Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Muffins

Preheat your oven to 350. Grease your muffin pan.
Stir together the dry ingredients.
Stir together the wet ingredients.
Make a well in the dry ingredients.
Add the wet ingrefients to the dry.
Stir all the ingrdients together.

Fill the muffin liners 3/4 of the way up.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Quick Bread—(Any Flavor You Can Imagine)

To freeze...Wrap in plastic and aluminum foil..can be frozen for up to three months.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

A Watched Pot Never Boils

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

I Don’t Even Know How to Boil Water

You probably alreadty know how to do this cooking method called boiling…most of us have been boiling stuff since we were making our own macaroni and cheese out of a box when we were teenagers…assuming that you were borb before they started making macaroni and cheese is single-serving microwavable cups.

Yet boiling is a cooking method…and our goal at this point is to learn about all of the most commonly used cooking methods…

So let’s talk about boiling for a while.

 

 

 

What is boiling?

Boiling is a moist-heat cooking method that involves immersing food in a liquid that has been heated to 212 degrees F. This hot liquid then transmits its heat to the food being cooked.

This temperature is called the boiling point…the point where the pressure of the liquid equals the pressure exerted on the liquid by the surrounding atmosphere.

As liquids boil, you will see bubbles forming and then exploding on the surface of the liquid.  These bubbles are caused by water vapor rushing to the surface.

The food that you boil should be sturdy enough to withstand the aggressive water without being damaged…because the rough agitation of the water can actually damage the food.

 

Commonly  boiled ingredients include pasta, grains, green vegetables. dried pasta, dried legumes, rice, noodles, potatoes, and eggs.

 

How long you boil the ingredient depends on several facttos—such as what the ingredient is, your personal preference,  how you were brought up….(for example, back in Mississippi we cook our peas along with some bacon practially all day before serving)…how important maintaining the food’s original color, texture, and flavor…whether or not you care if you deplete the nutrients of the ingredient…and so forth…

Ingredients an either be added to cold water and heated along with the water…ior added to the water once the water has already started boilling…depending on the characteristics, of what it is that you are cooking…(more on this later)…

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Let’s All Get Boiling Mad Together

Yeah, I know…I said that we would crawl our way up the Raw Foods Pyramid one food at a time…one tier at a time…

But…

My family will never be content to eat nutritional yeast and raw sweet potatoes for the rest of their lives.

So instead I have been getting acquainted with all the different cooking methods…what foods work best for which technique…how to use each method in creating not only meals that are healthier, but also more delicious.

I began looking at these different cooking methods by starting with what I thought were “moist cooking methods”…specifially sauteeing, pan frying, and deep frying.

Let’s consider a few characteristics that make certain cooking methods “moist” cooking methods…

  • 1. Moist-heat cooking methods involve cooking food with, or in, some type of liquid—such as steam, water, stock, or wine. Lately I have learned that many people do not consider these three methods to be “moist” cooking methods because…but, hey, we’ve already talked about it…so let’s move on and not join in on that debate.
  • 2. Moist-heat cooking methods involve using lower temperatures—ranging from 140°F to 212°F—(yeah, I know, we just talked about frying foods at 300-ish degrees…just go with it)…
  • 3. Moist-heat cooking methods soften tough fibers—such as meat protein or plant cellulose….which can be good or bad depending on the food that you are figuring out what to do with.
  • 4. Moist-heat cooking methods are typically simple and economical.
  • 5. Moist-heat cooking methods are more likely to preserve and maintain the water-soluble vitamins and other nutrients of the food, taking advantage of that food’s nutritional potential.
  • 6. Moist-heat cooking methods preserve and even add moisture to the food as it is cooking…important for cooking foods that need softening—such as hard vegetables, tough meat or dry grains and beans….
  • 7. Moist-heat cooking methods bring out more of the natural flavor in the food.

We have already looked at sauteeing, pan frying, and deep frying.

Some more common moist-heat cooking methods are…

  • boiling
  • braising
  • poaching
  • simmering
  • steaming
  • stewing

So let’s get boiling mad together in these next few posts, okay?!

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Facts to Never Forget about Frying Foods

For years I have honestly been afraid to deep fry. Seemed liike every single time I tried to fry something, I end up getting splashed with hot grease and my hysband ends up finishing the job.

I laugh and say that he cookes on top of the stove, and I cook in the oven.

But lately I have been practicing the art of deep frying, and actually enjoy it…especially considering that deep frying gives you such good, but bad for you, foods as onion rings and French fries.

1.Choose the Right Oil…It is important that you choose an oil that has a smoke point higher than the recommended frying temperature…such as canola, peanut, and soybean oil. As far as the amount of oil that you need, you will typically need one or two quarts.

2. Clear the area around your workspace….and create an assembly line…arranging things.in the following order from left to right……

  • Food to be fried
  • Batter
  • Stove with pot of hot oil
  • Wire rack with paper towels underneath to put the food on after it’s cooked.

3. Clean the Oil While Cooking...Keep the oil clean while frying by removing any breading or coating that is simply floating in the oil after taking out each batch. by using a fine mesh stainless steel strainer or spider to remove this debris…Otherwise, these will burn and make your food taste burnt.

4. Cook at a High Temperature…Your oil should be somewhere around 375 degrees before adding your food…otherwise you’ll probably end up with food that has an overcooked exterior and an under-cooked exterior…food that is heavy and  greasy, not crisp and light.

It is best to use a candy thermometer to check the temp of the oil before adding your food.

Believe it or not, it will also take more time to cook your food to cook.

Your ultimate goal is to have the hot oil instantly seal the outside and cook the inside without burning the surface.

5. Cook your food in small batches…Don’t overcrowd the pan. Make sure to let the oil rise to temperature again right after removing the first batch and adding the next batch because this will lower the temperature of the oil quickly..

Your temperature needs to be somewhere between 325 to 375°F before adding in your first batch of food…because your food is always colder than the oil

The temperature of the oil is probably the most important factor in determining how crispy the crust ends up being.

6. Cool Your Food After Cooking…Draining your food on a cooling rack will allow you to quickly absorb any extra oil from the surface. Otherwise your food will not have as much of a crunchy exterior.

Carefully Lower your food into the oil so that you don’t get splashed with hot oil. 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Beignets

My husband and I were stationed about ten years ago at Fort Polk, Louisiana. This was interesting. Being from Mississippi, you would think that I would be right at home in the Deep South…

But…

 

Louisiana is a whole different world…

And Louisiana has some of the best food in the country…

Especially the beignets…

 

 

 

Beignets, the official state doughnut of Louisiana since 1986, have been popular within New Orleans Creole cuisine ever since being brought to New Orleans in the 18th century by French colonists.

These “fritters”are made from deep-fried choux pastry are traditionally prepared right before consumption, doused in powdered sugar, and eaten fresh and hot.

Today beignets from the Café du Monde, along with their coffee with chicory and café au lait, are quite famous…

So here’s a recipe for making the perfect beignets…

 

 

———————–

The Ingredients

  • .1-1/2C lukewarm water
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 2 egg, s,slightly beaten
  • 1-1/4tsp salt
  • 1C evaporated milk
  • 7Clour
  • 1/4C shortening
  • Nonstick spray
  • Oil, for deep-frying
  • 3C powdered sugar

 

 

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The Dough

Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Beat eggs, salt and evaporated milk together.

Mix egg mixture to the yeast mixture.

Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture.

Add the shortening.

Continue to stir while adding the remaining flour.

Remove dough from the bowl.

Place onto a lightly floured surface.

Knead until smooth.

Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray.

Put dough into the bowl.

Cover with plastic wrap or a towel.

Let rise in a warm place for at least two hours.

 

 

—————–

Frying 

Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees

Add the confectioners’ sugar to a paper or plastic bag and set aside.

Roll the dough out to about 1/4″ thickness.

Cut into 1″ squares.

Deep-fry, flipping constantly, until they become a golden color.

Drain your beignets as they finish cooking.them for a few seconds on paper towels,

Toss them into the bag of confectioners’ sugar….then holding the bag closed and shakong to coat evenly.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Beer-Battered Fish

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Prep

Preheat your oven to 250°F so that you can keep the food warm while you ffinish yout batches.

Set two cooling racks over two rimmed baking sheets; these will ensure that your beer-battered food drains a bit and isn’t too oily.

Set two cooling racks over two rimmed baking sheets; these will ensure that your beer-battered food drains a bit and isn’t too oily.

Prepare a paper-towel lined baking sheet or cooling rack for the food to drain off excess oil while cooling.

Heat your oil to 375ºF., preferably in a large cast iron skillet. Canola oil and peanut oil have the highest smoking point, meaning that you have less chance of burning the oil if it gets too hot.

Blot the fish with paper towels to dry them.

Season on both sides with salt and pepper.

————

Dredge

Dredge the fish in the flour and shake off the excess.

Let sit for thirty minutes. to activates the batter and help it puff up when it fries.

 

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Make Your Batter

—————-

Fry

Fry the fish for about five minutes…until nicely golden.Watch the temperature of the oil carefully.  If the temperature is too low, you’ll end up with greasy fish. If the temperature is too high, the outside will cook before the inside is done.

Remove the fish with a slotted spoon or tongs.

Place the fish on paper towels for a minute to help drain off any excess oil.

Serve immediately. If you do have to wait, keep the fish warm in the oven at the lowest temp possible until ready to serve.

Like frying anything else, use a thermometer to make sure that the oil is hot enough….and avoid crowding the pot.

 

The fish is done when it turns a golden brown color and bubbles start floating near the top of the oil,.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Pakora

THE VEGETABLES

Wash the veggies and then pat them dry with paper towels.

Prepping your veggies is pretty much a matter of common sense. You’re frying veggies to turn into fritters…so you want them to be fritter-friendly. Your ultoimate goal is to chop or slice or dice everything into pieces that will allow all the veggies to basically cook thoroughly and evenly all at the same time.

  • Cauliflower/Broccoli…cut the florets
  • Onions…thinly slice
  • Potatoes…your best option would be to boil and mash the potatoes in another bowl…or to use leftover boiled potatoes so the potatoes will finish at the same time as everything else
  • Spinach…finely chop

**************

THE BATTER…

Mix together staple ingredients and spices.

Staples

  • 1C gram) flour
  • ⅓C flour
  • 1Tbsp lemon juice

Spices…(you can basically “pick and choose” whatever you want, but here are some suggestions)

  • 1tsp turmeric
  • 2tsp ginger
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp paprika
  • 1/4tsp pepper
  • 1tsp chat masala
  • 1tsp fenugreek flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1Tbsp/ whole coriander seeds
  • 1tsp cumin
  • 2tsp red chili pepper flakes

Water....Slowly add water— just enough water that you no longer have dry, lumpy flour—to make a batter. Be careful not to add too much water because the vegetables will add even more water to your batter.

Your goal is to create a smooth batter that is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon….similar to the consistency of whipping cream.

 

 

Vegetables…Combine with vegetables…(these you can also “pick and choose”_…

  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1C cauliflower, florets
  • 1C spinach, finely chopped
  • 3 green onions, trimmed, finely chopped
  • 1/2C cabbage, sliced into thin long strips
  • 1/2Cpotatoes, finely chopped

Set batter aside for 10-15 minutes.

 

——————

COOKING

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan

Once the oil is hot, carefully lower the batter, using a standard tablespoon, into the oil. You want to do this in batches.

Fry for about five minute….until golden brown on both sides.

Set the fried pakora on paper towel as it finishes cooking. This will make them less greasy.

Keep frying till you are done with the batter.

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SERVING
Pakora are typially served with a hot cup of masala chai and a dipping sauce—such as creamy cilantro sauce, chutney,. or sweet chili sauce.
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Onion Rings

So our next recipe in our discussion of deep frying is how to make the perfect onion rings to serve with ‘kid-friendly foods” such as burgers…or as an appetizer…or simply because they’re so dad-gum good…(but probably not too good for you, right?)

The perfect onion rings have been double dipped in a batter that is seasoned to perfection. …the outside is crisp…while the onion itself is tender and sweet….accompanied by your favorite condiment—such as mayo, fry sauce, ranch or ketchup.

 

 

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Ingredients

2 large Vidalia onions, sliced into 1/2″ rings

Oil for frying

Batter Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • egg, lightly beaten
  •  1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c. fine cornmeal
  • 3/4 c. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

 

————————————

Prep

Fill your Dutch oven pan with 1″ oil. Heat, over medium heat, until  375°. Line a large plate or baking sheet with paper towels.

 

 

———————

Batter

Whisk together your dry ingredients—such as your flour, cornmeal, cornstarch, baking powder, and spices.

Whisk together your wet ingredients—such as your egg, buttermilk, and seltzer.

 

——————-

Breading

Slice and separate the onion rings.

Dip each ring first in your dry inredients and then in your wet ingredients…as we’ve already learned in this previous post about breading.

Repeat the dipping process.

Place the finished onion rings on a cooling rack until ready to fry..

 

 

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Cooking

First make sure that your oil is hot enough.

If so, place the battered onion rings into the hot oil. Do not overcrowd your onion rings. This will keep them from cooking correctly.

Do not add salt while you are cooking your onion rings. This will help keep the batter on the onion instead of falling apart  in your frying pot. Wait and salt your onion rings after they have cooked.

Cook for about four minutes…until they turn a light golden brown color.

After they’ve finished cooking, take them out of the oil and set them out on paper towels to cool and drain. Sprinkle with salt.

Serve hot with ketchup and mayonnaise, if desired.