Sunday, July 31, 2016

Rosie Gets Jiggy With The Figgy.

I have lots of figs starting to come in now, so you'll be getting some figtastic creations in the near future.  Consider this Figometrics 101.

We have about 1 one-month window of opportunity for those glorious figs and we do take advantage of it.  I pick figs every day, sometimes several times a day.  I come back inside sweaty and itchy and drippy and sometimes stung. I come up with a different fig concoction every day. And I have to give figs away.  The birds make quite a feast of them too.  It's a fleeting season for the fig so we must strike while the iron's hot.  Make hay while the sun shines.  Take time by the forelock.  Occasionem cognosce.  Nunc aut nunquam. You see what I mean...

Today's offering is a little appetizer I put together for Mr. Hawthorne and me
Please enjoy.

First, let's pick some figs.

I have two fig trees.  I believe this is a Calimyrna.

And I believe these are Brown Turkey.

 Now, on to my appetizer/meal.

Oh my, but this was good!

Note:  This requires crème fraiche, so you need to start on that the night before. If you've never made your own crème fraîche, it's high time you did.

Crème Fraîche is kind of like sour cream,only much better. It's sour cream on steroids.  It's thicker and richer than sour cream,contains a higher fat content,and is not as tangy as sour cream.  Traditionally, crème fraîche was made in France from unpasteurized cream which contained natural bacteria to thicken it. Since our cream is pasteurized,we need to add fermenting agents containing necessary bacteria to give the cream that certain little something.

Crème Fraiche
I usually use one cup cream to 1 TB buttermilk, but this time I wanted to try something a little more intense.
1/2 cup cream
1 TB buttermilk
1 tsp lime juice
Mix, cover with paper towel, and leave at room temperature overnight.
The next morning, cover and refrigerate.

Sautéed Figs and Peaches
1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
1 TB unsalted butter
1 peach, peeled, pitted, and sliced
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 TB unsalted butter
a bunch of little figs, halved
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
3 TB balsamic vinegar
crème fraîche

Toast the peppercorns in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until fragrant.
Let cool, then transfer to plastic bag and crush with rolling pin. Set aside.

Add 1 TB butter and 1/2 tsp thyme leaves to small pan over medium heat.
Sauté sliced peaches for about 2 minutes each side or until lightly browned.
Remove from pan. Add remaining butter and thyme leaves. Add figs and cook for 2 minutes or until browned.

Arrange peach slices and figs on serving dish.

Add balsamic vinegar to pan and cook over low heat until reduced to 1 tablespoon.

Spoon crème fraîche over top of peaches and figs. Drizzle reduced balsamic vinegar over top
and sprinkle with toasted, crushed peppercorns.

 This was delightful!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Frying By The Seat Of Your Pants On A Wing And A Prayer.

Frying By The Seat Of Your Pants
On A Wing And A Prayer

If you ask people to name their top ten list of favorite foods, I’ll bet you fried chicken will be high on that list. Most people are content with eating regular fried chicken.  The Hawthornes wanted the crunchiest, crackliest, and crispiest chicken possible.  We wanted to try our hands with wings and come up with a perfect, thin, crisp and crackly, substantial, and almost glassy crust that encased juicy meat.  But there’s more.  I wanted to be able to douse the wings in an Asian-style sauce that combined hot, salty, and sweet flavors, and still retain that crackle and crunch.  And I did.
I decided to look into the double-frying method, which I’ve been intrigued with for some time.  First, a little science in the frying department.  Whenever you drop food into hot oil, you get a big burst of bubbles and sizzle.  The oil is not boiling; you’re boiling the water that’s at the surface of the food.  Think of frying as a dehydration process.  The dryer your food is when you start frying (which is why I always tell you to pat your scallops dry) the better the crust will be.  The problem here is the water just under the crust has a hard time escaping.  You could fry longer, but you’ll end up with extra-crispy crunch and dry, overcooked  meat.
To avoid this problem, I double fry.  After the first fry, any moisture in the food works its way to the surface after the food cools, making the surface soggy.  The second fry boils off that moisture, allowing the water to escape, giving you a drier and crisper crust.
It turned out my double-fried chicken wings were crunchy and they were juicier than ever.  Chicken skin has a lot of moisture and the higher ratio of skin to meat in wings (More than any part of the bird.) demands that you remove as much moisture as possible from the skin before the meat overcooks.  When you only fry once, the meat is cooked before the moisture is pulled out of the skin.  The remaining moisture makes it way to the surface, making the crust soggy.  The beauty of double-frying  is that stopping the cooking process and letting the wings have a resting and cooling period before you do the second fry slows down the cooking of the meat.  With the second frying, you increase the overall cooking time without overcooking that little bit of wing meat, and you expel all the moisture from the skin.
It’s a beautiful process.

Double-Fried Chicken Wings with Asian Sauce
1 large package chicken wings – about 3 pounds
Cut wings at joint and use both cuts.  Cut off tips and place in freezer bag for future chicken stock/consommé.

1 cup flour
3 TB cornstarch
1 ½ cups water
1 tsp kosher salt
Whisk all ingredients until smooth.

Heat peanut oil over medium-high heat until 350°.  I use a deep 9-inch diameter pan with 2 ½ - 3 inches of oil.

Dunk wings in batter in batches, stirring to coat.  Remove wings from batter, one at a time, letting excess batter drip off, and drop into hot oil.   You must fry in batches.   I fried 6-8 wings at a time.  By putting the wings in the hot oil one by one, you won’t drastically lower the temperature of the oil.  Fry for 6 minutes, remove, and place on wire rack.  No paper towels.  You don’t want the wings sitting in oil.

While the first batch is resting, check the temperature of the oil, and drop in the next batch, one at a time.  Fry 6 minutes and remove to rack. 

Re-check temperature of oil.  Now take the first fried batch and refry for 6-7 minutes, until golden brown.  Return to rack.  

The wings in the back have gone through the second frying.  The wings in the front are on the first fry.

Refry the second batch and return to rack and let rest.

Continue double-frying the rest of the wings.
Toss with Asian sauce.

Asian Sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1-inch knob of frozen ginger (I always have frozen ginger.  Simply peel, then nuke for about 25 seconds.  You can easily squeeze the juice out.  Run the rest of the ginger through a garlic press
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
3 TB sriracha sauce
3 TB light brown sugar
2 TB water
2 TB tamari sauce (soy sauce)
2 TB cornstarch

Mix all ingredients until smooth.
Coat wings in sauce, transfer to platter and serve.

Serve sauced wings alongside an Asian bowl with gaillardia from the garden.

I recommend serving this with your favorite cole slaw and/or potato salad, but I’m offering a special side dish.  I remember a popular recipe from years ago – carrot coins.  I daresay it’s in every Junior League and church cookbook ever published.  I like to take retro creations and update them for today, so I’ll be using the best of my July garden goodness for a bright and beautiful vegetable mélange  - Squash, Zucchini, Pepper, and Carrot Salad tossed with a Catalina dressing. 

Vegetable Salad with Catalina Dressing
2 cups baby carrots, sliced in half
1 small green pepper
1 small zucchini
1 small squash

Blanch the carrots for 2 minutes.  Bring salted water to a boil, toss in carrot slices, cook two minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water.  Slice the rest of the vegetables same size as carrots.  Mix together in a bowl and toss with Catalina Dressing.

Catalina Dressing
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup minced onion
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp yellow mustard
2 tsp Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp Texas Pete
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
A sprig of mint adds a nice touch.

Combine all ingredients except for oil, salt, and pepper.
Mix well.
Slowly drizzle in oil, whisking the entire time until you have a nice emulsion.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over vegetables and toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate, giving it at least 30 minutes for all the flavors to meld.

Serve with lovely yellow roses.

Wings derived from July & August 2016 issue of Cook's Illustrated.
Vegetables and Catalina dressing mine.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Rosie Makes A Tart Cherry Tart.

 Cherries have been abundant lately.
It's time for a cherry tart.

 Cherry Tart
1 refrigerated pie crust
heaping cup of cherries
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup toasted almond slices
 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 TB cornstarch
juice of 1 lemon
1 egg 
1 TB cream 
turbinado sugar

I used a shallow, oval 7 x 4 1/2 inch dish.
Place part of the pie dough in the dish and cut excess around edges,
leaving about a half inch for crimping.
Reserve excess dough for topping.
Combine cherries, sugar, almonds, extract, 
cornstarch, and lemons and mix well.
Pour into tart.
Make an egg wash - 1egg beaten with 1 TB cream.
Cut remaining dough into strips.
Brush with egg wash and starting in the center,
one at a time, twist the strips of dough,
moving outward,
arranging strips to make one continuous coil.
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle turbinado sugar over top.

Bake in a 325° oven for 50 minutes,
or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.

I know.
I suck at crimping.

I know.
I suck at coiling.
 Take one bite and you can overlook my suckitude.

 I must give myself credit for the attempt at coiling and crimping.


 Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Mr. Hawthorne and I fought over this.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Rosie Is Making Vegan Meals. Don't Tell Anybody.

Rosie is having vegans for lunch.
Actually, I'm cooking for vegans,
which, for some reason,
always gets me jonesin' for some kind of organ meat -
calf or chicken liver.

2 TB oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch cube of frozen ginger, nuked, juiced, and minced 
1 jalapeno, minced
handful of mushrooms, sliced
squash and zucchini from the garden, spiralized
2 scallions, sliced
1 can water chestnuts, chopped
mung bean sprouts
toasted peanuts

 Juice of 2 limes
2 TB fish sauce
2 TB soy sauce
2 TB brown sugar
Whisk all together.

Heat oil in skillet and sauté ginger, garlic, jalapeno, and mushrooms,
stirring for about 2 minutes.
Add sauce, scallions, water chestnuts, 
squoodles and zoodles, and sprouts.
Bring sauce to a boil and toss to distribute evenly.
Top with toasted peanuts.

In case you're wondering what squoodles and zoodles are,
they're squash and zucchini noodles.
Any time Mr. Hawthorne can use one of his gadgets,
he's a happy camper.
He got to use his spiralizer attachment for the Kitchen Aid.

Spiralize away, Mr. Hawthorne.

How fun!

Everything's ready to go.

Sauté the ginger, garlic, jalapeño, and mushrooms. 

Add in sauce.

Add in everything else.

Heat all through.

Stop and give some lovin' to a German Shepherd puppy.
 Yes...  Puppy.
This is Joy, Beau's friend.

What a beautiful face, Beau!

And here's my "noodle" dish.

It needs one more thing.
Marinated, fried tofu.
For the how-to,
please go to General Rosie's Tofu.

Basically, I sliced a chunk of tofu in half
 and weighed the halves down with an iron skillet
on an inclined plane, to get the moisture out.
Mop up liquid with paper towels.
Then I made a marinade for the tofu,
drained it, tossed it in corn starch, and fried it up.
I added the fried tofu and the heated up marinade
to the "sqoodles and zoodles" mixture.

Marinade for tofu: 
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup water
3 TB ketchup
3 TB rice vinegar
2 TB Tamari sauce
1 TB hoisin sauce
1 TB mirin
1 TB Thai style chili sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 1-inch cube frozen ginger root
scallions, sliced, for topping
toasted sesame seeds for topping

I always keep frozen ginger on hand.
 I like to use ginger juice in marinades and sauces
 and it's hard to impossible to get juice out of fresh ginger.
 I take a cube of frozen, nuke it for about 25 seconds,
 then squeeze it and the juice flows out.
  Next, put the ginger in a garlic press
 and scrape the pulp off for 2-3 squeezings.

Mix all ingredients except for scallions and sesame seeds.

After the moisture has been pressed out of the tofu,
 slice into 1/2-inch cubes and place in marinade.
Marinate at least an hour.
 You want as much of the marinade soaked up as possible.

Next, drain the tofu and toss in cornstarch to coat.
 Fry cubes in 325° peanut oil until cubes are lightly browned.
  Drain on rack.

Pour remaining marinade into a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
 Reduce heat and toss fried tofu cubes in marinade.

Fry until golden brown.

Drain on rack.

Heat up marinade.

Add in fried tofu cubes.

Mix all together.

I know it ain't the prettiest of dishes,
but it was scarfed down and there were no leftovers,
which is good, 
since I don't know where I'd go with "Moreovers" for this.

Oh, Lord.
I need organ meat!