Monday, January 18, 2021

Let's Fry!



I love shrimp.  And I always have a freezer full of it so a shrimp meal is only a thaw away.  Now, you can boil shrimp, steam 'em, grill 'em, sauté 'em, or bake 'em (Did I miss a method?  Oh,  ceviche 'em!) But for me, fried shrimp is the way to go.

When I was first starting to cook, sometime back in the dark ages, frying actually scared me.  Basically, I didn't know what I was doing.  But then I learned.  And now I know.  And I’m sharing with you.

You need a good heavy pot for your oil.  I use a heavy duty commercial grade aluminum pot.  It has an 8-inch diameter and a 4-inch depth.  I pour in about 2 1/2 inches of peanut oil.

You need an oil with a high smoke point.  The smoke point of an oil is the temperature at which the oil goes from merely shimmering to smoking, or burning, and breaking down.  When an oil breaks down, it releases chemicals that will give your food a bitter or burnt flavor.  Different oils have different smoke points, varying from a fairly low 300° to upwards of 500°.  Also, the smoke point of a particular oil can vary 50 or so degrees depending on multiple factors, say the age of the oil, field or growing conditions, fatty acid composition, and the levels of refinement and filtration.  For example, butter has a low smoke point - about 300° and it will burn fairly easily. If you clarify butter by removing the milk solids, you raise the smoke point considerably.  Extra virgin olive oil also has a low smoke point - around 325° - 375°, depending on the oil.  Coconut oil runs about 350°.  Vegetable shortening about 360°.  Vegetable oils can run 400°- 450°.  For deep frying, I use peanut oil, with a smoke point of approximately 450°.

You need to monitor the temperature of your oil.  Deep-frying is all about temperature control.  I use an an instant-read, infra-red digital thermometer so I know exactly what my oil temperature is.  For frying shrimp, I use peanut oil heated to 360°-375° and I fry in batches.  It’s important not to crowd the pan, thus lowering the temperature.  I fry 5-6 shrimp at a time, cook for a minute or two depending on the size of the shrimp, then remove the shrimp, let the oil come back to temperature, and add in the next batch.  Maintaining proper temperature is paramount to frying.  If your temperature is too hot, your food will burn on the outside before it cooks through.  If your temperature is too low, your outside crust forms too slowly and the food absorbs more fat, retains more moisture, and becomes soggy and greasy.

Here's my set-up.
From top left moving clockwise:

  • My peeled and de-tracted large shrimp (I say de-tracted, not de-veined.  That black line going down the back of the shrimp is the digestive tract, not a vein.  Get rid of it.)  And I like to leave the tails on for little handles.
  • My wet batter.
  • My dry coating
  • My shrimp, battered and coated, waiting to be fried.

For the wet batter:
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 tsp kosher salt
few grinds pepper
1 TB water 
Whisk all together until smooth.

For the dry coating:
Equal amounts breadcrumbs (unseasoned) and potato flakes  (I had about 2 dozen large shrimp and used 1/2 cup each.)
a shake or two or three of Old Bay seasoning
Mix well.

Peel and de-tract shrimp, leaving tails intact.
Prepare wet batter.  Should have the consistency of a thin pancake batter.  Holding shrimp by tails, dip in batter and shake excess off. 
Dredge shrimp through coating.
Heat oil to around 370°.  Carefully drop shrimp into hot oil, one at a time, working in small batches so as not to lower the temperature of the oil.  About 60-90 seconds is all you need until golden brown.  Remove shrimp and drain on racks. 

Rosie Note:  For the dry coating you could go with panko.  I happened to have the potato flakes and decided to use them.  (I would never use potato flakes for making mashed potatoes.  I use them only as a fry coating and they work quite nicely.)  ALSO, if you wanted to add some coconut flakes (equal parts crumbs and coconut) to the mix, you can't go wrong. I'd recommend pressing the coconut on the shrimp.  If you decide on coconut fried shrimp, I'd go with a sweet dipping sauce instead of what I've provided here, which is your basic cocktail sauce with a twist.  For a sweet sauce for coconut fried shrimp, check out this one:
Pineapple/orange marmalade dip:
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple (You could use canned, but I had fresh and there's nothing better than fresh.)
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1 TB brown sugar
1 TB rice vinegar
1 TB horseradish
juice of one lime
1 TB soy sauce
1 TB Gray Poupon Dijon mustard
1 TB Thai Chili sauce
Combine all in a small saucepan.  Bring to boil, then simmer a few minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Stir in 2 TB chopped red onion.

Now for the step-by-steps:

Dip shrimp in batter and shake off excess.

Dredge battered shrimp through crumb mixture.

Shrimp is ready for frying.


Drop shrimp into hot oil one at a time.

Doesn't take long.

Let drain.



Serve with a basic cocktail sauce - ketchup, horseradish, Lea & Perrins, and lemon juice. Maybe a splash of Tabasco.  Amounts are up to you, depending on your tastes.  Also I never totally combine a cocktail sauce.  I'll half-ass mix it, leaving what I like to call "pockets of flavor."

OR, you can serve it with this "hybrid" dipping sauce.

Dipping sauce for fried shrimp: 
1/4 cup ketchup
2 TB mayonnaise
1-2 TB horseradish (depending on how hot you like it)
juice of half a lemon
1 TB Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
a few shakes of Old Bay seasoning
a few shakes of cayenne
Mix all together.  Taste test and adjust according to your tastes.

Now, there are your pockets of flavor!


Monday, January 4, 2021

Rosie Makes Orange Breakfast Rolls.


Wanna put a hop, skip, and a jump in your morning?
Then try Rosie’s Orange Sunrise Breakfast Buns.
I love a sweet roll and I’ve made quite a few over the years.  These rank right up there with the best of them.  First the recipe, then the step-by-steps.

Rosie’s Orange Sunrise Breakfast Buns

For the dough:
1/4 cup skim milk, warmed
1/4 cup cream, warmed
1 package yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
Zest of two oranges
1 egg, beaten
2 TB unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp kosher salt
About 3 1/4 cups flour

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the warm milk and cream with the yeast and sugar.  Let it sit for a few minutes until it “proofs.”  The mixture should get all bubbly and foamy and poofy, which means the yeast has “proved” it’s alive and your dough will rise.  With machine on low speed, add in orange juice, zest, egg, butter, and salt.  Gradually add in flour, incorporating it into the dough and increasing speed to medium.  You want enough flour so the dough pulls away from the sides but is still soft and tacky.  Turn out dough onto a lightly floured working surface and finish by kneading by hand, sprinkling more flour if needed.  You want a soft, elastic dough.  Transfer to a lightly oiled mixing bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

Rosie Note:  If all you have is whole milk, that’s fine.  I use a combination of skim and cream because that’s what I always have on hand.

For the filling:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 TB cinnamon
Zest of 1 orange 
1 cup crumbled pecans

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out into a 12 x 18-inch rectangle.  Using an offset spatula, spread the butter over surface of dough.  Evenly sprinkle rest of filling ingredients over top.

Tightly roll of dough lengthwise and slice into 12 equal pieces.  Place slices (swirl facing up) in a buttered 9 x 13-inch pan.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled - an hour or so.  Bake at 350° until buns are light golden brown on top - about 22 minutes.  Frost while still warm.

For the glaze:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 TB unsalted butter (1/2 stick), softened
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Combine cream cheese and butter.  Whisk in rest of ingredients until smooth.  Pour over warm buns.

Now for the step-by-steps:

Here’s the shaggy dough right out of the mixer.

Knead it by hand until you have a nice smooth elastic ball.  Add flour as needed.









Place in oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled.


 Turn out onto lightly floured surface.

Roll dough into a 12 x 18-inch rectangle.

Dot with butter...

...and spread it out.
Evenly sprinkle brown sugar, cinnamon, pecans, and orange zest over buttered dough.
Tightly roll up lengthwise.

Slice into 12 pieces.

Place in 9 x 13-inch buttered baking dish.

Let rise until doubled.
And bake until golden.

While still warm, pour icing over top.








I happened to have some pomegranate arils,
so I sprinkled those on top.


Saturday, December 19, 2020

The Hawthornes Love Their Ersters!

The Hawthornes love their ersters.
Raw, steamed, fried, grilled, broiled on the half shell -
you name it, we'll eat it.

We're already on our 3rd or 4th bushel
and I'm always coming up with new ways to prepare them.

Today, we're having broiled oysters on the half shell two ways.

Red and green, for Christmas.
The red ones are a tad hot - cayenne with a hint of sugar,
or you can tame them and use paprika instead.
The green ones are mild - spinach with some other stuff.

First for the green.
Chop a small onion
and a handful of spinach.

Sauté in butter
for a minute.

Add enough cream
to bind it together.
Heat through.

Ready to top.









Oysters. Check.
Spinach mix.  Check.
Ritz crumble/parsley. Check
Bacon. Check.


Spoon a little of the spinach mixture on top of each oyster. 
Add crumbled bacon.  If you don't have bacon, don't worry.  You won't really miss it.
But everything's better with bacon.
And you don't need a lot of topping.  Just a teaspoon.  You don't want to overpower the oyster.

Crumble some Ritz crackers over top.
I had some chopped parsley mixed in with the Ritz for extra flavor.

Add grated Mozzarella.

Then give
 each oyster
a pat of butter.


Ready to go under the broiler.
450° for about 5-6 minutes.
You want the Ritz slightly browned and the oysters still plump and juicy.

Like this.


Now, for the red ones.


In a small dish, combine about 4 TB unsalted butter with a heaping teaspoon of paprika and a heaping half-teaspoon of sugar.  Nuke it until butter melts.  Spoon mixture over oysters.  Then grate some Parmesan cheese on top.  Under the broiler until cheese melts and butter is bubbly.

If you wanted a bit of bite to this, use cayenne instead of paprika.

Or for a different flavor profile, try smoked paprika instead of regular.

This is enough for 8 or so oysters.