Anyone who has followed the Friday Football Foodie over the last couple of years knows that I’m superstitious about having all our snacks and drinks ready to go for kickoff. Something about my chi not being focused entirely on the game effecting the team chi (Steelers special teams can obviously be distracted by an undercooked pizza roll out there in the universe) and therefore increasing the odds of a loss.
“Once you discover your winning formula of OCD-esque ticks to perform before each game, you must never deviate from it. Everything you do is part of a karmic and behavioral pattern that determines who wins on Sunday. It’s your duty to your team to obsessively re-create the conditions of whatever happened during your team’s last win. And not just on game day. It extends for the full week prior to game day.”
And thus explains why I wasn’t entirely happy with my pre-wedding weight-loss regime last fall. Last season’s Hot Pizza Dip turned into the “lucky” game day food. Bry would insist upon it almost every week, and despite its approximately 1500 calories per serving, I was powerless to resist it. (Thank you mom for buying me a custom made wedding dress to accommodate me and the dip!) After the wedding and going into the playoffs, we developed a “lucky” weekend routine. Friday, either the Bowery or Magnolia for burgers – depending on which had room at the bar, figuring the mojo was in the burger selection – and then racing into a movie at the Arclight, and Saturday night housemade sausages, Belgian fries and beers at Wurstküche.
By the Super Bowl, we could have been renamed Big Snack II and Big Snack III with our Casey Hampton-sized physiques.
Why do I bring this up? Steelers have dropped two in a row. Last week against the Bengals, the pretzel bites we’re still in the oven at kickoff. (I woke up late, which DOES NOT WORK when you need to let dough rise multiple times.) First strike. The Football Fan’s Manifesto also states,
“The best solution is to just label other people in your personal life as bad luck.”
Our football-loving friend and house guest Jeremy was on the phone with our non-football loving friend Damon when the Bengals intercepted Roethlisberger and returned the ball for a touchdown. Second strike, since Damon has been known to jinx sporting events before. Third strike? Just as the final seconds of the game ticked down and the Bengals were looking like they were not going to make the end zone – PLEASE HOLD ON FOR THE WIN! – Damon walked in our front door, sending my dog into a frenzy (Missy and Damon do not get along), and next thing I know I go to pull her away and WHAT??!? Wait? Touchdown Cincinnati?!? I DIDN’T EVEN SEE IT I WAS DISTRACTED BY DAMON, THE DOG AND MY CHI WAS ELSEWHERE WHAT HAVE WE DONE. DISTRACTED AND DAMON?!?!? THAT’S LIKE SEVEN STRIKES AGAINST MY TEAM.
Or perhaps Limas Sweed should have not dropped the ball in the goddamn end zone.
This weeks Friday Football Foodie: Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites with Beer Floats! You will need…
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water (110–115ºF)
1 cup warm milk (110–115ºF)
2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped country ham (I just asked my local deli to cut me a 1/3 lb piece of Black Forrest ham.)
1/3 cup finely chopped sharp Cheddar
4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped seeded fresh jalapeños
1 tablespoon mild honey
1/2 stick butter, melted (Preferably unsalted, but salted is fine. Who can keep two types of butter around other than cookie making season anyway?)
1 to 2 tablespoons pretzel salt or coarse salt
Generally I am not a fan of jalapeños or mustard, but something about the honey makes this side for dipping irresistible.
Combine the honey, jalapeños and mustard together. Make the night before if you like. (Hell, keep a batch around any time you have hard pretzels in the house for dipping.)
Mix together yeast, 1 tsp brown sugar, and warm water in a large bowl and let stand until active. (About 5 to 8 minutes.) In a second bowl, stir remaining 2 Tbsp brown sugar into warm milk until dissolved.
Combine together the yeast mixture, the sugar milk, and 2 1/2 cups of flour with a spoon or a spatula. If still too moist to form into a ball, add a little more flour (no more than a 1/2 of cup) into your dough. (I ended up using a full 1/2 cup.) Lightly flour your hands and work into a small ball. Place in a large, clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for two hours to let the dough rise.
While the dough is rising, finely chop the cheddar cheese and the ham. Put in the fridge for use later.
Lightly flour your hands and work the dough into a ball.
Divide your ball of dough into four pieces.
Stretch out the four pieces of dough into 12 inch rolls.
Roll flat, so each piece is about 3 or 4 inches deep.
Leaving enough room to fold over the dough, divide the ham and cheese across each piece of dough. Pinch together edges tightly to form a dough rope.
Cut each rope into 12 – 14 pieces. If you cut it just right, you probably do not have to seal the ends of each piece. Since I did not want to waste even a single molecule of cheddar, I sealed each bite by hand. This is probably where I blew my clock management skills causing me to not finish the snacks until 10 minutes into the game. Adjust your prep time accordingly.
Let the pretzels rest for about 30 minutes uncovered. (They will rise even more during this time.)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
In a large stock pot, boil about six cups of water and add your baking soda. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook the dough bites in the water for about 10-15 seconds a side. (Until they puff up.)
Drain on a slotted spoon or a wok basket and place on a baking sheet.
Bake in your 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden. While they bake, melt 2-4 tablespoons of butter.
Brush pretzel bites with melted butter.
According the recipe, once cooled you can freeze the pretzel bites for later use. Impossible. The entire batch didn’t last until halftime.
Over the summer, we went to the LA Beer Float Showdown at the Blue Palms down the hill from us. (Rumor has it that the Blue Palms turns into a Steelers bar on Sundays, but since we already spend about $2300 on the NFL Sunday Ticket, I tend to prefer staying at home to watch the games.)
Since it was 92 degrees in Hollywood last weekend, I figured a beer float showdown of our own was in order. One of my favorite floats from showdown was the St. Bernardus Abt 12 with a toffee ice cream. I wondered how a chocolate toffee would taste with dark beers, so I set out to make my own mix of ice cream for one of the selections the night before. (Since apparently chocolate toffee ice cream only exists in my imagination.)
Since ours was a simple throw down, we pitted chocolate toffee ice cream against vanilla toffee ice cream, Guinness against Stone Brewery Smoked Porter.
Hands down favorite with the crowd? Ben and Jerry’s Vanilla Toffee Ice Cream with the Smoked Porter, which possibly was the only thing that got us through three quarters of a boring Colts-Cardinals Sunday night blowout before Curb Your Enthusiasm came on.
As for the lucky routine? Well, Bry and I went to Magnolia last Friday night for dinner before a movie at the Arclight. Last time we go for the steak sandwich instead of the burger.
Country Ham and Cheddar Pretzel Bites with Jalapeño Mustard – October 2009 Gourmet Magazine, Chef Edward Lee