Saturday, August 13, 2011

Geocache This: Grilled Eggplant Sandwich with Creamy Mushroom Spread

I’ve mentioned before that I am the resident caterer for my group of friends. I’ve done birthday parties, anniversary parties, surprise birthday parties, more birthday parties, but this one was a first – my friend, Robin, called up and asked me to cater her geocache party.

If you knew Robin, you’d know that this is not a normal request. I didn’t even know what geocaching was (and after a trip to Wikipedia, I’m still not sure I understand it). As far as I can tell, you run around pretending to be a cyber-era Jack Sparrow looking for buried treasure, using your smart phone to find specific coordinates. (I know, sounds like oodles of fun, huh?) I still haven’t gone beyond making calls with my cell phone, and now I find out that you can hunt for the wreck of the Queen Anne’s Revenge while playing Angry Birds at the same time. READ MORE

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Wing and a Prayer: Lemon Ginger Wings

Three months ago, things were looking pretty rosy: the kitchen remodeling business was on a consistent upswing, and I was able to ditch the nightmarish, weekend gig.  It was so nice to be able to work one job. The free-time even made me a little lazy – I haven’t posted a single recipe since.

Cut to present-day: Congress is acting like a bunch of babies, S&P has downgraded the U.S. credit rating, and the phone isn’t ringing quite a much as it was. So what do I do? I start cooking, of course. (What can I say? It’s one thing to have free time; it’s another thing to not have enough to do.)

I actually played with this recipe over the summer, and Don has been harping at me to get it up on the site ever since (he really just wants me to make it again). He’s a hot wings freak. I’m not a big fan of the hot sauce based kind, but I enjoy these because they have a more complex flavor.

I also roasted these wings instead of deep frying them. I’m certainly not averse to deep fried goodness; I’m just too lazy to clean up the mess when it’s over. Besides, I can lie to myself and call them healthy this way.

It’s a simple marinade – both in ingredients and assembly. There’s something about the combination of lemon and ginger that I love. I didn’t want an overt Asian bent to the flavor, but you could also switch out the salt for soy sauce and add a little toasted sesame oil to get yourself there.

And it’s a total do-ahead too. I mixed it up the night before and made them for lunch on a weekend. The best part is that the reduced marinade makes a phenomenal glaze on the roasted wings – a frugal bonus.

This will also translate very well to other chicken pieces if you don’t want to make wings. And have you noticed how expensive chicken wings are? They are just as expensive as boneless chicken breasts at the local mega-store! Once in a blue moon they’ll go on sale for about 99 cents per pound, which is the only time I buy them. I just can’t bring myself to pay almost three bucks a pound for what used to be throw-away parts (damn the rising popularity of Buffalo wings).

If you’re going to use other chicken parts, I’d recommend using the skin-on variety. You need that crunch factor you get from the roasted skin – my test of skinless chicken breasts felt like it was missing something. Besides, you aren’t deep-frying, so you need something to keep the chicken moist. I didn’t try these on the grill, but I think they’d do just fine. If you do decide to grill them, let me know how they turn out.

There’s an ancient Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” Something tells me that the economy over the couple of months is going to be anything but dull. I imagine I won’t be the only one putting in some above-average prayer time. Add these wings, and you should be all set.