This week, TSW has a bye and I’m calling the plays on the Friday Football Foodie.
It might be heresy to some to include vegetable matter in their football food plans that a) doesn’t come on top of a pizza or b) doesn’t accompany a bratwurst, but I cannot have a party without putting out veggies and dip. Besides, you’re getting a jump on the “eat veggies and fruit for the rest of the week” edict that usually comes with the FFF.
Not to worry, though: There’s no cooking — just chopping and stirring — and the Drink of the Week doubles as dessert!
For the Cucumber-Feta Dip, you’ll need:
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (You can use the full-fat kind, but I always have the 2% on hand — don’t bother using the skim, though. It’s vile.)
1 big clove of garlic, peeled
4 oz feta (Don’t be lazy, crumble your own)
6 inches of cucumber (I like English cucmbers because they have better flavor and fewer seeds)
Mayo (USE REAL MAYO!)
An acid (I like rice wine vinegar, but you can use red wine or white balsamic or lemon juice — whatever you have)
And a secret surprise ingredient to be revealed later!
You’ll need a couple cooking implements too: A sieve and a Microplane. If you don’t have a Microplane, what the hell is wrong with you? I’m constantly trying to come up with uses for mine.
Grate the clove of garlic into the yogurt. Using the Microplane for this yields tiny, consistent little pieces of garlic — it’s almost a puree. This is important because you’re eating the garlic raw, and nobody likes a big hunk of garlic burning their mouth. If you don’t have a Microplane, you can grate the garlic on the small holes of a box grater or put it through a garlic press. Or if your knife skills are good, you can mince it really small. (Showoff.)
Chop the feta up into little pieces.
Now it’s time for the super special secret ingredient! Are you ready for some…
…MINT?! Yep, mint. Don’t worry, it’s not going to make the dip sweet. In fact, the mint adds a nice fresh pepperiness that cuts through the salty feta and the creamy yogurt. All your rowdy friends will love it.
Add 3 tablespoons of chopped mint and the chopped-up feta to the yogurt and garlic, and stir. If the mixture looks a little stiff now, don’t worry. It will loosen up when you add the cucumber, mayo and vinegar. Put this to the side while you tackle the cucumbers.
Peel, de-seed, and chop the cucumber. The original recipe for this dip says to shred the cucumber on a box grater, but I hate dipping a bagel chip or a carrot into this dip and seeing long, mucusy strands of cucumber hanging from whatever I’m about to put in my mouth. Blech.
This next step is very important! VERY! Don’t be tempted to skip it! Otherwise you’ll have runny dip that won’t cling nicely to your pretzel stick or broccoli floret! Nobody wants that!
Put the cucumber pieces into the sieve and salt them. Use more salt than you think is necessary. Like, 2-3 tablespoons of salt. Mix everything around so all the cucumber pieces get salt all over them. This step draws the excess water out of the cucumber. Don’t worry about the dip being overly salty, though, because you’re going to rinse the cucumbers later.
Leave the cucumber pieces alone for a while so they drain. Be patient! Go watch the Inside the NFL on the Tivo.
Oh, Marino. [sigh]
Now that you’ve killed a good 40 minutes in silent reverie of Dan Marino, go check on the cucumber. It should have given up a few tablespoons of liquid.
Rinse the cucumber off thoroughly with cold water.
Spread the cucumber pieces out on a paper towel on a clean dishrag. Roll everything up like a cigar and squeeze the crap out of it to wring out the excess liquid. A LOT of liquid will come out, and that’s OK. You want the cucumber as dry as you can get it.
Be sure to do this over the sink. It sounds obvious, but it bears mentioning because my roommate has been known to drain a can of beans over the kitchen counter, getting that icky, goopy bean liquid everywhere.
Add the little jade-green bits of cucumber to the dip.
Now comes the subjective part. Taste the dip. Does it need a bit of extra creaminess? Does it need some more zip? Add the mayo and vinegar to taste. This batch needed a bit of both, so I added a tablespoon of the rice wine vinegar and a tablespoon of mayo to the dip.
Garnish the dip with a dinky piece of mint and serve with crunchy dippers: pretzels, carrots, leaves of bitter Belgian endive and lightly steamed asparagus are all good choices. Fix yourself an easy cocktail. Can’t get much easier than bourbon and Coke.
Drink of the week: PUDDING SHOTS!
I first encountered PUDDING SHOTS! (always punctuated as such) at a Halloween party in 2005. A girl dressed as a slutty Dorothy came up to me and my friends clutching a baggie full of medicine cups and spoons, and said, “Here, eat these!” We loved the smushy, boozy, chocolatey, creamy mixture so much that we asked the girl if we could have the rest of the bag. The rest is history. I make these whenever I get an opportunity. It’s funny how the PUDDING SHOTS! always seem to disappear. People always complain about mixing booze and dairy, but if it worked for The Dude (and my mom, who doesn’t drink, but will devour these) it’s good enough for you.
For a double recipe of PUDDING SHOTS!, you’ll need:
1 6-ounce box of instant chocolate pudding
1 cup of Bailey’s
1/2 cup of vodka
1 1/2 cups of milk (anything but skim, please)
2 8-ounce containers of Cool Whip, thawed in the fridge (don’t even bother making these if you’re going to use that Cool Whip Free bullshit)
As for special implements, you’ll need a couple of baking pans (metal ones won’t crack in the freezer), a box of 3-ounce paper bathroom cups, and an ice cream scoop — known in the industry as a “disher” — makes things much, much easier on the back end. The blue one pictured above is a Vollrath, and it has a 2-ounce capacity.
It makes things a lot easier if you lay out the shot cups first. A double recipe will make about three dozen 2-ounce shots. A 9 x 13 pan and a 7 x 11 pan hold 39 cups.
Combine the pudding mix and milk. When you’ve mixed those two together, add the liquors.
Using a whisk makes sure there are no lumps in the pudding-milk-booze mix. When that’s smooth, add a dollop of Cool Whip at a time and fold to combine. Go slowly when you add the Cool Whip, because you don’t want to knock the air out of the Cool Whip. Part of what makes the PUDDING SHOTS! so good is their airy consistency.
When it’s all mixed, it should look like this.
Use the ice cream scoop to put a 2-ounce dollop of PUDDING SHOT! into each waiting cup.
Wrap the trays tightly with plastic wrap, and stash them in the freezer.
Keep the PUDDING SHOTS! in the freezer until about 15 minutes before you want to eat them. They get almost-solid in the freezer, but I like them when they’re frozen on top and smushy underneath: You get a nice contrast of textures and you can squeeze them out of the paper cups and eat them without spoons that way.
Before you clean up, don’t forget about the cook’s treat: Licking the bowl and catching a buzz at 10:30 in the morning!
The convenience food review of the week: Dunkin’ Donuts’ Extreme Bacon Croissant Explosion and an iced coffee with milk, one sugar, and a squirt of vanilla
Dunkin’ Donuts has teamed up with The Bermanator to deliver “the official coffee and breakfast sandwich of all football fans.”
The actual name of the sandwich in question is the Bacon Lover’s Supreme Omelet Sandwich, but the Extreme Bacon Extravaganza is way funnier, don’t you think? It consists of a toasted croissant with an “omelet” (the standard Dunkin’ Donuts egg round dressed up with some bits of vegetable matter, poorly photographed below), colby-jack cheese, and four slices of pepper bacon.
The bacon is quite tasty, if very, very peppery — almost too peppery. It kind of overwhelms the remarkably delicate egg and buttery croissant. The sandwich I got seemed low on bacon, until I got to the last two bites. That’s four slices of bacon in one bite, y’all:
It was tasty while I was eating it, but I wanted to lay down on the couch and pass out for 20 minutes after I was done. It was just too much. I’m going to stick to my standard Dunkin’ Donuts sandwich of bacon, egg, and cheese on a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel.
Since I had the Bailey’s out, though…