Someone who occasionally games with us pointed out that the dinners we serve before our gaming sessions are a far cry from the normal chips-and-dip junk food fare that one finds at most games.
We took this as a challenge.
The Chips ‘N Dip Component
First, we had to have chips and dips. For chips we picked three things: some ordinary, run-of-the-mill Tostitos corn chips; Melba toast; and wonton wrappers cut in fourths and lightly fried in oil. (Note: to keep the wontons from puffing up, which makes them hard to dip, use a pointed chopstick, knitting needle, bamboo stick, or something similar to poke a small hole in the center of each square of wonton wrapper. You can do this to a number of them at once, so it goes quickly.)
The wonton skins ended up doubling as our Fried Foods Component. We debated doing mozzarella sticks, but we decided we had too much food already.
Next came the dips. First, our favorite guacamole, from The Greens Cook Book – a collection of gourmet vegetarian fare. It’s mostly avocado of course, with a little tomato, and quite a bit of lime juice; we left the red onion out. Quite yummy. It goes best with the fried wonton squares. Next, our favorite hummus – it goes best with the Melba toast. Third, we made pineapple salsa, which goes best with the corn chips. (When eaten with the wonton squares it’ll probably need a little added salt.)
The Fake Cheese Component
In James McNair’s Favorites you will find a recipe for Corn, Cheese, and Chile Soup on page 106. It uses a full 12 ounces of Velveeta, even though you’d never believe it to taste it. It tastes wonderful, and has an incredible smooth texture that you’d never be able to get with regular cheese.
The Chinese Take-Out Component
We made a sweet & spicy beef noodles recipe from our newest Oriental cookbook: Blue Ginger. We substituted water chestnuts for the bean sprouts, as we’re not overly fond of bean sprouts. Also, we have trouble finding Thai chilies in our area, so we used one large jalapeno. It was incredibly delicious!
The Pizza Component
When we asked ourselves what sort of junk food went with roleplaying, pizza was one of the first replies. So we pulled out a copy of The Figs Table. On p. 160 there’s a pizza called “Isabelle’s Pizza” that uses thin ham, asparagus spears, mozzarella, and parmesan. We substituted prosciutto for the ham, and we left out the caramelized onions. And we used a pizza crust from World Sourdoughs from Antiquity.
The crust recipe made 4 crusts and the pizza recipe was for two pizzas, so we played a bit. We had extra asparagus and prosciutto, so we put those on all four pizzas. We had extra chopped canned tomato after making the guacamole, so we put that on two pizzas. And we had some salmon sausage we picked up on a whim, so we fried that up and put it on two of the pizzas – one of the ones with tomato, and one of the ones without. We had a little extra mozzarella, and it went far. We had plenty of extra parmesan, and that made up for some of the mozzarella. (Picking up a few extra ingredients when planning something big like this is key. You never know what you’ll need to improvise at the last minute.) The pizzas were quite good, but then it’s difficult for anything with prosciutto to suck!
The Pizza Component (Part II) and the Cookie Component
We picked out a “pizza cookie” on page 124 of Death by Chocolate Cookies. It has a marvelous white chocolate-laden crust filled with dried fruits and chocolate. One word of warning, though – put the springform pan on a cookie sheet in the oven. The last thing you want is butter dripping out onto the hot bottom of the oven, smoking up the entire kitchen, and setting off the smoke alarm. (Uh, why yes, we did find this out the hard way the last time we made this. Why do you ask?) This is incredibly rich; the book recommends cutting it into 16 servings, and that’s about right. Even people who aren’t big on dried fruit usually like this one.
The Fruit Component
There’s always someone who has to be the odd man out and bring a bag of fruit to the run. What, you didn’t have one of these people? Well anyway, pull out your Fruit Cookbook and turn to page 385 for the “cinnamon sugared oranges” recipe. We think you’ll agree it’s worth it, even if you don’t have one of those people in your game.
The Soft Drink Component
We’re told most people have Coke and Pepsi instead of juices, iced green tea and lemonade. So we got some A&W Root Beer and some Breyer’s Vanilla Ice Cream and made root beer floats. Don’t forget the straws!
The Coffee Component
We usually have coffee anyway, but for this we had to come up with something even more spiffy than usual. So we pulled out The Coffee Book. On page 111 you’ll find a recipe for Kaphe Russe, a Russian coffee that involves semisweet chocolate, vanilla extract, and cream. Yum! How could we resist It was honestly the best coffee I’ve ever had.
As you may have guessed, this is a bit much to make for one dinner. We have, of course, been accused of going overboard before, especially when we cook. But no one really seems to complain so we keep doing it.
Anyway, the best way to do this is to make several of the dishes the day before: the salsa, the hummus, the pizza cookie, and the soup. None of these will be adversely affected by sitting in the fridge overnight. In fact, the soup – as most soups do – will probably taste even better after having a night for the flavors to blend. Same with the salsa and the hummus. The pizza cookie will need to be reasonably well-sealed against drying out, but that isn’t too difficult. The night before preparations aren’t too much work, either; we only had two people working on them, and one of us was even rather over-tired at the time. You can use your spare moments between recipes to think up plots to frustrate your players with.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our little homage to the traditional pizza-and-Coke roleplaying run. We certainly enjoyed eating it, and will continue to do so for several days yet! (Ah, the wonders of leftovers…)