Because Fútbol; or, World Cup party food

If you’ve been watching the World Cup, you’ve probably seen the Hyundai ads that end with the punchline “Because Fútbol.” Why is this guy avoiding all contact with the outside world? Because Fútbol. Just what, asks a nurse in an overflowing maternity ward, happened nine months ago? Because Fútbol. They’re cute, the tagline’s catchy, and the whole campaign gets at the growing sense of excitement and investment in the World Cup in the United States.

Like many of you, I’ve been following the drama (such dives!), scandals (Suárez?!), and the general game play, encouraged in large part by all those endearing Google animations that pop up whenever I use the search engine. Soccer’s in the air, and so I’ve found myself returning to the ad and applying it to completely random things, such as:

Why is this song stuck in my head? Because Fútbol!

Why can’t I focus on my work right now? Because Fútbol! (This is probably true.)

Why did I get prematurely excused from Jury Duty? Because Fútbol! (Honestly, who knows? Might as well be Because Fútbol!!)

But most importantly: Why should you make these sweet & spicy nuts, or this pan-fried dip? BECAUSE FUTBOL! And because having good snacks while watching the World Cup is really, really important.

The sweet and spicy nuts (from Gramercy Tavern in NYC) are an all-around crowd pleaser, and couldn’t be easier. Rich and familiar with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, with a touch of smoky depth with all the cumin and pepper, they are divine. I’ve made a lot of spiced nuts, and can say, unequivocally, that these are the best. It also has a big yield, so it’s perfect for gifting, too.

The pan-fried onion dip is likewise a crowd pleaser, but with all the sour cream, mayo, and cream cheese, it is definitely not for the faint of heart. But there are sometimes when you’ve just got to go for it, you know? Those times when it feels so satisfying to pull out all the stops and just make something mind-bendingly delicious. And this is just the ticket.

Other posts from A Kitchen of One’s Own that would be great for the World Cup or other sporting events:

  1. Artichokes Cellini – my family’s version of hot artichoke dip, perfect paired with Triscuits
  2. Green Goddess Dressing Veggie Platter – beautiful and fresh. This recipe, incidentally, was published in Molly O’Neill’s One Big Table, a food blogger brush with fame. (I was interviewed and everything!)
  3. Avocado Mash with Curry, Cilantro, and Mustard Seeds – SO good. Just right.

(GOOOOOOOOOOAL!)

 

Gramercy Tavern Bar Nuts (originally found on Orangette)

  • 1 cup Raw Almonds
  • 3 Tbsp Turbinado Sugar
  • 1.5 tsp Kosher Salt, unless using Diamond Crystal brand, in which case use 1 T
  • 1 ¼ tsp Fine Sea Salt
  • 2 ¼ tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • ¾ tsp Ground Ginger
  • ½ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • ¼ tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
  • 2 cups Pecan Halves
  • 1 ¼ cups Cashews, (or walnuts)
  • ¼ cup (2 fluid ounces) Simple Syrup (See Headnote)
  • 1 ½ tsp Light Corn Syrup
  • 1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil, or another oil with a similarly high smoke point

Preheat the oven to 300˚F.

Spread the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Immediately transfer to a plate, and set aside to cool.

While the almonds toast, make the spice mix. Combine the sugar, salts, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, ginger, black pepper, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Stir to mix.

Reduce the oven temperature to 275˚F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the almonds, pecans, and cashews. Toss to mix. Add the simple syrup, corn syrup, and grapeseed oil, and stir to coat the nuts. Add the spice mix, and toss gently until the nuts are evenly coated. Spread on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the spice mixture is caramelized and the nuts are toasted, about 25-40 minutes. To check for doneness, take a few nuts out of the oven and let cool for a few minutes; if done, they should be dry to the touch.

Cool completely; then store in an airtight container.

Pan-Fried Onion Dip (adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Cookbook)

  • 2 large Yellow Onions
  • 2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • ⅛ cup Vegetable Oil
  • ¼ tsp Ground Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • ½ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 4 ounces Cream Cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup Sour Cream
  • ½ cup Mayonnaise

1. Cut the onions in half and then slice them into ⅛-inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about 3 cups of onions.) Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt and pepper, and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.

2. Place the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well. Taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature.

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