Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Rosie Makes Fried Oysters.


  The Hawthornes love their oysters.  And we eat 'em every which way.  Raw, steamed, dipped in melted butter and lemon juice, on the half shell with oh-so-many different toppings, and ... FRIED.


 Here's our goal.

Here are the step-by-steps:

 Lightly batter.                                                                  

Don't crowd the pan.  Leave space.

Golden brown.  Should only take a minute.

 Drain on rack.
Serve with your own cole slaw, cocktail sauce, tartar sauce.
Suggestions below.

Today, it's fried oysters with a cranberry and apple cole slaw that's perfectly sweet and tangy.  And I have two dipping sauces - Rosie's special tartar sauce and her go-to cocktail sauce.

Everything's on the fly today.  I don't measure anything.  I just throw stuff together and it works, but I wrote down approximations of everything right after I put it all together and this should work for you.  This isn't a science or chemistry, like baking a cake.  This is in-the-ballpark cooking.  Don't sweat it.  Taste test and adjust for yourself.

For the cole slaw:
3-4 cups finely chopped cabbage 
1/4 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper (I used an orange one to match the carrots.)
1/2 apple, small dice
handful or so of dried cranberries
Mix all together.

1/3 - 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 TB tsp sugar
1 TB cider vinegar 
2 TB buttermilk
Mix all ingredients until smooth.
Add kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Pour over cole slaw mix and toss to coat evenly.
Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Stir well before serving.

Rosie's Tartar Sauce
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 TB sour cream
2 tsp Lea & Perrins
2 tsp lemon juice
1 TB dill salad cubes
2-3 TB sweet relish
1 tsp Gray Poupon Dijon mustard (Do not substitute a generic brand.)
Mix all ingredients.
Add a few shakes of Sriracha sauce for pops of flavor.

Rosie's Cocktail Sauce
1/2 cup ketchup 
2 TB horseradish
1 TB Lea & Perrins
1 TB lemon juice
Sorta/kinda mix together, but not so that it's thoroughly blended.  I like to have what I call "pockets of flavor."

Now, as to the cole slaw, the tartar sauce, and the cocktail sauce ...  taste test.  My measurements are not etched in stone.  Add more or less of whatever ingredients.  Adapt it to your tastes.  Make it yours.

For the oysters:
Breading mixture: 
1 cup flour
1 cup corn starch
1/4 cup cornmeal  Or, you could just use panko.  But I'm always up for something different.
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
about 1/4 sleeve of Saltine crackers,  crushed
Mix all ingredients.  Toss in oysters and shake to coat.
Heat about 1/4 inch of oil in a large skillet (mine was 12-inch diameter) to 350° - 375°.  Place breaded oysters in hot oil ONE AT A TIME being careful not to crowd the skillet.  You don't want the temperature of the oil to drastically reduce.  This is where greasy fried food comes from.  You want to maintain the temperature of the oil and give what you're frying plenty of breathing/frying space.  I fried 6-8 oysters at a time.  At maybe 45 seconds, start turning the oysters over.  This should take about 30 seconds, by which time the oysters are ready to come out of the oil.  They should be a lovely golden brown.  Place on a rack to drain.
Rosie Note:  Get an instant read laser thermometer.  It takes all the guesswork out of frying. Make it easy on yourself.

Serve oysters with the cole slaw and the two dipping sauces.



Saturday, February 3, 2024

Love At First Bite.



 For those of you who are inclined to celebrate Valentine's Day,  I have a special treat for you.  I’m making my version of Pop Tarts©, in the form of Rosie’s Valentine Pop Hearts.  I have a heart-shaped pastry crust enclosing a double filling of a sweetened, vanilla-laced cream cheese spread and strawcherry jam with a citrus kick.  I also made chocolate-covered strawberries to go along with the pastries and used bittersweet chocolate, white chocolate, and caramel for drizzling, along with toasted coconut for sprinkling over my Pop-Hearts.


Start with some pie dough.  I use the refrigerated roll-up dough that comes two to a box.  It's in the dairy section.  Of course, you can make your own dough, but I was in a hurry.  Roll the dough out and cut it into little hearts, 3-4 inches across the top.  You'll need two cutouts for each heart.  I'm using two fillings for my hearts.  The first is a sweetened, vanilla-laced cream cheese and the second is a strawcherry jam-like filling with a citrus kick.  I made plenty of the strawcherry filling because I can use it on a lot of stuff besides these hearts. For example, top some bagels with it, use it on toast, spoon over pancakes, swirl it into ice cream, top cheesecake with it, etc. 

 I always like little extra touches, so I melted both dark and white chocolates to drizzle over top of the Pop Hearts and also to coat strawberries with.  And I made some caramel to pour over the hearts, along with some toasted coconut for good measure.



      Remove pie dough from refrigerator and let it come to room temperature while you prepare the fillings.

   Strawcherry Filling

1 pint strawberries, chopped
1 pint cherries, pitted  (The easiest way to pit cherries is to slip a straw over the stem and push down.  Pit and stem removed!)
¼ cup sugar
1 TB cornstarch mixed with 2 TB water

 Purée the fruit in a processor then pour into a small pan.  Bring to a simmer, then stir in the sugar and cook until dissolved.  Pour in the cornstarch slurry, stir, and cook about 5 minutes, until mixture is thickened.  Let cool a bit.

 Cream Cheese Filling

 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 TB brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla
Combine all ingredients.

  Make the Pop Hearts:

Using a template, cut heart shapes out of the pie dough.  When you get down to scraps, just ball them up and roll them out and continue cutting.  For each Pop Heart, you’ll need two heart-shaped pieces.  Any extra pieces, brush with an egg wash and sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar, turbinado sugar, or sprinkles and bake along with the filled hearts.

 Place bottom heart on baking sheet covered in parchment paper and smear some of the cream cheese mixture on it.  Spoon the strawcherry over the cream cheese.  Next, I grated a bit of orange and lemon zest over the jam.  Brush a little water around the edges of the bottom pastry, then top with a pastry heart.  Use a fork to press around the edges to seal.  I used a small, sharp knife to cut a heart-shaped vent in the top.  Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  Bake at 375° for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

    For decorations, I melted bittersweet chocolate bits and white chocolate bits, separately, in a double boiler, being careful not to get any moisture in the chocolate. Even a drop of water in the chocolate will make it seize up.  Stir until smooth.  Dip whole strawberries into the chocolates, turning to coat.  Place on wax paper to set.  Using fork tines, dip into a contrasting chocolate and zigzag over the coated strawberries.  Drizzle the melted chocolates over the baked hearts.


   If you like, you can go with a caramel topping and toasted coconut.


 For the coconut, I simply poured a couple handfuls of sweetened coconut flakes into a skillet over medium low heat, added a handful of brown sugar, and stirred until the sugar was melted and the coconut was golden.

 For the caramel sauce: 

 1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla

In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter.  Add sugar and cream, cooking over medium low heat and stirring until sugar is dissolved. Bring mixture to a boil for about 3 minutes, stirring.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Let cool at bit, then drizzle over hearts.  Sprinkle coconut over top.


For the step-by-steps, here ya go:


To pit cherries, use a straw.
Just push it through.




Coarse purée the strawberries and cherries in your processor.


Small saucepan.

Add sugar.



 Cornstarch slurry.


Cook, stirring, until thickened.
What you don't use in filling, save for bagels, toast, cheesecake, ice cream...  
 You name it.

Roll out the pie dough.
Using a template, cut out your hearts.
Scrape up the leftovers.

Ball it up and roll it back out.

Place hearts on parchment paper on baking sheet.

Melt white and bittersweet chocolates in double boiler.  Stir until smooth.

Schmear a little cream cheese mixture on top of each heart.

Then plop the strawcherry mixture on.

Top with another heart pastry, wet the edges, and fork it to seal.

Cut a little heart vent out.

Brush with egg wash.










A little sprinkling of turbinado sugar.

Dip strawberries in chocolate, then drizzle a contrasting chocolate over top.

Drizzle chocolates over baked hearts.

For the coconut, just add to dry pan along with some brown sugar.
Cook, stirring, until golden brown.