It's that time again! Once again, Stephanie at Dispensing Happines is hosting a Blog Party. This month's theme: Big Game Night.
Hubby and I have not, nor do we ever plan to, host a sporting event party at our house. To begin with, we lack the proper accoutrements: we don't have satellite dishes or monster, ginormous plasma screens with THX Surround Sound. Next, Hubby's teammates usually reserve the privilege of hosting such events years in advance. Then, there's a lack of team(s) to root for: our teams are seldom in the Big Game.
Hubby grew up a Mets / Jets fan. Excepting one brief shining moment in the last few decades (the same moment that caused my Boston-Red-Sox-fan ex-boss to gasp in pain when I brought it up conversationally one day), I need say nothing more. I don't recall ever discussing the Jets before or during playoff season.
There's the scar tissue and the trauma: I used to be a hockey fan. Or more specifically, a L.A. Kings fan. While I still have an incredibly soft spot for the team (I started watching when Rob Blake was a rookie! And when Wayne Gretzky first moved down from Edmonton!), I don't love them any longer...nor do I love any team in any sport and this will never change. You might say I lack gumption. You might say I don't have the stomach to be a sports fan. You would be right.
My heart was broken in Game 2 of the 1993 Stanley Cup finals. L.A. Kings vs Montreal Canadiens. With 1:45 left to play (not like I'm obsessed) in the third period and the Kings leading 2-1 (statistically, 80% of all Stanley Cup teams who win the first two games of the finals typically go on to sweep the series), Jacques Demers, the coach for the Candiens, instructed Guy Carbonneau to have referee Kerry Fraser check out LA defenseman Marty McSorley's stick. The stick was ruled illegal, McSorley was sent to the penalty box, Montreal pulled their goaltender, Patrick Roy for a 6-on-4 advantage. With 1:13 remaining (I'm not obsessed), Eric Desjardins scored for Montreal, sending the game into sudden death overtime. Fifty-one seconds later (am I obsessed?), it was over. Desjardins scored again and the Canadiens proceeded to roll over the Kings for the remaining games in the series. (And no, it's not like I'm obsessed or anything, knowing the most miniscule details about this 4 minute cycle of hell).
I comfort myself by remembering that however awful that moment was -- and there I was, standing slack jawed in disbelief in front of the TV -- it's nothing compared to what Chicago Cubs fans go through yearly (George Will claims that being a Cubs fan drove him to be a conservative), or what Buffalo, NY fans experience in two separate sports.
And the final reason we're not likely to host a sporting event? I don't make hot wings and I forget hamburgers and hot dogs in the grill until they've reached instant-carcinogenic stage.
Here are some favorite munchies for the Big Game in the comfort of your own home: Vanilla Port Poached Pear Pizzetas with Gorgonzola Cheese (one of the appetizers from our wedding), Wild Mushroom Pomponnettes, and "one bite" Pumpkin Cheesecakes.
Vanilla Port Poached Pear Pizzetas with Gorgonzola Cheese
1 Bartlett pear, peeled
1/3 cup tawny port
1 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise, seeds scraped
1 T vanilla oil*
1 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1 8" round pizza crust (made from scratch is preferable, but store bought is fine in a pinch)
Heat oven to 350 degrees
Pour the port into a saucepan with the vanilla seeds and pod over medium heat. Slice the pear thinly, using a knife or mandoline, discarding core and seeds. Add the pear slices to the vanilla port mixture and poach for about 15 minutes, until the port is almost all gone. Discard the vanilla bean or save for another use.
Brush the top of the pizza crust with vanilla oil (*Add seeds and pods from two fresh vanilla beans to 1 cup grapeseed oil and let it infuse for about 1 week). Place the pizza in the oven for about 6-7 minutes to allow the crust to crispen. Remove from oven and carefully arrange pear slices on the crust. Top with gorgonzola cheese and return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes.
Remove from oven, allow the pizzetas to cool for about 5 minutes, then cut and serve.
Wild Mushroom Pomponnettes
These are simply tiny, bite-sized savory tarts. To save on time, I don't bother making pastry dough; I just use pre-made dough like Pillsbury's Pastry shell dough. Don't pre-cook the shells.
Makes 24 2” tarts (use 2 inch mini muffin tins)
1 2/3 cup heavy cream
2 T dijon mustard
1 pinch salt
1 t cayenne pepper
1 T truffle oil
1/4 cup wild mushrooms, finely chopped
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together eggs and cream. Add mustard, salt, pepper. Stir in the truffle oil last.
Using a 3 inch cookie cutter, cut rounds of the pastry and line the mini muffin tin with pastry shells. Add 1 T of mushrooms to each shell, then spoon in the egg mixture. Be careful not to overfill. Sprinkle with the porcini "dust" (Grind a handful of dried porcini mushrooms to make the "dust." It's a great topping to add to various dishes for a nice, earthy flavor).
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (or until the custard is cooked). Serve immediately.
"One bite" Pumpkin Cheesecakes
2 cups graham cracker, crushed finely
4 T butter, melted
3 T sugar
(or buy pre-made mini graham cracker crusts)
8 oz cream cheese (Philadelphia brand is preferred)
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2/3 cup pumpkin purée
2 T ground cloves
2 T cinnamon
1 T mace
1 T allspice
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the melted butter, sugar and crushed graham crackers. Press the crust into mini-cheesecake springform pans or muffin tins. Bake in the oven for 6 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
In a stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and sugar on high speed, scraping down the sides, until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time until combined. Reduce speed and mix in the pumpkin puree and the spices. Fold in the sour cream. Pour the batter into the individual the tins or pans and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. The cheesecakes should be cooked through, but the centers should jiggle slightly when shaken. Remove from oven and cool. Refrigerate overnight.