- By Wendell Brock For the AJC
Everybody gets the munchies now and then — those intense cravings that sneak up on you and refuse to go way.
Munchies aren’t generally a plan-ahead activity. They just happen, inevitably late at night when you are in no mood to cook or shop for groceries.
When the urge for a heavy snack strikes, no one wants to dawdle or be virtuous. (Hold the carrot sticks and cold cereal, please.) You want instant gratification, be it savory or sweet.
I’m talking fast food, junk food, popcorn, salty nuts, cheese, crackers, chocolate, ice cream, peanut butter — basically anything and everything on the potato-chip aisle. Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, perhaps a grilled cheese, quesadilla, scrambled-egg sandwich or plate of nachos.
Recently, I came across a new cookbook, “Munchies: Late-Night Meals from the World’s Best Chefs” (Ten Speed Press, $30).
Here you can find Momofuku chef David Chang’s instructions for Chinese steamed buns filled with pork belly and quick pickles. (Problem is, the pork has to be rubbed with sugar and salt and refrigerated for 6 to 24 hours.)
Or Coi chef Daniel Patterson’s Sauteed Vegetables with Bulgur and Dandelion Salsa Verde. (Dang, fresh out of dandelions!)
Or Mission Chinese Food chef Danny Bowien’s Salt-and-Pepper Crab with Mapo Tofu. (Sounds ridiculously good, if you happen to have a live Dungeness crab and a few hours to kill.)
In all fairness, there are plenty of crave-worthy dishes here: noodles, fried rice, poutine, sandwiches, tacos and other “things with tortillas.”
Christina Tosi, pastry chef at Momofuku Milk Bar, offers an old-school Seven-Layer Dip for 20 that would be right at home at a Super Bowl or Oscar party.
Danish experimentalist Nicolai Norregaard, of all people, whips up twice-baked potatoes stuffed with bacon, cheddar, and broccoli: a dish that’s custom-tailored to cure drunk cravings and one that would be warmly received at game-day and awards-season soirees. (As a bonus, leftover potato skins can be frozen and reheated anytime the mood strikes.)
On the sweet side, a couple of good snacks that can be put together quickly using everyday ingredients are Saltine Toffee (basically saltines, brown sugar, butter, chocolate chips) and DIY Cracker Jacks (popcorn, butter, brown sugar, peanuts). They are perfect for social gatherings. You can even put them in little individual bags for guests to nibble as they please.
The Saltine Toffee is from Perre Coleman Magness’ just published “The Southern Sympathy Cookbook: Funeral Food with a Twist” (Countrymen Press, $22.95). This wonderful little book is packed with all kinds of munchie material (Bourbon Butter Roasted Pecans, Smoky Cheese Wafers, Sweet Potato and Peanut Butter Hummus).
With apologies to Ben Franklin, nothing is certain in life except death, taxes — and the munchies. Perhaps being prepared for late-night snack attacks isn’t such a bad idea after all. Y’all have fun doing your taxes and planning your estate! I’m getting my munchie kit in order.
Got the munchies? Here are three tested recipes that can be made ahead and nibbled when ready.
Sweet, savory and very addictive, Saltine Toffee can be made in a jiffy from kitchen staples.
DIY Cracker Jacks
Caramel corn is easy to make in the microwave, and these do-it-yourself Cracker Jacks would be a terrific munchie to have on hand for an Oscar or Super Bowl party. If you don’t have a microwave, you can make this on the stove top.
Stuffed Jacket Potatoes
If you are serving these for a party, they can be assembled in advance, refrigerated and baked when ready. Leftovers may be frozen and reheated. If you are watching your fat intake, you can cut back on the bacon and cheese without sacrificing too much flavor.