Easy Boneless Buffalo Wings

Boneless Buffalo WingsLooking for something tasty and easy to serve at your Super Bowl party? Why not make homemade boneless Buffalo wings? I developed this recipe (if you can even call it that) during the wild card games a few weeks ago. It also saw me through the AFC championship, faring better than my beloved Pats. And now I pass it along to you.

1. Buy a package of frozen chicken nuggets. I like Bell & Evans (sold at Whole Foods) because it's all white happy chicken breast meat, and about as healthy as you can get when you're buying a fried chicken nugget.

2. Pre-heat oven according to directions on box.

3. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a small sauce pan on the stove. Add between 2 and 4 tablespoons Tabasco sauce, depending on how spicy you want your "wings."

4. When nuggets are about half-way through cooking, remove from oven and, using a brush, coat both sides with spicy butter sauce. Return to oven and continue to bake according to directions on box.

5. Remove from oven, plate, and serve with bleu cheese dressing and celery sticks.

They're really good! Correction: they're really good if you like boneless Buffalo wings, and they're probably my new favorite thing to make for a day of football watching.

Thank God Top Chef is…

Thank God Top Chef is over. I haven't watched it, haven't been interested in watching it, and was very tired of hearing about it on every single damn food site. Please don't tell me there's a season two in store.

Update: Clearly I don't pay attention to Top Chef, because apparently what ended last night was season two! So the hope for no season three seems dim.

Attacking Annie’s Shells and Cheddar

Annie'sAnnie tested the direction of popular culture and felt the gentle wind of organics blowing, and she created her famous purple box of mac 'n' cheese. And now Salon's Anastacia Marx de Salcedo takes her, and everyone who whips up a box of it, to task in her article comparing Annie's to Kraft. While I agree that the label "all-natural" on Annie's doesn't really mean anything in any official government-approved way, you can take a look at the ingredients in a box of Annie's and it sure seems "natural" compared to Kraft's.

Annie's Homegrown Original Shells & Cheddar ingredients:

Durum Semolina Pasta, White Cheddar Cheese (Milk, Salt, Cheese Cultures, Enzymes), Whey, Sweetcream Buttermilk.

Kraft Original Elbow Macaroni & Cheese ingredients:

Enriched Macaroni Product (Durum Wheat Flour, Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Cheese Sauce Mix (Whey, Whey Protein Concentrate, Milk Fat, Milk Protein Concentrate, Salt, Sodium Tripoly-Phosphate, Citric Acid, Sodium Phosphate, Lactic Acid, Calcium Phosphate, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Enzymes, Cheese Culture).

The author points out that from a nutritional perspective, Kraft and Annie's are about equal (in terms of calories, sodium, protein, fat, etc.) but that misses the point. It's not that Annie's is "healthy," it's that it's less processed. It has less chemical additives. Why feed yourself or your children Yellow 5 or Milk Protein Concentrate when you can just give them cheese? It's hard enough for people to get decent food on the table these days, and while I agree it's nice to have a home-cooked meal, sometimes there isn't time for that. When I'm choosing between two instant mac 'n' cheeses, I'll take the one without Sodium Tripoly-Phosphate any day.

As for the author's assertion that "making pasta with cheese from scratch is just as easy as mixing up a pot of Annie's" (with a proper Béchamel sauce!) I say no way! She lists the steps side by side in her article, but if you actually look at the time associated with each step, it's clear Annie's is less commitment. With box mac 'n' cheese, you boil water and cook pasta. Neither task requires your attention in the kitchen, so you're free to do whatever else needs doing. (I suggest making a quick green salad to accompany your boxed delight, but let's stay on target.) When the pasta's done, you simply drain, add butter, cheese powder, milk, and stir. Total active time: less than a minute. Now think about making the same from scratch. While the pasta's boiling, you need to make your Béchamel. That requires whisking and attention. You also need to grate cheese, mix cheese in white sauce, etc. Total active time: more than one minute.

All said, I don't eat Annie's products very often, so I'm not defending them because I'm a fan. It's because this article seems dishonest to me, making false comparisons to support the author's belief. And it strikes me as a thinly-veiled critique of a certain lifestyle in the guise of nutritional analysis: the holier-than-thou-homemade crowd vs. the well-to-do Whole Foods yuppies with kids. It's a rant directed at people who actually do care what they're feeding their kids, and who are trying to do the right thing. In my opinion, that's the wrong target.

Are you into food and…

Are you into food and the web? Are you good with web design, familiar with blogs, and an able coder? Serious Eats, a start-up that is focused on sharing food enthusiasm through blogs and online community, is hiring. You'd be working with a team of passionate food lovers, including the site's founder (food maven, and New York Times author) Ed Levine, food bloggers Alaina Browne and Adam Kuban, and me! See the job description for all the details.

New York's growing wave of…

New York's growing wave of parents obsessed with all things culinary are indoctrinating their children to the ways of gastronomy. From dining out at three and four-star restaurants to taking cooking lessons on Saturday mornings, “[f]ood is the next frontier in terms of the precious raising of children.” Normally this is something I'd cheer, but somehow the article made it seem so snooty.

San Francisco now has one…

Photo by the New York TimesSan Francisco now has one of the best French-style bakeries…Tartine Bakery. I was in San Francisco last week and had breakfast there and I concur with Mark Bittman: Tartine is fabulous. I especially enjoyed the bread pudding with seasonal fruit. I think I could eat that every morning for the rest of my life and never get bored. Please will someone open a place this good in New York City, preferably in my neighborhood?