Monday, August 26, 2013

Thai Eggplant and the curry that wasn't

Thai eggplant.  I highly recommend you run from it.  About the size of a golfball to a small tennis ball they look innocuous.  They aren't. They are full of a bajillion sharp pointy edged  seeds rendering it nearly inedible.

Actually tonights dinner sounded like a total win for Meatless Monday.  It was a Thai Vegetable Curry.  The recipe I found lacked salt elements.  The coconut milk was too sweet and there wasn't enough heat from the chilis I tossed in to offset it.  The fish sauce did its job but it was still bland.  The curry wasn't curry enough.  Blah....3 bites and we tossed it out and dug out the cold fried chicken from the night before.  Just goes to prove the final product isn't always as good as the recipe sounds.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Winner Winner Best Fried Chicken Dinner EVER... secret am a fan of FoodNetwork and Ina Garten aka Barefoot Contessa.  In recent weeks to replace the Paula and Friends there's Barefoot and Friends.  A great combo, not that Barefoot needed help in the ratings department, bringing in celebrity chefs that compliment her simple food done well philosophy can't hurt.

Yesterday was one of my favorite chefs, Tyler Florence.  Among the stuff they made...fried chicken, something that I can get into when its done well, and this recipe is amazing.  Who knew simple fried chicken could be so good.  The Tyler Florence Fried Chicken recipe HERE.

I took their tips and added a few of my own to make this recipe work.  Here they are so you too can easily duplicate the results I got.

First...use peanut oil, it has a higher smoking point and doesn't impart a bitter burnt oil taste as easily as the less oils with a lower smoking point.  It made a difference as the house didn't even smell of oil when I was done frying.  Because it can take a higher heat less is absorbed when cooking too.

An interesting thing Tyler did was to flavor the cooking oil with herbs and garlic.  Hmmmm I thought, this could be something big and it is.  Wow, I used a whole head of garlic since we are fans of the garlic here.  The process is so stupid easy I don't know why I never thought of it before.  Simply halve your garlic head, add the prescribed herbs and slowly heat the oil to temp. the garlic as it does get bitter when burnt, so yank it and the herbs out when the garlic head is a rich golden brown...somewhere around 300-325F.

A step included in this recipe is brining, or marinating in a salt solution.  I've always skipped this step as the one time I had brined poultry it as so salty it was inedible...WTF it was nasty.  Flash forward 10 years and I give it a try using Tyler's recipe and it was pretty amazing.  Moist flavorful, even the breasts, and not salty.  I think my friend Harry overdid the salt when he brined which made it mealy and disgusting.  I'll use this formula and timing with future chicken recipes as it really made a positive difference in the chicken tonight.

The other think I've learned over the years is allow the chicken to rest after its battered for 10-15 minutes while the oil and herbs come up to temperature.  Doing this allow the batter to adhere well to the chicken and not flake off while cooking or on the plate while you try to eat it.  It made the world of difference with this chicken.  Am glad I did it.  It was a home run with everyone including my UBER picky daughter.

Vanilla Bean Pancakes

Yippee... I found a source for cheap bourbon vanilla pods.  3 for 2.99. You can't beat that if you tried as the local Pavilions market sells 3 for 19.99...dabastads!

This is a simple process, scrape and steep the beans and pods to impart a heavenly vanilla flavor to the pancakes.  Really yummy and worth the extra step.

Vanilla Bean Pancakes

  • 3 c flour
  • 3 T sugar
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 3 c butter milk
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 c melted butter
  • 1 vanilla bean

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.  Whisk together the buttermilk and milk in a non-reactive pan.  Add vanilla bean seeds and pod.  Over  low flame heat mixture until it just starts to steam and  bubbles form at the edge of the pan.  Do not boil or scald.  Cover and remove from flame.  Cool to room temp or overnight in the fridge.

Sift together the dry ingredients.  Fish out the spent vanilla pod and discard.  Beat eggs into the buttermilk mixture and stir into the dry ingredients.  Stir in melted butter.  Fry up on a hot griddle and serve with your favorite syrup or fruit compote.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Roasted Raspberry Sherbet

The original recipe came from a magazine and used Strawberry instead of Raspberry.  I simply swapped out the berries and voila there was a tasty treat that is better than ice cream for you.  Stupid easy to make, if you can turn on an oven, switch on a blender and ice cream maker you're in.  It's a wonderful raspberry sherbet that isn't overly sweet and nicely balanced with the acid of the buttermilk and sour cream.

The one thing I forgot about was all the seeds that a raspberry has.  Tons of little seeds that irritate some folks.  For them I'd say just strain the mixture to eliminate them if you think they will be a bother BEFORE you churn the sherbet.  If not don't worry about it.

Roasted Raspberry Sherbet

  • 4 cups raspberry
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla pod
  • 1 1/2 c buttermilk (I use low fat variety)
  • 1/3 c sour cream
  • 1/2 t sea salt

Preheat oven to 425F.  In a glass baking dish mash 1/2 the berries.  Stir in sugar and remaining berries. Split the half vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out seeds.  Add seeds and pod to berries and stir to mix. Bake for 20 minutes until bubbly and sugar is dissolved.  Cool overnight in refrigerator.

Remove vanilla pod and discard.  Add berry mixture to blender with buttermilk, sour cream and salt.  Blend on Puree speed until well blended and uniform in color.  Pour into ice cream maker and churn according to your maker's instructions.  When churned serve as is...will be very soft, or scoop out into a storage container and freeze for a couple of hours until firmer.

New to the blog with this post, and it will happen more often than not, I will use the nutrition calculator and include nutritional information on the recipes I post here.
Based on 8 servings from a batch of the Roasted Raspberry Sherbet here is your information...and its way better than an egg and cream based ice cream!
 Click to embiggen and get the full readable facts.  Definitely worth the read and look at the calorie savings over ice cream!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Kung Pao Shrimp the stupid easy way

Ok, I'm a guai lo, and damn proud of it.  I'm not much of a sauce maker and am in ABSOLUTE heaven with the introduction of the Panda Express Sauces at my local grocery store.  Gone are the days of the over salty sauces, sauces that didn't thicken right or were too bland as I was to light on the soy.  Yahoo!

The hardest part of this recipe is cleaning the shrimp.  I use the large 16/20 shrimp as I think they have a sweeter less fishy taste than the smaller salad sizes. They also are way easy to clean and get rid of that nasty "vein" which we really know is its poop tract.  Yuck and tastes bad too.

The remainder of this recipe is simple chopping and measuring.  Stupid easy.

Kung Pao Shrimp

  • 2 lbs raw shrimp
  • 1 red bell pepper -  1" dice
  • 1 small onion - 1 inch dice
  • 1 T minced fresh ginger
  • 1 T toasted sesame oil
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 3/4 c Panda Express Kung Pao Sauce

Heat wok over high heat.  Add oils and heat until shimmering.  Add bell pepper, onion and ginger. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes.  Add shrimp. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes until just turned opaque and pink.  Reduce heat to low, pour in the Kung Pao Sauce.  Stir until evenly coated and it starts to bubble.  Serve hot over cooked rice.