Archive for the ‘ Food ’ Category

The Year of the Pie

It’s about damned time. I am tired of cake. Never did like it, in fact. But pie, I wanna tell you… mmmmm.

Thus spake NPR:

Trend-spotters are calling pie the food of the year. Texas and New York restaurants offer pie happy hours. Pies are showing up at weddings, and pie shops are opening in a neighborhood near you. Pies come in sweet and savory, maxi and mini, deep dish and deep-fried.

Read the whole shebang here.

And when you’re done reading about pies, get to baking one. Here’s a great recipe to start with (if I do say so myself): Art’s Damn Fine Sweet Potato Pie. There ain’t none finer

Eight teenage girls. Movies. Laughter. Lots of junk food. And, did I forget to mention?: A chocolate fountain.

Ghost Wings

Ghost wings ready for the grill

Bill liked the ghost pepper salsa

Jesse and Joey, who tried the ghost salsa and lived to tell the tale

A Hot Time


Seven types of chiles went into my chicken wing sauce

We’re having several friends over tonight to watch the Vikings-Packers game on the big screen and I decided to whip up a batch of spicy wings for @garciasn and anyone else who wanted to feel the burn. I wanted to make my own sauce, using the bhut jolokia (ghost peppers) I bought a while back.

I wandered over to Cub and made my way through the chili section, looking for flavors that would complement the smokiness and bite of the ghosts. I grabbed a handful of habaneros, a bunch of Thai chilies, and some fat jalapenos to cool down the sauce. I also bought a large shallot, a massive head of garlic, three big mangoes and some orange-mango juice concentrate to use as the base of the sauce. Once I got home, I went through the cupboards and came up with some dried Pequin chilies, some ground Chimayo chili (a gift from my friend Yvonne, a wonderful SW cooking expert) and a bottle of Datil pepper extract to toss in, bringing us to seven types of chilies in the sauce, including eight — count ’em — eight ghost peppers. I used a blender to grind everything up, except the garlic and shallots, which I sauteed in a stick of butter. After everything was mixed and simmering, I did a taste test and added some honey to bring up the sweetness a bit. OMG (oh my ghosts), it was a bit spicy.

The simmering chilies made the air in our home toxic (I thought the DEA might burst in at any moment to bust up what they were convinced was a meth lab). Laurie and I were still coughing this morning, even after opening windows and running fans. The cats were staggering around in the kitchen like drunken sailors on liberty. Good stuff.

I marinaded half of the wings in the sauce overnight and reserved a bunch for cooking and dipping. I will be smoking the wings over applewood chips this afternoon on the Grillinator, rain or shine, and enjoying a few Summit EPAs while I work. (I promise there will be no cell phone photos of me in my Crocs).

We will be enjoying these wings with my homemade bleu cheese dressing and celery (as God intended), as well as chips and my homemade ghost pepper salsa. Go Vikes.

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Ghost Peppers + Ribs = Mmmmmm

Pork ribs

Respect the pig

Ghostly ingredient

Thanks to a tip from my buddy Bill Roehl, I raced to Cub to buy fresh ghost peppers — at $3.99 a pint, they were a steal and really were as hot as promised by Bill’s taste test. You might recall, Bill and I traveled to the West Metro a few times last year to participate in ghost wing challenges at the Girvan Grille. Today, I decided to whip up some ghost barbecue sauce and slather it on some St. Louis style pork ribs that I had smoked slowly on the back deck. I think it goes without saying that this was a win all around. My stomach is now rebelling, but I had expected that. The price of admission and all that. We followed up the ribs with some dragon fruit I bought for Jesse. It was interesting, but fairly tasteless. Jesse pronounced it “cool and refreshing.”

Dragon fruit

Enter the dragon

I Give You …. The Bird

A feast for all the senses

A feast for all the senses

I cooked the bird a little differently this year. I made a glaze with bourbon (of course), dried cranberries, brown sugar and butter. It was delicious and very moist. Just had some simple sides with it — corn, mashed potatoes with sour cream and garlic, and french rolls. Jesse, the vegetarian, ate the sides with an Amy’s roasted veggie lasagna. After we sleep off the big meal, we’ll have some apple pie.

Halloween 2009

Jesse (right) and her BFF Allie all dressed up for Halloween. I think they were supposed to be The Go Gos. Hah

Jesse (right) and her BFF Allie all dressed up for Halloween. I'm not sure, but I think they were supposed to be The Go Gos. Hah

Would you like fries with that?

Would you like fries with that?

Halloween 2009 was a blast. Both girls hung out with friends (Katie at work at Papa Murphys and then at the movies to see, believe it or not, Saw VI; Jesse trick-or-treating with a gang of suburban hoodlums then to a friend’s party in Burnsville).

I was left to man the front door with a bowl of candy — sort of like handing a plate of brains to a zombie. We had about 50 kids total, 3 or 4 big clumps, then the occasional group of 2 or 3. Kept me hopping for a couple of hours as I tried to watch Hostel II on the DVR.

Jesse and Allie did a great job making each other into goth girls. I dared them to wear their outfits to school on Monday, but so far, no takers on that dare. Jesse also helped her sister dress up as Wendy, from the hamburger joint, at the last minute before she headed off to work at the pizza shop. She did a great job whipping together a costume filled with irony for her sister in just 30 minutes. She has the Halloween touch all right.

We dropped by Papa Murphys for one of their over-advertised jack-o-lantern pizzas, which Katie made for us. Wish I had a picture. I defy you to make a jack-o-lantern out of the pizza we received. It was tasty, though.

Hope everyone had a fun holiday and didn’t get too sick on all that candy.

News that Hits Home

Wings with the bite of the King Cobra, originally posted by @garciasn ( / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Wings with the bite of the King Cobra, originally posted by @garciasn ( / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Now this is journalism that matters. From KARE11-TV:

In a down economy the wing business has taken flight. According to the Perishables Group, a Chicago-based market research firm, wing sales have grown by 109 percent over this past year. At the corner of Dale and University, that trend has meant steady sales despite down times. Wings, it seems are a cheap luxury people still afford.

“Yeah, they seem to be holding back on clothes and that stuff, but, food, there’s always room for it,” adds Mann of the steady demand for his wings.

But with all that demand, the price of those flappers has skyrocketed. Local suppliers estimate prices have jumped 15 percent in just the past month. And that after a steady year of price gains. And, they see the price continuing to rise. Some speculate there may even be a shortage of wings come winter.

WTF. A wing shortage? As Job famously asked, why is the lord always messing with me?

Ghost Wings Kick Our Butts

Bill Roehl, Danni, Josh and I represented the South Metro in the Ghost Wing Challenge Tournament of Champions at the Girvan Grille on Monday night. Once again, the whole gang at the Grille treated us like royalty (Note to FTC: The Girvan Grille provided me and the other 11 champions all the free ghost wings we could eat in 10 minutes, plus three free beers — Summit EPA in my case. Also got a nifty Vikings T-shirt and a bottle opener, courtesy of Anheuser-Busch).

After the challenge, we stayed to watch the Vikes dismantle the Packers and to drink a few more pints of cold, frosty beer. Check out Bill’s harrowing and hilarious write-up here. And watch the video of all the action below (courtesy of

Girvan Grille Ghost Wing Challenge Tournament of Champions! from Bill Roehl on Vimeo.

The wings were hotter and saucier than the two times we ate them before. I tried to just plow through them with a minimum of pausing and/or breathing. A couple of the competitors whipped through three or four plates by the time I finished my second. So as I began my third plate, thinking I was out of contention, I slowed way down and ate just two wings in the final 3 minutes, bringing me to a final tally of 22. When the head chef counted the bones of each contestant, however, he disqualified half-eaten wings, giving the winner just 28 wings and second place just 27. Had I known I was that close, I would have powered through a few more.Yes, I am that stupid.

Danni and Josh both made it to 10 wings and stopped and Bill bravely met his goal of 20 wings, earning him 5th place. A couple of other competitors dropped out really early (did I mention the wings seemed even hotter this time?) and one of our challengers, who shall remain nameless — mostly because I don’t know his name — ended the contest by losing his wings in the men’s room stall. He probably felt a heckuva lot better than the rest of us later that night and following day. I was still dancing with the devil all day today, probably because I had warmed-up ghosts for dinner last night. The folks at the Grille made Bill and me up to-go boxes with a couple of dozen wings each, as well as a to-go pint of the wing sauce. Satan, get thee behind me. Never mind, you’re already there…


Someone alert the SAC — there will be some hot warheads winging our way on Oct. 5 (oh, yeah, plus some game between the Vikes and Packers…) Yes, the Ghost Wing Challenge Tournament of Champions at Girvan Grille is just about upon us. I can’t wait to taste them wings and see how many I can shove in my pie hole in 10 minutes. Are you ready, @garcian?