“There are no blue foods,” or so George Carlin famously said. Carlin was right. Even blueberries are actually purple. Normally, this is a non-issue but with the home team in the Super Bowl this weekend, it’s going to be kind of hard to work the team colors into the menu.
Panther blue is a very specific blue. A few shades darker than Carolina blue and a few shades lighter than Duke blue which was no doubt by design. Panther blue is a clear process blue with nary a hint of violet. Blue corn, blueberries, even blue cheese, all wrong, too much violet. The only hope on the horizon is blue Curacao. If you’re planning on serving cocktails, by all means, make use of its perfect blue hue. Though dyed blue, curacao has an orange flavor and can be used in place of triple sec or Cointreau in any drink calling for an orange liqueur. Blue margaritas, anyone?
As far as dyed blue food goes, it’s worth a note that Duncan Hines blue velvet cake mix is the perfect shade of blue for a Carolina Panther themed dessert. Add cream cheese frosting (white) and some silver sprinkles and you’re in business. Find a way to get a bit of licorice (black) involved and you’ve totally nailed the Panther colors.
Other than cake and Curacao, food coloring is your friend but don’t go overboard with the blue food. A full buffet of azure delights might be inspiring but not particularly appetizing.
Remember, we’re talking about the Carolina Panthers with the key word being ‘Carolina.’ Break out as many iconic Carolina foods as you can. Sweet tea is mandatory. Katie Billings, who is widely regarded by her circle of acquaintance as the Queen of Sweet Tea reveals below her secrets to making a gallon (and you will need at least a gallon) of tea that is sweetened to perfection, sweet enough to make you smack your lips but not sweet enough to hurt your teeth.
Pulled pork barbecue is as Carolina as it gets. Fry some chicken. Throw out some black eyed peas for luck. New Year’s Day wasn’t that long ago. You get the idea. Think Carolina. Think blue. But not too much blue. Not too light. Not too dark.
Use Lipton tea. There is no other kind. For Billings, this is like the Duke’s vs. JFG argument and she is solidly in the Lipton camp.
Use one gallon size tea bag or five of the smaller tea bags. Add water to a saucepan (I use a 1.5 quart). Bring water to a boil. Add tea bag(s), and remove from heat.
Let steep for at least an hour. I let mine sit for 2-3 hours, and have let sit for up to 8 hours, but the maximum benefit is in the two to three hour range for a strong brew.
Add 2 1/3 cups sugar to gallon tea jug/container. Pour tea over tea bags into container. Stir to dissolve sugar.
Refill saucepan by running cold water over tea bags. Pour cold water from saucepan into container over tea bags.
Repeat process until gallon is full.
If lemon is preferred, I pour lemon juice in for a count of four. I don’t measure it. I just know what shade of amber greatness I’m looking for.
blue Curacao ( 1/2 of a 750 ml bottle)
1 liter Mandarin Vodka
1.75 liter lemonade
12 oz. can Sprite
Combine in a large pitcher. Serves about 10 people.
Black-Eyed Pea Fritters with Hot Pepper Sauce
Coconut oil is kind of spendy but it really does add to the flavor. (And it’s better for you than most other oils.) If you flatten the fritters a little instead of making balls, you can get away with less oil by pan-frying and turning instead of deep frying.
1 cup dried black-eyed peas, sorted, soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup raw peanuts
1 tsp. minced thyme
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. water
1 tsp. coarse sea salt
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1 tbsp. cornmeal
5 cups coconut oil
Remove the skins from the beans by adding them to a large bowl, filling the bowl with water, agitating the beans, and fishing out the skins that float to the top with a fine mesh strainer. Rinse beans well. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the beans, onion, peanuts, thyme, cayenne, vinegar, water, and salt and pulse until completely smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 200° F. Remove the batter from the refrigerator, add the bell pepper and cornmeal, and beat with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. In a medium-size saucepan over high heat, warm the coconut oil until hot but not smoking, about 5 minutes. Lower the oil to medium high, and in batches of 5, spoon the batter into the oil, 1 tablespoon at a time. Fry, stirring around, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. If necessary, adjust the temperature to ensure that the fritters do not cook too quickly. Transfer the fritters to a paper towel-lined plate and allow them to drain. Transfer the drained fritters to a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm. Serve hot with Hot Pepper Sauce .
Hot Pepper Sauce
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne
Coarse sea salt
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 habanero chile, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
In a saucepan over low heat, warm the oil. Add the onion, cumin, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and sauté until the onions start to caramelize, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and chile and sauté for 2 minutes more. Add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, vinegar, and water. Mix well, and simmer until it starts to thicken, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer all the ingredients to an upright blender, add the white pepper, and puree until smooth. Season with additional salt to taste. Store in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator.
Panthers Chocolate Chip Cookies
Another use for Blue Velvet cake mix. Make little football shaped cookies with it.
1 box blue velvet cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup cream cheese frosting
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
Mix cake mix together with oil, eggs and vanilla. Fold in chocolate chips. Make14-16 balls and shape into footballs. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place cookies on lined cookie sheet. Bake cookies for 13 minutes. Remove cookies from cookie sheet and cool on rack. Cut the tip of a ziplock bag. Place frosting in bag and pipe football lace design on cookies. Sprinkle cookies with chopped pecans.
White Chocolate Marshmallow Popcorn
1 bag mini marshmallows
2 bags popped popcorn
3 tbsp. margarine or butter
white chocolate for melting and drizzle (to taste)
blue food coloring
silver sprinkles (optional)
Melt marshmallows and butter in large bowl in microwave 1-2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Add food coloring until desired Panther shade is achieved. Stir in popped popcorn. Spread popcorn over a well greased baking sheet. Drizzle with white chocolate and silver sprinkles (if using.)
Hot Pizza Dip
Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, Inc.
6 ounces light cream cheese
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1 cup shredded low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup diced red peppers
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine cream cheese, sour cream and oregano in bowl; stir until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly into 9-inch pie plate or quiche pan. Spread pizza sauce and then mozzarella cheese over. Top with peppers and green onions. Bake 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve with bread sticks or toasted Italian bread.
Pulled Pork Barbecue Sandwiches
This recipe gives detailed directions for using a smoker which results in barbecue rivalling your favorite restaurant. But if you don’t have a smoker, a slow cooker gives surprisingly good results and is extremely easy. Just cook on low or high until the meat is falling off the bones.
3 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. granulated garlic
1 tbsp. paprika
One 7 to 8 pound pork butt, fat cap trimmed off
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup apple juice or apple cider
2 cups barbecue sauce (recipe below)
12 hamburger buns
To make the rub, in a small bowl combine the salt, pepper, granulated garlic and paprika. Rub the meat with the oil and then sprinkle liberally with the rub. Put in the refrigerator for at least a half hour and up to 12 hours.
Prepare the grill or smoker indirect at 275°F. using hickory and cherry for flavor. Put the butt in the cooker and cook until the internal temperature is 160°F. This should take 6 to 8 hours depending on your cooker. Lay out a big double piece of heavy duty aluminum foil and put the pork butt in the middle. As you begin to close up the package pour the apple juice over the top of the butt and then seal the package, taking care not to puncture it. Return the package to the cooker and cook until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 195°F. This should take another 2 to 3 hours. Remove the package from the cooker to a baking sheet. Open the top of the foil to let the steam out and let it rest for 1 hour. Using heavy neoprene gloves or a pair of tongs and a fork transfer the meat to a big pan. It will be very tender and hard to handle. Discard the juices as they will be quite fatty. Shred the meat discarding the fat and bones. It should just fall apart. Continue to pull the meat until it’s shredded enough to make a sandwich. Add 1 cup of the sauce and mix well. Reserve the additional sauce for serving on the side. Serve on fluffy white buns topped with cole slaw.
Makes 12 sandwiches
Carolina Barbecue Sauce
1 cup vinegar
2/3 cup ketchup
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Worcestershire
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
In a small saucepan mix together the vinegar, ketchup, sugar, salt, Worcestershire and pepper flakes. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes stirring to blend. Makes about two cups
One 16-ounce package of shredded Cole slaw mix
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1/2 medium onion, sliced thin
1 jalapeno, halved and sliced thin
For the dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. sugar
In a large bowl mix together the dressing ingredients. Add the slaw mix, the red pepper, the onion and the jalapeno. Toss to coat. Let rest 5 minutes and toss again. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.
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Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699, on Twitter @BillColvard.