Super-simple Spicy popcorn
Start with your favorite popcorn, whether you pop it yourself or purchase
Melt butter with some great hot sauce — again, you pick your favorite (we use our home-grown Aji Lucento pepper sauce, which is VERY hot). Add enough hot sauce to really spice up the butter. If you want, you can also add a bit of sugar, but we don’t like to. Add salt to taste. Toss the popcorn with the spicy butter, and taste — it should be addictively good.
Two Dips (for chips or crudité)
Blue Cheese for the grown-ups (and sophisticated kids)
- Equal parts blue cheese (choose one you like, there are a LOT of choices!) and cream cheese, at room temperature
- Enough cream or milk to thin it to the consistency you like
- A dash of hot sauce, or a good grinding of black pepper, to your taste
Use a mixer or mash by hand, adding enough cream to get the consistency right. Dip away!
Ranch for the kids (grown-ups allowed too)
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tsp. coarse-chopped shallot
- 2 tsp. parsley leaves
- ¾ cup mayonnaise (Best Foods is best)
- ¼ cup buttermilk
- ¼ tsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. sugar
- Dash of hot sauce
Combine garlic, shallot and parsley in food processor. Pulse until well-chopped. Add remaining ingredients and whirl to combine well.
Super Cheddar Brazilian-style Cheese Bread
You can make these ahead, and freeze them un-baked. Just pop into the oven frozen, and serve hot. These are my interpretation, which is not quite as cheesy, and definitely not made with Cheddar — they go great with a bowl of chili, and are quite addictive. Doubling the recipe might be a good idea if you have more than a few guests.
Yield: 15 rolls
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 ½ oz. (3 Tbs.) butter
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 cups tapioca flour (aka tapioca starch)
- 1 egg
- ¾ cup grated cheddar cheese
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400°F. Cover a sheet pan with parchment or a silicone sheet.
Gather all your measured ingredients by the stove. Combine the milk, water, butter and salt in a tri-ply or other evenly heavy pot. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Pour in the tapioca flour, and using a heavy wooden paddle, beat until well combined and stiff. Add the egg, and again beat with the paddle until combined. Stir in the cheese. The dough will be stiff. Using an ice cream scoop or two tablespoons, drop oval (football shaped) mounds, about the size of a ping-pong ball, spacing them slightly away from one another.
If making ahead, freeze, uncovered, and then transfer to a zip bag until ready to re-tray and bake. Bake 20 minutes. Enjoy warm; they keep for a day or so, but are best the day they’re made.
Spicy Baked Wings
- 4 lbs. chicken wings
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbs. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbs. sambal ulek, or 1 Fresno (red chili) pepper, stemmed, seeded
- ¼ onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 Tbs. dark soy sauce
- 1 Tbs. palm sugar or dark brown sugar
- 2 Tbs. lemon juice
- 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
Split wings, discarding tip piece. Combine remaining ingredients in a food processor. Marinate wing pieces for at least ½ hour.
Preheat oven to 450°F. Lay wing pieces out on a parchment covered pan, bake until juices run clear, about 12 minutes.
Chili with Beef and Beans
- Yield: 4 large or 6 medium servings
- 2 medium-large onions, diced
- 1/2 head garlic, finely chopped
- 3 Tbs. grape seed oil
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ¼ cup Ancho chili powder
- ¼ cup New Mexico or California chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 lbs. beef chuck, cut into ½ inch dice (or, for a fast version substitute ground chuck)
- 1 cup canned or fresh chopped tomatoes (or tomato sauce)
- 1 bottle dark beer
- Splash of bourbon, preferably Jack Daniels (optional
- 2 cans drained kidney beans (or 1 cup dried beans, cooked)
- Chopped red onions, grated sharp cheddar cheese for garnish
Heat half the oil to very hot in a large, non-reactive heavy-bottomed sauté pan. Add half the meat pieces, and let cook until the bottom is brown, without moving. Turn and let the second side brown. Remove that meat to a bowl, add more oil, and the remaining meat and brown it the same way. Be careful not to let the pan burn, as you want all the good flavors from the “fond” (which is the stuff that sticks) in the chili.
Once the meat is brown, remove it and add onions to pan. Cook until limp and add garlic, seasoning well with salt and pepper as they cook. Continue to cook briefly, until garlic softens, and add all the spices. Stir for a minute until fragrant. Return the meat to pan. Add tomatoes and beer, and if you’re using it, the bourbon. Bring to a boil, turn down heat to very low, simmer until tender, and the flavors have melded, about 1 1/4 hours, stirring frequently and adding water if more liquid is needed. Add the beans and continue cooking for another 15 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn. Adjust for salt and pepper. Serve hot, with chopped onions and grated cheese.