The Simple Art of Cooking

My friend Herb Paer of Tenafly, New Jersey, has been a season ticket holder to football games since 1968 and has attended 15 Super Bowl Sunday games over the years. Herb is certainly not alone in his passion for football and, as a Giants fan, he looks forward with great anticipation to Sunday’s game. He found when attending a Super Bowl,  “It’s easy to get tickets but harder to get a hotel room”. Somehow Herb always made sure he did. Most of us who watch the game on television will miss one of the most colorful aspects of the game, according to Herb. That is the fabulous pre-game show. Oh well, the rest us will have to deal with ‘half-time’.

Super Bowl Sunday is as much about the game as it is about hanging out with friends and eating fun food. Fun food could be anything that doesn’t require elaborate, last minute preparation.

Get comfy around the sofa and floor cushions and keep the service informal with buffet style entertaining; that is foods that can be served at room temperature. Nothing that requires last minute preparation is the game plan. Chips and dips and nachos and cheese can always fit the bill for openers. Then make a big play of your own with tangy lemon mustard chicken wings and arugula salad with roasted sweet peppers. A winter fruit salad bowl with diced ripe pears, crisp apples, seedless grapes and orange segments deliciously dressed with a citrus flavored crème fraiche, golden raisins and chopped walnuts to tame and refresh the taste buds will bring in your own touchdown.

Let these culinary inspirations put you in the mood for count-down time.

LEMON MUSTARD CHICKEN WINGS

A super snack to feed your football buddies on Super Sunday

Serves 8 to 10

20 chicken wings

1 bunch scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced, use white and green parts

2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup dry toasted bread crumbs

Scallion flowers for garnish  (optional)

1. Cut off chicken wing tips and discard, then halve the wings at the joint. This will yield 32 pieces. Trim off and discard excess fat from the wings. (You can remove as much of the skin as you like.) Wash the chicken well and drain on paper towels. Whenever you work with fresh chicken be sure to wash cutting surface and your hands very well. Set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine scallions, mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and stir to mix. Gradually whisk in the oil in a slow steady stream until thoroughly blended. Put the chicken wings in the marinade and spoon over the juices to coat. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

3. Spread toasted bread crumbs on a cookie sheet and coat the wings with the crumbs. Transfer to a shallow, lightly greased baking pan in one layer and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, turning once after 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with raw fennel sticks and garnished with scallion flowers if desired.

Scallions flowers

1. Trim 2 to 3 bunches of scallions by removing any soft outer leaves. Hold root end in one hand, and with a sharp paring knife facing upwards, insert knife into the white base of the scallion just above the root. And cut through the green top. Give the scallion a half turn and repeat procedure so that you have four slits from the root end. Repeat with remaining scallions.

2. Fill a mixing bowl with cold water and ice cubes. Drop scallions into the ice water as you prepare them. In a little while the leaves will curl up and flower. They can be prepared up to one day ahead and refrigerated in the ice water. Drain and pat dry before using.

ARUGULA SALAD WITH ROASTED PEPPERS AND ROASTED PEPPER VINAIGRETTE

Serves 8 to 10

For the salad

2 large bunches fresh arugula

2 to 3 bunches scallions, trimmed, rinsed and thinly sliced

2 commercially prepared red bell peppers, cut into strips

For the vinaigrette

1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 commercially prepared red bell pepper, finely chopped

1. Trim and discard roots of arugula leaves, Rinse well and spin dry in a salad spinner. Wrap in paper towels to absorb excess moisture and refrigerate until ready to use.

2. For the vinaigrette, place the garlic, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Add the oil gradually in a slow steady stream until mixture is homogeneous. Add the finely chopped pepper and stir to mix. Can be prepared ahead.

3. When ready to serve bring arugula to room temperature, if refrigerated, toss with scallions and divide equally on salad plates. Ring the greens with red pepper strips and drizzle extra dressing over the top. Toss and serve.

WINTER FRUIT SALAD

The fruits of winter can indeed make an appealing dessert

Serves 8 to 10

 

Segments from 2 navel oranges

3 to 4 ripe pears, preferably Comice or Bartlett

2 Golden Delicious apples, cored and diced

2 to 3 bananas, sliced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 cups seedless grapes

 

For the dressing

1/2 cup crème fraiche or sour cream

3 tablespoons undiluted frozen orange juice

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/3 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. With a sharp paring knife peel the oranges following the curve of the orange and remove at the pith. Slice one end of each orange and impale the slice onto the orange with a fork. Cut through each membrane to remove the segments. Put into a bowl large enough to hold all the fruit.

2. Core and dice the pears and apples and add to the orange segments. Add the sliced bananas and sprinkle the fruit with lemon juice to keep them from darkening.

3. Mix together the crème fraiche or sour cream, orange and lemon juice; pour over the fruits and carefully toss to mix. Transfer to an attractive serving bowl. Mix together the raisins and walnuts and sprinkle over the top of the salad.

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