It's About the Appetizers....Oops, I Meant Ads

1986: Bears 46 - Patriots 10

It's mind boggling to consider what the Super Bowl has become in our culture, especially since it didn't exist when many of us were born. But oh what a party it is now!

So many people cook for Super Bowl that there is a huge spike in avocado sales at this time of year. How has guacamole risen to these heights in parallel with the Super Bowl? Maybe it's because guacamole is approachable for non-cooks - just mash up some avocado and toss in onion, peppers and spice. That must be it.

Well, this week we're going to do some mashing too, except with garlic. I'm sharing a recipe for chicken wings that is one of the most requested dishes I make - African Chicken wings. The recipe is based on flavors found in Macanese cooking - that is, from the territory of Macau, on the southern coast of China. Macau is inhabited by Portuguese settlers who were extensive traders ranging from Europe to Africa and the Far East. This recipe is influenced by all those regions.

The key technique is mashing garlic and shallots (you'll find them near the onions in every grocery store) with a little salt. Then simply add oil and a few dried spices and let them sit for a few hours or overnight in the fridge. Roast them in the oven - and that's it.

You might not have Chinese five-spice powder in your pantry, and it is the secret ingredient in this dish. You can find it at any grocery store easily, and after you make this recipe once, you'll want to use five-spice again. It's a blend of several (not especially five) spices, usually cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise and Sichuan peppercorns. It's used in both savory and sweet dishes. I once made a rich chocolate torte that included five-spice.

The second dish is a variation on crab cakes. Using 50-50 shrimp and crab give these cakes a little more texture and cuts down the cost. No secrets here, it's just a good, straightforward recipe. A key to good crabcakes, or seafood cakes in this case, is having a nice sauce to drizzle over them, or dip them into. We'll stick with our garlic theme and add roasted garlic to some mayonnaise to create a sauce with tons of flavor with almost no effort at all. If you've never roasted garlic you won't believe how easy it is and how great the taste is (and the smell while it roasts, too).

Have a great Super Bowl Sunday, and hope for scores of 14-14, or 24-14, or 24-24....yes, I've got 4-4 in a big pool.

Warm Regards,

Many of you were interested in my audition for the Master Chef TV show. Thank you for all that love. I'm afraid I can't tell you any more about what's going on, due to confidentiality agreements. I've had a lot of fun with the audition process so far and hope it continues to go well. We'll see.

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