Mexican Fondue, a nice variation of spinach artichoke dip. Consider it the wildcat formation of hot dips. Seen here with its buddy guacamole, aka Shotgun Dip.

Thank god for the first game of the season.

And not for the usual “WOOOOO FOOTBALL” reasons, although football might be the one topic you can debate where “WOOOOO” is a legitimate talking point.  (Let’s test this theory out.  Ahem.  “I believe health care reform is of great importance to small business owners, because in my experience even a basic managed care plan can be one the largest expenses – just behind payroll – for a company over the course of a year. WOOOOOOOOOO!”)

Two years ago when I posted the first Friday Football Foodie recipe for Pizza Loaf, I said this:

The pre-season. Supposedly “meaningless” games are spent trying to impress the coaches, shaking the rust off of the joints, and players doing their goddamn best not to get hurt.

Well do you think you, the football fan, are any different? Are you ready for at least one – if not two – days spent entirely on your sofa? After a summer’s harvest of nothing but the freshest fruits and vegetables are you ready to settle in and allow yourself the unhealthy snack foods that are best enjoyed with copious amounts of booze and yelling? Can you whip-up something besides the number for Domino’s, (GOD HELP ME DO NOT TELL ME YOU ORDER DOMINO’S), that will feed you and your crew?

Fast forward to my Twitter update earlier this week: (No Mom, you cannot have access to my Twitter feed.  Now please stop writing on my Facebook wall and go watch this nice video from The Onion about parents and social networking instead.)

What I learned this weekend: I thought I was ready for some football. Turns out, I was not ready for four days of football.

I was not ready.  Oh sure, I knew I could put together a game plan with little effort, but without practice my timing the food to be ready for kickoff was almost off.  Taking all the appropriate pictures for the FFF went completely out the window.  Having all ingredients ready beforehand?  Child please.  Not.  Ready.

Still, a win is a win.   The Steelers needed overtime to avoid a Super Bowl letdown.  The Pats and the Chargers needed until the final minutes of the game to overtake the Bills and Raiders.  I needed Week 1 to kick my ass to remind me that preparing football food takes planning.

This week – Mexican Fondue, Five Points cocktails, and POPCORN, YOU ARE POPCORN. DO NOT FORGET IT Bars.

You will need –

If you have a chafing dish or fondue pot, use it to keep the dip warm for the whole game. If not, you can bake it in a casserole dish much like any other hot dip. Or on the stove top, but then you're really risking it cooling down too fast. Small crock pot would also work.

Remember when I said I was not ready?  When I looked around the internet for different Mexican fondue recipes, I found one in particular I liked and knew I could change up pretty easily.  Hit print, went the store. Guess what?  The ingredient list was for if you were making the cheese dip AND a guacamole to go along with it.  Oops.  Lesson?  Make sure to study the play book.  So this is for both, but if you want to make your own style of guac that’s cool with me because once I realized my mistake, I made my style of guacamole.

Fondue: This fondue is basically a change-up on spinach artichoke dip, which we have made before here at the FFF.

3-4 cups of mixed cheeses, shredded.  (I used Monterrey Jack, sharp cheddar, and mozzarella.)
One large bag of fresh spinach, stems removed and torn into smaller pieces, or one frozen box of spinach.  (Same yield, but fresh has less salt and tastes better.)
1 large can of artichoke hearts.
1 cup of warm beer.  (NOT Light beer.  It needs to have some taste.)
1 cup of salsa.
Paprika, cumin, and garlic powder to taste.
Lime juice.
Flour.

Guacamole:

3 or 4 ripe avocados.
1 or 2 tomatoes.
1 large can of green chiles
Paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder (or you can be one of those nuts who puts in a chopped red onion) to taste.
Lemon or lime juice, preferably lime.

If you use fresh spinach, all you have to do is throw it into a hot pan and stir it around until it wilts. If you use frozen spinach, you have to thaw it, and squeeze out all the water in either a colander and hope half your spinach doesn't go down the drain. Or thaw it and wring out the excess water in approximately 50 paper towels, thus negating any savings you might have had using frozen instead of fresh. You also probably thought giving Jake Delhomme an extra $20 million this summer was a good idea.

Every time I make a dish with shredded cheese, I think of Rob Ircane once making fun of all my recipes starting with bowls of cheese coated with some flour. Well Mr. Walk Off Walk, it is not my fault cheese goes better with football than baseball. Baseball gives you peanuts and sunflower seeds. Don't act like either of those things are the height of health.

Make sure you coat your cheese with a couple of tablespoons of flour, like you would in a quiche.  Helps keep the cheese from becoming one oily mess, and helps it react with the other liquid ingredients.

I wonder what happened to the reader who always used to talk about my hands and what color nail polish I would wear each week. (Impluse buy at Urban Outfitters if you must know. Bought it because it looks like Vegas Gold, the secondary color of the Pittsburgh Penguins.)

Drain and chop the artichoke hearts.

Remember when I said I wasn’t ready for all the pictures?  This is true.  I missed taking a bunch photos for the remaining steps.  I also didn’t like the way the one picture of melting cheese looked.   So the remaining steps are:

Melt cheese in fondue pot over medium low heat, stirring all the while so it does not stick to the bottom of the pot.  Add 3/4 cup of warm beer.

Mix in your artichoke hearts, the 1 cup of salsa, and the spinach.   Add garlic powder, cumin, and paprika to taste.  (A rounded teaspoon of each should do you.)  Keep stirring until completely incorporated.  Let it cook down some, and then add the remaining 1/4 cup of beer to get the consistency you prefer.   Keep warm over low heat.

Serve with chips and guacamole.

How do you make the guacamole? Take all the above guac elements, chop and mash in a bowl.  You should have learned to make a decent guacamole in Pop Warner league, and if you haven’t learned it by now GET THE HELL OUT OF MY KITCHEN.

Five Points Cocktails

Just like grandma said, bourbon, lemon and honey for anything that ails you. Okay, my grandmothers never said that but I've heard other people say their grandmothers did.

Gastropubs have taken over Los Angeles, and not a minute too soon for my tastes.  Cocktails, craft beers AND we get to eat garlic fries with pastrami sandwiches with house-made pastrami? Yes please!  (Hyphenating “house-made” for now, as per this foodie/grammar discussion.)

One of my new favorites is Essex Public House in Hollywood.  On their menu is a cocktail called Five Points, which is a mix of Woodford Reserve Bourbon, lemon juice, and honey simple syrup.  Since we only ever keep one or two types of bourbon in our home bar, Maker’s Mark it is!

Last season we went over how to make simple syrup for mint juleps, so making honey syrup should be easy enough.   Same concept, but instead of a one-to-one ratio of sugar to water, boil two parts honey for each one part of water.  Let cool in the fridge before serving. (As you can tell, with the rush of game time approached, I didn’t have much honey syrup left from the last batch.  Stupid rookie mistake.)

I am not entirely certain how Essex makes their cocktail, I have found that 2 ounces each of bourbon and honey syrup, and 1.5 ounce of lemon juice stirred together over ice is just perfect.

At Essex’s sister outpost, Boho, they make the same cocktail substituting gin for the bourbon called the Bee’s Knees.  While summer heat still has not given way to the cool evenings of fall, it makes for great afternoon refresher while tailgating.

POPCORN, YOU ARE POPCORN. DO NOT FORGET IT Bars.

Oh, the mistake of having a bag of marshmallows and popcorn on hand.

Earlier in the week I asked some people if they would be interesting in trying out popcorn bars that are basically Rice Krispie Treats, but made with popcorn.  I had all the ingredients on hand, so why not?

I’ll save you the mess it was to make them, and the even bigger mess of cutting them.  And the taste? No where near as good as either traditional popcorn balls or Rice Krispie Treats.   So I am naming them after my favorite football Tweet from last weekend’s games, sent when Bronco’s wide receiver Brandon Stokley caught a deflected pass and ran it for an 87-yard touchdown in the final moments of was about to be a Cincinnati victory.

HAHAHAHAHA YOU ARE THE BENGALS, BENGALS. DO NOT FORGET IT. – Pete Gaines

Mexican Fondue adapted from the Food Network.   Popcorn Bars from a magazine we’ll call Never Real, Never Simple.

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8 Responses to Return of the Original Friday Football Foodie – Mexican Fondue, Popcorn Bars and Five Points

  1. Clare says:

    I knew I recognized the Mexican Fondue recipe! (I’ve been watching a lot of Food Network in my newly free time.)

    That Five Points looks delicious, and I have all the fixins in the house right now. I think I’m going to have to try to make one tonight.

  2. Clare – Yeah, Robin had the best one I saw around. Not enough cheese and no beer though, which I think really helps make the dip.

  3. Bullet! Bullet! Bullet! says:

    HEY! BACK IN BLACK!! (AND GOLD!!!)

    I still have your lonely RSS feed active…keep them coming.

  4. Holly says:

    SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW.

  5. Matt_t says:

    So glad fff is back

    ps: suck it icarane

  6. Cotter says:

    Just commenting to make sure my keyboard still works after I drooled all over it :)

    I can’t wait to dominate one of those cocktails, by the way.

  7. Rob Iracane says:

    It’s HEDLEY.

  8. IJustMadeThatUp says:

    The dip really is won or lost on the beer. It’d be just “another cheese dip” without it– so suck it FoodTV! TSW PWND’d your recipe.

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