Game-day grinds

Alright. So you’re finally rid of all those holidays and New Year’s leftovers. It’s time to get down to the good, sit-around-the-house-and-watch-the-games-all-day munchies. Most of us go for the easy out with chips and salsa route, but it’s actually not too hard to, as Chef Emeril Lagasse would say, “kick it up a notch.” The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) has come up with recipes for a Green Olive Chili Beer Dip and a Green Peppercorn India Pale Ale Gougeres, two tasty pupus that make for a nice change up for game-day grinds. It’s also a good way to get rid of all the extra bottles of beer leftover from the parties.

According to information provided by the NBWA, the chili dip is a spicy spread to be served cold or at room temperature with pita chips, soft bread, or your favorite crackers.

Chili beer can often be found at the grocery store, but it’s easy to make on your own. Just cut a small slit in a serrano chili pepper and place the pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat. Slowly pour in a bottle of lager beer; bring to a boil and then remove from heat and let steep about an hour.

The beer will have an added bit of spice that is a perfect complement to the Middle Eastern flavors of this recipe. Combine the beer with onion, garlic, green olive, tahini (sesame paste), lemon juice, honey, coriander, cumin and cilantro and chop quickly in a food processor. Top finished dip with diced tomato and pistachios for added color and crunch.

For those not into chips, the gougeres are like spicy cheese biscuits. The best part about these two recipes is that if you’re having people over to watch the games with you, you can make these a day in advance or early in the morning. Serve these together on a buffet, along with a platter of cheese and grapes, some steamed shrimp or small deli sandwiches.

Green Olive Chili Beer Dip

1 bottle (12 ounce) pale lager beer

1 serrano chili pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1 jar (16 ounce) large pitted stuffed olives, drained

1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped

1 plum tomato, diced

2 tablespoons unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Make slit in one side of serrano chili; place in small saucepan over medium heat. Add beer; bring to boil. Remove from heat and cover. Let steep one hour to make Chili Beer.

In large skillet over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil; add onion and garlic. Sautee three minutes; add olives and sautee two minutes longer. Add Chili Beer (and chili pepper); boil 10 minutes, until most of the beer has cooked away. Cool to room temperature.

Transfer olive mixture to food processor; add tahini, lemon juice, honey, coriander, cumin and pepper. Process mixture until dip is smooth, with some pieces of olive still visible. Stir in cilantro. Spread mixture on plate or in shallow soup bowl, cover and refrigerate one hour to allow flavors to blend.

To serve, place on platter, scatter the top of the dip with tomatoes and pistachios, sprinkle with salt and drizzle remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the top. Serve with toasted bread, warm sliced pita or pita chips.

Makes 13/4 cups; 8 servings

Green Peppercorn India Pale Ale Gourgères

1 tablespoon dried whole green peppercorns

4 ounces Gruyère cheese, finely shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)

3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup India Pale Ale Beer

1/2 cup butter 1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or other nonstick liner.

With mortar and pestle, or in spice grinder, or with the side of a knife, smash peppercorns and finely mince. Place in medium bowl with Gruyère cheese, Parmesan cheese and nutmeg; toss with fork until blended.

In heavy large saucepan, combine India Pale Ale and butter and bring to a boil. When butter is melted, stir in flour and salt. Lower heat and stir constantly until dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball. Remove from heat and let cool one minute. Stir in one egg and vigorously beat with wooden spoon until incorporated. Stir in remaining eggs, one at a time, beating well, until the dough is smooth. Beat in cheese mixture and stir until incorporated.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart. With fingers, smooth gougères into neat mounds.

Bake one sheet at a time in preheated oven 25 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Transfer gougères to a wire rack and cool until just warm.

Makes 44

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