Deep Fry Fridays series: How do I deep fry? Tips and hints.

gluten free shrimp toast

There have been quite a few questions about how to deep fry, so I thought I would add on to this post and give you all some helpful hints if you are new to deep frying.  Deep frying is not much different than sauteing, or frying up some chicken, just more oil, less turning.  Deep frying really is not hard to do.

gf shrimp toast frying

You need:
a pot – a deeper one that has even heating is best.  A smaller one for small batches is fine too.  Cast iron is great for conducting even heat. A wok will work great too for smaller items.
a slotted spoon like a spider
oil – canola, peanut, soy or even olive oil – although the last one gets a bit expensive
a thermometer or not see below
paper towels
something like a cookie sheet to put the paper towels on

If you want to do it more often, then I recommend also
a funnel
coffee filters
a large Tupperware or Rubbermaid container or glass jar

Several methods work pretty well for telling when your oil is about 365 F to 375 F, a temp thermometer, a small 1 inch chunk of potato or place a wooden spoon handle in the hot oil, if it bubbles around the handle with tiny little bubbles, it is ready.  For the potato, put the chunk of potato in the cold oil as it heats up, so does the potato.  When the potato is golden brown, your oil is ready.  I learned that one from Jamie Oliver and it really works great.

You will need a slotted spoon, but a spider is even better – you can find them in any Asian shop or grocery store I am sure.  A spider is a large wide shallow spoon made out of wire with a bamboo handle.  Anything with lots of holes will do, anything except maybe plastic spoons, I wouldn’t risk it.

When you put your oil in, don’t fill your pot more than halfway as when you add the item you would like to deep fry, the oil will bubble up and get loud.  Don’t worry, this is normal.  It might even spit a bit.  This is partially because of the water contained in the item, like french fries.  It will settle down in a few seconds.  If your pot is too small to allow this to occur, you will have a mess on your hands.  If the pot bubbles over anyway, immediately turn the knob off, wait a minute for it too cool and get that oil away from the flame.  If you are making fresh cut fries, after you slice them up, place them in a bowl of water until you are ready to use them.  DO NOT take them directly from the water to the fryer!!!!  Drain them off and put them on a dish towel or kitchen towel and pat them dry or you will have a hot oil emergency.  Placing them in water keeps them from browning in a way that you do not want them to brown and removes the extra starch.

If I am making something with a breading (calamari, mozzarella balls), I use a small amount of oil as bits of breading tends to come off in the frying, leaving the oil unusable unless you have a way to filter it.  You can filter it with a funnel and a coffee filter into a glass jar, but don’t do it until the next day when it has cooled.  If it is something like french fries or even with a batter, I will reuse the oil.  I usually put it in a container and keep it in the fridge to preserve it’s life.  I will pull some out for sauteing if I am low on olive oil.

How do I know it is done?  The color light golden brown will tell you.  In the case of french fries, if they are fresh cut, you may want to pull one or two out to test.  Time will vary according to type of potato and how large or small they are cut up.

Once your batch of deep fried yumminess is finished, use the slotted spoon to lift them out, pause for a second to let the oil drain off and then place it on a bed of paper towels.  Salt it as soon as you can.  If you wait too long and the item cools down, the salt will not stick to it as well.  The hot grease is glue for salt.  If you are finished after one batch – enjoy.  If you  have a few more batches to go as all of your friends are over for wings and fries that night, turn your oven on 200F and place your plate, cookie sheet lined with paper towels in the oven while the next batch is cooking.

If any of this is unclear or you have additional questions, leave me a comment and I will do my best to clarify.  I want all of us to feel like we can make anything we would have ordered in a restaurant, because you can.

Ideas for deep frying:  Fish (with a batter) and chips, Indian pakora (made with chickpeas), falafel, chicken, french fries, onion rings, wings, mozzarella balls, brown rice fritters, risotto balls, mushrooms, cauliflower, rice paper wrapped spring rolls, shrimp toast, and tempura to name a few and make me hungry.

homemade french fries, russet and sweet potato

I promise to try to take better french fry photos next time! Now that I found those photos of shrimp toast from the flickr archives, I must make those again – so flavorful!  Happy eating!
i’m out

Gluten Free Stuffing never tasted so good!

Gluten Free stuffing

Stuffing, the one dish I really looked forward to every year around the holidays, that and gravy.  Two things one doesn’t make very often, both are a bit rich and fattening, thus why we only make them once or twice a year.  Every since I found out I had Celiac, almost 3 years ago now, I have been dissatisfied will any and all stuffing attempts.  Until now.

Thanks to a post from Karina way back when I was a newbie, I started using gluten free frozen waffles to make bread crumbs, those and any not so good bread attempts.  I think I use bread crumbs more than I ever used bread.  This Christmas, at the farmstead up North, stuffing was being prepared for the giant family gathering.  I knew right then I wouldn’t be able to take it and would need my own and in a moment of inspiration waffles came to my head.  I leave a box of GF waffles up there for emergency carbs or sandwiches – have you tried them with a BLT?  Makes me want a BLT right now.  Wrong season, stuffing will have to do.

uncooked gluten free stuffing

So, I pulled a few waffles out, let them dry out a bit in the oven and used that handy grid they already come with to slice them up into 1/2 inch pieces.  I dipped a measuring cup into the turkey roaster and got my self some broth (as it turned out it was over 50% turkey fat and I didn’t realize it – probably why it was so good).  I chopped a small bit of onion and celery, sauteed them in some butter and raided the lightly stocked spice cupboard.  Not a lot of choices in there since the cupboard owner dislikes sage, rosemary and basil, so I used Mrs Dash and that worked along with s and p and garlic.  It turned out great.  It was thrown together in a jiff and I thought I should try duplicating it and actually measure and right it all down.  That is what I did tonight and here you are:

Gluten Free Stuffing (made with frozen gluten free waffles)

Serves 4 easily

6 8 GF waffles – preferably not the flax ones, or blueberry.  The flax ones fell apart and didn’t hold their shape.  Dry them out a bit in the oven or let them sit out on the counter for a while to dry out.  Edited to add 8 works better, I used Trader Joes GF waffles.

2 stalks celery finely diced

1 small onion finely diced

2 cloves of garlic minced

4 Tbs of butter or fat of your choice – you can probably use less add a bit more broth

1 to 11/4 cups of broth

1-2 tsp of seasonings of your choice.  I used poultry seasoning, extra sage and thyme all from Penzeys.

2-3 TBS (big handful) of parsley finely chopped

sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

add ins:  whatever you normally like in stuffing – mushrooms, oysters, nuts, dried fruits, go for it.

Use the grids on the waffles and cut them into 1/2 squares.  Chop your onion and celery and sautee those with the butter until almost translucent.  Add your garlic, herbs and other seasonings.  Add the cup of broth – more or less depending on if you like your stuffing dry or moist.  One and 3/4 cup of broth creates an extremely wet stuffing and I don’t recommend it.  Once that is mixed, toss in the waffle cubes and stir to moisten and pour into a buttered dish.  I think I used a one quart dish.  Next time I would go for a shallower, wider dish.

Bake at 350F 0r 375F until the crust is golden brown on top and slightly crusty.  About 30 to 45 minutes depending on temp and moisture.  It is hard to ruin it (unless that is, you use too much broth as I did once).

Gluten free stuffing

I hope it is everything you wanted in a stuffing! It was for me.

i’m out

Menu of the Week Jan 5th: soup!

Vietnamese crab and squid soup

I love soup.  I could eat it more frequently than I do.  Eby really doesn’t care for soup unless it is full of meat and has almost no broth, or it must be more stew like.  Since that is the case, I will typically cook soups for my lunches if I am working from home that day.  Last week I was craving beans and greens (this week too).  This week I am craving a spicy Asian style noodle soup, like the one above, Vietnamese crab and squid soup.  I would make it, but I don’t think I wrote the recipe down or else I got it from a cook book long returned to the library.  Lessons learned.  Cheryl of Gluten Free Goodness is hosting this week’s swap, so if you need some soup ideas, click on over check out all the menus this week, even if you don’t need soup ideas you should check out the menus.  If you haven’t posted your menu before, why not try it this week?  It is really easy once you get the swing of it and helps with grocery shopping as well as meal planning organization.  I have posted one every week since last Feb.  As a result, I can look back over old menus and get new inspiration.  Inspiration also comes from many cookbooks, magazines, fellow food bloggers and internet recipe sources.  Try it for a couple of weeks, you’ll see.

On to the menu.  I used the soup idea to clean out a few items from the freezer yesterday.  Soup is good for that.  It’s sunny, snowy and cold in MI today, and I wish I had some of last night’s soup left, sort of (see below). I have been trying hard to not have many leftovers and it is working finally.  I always want to cook something new the next day and can’t easily take leftovers on the road with me.  It looks to be a pork and chicken week, so I will work some extra veggies and seafood into my lunches (soups I hope).

Sunday: South American veggie and pork soup. This soup celebrates many of the ingredients that came to us via South America: potatoes, tomatoes, corn, chile peppers and would have been even better had I not scorched it while playing on Facebook. We topped it off with cilantro. Tomatoes and potatoes were local or from the garden, garlic too.

Monday: Roast 1/2 organic free range local chicken on a bed of onions, portabella mushrooms (on sale!) celery and parsley. Gluten free waffle stuffing (getting it’s own post tomorrow) with sage, thyme, parsley and garlic, rice (to go with the gravy I hope happens) and roasted brussel sprouts.

Tuesday: Hue (Vietnamese) style fried rice with lemongrass and black pepper or lemon grass chicken or tofu. Some of those pork spring rolls I froze last week will go nicely with this too. I wish you guys could taste them. If I posted the recipe, you probably could. Will work on that.

Wednesday: Company in town, spice him up! My dad is visiting for a meeting. Living two miles from Michigan State University gives us lots of opportunities to entertain out of town guests with meetings on campus. We like reasons to entertain. We are grilling some of our own pork center cut loin on the rotisserie and making risotto along with either broccoli or green beans in some form of healthy casserole, or just steamed. We will use the Fennel Fusion spice rub, oh how I love that stuff.

Thursday:  I am in Chicago for work, but won’t have a lot of opportunity to go out except in the near vicinity of the Sheraton by O’Hare.  Eby is on his own for dinner, which likely means dinner at Arbor Brewing Company, along with some beers.

Friday: Truffade and Pounti ala Auverge region of France and Saveur mag.  Eby picked these out to make.  I already bought the prunes so no turning back now.  Pork and potatoes are from us, green beans or broccoli are not.

Saturday:  Lunch Vietnamese crab soup with tomatoes.  Every since I posted that pic today, I have been searching for a similar recipe and have found 4.  Now I have to cook it again right?

Stop by here again next week and send me your menu swaps as I will be hosting.  The ingredient is “local”.  Source out at least one local ingredient, anything from your garden (fresh, frozen or canned this time of year) certainly counts.  If you need ideas of how to find something local, leave me a comment or email me.  Consider swinging into your local food co-op if you have one near by and those of you in warmer climates probably still have farmer’s markets to visit.  Local anything counts, cheese, meat, tofu, veggies, let your tastebuds and imagination do the cooking!

i’m out

Deep Fry Fridays – now a once a month feature

Due to common sense and the need to deep fry, we will be switching the ol’ deep fry Friday feature from every Friday for a month to the last Friday of the Month, or any day you want to deep fry in a given month. In fact, even my plans changed and my deep fry Friday ended up on Sunday due to company in the house. But the wait was worth it:

deep fried mozzarella balls and marinara sauce

Hungry yet?

melted mozzarella balls deep fried mozzarella balls and marinara sauce

They were gooey and tangy and crunchy. I used waffle bread crumbs for the coating and added some Italian seasoning. Dip them in beaten egg, roll in bread crumbs, dip again, roll again, toss in the deep fryer. I used a very small pot with a thermometer to tell me the temp. I used maybe 1.5 cups of oil heated to around 375F. The oil, due to the breadcrumbs, was not salvageable after wards, so I am glad I didn’t use the deep fryer.

deep frying mozzarella balls

It took me all of 10 minutes to throw these together and fry them. Quick, easy, tasty and something celiacs can’t order out in a restaurant (thus the justification for doing it at home).  Of course I had the homemade marinara (from garden tomatoes) already made in the freezer but that doesn’t take long either.

deep fried mozzarella balls and marinara sauce

So, tell me what day you are frying in a given month and what you plan to fry and send me your link and I will post it here. Eby is working on a new blog design for me and I hope to be able to have a Deep Fry Friday link or folder of some sort so that folks can check back. Me, I am shooting for the last Friday of the month, just for consistency’s purpose. Join in on the fun!

i’m out