Posts Tagged ‘Big Game Recipes’

Souper Bowl of Dip (with Chips!)

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014


I have a confession to make. I have always had a weakness for dip made with packaged onion-soup mix. When I was little and my mother made it (very occasionally, I must add) it seemed like a miracle that all that flavor could come out of one small package stirred into some sour cream.

As a grownup I’m more skeptical about packaged foods than I was as a child, when they were a novelty. And I have to shudder when I read the side of an onion-soup package. I don’t really think a creamy dip needs things like partially hydrogenated soybean oil, caramel color, corn syrup, and disodium inosinate. I don’t know what that last item is—and neither does my computer’s spelling program—but I’m pretty sure it’s not what one could call a food, let alone a healthy food.

I do still love onion dip, however. And it’s an easy, tasty snack for the Big Game—or the “Superb Owl,” as The Colbert Report calls it since the NFL threatens to sue anyone else who uses the official terminology.

As this football event approaches I am concocting a more natural version of my childhood guilty pleasure. This dip starts with the base my mother used for her cordon bleu French onion soup—caramelized onions, mustard, and wine. She used red wine, but I was darned if I was going to open a bottle of wine for the minuscule amount I wanted so I used sherry. If you feel like drinking red wine, by all means substitute it for the sherry.

I can see adding additional ingredients another time—a little Creole seasoning for kick, some herbs (parsley? dill? thyme?), and/or a few drops of Worcestershire sauce. On Sunday as I watch the Broncos and the Seahawks battle it out, however, I plan to serve it just as it is below. This onion-dip recipe takes a little more time than the package-based version, but it’s by no means difficult. The resulting spread tastes fresh yet mellow, and highly satisfying—like French onion soup on a chip.

It tastes best with homemade vegetable chips. We made sweet-potato chips yesterday. I won’t tell the Culinary Recording Angel if you go out and buy some, however.

Mustard is added to caramelizing onions.

Mustard is added to caramelizing onions.

French Onion Dip


2 teaspoons butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, cut into thin slices (my slices could have been thinner!), with each slice cut in half
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I used mustard with a little garlic, which lent a lovely flavor)
1 tablespoon dry sherry
salt and pepper to taste (I used about 3/4 teaspoon sea salt and three grinds of the pepper mill)
1-1/2 cups sour cream (half of this could be Greek yogurt if you want to be healthier)


The dip is best prepared early in the day or the night before you wish to serve it. It needs time in the refrigerator to let its flavors blend and mature.

Combine the butter and olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. When the butter melts stir in the onion slices. Cook them slowly, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until they are reduced and turn a lovely golden brown. This will take at least 1/2 hour and may take as long as an hour.

When the onions are almost ready stir in the mustard, and continue to cook, stirring, for at least five minutes. Add the sherry and cook, stirring, until the liquid disappears.

Sprinkle salt and pepper over the onions and remove them from the heat. Allow them to cool to room temperature. If you want to avoid having strings of onion in your dip, chop them a bit once they have cooled.

Put the onions and sour cream in the bowl of an electric mixer and stir briskly to combine.

Place the dip in the refrigerator, covered, and let the flavors combine for several hours. At least an hour before serving taste it on a neutral cracker to see whether you want to add any additional flavors (more salt and pepper perhaps?). Bring the dip to room temperature, and serve it with vegetable chips.

Makes about 2 cups.

in oilweb

Cold-Oil Sweet Potato Chips

My sister-in-law Leigh and I actually made two kinds of chips to go with our test dip—one batch fried and one batch baked. HOWEVER, I’m only giving you the recipe for the fried batch because we were so busy eating the fried chips (they were AWFULLY tasty) that I forgot to time the baked ones. They are obviously healthier than the fried version.

I’ll tell you how we did the baked ones, but I won’t officially publish the recipe until I make them again! Basically, one slices the sweet potatoes just as one does below for the fried chips. One combines extra-virgin olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) and sea salt (about 1/2 teaspoon) in a bowl; then one stirs in the slices of sweet potato until all are coated with a tiny bit of oil. The slices go on cookie sheets in a preheated oven (325-ish) until they finish cooking; I THINK this is about half an hour. One should stir/turn the potatoes after 10 minutes and check on them frequently.

Now for the FRIED version. Leigh has a mandoline slicer, which made creating the chips a breeze. I got the idea for cold-oil frying the chips from my friend Devany Vickery-Davidson in Charleston, South Carolina. Apparently, cold-oil frying is very chic, but I had never heard of it until Devany wrote about making French fries this way. It is less messy than hot-oil frying and a lot simpler.

Leigh works her mandoline magic.

Leigh works her mandoline magic.

The Chips


1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced thinly
canola oil at room temperature as needed
sea salt as needed


Place the pieces of sweet potato in a deep, heavy skillet or saucepan. Spread them out as much as you can. Cover them with oil; then add a little more oil. Place the pan on medium heat. Stay by the stove.

In a few minutes the oil will begin to bubble. Stir the potato pieces a bit and keep heating them. As the potatoes cook stir them every minute or two to keep them from sticking together—and to monitor them. In a very few minutes they will brown and crisp up very quickly.

Use a skimmer or tongs to remove the chips from the oil. (Don’t forget to turn off the stove!) Drain them on paper towels, and sprinkle salt on top.

Let the chips cool for a couple of minutes; then serve them with dip. Makes about 20 chips. (The number depends on the thickness of your slicing.)


Slightly Spicy Super Popcorn

Friday, February 5th, 2010
From left to right: Jackson, Michael, and Benjamin at the stove

From left to right: Jackson, Michael, and Benjamin at the stove

I’m getting ready for Game Day.
I’m not a football person; I’ve never actually understood the appeal of this particular sport. I get tennis. I get baseball. I get hockey. I even get golf (a good excuse for walking). I especially get bridge. But guys running up and down the field in those huge pads and jumping on each other…?
Nevertheless, as a lover of popular culture I view the NFL’s big display every year. I can’t resist the spectacle of it all—the halftime show, the brand-new ads, the excited if broke fans (the prices on those tickets are scary!).
I even watch most of the game itself although I try not to listen to the “experts” as they blather on and on about it.
I don’t plan a huge menu for Super Bowl Sunday, but I do like to make something special in honor of this annual sports fest. I originally thought of making nachos for Sunday. I love nachos: they’re salty and fatty and satisfying and versatile (you can put just about anything you have in the house into them!).
After looking at the elegant, creative nachos in Wednesday’s Washington Post, however, I abandoned the nacho plan. I didn’t need the shame: my nachos were going to be pedestrian in contrast. And actually my family didn’t need the calories.
Instead I decided to spice up a little popcorn. I love popcorn almost as much as I love nachos. It’s flavorful. It’s cheap. And it can be made with relatively little fat (although I draw the line at air popping; the kernels need SOME fat).
My nephew Michael had a snow day from school on Wednesday so I enlisted him and his friends Benjamin and Jackson to help pop the corn.
Popcorn is a great project for kids as long as they are careful (which our boys were) and adults are supervising. (I know you can’t see us in the pictures, but there were three of us in the room!)
I decided to work with Indian spices. The first batch of popcorn we tried went a little overboard in the spice department: we threw in cumin, turmeric, garam masala, curry powder, paprika, and red pepper flakes as well as salt.
Michael ate one handful and went running through the house shouting “Water! Water!” The other two boys just kept their distance and laughed.
I tried it myself and found it spicy (although not overly so) and a little too busy in terms of flavors.
The second batch used the combination of flavors below. Its subcontinental flavor was subtle rather than “in your face”—perfect for young (or timid) football fans. It should complement rather than overwhelm any other munchies we consume as we watch the Saints and the Colts battle it out.
Enjoy the popcorn—and the halftime show—and the commercials. If you must, even enjoy the game!
spicy popcorn web
Tinky’s Indian Corn
Here are a few hints before I start:
Check with your guests about allergies before you make your popcorn. Peanut oil is ideal for popping the corn, but canola will do if someone has a peanut allergy.
Popcorn pops best in a cheap, not-too-thick pan. Put away the Le Creuset and the All-Clad if you’re lucky enough to have them and get out an old aluminum pot. By the time the fancy pots heat up the popcorn will burn. A wok with a lid works very nicely.
The lid should be on your pot (so the popcorn doesn’t pop right out and hit you) but the pot should have a little room to breathe. Keep the lid slightly ajar so that steam can escape. Place one hand on the lid as you shake the pot with the other hand so the lid will stay in position.
To make your own popcorn salt (I got this hint from watching Alton Brown: thanks, Mr. Brown!) put kosher salt in a small food processor and pulse it 10 to 12 times.
enough peanut or canola oil to line the bottom of your pot (3 to 4 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon popcorn salt (a tiny bit more if you must)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 cup popping corn
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
Place the oil, the salt, the cumin seeds, and 1 kernel of popcorn in your pot and stir to combine. Put the pot over fairly high heat (see above remark about the lid) and start moving the pot gently back and forth over the burner.
When the initial popcorn kernel pops add the remaining popcorn, the turmeric, and the curry powder. Stir to combine and return the pot to the heat. Continue shaking. In a little while you will be rewarded with the sound of popping corn.
Listen carefully. (This was the hardest part of the whole recipe for the boys, who have the enthusiasm of youth and like to talk loudly through most activities.)
When the popping subsides enough so that you hear a pop only every few seconds remove the pot from the heat and pour the popcorn into a bowl.
Serve the popcorn immediately or cool the popcorn and then store it in a sealed plastic bag for up to a week.
Makes just under 2 quarts.
BY THE WAY, if you’re looking for a few more Super Bowl ideas, here are a few suitable posts:
Mexican Chicken Pizza
Apple-Sage Cheese Spread
BOLTs (in honor of the COLTs)
Red Beans & Rice (in honor of the Saints)
(Courtesy of ebay--I can't afford the darn things myself!)

(Courtesy of ebay--I can't afford the darn things myself!)

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