Finger Stickin' Chicken Sauce

Chicken wings are certainly all-American. It seems like everyone and their dog has at least one wing sauce, and often many. All too often your choices are limited to sweet-and-wimpy or rip-your-lips-off hot. Here's my alternative that gives you a little of each.

This sauce gives you sweet and sticky, with just enough heat. The heat isn't just spicy, but it also has a more interesting and deep spicy flavor. I guess you could describe it as "sophisticated heat".

Although I offer this as a chicken sauce, it would be great on pork. It has a tangy sweetness that just screams to be tried on ribs.

Ingredients
1 cup Frank's® RedHot® sauce (original)
1 cup Dark brown sugar
6 Tbsp Butter, unsalted
3 Tbsp Pickapeppa sauce
1 1/2 tsp Smoked paprika
1 tsp Black pepper, ground fine

Note: If you don't have, or can't find Pickapeppa sauce, just use two tablespoons of ketchup and one tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, with just a pinch of ground allspice or cloves.

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.

Bring the mixture just to a boil, whisking occasionally.

Remove the pan from the heat and let the sauce cool.

Brush on the chicken of your choice, serve and enjoy!

(Makes about 2 cups)

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Avocado Chile Sauce & Dip

Last spring I whipped up an avocado cream sauce to accompany some spicy grilled fish tacos. It was good, but today I added a few twists that made it even better.

As the name implies, this can be used as a sauce and/or dip. It's thick, cool and creamy, almost like a saucy guacamole. I've added two kinds of roasted chiles and roasted tomatillos to give it added depth of flavor.

Ingredients
3 small Hass avacados, peeled, seeded and diced (I recommend Calavo, of course)
2 small Tomatillos, paper removed
1 large Jalepeno
1 1/2 cups Sour cream
1 can (4 oz) Fire-roasted green chiles
Juice of two limes
2 tsp Garlic salt
2 tsp Canola oil
1 tsp Kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 450º.

Core and quarter the tomatillos.

Quarter the jalepeno lengthwise, remove the seeds, and slice out the membranes.

Note: Leave the membranes if you like the added spiciness, or use hotter canned chiles.

Toss the tomatillos and jalepeno with the canola oil and kosher salt in a small bowl to coat, then pour them on a sheet pan.

Roast the tomatillos and jalepeno in the oven for 20 minutes, then remove and let cool.

Mash the avocado on a cutting board with the side of your knife and put them in a medium mixing bowl.

Add the lime juice, green chiles, sour cream, and garlic salt to the bowl.

Dice the cooled tomatillos and jalepeno, add them to the bowl, and stir to combine.

Blend all of the ingredients with a stick blender until smooth.

Note: You can certainly use a food processor or blender.

Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Serve and enjoy!

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Book Review: The Flavor Bible

The Flavor Bible is a book that I've heard a lot about, and now I know why. It's not a new book, but it's new to me. I don't know why it took me so long to finally buy it.

The subtitle, The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs describes the book perfectly. Co-author Karen Page describes the book very well in a video at Amazon by saying:
The Flavor Bible is as useful to anyone who cooks as a thesaurus is to anyone who writes. It's a guide to hundreds of ingredients and herbs, spices, and other seasonings that will best enhance their flavor.
Co-author Andrew Andrew Dornenburg goes on to say:
And really what The Flavor Bible is, is a way to look at modern flavors in a whole new way, and apply them in your kitchen tonight.
This isn't a cookbook, but rather a serious and indispensable reference book. Have you ever marveled at how chefs successfully combine seemingly strange ingredients, yet the result is something incredible? Well, this book cracks the code on how chefs know what goes with what.

For example, the other night on TV I was watching Michael Symon prepare a lobster dish and he said, "...vanilla goes great with lobster." That was a seriously strange-sounding combination to me. I looked it up in The Flavor Bible and, sure enough, there it was. Color me educated.

The book is written in an almost encyclopedic style. It lists an ingredient, it's attributes (season, weight, volume, cooking techniques, etc.) and then a simple list of what flavors go well with it. Bold means that several chefs agreed, and bold caps indicates that it was a very popular combination. It's really that simple.

Book Review: The Flavor Bible

In addition to the simple lists of accompaniments, it also has suggestions for multiple flavor combinations, and suggested dishes sprinkled throughout.

Because this isn't a cookbook per se, don't expect a bunch of great glossy photos. It does have some photos, but they aren't the star of the show. Again, this book is for reference geared toward creativity.

Book Review: The Flavor Bible

If you are at all interested in becoming a more creative, inventive and resourceful cook this book is a must. It will open a huge new landscape of possibilities and move you ever closer to Iron Chef status.

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