Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Rosie Fries Fish!

 Yup.  That's the ticket!

Fried cod with an ethereally light batter.
Coleslaw, tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, and toasted cornbread muffin slices.
This was perfect.

The fried cod was perfect.
The accompaniments were perfect.
 My batter was perfect.

Sometimes everything comes together in what I call "culinary synergism."
That's when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
And that's what this meal is.
Plus it's fried fish and that's always a plus in my book.

First, I made the cornbread muffins, then the coleslaw, cocktail sauce and tartar sauces, and lastly the batter for the fish.

America's Test Kitchen's Cornbread Muffins
  Rosie is always on the search for the "ultimate" cornbread.
I'm not sure there is one or, if there is, I'll even know it.  But I think this is close.

Anyhoos, I've made cornbread and corn muffins every which way but loose.
And here's a new way for cornbread muffins.
I liked them immensely.
I ate them right out of the oven, still hot and steamy, with a slathering of unsalted Plugra butter.
They were divine.
Today, I sliced the muffins into about 5 pieces, topped with butter, and toasted them.  Served them with the fried cod.
Again, divine.
Tomorrow, I might just sauté some muffin slices for breakfast. Add some homemade salsa.  Serve alongside my pourable scrambled eggs with Cheddar cheese, grated nutmeg, freshly ground pepper, and a pinch of homemade cayenne flakes.  I like a loose curd when it comes to my scrambles.

Ahhhh...  But I digest.
Back to the cornbread muffins.

Mr. Hawthorne and I are regular watchers of America's Test Kitchen.  Comes on here at 2PM on PBS, Monday through Friday.  Unlike Food Network, you can actually learn things from this program.  Their testers test every recipe upside and down, sideways and across, tweaking improvements, and tell you the what, why, and how of what they've done.  It's a very informative cooking program and I highly recommend it along with their book, The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook.

Oops!  Digesting again.
Back to the cornmeal muffins.

I was watching ATK the other day and they were doing cornmeal muffins.  I wrote the recipe down as they prepared and explained the how-dones.  Good thing I did because my copy of their cookbook had a different recipe for cornbread muffins.  My copy is from 2001 - 2015.  I noticed the book shown on the link above goes to 2016.  So this recipe is probably an improvement on the one in my book.  Constant tweaking will do that.

The recipe from the show was straightforward and basic - a dry mixture added to a wet mixture.
 However, there was a technique involved in this cornbread that intrigued me.  It had to do with the wet mixture.  Cornmeal was mixed with water.  Whisked in.  And the resulting combination was a grainy liquid.  The liquid was then nuked for 1 1/2 minutes.  Whisked again to smooth it out.  Nuked again for another minute.  Whisk and continue this for about 20 minutes.  Or until the mixture was a smooth, thick combination.  I did this nuke and whisk about 5-6 times, decreasing the nuke time to 60 seconds after the second nuke.  This process was interesting to watch.  The cornmeal against the bowl gets quite thick - polenta-like - and needs to be evenly processed with the center liquid after each nuketation.

From ATK: 

Savory Corn Muffins 

Why This Recipe Works:

For a corn muffin with great cornmeal flavor and proper muffin structure, we used a ratio of 2 parts cornmeal to 1 part flour. We ditched the copious amount of sugar found in most recipes for a truly savory muffin. To help make up for the moisture that sugar normally provides, we used a mix of milk, butter, and sour cream for the right amount of water and fat. Finally, in order to get extra liquid into the batter, we precooked a portion of the cornmeal with additional milk to make a polenta-like porridge. By hydrating and gelling the starch in the cornmeal, we trapped free water and produced a supermoist muffin.

Now that the muffins are done, let's continue with the accoutrements.

Rosie's Coleslaw
3 cups finely chopped or shredded cabbage
1 small carrot, peeled and shredded
Mix together cabbage and carrot in medium bowl.
Toss with dressing.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

2 TB mayonnaise
2 TB sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tsp sugar
1 TB cider vinegar
few shakes of Lawry's seasoned pepper
pinch kosher salt
Mix all ingredients.  Pour over slaw mixture.  Toss to coat evenly.

Rosie's Cocktail Sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
2 TB+ horseradish
2 tsp Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp lemon juice

For extra oomph, I like to press the liquid out of my horseradish.  More heat to the mix.
Combine all ingredients casually.  You don't need a homogeneous mixture.  I prefer pockets of flavor.  You dip into one section and get a few flavors here, then dip into another section and get more flavors there.  Add more horseradish if you like sinus-cleaning.  I do.

 Rosie's Tartar Sauce
2 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
1 TB sweet relish
1/2 - 1 tsp chopped capers
2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
1 heaping TB chopped red onion

Combine all ingredients.
If you don't have fresh tarragon in your herb garden, not to worry.  Substitute with fresh parsley and/or chives, which is a totally different flavor, but quite doable.

 Rosie's Super Light Batter For Fish
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp dried mustard
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch kosher salt
1/2 tsp cayenne flakes
1/2 cup club soda

Mix dry ingredients, then whisk in club soda until batter is smooth.
Let sit a few minutes.

Cut cod into 1 1/2 - 2 inch chunks.
Pat dry.
Drop into batter, turning to coat.

Heat about 2 inches peanut oil to 350° - 375°.
Gently slide in a few cod pieces.  (Heh...  Cod pieces!  I'm 12.)
Fry 3 minutes, until golden brown.
Drain on paper towels on wire racks.

Yup.  That's the ticket!

No comments: