One of my favorite party ideas is a chili party! Years ago to celebrate a major event in my life, I created a 3 C’s party—Chili, Champagne and Caviar. My fondness for chili has led me to use a chili party for most any time of year and for most any reason.
Even if you are not a sports fan, chili in the winter is always perfect. If you do happen to like football like I do, I like to have a party menu that can all be done ahead of time, freeing me to watch the game. This menu fits the bill perfectly.
Here, there are three appetizers that will stave off hunger until half time when you can serve the chili or you can let your guests help themselves to chili anytime they wish.
San Genovese or Tempranillo Blend wine, champagne or beer
Coffee or tea
CHILE CON QUESO
Literally translated, this is chile with cheese, and it is the Southwest’s most popular hot dip. Serve warm with tortilla chips. Chile con queso may be poured into a rigid container and frozen for up to four months.
Yield: 2 cups
1/3 cup vegetable oil
½ cup finely chopped onions or 3 green onions with tops, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
¾ cup evaporated milk
1 medium-size tomato, chopped
1 pound processed cheese food, cut into 1-inch cubes
½ cup mixed shredded Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese
3 Tablespoons finely minced jalapeno chile
1. Heat oil in a heavy saucepan. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onions are softened. Stir in flour.
2. Gradually stir in evaporated milk and cook, stirring, until mixture thickens slightly.
3. Add tomato, cheeses, and chile. Cook, stirring, until thick and smooth, about 5 minutes.
Note: Keep warm in a chafing dish over hot water. Leftover chile con queso is excellent spooned over crisp tortillas for instant nachos, or over hamburgers, or in omelets.
The old fashioned goodness of Deviled Eggs takes really terrifically to spiciness—maybe that is what the deviled meant anyhow! Be extra careful when you are cooking the eggs, so as to not cook them too long, as that is what causes the grey coating around the yolk. Follow the cooking instructions I have given you in step of the recipe for always perfect results.
Yield: 12 servings
12 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 ½ Tablespoons white or cider vinegar, divided
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon pure mild ground red chile
1 Tablespoon sweet pickle, minced or to taste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon Italian flat leaf parsley, minced
1. To cook the eggs, place gently in a large saucepan. Cover with water, then add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 Tablespoon vinegar and stir slightly. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to simmer and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. When done, drain and immediately place in cold water.
2. In the meantime, prepare the other filling ingredients, placing them in a small bowl. When the eggs are cool to touch, peel and slice gently lengthwise; placing the whites on a platter. Add the yolks to the filling ingredients and mix well, using a fork to break up the hard cooked yolks. Taste and adjust seasonings.
3. Spoon egg mixture into hard cooked whites or use a pastry bag with the star tip and squirt the filling into the whites. Garnish tops with finely minced parsley.
As a break from the hearty bean, cheese and jalapeno flavors, these are a refreshing alternative. Most any firm fruit, such as nectarines, grapes, apples, strawberries or nectarines are delicious. Even dried fruits such as apricots, berries and cranberries can be used.
Yield: 4 servings
Oven Temperature: 425 F
Baking time: 10 minutes, about
4 corn tortillas, quartered and baked
4 Tablespoons or about one-half package cream cheese
½ cup fresh fruit, thinly sliced or more if desired
½ fresh lime, juiced
¼ teaspoon crushed pequin chile
1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Place the tortillas on a baking sheet, then place a smaller baking sheet on top of them. (This makes them flat.) Bake five minutes, then remove the top baking sheet. Continue to bake until crisp, about 5 more minutes.
2. Spread the cream cheese evenly over the tortillas. Toss the prepared fruit in the lime juice and the chile, then arrange on the cream cheese in an artistic fashion.
Fixin’s ‘N Mixins’
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BOWL O’ RED
The influence behind this recipe came from my maternal grandfather, who when working with the Santa Fe Railroad learned how to prepare it from the “cookies,” or trail cooks. It has won numerous chili cook-offs and is one of the really true original chiles.
2 tablespoons shortening, preferably solid shortening
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
3 pounds beef chuck, cut into ½-inch cubes
3 medium-size garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ cup ground hot chile or to taste
¼ cup ground mild chile
1 tablespoon ground cumin
About 3 cups water
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1. Heat lard in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened. Remove from heat.
2. Add meat, garlic, ground chiles and 1 ½ teaspoon cumin to pot. Break up any lumps. Stir in the water and salt. Return to heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 2-1/2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat is very tender and the flavors are well blended. Add more water if necessary. Add remaining 1 ½ teaspoon cumin. Taste and adjust seasonings.
3. Serve with fixin’s ‘n mixins’ of coarsely grated cheeses, pickled jalapenos, chopped onion and sour cream with lime wedges garnished with a “ruffle” of red chile.
The best blue cornmeal is smoked in adobe ovens and then lava-wheel ground to a fine flour consistency. With the popularity of blue corn, a lot of blue corn on the market is “filled,” or blended with white or yellow corn. For the best flavor, buy pure blue cornmeal, if it is available. The moist quality of this bread has long made it a favorite with campers and picnickers.
Yield: 9-12 servings
1 cup blue cornmeal
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoons salt
2/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 cup dairy sour cream
2 cups cooked or canned whole-kernel corn, drained (1, 15 ounce can works well)
¼ pound Monterey Jack cheese or Cheddar cheese, or a combination of the two, sliced ¼ inch thick
¼ cup sliced jalapeno chiles, either pickled or fresh
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Melt the butter in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet or a 9-inch round or square cake pan. Remove pan with melted butter as soon as butter is melted. Combine the slightly beaten eggs, butter and sour cream. Then add the melted butter and blend thoroughly. Fold in corn kernels. Meanwhile, mix the dry ingredients together and make a well in the center. Add the moist ingredients and combine to mix well, but do not overbeat.
1. Pour almost half the batter into the prepared pan. Cover with the sliced cheese and chiles. Pour the remaining batter over cheese and chiles and smooth to cover the filling. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until golden and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm.
APPLESAUCE CAKE WITH CREAMY FROSTING AND SPICED WALNUTS
This is a fabulous cake, I think, which I have enjoyed for special occasions forever. It is the one I wanted for my 40th birthday. A wonderful ending to any dinner , this cake is dressy enough for even the most regal occasions. An option would be to bake the cake ahead of time, freeze it, and frost it just before serving. To save additional time, toast the chopped walnuts for the cake while browning the Spiced Walnuts for the garnish.
Yield: Serves 12
Temperature: 375 F
Baking time: 35 minutes
¾ cup walnut halves or large pieces
1 egg white
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Few grates fresh nutmeg
1 cup walnuts
12 Tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) butter, plus 1 teaspoon for buttering pans
1cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
½ cup dried currants, plus 1 teaspoon for garnish
Creamy Frosting (recipe follows)
1. Prepare the Spiced Walnuts. Place the walnut halves in a shallow bowl. In another small bowl, beat the egg white until foamy, then add the remaining ingredients and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Pour over ¾ cup of walnut halves and carefully stir so as not to break the walnuts. Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. Place the spiced walnut halves on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, separating them so they do not touch each other. Place the 1 cup whole walnut halves in a shallow, ovenproof pan. Bake the spiced walnuts and whole walnuts until toasted, 10 minutes. Set aside the spiced walnuts until needed. Chop the toasted whole walnuts and set aside.
3. Prepare the cake: Butter the sides of the two 9-inch round cake pans, then cut a piece of waxed paper to fit the bottom of each and line the pans.
4. Place the remaining butter in the large bowl of the electric mixer and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until completely incorporated. Add the egg and beat until fluffy again, about 1 more minute.
5. Combine the flour with spices, salt, and soda and stir to mix well. Add half of the flour mixture, then half the applesauce, and mix on low speed until well mixed, about 1 minute. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining applesauce, mix again until completely incorporated, about 1 more minute. Add the chopped walnuts and currants and mix in. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans, smooth the tops, and bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.
6. Place the cake pans on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each cake to loosen if from the pan and invert it into the wire racks to cool for an additional 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting.
7. To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cake plate and spread one third of the frosting on top. Place the second cake layer on the first and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.
8. Sprinkle the spiced walnuts in a ring about 1 inch from the edge of the cake. Scatter the remaining currants over the walnuts. Slice and enjoy.
Prepare and freeze— One month to Three months in advance—(less in advance if desired) Always label each item with the name of the food and the date.
Chile con Queso, and place in freezer weight bag or rigid container until two days before the party.
Tostados for Nachos, bake and place in a rigid container. Remove from freezer one day ahead.
Bowl o Red, prepare and freeze in rigid container until two days before the party.
Applesauce Cake, bake, cool and place on waxed paper covered cardboard or small baking sheets and flash freeze uncovered for a few hours until firm. Then package with a double layer of cello wrap, sealing well.
The tostados for the chile con queso will be purchased
Day Before the Party--
Prepare the deviled eggs
Prepare the blue corn parfait bread
Frost the cake
Day of the Party--
Prepare the fruit for the nachos and assemble
Prepare the fixin’s ‘n mixin’s
Set out the bowls, plates, silverware and napkins for buffet style service
One Hour Before the Party—
Warm the chile con queso over very low heat and place in chafing dish or fondue pot to keep warm
Warm the chili over medium heat, switching to low heat after first bubbles appear. I suggest serving the chili from the cooking pot, just clean up the inside with a moist cloth
Place all the food on serving dishes
Warm the parfait bread about 15 minutes before serving at 300 F
Then enjoy your guests, the party and the game if watching!