Sweet, Sweet Sunday

What In the Heck Is “Pullum Frontonianum”…(and what does it have to do with frying?)

At this point we have already learned about two bsasic cooking methods—sauteeing and pan-frying.

The next dry-heat cooking method is deep frying.

And living in Texas one of the highlights of each year is going to the State Fair to see just what new fried concoctions have been created this yrar.

For example, here is a list of the top ten finalists for the State Fair of Texas’ 2018 Big Tex Choice Awards, the annual contest celebrating fried foods. Note that each year, five finalists are chosen in two categories—savory and sweet.

The savory finalists this last year were…

  • Deep Fried Shepherd’s Pie
  • Deep Fried Skillet Potato Melt in a Boat
  • Fernie’s Hoppin’ John Cake with Jackpot Sauce
  • Texas Fried Hill Country
  • Texas Twang-kie

The sweet finalists this last year were…

  • Arroz con Leche
  • Cotton Candy Taco
  • Fernie’s Orange You Glad We Fried It?!
  • State Fair Fun-L Cake Ice Cream
  • Sweet Bakin’ Bacon

Can’t wait to see what these creative people come up with this year.

I honestly have always been too scared to deep fry anything at home, especially when you can easily find deep-fried foods at nearly every gas station and restaurant in America…

But deep-frying is still a cooking method…and my goal is cover each of the cooking methods in detail…

So let’s dive in deep…


The Why

My goal in this section is to learn how to make deep-fried foods that have the same crunchy golden brown surface and the same tender interior of any of these prize-winning foods.

Deep-frying differs from any of the previous methods because you are completely submerging your food into oil that has been heated to a much highter temperature typically around 375 degrees.

Instead of breading your food, your food will be completely covered in batter..more on this later….

So what are the benefits of this method of cooking…especially considering that I am writing this blog primarily for people who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes…

  • Crispiness…Deep-fried foods typically have a crispy crust because of the high temperatures remove any surface moisture and dry out the exterior. If you have successfully deep-fried your foods, the crust will be properly formed, the food should be less greasy,  and item being fried will retain its shape.
  • Faster…Bexause the entire food is completely submerged and cooked in the oil, deep-frying is a relatively faster way of cooking.
  • Flavor…Cooking your food at such a high temp improves the flavor of food by caramelizing it and producing the Maillard reaction…more on this later too…
  • Nutrition…yeah even deep-fried food can be nutritious…When you deep-fry food, only a small amount of oil will stay on the crust.
  • Tenderness…If you have succrssfully deep-fried your food, the batter will seal in any moisture that the food contains and keep extra oil from being absorbed.

The Recipe

Even though the term “deep frying” and many of the foods that we deep-fry these days were not invented until the 19th century, people have basically been deep-frying for thousands of years

Even though the term “deep frying” and many of the foods that we most commonly deep-fry today were not invented until around the early 1900s, people have been using this cooking methods for thousands of years.

The first recorded recipe using this method appeared around the year AD400. This recipe was for a chicken dish called Pullum Frontonianum.

Pullum Frontonianum

  • 2Tbsp olive oil
  • 3# chicken
  • 1/2C olive oil
  • 1 chopped leek
  • 2Tbsp ground coriander
  • 2tap salt
  • 1/2tsp pepper
  • 1/4C chopped fresh dill weed
  • 2Tbsp ground coriander seed
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan.
  2. Fry whole chicken over medium heat.
  3. Make the seasoning…olive oil,, dill, leek, fresh coriander, salt, rose petals, pepper, and coriander.
  4. Add about half of the seasoning mixture to the chicken in the skillet.
  5. Continue to fry until chicken just starts to change color.
  6. Bake at 425 for 1 hour, occasionally basting with the seasoning mixture.
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Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Ah, Love Oil

glass bowl cork bottle
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

After the breading material are set up and you have finish3d breading your food you can finally start cooking.

You should have already set up and start heating your oil by now…perhaps I shouuld have posted this earlidr, but let’s talk about which oiil you should be using to fry your food in.

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Smokepoint

When choosing which oil to use whenever you are frying, you need to think about the smoke point of that partcular oil.

It is important that you use an oil with a high smoke point.

But first, I guess you need to know what a smoke point is, if you’re gonna pick your oil wisely.

The smoke point is the temperature at which the oil can be heated to before it begins to smoke and burn…makes sense huh>!

Once your oil has reached this point, the oil will start to break down into its fundamental components—glycerol and fatty acids—and no longer be good for frying.

The oil will also start losing its flavor and nutritional value.

Once it has passed the smoke point, the oil can also be very dangerous, because it is much more likely to ignite when exposed to an open heat source.

Usually whenever you are frying, you want the oil to be somewhere between 350°F and 375°F, so your must have a smoke point that is  high enough to survive this amouint of heat.

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So which oils shoul you NOT be using?

Butter…has too low of a smoking point to be used for frying.

Lard...has a low smoke point

Olive oil...Sure, you could use oil for frying, but I’d stick to using olive oil for sauteeing your foods since that olive oil usually costs more.

Shortening…also has too low of a smoking point to be used for frying.

Sunflower oil…This oil tends to burn more quickly than most other oils.

Unrefined oils of any kind…These have too low a smoke point and can also be very expensive. Note that many of the oil that we will be learning later on that are good fort frying are sold in both refined and unrefined versions, so check the label before you use it.

Your fanciest or priciest oils…Frying reuires a whole lot of oil…using these here would simply be a waste of money. Also, thhe frying process can dim the flavor of, making it no more flavorful than any other given oil.

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And which oils should you be using?

 

Whenever you are choosing which oil to fry in, there are several things to consider. In addition to the smoke point, which should be slightly higher than the temperature at which you will be cooking, your oil should have a neutral flavor that won’t impart iany flavor on whatever you are cooking.

Also it is important that youu  hoose a good quality oil.

Each of the following oils can be a smart choice for frying because they all have a neutral flavor, perform well at high temperatures, and have a smoke point somewhere between 440° and 450°F….which is definitely above the typical temp required for frying, which tends to be around 350°F.

(Note that there are obviously more oils that are commonly used for fryiung—such as vegetable and peanut, but I have limited my list to those oils that we have already talked about being best for type-2 diabetics.)

 

1.Canola Oil

Benefits...Canola oil helps reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in the body, reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and stabilize blood pressure levels, The FDA agrees that 1-1/2Tbsp canola oil each day could reduce the risk of coronary heart disease when used instead of saturated fat.

Nutrition…Canola oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, such as the alpha-linolenic acid, as well as monounsaturated fat, a type of fat that is considered healthy for diabetics. At the same time, canola oil is low in the unhealthy saturated fat that mostly come from animal products like meat and dairy.

Uses…Canola oil can be used safely at high temperatures because it has a higher smoke point than most other oils, but doesn’t have as much flavor as some other oils that are available and is not your best choice for certain things such as making your own salad dressing

 

 

2. Grape Seed Oil

Nutrition…this is a rich source of both polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, and is very low in saturated fat

Use…nutty but mild flavor that can be used for all sorts of cooking and grilling and also works well in salad dressings or drizzled over roasted veggies

 

 

 

3. Rice Bran Oil

Benefits….Rice bran oil will reduce your levels of bad cholesterol, and so is great for diabetics and those wanting to keep heart disease at bay.

Nutrition…Rice bran oil is rich in both monounsaturated as well as polyunsaturated fats.

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Reusing

You can either reuse your oil or dispose of it after you finish frying.

 

To reuse the oil…

  1. Let the oil cool down to room temperature.
  2. Filter through a cheesecloth…whatever the heck that is…
  3. Return to its original container.
  4. Add a small amount of fresh oil to have extend the life of the oil that you have just used.
  5. Store it in a cool, dark place.

You will not want to use the same oil more than two or three times in a row because each use will release more andf more fatty acids into theoil, reducing the smoke point and making it less and less appropriate to use at the high temperatures required for frying.

If your oil starts to look thick or brown, throw it out.

Never pour oil down the drain…lesson learned the hard way…never pour hot candle wax down the drain either…another lesson learned the hard way…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

I Can Bring Home the Bacon…AND Fry It Up In a Pan

 

Panfrying is an easy and straightforward dry cooking method that is used all over the world, giving us such great foods as breaded pork chops and chicken cutlets.

Panfrying allows you to get dinner on the table more quickly than several of the other cooking methods that we have or will be discussing…as long as you prepare as much as possible before throwing the first pork chop into the oil…and as long as the food that you will be cooking is actually food suited for this cooking method.

Panfrying simply involves cooking food in a heavy pan containing a small amount of hot oil over moderate heat until it is brown on one side, then flipping it over so that the other side browns also.

The oil should only cover half of the food’s height, unlike deep frying where the food is completely suspended in oil. The fact that the food actually touches the bottom of the pan means that the crust will be even darker than if it had been floating in the oil.

Panfried foods are often covered with some sort of breading before being added to the hot oil…(more on this later)…

This layer creates a barrier that prevents the oil from soaking into the food and making it greasy

As food is panfried, the moisture contained in the inside part of the meat turns into steam and then has a battle with the very hot oil surrounding it. The steam fights to keep the oil out, while the oil  fights to keep the moisture in. 

Actually I was a little puzzled about why frying would be considered as a “dry cooking method” even though the food is cooked in liquid.

Supposedly this is the case because oil is actually a fat that contains no water at all.

Even though both oil and water are liquids, oil behaves much differently than water.

Fewer flavor compounds found in food dissolve in oil. This means that foods cooked in oil are less likely to lose their flavor than those same foods cooked in water.

Save water for making stocks and broths, since so much of the flavor originally found in the food will be dissolved into the water anyway..

The goal of panfrying is to maintain a moist interior while at the same time creating a crisp, tasty, golden-brown crust, Pan-fried foods are favored for these browned surfaces, crisp coatings, and tender interiors.

Panfrying is an effective way to not only retain the moisture and tenderness that these cuts of meat such as pork chops should have, but also to add rich, caramelized flavor.

Food that has been panfried correctly should have a moist interior and a crispy exterior that you refuse to share with anybody.

One primary difference between panfrying and sauteeing, that we talked about in this previous post, is that panfrying uses lower heat.

This lower heat is important because panfrying involves cooking whole pieces of meat, not food that has already been cut into smaller pieces before cooking. If your temperature is too high, the exterior of the food will overcook while the  interior of the food will be undercoked…(ever cut into a hot piece of chieken only to find that the interior is still pink)…

In these next few posts, we will discuss the right equipment, the proper oils, which foods are best for panfrying…and how frying food can be done so that it isn’t quite as bad for my diabetic husband and my own big fat butt…

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Book Review—The First Mess by Laura Wright

The book The First Mess by Laura Wright is a book about the accessibility and joys of plant-based wellness.

This book first appealed to me because lately I have been looking for healthier ways for our family to cook and eat…especially since my husband has been diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic.

This book will be especially of interest to people who are interested in learning how to prepare simple, seasonal vegan and plant-based meals that my family will enjoy

The central themes carried out throughout the book are the love for fresh ingredients, a respect towards the process of prepping and cooking them, and an overall approach to keeping it simple.

The author of the book is Laura Wright, the blogger behind the Saveur award-winning blog The First Mess.

Laura grew up working at her family’s local food market and vegetable patch in southern Ontario, where fully stocked root cellars in the winter and armfuls of fresh produce in the spring and summer were the norm. After attending culinary school and working for one of Canada’s original local food chefs, she launched The First Mess at the urging of her friends in order to share the delicious, no-fuss, healthy, seasonal meals she grew up eating, and she quickly attracted a large, international following.

The book features more than 125 whole-food recipes that showcase the best produce that each season has to offer.

The book begins with a guide for stocking your pantry and buying kitchen equipment, and then features over a hundred recipes organized into the following categories…

Mornings & Breakfast, such as Fluffy Whole Grain Pancakes

Soups & Stews, such as Garlicky Winter Vegetable and White Bean Mash with Mushroom Miso Gravy

Salads & Dressings, such as Romanesco Confetti Salad with Meyer Lemon Dressing

Hearty Mains & Big Plates, such as Butternut and Pesto Cream Lasagna

Vegetables & A Couple of Grains, such as Burrito-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Energizing Drinks & Small Bites

Desserts & Small Treats, such as Earl Grey and Vanilla Bean Tiramisu

Each seasonal, wholesome, and delicious recipe includes a photograph…gluten-free, sugar-free, oil-free, and nut-free options…and the amount of time that recipe will require.

 I didn’t find the recipes too complicated or too “extra.”  These plant-centric recipes will allow you to use up what you already have, encourage you to try something new, and create your own basics instead of buying them.

I found this book to be very organized, especially because it contains an easy-to-use index and informative table of contents.

I also found the book to be encouraging and fun to read because Laura shares interesting stories about specific ingredient and dishes, memories from childhood about harvesting and preparing it certain foods, and her decision to become a vegan.

The book is beautifully designed and laid out. The fonts are easy to read, and the ingredients and instructions are listed side-by-side in a very user-friendly way.

Each and every recipe has a beautiful color picture (almost always full-page)…a series of icons at the top for nut-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, etc….and the amount of time that the recipe will require.