I have great hopes for Saturday's game. I actually feel a turnover coming. A complete surprise. An upset of majestic proportions. I think we're going to bag some big game on that safari this weekend. Namely, we're going to bag some elephants.
When I was a stockbroker, I used to decorate the front windows of my little office building for every game. The building used to be the old post office here in Blythewood, and it had two nice plate glass windows up front. Out of pity, I gave one window to an associate, a Clemson graduate, to do what he had to with it. The other, I reserved for "all things Gamecock."
The street was pretty busy, with the new post office, a small plaza and the library all being on the same road, so we got pretty good traffic in the afternoon. We also got a lot of car honks, since this is a fairly "orange" town, if you know what I mean. Luckily, over the decade, we've got quite a few more Carolina people living out here in the "wood," as we like to call it.
Anyway, for Alabama I just got tickled thinking about those elephants, and just had to use the decoration theme of "Bag the Elephants." I used to tape brown paper sacks to the window with cut out elephants and their trunks cascading over the front of the bag. Next to the Arkansas Flying Pig decorations (as in "When Pigs Fly"), I had more people stopping and honking for that one than any other game. Some lady got out and took pictures of it. Can you tell I live in a small town?
So, let's go after some big game, everyone. Let's make the University of South Carolina go down in history on this fabulous fall GAMEDAY and win a place in the SEC annals of upsets. In honor of this upcoming win, I have put together a fabulous safari menu that will sustain you and give you the courage to face down those elephants and bring ‘em in for a Carolina win.
I actually researched a bit about elephants, and one website posed the question, "What should you do if an elephant charges you?" I think the answers might help us win the game, if we employ a few of the strategies that were offered. Hey, whether football, or out in the wilds of Africa — same thing, different game! One of the answers was to "quickly run past them because they are cumbersome and it takes a while to turn around." The same person felt that if the elephant actually did turn around, you should hide underneath him. Okay here's the play for the offense — when the quarterback gets the ball — run quick, Garcia, run!!! Here's the play for the defense — tackle so that you're underneath; in other words, grab their feet first and flip 'em. Ha! Simplicity is the key.
But this is perhaps my favorite answer to the question of how to stop an elephant from charging you – "Take away his credit cards." I love it! In other words, let's not give them ANY CREDIT. They put their pants on the same way as the next person. No one marked their little foreheads with the SEC seal of approval. WE ARE JUST AS GOOD AS THEY ARE, RIGHT?! Let's give ourselves some credit here. We've been looking fine since we started the season. Auburn's loss was tough, but there wasn't anything unsalvageable about our team. Live, play, and learn, and get right back out there and fight.
So, put on your Safari hats, load your faux Gamecock Playing Guns, site them on some big game and let's take a trek to the winning fields, namely the red zone and over the goal lines.
It's going to be a great game. We're supposed to have perfect weather and a sell-out crowd. A big shout-out to the ESPN GAMEDAY crew camped out on the horseshoe. Welcome to South Carolina, folks. Welcome also to all the Alabama fans who have made the trek to the Palmetto State. I hope you feel the love, at least for a short time until we finish your team off. Ewww --- that was nasty, wasn't it. Smile and kick butt, Smile and kick butt.
Nice little elephants… come to Mama, we're going to stop your winning streak!
Today's food theme is safari fare. I've got recipes from all across the continent of Africa, a lovely sampling of the colorful and flavorful foods from several countries. Bon Apetit!
Appetizer--- Brie, Mango and Poblano Chile Quesadilla
1/2 cup yellow onion - thinly sliced
1/2 cup water
10 flour tortillas
1 pound Brie - cut 1/4 inch thick
2 poblano peppers - roasted and peeled
1 ripe mango - peeled and diced
1/4 cup oil
Halve the onion slices. Heat the water in a medium skillet over high heat. Add the onion, remove from heat, and let stand until the slices are wilted (12 minutes). Drain and set aside.
Put a few strips of Brie on half of flour tortilla. Add a few onion strips, diced poblanos, and mango. Fold the tortilla over and brush top with oil.
Heat a skillet over medium heat and brown the tortilla, oiled side down. While it is browning, brush top side with oil. Flip, and brown other side. Cut into 3 equal wedges and serve. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Salad—African Spiced Cauliflower and Carrot Salad
2 cups cauliflower, small florets
1/2 cup carrots, diagonally sliced ( 1/4-inch)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup low-fat sour cream
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey or 1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
1. Steam first 2 ingredients, covered, 2 minutes. Rinse mixture under cold water; drain well.
2. Combine salt and next 5 ingredients (salt through crushed red pepper) in a small skillet; cook over medium heat 2 minutes or until lightly aromatic, stirring constantly.
3. Add vinegar while of the heat.
4. Combine spice mixture, sour cream, and honey in a bowl; stir well.
5. Add cauliflower mixture; toss well to coat.
6. Chill for 1 hour.
7. Top with green onions just before serving.
Vegetable Side or Salad – 2nd selection
Roasted Potato and Okra Salad
• 2 lb small potatoes such as fingerling, red, or yellow-fleshed
• 1 large bunch scallions, white parts halved lengthwise and remainder reserved for another use
• 2 large fresh rosemary sprigs, plus 1/2 teaspoon chopped
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
• 1 teaspoon black pepper
• 3/4 lb small (2- to 3-inch) okra
• shelled fresh or frozen edaame (soybeans; 1 1/2 lb in pods if fresh)
• 1 cup fresh corn (from 1 to 2 ears)
• 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
Roast potatoes and okra:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.
Halve potatoes lengthwise and toss with scallion pieces, rosemary sprigs, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Spread potato mixture in a large roasting pan and roast, stirring once, 20 minutes. Stir potatoes and add okra to pan, tossing to coat. Continue to roast until okra and potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes more.
Cook beans and corn while potatoes roast:
Cook beans in 1 quart (unsalted) boiling water in a 3- to 4-quart pot 3 minutes, then immediately transfer to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking. Gently peel off skins.
Return water to a boil and add 1 teaspoon salt, then cook corn until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain corn in a sieve and immediately transfer to bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking. Drain corn again.
Make dressing and assemble salad:
Whisk together lemon juice, shallot, chopped rosemary, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl until combined. Discard rosemary sprigs, then add hot potatoes and okra to dressing along with beans, corn, and salt to taste, tossing to combine. Cool salad to warm before serving.
Vegetable Side – Roasted Green Beans with Walnuts and Red Onion
• 1 lb green beans
• 1 medium red onions, cut in 1/2-inch thick wedges
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• salt and pepper
• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
• 1 teaspoon honey
• 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
• 2 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
• 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1. If you would like softer roasted green beans, you may steam them about 5 minutes before roasting.
2. Combine balsamic vinegar, honey, thyme and garlic in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Adjust your oven rack to the middle position; heat oven to 450*F. Line a baking sheet with foil; spread beans on the baking sheet along with the onion wedges. Drizzle with oil. Using your hands, toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoons salt, toss to coat, and distribute in an even layer. Roast 10 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven. Using tongs, coat beans and onion evenly with vinegar/honey mixture; redistribute in an even layer. Continue roasting until onions and beans are dark golden brown in spots and beans have started to shrivel, 10 to 12 minutes longer. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and toss well to combine. Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with 1/3 cup toasted and chopped walnuts.
Main Course—Grilled Big Game Elephant Steaks with Chimichurri Sauce (cowboy cut ribeyes)
• 1 2-lb "Cowboy Steak" (frenched beef rib steak)
• 1 1/2 cups firmly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, trimmed of thick stems
• 4-6 garlic cloves
• 3 Tbsps fresh oregano leaves
• 3 Tbsp red or white wine vinegar
• 3/4 cup olive oil
• 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Prepare the chimichurri sauce/marinade. Finely chop the parsley, garlic and oregano (can do with a food processor), place in a small bowl. Stir in the vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Set aside two thirds of the sauce for serving with the steak (cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature). The remaining third of the sauce will be for the marinade.
2. Place steak in a bowl or large ziplock bag. Take about a third of the prepared chimichurri sauce and coat the steak for a marinade. Cover completely with plastic wrap or remove air from ziplock bag and secure close. Let steak marinate for several hours. Remove steak from refrigerator 2 hours before cooking so that it gets close to room temperature before cooking. Right before cooking, wipe off marinade from steak and sprinkle steak generously with salt and pepper.
3a Grilling Instructions
Prepare grill so that one side has high, direct heat and another side has indirect heat. Brush grill grates with vegetable oil. Place steak first on the side of the grill with high, direct heat, so that it sears. Grill for a minute or two on each side, enough to brown the meat. Then transfer the steak to the indirect heat side of the grill. Cover the grill; try to maintain a grill temperature of 350°F. Cook for 5-10 minutes (or more) until the steak is cooked to your desired level of doneness. You can use the finger test to check for doneness, or a meat thermometer. For rare, pull the meat off the gril at an internal temp of 120°F. For medium rare, 125-130°F. Remove the meat to a plate and cover with aluminum foil. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
3b Stovetop/Oven Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium high to high heat. Hold the steak fat-side down to render a little of the fat into the pan. Then sear each side until nicely browned, about a minute or two each. Transfer the steak (if using cast iron pan, can place the whole pan in the oven) to the oven to finish to desired doneness, anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness and size of the steak and how well done you like it. You can use the finger test to check for doneness, or a meat thermometer. For rare, pull the meat out of the oven at an internal temp of 120°F. For medium rare, 125-130°F. Remove the meat to a plate and cover with aluminum foil. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Serve steak with remaining chimichurri sauce.
Dessert-Dark Chocolaty Peppermint Cake
2 cups sifted cake flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened
1/4 cup butter
2 cups white sugar
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 3/4 cups milk
2 tsp. peppermint liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 recipe Seven Minute Frosting
1/2 cup crushed peppermint hard candies
3 drops red food coloring
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line the bottom(s) of two 9 inch square pans, two 9 inch round pans, or one 9 x 13 inch pan with parchment paper.
2. Sift together the cake flour and salt.
3. Melt chocolate and butter together in a double boiler. Turn into mixing bowl, and cool to room temperature; this mixture must be cool. Mix in sugar. Blend in egg yolks and 1 cup milk. Add flour and salt, and mix just until all flour is dampened. Beat batter with electric mixer for 1 minute, and then blend in vanilla, peppermint liqueur and 1/2 cup milk. Dissolve soda in the remaining 1/4 cup milk; stir into the batter quickly and thoroughly. Pour batter into prepared pan(s).
4. Bake in 9 x 13 inch pan for about 45 minutes, or in two 9 inch pans for about 30 minutes. Test for doneness by pressing lightly on the cake; it should spring back when done.
5. Prepare Seven Minute Frosting, omitting vanilla. Tint frosting a delicate pink with a few drops of food coloring, and add 1/4 cup crushed candy. Frost and fill the cooled cake. Garnish with candy.
Seven Minute Frosting
Makes about 5 1/2 cups
• 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
• 3 large egg whites, room temperature
1. In a small, heavy saucepan, combine 3/4 cup sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons water. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Rub a bit between your fingers to make sure there is no graininess. Raise heat to bring to a boil. Do not stir anymore. Boil, washing down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water from time to time to prevent the sugar from crystallizing, until a candy thermometer registers 230 degrees about 5 minutes. (Depending on the humidity, this can take anywhere from 4 to 10 minutes.)
2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 2 1/2 minutes. Gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Remove the syrup from the heat when the temperature reaches 230 degrees (it will keep rising as pan is removed from heat). Pour the syrup in a steady stream down the side of the bowl (to avoid splattering) containing the egg-white mixture, with the mixer on medium-low speed.
3. Beat frosting on medium speed until cool, 5 to 10 minutes. The frosting should be thick and shiny. Use immediately.
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