Friday, January 18, 2008

January 18: Here Comes the Superbowl

And here come Superbowl parties. You can count on things like chips and dip, salsa, maybe chile con queso, chili, maybe Buffalo wings. I have been to Superbowl parties where the spread has been as predictable as Thanksgiving dinner, and sadly, I've thrown parties where the spread has been exactly this predictable. And it's not that there's anything wrong with that, if that's what you like but I like the getting-together-with-friends and the talking and the drinking of beers just really so much more than the football, which, now that I'm married to a football-indifferent guy, I no longer feel so obligated to care about as long as the Cowboys are losing.

So all I'm saying is, shake it up a little. We're not throwing a Superbowl party because we live in a condo that's just a tiny bit larger than a shoebox, and we haven't been invited to any as of yet, probably because we don't have a huge number of local friends, but if we were throwing a party, I'd position it this way: it's a party, on Superbowl Sunday, with a television and maybe even a couple of pools or some other sort of betting related to the game, with great, twist-on-a-theme food.

Here's what I would serve--maybe not all of this, depending on the crowd I was expecting, but a selection--if I were having a Superbowl party.

Asian-Spiced Chicken Wings
Four-Cheese Pizza
Pepper-Parmesan Popcorn
Deviled Eggs
Tortilla Chips with Tomato Salsa and Guacamole
Ancho-Cinnamon Sugar Cheese Straws
Blue Cheese-Walnut Cheese Straws
Curry-Spiced Nuts
Cheddar-Beer Spread
Crudites With Two Dips: Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Dip and Lemony Feta Dip
German Chocolate Brownies
Easy Apple Snack Cake

Many of these recipes have the benefit of being well-suited to being made ahead of time, frozen or stored tightly sealed, and reheated at party time. I think this is a really good thing when it comes to party food, so that you're not stuck in the kitchen as guests arrive and people start having fun.

I promise to give you all these recipes between now and the Big Game. In fact, I am guessing that these recipes will tie up much of my time in the next two weeks.

Tonight, I give you Asian-Spiced Chicken Wings and Four-Cheese Pizza.

Asian Spiced Chicken Wings


3 Pounds chicken wings, separated at the joins, wing tips discarded
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons Tabasco
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro (optional)
1 garlic clove minced
1 to 2 quarts peanut or vegetable oil (for frying)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Whisk together the soy sauce, honey, mirin, Tabasco, rice vinegar, ginger, cilantro, and garlic in a large bowl and set aside.

Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Heat 2 1/2 inches of oil in a large Dutch oven, with a candy thermometer attached to the side, over high heat until it measures 360 degrees.

Mix the cornstarch and cayenne together in a large bowl. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then toss evenly with the cornstarch mixture. Add half the wings to the hot oil and fry until golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with several layers of paper towels and keep warm in the oven while repeating with the remaining wings.

Toss the fried wings and the soy sauce mixture together in a large bowl. Let soak for about 1 minute before serving.

Keep these warm in a chafing dish or in a Crock pot, set on low, with the cover off.

Serves 6 to 8.

Four Cheese Pizza

4 1/4 cups bread flour, plus extra for the counter
1 envelope rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 3/4 cups water, warm

Pulse 4 cups of the flour, the yeast, and the salt in a food processor (fitted with a dough blade if possible) to combine. With the processor running, pour the oil, then the water through the feed tube and process until a rough ball forms, 30 to 40 seconds. Let the dough rest for 2 minutes, then process for 30 seconds longer.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead by hand to forma smooth, round ball, about 5 minutes, adding the remaining 1/4 cup flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured conuter, cut into three pieces, and cover with plastic wrap. Working with one piece of dough at a time, shape into a smooth, round ball, cover again with the plastic wrap, and let rest 20-30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Uncover one ball of dough and stretch the dough into a 12-inch round on a piece of parchment paper. Brush the edge of the dough with oil. Sprinkle the oiled dough with shredded mozzerella, shredded provolone cheese, grated parmesan cheese, and crumbled blue cheese.

Slide the parchment paper onto a rimless or inverted rimmed baking sheet, then slide it onto a hot baking stone, if you have one--if you don't, simply slide the whole baking sheet into the oven. Bake until the cheese is golden in spots and the crust edges brown, 8-12 minutes.

Repeat with the other two pizzas. Cut, with a pizza cutter, into eight wedges each.

Serves 12.

No comments: