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Simply Entertaining: Bowl games have a 'Burgh flavor all their own

Thursday, January 17, 2002

By Mary Miller

The excitement can be felt on Penn Avenue in the Strip, in local bars, at the mall and even in schools. Yes, the Steelers have a shot at the Super Bowl and Pittsburghers are pumped. But whether or not the Black and Gold play the first weekend in February, Super Bowl parties will be going strong.

By halftime, blood sugars will plummet and stomachs will growl. Skip the chili and nachos this year and take on a hometown theme -- 'Burgh food. With comfort foods all the rage, what's better than some local favorites?

What first comes to mind? For me, it's kielbasa, pierogies and Isaly's chipped ham barbecues. I love all three. They're perfect Super Bowl foods -- easy to prepare and serve, with minimal cleanup. Have lots of Arn City handy for thirsty Stiller fans.

Finish up the meal with Klondikes or Clark bars. Klondikes, frozen squares of chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream, are available in most grocery stores, and Clark bars, made by the Necco company since 1999, can still be found around town, too. If you can't locate Clark bars, they can be ordered from Hometown Favorites, a nostalgia lover's heaven, at 888-694-2656 or www.hometownfavorites.com.

Throw in a salad or fruit tray for good measure. And please don't forget the Heinz ketchup.

If kielbasa and 'rogies aren't your cup of tea, branch out to other dishes invented in Pittsburgh. How about Crab Meat Hoelzel, Devonshire sandwiches, Maurice salad and for dessert, the ever popular Pittsburgh treat, the Pecan Ball?

Crab Meat Hoelzel, a seafood appetizer that originated Downtown at the Duquesne Club, would be an elegant and delicious (but pricey) addition to your half-time buffet.

The late Frank Blandi at the now defunct Stratford Club in Millvale created Devonshire sandwiches. This open-face turkey and bacon sandwich is covered with warm cheese sauce. It's so Pittsburgh that my daughters even made them in their Family and Consumer Sciences classes at school.

Maurice salad is another 'Burgh thing. Supposedly named after big band leader Maurice Spitalny, a frequent guest at the William Penn Hotel, this salad is similar to a chef's salad. It contains iceberg lettuce topped with chicken, tomatoes, Swiss cheese, ham and a red-pepper relish dressing.

The Pecan Ball, a round of ice cream rolled in pecans, is best made with vanilla ice cream and served with warm chocolate sauce, according to my husband, the self-proclaimed Pecan Ball expert.

I found all of these recipes by searching online and by paging through local church and community cookbooks.

If your crowd needs a television break at halftime, play some tunes from Pittsburgh artists. Perry Como, Henry Mancini, The Vogues, Christina Aguilera and Rusted Root are just a few.

I can't forget Canonsburg native Bobby Vinton and his recording of "Melody of Love" from the 1970s. The television ad aired so often that I can still sing almost the entire song (even the Polish parts) word for word today. "Moja droga jacie kocham, my melody of love . . ."

Visit the Carnegie Library music department for a large selection of music from Pittsburgh artists.

Continue the 'Burgh theme after the game with a video. Your choice would depend on the post-game mood. Consider "Flashdance," "Dawn of the Dead," "Hoffa," "Robocop," "The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh" or "Wonder Boys." Check out the Pittsburgh Film Office Web site at www.pghfilm.org for a complete list of movies made in the area.

We hope our home team will be in New Orleans two weeks from now, but celebrate our city either way by preparing this savory appetizer for hungry fans.

PITTSBURGH KIELBASA

1 pound kielbasa, sliced into 1/2- inch coins
1 can (12 ounces) Iron City Beer

Pour beer into a large skillet. Bring to a simmer and add kielbasa pieces. Cook sausage for 3 minutes per side. Drain.

Serve with warm dipping sauce.

DIPPING SAUCE

1 jar Heinz chili sauce
1 small can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
3/4 cup brown sugar

Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve warm with kielbasa slices.

Mary Miller is a Fox Chapel-based registered dietitian and food writer. Her column appears twice monthly. For questions or comments, she can be reached at marymar333@attbi.com

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