11 days ago, for Thursday Night Football, my beloved Steelers took on their bitter rivals (real rivals, none of that B’more Ravens bullshit) the Cleveland Browns. I selected #40 Beef Pizza because it is a football-appropriate meal. Cleve and I invited our friends, Leah & Todd who are Ohioans and Browns supporters. An aside–the last time Leah & Todd were over for Cioppino, the evening ended with some Britney Spears karaoke. Sadly, it was not to be. Todd didn’t channel his inner Womanizer–but it was still an excellent evening.
The Safeway didn’t carry raspberry sherbet so instead I picked up a half gallon container of Berry Patch sherbet. The store didn’t carry coconut macaroons (which, let’s be honest, was no big surprise), so what I did was take some sweetened, flaked coconut, toasted it, and then mixed into the whipped cream. This was surprisingly successful. Although I still don’t know how one is to “slice” sherbet. I just scooped and tried to press it into the pan. I didn’t bother with raspberries, but I had a bag of frozen blueberries in the freezer, so that was my garnish.
So there it is, my version of Frozen Raspberry Fluff. I don’t know where the ‘fluff’ part comes in because nothing was fluffy about it. This ended up being quite good, but the coconut-cream part wasn’t at all fluffy. In fact it was exactly like a coconut FrozFruit bar. Not that I’m complaining. I love those things!
So onto game day (night)…
5:30: I began by cleaning the lettuce and putting together the salad bar. My salad bar trimmings varied from the ones in the photo for #40, mostly because the Safeway didn’t have any cucumbers. Yes. I shit you not. They didn’t have any cucumbers!
6:01: I started the beef sauce.
6:06: Naturally, I added extra herbs to the dried seasonings in the recipe–namely fresh parsley and basil Also, waaaaaay more garlic.
6:17: By this time the sauce was simmering.
6:27: I browned the beef. Well, I subbed ground turkey because that’s what I had in my freezer.
6:47: The ground turkey was fully cooked. To it I added ½ tsp sugar, a 3 tsp fennel seed, and1 tsp oregano plus salt and pepper to give the meat an Italian sausage flavor. This really works. It’s a pretty great way to get a sausage pizza/sauce/etc. without having to buy sausage. You could even do this with meatless crumbles, I suppose. Any way you slice it, it’s cheaper than buying actual sausage.
At this point with the sauce, the flavor wasn’t there yet. So I added a bit more of all of the spices and a wee bit of red wine vinegar. There were 28 minutes left on the sauce for it to get all good.
The Cleveland Browns fans arrived at 7:20. Kick off was slated for 8:30. Perfect.
I hung out with our guests for a bit, had a little wine, and at 8 I began assembling the pizzas.
Since #40 called for 2 pizzas, I decided to do one with just meat and sauce per #40’s instructions and also a deep dish with meat sauce, mushrooms, onions, and black olives.
The beef-only pizza, which was supposed to be circular, was not. I tried to roll it out with a rolling pin but to no avail. It was heart-shaped. I guess that the Pillsbury dough isn’t meant to be shaped. Luckily, the dough for the deep dish was exactly the right size. I just plopped it into the pan.
I put on the pizza toppings (a side note, I have no idea why #40 called for a whole pound of cheese. I still have cheese in my fridge!
At about 8:15 the pizzas went into the oven. So, right after kickoff–in the first or second commercial break–
Dinner is Served!
OK, this was a great choice for such an event. It was easy and I wasn’t in the kitchen the entire time! WIN! Also, I think that this photographed quite well.
#40 was tasty, too. I didn’t have to do that much–the pizza dough was pre-made. The most I had to do was some slicing and dicing. But the success of this meal was all in how I doctored the sauce. The fennel seed was key. I, for the life of me, can’t remember where it was that I read about the fennel, but it did make it taste as though there was sausage in there!
Here is what the deep-dish version looked like:
Also, the salad bar is a great idea for guests because everyone can personalize their own. I liked it it a lot.
And after dinner we had the Frozen Raspberry Fluff that was neither raspberry nor fluffy. Eh, we ate it and liked it.
So that was all good. But you know what was bad? during the first half Big Ben got knocked out of the game. Charlie Batch?!? Season over. Put a fork in the Steelers we’re done.
I was distraught. So during half time I went into the kitchen to do the dishes. While I was scrubbing, the Browns fans in the other room gave up on the game and started using the bluray player to watch youtube videos (they are so not dedicated!). I pulled up the WDVE feed on my laptop to hear the rest of the game. While I was elbow-deep in dish water, lo and behold! Bill Hargrove said the unthinkable–Ben was back in the game! Dude, Ben is the new Steve McNair. He is indestructible. He is a madman. Tape him up and he’s good to go.
I rather enjoyed listening to the audio instead of seeing the game. It’s easier for me. Plus, I find that washing dishes and other cleaning-type activities is calming. And I needed to be calmed. It was good for me to have some alone time while the Browns fans were in the other room smoking pipes (old timey old man pipes) and talking about Ohioan things. I don’t know what, but what I do know is that the last time I had the opposing team’s fans over for a dinner, the Steelers lost at the very end (Chili con Carne vs. the Ravens). Was this going to be a trend? Every time I host a game do the Steelers fail?
I went back into the living room to watch the game (they put it back on) and in the end the Steelers were victorious. I don’t know how, but Big Ben, that crazy motherfucker (seriously, he has taken one too many hits in the head), got it done.
But I don’t know about their chances tonight against the San Francisco 49ers. The Steelers are definitely playing without James Harrison, and Big Ben will be a game-time decision. The number 1 seed in the AFC is on the line!!! Which, by the way, thank you San Diego!
I’m doing my part, though. I am making #40 again tonight with the left-over meat sauce and some frozen pizza dough. Fingers crossed. Win or lose, at least I know that dinner will be good.