A catered party for Super Bowl XXIX allows hosts to relax and watch the game with friends, but it's not the only option. For those who'd rather do their own cooking, with minimal fuss, we recommend this simple menu. At kickoff, start with heaping bowls of chili and hunks of corn bread. Enjoy halftime with brownie bites. Each dish can be prepared ahead. VEGETABLE CHILI
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 large red bell peppers, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 can (35 ounces) Italian plum tomatoes, with their juice
1-1/2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cut into 1-inch dice
2 tablespoons good-quality chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1 cup canned dark red kidney beans, drained
1 cup canned chickpeas (garbanzos), drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup sour cream
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
4 scallions, sliced on the diagonal
Heat 1/2 cup of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini, and saute until just tender, 5-7 minutes. Transfer zucchini to a large flameproof casserole or dutch oven.
Heat remaining 1/4 cup oil in the skillet over low heat. Add the onions, garlic, and bell peppers. Saute until just wilted, about 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the casserole, along with the oil remaining in the skillet. Place the casserole over low heat. Add the canned tomatoes and their juice, the fresh tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, basil, oregano, pepper, salt, fennel seeds, and parsley. Cook, uncovered, stirring often, for 30 minutes.
Stir in the kidney beans, chickpeas, dill, and lemon juice; cook for another 15 minutes. Stir well, and adjust the seasonings to taste. Serve with bowls of sour cream, grated cheese, and sliced scallions alongside. Serves 8.
- From `The New Basics,' by Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso (Workman Publishing Co., 1989, 849 pp.) SPICY CORN BREAD
The degree of heat is up to you. Add mild or hot chiles depending on taste.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened (for greasing pan)
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, measured after sifting
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
2 eggs, beaten
6-8 drops Tabasco Sauce
2-4 tablespoons finely chopped, canned jalapeno peppers, hot or mild, depending on your taste
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. with the rack in the center position. Generously butter a 9-inch square pan.
Sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt into
2-quart mixing bowl. Add the milk, eggs, and Tabasco Sauce and stir gently just until the flour disappears (overmixing will make the bread tough). Sprinkle the jalapenos and cheese over the batter and gently stir just until evenly mixed. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake at 400 degrees F. for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve hot or at room temperature. Serves 9.
- From `The Entertaining Survival Guide,' by Lora Brody (William and Morrow Co., 1994, 392 pp.) BROWNIE BITES
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, slightly beaten
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square glass baking pan. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a double boiler or in microwave. Cool ten minutes. Add sugar, flour, baking powder, and vanilla. Stir until well combined. Add eggs and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Combine powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Sprinkle over brownies and cut into squares. Makes 24 squares.
- From `California Sizzles,' by The Junior League of Pasadena (1992, 302 pp.)