Ah, the Super Bowl.
We’re not quite sure what all the fuss is about. Really. There’s something so unappealing about watching large men with protruding bellies in shiny spandex lumber about and fall on each other in some hilarious attempt to move a few yards. It’s graceless and, frankly, boring. How is it possible that four quarters takes four hours? Isn’t “quarter” like, 15 minutes or something? Right.
We’ll take some glamorous, dramatic, fast paced and fancy-footworked fútbol any day, thank you very much.
But hey, an excuse to make food for others is still an excuse, even if we cringe to name it out loud. So this year, when invited to a Super Bowl-watching par-tay, we quickly volunteered to bring some food. En fin. We found ourselves crowded onto two enormous, can’t-believe-these-fit-in-your-brooklyn-apartment couches on Sunday, and, resigned, settled back to watch some hilariously old-timey, amorphously political commercials, to suffer through some painfully slow action (“action” being a misnomer here), and to, well, eat.
(Break: we’ll admit the half time show was pretty epic. We hope we can pull off cartwheels in 4 inch heels when we’re 53, too. Good work, Madonna.)
In honor of one of the most American holidays we can think of, here’s a real americanata. Two classic recipes (albeit excellent versions), culled from the interwebs, and one linked rather than reposted, in honor of good old American efficiency.
First, Francis Lam’s fire-roasted guacamole, which we found over at the sadly now-defunct GiltTaste, and has been reposted on account of it’s no longer existing elsewhere. We love Francis Lam. How’s this for a direction?“Season avocado chunks with salt, until they taste really good.” Yes sir! Will do! This guac is great. It’s fresh and refreshing – the tomatillos (secret ingredient!) add body without adding density – and the toasted jalapenos give it a spicy depth that’s present without being overwhelming. It’s a little smokey, a little salty, and just worth it.
We roasted the tomatillos and peppers right on the stove top flame, the same way we toast our tortillas:
We made the “salsa” bit the day before, and added the avocado before serving, popping a pit into the bowl to keep everything looking green and sprightly throughout the evening. The salsa on its own is spectacular, and we’ve taken to making it often and keeping it around the house, as our house salsa.
And then, SmittenKitchen’s double chocolate cake, which is so good that we have three friends who ask us to make it for their birthdays, every year, without fail. Chocolate cake is tricky. Too often its dry, and rarely do we find it really tastes like chocolate – in fact, we prefer the flourless variety precisely because it’s neither of these things. But we felt the holiday called for more of a multi-layered, frosted monstrosity of a cake. Enter: this recipe. It’s moist and fluffy, and chocolately enough, especially when iced with chocolate ganache.
This recipe makes enough for two 10-inch layers, but as we only have one 10-inch pan and many 8-inch pans at home, we went for three smaller layers (baked together on the middle rack as instructed). We filled ours with homemade apricot preserves, the last of our late-summer batch, and frosted it with Deb’s ganache (which, yes, takes a spoonful of corn syrup, but we’ll overlook that in honor of the US of A.)
And! Lucky for us, the teams playing this year had the same colors! So we had a winning cake, no matter the outcome.
fire roasted guacamole
4-5 tomatillos (about 6-ounces), papery husks removed
¼ cup onion, chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tsp. olive oil
3 avocados (very ripe)
1 tbl lemon or lime juice
2 tb. red onion, very fine diced
pinch of ground cumin
Salt, to taste
Make the Salsa
Using a pair of tongs, flame roast the tomatillos until they are lightly charred on all sides. Place them in the bowl of a food processor.
Char the jalapenos the same way. Once cooled, trim off the stem and remove the seeds and ribs. Dice the peppers and add to the food processor.
Add onion, cilantro, the juice of 1 lime, and a generous pinch of salt to the food processor and pulse until it’s pureed. Adjust salt if needed.
In a small pan, add the olive oil and sauté the garlic over medium heat until it’s golden brown. Remove from the heat. Stir it into the tomatillo puree until the oil incorporates. Add a pinch of cumin and 2 tbls fine diced red onion.
At this point, you can refrigerate and keep as a delicious, fire-roasted tomatillo salsa, or, turn it into guacamole.
Split the avocados, remove the pit, then using a large spoon scoop out flesh from each half. Cut flesh into ¼” to ½” sized cubes. Sprinkle with a little lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Season with salt. Gently fold into the salsa. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.