You know you still want ‘em…

Wings. They’re the only things people are talking about more than Cam Newton’s pants. (Hey, he’s not the first football fashion plate. Anyone remember Broadway Joe?)

There are as many ways to make wings as there are feathers on a Rhode Island Red. Previously, I offered y’all a flavorful but not hot recipe for the Super Bowl spread. Today, it’s one of my favorites for medium heat. These wings have a rub, which means you don’t have to marinate them for hours. The Mexican-inspired flavors are definitely something different. This recipe is from my book “Wings: More Than 50 High-Flying Recipes for America’s Favorite Snack.”

Mole Ole

1/2 cup chili powder

2 teaspoons cocoa

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

12 wings, cut in half at joints, wing tips removed and discarded

1/4 cup olive oil

In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, cocoa, salt, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, cumin and garlic powder. Place the wings in a resealable plastic bag. Pour in the olive oil and shake to coat the wings. Pour in the rub mixture and shake again to coat the wings. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. Place the wings on the baking sheet and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until done, turning the wings about halfway through the cooking time.

Makes 24 wing pieces

From “Wings: More Than 50 High-Flying Recipes for America’s Favorite Snack” by Debbie Moose

It’s all about the food, of course

Some teams from somewhere are playing football someplace this Sunday. It doesn’t matter who or where – or how inflated their balls are – because Sunday actually is the Super Bowl of food.

A rainbow of chips and dips festoons supermarket aisles in a glowing display unseen since Christmas. The price of wings usually spikes like gas on Memorial Day weekend, and for the same reason: supply and demand.

If you do care about the game, you are aware that the quality of the food affects the outcome, right? In the course of writing my cookbook “Fan Fare: A Playbook of Great Recipes for Tailgating or Watching the Game at Home” (Harvard Common Press), I developed a couple of approaches to planning for the Super Bowl feed.

First of all, prepare for a marathon, not a sprint. Fans will be there for many hours (I think the pregame hoopla started this morning).

One approach is what I call Continuous Grazing. Think of your guests as ravenous animals prowling the African savannah. For this, put out a variety of finger foods and snacks. Chips and dips are OK, but you also need more hearty offerings. During the lengthy halftime, bring out some wings, baby quiches or roast beef sliders.

Another way to organize the food is Big Bowls. Chili is always a hit, especially since it’s usually cold in early February and spicy chili offers that obligatory macho component to the day. Set up a slow-cooker or two with chili or soup, and let fans help themselves. Provide crackers or cornbread on the side; a salad if you feel vegetables are really necessary.

Yes, you could resort to the prepared food cases at your megamart. But would your team take the easy way out? Do you want to take the risk that your inadequate party spread could doom your squad? Just asking….

This recipe from “Fan Fare” makes wings with lots of flavor but no fiery heat. I picked the name because I also serve them during basketball season.

Teriyaki Tip-Off Wings

8 whole chicken wings, split at joints and wing tips discarded

3/4 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice

1/4 cup orange juice

1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Place the wings in a large zipper-top plastic bag. In a medium-size bowl, combine the pomegranate juice, orange juice, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sugar and vegetable oil. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Pour the marinade into the bag. Seal and shake gently to coat. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Drain the wings well (discard the marinade) and place them on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until done. Serve warm.

Makes 16 pieces

Note: These wings could also be grilled, but watch them carefully to avoid burning.

From “Fan Fare: A Playbook of Great Recipes for Tailgating or Watching the Game at Home” by Debbie Moose, published by Harvard Common Press.

Dip it, dip it, get yourself a chip and dip it

one tray of samples in the dip contest

one tray of samples in the dip contest

With “Let’s Get Physical” stuck in my head and buffalo chicken dip clinging on my breath, I pondered the truth that favors have unintended consequences.

When a Facebook friend, Mandy Steinhardt, asked me to help judge a dip contest at her Raleigh workplace, Capstrat, I imagined a few little bowls of various things and people taking a little break from the day. There was nothing small about it. Giant video screens across the office played continuous loops of music videos featuring big hair and shoulder pads because it was declared ’80s day. Dips and the ’80s – I don’t think I need to comment on that confluence.

Steinhardt said her workplace does these company parties for fun a few times a year, and most are fund raisers. People paid a small amount to enter their dips in the competition or to sample them, and the money went to the InterFaith Food Shuttle, which also provided the two other judges.

So, I thought, how many dips could there be? Twenty one.

Yes, 21 bowls of  salsas, onion dips, cheese dips, artichoke dips, spinach dips and black bean dips. A chocolate-chip batter dip with apple instead of chips. The sole guacamole entry, which was not green. And something called a Dunkaroo Dip that offered Teddy Graham cookies to scoop something that tasted like cake batter. My two fellow judges adored it because it reminded them of their childhoods eating something actually called Dunkaroos, a packaged snack that consists of cookies and a small tub of frosting. (Think dessert Lunchables.) They ate my sample after finishing theirs.

Interestingly, each of the 21 dips was a little different. Few had duplicate flavors, and those didn’t take the same approaches. I’d like to offer some hints for better dips: If you’re using cooked spinach, squeeze all the water possible out of it or you’ll get a soggy, flavorless dip; fresh makes a difference, so chop fresh tomatoes for salsa instead of opening a can; and make sure the chip selected enhances the dip and won’t crumble.

amy's creamy jalapeno dip

amy’s creamy jalapeno dip

We selected winners in hot dips and cold dips, and a most creative. From those three, we picked one best-in-show winner to receive a highly shiny trophy. Our picks were Claire Hovis’ buffalo chicken dip for hot dips, Amy Cozart’s creamy jalapeno dip for cold dips, and that Dunkaroo Dip by Alexandra Abramoski for most creative. The shiny trophy went to Cozart, who also received a signed copy of my book, “Buttermilk: A Savor the South Cookbook.”

She offered to share her recipe for the dip, which isn’t as hot as you’d think from the name – it has a pleasant little burn. It’s a great dip, but I’d also consider taking it away from the chips and drizzling it on grilled chicken or fish.

Amy’s Creamy Jalapeno Dip

2 fresh jalapenos, seeded and chopped

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons milk

Juice of 1 lime

1 (16-ounce) container sour cream

1 (1-ounce) package ranch-style salad dressing mix

Put the jalapenos, cilantro, garlic, milk and lime juice in a blender. Blend until the mixture has a pesto-like consistency. Add the sour cream and dressing mix. Blend until all the ingredients are incorporated. Chill before serving as a dip with tortilla chips, or taco topping.

Green grows the guacamole

Don’t like football? Who cares! It’s the NFL playoffs with the Super Bowl looming. And it’s all about the food at this point.

My friend, author and food blogger Becca Gomez Farrell, recently moved from Durham to San Francisco. And since the 49ers are playing my state team, the Carolina Panthers, this Saturday, I asked her if she has heard of any interesting game-day food phenomenons.

“Having best-guacamole competitions is pretty common in California for Super Bowl Sunday parties,” she writes. “Everyone learns a different way to make guacamole, so people bring in their preferred blend, dips are sampled, and a winner is declared. Or they just eat a lot of chips and get too distracted by the game to bother declaring a winner.”

Becca says her mother adds sour cream to her guacamole to smooth out the flavor. Becca likes to include pico de gallo. But everyone has their own twist – like we do with barbecue sauces in North Carolina. But, she adds, “you don’t want to know about the new friend we have in this area who thinks adding a handful of habaneros is a good idea.”

I personally don’t see a thing wrong with that, Becca. But for those who prefer a mellower guacamole, here’s an excellent basic recipe from my cookbook “Fan Fare: A Playbook of Great Recipes for Tailgating or Watching the Game at Home,” published by Harvard Common Press.

Goal-to-Go Guacamole

2 small, ripe avocados

1 small tomato, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1 fresh green serrano chile, seeded and finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons canned chopped green chilies, drained

2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Salt to taste

Tortilla chips for serving

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits and scoop out the flesh into a medium-sze bowl. Mash coarsely. Stir in the tomato, serrano chile, green chilies, garlic, lime juice and cilantro. Taste, and add salt.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with tortilla chips.

Note: You can make this a few hours ahead, but press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the guacamole to prevent it from browning, then cover and refrigerate.

Day two: It’s the office Christmas potluck!

Working on my own as I do, my holiday office party consists of feeding the cats and hitting my stash of Moravian cookies.

But when I worked in newspaper offices, I could predict one thing about the Christmas office potluck: The guys would fight over bringing the ice, soft drinks and chips. That left it to the women to provide the real food. Things are different today – I hope – now that more men are into cooking. But back then, there would be near-fights at the sign-up sheet.

Office potlucks attract plenty of little weenies in Crock-Pots and meatballs in sauce, decorated Christmas cookies and mayonnaise-y pasta salads. Vegetable dishes, beyond tossed salads or raw-carrots-and-Ranch-dressing trays, tend to be rare sightings. This easy, do-ahead recipe has been a winner for me in almost every setting, from parties at my house to potlucks, picnics and tailgates. At least one of my friends is making it for her office party this week.

The recipe is from my cookbook “Fan Fare: A Playbook of Great Recipes for Tailgating or Watching the Game at Home,” published by Harvard Common Press. I use herb-flavored vinegar that I make myself, and the flavor adds a nice touch to the salad. You can purchase vinegar flavored with your favorite herbs or use a plain wine vinegar.

Crowd-Pleasing Marinated Green Beans

1/2 of a large red onion, thinly sliced

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup Italian herb-flavored white-wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed but beans left long

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Place the sliced onions in a colander over the sink.

In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper until combined. Stir in the garlic. Set aside.

When the water comes to a boil, add the green beans. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or so, jus tuntil the beans are bright green; do not overcook. Pour the beans and hot water over the onions in teh colander. Rinse under cold running water to cool down. Drain well.

Place the beans and onions in a large bowl or large zipper-top plastic bag. Pour the dressing in and mix with the vegetables. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, stirring or shaking occasionally. Serve cold or at room temperature.

From “Fan Fare: A Playbook of Great Recipes for Tailgating or Watching the Game at Home” by Debbie Moose, published by Harvard Common Press.

Super Bowl snacking

Super Bowl spreads have your dips and cheese balls, but I know what you really want: Wings. According teriyaki tip-off wings from 'fan fare'to the National Chicken Council, the weekend of the big game is the biggest time of the year for wings – it says 1.25 billion “wing portions” will be eaten.

The chicken wing consists of the flat,  the flat part with two small bones; and the drummette, the mini-leg part. The third part, the pointy wing end called the flapper, is typically removed – but if you’re cutting up your own wings, don’t throw that part away. Save them in the freezer to make chicken broth.

I love a good hot wing, but I am aware that some do not share my love of flame. This recipe offers plenty of flavor without heat (although you could throw in a little Sriracha). It comes from my book “Fan Fare: A Playbook of Great Recipes for Tailgating or Watching the Game at Home” (Harvard Common Press, 2007). As you can tell from the title, they’re great for basketball games, too.

Teriyaki Tip-Off Wings

8 whole chicken wings, split at joints and wing tips discarded

3/4 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice

1/4 cup orange juice

1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic, put through a garlic press or crushed

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Place the wings in a large zipper-top plastic bag. In a medium bowl, combine the pomegranate juice, orange juice, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sugar and vegetable oil. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Pour the marinade into the bag. Seal and shake gently to coat. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Drain the wings well (discard the marinade) and place them on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until done. Serve warm.

Note: The wings could also be cooked on a grill. Drain them very well first.

Food news roundup

I dearly love to see young people cooking, and The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) today has an article about an 8-year-old who is a finalist in a national cooking contest. The theme ingredient: Peanut butter. Who would know more about peanut butter sandwiches than a kid? Read about her here. And if you didn’t catch the profile of Raleigh chef Ashley Christensen on Sunday, it’s here.

A Charlotte couple gets invited to a lot of parties, not because of their scintillating personalities, but because they bring “the crackers.” Find out the secret in the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, here.

Here’s something I bet you never thought about: The history of ketchup. Yes, the condiment and erstwhile official vegetable. If you make your own, it raises ketchup from forgettable garnish to classy sauce. The Winston-Salem (N.C. ) Journal tells you how here. I have made ketchup before, from roasted bell peppers and roasted tomatoes, and it is excellent. Not like the bottled stuff at all. So, try it.

Shrimp burgers are a classic on the coasts of North and South Carolina. The Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier has a recipe here.

Great Jimmy Buffett, how did I miss National Margarita Day? It was Tuesday, Feb. 22, according to JanNorris.com. But, Norris says, the date doesn’t really matter: “Margarita drinkers usually don’t need any excuse. Paint-drying parties. Rotated-tire-parties. I’m-wearing-clean-underwear celebrations. You get the drift.” She has recipes, too.

Sassy, sexy sesame seeds send ‘em going on KitchenScoop.com, with a Thai recipe.

I knew I shouldn’t, but I did. My fingers couldn’t resist. I clicked on the Milky Way Tart recipe on LeitesCulinaria.com. Sometimes, I just like to watch.

Are doughnuts the new cupcake? They are in New York, says the New York Times, here.

Big game, Super Bowl food

Not viewing at least a little of the Super Bowl, which will be on this Sunday, is like saying you hate fireworks on the Fourth of July. It’s not a football game, it’s a national eating holiday. Sort of like Thanksgiving, but without the family drama.

There are a couple of philosophies you can have about feeding the mob. One, provide a continuous stream of munchies. Two, offer some snacks early, then bring out the big food at halftime. There’s no need to look for more wardrobe malfunctions, so you might as well be eating. And the Hub and I can’t imitate the Black Eyes Peas. We did, I feel, a credible version of The Who last year, although I almost threw out my shoulder doing the Townsend Guitar Swing.

Chili is classic Super Bowl big food, and sometime you have to go with tradition. Here’s a recipe from my cookbook “Fan Fare: A Playbook of Great Recipes for Tailgating or Watching the Game at Home.” It was inspired by the flavors of Mexican mole sauce. Add cornbread to the bowls for something different.

Marvelous Mole Chili

5 dried ancho chilies

4 dried pasilla chilies

5 dreed guajillo or New Mexico chilies

2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

2 quarts chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt to taste

Place the chilies in a bowl, pour in enough boiling water to cover them and let soak for 30 minutes. Use a sauce to weigh down the chilies if they float to the surface. Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Lightly brown the beef but do not overcook it. Remove the beef from the pan and drain out any liquid from the pan.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in the same pan and cook the onion and garlic until soft but not browned. Remove the pan from the heat.

When 30 minutes are up, drain the chilies, remove stems and seeds by holding under running water, and pat dry. Puree the chilies to a smooth paste in a food processor.

Put the pan back over high heat, add tomato sauce and chicken broth, and bring ot a boil. then stir in the beef, chile paste, bay leaf and cinnamon. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook uncovered, for 1 hour. Then add the oregano, cumin and cayenne. Let simmer uncovered, for 1 hour. Add a little water or broth if the chili becomes dry or overly thick. Taste, then add salt.

Makes 6 servings.

Food news roundup

It’s Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay  – at the table. The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) has foods native to the areas, suitable for game-day serving. If necessary, you could probably stop an opposing player with that Pittsburgh pepperoni roll. Read more here.

At the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, hear about a man who dedicated his photographic skills to documenting that crazed beast, the college football tailgater. “At LSU, I ate seven different kinds of animals,” he says. Read more here. (Wonder if one was groundhog; since that stinkin’ Sir Walter Wally saw his dern shadow today, I’m ready to make groundhog meatballs.)

There only thing less expensive than a good, cheap red wine is using up the last of the red wine left at your house by a Christmas party mob. But don’t take pot luck, look at the Independent Weekly’s (Durham, N.C.) picks.

There are more Super Bowl recipes at the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal, but these state a concern for calories. The way I see it, it’s once a year, but if you’re worried, have at them here. Although the “wings” made from avocado slices seem a lit-tle strange.

The pork tacos and meaty chili at the Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.) are more traditional for game day. Find the recipe here.

Is it girlie-man food or just a fresh approach to the Super Bowl menu? Decide for yourself at LeitesCulinaria. But at least he’s offering real wings.

Of course, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette is full of ways to plan your (Steelers-oriented) Super Bowl party. Here’s something wild: Aunt Elvira’s Roethlisberger Braunschweiger Ball. It’s a cheese ball, in case you were wondering.

And because I don’t personally have a dog in this fight, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes about the chef who cooks at the Packers’ training camp. Plus other stuff, including beer-flavored potato chips that will help you save snacking time by eating and drinking at once.

If you really don’t care about anything but the food, go Tex-Mex in honor of the location. The Dallas Morning News has a ton of tasty recipes here.

Food news roundup

A freezer full of dinners – what a great holiday gift. The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) gives step-by-step instructions, focused on meals for retired parents. But it would be a nice idea for busy moms or harried caregivers, too. And the article makes it sound easy. It’s in the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, too, along with a blog on the idea that recipes, like the pirate code, are really just guidelines.

Cocktails are back? Heck, they never left my house. Really, I know the refined mixed drink is making a resurgence (no bottled mixers or frozen daiquiri mixes). Read more in the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal here.

Can you imagine not being able to lick the bowl when Mom is making cookies? That’s what happens when a kid is allergic to most of the things in the cookies. The Feed With Care column in the Independent Weekly (Durham, N.C.) solves the problem deliciously, and little fingers can go to town. It’s here.

Speaking of cookies – and who doesn’t like to do that? – the Chai Spice Girl cookies in the Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.) look mighty good. A few of those left with your humble blogger would be nice. Also, Sean Brock of Husk will compete on Iron Chef America this Sunday. Read it all here.

Easy, breezy hummus is often overlooked as a party snack. It appears in our house a lot because, one, it’s good, and two, it contains no dairy that would trouble the dairy-allergic Hub. Find a simple recipe at JanNorris.com.

Cookies, cookies everywhere! Leite’s Culinaria has some beautiful ones, and by watching the slide show, you consume no calories whatsoever.

Even congresspeople need comfort. Old-fashioned junk-food spots have sprung up around the Capitol as thick as lobbyists, so says the New York Times. Read more here.