked. It’s really a matter of taste.
They can be served hot or at room temperature – that’s the beauty of roasted vegetables. Here’s the aioli recipe:
Smash a few garlic cloves. (If you really want to get fancy you can roast them with the vegetables first.) Stir it into 1/2 cup or so of mayonnaise, add salt to taste, a tablespoon or so of lemon juice, and about the same of olive oil. It should sit (covered, in the fridge) for a half hour or so to let the flavors blend.
This really needs to be served with forks and plates, as the vegetables are too soft to be dippable, unless you haven’t roasted them much, in which case they are Warmed Vegetables with Aioli, just sayin’…
And finally, now that you are so healthy because of all those vegetables, here is a recipe for:
- Half-and-half, or cream, or whole milk
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Baking chocolate (optional)
Graham crackers, digestive biscuits, or other sorts of plain, not particularly sweet cookies for dipping
For each cup of chocolate chips (or combination of chopped baking chocolate and chocolate chips) put 2-3 T. of liquid in a small saucepan. (It’s best with cream or half and half, but milk works okay. Just not skimmed or lowfat…)
Heat the liquid to where it starts to bubble, but you don’t really want to boil it. Turn the heat back to the lowest possible and chuck in your chocolate. Stir it constantly until the chocolate is melted and take it off the heat.
Put the chocolate mixture into a suitably-sized baking dish and cover with mini marshmallows. Broil for long enough for the tops of the marshmallows to toast. Serve it right away.
If you want this to be somewhat sophisticated (or as sophisticated as anything covered with marshmallows can aspire to) you can add a tablespoon or so per cup of chocolate of whatever liquor you fancy. (Personally I prefer something non-sweet, like whiskey, but suit yourself.) If, like me, you aren’t a fan of super-sweet, use up to half baking chocolate. If the chocolate mixture seems really bitter, even taking into account all the marshmallow that is going to be on it, use a sweet liqueur or a flavoring syrup.
Happy eating—even if you just decide to go to Costco…