Fritters

Monday, November 21, 2011 17:28 | Filled in Food, cooking, recipe

While thinking about new additions to my Thanksgiving menu, I spent some time experimenting with fritters.  Fritters, by the way, are most anything bite sized coated in batter and fried in oil.  They come out looking something like this:

The batter I like best is:

2/3 cup of milk

1 beaten egg

2 tablespoons of olive oil

dash of hotsauce

whisked all together in a bowl

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in another, larger, bowl:

1 cup of all purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

salt and black pepper to taste

and any other dry spices you like

well mixed

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slowly mix the wet ingredients into the dry, which should yield a fairly thick batter.

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Cooking requires 2 – 3 inches of oil, canola works well, in a large skillet, a flat bottomed wok will cut back on the amount of oil you need, heated to around 350F.  BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THIS!  It is a fire hazard and will burn you really bad if you spill it on yourself!

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If you are going to use different fillings, I recommend dividing the batter between separate bowls, one for each ingredient.

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The rest is easy.  Take bite sized pieces, toss in the batter until coated, and, CAREFULLY, slide into the hot oil.  Don’t put too many in at once so the temperature doesn’t drop much.  When the bottom half is golden brown, gently flip them over and let that side cook.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels to cool.  They cook quick, so pay attention.

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What to put inside is up to you.  My favorites, so far, are canned corn and 1/2″ cubes of extra sharp cheddar cheese.  Half inch slices of onion are also good.  Dill pickle slices are interesting, and small broccoli crowns are nice, as are slices of bell pepper.  Next time I decide to play with this, I’m going to try mushroom caps, bits of cooked bacon, and summer squash slices.  Also, with some extra sugar added to the batter, I’m thinking it would be good with various bits of fresh fruit.

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Note: if you use something that has a high water content, there may be some splattering when you first put the batter in the fat, so be cautious.

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Enjoy,

the Grit

Tuna casserole, comfort food deluxe.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 16:34 | Filled in Food, comfort food, cooking, tuna casserole

Everyone has foods that they grew up with and which they find comfort in eating.  One of mine was tuna casserole.  Of course, my mother was a terrible cook, so I’ve improved on what she used to serve a bit.  Well, considering that she used cream of mushroom soup as the binder, I’ve improved on it a lot ^_^

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What you’ll need:

canned tuna, 24 oz or so, drained.  Give the liquid to your cats – they LOVE it.

1 small sweet onion, small diced

3 ribs of celery, small diced

any other vegetables you desire, such as frozen peas, in small bits

1 lb dry weight pasta of your choice, cooked 1 minute less than the max time on the package

8 oz package of mixed Italian shredded cheese

8 oz package of mixed Mexican shredded cheese

package of grated Parmesan cheese (the one I used was 5 oz)

1/2 cup of flour

1 stick unsalted butter

milk as needed to make sauce, less than a quart.  Or heavy cream if you really want to push the limits.

hot sauce, salt, black pepper, garlic, paprika, etc. to taste

hand full of chopped fresh parsley, or the dry equivalent

good squirt of lemon juice

big casserole dish, no lid needed

sauce pan

big bowl for mixing

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Concept:  the idea is to mix the tuna, cheese, and noodles together and then toss them with the vegetables that have been cooked into a modestly thick rue based sauce.  Put this into the baking dish, top with the Parmesan cheese, and bake until the top browns a bit and the rest is bubbly hot.

Cooking:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter in sauce pan over medium high heat.  Add garlic and vegetables (unless it’s frozen peas, and those go in with the noodle mix,) and cook until not quite done.  Add flour and stir until it starts to turn just a little brown.  Stir in milk, a tiny bit at a time, until the mixture is barely thin enough to pour.  Season and spice to taste.  Remove from heat.

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Combine the pasta, tuna, the parsley and the first two cheeses together in the bowl (along with any vegetables that don’t require much cooking,) toss, hit it with the lemon juice (and hot sauce if you’re adventurous,) and toss again.  Fill the casserole dish with this mixture.

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Pour the sauce over the mixture in the casserole dish, shaking and stirring lightly as needed to evenly distribute it.  Spread the reserved cheese over the top.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, uncovered, until the cheese on top is a little brown and the edges are bubbly.  Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes or so.  Serve.  Oh, it goes good with a crunchy fresh salad.

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Enjoy,

the Grit

A most interesting web site.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 17:21 | Filled in Cookery, cooking, recipe

I stumbled across a most interesting web site, Vintage Recipes.  It features recipes from some early cookbooks and is really a must read, to show just how good we have it today if nothing else.  For example, from Baking Powder Biscuit: ”butter the size of an egg” and “bake in rather a quick oven.”  Definitely worth the time to check it out.

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the Grit

Sweet Bacon Bites

Sunday, April 24, 2011 18:12 | Filled in Food, bacon, cooking, recipe

I was experimenting with some bacon that was approaching the throw away date, and came up with this bit of decadence.

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You’ll need:

1 pound of regular bacon, sliced into bite sizes

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/4 stick butter

skillet

platter

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Concept: I’m betting you see what’s coming ^_^

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Cooking: Melt the butter in the skillet over medium high heat.  Add the bacon and stir, poking at it until the pieces separate.  Continue cooking until bacon is almost done to your liking.  Add the sugar and syrup and continue cooking until the bacon is done, which should leave you with bacon coated in a wonderful liquid.  Remove to the platter, separating the bits.  Let it cool until the syrup/butter/sugar hardens.

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Uses:  Well, my wife and I stood in the kitchen and ate the first batch.  However, I’ve been thinking that it would be good on salad, in a stir fry with heavy sour and/or spicy hot components, in an omelet, and on ice cream.    Give it a try and let me know what you do with it.

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Enjoy,

the Grit

Personal Pizza Party

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 15:23 | Filled in Food, cooking, pizza, recipe

I made pizza for our evening meal one day last weekend and, at my wife’s suggestion, I made two small ones instead of one huge one in the hope that we wouldn’t eat too much. This reminded me of a meal I fixed for my son and 20 or so of his friends last time they left New Orleans ahead of a hurricane. It was very well received, so I thought I’d pass it along.

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The idea is to make your own dough, which is very easy, then roll out small, thin disks – 6 or so inches across. Keep in mind that perfect circles are not necessary and, to me at least, an irregular shape is more attractive as it’s a reminder that the pie is made from scratch. Brush one side of each disk with olive oil, sprinkle it with dried oregano and garlic powder and salt and pepper, then stack it on a plate. Separate the proto pizzas with sheets of waxed paper.

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Also, you should cook up a pot of sauce, which is simply tomato sauce seasoned with oregano, garlic, a bit of ground red pepper, and salt and black pepper. Bring it to a simmer over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

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Next, prep the toppings. Minced onion, chopped bell pepper, well cooked ground pork sausage, thin slices of fresh tomatoes, pepperoni slices, and what ever else you think people might like on pizza. Make sure you have LOTS of shredded mozzarella cheese! It’s also nice to provide other types of shredded cheese as an easy way to fancy things up a bit more. Put these in separate bowls, with a spoon in each if needed.

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Then the fun starts. Let each person build their own pizza. Line the guests up, where they’ll entertain themselves calling out advice and talking among themselves, put a dough disk on your cutting board – or two if you have the space – and let the first person have at it. Stay close by in case help or advice is needed (such as not to add too much or it won’t cook.) As each pie is topped, slide it onto a baking sheet. When the sheet is full, put it in a 450 F oven for 15 minutes or until the crust is brown around the edges. It’s quite alright to bake multiple sheets in one oven if you can keep track of the cooking times. I’m fortunate enough to have two ovens so everyone had their cooked pizza within an hour of starting, and it would have been sooner but the young people had so much fun putting the toppings on that the process was seriously slowed down.

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What you’ll need for the dough:

a large bowl

4 cups of all purpose flour plus extra for dusting

1 1/3 cups warm water, from the hot water faucet is fine

1 teaspoon yeast

a good pinch of salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons sugar

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Preparation: add the water, sugar, olive oil, salt, and yeast to the bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar and yeast. Let this set for a few minutes to make sure the yeast is working, which you will know if tiny bubbles start forming.

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Next, add the flour a half cup at a time and stir to incorporate. Once it becomes too thick to stir, work the flour in by hand using a fold and press technique. The only tricky part is determining when you’ve added enough flour, and that moment has arrived when the dough stops sticking to your hand. Give it a few more folds and, if it still doesn’t stick, cover it with a kitchen towel and put it in a warm place for 2 hours. At the end of this time out, it should have swelled up to at least twice its original volume and will be ready for use after you press it down with your fist. That, by the way, is where the term “punching down the dough” comes from.

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Enjoy,

the Grit

Fancy burgers.

Monday, April 11, 2011 15:09 | Filled in Food, cheeseburger, cooking, recipe

Sometimes I have cravings. We’ll skip the ones for world domination and get to my craving for a good burger which wound up being supper yesterday.

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As luck would have it, I already had enough ground chuck (20% fat and what you should mostly cook with if you actually want to get a beef taste,) a nicely ripe red bell pepper, some excellent sweet onions, and some home grown tomatoes. Thus, when I found some artisan burger buns and some portabella mushrooms on sale, it all came together, and I made some amazing burgers.

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What you’ll need per burger:

1/3 lb ground chuck

2 table spoons finely minced sweet onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

oregano, salt, and pepper to taste

1 bun, preferably a really good one not just the standard things

an ounce or so of the cheese of your choice, I used Swiss, but my wife really liked hers that had extra sharp cheddar on it

one whole portabella mushroom

a big pinch of alfalfa sprouts

1 red bell pepper

lots of different bowls and skillets

melted butter as needed

a nice slice of ripe tomato

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Preparation: sauté the garlic and onion and a hefty pinch of oregano in a little melted butter until the onion is translucent, then remove it to a bowl. Slice the bulges off the bell pepper and discard the rest, that’s the curved sides and this will leave the seeds and ribs off what you harvest. Slice the bun in half, lightly brush the inside with melted butter, and lightly toast it. De-stem the mushroom, brush it with melted butter on both sides, hit it with some salt and pepper and put it on a baking sheet. Mix the beef with the onion and garlic and a bit more salt, pepper, oregano, and a dash of hot sauce if you feel adventurous, then form it into a patty, a bit wider than your buns, to account for shrinkage. In the same skillet that you cooked the onion in, add some more butter, and on medium to medium high heat cook the burger patty and the red pepper slices. Once you get that on, put the mushroom under the broiler with the same rack setting that you would use for toast. Once you see a bit of charing on the beef, flip everything, including the mushroom, and let everything cook until the beef is done, as in 160 F internal temperature. Remove the pepper and mushroom, top the beef patty with the cheese and cover until the cheese melts, 30 seconds or so. Assemble the burger with any added condiments you like and the tomato and alfalfa sprouts, and serve with fries or whatever side you want.

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Note: this is a big thick burger and will probably need to be consumed with knife and fork, or at least with lots and lots of napkins.

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Enjoy,

the Grit

Mushroom bites that I like.

Friday, April 8, 2011 18:07 | Filled in Food, cooking, mushrooms, party food, recipe

Just a little something I made up last weekend that came out good enough to share.

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What you’ll need:

a package of regular whole mushrooms, cleaned and with the stems removed

half a sweet onion, sliced thin and pan fried in butter and garlic until golden brown

several slices of deli sliced ham, pan fried in the leftovers from cooking the onions until just starting to get crisp, drained on paper towels, then cut into slivers

several slices of Swiss cheese, cut into bits roughly the size of the raw mushroom caps

half a stick of butter, melted

salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

a baking dish

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Preparation: place the mushroom caps, round side down, in the baking dish. Add salt and pepper and garlic powder to taste. In each cap, stuff a bit of cooked onion, a slice of crisp ham, and top with a slice of cheese. After they are all filled, pour the melted butter over all. Bake uncovered at 350F for 20 minutes or so, until the cheese is melted and the mushrooms have reduced in size by at least a third. Remove to paper towels to drain.  Serve.

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Enjoy,

the Grit

Flaming Sauce of Death!

Monday, April 4, 2011 17:26 | Filled in Food, cooking, flaming sauce of death, recipe, taco sauce
I happened to mention to a friend that I created the Grit’s Flaming Sauce Of Death as an alternative taco sauce, and she asked me to post the recipe. So here goes.
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You’ll need:
1 can Chiles Chipotles in adobo sauce
juice of one lime
blender
hand written warning note – the Grit’s Flaming Sauce Of Death – preferably in bright red ink
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Preparation: empty contents of can into blender. Add the lime juice. Puree. Serve. Place warning label to identify contents.
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The story behind the creation of this sauce is that I decided to make tacos for the Church potluck picnic one year and I wanted something to make them a bit more spicy to please the palate of a Jamaican couple who would be attending. Thus I was checking out the Mexican section at the food store for hot sauces and I happened to see the cans of chipoltes. I had tried these before, thinking they would be milder than they are, so I knew that, besides the intense heat, they have a marvelous smoke flavor. So I experimented with various ways to incorporate them into a sauce and, after much intense mouth pain, decided that the only thing needed is the lime juice, which gives the sauce a bright background note without detracting from the flavor.
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Note: while to me this sauce has a 2 drop maximum limit per taco, the guy from Jamaica was eating it straight, by the spoonful, as a side dish. He did, however, like it a lot. Enough so that he insisted I give his wife the recipe. So, if you are into pepper induced pain, this would probably go well most any food where ketchup is commonly used as a condiment.
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Enjoy,
the Grit