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Hand-to-mouth eating makes fingers into forks

Jonathan Swift put it succinctly: ``Fingers were made before forks.'' This philosophy has never been more relevant than in 1988. Many of our favorite foods are those eaten ``from hand to mouth.'' This is true of pizza, fried chicken, spareribs, onion rings, even French fries.

Here are some favorite nibbles.

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Buffalo Chicken Wings 2 1/2 pounds chicken wings (12 to 15 wings) Original Buffalo Wing Sauce (recipe follows)

Split wings at each joint and discard tips. Pat dry. Deep fry* at 400 degrees F. for 12 minutes or until completely cooked and crispy. Drain. Coat wings in sauce.

*Or bake wings on a rack in roasting pan at 425 degrees F. for 1 hour. Turn halfway through cooking time. Makes 24 to 30 pieces.

Serve with blue cheese dressing and celery sticks.

Original Buffalo Wing Sauce 4 tablespoons red-hot cayenne pepper sauce 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

Melt butter in saucepan. Add hot sauce. Heat through.

Chinese Sauce for Chicken Wings 4 tablespoons soy sauce 2 tablespoons red-hot cayenne pepper sauce 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 tablespoons honey 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

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Combine all ingredients in saucepan. Heat through.

French-Fried Zucchini Sticks 6 zucchini, 4 to 5 inches, unpeeled Salt 1/2 cup flour Salt and pepper to taste 1 teaspoon dried parsley 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano Fat for frying Grated Parmesan cheese

Cut zucchini lengthwise into ``fingers.'' If longer zucchini are used, cut in half. Spread sticks in a colander or on paper. Sprinkle with salt. Let stand 1 hour to draw out excess water. Pat dry with paper towel. Coat well with flour mixed with salt, pepper, parsley, and oregano. Fry, a few at a time, in deep hot fat 375 degrees F. until golden. Drain on paper toweling. Sprinkle with salt and grated Parmesan cheese. Serve at once.

Nachos 1 7 1/2-ounce box tortilla chips 1 16-ounce can refried beans or refried beans with green chilies 1 4-ounce can chopped green chilies or 1 11 1/2-ounce jar jalapeno strips 2 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese

Spread tortilla chips on large baking sheet. Top each with beans and a few green chilies, or a slice of jalapeno pepper.

Sprinkle each with a tablespoon of cheese. Place under broiler until cheese melts, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Swiss Cheese Puffs 1/2 cup water 1/4 cup butter or margarine 1 envelope onion soup mix (not instant) 1 teaspoon dry mustard 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese 2 large eggs

In medium-size saucepan bring water, butter, soup mix, and mustard to a boil. Over low heat add flour all at once. Stir vigorously with wooden spoon about 30 seconds until mixture leaves sides of pan and forms a ball. Remove from heat at once. Beat in cheese, then eggs, until mixture is smooth and cheese almost melted. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on greased large cookie sheet. Bake in preheated 375-degree F. oven 15 minutes until puffed and golden. Leave puffs in turned-off oven 10 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 24.

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