Townie Hawk: Comfort Food for Hawkeye Hearts

As the specter of a losing season lurks in our Hawkeye hearts, how do loyal fans tame their hunger for victory? With recipes that cook up the Big Ten teams we wish we’d had for dinner.

As a proper Midwesterner, I know the best way to bury your emotions is by shoveling your face full of cookies. So this year, rather than crying over third down plays that don’t extend beyond the first down marker, poor pass protection and even poorer pass catching, let’s drown our sorrows in glorious game day grub provided by some of our favorite local chefs.

Because let’s face it, in terms of touchdowns, we’ve been on a Spartan diet, my friends.

Buckeye Candies
Recipe Courtesey Kim Friese, Co-Owner Devotay 

If Ohio State’s undefeated season is getting you down, just pretend you’re noshing Brutus’ head.

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup smooth freshly-ground peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup chopped dark chocolate

In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, peanut butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and sea salt. Mix until very smooth and well combined.

Using a teaspoon, form mixture into balls the size of a quarter. Place balls on cookie sheet, cover and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. While chilling, melt the chocolate.

Using a skewer, dip the peanut butter balls halfway into the melted chocolate. Leave a circle of undipped candy to replicate a buckeye. Remove excess chocolate on lip of bowl, and place it back on the cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining peanut butter balls. Return to fridge and serve once candies are firm.

If Ohio State’s undefeated season is getting you down, just pretend you’re noshing Brutus’ head.

 Arame Sweet Corn(husker) Relish
Recipe Courtesy Dave Burt, Burt Family Food Service 

Fans of the Big Red may also wear corn on their heads, but I doubt their tastebuds are refined enough for this tasty side dish made with Arame, a sea vegetable packed full of beneficial micronutrients.


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1/2 cup arame, soaked in 2 cups warm water for 30 minutes
2 cups sweet corn
2 tablespoon tamari soy sauce
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon umeboshi vinegar
1 clove garlic, finely minced

Drain the arame from the soak water (great to use for plants, by the way) and place all ingredients, except lemon juice in a pan and add 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil and simmer until most of the water has evaporated. Take off heat and add the lemon juice. Check for salt level and add up to another teaspoon of tamari to taste. Serve as a side for almost anything, particularly savory foods.

Floyd’s Favorite Jambalaya
Recipe courtesy of Steve Koepke, via his brother Scott Koepke, otherwise known as Hawkeye Jesus. (YouTube it)

Floyd of Rosedale knows how to bring the flavor, and this fiery jambalaya is a great way to celebrate bringin’ the trophy home this season.

4 boxes Zataran’s jambalaya mix
1 red pepper, diced
1 orange pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
2 green peppers, diced
1 red onion, diced
3 lbs. polska kielbasa sausage, cut diagonally into chunks
1-2 lbs. raw shrimp, peeled & deveined (optional)
2 T. crushed red pepper (less if you fear the heat)

The night before your tailgate: In an extra-large plastic sealable bag, combine peppers, onion, sausage, shrimp, contents of Zataran’s packages, red pepper and 10 cups of water. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

In the morning: Pour contents into a large pot with a lid. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until water is absorbed and rice is cooked, 30-45 minutes.


Grilled Wisconsin Badger
Recipe courtesy of Tim Palmer, Clover Hill Creations

Since badgers are a protected species, we strongly encourage you to substitute a thick, well-marbled cut of grass-fed ribeye steak for this recipe.

Steak rub:
2 T. coarse sea salt
2 T. coarsely ground black pepper
2 T. medium ground dark roast coffee.

Mix to combine and store in an airtight container.

Balsamic reduction:
1 c. balsamic vinegar (use the cheap stuff please!)
1/4 c. sugar
2 T. cracked black peppercorns
1/2 pint fresh blackberries

In a stovetop pan, combine vinegar and sugar and stir over medium heat. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until liquid has reduced by about half. Add peppercorns and blackberries. Mash the berries into the mixture to meld the flavors. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Pour the completed reduction through a fine mesh wire strainer to remove the pulp, pepper and seeds.

Store in a container with an airtight lid at room temperature for 2-3 weeks or refrigerate until needed. If sauce is too thick, stir in additional balsamic vinegar until you achieve the desired consistency.

On a hot grill: Allow your steaks to warm to room temp. Liberally coat both sides with the steak rub. Cook to your liking, remove from grill and wrap in aluminum foil to rest for 5-10 minutes. Cut steak into slices (against the grain) and arrange on a serving plate. Drizzle with the balsamic reduction and top with crumbled blue cheese and french fried onions.

Stephanie Catlett wins some and loses some.

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