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Sticky and sweet – finger lickin’ good

I recently made a batch of these chicken wings for a Super Bowl party after hearing there was a Buffalo wing shortage in the area.  Of course, these are not Buffalo wings, but I snatched up several packages of chicken wings just in case.  Korean style chicken wings can be spicy, although they usually are sweet and sour (and almost always delicious).  This recipe is always a big hit at any party or potluck for adults and children alike.  Just be sure to keep plenty of napkins on hand.

 

Korean-style Crispy Chicken Wings with Sweet Ginger Glaze

30 pieces of chicken wings, rinsed and patted dry
1 medium onion, finely minced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1″ piece of ginger, finely minced
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2  tsp.  salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 C. flour
1/2 C. corn starch

Glaze
2″ peeled ginger, thinly sliced
3/4 C. water
3/4 C. packed dark brown sugar
1/2 C. vinegar
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1/2 C. corn syrup
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

oil for frying

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Heat oil on medium high  in large skillet or pan.  Combine minced onion, garlic, ginger, egg, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Add chicken wings and coat thoroughly.  Then add flour and corn starch to chicken mixture and coat well.

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Cooking in batches, fry chicken wings in oil over medium to medium high heat for about 15 minutes until golden brown.

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In the meantime, bring water, brown sugar, soy sauce and ginger slices to a rolling boil in small sauce pan.  Boil vigorously for 15 minutes.  Lower heat to medium and add corn syrup.  Cook until mixture thickens to the point where the glaze stops half way when dripped from a spoon.

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Take out ginger slices with a slotted spoon and set aside when slightly thinner than you want.  It will thicken significantly as it sits.

The key to crispy chicken is cooking it twice, so after you cook all the chicken wings once, refry briefly (about 3 minutes or so) right before you are ready to serve. 

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Pale and limp looking once-cooked chicken

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Deep golden brown and super crispy twice-cooked chicken

Drizzle glaze over the chicken and toss carefully.  Serve immediately and be prepared for to be asked for the recipe.

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I am in the midst of preparing for our annual Christmas party, so forgive me if the entries are sparse this week.  We have been throwing this adults-only cocktail party for about 8 years, taking the occasional year off because of burn out.  Last year was our most recent bye year, but our party is back, better than ever (hopefully).   As with any annual meal/party, I always keep a few favorites and introduce a few new recipes.  I recently stumbled on this savory biscotti recipe on Epicurious, and wow – it’s a keeper.  It is perfect with a glass of red wine (or white for that matter) as it is a dry cookie, as biscotti should be.  The bite of the cracked black pepper elevates what would have been simply a good cheese cracker to fabulous savory biscuit. 

PARMESAN BLACK-PEPPER BISCOTTI

1 1/2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (2 1/4 cups)
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.

Pulse peppercorns in grinder until coarsely ground.

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Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, 2 cups cheese, and 1 tablespoon ground black pepper in a large bowl. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk 3 eggs with milk and add to flour mixture, stirring with a fork until a soft dough forms.

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Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and quarter dough. Using well-floured hands, form each piece into a slightly flattened 12-inch-long log (about 2 inches wide and 3/4 inch high). Transfer logs to 2 ungreased large baking sheets, arranging logs about 3 inches apart.

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Whisk remaining egg and brush some over logs, then sprinkle tops of logs evenly with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and 1/2 tablespoon ground pepper. Bake, rotating sheets 180 degrees and switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until logs are pale golden and firm, about 30 minutes total. Cool logs to warm on sheets on a rack, about 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.

Carefully transfer 1 warm log to a cutting board and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices with a serrated knife. Arrange slices, cut sides down, in 1 layer on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining logs, transferring slices to sheets. Bake, turning over once, until golden and crisp, 35 to 45 minutes total. Cool biscotti on baking sheets on racks, about 15 minutes.

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My husband and I had a wonderful dinner at Xochitl on the Day of the Dead after a hard day of getting out the vote two weeks ago.  We ordered from the special Day of the Dead menu, but had to try the guacamole they prepare at the table.  We settled on guacamole with blue cheese and pomegranate, and after the first bite, I knew I had a new party favorite. 

The blue cheese added a rich saltiness to the creamy avocados and the juicy sweet burst of pomegrante seeds finished the experience perfectly.  The color is an added plus:  the red jewel-like seeds atop the green guacamole – I don’t think you can get any more festive than that for Christmas.  I hope you try this at your next party – your guests will thank you.

Guacamole with Blue Cheese and Pomegranate
(serves 6-8)

 3 ripe avocados, halved, pitted and taken out of skin
4 oz. soft blue cheese (gorgonzola or blue cheese) at room temperature
1-2 finely diced jalepeño chiles (to taste)
1/4 medium red onion, finely diced
3 Tbs. chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
¼ C. pomegranate seeds

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Mash avocados mortar and pestle (if you are so lucky to own one, use your stone molcajete since those avocados are slippery little buggers). 

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Add the blue cheese and mash into avocados.

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 Add onions, jalepeño chiles, cilantro and incorporate well.   Salt and pepper to taste.

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Place in serving bowl and sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top.  Serve with tortilla chips and watch them disappear.

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I entertain with some regularity and one constant dish I serve regardless of the type of party is spicy almonds.   I usually place dishes of the spicy nuts throughout the house during a party and inevitably, I find the near-empty (or completely empty) dishes at the end along with numerous compliments and requests for the recipe.  I made a batch today for my husband who is going on a canoe trip with some buddies.  I guess spicy almonds aren’t just for parties anymore.

I use a variation of Martha Stewart’s recipe which calls for blanched almonds.  I use dry roasted unsalted almonds since blanched almonds just look so naked.  The sugar will caramelizes into little bunches of sugar, which is such a perfect complement to the spicy crushed red hot peppers and cumin. 

Spicy Almonds (adapted from Martha Stewart)

1/4 C. peanut oil
4 C. whole dry roasted unsalted almonds
1 C. sugar + 1 Tbs. for sprinkling
3 tsp. kosher salt
3 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. red pepper flakes

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In a large, heavy-bottomed saute pan, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the almonds, and stir with a wooden spoon, coating each thoroughly with oil. Sprinkle with 1 cup sugar, and continue to stir until the almonds become golden brown and the sugar caramelizes, about 4 minutes.

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Remove the pan from heat, and pour almonds into a medium mixing bowl. Sprinkle the remaining sugar, salt, cumin, and red pepper flakes over the nuts, and toss well. Pour the spiced nuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet, and separate with a wooden spoon. Allow nuts to cool for about 30 minutes. Spiced nuts can be stored up to two weeks in an airtight container.