Hello, Internet. This is a momentous occasion. Today is the first World Cup semifinal, the penultimate round in the world's favorite sporting event. I've decided to change my normal recipe format and present today's meal in a way I've been asked to do countless times since the very beginning. Today, I will be participating in a home-based version of World Cup Chopped. How is this possible, you ask? Don't you choose the ingredients?
Not today. A few weeks ago, I was offered a BOX OF MYSTERY INGREDIENTS from Pete Gaines (@petegaines on the twitternet). He was cleaning out his grandmother's pantry, and wanted to know if I wanted whatever he found. All that I knew going in was that they were expired, and in some cases decades old. For this little experiment, I will pull 3 to 4 ingredients from the box, and create an appetizer, entree, and dessert with whatever I have in my Spillycabinet. Each round will be themed to one (or two) of the countries in the semifinals. Also, conveniently, I automatically win this game because I am the only contestant.
So, first things first - the box. Here is what Pete sent me:
What I love most of all is that the box has a handwritten typo. Or perhaps Pete's family celebrates XAMS every year, and really, who am I to judge if he does? Merry XAMS, Pete. On the bottom of the box was a list of contents, none of which were actually in the box. One of these items was ‘elves'. The elves have escaped, Pete. so just FYI. And thank you, Grandma Gaines.
THE APPETIZER ROUND:
It's important to note that on the top of the box was a container of cake flour, which exploded in delivery and covered everything inside with a fine white powder. (oh hey post office no it's cool please deliver me the mystery box leaking white stuff it's all good) In a way, it sort of enhances the old-timey vibe of the contents, because you actually have to blow the dust off of everything. The other three ingredients for this round are some kind of produce-saving powder (expires 2003!), English instant mustard (!) and toothpicks.
The first thing that comes to mind are Dutch poffertjes, which look like little delicious pancakes. I can make those pretty easily with all this flour. I've never seen instant mustard before, and apparently this tin is old as time itself as the inside had solidified into 3 or 4 giant mustard balls. I crushed them with a mallet and put it into a bowl with the flour and veggie saver (I think this is just sugar and preservatives? So basically that Lick-em-aid candy with the stick). The toothpicks may pose an issue, but I can figure that out later.
Okay, now, we'll need to add a bit more sugar to this to balance out the mustard. Also, we still need to figure out how to serve toothpicks to a friend without the sticks cutting their esophagus.
I'm going to solve both problems by adding Pez candy and then beating it mercilessly with a meat mallet. this should crush both the candy and the wooden sticks so by the time your guests have ruptured stomach linings, you've already left the state and are untraceable.
Next, we'll need liquid to form our dough. Hmmm...
Oh right! I still have nearly an entire bottle of Malort! Who needs water when you can just make fried liquor balls for all of your friends. Mix this in to create what could only be compared to a mix of library paste and tree resin.
Heat a frying pan to ‘fire' and spoon the dough on. You don't want to cook ALL the alcohol out because you're going to need to be fairly inebriated to finish the rest of the meal. Plus who doesn't enjoy drunken pancakes now and then?
Round one is an astonishing success. Had I any competitors, they clearly would have drawn the judges ire for not incorporating the toothpicks in such a fun, whimsical manner. Every bite in an adventure in finding out exactly where in your mouth you will be stabbed!
THE ENTREE ROUND:
Now, let's move on to the main course. The three ingredients for this round will be the following:
This time, it's important to note the advanced age of all three ingredients here. The honey has started to collapse in on itself, and when it was opened, a huge popping noise let air inside. There was no use-by date listed. The other two? There's no date on the banana extract, but I'm almost certain it's older than I am. The generic jello? That's the best one:
November 30th, 1985. This gelatin expired the day that Kaley Cuoco was born. It's still sealed, the air inside is from the Reagan administration, and I'm going to open it. This is a magical time.
But what am I going to make with all of this? Steak, of course!
Sure, these ingredients don't really lend themselves well to steak, what with the meat already being put together and not needing held with gelatin. But we can fix that. I chose steak to represent the asado cooking style of Brazil and Argentina. Now, I won't actually be cooking it this way, because I have limited time and no pit in which to dig and fire coals, but after you've put toothpicks into Dutch pancakes, you're probably not too concerned with authenticity.
Anyway, let's make a meat.
First, grab a months old ‘steak' frozen dinner:
Bombard it with radiation it in your microwave box for 35 minutes. Afterwards, pour it, and any plastic that may have melted along with it, into your blender. Now, as you can see above, they've skimped on the ‘steak' here, the meat will barely cover the blender blades. So you'll want to add in some extra bonus meat to compensate:
I've chosen to use 9 cubes of beef bouillon to beefify this dish. Puree the meat until it's smooth and creamy.
While the meat liquefies, open your nearly 30 year old pouch of gelatin. Inside will be some handy tips from 1982!
Pictured above: A treasure map to riches probably
Now then, mix in the powder with your meatpaste to help it congeal:
I also used the same bowl I mixed the poffertjes in because sharing is caring. Once it's all mixed together, it may start to smell a little funny. This will only get worse when you begin to cook it. Back to the frying pan!
FOODTIP: Be sure to shape the meat-like globule into a steak to fool all but the most cunning of food critics.
Let this patty sizzle on the pan. At this point, I poured that imitation banana extract from the 80s (or earlier?) all over it to let the meat seal in those delicious, completely artificial chemical bananas. Be sure to turn on an exhaust fan as well. When there's smoke, it means its time to flip.
The steak is done when the kitchen is filled with toxic fumes and you're close to asphyxiating yourself.
Because plating is important, I've drizzled the steak with honey (which had to be churned out and rehydrated a bit with some other, newer honey I had). Also, I've added garnish in the form of a pile of leaves that were in an unmarked jar at the bottom of the box. This wows the judges instantly.
Again, I've won this round and move on to the final:
THE DESSERT ROUND
It's the home stretch, everyone. All that's left is a German dessert. Let's see what the box provides:
I sure do love beets
This isn't a dealbreaker. Many desserts secretly hide vegetables in them. Carrot cakes, for example. Or rutabaga pies. I can work with this. I'm going to make German chocolate cake. Now, I don't have coconuts for the top, but I have the next best thing. First though, let's make some cake batter.
It's important to not go too crazy here. A cake is very simple to make. First, there's flour and eggs. The problem with eggs is that they're kinda gross and messy, and you might get salmonella! It's important for food safety to use artificial eggs. Here, I've substituted in gummi eggs sent to me by Seth Rosenthal (@seth_rosenthal) for just such an occasion. See? The yolks don't even break! In addition, I've added in the baking chocolate and dumped in the entire bottle of Italian seasoning to add a little zip to our cake batter.
Okay. Got it? Now let's beet.
Instead of milk, we'll just....we'll just use the beet juice. I guess.
I've made Pepto Bismol. This is what I've accomplished in life. This is somewhat fitting as I can't actually take Pepto Bismol in real life or else I vomit profusely. Anyway, mix up this fuschia mess and put it into a small cake pan.
This is the saddest cake. Perhaps baking it will solve all of our problems.
While it's baking, it's time to move on to the frosting. Like I said before, I don't have any coconut, so this won't be....a traditional german chocolate cake icing. But I mean, I have batter that looks like the Barbie aisle at Toys-R-Us and I'm using ingredients that believe in trickle-down economics and destroying the Red Menace so this was never going to be traditional.
At this point, I just want to let everyone know something. This, my friends, is the final Spillymeal. I let people know on Twitter that this was coming - it's been nearly 2 years and 57 different meals, and this is the last one. For some reason, the awesome people here at SB Nation have let me do these whenever I wanted, and never pushed or rejected any of it. That still astounds me. So thanks to all of you, especially Brian Floyd, who has had to deal with editing these every time, Spencer Hall, who agreed to let me be really, really stupid on the internet on a site that puts out amazing stuff each and every day, and finally Jon Bois, who started all this nonsense with Lunch Judgement in August of 2012 and I started making stupid comments about food.
So, on that note, permit me a bit of nostalgia:
Fill a bowl with an entire canister of Tang. The whole thing. We're going for broke. Then, slowly massage in a few tablespoons of Internet Paste:
Slowly add more in and fold the Tang into itself to make a ball. A really, really big ball of Tang. It should resemble a softball.
Now, take the cake out of the oven. It appears that the heat has done nothing to help our cause. Also the gummi egg has melted and stuck forever to the bottom of the pan.
Plop the cake onto a serving plate, and top with the giant tangball. This is our frosting. It also completes a cake that has clearly beaten any other competitor (of which there are none). I have triumphed, as predicted, in World Cup Chopped.
Thanks so much for reading my little corner of the internet, everyone.