Sample text for Cooking for your man / Yolanda Banks and Melissa Clark.

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Appetizers and Nibbles

Perfect Spicy Guacamole
Who doesn't love guacamole? Me, for one. But that was a long time ago. I used to hate it, because the avocados were always too ripe and mushy. I had been making it for my man for years and then finally something clicked--use ripe but firm avocados, which mash up into small chunks but don't turn into a runny puree. I like to use a molcajete, a Mexican mortar and pestle, to keep it really authentic. It may seem like you're adding a lot of salt, but avocados need plenty to bring out their flavor. I like guacamole on the spicy side, so I leave the seeds in the jalapeño. If you prefer it mild, seed the pepper before chopping it. Makes 4 servings

1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons chopped jalapeño pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh tomato
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
2 Hass avocados, pitted and chopped

1. In a small bowl using the back of a wooden spoon, or in a molcajete, mash together the garlic, 1 tablespoon of the red onion, 1 teaspoon of the cilantro, 1 teaspoon of the jalapeño, and the salt until the mixture forms a wet paste.

2. Add the remaining onion, cilantro, and jalapeño, and the tomato, lime juice, and avocados, and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve with tortilla chips.

Hot Artichoke Spinach Dip
My take on this classic hot dip has more verve than most recipes, since I've dressed it up with Fontina and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses. I always try to serve it with homemade chips, which I make from assorted tortillas--corn, sun-dried tomato, and cilantro. It really kicks up the flavor. Makes 8 servings

For the baked tortilla chips:
Olive oil spray
4 (6- to 8-inch) corn tortillas
4 (6- to 8-inch) sun-dried-tomato tortillas
4 (6- to 8-inch) cilantro-flavored tortillas
Kosher salt

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Fontina cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 (14-ounce) cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1. To make the tortilla chips, preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray both sides of the tortillas with the olive oil spray. Stack the tortillas and cut them into sixths to make the chips. Spread the chips in a single layer on 2 large baking sheets and season them generously with salt. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, until crisp. The chips can be made up to 2 days ahead, cooled, and stored in an airtight container.

2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly, until the roux is light brown, about 5 minutes. Add the shallot and garlic and saute until soft, about 2 minutes.

3. Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Season with the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in both cheeses.

4. Using a clean kitchen towel, squeeze the excess water from the spinach, then add it to the cheese mixture along with the artichoke hearts, stirring to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

5. Place the cheese mixture in a baking pan or gratin dish and bake 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Serve it with the baked tortilla chips.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings
Whenever I vacation in Jamaica, I always make sure to eat jerk chicken. It's one of my favorite dishes. This recipe takes me right back to the Jamaican beach. It's not too spicy, but it's full of flavor. If you have time, marinate the wings a day ahead. They taste better that way because they really have a chance to absorb all those amazing seasonings. The jerk mix also works well on salmon. Pair it with a piña colada and you'll definitely think you're on vacation. Makes 6 servings

1 tablespoon whole allspice
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 Scotch bonnet or serrano chile peppers, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons dark rum (preferably Appleton from Jamaica)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
3 pounds chicken wings
(see note)
Cooking spray

1. In a small dry skillet over medium heat, place the allspice, cloves, and cinnamon. Toast the spices, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let cool, then transfer to a spice grinder and finely grind.

2. In a food processor or blender, combine the ground spices, scallions, soy sauce, lime juice, chilies, rum, oil, thyme, sugar, salt, garlic, ginger, and nutmeg, and process until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

3. In a large dish, arrange the wings in a single layer and pour the marinade over them, stirring to coat. Cover the wings tightly with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

4. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Cover a broiling pan with foil and coat it with cooking spray. Arrange the wings in a single layer on the pan. Spoon the excess marinade on top. Bake the wings in the upper third of the oven 30 to 40 minutes, until cooked through.

Note: Removing Wing Tips To remove the wing tip, use a sharp knife to cut the chicken wing between the first and second joint. The wing tips can be discarded or saved for use in soup or stock.

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