Menu of the Week April 26th

Spring is finally here, I mean really here and I think this time it is staying.  It seems like we are still a couple of weeks behind, but I think maybe we just always think that.  My first tulips bloomed today.  I don’t know how they are yellow as I am not a fan of yellow and wouldn’t have purchased yellow bulbs, but they are definitely yellow like butter cream.  I lean toward the very pink and purple when it comes to tulips.  These were on sale at the end of fall last year.  Lesson learned.  To prove Spring is finally in MI, here is a pic of a morel I found this week in my driveway:

morels 09

I guess I should have looked for a 2009 penny or how will you know it was taken last week?

This week’s host for the menu swap is Cheryl of Gluten Free Goodness and she is seeking hosts if any of you are interested.  The ingredient this week is carob, which I don’t have any of on hand, so I will sit this ingredient out unless I run to the health food store.  We have decided to go back to planning our menu as much as possible for all 7 days so we don’t end up without a plan on the weekends and end up with spaghetti again.

Sunday: Paella with three types of chorizo, saffron, smoked paprika, tomatoes, chicken, peas and piquillo peppers from Spain.

Monday: Grilled wild sea bass, horseradish dill creme fraiche potato salad and broccoli rabe

Tuesday: Vietnamese Banh Xeo with shrimp, (our) pork and bean sprouts, a side of do cha (diakon radish and carrot pickle) and North Vietnamese style fried spring rolls

Wednesday: Grilled flank steak with Chimichurri sauce (similar to Italian salsa verde) and grilled asparagus

Thursday: Pakistani Kunna: pork braised in a yogurt sauce from Madher Jaffery’s book, along with a fresh chickpea curry with curry leaves

Friday: Black and blue grass fed burgers on the grill (Gorgonzola cheese and plenty of my homemade blackening seasoning which I will post soon – back to the rub of the month time!), fresh cut Michigan fries and a green salad (our greens hopefully, but not likely)

Saturday: Mexican tortilla soup using my brother’s organic chicken as the base and one of the last jars of canned tomatoes from the pantry. My avocado is already ripening. Maybe my cilantro will be harvestable by next Saturday….

i’m out

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

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

January Deep Fry Fridays! January 2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd!

It is the dead of winter in Michigan, even though it seems it just started.  Time for a little fun.  Time for Deep Fry Fridays!  Of course you can choose any day of the week you would like, as long as you try to deep fry.  I have wanted a commerical french fry cutter for 11 years and finally I got one for my birthday!  Added to that, we received a deep fryer for Christmas, so expect some crispy morsels from our neck of the cold woods.

So, who is in?  This will be a hosted, posted event, so if you are deep frying, send me a link to your fry post and I will gather them here to make everyone drool.  I think we should try this for one month – January – to beat the post holiday duldrums.

Many of you out there reading this blog also have Celiac and know that we can never plan to eat anything deep fried in a restaurant unless they have a dedicated fryer, which is rare except at fast food joints.  This January feature is, in part, to help us get over the lack of crispy deep fried goodies that others can indulge in.  So, get creative and swap your ideas right here!

I think we will be starting out with perfecting the fresh cut fry and a few batters.  I feel a blooming onion in the future as well as mozzarella balls with marinara sauce.  Fish and chips?  Tempura?  Stay tuned to see what we all come up with!

i’m out

Menu of the Week Dec 28th Leftovers

M-elle of Cooking and Uncooking is the host for this week’s menu swap and the theme is leftovers.  While I am not a big fan of leftovers (I usually eat them for lunch if we have some) I do have some plans for leftovers this week.  Swing on over to her site to see what everyone else is cooking this week.

Sunday:  Back from the great white North and we needed something spicy: Thai green curry with pork, bamboo shoots and fresh Thai basil from the indoor garden pot.

Monday: Italian wedding soup – using leftover meatballs that I made and froze last week and kale since my store doesn’t carry curly endive.  Cold and windy and the snow melted – time for soup!

Tuesday: Grilled Greek kabobs (using our pork) with a feta, olive and cucumber salad  with fresh herbs from the basement greenhouse.

Wednesday New Year’s eve  Shrimp scampi or Asian style hot pot/fondue. Undecided.  Just like our NYE plans.

Thursday: New Year’s day: Brunch: Mexican breakfast enchiladas with pinto beans, eggs and bacon from out pig, or maybe chorizo. Avocado slices on the side.

Dinner: bringing a dish to pass at a Hogmanny party (not sure what that is yet, but it happens on NYD) – Maybe mac and cheese jazzed up – comfort food for hangovers.

Friday: Deep Fry Friday debuts this week.  We will be testing fresh cut french fries and perhaps some gf breaded mini mozzarella balls and maybe chicken fingers – not sure, but I have all week to come up with ideas.  If you want to post your Deep Fry Friday menu, email me or leave a comment.  We will deep fry once a week for a month.

Saturday: Mexican Carne en su jugo with our freshly made bacon and using pork instead of beef – pork is good luck for the new year!

i’m out