Before Sunday's kickoff, take time to call the right plays for super snacks

January 26, 1994|By Mike Dunne | Mike Dunne,McClatchy News Service

Good grief, Buffalo wings and chili. Again.

Kid yourself all you want about the game being the focal point on Super Bowl Sunday. In reality, however, the Super Bowl party is the big thing, if for no other reason than it marks the end of the holiday season that began with Halloween. It's our last chance until next fall to indulge shamelessly in a festive national pig-out.

But Buffalo wings for a fourth straight year? Thanks, but let's pass.

And while Dallas partisans would have us believe that chili is de rigueur whenever the Cowboys are in the Super Bowl, the truth is that chili is America's food, and has been a staple of Super Bowl parties since long before Dallas ever got to its first championship game. Chili is the perfect football food: big, dense, assertive -- and like the game itself it lends itself to endless debate and speculation.

But Buffalo wings, chili and their like are only for the more ambitious Super Bowl parties. Most fans will be content with potato chips, popcorn, peanuts and pretzels. They are as predictable on Super Bowl Sunday as the Bills, and just as exciting. Americans on Sunday will eat twice as many of those sorts of snacks as they eat on an average day; that adds up to an expected 31.3 million pounds at a cost of $80.2 million, figures the Snack Food Association.

Not even the Beer Institute and the Soft Drink Association know how many suds and sodas will be drunk, but everyone agrees it will be plenty.

In the meantime, the battle to persuade Super Bowl revelers to eat and drink something other than chips and beer seems to be intensifying. Aside from Thanksgiving and Christmas, no holiday generates as many food- and beverage-related press releases as Super Bowl Sunday. In suggesting that it be renamed the Soup-er Bowl, the National Dairy Board sends a bunch of recipes for cheese soups. Jolly Time proposes that the centerpiece of the day's buffet be several large bowls of popcorn, next to several smaller bowls of nuts, dried fruits and grated cheeses to be mixed with individual servings of the popcorn. Corning Ware even sends along one of its new cook-and-serve platters, heaped with all the fixings for nachos.

The best press release, however, was from Chun King, which in introducing a new line of spicy soy sauces included a sheaf of party advice as thick as a Dallas playbook. Among other things, it advises, double check that you have paid your electric bill and be sure to cover the television screen with Plexiglas.

At any rate, between Sunday's highly touted commercials -- will Buffalo defensive end Bruce Smith eat a Dodge Ram? -- try these chicken and chili dishes, each of which offers fashionable twists to traditional favorites:

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Dale DeGroff, head bartender at Manhattan's celebrated Rainbow Room, created this nonalcoholic punch. It's in a booklet published by Sutter Home Winery; for a free copy, call (800) 662-5240. To make 32 ounces of the simple syrup called for in this recipe, gradually stir 1 pound of sugar into 24 ounces of hot water in a saucepan and bring to boil. Remove immediately from heat and cool before bottling.

50-yard line punch

Serves 12 to 15

32 ounces fresh orange juice

32 ounces pineapple juice

4 ounces fresh lime juice

2 ounces Angostura bitters

2 ounces grenadine

2 ounces simple syrup

16 ounces 7UP

16 ounces soda

Mix ingredients and serve in a punch bowl with large, solid ice cubes.

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In contrast to the players in Sunday's Super Bowl, you don't need a lot of practice to make this appetizer, taken from the Junior League of Sacramento's cookbook "Celebrate!"

Tomato basil brie

Serves 12

1 pound brie cheese, rind removed

1/2 cup packed fresh basil

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon minced onion

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, diced

fresh basil leaves for garnish

Chill brie; split in half crosswise and set aside. Mince basil. Brown pine nuts in olive oil. Add garlic salt, pepper and onion. Combine basil, Parmesan cheese and tomatoes with nut mixture until well blended. Place half this mixture on bottom half of brie. Top with other Brie half. Spread with remaining tomato/basil. Garnish with basil leaves and serve with crackers or thinly sliced baguette.

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For a touch of Georgia, site of Sunday's Super Bowl, these chocolate-chip cookies have been supplemented with pecans.

Championship chocolate chip cookies

Makes about 3 dozen

1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup butter-flavored vegetable shortening

2 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup pecans, toasted in 350-degree oven for 8 minutes, and chopped

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine brown sugar, shortening, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well-blended. Beat egg into creamed mixture.

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