Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Coconut Fried Shrimp

Coconut fried shrimp.
It's just about my favorite thing.  Ever.
And it's one of those "recipes" that I don't even think about when I'm making.
You know how it is.  You do it until it "looks right."

But for you, I actually kinda sorta measured for the batter.
I use a beer batter, dip the shrimp in the batter, then dredge the shrimp through a mixture of coconut and panko breadcrumbs.
I use peanut oil and deep fry the shrimp in a large pot.  The pot is 8 inches in diameter and 4 inches deep and I use 2 - 2 1/2 inches of oil.  Heat to 350° - 375° and fry 4 shrimp at a time so as not to crowd the pan and lower the temperature of the oil.  Fry for one minute (golden brown) then remove the shrimp and drain on a rack.

Use JUMBO shrimp!  You want the shrimp to be able to stand up to the batter so you need large shrimp.  The bigger the better.

And I always have multiple dipping sauces on hand.   Which vary every time I fry.  Just depends on my mood(s).

Prepare the shrimp:
Peel the shrimp, leaving the tails on which makes for easy handling and dipping and dredging.
De-tract the shrimp.  I don't say de-vein.  That black thing going down the back of the shrimp is the digestive tract, not a vein.  Remove it.

Coconut/Panko mixture:
2 parts sweetened coconut flakes
1 part panko breadcrumbs
Mix well.

Beer Batter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup corn starch
1 tsp kosher salt
a few shakes of Lawry's pepper
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg, beaten
beer - about 3/4 cup

Whisk together dry ingredients, then whisk in beaten egg and enough beer until it looks right.  The batter should be like a pancake batter.

Dip shrimp into batter, letting any excess drip off, then dredge through coconut/panko mixture.
I usually put the coconut mixture in a container, add the shrimp, and shakeshakeshake.

For the oil, I use peanut oil.  It has a high smoke point and a neutral taste.
Again, heat the oil to about 375°.  Go ahead an invest in a inexpensive instant-read laser thermometer to take the guesswork out of frying.  Frying at high temperatures cooks the outside of the food quickly and the moisture from the shrimp repels oil, preventing grease from penetrating the food.  Frying at lower temperatures allows the oil to seep into the shrimp, resulting in a greasy mess.

For the step-by-steps:
Peeled shrimp at the top, ready to dip into the beer batter, then dredge through the coconut mixture.

Be sure your oil is the proper temperature.
I gently drop each shrimp in one at a time not crowding the pan.  Too many shrimp at one time lower the temperature of the oil and you'll get greasy shrimp, not crisp shrimp.

One minute is all it takes.
Please don't overcook your shrimp.

Drain on a rack.  Or on paper towels, but not for too long.  Paper towels will absorb some of the oil, but don't leave fried food on the towels.  Paper towels will trap steam, causing the food to get soggy.
A rack allows the oil to drip off and the steam to escape.

Leaving the tails on gives you a handy little handle for picking and dipping the shrimp.

I have two dipping sauces for my shrimp today.

Dipping Sauce #1
1 inch knob of fresh ginger
1 garlic clove
2 TB Tamari
1 TB sriracha sauce
1 TB rice vinegar
1 TB mirin

Cut the woody surface off the ginger, slice it into smaller pieces, and run it through a garlic press, using all the juice.  Scrape off the first pressings of the pulp and use that.  I discard the drier pulp.
Run the garlic clove through the press as well.
Then mix everything together.

Now, if you want to give this sauce some more "oomph,"  add in a teaspoon of sesame oil, sprinkle in some toasted sesame seeds, and throw in some sliced scallions and you're good to go.

 There're just so many variations on this theme, I'll leave it up to you to put your own spin on this.

Are you wondering what the difference between Tamari and soy is?  Well, I'll tell you.  Both are byproducts of fermented soybeans and soy sauce contains wheat while Tamari sauce doesn't or has very little wheat. Soy sauce, a Chinese product, is pressed from a mixture of soybeans, wheat, and other grains.  Tamari, a Japanese product is extracted from fermented miso paste (miso paste being a product of fermented soy beans).  Tamari is generally richer, thicker, and darker than regular soy sauce and tastes less salty but bolder and more umami-er.

Dipping Sauce #2
3 TB cider vinegar
2 TB brown sugar
1 TB honey
2 tsp orange marmalade
2 TB finely chopped cucumber
1 TB toasted peanuts, chopped
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

Combine vinegar and brown sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Sometimes I nuke this mixture to speed up the dissolving.
Mix in remaining ingredients.

And both these sauces would be excellent for shrimp spring rolls too.

A simple side of cole slaw is all you need for the fried shrimp.
I make a cole slaw dressing with mayo, cider vinegar, sugar, and a splash of buttermilk for a little extra tang.  Salt and pepper.  Sometimes a sprinkling of celery seeds.  My slaw mixture is shredded cabbage, julienned carrot, and minced red pepper.

I have two more dips here:

The orange is a combination of ...  oh... say 1/4 cup orange marmalade, a teaspoon each horseradish, Sriracha, and Gray Poupon Dijon mustard, and a tablespoon of chopped red onion.  Or thereabouts. 
I've given you the basics here.  Go ahead and play around with the flavors.

The creamy sauce is:
2 TB sour cream
2 TB mayonnaise
1 TB coarse grained mustard
1 TB lemon juice
2 TB chopped fresh dill


Saturday, May 25, 2019

Blueberry Bundt Cake.

Some of my best recipes come from a combination of four things:
1)  Boredom
2)  Sweet tooth
3)  Food in fridge or on counter that needs immediate attention
4)  Cleaning out fridge

Today's Blueberry Bundt Cake is a result of all four.

I wanted something to do.  I needed something sweet.  I had blueberries that had seen better days.  I had a used package of cream cheese in the fridge that I wanted to get rid of.  It was a perfect storm.

I didn't bother to do the step-by-steps here because they're not necessary.
Just pull out the stand mixer (makes it so much easier than hand-held) and start adding ingredients, letting the mixer do all the work.

First, get out a bundt pan and butter and flour it.  Be sure to get all the crooks and nannies.
Then start adding your ingredients, beating on low to medium the whole time.

Rosie's Blueberry Bundt Cake

Heat oven to 325°.

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
5 1/2 oz. cream cheese, softened  (Yes.  I used 5 1/2 oz.  I was cleaning out the fridge cheese drawer at the time and 5 1/2 oz. is what I had, so that's what I used.)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 TB vanilla
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sour cream
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups blueberries tossed with 1-2 TB flour  (Tossing the blueberries with the flour helps keep the blueberries suspended in the batter and not all settle on the bottom.  Or at least that's the plan.)

Beat together butter and cream cheese about 1 minute.  Slowly beat in sugar, creaming well.
With beater going at medium/low speed, start adding:
eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated, lemon zest and juice, sour cream.  Beat 2 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

Add dry ingredient mixture alternatively with buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry, beating on low to combine.  Do not overmix.
Fold in blueberries.
Pour into prepared Bundt pan and bake in a 325° oven for about 55 minutes, rotating halfway through.  Use a toothpick or skewer to test for doneness.  A few crumbs on the pick is fine.  You just don't want wet batter on it.  Cool about 15 minutes in the pan then invert onto a wire rack and leave it to unmold itself.  Let cool completely before glazing.

1 cup confectioner's sugar
zest of one lemon
3 TB lemon juice
pinch kosher salt
1 tsp unsalted butter
Mix all ingredients except butter until smooth.  Add in butter and nuke about 30 seconds, then whisk to combine.  Drizzle over cooled cake.

Let it cool.
Glaze away!

This is the fun part.

Can one ever have too much glaze?
No.  One can never have too much glaze.
 Mr. Hawthorne said he hoped I wrote down the recipe for this one.


Saturday, May 18, 2019

Crab Cakes!

I've been waiting a year now for fresh crab meat.

We just polished off a few bowls of crab soup

and now I'm ready for crab cakes.

I bought a pound of crab meat and I used half of it for the soup
and I'm using the other half for my crab cakes.

With crab cakes, you want to taste crab.
So go light on the filling.
And it's best to use lump crab meat.  You want big lumps of crab in there.
Also, go easy on the mixing.  Use a gentle hand so as not to break up the crab meat.

Rosie's Crab Cakes Version 3.0
Makes 6 cakes

1 egg, beaten
juice of half a lemon
2 tsp Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
1 TB minced celery
1 TB minced red pepper
10 saltines, crushed
8 oz. crab meat, picked over

Mix together first seven ingredients, then gently add in crab meat.
Lightly tamp into molds to form patties.
Refrigerate for at least an hour.

I didn't bother to bread these crab cakes before sautéeing, but you're certainly welcome to do so.  Mix up a combination of crushed Ritz, saltines, and panko breadcrumbs and coat the patties, pressing on each side.

In a medium skillet over medium high heat, heat unsalted butter until sizzling.  Add in 2 or 3 crab patties.  You don't want to crowd the pan.  Sauté on each side 2 minutes, or until golden.

For the step-by-steps:
Gently mix ingredients.

Lightly tamp into molds.

Neaten up the edges.

Refrigerate for at least an hour.

And sauté in butter.

Golden brown goodness.

In the case of crab cakes, less is more.
Less filling.  More crab.

If you like, add a squeeze of lemon.
For a nice dip, try a swirl of mayo and sriracha.
Fresh dill is a nice touch.


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Rosie Makes Crab Soup.

Normally, I don't think of May as being "soup weather," but goshgolly, it's cold.  And by "cold" I mean it's in the 60s here.  So I want soup.  In particular, I want a crab soup.

Now here's the thing about crab soup.  Restaurants will have it on the menu during the winter.  And during the winter, crab is not in season.  And I don't want out-of-season crab.  When crab is in season, it's generally hot outside and I'm not in the mood for soup when it's hot.  'tis a quandary, 'tis.  Today, however, I have the best of both worlds - I have cold weather (Yeah, I know.  Cold is relative.) and crabs are in season.  To quote noted food writer, Clementine Paddleford, "The day has the color and the sound of winter.  Thoughts turn to chowder... chowder breathes reassurance.  It steams consolation."
 Yes.  I'll be having crab soup today.

I bought a pound of crab meat at Billy's Seafood and I'm using half of it for the soup and half for crab cakes.  Don't want any leftovers.

Rosie's Crab Soup
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 TB butter
2 TB flour
1/3 cup shrimp stock
1/2 cup vegetable stock 
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sherry
1/2 pound crab meat, picked
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
chopped chives/parsley/red sweet bell pepper

In a medium sauce pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat.  Add the celery and onion and cook, stirring, for about a minute.  Add the other tablespoon of butter and melt, then add in the flour, stirring and cooking another minute, to get the raw taste out of the flour.  Turn heat to low. Slowly pour in the shrimp stock, stirring, to let thicken.  Then stir in the vegetable stock, skim milk, and cream.  Stir and cook until mixture thickens.  Pour in the sherry.  Add in the crab meat and heat through.  Season to taste.  Ladle into bowls and top with chives, parsley, and chopped red pepper.  Add a few oyster crackers, if desired.

For the how-to's:
Finely chop the celery, onion, and red bell pepper.

Melt a tablespoon of butter and cook the celery and onion.

Add in the remaining butter, melt, then sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring.

Cook the flour to remove the raw taste.

Slowly add in some homemade shrimp stock.
I always have shrimp stock in the freezer.
We buy shrimp in bulk, de-head 'em, shell 'em, size 'em, then freeze 'em.
Take the shells (and heads if you're not squeamish), sauté in some oil over medium heat, add in a bunch of aromatics - onions, carrots, celery, garlic, peppercorns, thyme, and bay leaves - add water to cover, some salt, and simmer for about 45 minutes.  Drain off liquid, discard solids, and freeze the stock in pint containers.

If you don't have shrimp stock, just add more of the vegetable stock.  I happen to like the extra flavor boost that comes from using shrimp stock.

Let it thicken up.
Add in the vegetable stock, stirring over low heat.

Add in the skim milk, or whatever milk you have.  
I always have skim milk and cream on hand, so that's what I use, but you could use 1%, 2%, or whole.
Add in the cream for the richness.
Stir in the sherry for the goodness.

When you have the base as thick as you want it, add in the picked-over crab meat and heat through.
Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Now here's a Rosie Tip for you in case you want your base a bit thicker:  Use beurre manié.  That means "kneaded butter."  Simply rub equal amounts of flour and butter together to form a paste, say 2 tablespoons of each.  When the flour is fully incorporated into the butter, add a small ball of the beurre manié (maybe 1/2 tablespoon at a time) to your soup.  Stir over low heat and let the beurre manié melt and thicken the soup.  If it needs more thickening (It's a matter of personal preference.) add in more of the beurre manié.  Using beurre manié allows the butter to melt directly into the soup, evenly dispersing the flour particles.  If you just sprinkled flour into the soup, you'd get clumps and one never wants clumps.  This way, you get a lovely velvety texture with no clumps.  Any leftover beurre manié can be frozen for later use.

Ladle into bowls and top with chopped parsley and chives and red pepper.
And I like the crunch of oyster crackers.