winging it

The most highly anticipated day of any football lovers year is right around the corner. Frankly, I don’t like football. However I realize I’m in the minority, particularly this year since the Super Bowl happens to be taking place about five miles from my house.

It seems to me that Super Bowl Sunday has very little to actually do with football and a lot to do with Clydesdale commercials, half-time wardrobe malfunctions and trashy food you would never ordinarily consider eating. You know the kind I’m talking about— bowls of melted velveeta and salsa served with Fritos (hmm, who knew they still made Fritos?) piping hot pizza bites and mini hot dogs (I’m sure there’s not that much MSG in them, right?) and of course deep-fried wings with a side of bottled blue cheese dressing (limp celery stalks optional). But before you get the wrong impression here’s the thing… I happen to like wings. In fact there’s a coal-fired pizza joint nearby that makes the most delicious caramelized onion and rosemary wings that I like to order with a side salad. So you see it’s not the wing itself I take issue with, it’s the prepackaged, deep-fried, preservative laden aspect of your typical trashy wings I dislike. If I’m going to eat a wing I want some thought to have gone into it, some consideration for the flavors in combination with the cooking method. I want someone to have given that wing a little love long before it ever hits my plate.

While I don’t have a coal-fired pizza oven, I do have a gas grill and a Weber cookbook, which as it turns out is all I really need. A few pounds of wings, some Asian ingredients, a little grill time and voilà… Delicious without apology wings. I realize as I type this that the temperature outside is only 18°F, not exactly standing at the grill weather. I have but one thing to say about that—

Toughen up buttercup. This is football!

Grilled Asian Wings
These are delicious and far less guilt inducing than your typical wings.

wings6

1 medium leek, halved and sliced thin
2 tsp. Thai red curry paste
1/2 cup tamari soy sauce
5 tbsp. dark brown sugar, packed
4 tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
4 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
3 tbsp. fish sauce
3 tbsp. peeled, grated fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 lbs. chicken wings, tips removed

  1. Add all the ingredients (except the wings) to a medium bowl and stir to combine. Pour all the marinade except for 3 tablespoons into a large ziploc bag, place the wings in the bag and seal tightly. Turn the bag to insure all the wings are coated and allow to marinate for an hour.
  2. Prepare your grill by brushing the cooking grates clean and heating the grill to 350°F.
  3. Carefully oil the grates and grill the wings over medium heat, with the lid closed, until they are well browned and cooked through (turning them several times), 15 to 25 minutes.
  4. Transfer the cooked wings to the large bowl and drizzle with the reserved marinade. Serve warm and… Go team!.

*adapted from weber

not so ordinary butternut squash soup

It’s hard to believe it’s already mid-November, which means Thanksgiving is basically right around corner (I know, just typing that gives me palpitations.) Naturally I’ve been thinking about my dinner menu for a while now, in fact being the list-maker that I am I already have the menu (the current version of it anyway) taped to a cabinet for me to consider and reconsider as the big day approaches.

I try to serve a mix of “never had for Thanksgiving before” appetizers and side dishes along with everyone’s “must-have to qualify as Thanksgiving” favorites. In past years we’ve started off the day with things like baked brie with honey and almonds, homemade smoked salmon and mini bean piroshki— all delicious but not necessarily good enough to become tradition. In our house tradition dictates that we always start the meal with butternut squash soup, locally cured kielbasa, an array of cheeses and of course shrimp cocktail. Followed a bit later by deep-fried turkey, mashed potato casserole, either collard greens or brussels sprouts, cornbread stuffing and finally pecan pie. I know, I need to loosen my pants just thinking about it, but oh man is it good! To my mind Thanksgiving is not about skimpy, restrained or I’ll just have a taste— No Thanksgiving, more than any other day of the year, is all about prolonged indulgence and second-helpings.

I mentioned that I make butternut squash soup every Thanksgiving and while I realize you can’t swing a horn o’ plenty without hitting a squash soup recipe this time of year, my Coconut-Curried Butternut Squash Soup is not just any other recipe. It’s incredibly flavorful, tastes holiday-appropriately indulgent and is the perfect toasty warm start a chilly Fall day. Oh and did I mention that it’s also healthy and low-fat. I know, delicious, satisfying and low-fat… clearly a Thanksgivukkah miracle!

Anyway I encourage you to give this soup a try then sit back, relax, enjoy the day and offer up a few words of thanks for elastic waist pants.

Coconut-Curried Butternut Squash Soup
You can garnish the soup with a bit of toasted coconut or roasted pumpkin seeds if you like, but it’s just as delicious plain.

butternut squash soup2

1 large butternut squash (about 2 lbs)
1 medium onion, diced
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. coconut oil (or olive oil)
4 cloves garlic, grated
3 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp. Thai Red Curry paste
2 tsp. Madras curry powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 cups chicken broth
1 14 oz can unsweetened light coconut milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Brush the cut sides of the squash with oil and place cut side up in a roasting pan. Add a little water to the bottom of the pan, cover with aluminum foil and roast for 30-40 minutes or until a fork easily pierces it. When the squash is done and has cooled enough to handle, use a spoon to carefully scoop out the flesh and set aside.
  2. Heat the coconut oil and butter over medium heat in a large dutch oven. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the curry paste, curry powder and salt and cook for a few more minutes.
  3. Stir in the chicken broth, coconut milk* and squash. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes, stirring and breaking up any large chunks of squash.
  4. Remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender and serve.

*To make this soup ahead follow the directions but omit the coconut milk. On the day you’re going to serve the soup add the coconut milk and bring the soup back to a simmer. Serve and enjoy.