The Basketball Feast

What makes an ideal game day dish? It’s got to be easy, hearty and well-liked. It has to feed the hungriest men on the couch and keep the host out of the kitchen.

On all points, nothing satisfies like comfort foods. Cook up something warm and familiar, and you’ll have some happy basketball enthusiasts on your hands. It’s a long season and pizza and wings tire quickly, so I’m here to introduce some easy-to-make, crowd-pleasing comfort foods. These dishes will wake up your taste buds without confining you to the kitchen for the duration of the game.

These dishes are great cold-weather foods with a ton of warmth, texture and flavour, making them some of the most fail-safe, people pleasing recipes I’ve ever used.

Easy Beef Curry

Nothing is better than a hot bowl of food on game day. This recipe is great because (1) you simply chop up your ingredients, throw them in a pot and forget about them for an hour and (2) it’ll feed the hungriest of men, even those on the verge of a hunger/game-related meltdown.

This recipe will serve 4. For a large group, simply double the recipe.

You’ll need:

1 can (400ml) coconut milk, unsweetened
8 T. curry paste (I like Patak’s Madras)
2 T. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped (I like granny smith for this recipe)
2 carrots, chopped
1 bunch spinach, chopped
1/2 cup green beens, chopped
500 grams sirloin, cubed
2 cups brown rice
4 cups chicken broth (or use bouillon cubes)

In a large pot, warm olive oil over low-medium heat. Add your chopped onion and sauté until the whites of the onion turn clear. Add your beef and curry paste. Allow this to simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until your beef has started to brown. Then, add your coconut milk and stir until blended with beef, onion, paste mixture. Once blended, add your chopped fruit and vegetables (spinach, green beens, apple, carrot). Stir well. Simmer over low-medium heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a separate pot, bring your broth or water to a boil. If using bouillon cubes, add the cube to your boiling water and stir. Now, add your rice and stir. Reduce heat to low-medium and simmer until all of your broth has been absorbed into the rice.

Serve your curry over the rice.

Walnut and Blueberry Goat Cheese Turnovers

Another easy recipe to satisfy your game day appetite. These are so easy – mostly because the shell of your turnover is already made, waiting for you in the refrigerated section at your grocery store. Here, I’ve given two simple variations on the dish: the walnut version can be served as an appetizer and the blueberry version can be served as a dessert. Without a doubt, make a few batches. These things will disappear quickly.

Makes 16 turnovers.

You’ll need:

2 rolls pre-made croissant dough (I like Pillsbury)
2 packages (280 g) goat’s milk cheese (I like PC)
1/4 cup walnuts, crushed
1/4 cup blueberries
1/4 cup butter, melted.

Preheat over to 375°F

Take your croissant dough out of the package and lay it flat. Separate the individual croissants so that you have 16 triangles of dough. In a small mixing bowl, blend the walnuts into half of your goat’s cheese. In another bowl, blend the rest of your goat’s cheese with blueberries. Next, spoon walnut mixture into the centre of 8 triangles. Spoon your blueberry mixture into the centre of the remaining eight triangles. Fold your triangles into halves to seal in filling. Pinch the edges of your (now smaller) triangles shut. Take a basting brush and polish each turnover’s top with a layer of melted butter. Pop them in the oven for 12 minutes of until the tips start to golden.

Hot Rye Toddy

This is the most satisfying cold day drink for your whisky-loving friends. Also great for sore throats or sinus congestion, hot toddies have been around for about 200 years. However, they’re making a comeback with variations on the original rum, water and sugar recipe. With so many varieties of tea on the market these days, you can play around quite a bit with your hot toddy concoctions. Make sure to have a bit pot of tea ready when guests arrive, and these things will practically make themselves.

Makes 4 cups.

You’ll need:

1 lemon, quartered
4 T. honey
4 cups tea, hot
8 ounces rye
Lemon slices and cinnamon sticks for garnish (optional)

To start, make a big pot of tea. You can use any flavour you like. Black tea works just fine if you’re a traditionalist, but I also love the flavoured teas in my hot toddy. Caramel Apple Rooibos is a favourite of mine in this recipe. Chai tea is another great option.

Line each mug with a thick drizzle of honey. Next, squeeze 1/4 lemon into each mug, making sure to pick out any seeds that fall in. Add 2 oz. of rye to each mug and top if off with steaming hot tea. Mix for consistent flavour.



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