Sundays are glorious in our house. Especially during football season.
I couldn’t possibly care less about football, but Clay will gladly watch it (both European and American variations of the sport) all day. He’ll slip in and out of attentiveness, sipping coffee, and occasionally rustling through the Sunday Times. Meanwhile, I’ll stay occupied in my favorite room of the apartment: the kitchen.
I look forward to Sundays – we do our grocery shopping, so I have every opportunity to plan dishes (new or old) and ensure adequate preparedness for execution. Between brunch, lunch, dinner and dessert, we eat all day. Which is why, in our house, Sundays are affectionately referred to as “Fat Kid Funday Sunday.”
For dinner tonight, I went for an old favorite – Crock-Pot Szechuan Chicken Wings, a ridiculously easy, no-mess dish that requires very little preparation and supervision. You literally just throw everything in the Crock-Pot and walk away. You have to come back six to eight hours later, but the incentive is a deliciously tender Chinese-takeout-flavored chicken wing, so that’s no trouble at all.
I like pairing these with steamed rice (brown, white, whatever you have) and a stir-fry vegetable. Tonight we did it with stir-fry bok choy, because I am recently on this cabbage-variant kick. The finished result was delicious – savory, sweet, and just a bit spicy. Not to mention the smell in our apartment all day: drool-inducing. I’ve made these for my family for Christmas Eve, a group of drunken friends for a New Year’s Ski Trip, and a Super Bowl Party – they always disappear quickly, and any leftovers are devoured in a blur of drunken munchies later in the evening. Everyone loves them, and I think you will too.
Crock-Pot Szechuan Chicken Wings
12 – 18 chicken wings (about 2 pounds)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons oil (I prefer vegetable, since olive oil tends to have a more dominant flavor)
1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1. Combine all ingredients in Crock-Pot, toss to coat wings.
2. Cook on low for six to eight hours.
3. (Optional) Finish in the oven on broil – no more than two minutes a side, watch closely so as not to burn. This gives the wings a little crispier finish, so it’s really a matter of preference if you choose to do this step or not.
While those were in the Crock-Pot causing everyone including the dog to sit in puddles of their own saliva all day, I decided to bake. As much as I love baking, I don’t really eat very many sweets. Thankfully, I have a garbage disposal of a boyfriend who will eat almost anything. Seriously. (Last night he ate TACO BELL. I saw it with my own eyes.)
In the spirit of the fall season and my passion for dessert bread, I decided to adapt Lara Ferroni’s Chocolate Gingerbread, using whole wheat pastry flour in place of all-purpose. I prefer whole wheat pastry flour for almost all baking – it’s a healthier alternative that gives breads and pastries a bit more density and flavor.
The assembly was quick and painless, but baking time was increased due to elevation and the flour substitution. The recipe calls for chocolate, crystalized ginger and molases – a savory combination that created quite an olfactory collaboration with the chicken wings. Our apartment was cause for an all day taste-bud boner.
After dinner, I served this bread with Alden’s Organic Butter Brittle Ice Cream, and was dazzled! The flavor was deeply satisfying – chocolately, spicy, and sweet, complemented by the butteriness of the ice cream. The crystalized ginger and chocolate chips made for delicious volcanic morsels tucked inside the moist, crumbly bread. My thighs begged me not to go for seconds, but screw them! It’s jegging season anyway. This bread is hardly too sweet to be served at breakfast with a hot cup of coffee or for an afternoon snack with a smear of cream cheese. I’ll probably be making these for Christmas presents, so friends and family, get excited.
(makes one standard loaf or two small paper loafs)
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
a pinch of ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup molasses
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
2 tablespoons crystalized ginger chips
3/4 cup chocolate, coarsely chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350* and lightly grease a baking pan (I used unsalted butter because I was out of cooking spray)
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Set aside.
3. Cream the butter & brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Mix the buttermilk, molasses and flaxseed meal together, and add all at once to the butter mixture. (It’s normal for it to look a bit curdled.) Add the flour mixture and mix just until you get a smooth batter. Fold in the crystalized ginger and chocolate chips. Do not overmix.
4. Bake until a cake tester comes clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before serving.