Another season of Longhorn football is upon us—and for many fans, that means another season of burgers and beer, chips and queso, and other old favorites. But why not spice up your tailgate or watch party with more inventive fare? We turned to four inventive alumni food bloggers for ideas, and the delectable results will have you sprinting to the kitchen.
Sweet Potato Cakes with Sour Cream and Chipotle Black Bean Salsa
Sweet potatoes just happen to come in exactly the right color for gameday, and they’re in season right now. They also have a natural affinity for the smoky, spicy flavors in black bean salsa. The idea for these sweet potato cakes came from the book Plenty by Yottam Ottolenghi. I kept the flavors simple, by only adding finely chopped green onions since I paired them with black bean salsa, and I made them a nice, small size so they’re easy to pick up at a party.
For the sweet potato cakes:
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 green onions, both white and green parts, finely chopped
4-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4-6 tablespoons butter
Steam the sweet potato chunks for 15-20 minutes until completely tender, and then transfer to a colander and allow to drain until dry.
Once very dry, place sweet potato chunks in a large mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher to break up chunks. Add flour and finely chopped green onions, and mix with your hands to form a smooth batter. Using your hands here is best so that it doesn’t become over-mixed. In a food processor, the sweet potato mixture could quickly become gummy. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. Once the mixture is smooth, and the flour and green onions are mixed in, you’re ready to fry. Note: the mixture should be sticky but not wet, so more flour may be needed.
In a non-stick skillet, heat two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and two tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Form round, flat cakes from about two tablespoons of batter per cake, and fry four or five at a time for three minutes per side until golden. Transfer finished cakes to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain and cool. Add more oil and butter to pan between batches as needed, and continue frying a few cakes at a time until all are ready for their toppings.
For the black bean salsa:
1 16 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1-2 chipotles in adobo, finely chopped
1 small, yellow bell pepper, small diced
¼ cup finely minced red onion
¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
¼ teaspoon salt
Combine all salsa ingredients, starting with one chipotle, in a small bowl and stir to combine. Taste for chipotle heat and add more if desired, and taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Salsa can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
To assemble for serving:
½ cup sour cream
Place sweet potato cakes on a serving platter and add a small dollop of sour cream to each. Top sour cream with a small spoonful of black bean salsa, and enjoy.
Yield: 34 small cakes
Monica Riese, BA ’09, blogs at It’s the Yeast I Can Do.
These biscuits are the closest living relative to those found on the tables of one crimson crustacean-mascotted seafood chain. The recipe was first unearthed by ABC, and a headnote on that original transcription explained the use of Bisquick: the shortening in that particular product, in combination with the butter, makes for an exceptionally fluffy final product. While I’m normally an all-from-scratch, all-the-time kind of baker, I wholeheartedly think it’s worth it, and after you try these one-bowl wonders, you will too. It’s easy to adjust the salt and garlic content to taste, or you could adapt the flavors to suit your favorite drop-biscuit recipe. Hook ’em!
2 1/2 cups Bisquick
3/4 cup cold milk
4 tablespoons cold butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
For garlic butter:
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a pastry blender, combine Bisquick and butter until chunks are approximately pea-sized. Mix in cheese, milk, and garlic powder until just combined. Drop portions of dough onto the parchment-lined sheet using an ice cream scoop. Bake for 15 minutes.
During the last few minutes of baking, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and stir in the remaining ingredients. Brush this mixture over each biscuit. Serve warm.
Yield: 12 biscuits
Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus
Stephanie Logerot, BJ ’03, blogs about food and family at Steph Cooks.
I was looking for a way to use up some sun-dried tomatoes and basil from another recipe on what happened to be the first Saturday of college football, and so this Italian twist on traditional hummus was born. It works as a gameday dip or as an appetizer for any other entertaining needs you have. This makes a large batch, so use extra hummus as a unique sandwich spread instead of mayo or mustard.
3 cups cooked chickpeas (or two 15-oz cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained)
4 cloves chopped garlic
8 large basil leaves, torn
6 tablespoons sliced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup tahini
2 pinches red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup olive oil
Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a large food processor or blender and process until everything is well-combined. With the food processor/blender running, add olive oil in a slow stream, until the mixture is smooth and easy to stir. Serve with sliced pepper strips, baby carrots, crackers, chips, or your favorite dipper.
Yield: Eight to ten servings
Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail
Erin Krenek, BA ’06, blogs at Wave My Wooden Spoon.
A classic gameday cocktail meets a favorite party hors d’oeuvre. The result is a sophisticated version of the classic dish with a boozy kick. The recipe was inspired by Barefoot Contessa’s Roasted Shrimp Cocktail and uses her same flavorful technique of roasting the shrimp as opposed to the conventional method of boiling them. The cocktail sauce is kicked up with fresh jalapeños, scallions, celery seed, and vodka. The sauce is so tempting, you might sip it like it’s your “hair of the dog” after you’ve finished dipping the shrimp.
For cocktail sauce:
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 small jalapeños, diced (De-seed if you want the cocktail sauce to be more mild.)
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
4 teaspoons prepared horseradish
3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 ounces vodka
1 cup ketchup
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of pepper
Pinch of salt
Mix all of the above ingredients in a small mixing bowl.
Let the mixture sit covered in the fridge for 4-8 hours ahead of time so the flavors can meld together.
For the shrimp:
24-36 large gulf shrimp, peeled with the tails left on and de-veined
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
On a sheet pan, toss the cleaned shrimp with the olive oil, celery salt, pepper, and cayenne. Spread the shrimp in one layer.
Roast the shrimp for 8-10 minutes until they turn pink and are cooked through. Let the shrimp cool.
Serve the cocktail sauce as a dip for the shrimp. For a unique presentation, divide the cocktail sauce among martini glasses. Hook six shrimp on the edge of each glass. Then garnish with a lemon slice, queen olives, and an okra pickle.
Yield: Four to six cocktails
Laura Long Gardner:
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