Bowl over game day guests on Super Sunday

By Robin Watson
Special to The Detroit News
The recently relaunched joebar in Hazel Park is selling full-size cream pies via pre-order for pick up on Feb 1st, just in time for Super Bowl parties. Go to for more info.

Think back to Thanksgiving. So much food. So much football. Officially the biggest eating day of the year.

Now, just as your pants are beginning to fit again, comes the second biggest eating day of the year: Super Bowl Sunday. Consider: Americans typically consume more than a billion wings while watching the game. (And you know that’s not all they’re eating.)

Last year, reports CNBC, 44 million people planned to host a Super Bowl party. Are you planning to tackle one on Feb. 2r? If so, it’s time to huddle up and decide what to serve. Football fans are a hungry, passionate bunch. Cheering, screaming and being tantalized by all those food commercials gives a person an appetite, and you don’t want them to be hangry. You won’t be able to control a thing about the game’s point spread, but you can be ready with a super spread of food.

 Up your food game

Are you ready for some football … snacks? Look to luxurious ingredients, trendy global flavors and clever twists on fan favorites as ways to score big.

Dips. The following are innovative ways to update these MVPs:

♦Enhance texture. Top dips, spreads and plates of dipping oil with toasted seeds, nuts and spice blends such as dukkah, an Egyptian blend of nuts, herbs and seeds.

♦Add pops of flavor and color. Pickle chopped raisins, dried currants or apricots in vinegar for a few minutes, then swirl into creamy dips.

♦Go global. Hummus, baba ghanouj, muhammara (Syrian red pepper dip) and kashk-e-bademjun (Persian eggplant/yogurt/spinach dip). Serve them individually or layer with labneh for a colorful and sensational presentation.

♦Serve creatively. Use glass bowls that show off colors and textures. And, if you’re a 49ers fan, definitely serve a dip from a sourdough boule.

Nachos. Pile on luxurious toppings, such as pulled duck or pork or crab meat. Go for fusion with global options: Indian butter-chicken or shawarma nachos.

Wings. Set ’em on fire with sinus-clearing sriracha sauce or a dusting of gojuchang, harissa or ras el hanout seasonings.

Handhelds. Go classic with a big vat of traditional Sloppy Joes. Serve what’s reputed to be the original recipe (one based on a loose-meat sandwich from Havana) from Sloppy Joe’s Bar, a Hemingway hangout in Key West, Florida. “It’s homestyle food that everybody remembers from their childhood,” says Sloppy Joe’s Brand Manager Donna Edwards. Or hand off other handhelds such as pierogi, empanadas, hand pies and pasties.

Hot cheese. You won’t get hit with a penalty for using Velveeta, but thinking outside that rectangular box will score big with guests.

“Get fancy or take bits and pieces and blend them together,” suggests Rebecca LaMalfa, resident chef at Frame in Hazel Park, which is holding a “Hot Cheese Swiss Alps Dinner” next month. “Add whatever spices and other ingredients you want and keep it warm in a crockpot. Chop up bread and pickles for dipping.”

Enhance your molten cheese dips — fondues, fonduta (the baked or broiled Italian version of fondue) and queso fundidos — with

·       ♦Upscale, artisinal, imported and aged cheeses — Pont l’Eveque Coupe, Gruyere, aged Goudas and Cheddars, burrata, Gorgonzola Dolce, triple-crème bries, etc.

·       ♦Better boozy elements — local craft beers, ciders, champagne, sparkling wine and liqueurs.

·       ♦Meat proteins — crispy, sauteed minced prosciutto, chopped bacon, soppressata, shrimp, chicken, etc.

·       ♦Veggies — onions, shallots, spinach, roasted tomatoes.

·       ♦Spices — Curry powders, Korean pepper, Spanish paprika.

Desserts. According to Google Trends, searches for cupcakes in the last few years have run high. Order them from a bakery. While you’re there, get yourself some pie.

A word about bacon. Add it to everything you can.

V is for Victory — and veg-forward

There’s no need to eat like Tom Brady on Super Bowl Sunday (though this year, even he might indulge). Still, it’s super to offer options for those who want to go meatless or gluten-free.

·       ♦Create colorful crudite platters.

·       ♦Crumble Beyond Meat over nachos and dips.·

      ♦ Top roasted kale chips with finely grated French raclette.

·       ♦Set out sliced rounds of kohlrabi or zucchini as gluten-free cracker substitutes.

·       ♦Sprinkle nutritional yeast over olive-oil-dressed popcorn for a vegan treat with cheesy taste.

 Playbook basics

As with all parties, have plenty of food on hand, but don’t make yourself crazy.

♦(Re)move the chains. Decide how much you’ll prepare and how much you’ll order in. Pick and choose to hold the line on your budget and your time. Order, for example, things that are more involved, such as pizzas and cream pies, but make dips and snacky things yourself.

♦Mix and match. Create a roster of veteran favorites, but draft some rookies for your menu.

♦Get your lineup ready. Prep as much as you can in advance so you can enjoy the day.

♦Forget about fumbles. Offer foods that are easy to serve and easy to eat.


There are many recipes for Sloppy Joes and many versions of the sandwich’s history. But this one, created at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, a Hemingway hangout in Key West, Florida, is thought to be one of the earliest.  Based on a loose-meat sandwich from Havanna and named by Papa himself, it’s on the menu at three Sloppy Joe’s Bar concessions at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium.

Sloppy Joes

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

¾ pound diced onion

¾ pound diced celery

½ pound diced green pepper

1 ounce diced garlic

½ ounce salt

3 pounds ground beef

1½ quarts ketchup

4 ounces brown sugar

1 ounce Worcestershire sauce

1 ounce cider vinegar

6 ounces tomato paste

4 ounces barbecue sauce

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a stockpot. Add the onion, celery, green pepper, garlic and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent. Add the ground beef and brown until completely cooked. Drain fat. Add the ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestshire sauce, vinegar, tomato paste and barbecue sauce. Stir until blended. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of Sloppy Joe’s Bar, Key West, Florida.

Blender Cheese Dip

Use any cheese or combination of cheeses. One excellent combination is Gruyere and Raclette. 

“It looks ugly in the beginning, but it just takes some patience,” chef Rebecca LaMalfa says of the blending process. “The friction will melt it. The blender may smoke a bit, but don’t worry.”

Serve plain or garnish, to taste. Swirling in pomegranate arils, for example, adds pops of color, flavor and texture.

1 cup milk 

3 cups shredded cheese

Garnishes, to taste

Place the milk and cheese in a blender and process for several minutes until mixture reaches 135 degrees and is smooth. Mix in garnishes, if using. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to use. Can be served chilled or at room temperature. Do not warm up this dip as the heat will cause it to break.

Adapted from a recipe courtesy of chef Rebecca LaMalfa.

Guests looking for a healthier snack can hit their goals and still indulge with these roasted kale chips topped with ooey, gooey, melty raclette.

Oven-Roasted Kale Chips with Grated Raclette

1 pound washed kale leaves, midribs stripped out, dried completely

olive oil

salt, to taste

2 ounces raclette, finely grated

Preheat oven to 425 degrees 

Toss the whole kale leaves with olive oil and lay out in a single layer on a baking sheet. You may need to do this in batches or on multiple baking sheets to give them enough space to crisp, not steam. Sprinkle with salt. Roast until light and crispy, about 7 minutes. Turn the oven off.

Remove from the oven and immediately grate the cheese over them and serve. The finer the grating on the cheese, the more easily it will soften over the hot chips. To get them really melty, return them to the oven after grating and allow the remainng heat of the oven to just melt them.

Reprinted with permission from Ruffage by Abra Berens.