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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday Eats and Treats

Last year I wrote about celebrating my birthday on Super Bowl Sunday. We're doing the same thing this year and we'll be enjoying all the same treats.

My birthday isn't on Super Bowl Sunday, but it's close enough that every year I double-down and celebrate my birthday and football on the same day.

I didn't much care about the sport until our youngest son, Michael, taught me to love all things football. From the time he was 3 years old, he watched Sports Center and would grill me about which QB was the best--I didn't have a clue. He's off at UC Davis now and all that's different now. These days, my favorite TV show--with the exception of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report--is Showtime's Inside the NFL.

We've invited a dozen friends to come by the house and watch the game. I don't want to get stuck in the kitchen, so everything we're serving will be made the day ahead.

Only the Bacon Wrapped Shrimp appetizer has to be grilled on the day so the bacon is crisp and the shrimps are juicy. Just before kick-off, we'll reheat the wings and ribs and we'll be ready to watch what promises to be a great match up.

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

You know the expression, "Bet you can't eat just one," well it applies to this appetizer. My son Franklin mastered this recipe when he was putting on feasts to entertain his college roommates. He taught me and I'm happy to pass it along to you.
Yield: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 pound shrimps (25-35 count/pound), washed, shelled, deveined
10-12 bacon strips
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, peeled, finely chopped
1 shallot, peeled, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, washed, finely chopped
Toothpicks


Method

Heat the olive oil in a pan and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sauté the finely chopped parsley, garlic, and shallot in the olive oil until lightly browned. Let cool. Spoon the seasoned olive oil over the shrimp. Toss well and let marinate for 30 minutes.

Organize an area on the counter so you can work assembly-line style.

Cut the strips of bacon into 3 equal pieces. Toss the shrimp again, then take one shrimp and lay it on the piece of bacon, rolling the bacon around the shrimp. Take a toothpick and push it through the bacon-shrimp-bacon to hold it together. Set aside and do the rest.

Using tongs, put the shrimp on a hot grill and close the hood. If you're using an oven, set it at 450 degrees and put the shrimp on a wire rack over a cookie sheet. Turn every 2-3 minutes so they cook evenly and don't burn, about 10 minutes.

Serve on a platter with napkins.

Carrot Salad with Lemon-Soaked Raisins

A great accompaniment for the ribs and wings, the salad also goes well with deli meats like turkey breast or ham or grilled steaks, chicken, or sausage. The lemon-pepper soaked raisins and the roasted nuts bring some surprises to a familiar side dish.

Yield 6-8 servings
Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

8 large carrots, preferably farmers' market fresh, washed, peeled, ends trimmed off
1 scallion, optional, finely chopped
1 small bunch Italian parsley, washed, dried, stems trimmed, finely chopped
2 tablespoons golden raisins
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Pinch of cayenne
Sea salt and pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Method

Soak the raisins in lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight Grate the carrots in a large mixing bowl. Roughly chop the raisins, reserving the lemon juice not absorbed into the raisins.

Mix together the carrots, raisins, parsley, and scallions. Season with the cumin, cayenne, sea salt, and black pepper and toss. Add the lemon juice and mayonnaise. Mix well.

Variations

Use cilantro instead of Italian parsley

Add 2 tablespoons capers

Top with 2 tablespoons roasted chopped almonds

Caesar Salad

The dressing can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 days, then all you have to do before serving is tear up the lettuce, shake on some cheese, add the croutons and pour on the dressing. Perfect for a half-time snack.

Yield 4 servings

Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 garlic clove, skin off
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 anchovies
1 large egg, farmers' market fresh
1/4 teaspoon Worcester sauce
2 hearts of romaine or 1 large frisee, leaves washed
2-3 tablespoons olive oil, to taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2-3 drops Tabasco, optional
1/4 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup croutons, homemade
Black pepper

Method

Use a wooden bowl if you have one. Sprinkle the sea salt on a wooden cutting board. Mash the garlic back and forth on the salt with the flat side of a chef's knife, then sweep the garlic-salt mash into the salad bowl.

Boil water in a small saucepan. Add the egg and cook for 4 minutes. Remove the egg, let cool, open, scoop out the yolk and white with a small spoon, and add to the salad bowl along with the Worcester sauce, optional Tabasco, olive oil, and lemon juice.

Using a fork, mash the anchovies against the side of the salad bowl so they dissolve in the dressing. Mix well.

Tear the romaine leaves into pieces or chop up the frisee, add to the salad bowl, top with grated cheese, croutons, and season with pepper. Toss to coat the leaves.

Taste and adjust the flavors by adding more lemon juice or sea salt.

Variations

Add 1/2 pound grilled, shelled, deveined shrimp, whole or roughly chopped

Add 2 chicken breasts, skinless, grilled, thin sliced

Add 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, roughly chopped

Brown Sugar Pork Ribs

The cooked ribs can be kept in the refrigerator covered 2-3 days or frozen in an air-tight freezer bag.
Yield 4 servings

Time Prep (20 minutes) Marinate (overnight) Cook (2 hours)

Ingredients

1 rack pork ribs
2-3 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
Olive oil
Black pepper
6 ounces Italian tomato paste
1 small yellow onion, peeled, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped

Method

Trim excess fat, the membrane, and flap from the ribs. Caprial Pence the owner-chef of Caprial's Bistro in Portland, Oregon and a fellow contributor to Eat Drink or Die shows how to prep the ribs with easy-to-follow photographs. Reserve the flap, trimmed of its membrane, to grill for tacos.

Spread a piece of plastic wrap on the counter 5” longer than the rack. Dust the meat side of the ribs with the cayenne.

Mix together the brown sugar and kosher salt. Spread half the dry mix on the plastic wrap. Lay the ribs on top, then cover with the rest of the dry mix. Cover with a second piece of plastic wrap, seal, fold in half and place into a Ziploc or plastic bag. Refrigerate in a pan overnight.

In the morning remove the ribs. The dry mix will have transformed into a slurry. Very alchemical! In a sauce pan sauté the onions and garlic with olive oil until lightly browned, season with pepper. Remove the ribs from the plastic bag. Use a rubber spatula to remove most of the liquid from the ribs and plastic bag and transfer to the sauce pan. Add the tomato paste and simmer the sauce on a low flame for 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the flavor if necessary.

Line a large baking tray with tin foil. Place a wire rack on top of the baking tray, then lay the ribs on the rack. The ribs can either be cooked in a 350 degree oven or on the “cold” side of a covered grill with the heat on high.

Whether on the grill or in the oven, cook the ribs 30 minutes on each side, then baste the ribs with the sauce and cook another 30 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from the oven, cut apart the individual ribs, and serve.

Kimchi Chicken Wings

The natural partnership of kimchi and brown sugar brings a sweet-heat to these finger lickin' good wings.

Yield 4 servings

Time Marinate overnight. Cook approximately 60 minutes

Ingredients

2 1/2 pounds chicken wings, washed, pat dried
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup kimchi, finely chopped
1 tablespoon kimchi water from the bottle
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, washed, peeled, sliced thin
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Method

Dissolve the brown sugar in the kimchi water, olive oil, and soy sauce. Add the kimchi, onion slices, and chicken wings. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking tray with tin foil for easy clean up. Place a wire rack on the tray and arrange the wings on the rack. Drizzle the wings with olive oil. Put into the oven and bake 30 minutes. Turn over with tongs. Bake another 30 minutes.

The wings should be tender and golden brown. If not, turn the wings over and continue baking another 10 minutes.

Check again and continue baking at 10 minute intervals, turning the wings each time, until they are done.

In a small saucepan on a low flame, reduce the marinade by a third. Reserve.

The wings should be eaten hot. Pour the heated, reduced marinade over the wings just before serving.

Serve with plenty of napkins and ice cold drinks.

Variations

Add 1 tablespoon julienned garlic and 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley to the marinade
Just before serving, top with 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallion

Banana Cake with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

Now it's time for something sweet. The cake is best served warm, topped with powdered sugar and grated dark chocolate. Ice cream and whipped cream are good too.

Yield 8-10 servings

Time 90 minutes

Ingredients

4 ripe bananas
1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sweet butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup half and half or 1 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 cups white flour
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of cayenne
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Method

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and paint the inside of a 9 x 3 round cake pan, then put the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes. The frozen butter prevents the batter from sticking to the pan.

Bake the walnuts on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes. Let cool, roughly chop, and set aside.

In a bowl mash the bananas with a fork, add the baking soda and vanilla. stir well and set aside. In a mixer use the whisk to cream together the softened butter and both sugars. Add the eggs, mashed bananas, half and half (or cream) and whisk until blended. Mix in the flour half a cup at a time, being careful not to over-beat.

Remove the bowl from the mixer. Use a rubber spatula to blend in the walnuts and chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the buttered cake pan. It will only fill the pan half-way, which is good because the cake will rise.

Bake the cake in a 350 degree oven for 60-70 minutes, turning the pan every 20 minutes so the cake cooks evenly. Test to see if the cake is done by inserting a wooden skewer. If the top is browning too quickly, lightly lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the top. When the skewer comes out clean, take the cake out of the oven and place on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

Remove the cake from the pan, putting it back on the wire rack to finish cooling.

Just before serving, dust the top with powdered sugar and shaved chocolate. Serve warm or at room temperature.