Gridiron shenanigans - and the blitz of clever TV ads - have turned Super Bowl Sunday into a screen-watching, nacho-downing, party-hosting marathon.
If you are hosting a bash for Super Bowl 50, Margaret Teskey, president of San Francisco's Taste Catering, has a few suggestions to ensure that you have as much fun at your party as your guests do.
"Entertaining is about your own personal style," she says. "Don't overthink it. If you're not enjoying it, your guests are not enjoying it. Plan in advance. Purchase a couple days before. Keep it simple. Super Bowl is fun, not fluffy."
And the decorative element can be very fun indeed. If you're into whimsy, Teskey says, you could cover your buffet table with artificial grass, pick up risers at the hardware store to elevate platters and use the game's official colors - black, gold and silver, in case you wondered - to decorate.
But the most important aspect is, of course, the game - and the food. So plan a menu that can be done ahead, right down to beer, wine and drinks that can be prepped ahead, then poured by guests.
"You don't have to have a full bar," Teskey says. "Do one specialty cocktail - a margarita or a Paloma, tequila and grapefruit - and batch it. Super Bowl is in between brunch and dinner. You want food available, but not overwhelming. Sparkling wine and sparkling water. It's going to be a long afternoon."
"Think of chips and dips. What is that? I like a healthier version - toasted pita bread, crackers and really good crudites," she says. "Do California-Mediterranean dips: eggplant, hummus, baba ghanoush. Make or buy a roast chicken, cut it into smaller pieces, serve it with a bread salad on little plates with forks."
The do-ahead element is important, concurs Sarah Leah Chase, co-author of "The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook" and the "New England Open-House Cookbook" (Workman Publishing, 2015), which devotes an entire chapter to tailgates and picnics. Instead of serving "the ubiquitous shrimp cocktail," she says, try her citrusy pickled shrimp, which, despite the name, is not pickled. It's dressed in a dill- and lemon-tinged vinaigrette, adorned with fresh herbs, sliced onions and thin lemon slices - and it's even better when you make it two or three days ahead of time.
Adding a DIY component to the buffet makes an event more interactive, says New York caterer Mary Giuliani, who calls those elements "snacktivities." Her new cookbook, "The Cocktail Party" (Ballantine Books, 2015), includes a "Game Day" party plan with a "Beerbon" and "Beergarita" drinks station, where guests can mix their own, and a DIY grilled cheese bar loaded with assorted breads, cheeses and fillings, and equipped with a panini press or electric griddle.
Burrell writes for the Contra Costa Times.
Serves 10 to 12 as a starter, 6 to 8 as a main dish
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4-ounce jar diced pimento
- 1/2 cup pitted black olives, such as Kalamata, coarsely chopped
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 large lemon, thinly sliced, then cut in half
- 1 small bunch fresh dill, cilantro, parsley or mint, minced (1/2 to 2/3 cup)
- 2 tablespoons Old Bay or other shrimp boil seasoning
- 4 pounds (16 to 20 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
- In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, wine vinegar, mustard, garlic and salt. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Stir in the pimento, olives, onion, lemon slices and dill or other herbs. Set the pickling marinade aside.
- Fill a large pot with water, then add the shrimp boil seasoning. Let come to a boil over high heat. Add the shrimp; cook until just cooked through the centers, 2 to 4 minutes. Drain the shrimp in a colander. Immediately toss the hot shrimp in the pickling marinade. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
- Store the shrimp in the refrigerator, covered, for 2 to 3 days (and no longer than 5 days), stirring occasionally. Serve chilled.