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THE DISH: Bring open mind, appetite to 'United We Eat'

With Inauguration Day just days away, there's a lot of tension no matter where your politics lie. In an effort to find some middle ground, by way of a dinner table, consider exploring a new cookbook.

Finding that food influences compromise, Capri S. Cafaro, a former Ohio Senate minority leader and host of the podcast "Eat Your Heartland Out," created "United We Eat: 50 Great American Dishes To Bring Us All Together," a collection of bipartisan recipes honoring the flavors and traditions of the United States.

Dishes include granola bars, contributed by California Rep. Ro Khanna; a Land of Lincoln horseshoe sandwich from Illinois adapted by Cafaro; Maryland's Smith Island cake, contributed by Michael Steele, former chairman Republican national committee; a Land of Lincoln horseshoe sandwich from Illinois adapted by Cafaro; Maryland's Smith Island Cake, contributed by Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee; Hoosier pie from Indiana, from current U.S. secretary of transportation nominee Pete Buttigieg; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar's taco nite tater tot hotdish; Jean’s seafood gumbo, contributed by Donna Brazile, former Democratic National Committee chairwoman and Louisianan; and halibut with creamy Parmesan shrimp from Alaska Rep. Don Young.

For a real taste of what the book has to offer, here are two recipes to try this week. One honors the nation's capital with Mumbo Sauce, a "seductively sweet and sour barbecue sauce" that reportedly originated in Chicago in the 1950s before finding its better-known second home in Washington, D.C., a decade later at the restaurant Wings-N-Things. The fusion sauce is generously slathered on pretty much anything but here is served on baked chicken wings.

The second may appeal to those eating healthier in the new year. The spinach salad with grilled peaches and honey Dijon vinaigrette was adapted by Cafaro in honor of President-elect Joe Biden and his home state of Delaware.

"United We Eat: 50 Great American Dishes To Bring Us All Together" is available through local booksellers and on Amazon. For more on the book, visit unitedweeat.com.

Baked chicken wings with mumbo sauce

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar distilled
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1½ tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 pounds chicken wing pieces

Combine all sauce ingredients (everything but the wings) in a pot and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and allow sauce to cool completely.

Meanwhile, place wings in a sealable container.

Once the sauce has cooled, pour over wings and toss to coat entirely.

Seal the container and marinate in refrigerator for four hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Arrange marinated wings evenly on a tinfoil-lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove wings from the oven and flip, then return to the oven and bake for another 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and serve.

Source: "United We Eat: 50 Great American Dishes To Bring Us All Together" 

Spinach salad with grilled peaches and honey Dijon vinaigrette

  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 peach
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
Dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Rinse spinach and divide between two bowls.

Halve and pit peach.

Heat a grill or grill pan over medium heat. Brush peach with oil and place both halves flesh-side down.

Grill peach until soft but not mushy, approximately six to eight minutes.

While peach is grilling, combine all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor. You can also whisk by hand.

Top spinach with grilled peach, cheese, and pecans, then drizzle with dressing.

Source: "United We Eat: 50 Great American Dishes To Bring Us All Together" 

This spud’s for you

Right now, we are all here for a heartfelt apology and a change in course. Especially when it will improve our dining options.

Taco Bell announced Thursday that it will bring back potatoes to the menu starting in March. Taco Bell Chief Executive Officer Mark King appeared as a potato in a tweet to announce the good news.

The decision to pull the vegetarian-friendly ingredient from the menu drew a lot of fire last summer. Potato bites were not the only item cut when the chain pared down its menu as it transitioned to drive-thru only due to the pandemic.

Beginning March 11, the seasoned potato bites will return to stores, offered in the cheesy fiesta potatoes and spicy potato soft taco.

Additionally, Taco Bell is planning to develop a Beyond Meat menu item, Bloomberg reported. The companies are working together to create “an innovative new plant-based protein” that will be tested in the next year.

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter: @realstefanidias.