Thursday, October 18, 2018

You Should Know How To Make A Proper Caesar Salad.

One of life's greatest pleasures is a proper Caesar Salad.
And Rosie's here to show you how to make one.
Step by step.
Inch by inch...

A proper Caesar salad starts with proper croutons.
Which start with a proper loaf of homemade bread.
Here's my basic bread recipe:  sandwich loaf.
I made this recipe for the dough and used three foil 4 x 8-inch loaf pans in which to bake the bread.
If you want to cheat, get a baguette from the grocery store.  Something from the deli.  Just don't use a white loaf of Wonder bread.  That is of the Devil.

Cut the bread into cubes.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt about 3/4 stick of unsalted butter and a tablespoon of oil and drop in the bread cubes, tossing to coat evenly.

Add in 3-4 tablespoons of oregano, shaking the pan.
You could also add in a bit of thyme, sage, rosemary, Italian seasoning.  It's all good.
Keep shaking that pan and tossing the cubes for about 5 minutes.

After sautéeing the cubes for a bit, squeeze in 3-4 cloves of garlic.
You don't want to add the garlic at the beginning - you don't want to burn it.  Gets yukky bitter.

Toss, shake, stir.  Keep those cubes moving.

Turn cubes into a baking pan and place in a slow and low oven (300°) for about 30 minutes.
Or until they get nice and toasty and golden.

These will be the best croutons you've ever eaten.
Try not to snack on all of them before you make the salad.

Now for the dressing...
This dressing is a starting point for you.  Once you get the hang of it, you might want to adjust for your own tastes, for example, more garlic, or more lemon, or more whatever.

There are two caveats:
1)  Taste test your Parmesan cheese first.  Get a good quality Parm.  I like Il Villagio.  I do not like Stella.  Your mileage may vary.  If you can, taste test the cheese before you buy.  (Go to Trio Wine Beer and Cheese.)
2)  I prefer a neutral olive oil for my Caesar dressing, so I use Bertolli Extra Light Olive Oil.  You don't want the olive oil to overpower the dressing and, let's face it, some olive oils taste like turpentine.  Try the Bertolli first and if you want to be adventurous afterwards, again taste test before you buy.  (Go to Outer Banks Olive Oil Co.)

Caesar Salad Dressing
4 anchovies
4 garlic cloves
juice of one lemon
2 TB gray poupon Dijon mustard
1 TB Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
1 coddled egg
3/4 cup Bertolli Extra Light Olive Oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Rinse off the anchovies in cold water.
Finely mince and mash the anchovies.  You could use a mortar and pestle here.
Mince and mash the garlic along with the anchovies.
Stir in the lemon juice, the mustard, and the Lea & Perrins.
To coddle an egg, bring a small container of water to a boil.  Drop the whole egg in and let it sit in the water for 1 minute.  Take the egg out and crack it into the mixture.  Whisk well.
Slowly, a tablespoon at a time, whisk in the olive oil, to make an emulsion.
Your mixture should be a nice buckskin color. 
Taste test.
Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

Mash up the anchovies.

After mashing the anchovies, add in the minced or pressed garlic.
I use a mini-processor or just a bowl and a whisk.
Mr. H. prefers an immersion blender.

Lemon juice in.

And process.

Dijon and Lea & Perrins in.

And process.

Finely grate the Parmesan.

Drop an egg into boiling water to coddle it.
One minute is enough for coddling.

Add the coddled egg to the mix.

And process.

Now start processing the olive oil.  One tablespoon at a time.  You want to emulsify the mixture.

Till it looks like this.

Stir in the grated cheese.
And you have Caesar Dressing!

Toss with torn Romaine lettuce and homemade croutons.
If desired, grate more Parmesan cheese over top.

And admit that this is the BEST Caesar Salad you've had.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Rosie Makes Coconut Fried Shrimp And Fried Pickles.

There's just something about fried shrimp.
Frying makes shrimp taste ... shrimpier.
Don't know why, but it does.
And one of my favorite fried shrimp recipes
is coconut fried shrimp.
Here's my latest recipe.

Prepare the shrimp.
Peel the shrimp, leaving the tails intact, for dipping.  Remove black tract down the back.
It's not a vein.  It's the digestive tract.  So you're de-tracting, not de-veining.  

If you want to butterfly the shrimp here, take a paring knife and, starting at the intact tail, slice down the center of the shrimp's underside.  Open up the shrimp.  Butterflying just gives you more surface area for the batter to stick to, so more crisp, crunch frying. That's always a plus.

Batter for shrimp
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp dried mustard
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp minced jalapeño
1/2 cup white wine
Combine all the dry ingredients with the jalapeño pieces.
Stir in the white wine.

You could use beer instead of the wine.
Didn't have beer today,
but I did have wine, so I used that.

Dip the shrimp in the batter,
letting the excess drip off.

Dredge the shrimp through a mixture of:
1 part coconut to 1 part panko breadcrumbs

You can just mix the coconut flakes and breadcrumbs
with the shrimp in a container and shakeshakeshake.

Have a heavy deep pot for frying.
Pour in about 2-3 inches of peanut oil
and heat to 350°-375°.
Fry in small batches so as not to 
lower the temperature of the oil.
 Low oil temperature = greasy fried food.
Proper oil temperature = crisp fried food.

Fry about 1 minute - until golden.

Drain shrimp on wire racks.

What's that fried delicacy in the back?
Why, I believe that would be fried pickles!

Fried Pickles
You can use spears or slices.
We prefer dill slices.
Pat pickles dry with paper towels.
Using the same batter as for the shrimp,
dip the slices, and fry until golden brown.
Drain on wire racks.

I have two sauces for the shrimp and pickles.

Pineapple Dipping Sauce
1/3 cup crushed pineapple
2 TB Dijon mustard
2 TB horseradish
1 TB soy sauce
1 TB cider vinegar
1 TB brown sugar
juice of one lime
1 tsp minced jalapeños 
Combine all in small sauce pan and heat through.

Dipping Sauce
2 TB mayonnaise
1 tsp yellow mustard
1 TB sriracha sauce
1 tsp lemon juice
Mix well.


Monday, October 8, 2018

Rosie Puts A Spin On Her Pizza.

The Hawthornes love their pizzas.  And we make at least one pizza a week.
Depending on our moods, our pizzas are different each time.  
We've got that crust down, so only the toppings change.

Let's take a look at some of our pizzas.
 Here's a white sauce on the left side and traditional on the right.  The best of both worlds.
See HERE for the recipes.

I've also been known, when my figs are in season, to showcase them on my figcaccia.

Here's the recipe for my fig pizza.

Some time ago, I wrote about pizzas for a tail-gating article.   
I showcased traditional pepperoni pizza, Greek pizza with spinach and feta, and Hawaiian pizza with ham, pineapple, and cherries.

Traditional pizza.

Greek pizza.

Hawaiian pizza.

 So, what else is there, you ask?
Well, there's a fusion pizza.
Today, I'm combining Hawaiian and BBQ.
Don't knock it until you've tried it.

I guess pineapple makes a pizza Hawaiian. Then there are some maraschino cherries thrown in.
And don't forget the Canadian bacon/ham slices which fuses our northern neighbor in there.  And also I doctored up my basic tomato sauce with a hint of southern smoky barbecue for more fusion.

And it was good.  Just the right amount of sweet and savory.
Let's start with the crust.
If you make pizza on a regular basis, get yourself a pizza stone.  That's the secret to a super crust.  The stone conducts and holds heat evenly, keeping your temperature at an even keel despite hot spots and fluctuations in the oven itself, and the stone helps to bake the pizza evenly.  In addition, the porous stone surface draws water out of your dough, dispersing this moisture as steam, puffing up the dough.  Preheating the stone gives you a surge of initial heat when you place the pizza on it, which also serves to puff up the dough.  Using a stone will give you a definitive, golden, and crisp bottom which is what we all want.

Besides using a stone, you need a hot, hot oven.  500°.  And ideally, you need to let that stone heat up for an hour to get best results.

Now, back to the crust.

Pizza Crust
3/4 cup warm water
1 package yeast
1 tsp sugar

1/4 cup warm water
 1 tsp kosher salt
 2 cups bread flour, thereabouts

Pour 3/4 cup warm water in a medium bowl.  Add in the yeast and sprinkle the sugar over top. I don't even bother to stir.   Let it proof.  This means the yeast "proves" it's alive by eating the sugar and producing carbon dioxide and other by-products.  In other words, it gets bubbly and foamy.

When the yeast has proofed, add in the rest of the water,  then gradually fork in the bread flour and salt until it all comes together in a sticky mess.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it becomes a soft, pliable ball.
Place dough in an oiled bowl, turning to lightly coat, then cover and let rise.

Now, you can let it rise, doubling, and then start on the crust immediately, OR you can let the dough wait it out in the fridge for a day or two.  This overnight wait gives the dough deeper, better flavor.  A long fermentation also allows the gluten to develop, producing a strong, elastic network. 

Before working with refrigerated dough, let it come to room temperature.  Liberally oil a pizza pan, place the ball of dough in the center, and, working from the center of the ball, press the dough out.  Let it relax a bit, then press out some more.  Take your time doing this.  Keep pressing outwards until your dough is evenly stretched but has a thicker lip around the edges.

Rosie Note:  This dough is enough to cover a 15-inch diameter pan.  If you want to make more dough, a general rule of thumb is 1 part liquid to 2 parts flour. Adjust salt accordingly.  Don't worry about adding more yeast or sugar. 

This is what "proofed" yeast looks like.
Now it's ready for you to mix in the flour.

Simply fork in the flour.
Then turn the shaggy mess out onto a lightly floured board.

Work it.
Knead the dough until it comes together in a smooth ball.
Place in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise.

Let it rise until doubled.  You can start on the pizza now or you can cover and refrigerate overnight.  I've left mine in the fridge for up to 3 days.  You don't need to be pressured to make the pizza immediately.  You can take your time.
Now it's time for the sauces.  
I'm making two sauces - a basic tomato sauce and a barbecue sauce -  and blending them.

Basic Pizza Sauce (Above left)
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp sugar
pinch salt
Scrape out the tomato paste into a small saucepan.  Add a little water to the can, swirling, and wash out any remaining paste into the pan.  Fill can twice with water and pour into pan.  Stir in seasonings and heat over low heat until simmering.  Reduce heat and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Rosie's BBQ Sauce (Above right)
1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 TB Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Stubb's hickory liquid smoke
Combine all ingredients and heat through over low.

For my Fusion Sauce:
I used two parts pizza sauce to one part BBQ sauce.
Taste test, and if you'd like a stronger barbecue flavor, add more sauce.
You be the judge.

You'll have leftovers for both sauces.  Just refrigerate or freeze until later.

Now, build the pizza!
Press the dough out onto a well-oiled pizza pan, then ladle on the sauce, smoothing it out.
I like a light hand with the sauce, but you might like more.

Next, I added slices of Canadian bacon/ham and topped them with a slice of pineapple and a maraschino cherry.  Then I added some onion slices and chopped bell peppers, along with some jarred peperoncini slices.

Top the pizza with as much cheese as you like. Can you have too much cheese?  I think not.
 I used a combination of whole milk mozzarella and Monterey Jack cheeses.

Oven should be at 500° with a pizza stone heating up for at least an hour.

Place pizza (on pan) in oven for 3 minutes, then rotate and cook for another 3 minutes.
Slide pizza off pan and onto stone and cook for 7 more minutes.
Place pizza on rack to cool slightly, then place on cutting board to slice.

Ta daaaaa!