This past weekend, fellow Steelers THUNDERDOME fantasy football league member Joshua Rivera was in town with his buddy for a Laker game and a long weekend visit, which means we got to play host for Saturday’s Steelers-Ravens rematch. Since I wanted to make sure they got the full LA experience and didn’t get stuck inside our place while the weather was so nice, we headed out to Big Wangs to meet up with some fellow black and gold fans. (Don’t worry, I cooked and had people over for Sunday’s games and the Golden Globes so they could get a feel for what our usual football party is like.) Great game, great people and way too many shots from Big Wang’s resident mayor, Smokey.
It also means I came up against one of my greatest vices; heart attack fries.
Now, my belief in the wonder of heart attack fries goes back more than a few years now, but generally this luck has revolved around the Penguins.
“… The only acceptable hockey snacks in my book are nachos, hoagies, and now that I live in Los Angeles, Big Wang’s Heart Attack Fries which I am convinced played a magical part of both the 2008 and 2009 Stanley Cup appearances. (And the not-so-magical part of putting on 10 pounds during each Finals run. I didn’t eat them last season, and the Pens lost.)”
I bring this up because Josh couldn’t help but order the heart attack fries — egged on by Colin — and I, of course, could not resist eating half the plate.
By the time Monday rolled around, I was mildly concerned. Did the heart attack fries have some sort of superstring theory-level of effect on the game?
“Rubbish. You’re smarter than that, Self, ” I said to myself. “Also, you need to stop thinking you understand string theory when you don’t. You’re not that smart.”
Then late Tuesday night I was catching up on my Google Reader and listening to Josh’s podcast, Tator Tot Theory, and he was talking about his vacation with his co-host.
“It was a very sad first half as bullshit happened and the Ravens took the lead. And then a miracle happened. The miracle of Big Wangs. Right as I ordered the heart attack fries things started to turn around.”
Is it possible that shoestring fries topped with alfredo sauce and bacon are truly lucky? I mean, I’ve made them at home before (I AM NOT PROUD OF THIS), but do I make them this weekend? Do I go back to Big Wangs? Do I get take out heart attack fries?
Or do I act like a rational human being and just have a few beers, lucky IC Lights of course, and just relax?
Another great tailgating or living room-gaiting — yes, I’m still trying to make that phrase happen — snack that can be made ahead of time are stuffed peppadews. The spice and the heat from the peppadews match perfectly with the creaminess of the cheese and the slight snap from the capers. Even mild peppadews, as seen below, have enough of a bite to offset the saltiness of the olives and feta.
You will need…
Two jars of peppadews (You’ll need about 40-50 peppadews depending on size and how much filling you put in each one.)
8 ounces whipped cream cheese, softened
6 to 8 ounces of crumbled feta
Handful of kalamata olives, about 8-12, drained and roughly chopped
1-2 tablespoons of capers, drained and roughly chopped
A small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finally chopped (2-3 tablespoons)
Small bunch of chives, chopped, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 glove garlic, minced (Optional. I tend to use it only if I am leaving out the chives or the parsley.)
Ground pepper to taste, about 1/2 teaspoon
When I made this batch, I only picked up one jar of peppadews thinking I had another jar of them at home. I was wrong and ended up with some leftover filling which I baked into filo cups I happened to have leftover from another cooking project.
Drain and dry the peppadews on paper towels or with a clean kitchen towel.
Either with a lot of elbow grease and a spatula or in a small chopper, combine the softened cream cheese and feta together.
In a large bowl, cream together the cheese mixture and all of the ingredients except for the peppadews.
If you happened to have creamed together the cheese in a food processor, don’t be lazy and think you can just throw the capers, olives and herbs into the machine and hit “blend” and get away with it. You’ll end up with a puree that loses the crunch from the capers and rob your palate from the experiences of all the different tastes and textures.
Who cares about individual tastes and textures late in the third quarter? You do.
Using either a pastry bag with the largest tip possible, as you can see I just used the pastry tip coupling since it has the widest opening so bits of feta wouldn’t get stuck in it, or a plastic bag with a corner cut off, fill each peppadew.
Garnish with chives and serve.
These can easily be made up to two days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge, but hold off on the garnish until serving.
And my baked filo cups? Excellent. Proving yet again a great backup can compliment even the best starters.
(Although why I didn’t take another set of photos with the two jars of peppadews is beyond me, as I made this dish three times over the holidays for football, a ladies night and a Christmas Eve party.)