All Star Tips for your Easter hockey playoff meal

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(Editor’s note: This is the first offering from BelowTheFalls.com’s new food and wine columnist Jude Caserta. Although we’ll have a full introduction to all our new contributors this week, this story couldn’t wait, since tomorrow’s Game 6 looms.)
If you don’t have tickets to the big Buffalo Sabres playoff game on Easter Sunday and have a house full of fans like I do your Easter dinner plans have taken a turn. I cannot think of a worse time than 3 p.m. to schedule a game, but thanks to NBC wanting to feature our game in prime daytime we have some decisions to make.

Rather than waiting for the game to end to begin your dinner, why not try this game plan:

Adapt your menu

• Think about food that can be eaten without a knife. Either soft, that can be cut with a fork (scalloped potatoes), cut in bite sized pieces or eaten with your fingers (maybe meat on a skewer).

• Think “room temperature” and cold.

• Forget the extra stuff – if you are huddled over the stove making gravy you are not watching the game,

• Appetizers – Try to have one hot and two cold. All Star Tip: the grocery store olive bar has great appetizers. I don’t even hide the containers anymore.

• Salad/Soup/Bread – If you are serving soup, make it early in the day and keep warm until needed. All Star Tip: Salad can be prepared early in the day and stored in separate containers/bags until serving. Toss at the last minute with dressing.

• Main course and sides – Most meat/poultry does not need to be served hot. You can roast/grill before game-time and keep covered tightly with foil. All Star Tip: Do this today, slice and refrigerate. Take it out and set it on counter about an hour before serving – around game time.

• Dessert/champagne – All Star Tip: Arrange for your family/guests to bring a dessert. After all, who says you have to do all of the work?

• Prep early

Write out your menu

• Menu item — left column; all ingredients you do not have, middle column; serving pieces, right column.

• Once your menu is complete, re-write all of your middle column – that’s your shopping list. All Star Tip: don’t forget to buy yourself some flowers

• The grocery store is crazy today but you have to go in.

• Once home from the store, prep what you can and refrigerate.

Set the table

• Put a tablecloth on your table and visualize where the food will go. From your menu, find all of the items in the right column and put on the table to help you visualize balance.

• You can “set” individual places by stacking dishes and utensils per person and creating a fun place card. Maybe use a permanent marker and write their name on a plastic Easter egg filled with candy. Don’t forget napkins. You may want to have a few per place or multi-colored cloth ones for color and variety.

• Or, you can stack the dishes needed for each course and include a long dish with utensils. “Block” out where the serving pieces will go and put the dishes to the left.

• After each “course, have each member of your “eating team” stop by the kitchen to drop off their dish from the last course — organized chaos!

Timing

Think a fancy multi-course meal, eaten slowly, with time between the courses (sort of like the Europeans but with a TV screen as one of the guests). Instead of the appetizers being the only food eaten in a living area, have the main course there, too.

• Appetizers – Pre-game through the first period.

• Salad/Soup/Bread – Served during the first intermission.

• Main course and sides – Served during the second intermission.

• Dessert/champagne – The victory celebration!

Lets go Buffalo!

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