Fried Potatoes Thingamaroonies

So if anyone is good at coming up with food names, there’s a position open here at The Kosher Gastronome headquarters. Pay is terrible, and the hours are long. Let me know.

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Here’s what went down with this dish. I had gotten it in my brain that I wanted to make something with filo dough (more on that in a second), and I had this vision of mashed potato and cheese. So I bought some filo dough, made some mashed potato*, and added some goat cheese. I folded it all up, brushed with some melted butter, and baked it. Now..this story is not about these quasi spanakopita thingies; nay…this story is about what happens next, and how the events transpire. Come, let me take you on a journey. Don’t worry, it won’t be long.

*I make my mashed potatoes thusly – cubed potatoes go in pot with cold water and salt. Bring to a boil, and cook until potatoes are fork tender. Drain, and while hot mix with fat (ie – butter), and whatever else tickles your fancy. I think I threw in parsley into this one. If you want to go really decadent, you can mix in heavy cream.

Ok, so first let’s talk filo dough. Remember way back in the day we made scallion pancakes, and we talked about “laminated dough?” Well, if you don’t, here’s the tl/dr (=”too long/didn’t read”). There’s a sub family of dough that gets it lift from fat separating the different layers of dough.

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Filo/fillo/phyllo dough is one of those, and they way they work, is you take these extremely thin sheets of dough, brush them with oil, then keep on stacking dough and oil until you have the thickness you want (usually around 3-6 sheets), and do whatever you were planning on using it for

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Like I said, the actual triangle thingy isn’t what we’re talking about (long story short, I made them on Thursday for a Saturday night, and by that time they were a little soggy…they tasted good but were too non-crispy, yaknow what I mean?)

Anyway, I had a whole lot of the scraps left over, and not being one to waste, I was trying to figure out what to do with them. I figured the filo is basically just dried up dough, meaning they can lend structure. I figured I would mix it with the mashed potatoes and cheese, and fry it up. I mean fried cooked dough? it’s essentially chremslach (how badly did I butcher that spelling?). But I figured something might be different if I add the filo. I dunno…it was an excuse to eat fried potatoes…all in the name of science.
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I rolled up this appetizing looking mush

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and fried these suckers

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So as you’ll notice from the top picture, they didn’t really stay in their spherical shape, but rather became more pancake like, so that being said, I don’t think the filo made a difference. However what I would tell you is these little fried potato thingamaroonies were pretty dang top notch! Huzzah!

Seriously, get some mashed potato, add some goat cheese and fry it, it’s really good.

So now that you’ve read this, can you think of an appropriate name please? Winner gets credit in the Kosher Gastronome Cookbook.

Blooming Onion & Beer Battered Onion Rings?? Two for the price of one!

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Hey friend, so you know I like you right? Well that’s why I am nice enough to let you in on the secret to perfect beer battered onion rings. No more will you be forced to eat onion rings which have no coating. We’re talking crisp, yet airy onion rings. That’s something you want isn’t it? Of course it is. If you tell me you don’t like onion rings, I don’t know if we could be friends.

That being said, I do have one caveat. You see apparently someone over at Joy Of Kosher thought I was pretty cool, and they actually asked me to do this guest post over on their blog, so if you want the ultimate secret to perfect Beer Battered Onion Rings, you’re just going to have to click on any of these shiny words. Or this one. You can also try this word…they all work. While you’re over there you can also vote for me as one of the Best Kosher Food Blogs, but you’re going to have to scroll all the way to the bottom, because I currently have a grand total of 2 votes (thanks mom and dad!)!

Anyway, go over there and make those onion rings, because they’re really awesome, but while you’re at it, and you have all that oil ready for some frying, why not make a blooming onion??? Genius, right? The batter is different than the one for the beer battered ones, and really the only thing that makes a blooming onion, is the preparation.

Take your onion, oh and we’re using the sweet Vidalia types, and peel the skin off while keeping the onion whole. Then you’re going to want to cut it into wedges without going all the way through the onion. Kind of like cutting a pizza, I guess…somehow…So start by making a cut from pole to pole, but don’t go all the way through. Then make a cut perpendicular to that one, again avoiding cutting all the way through, and keep on going until you have wedges.

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Place the onion in some ice water, and gently start teasing apart the “leaves.”

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Mix together 2 eggs, and set aside.

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Also mix together 1 cup of flour, with whatever spices you see fit (I used, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, and cayenne…but use whatever you want, you can’t really go wrong). Pour enough hot water into the flour mixture that a thickish batter forms (like a thin pancake batter).

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Dip the onion into the eggs, and then the flour mixture, and fry until golden-brown, about 15 minutes.

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If we’re making blooming onions, you got to have a dipping sauce right? So I threw together mayo (about 1/3 cup), a splash of cider vinegar, sriracha, paprika, and mustard, and mixed it all together.

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Now the only issue I had with the blooming onion is it’s a pain in the butt to handle, and trying to keep all the leaves together, and all that…so I thought to myself, why not screw the whole blooming onion thing, but make those leaves anyway. So for batch #2, I did the same exact thing, but this time, I cut all the way through. That way, every last part of the onion was coated with the coating, and it fried up so much nicer. Plus, it was easier to handle post-frying, and also easier to dip. So unless you’re after the esthetics of a blooming onion, I say, go for the second way, it’ll be much easier for everyone.

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Another note – if you haven’t read the beer battered onion ring post (and seriously, why haven’t you yet?…oh you’re not sure where the actual post is?? Well why didn’t you say so…click here), the onions were soaked in a salt-water type of soak (we used beer in that recipe, but any salt water solution will work) to pull out the moisture from the onions, which if you use sweet onions, will have a lot of moisture so it will really benefit from the soak, which I didn’t do, and the final product did end up a little mushier than I wanted, and I think now’s a good time to end this extremely long run on sentence, no?

I’d love to hear what you’re planning on making for your superbowl party.

Blooming Onion

Ingredients:

  • 2 large Vidalia onions
  • 3 cups oil (or enough to cover the onion)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Hot water
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha (or any type of hot sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • Hot paprika
  • Mustard powder

Directions:

  1. In a heavy bottom pot, heat up the oil over high heat (if using a thermometer, you want it to register about 350 before frying…if you don’t have a thermometer, you can either use a popcorn kernel which pops around 350, or you can use a wooden chopstick, and it should bubble around the chopstick when the oil is hot enough)
  2. Peel the outer layer of skin on the onion while keeping the onion whole. Then to make the blooming onion, cut through the onion, but not all the way through, and make wedges by cutting perpendicular to it, and continue going until you have a bunch of wedges as illustrated above. Alternatively, you can make the blooming onion by just making the “leaves,” by cutting all the way through.
    1. If you want, and I didn’t do this, but I recommend it, salt the onions after you cut them, and let them sit for 20-30 minutes to allow the moisture to come out of the onions
  3. Mix together the eggs and set aside
  4. Mix together the flour, salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder, and cayenne, and add enough hot water to form a thin-ish batter
  5. Dunk the onion in the egg, and then the flour mixture, and when the oil’s ready fry the onion until golden brown, about 13-15 minutes
  6. While the onion’s frying, make the dipping sauce – Combine the mayo, sriracha, vinegar, paprika and mustard and mix to combine

Eclairs – January Kosher Link Up

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Another month, and another Kosher Connection Link-Up thingy. This month’s theme – Miniatures, which is great, because I made these here eclairs a little while back, and it was totally on purpose that they came out way smaller than I was expecting. Well then, let’s get going shall we?

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Of course we shall, what a ridiculous question.

Anywhoo, so eclairs, they’re pretty much awesome, correct? So why aren’t we making it more often? Well I don’t know, I guess most people assume that they’re pretty difficult to make, well I’m here to tell you not to assume (you probably think I’m going to say not to assume because it makes an ass out of you and me right? Wrong! You never assume because it makes an ass out of Uma Thurman, and that’s never a good thing). An eclair is simply baked pate a choux, filled with pastry cream, and topped with chocolate, and I intend to tackle each one starting…now.

Pate a choux, which translates into cabbage paste, luckily stuck around even after those damn Frenchies gave it that ridiculous name. Choux paste in it’s most simplistic form is melted butter with some water mixed together with flour, and then mixed together with eggs. It’s really a thing of beauty; It relies on the simple conversion of water to steam to deliver its lift, and what ends up happening is you end up with one giant bubble stuck inside the final product, which is perfect for filling.

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In order to make choux paste. First butter is melted in some water, and when ready, flour is added, and cooked for a little to remove any flour-y taste.

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The resulting batter is left to cool, and then eggs are added and mixed in, which will take a little time to fully incorporate,  and the resulting dough will go from the consistency of a paste to more like a thick pancake batter.

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The batter can then be “cooked” in a few different ways, and one of those ways is to bake it for eclairs/profiteroles. (frying would be another great way which would get you beignets, but that’s another post). I based the recipe off of Michael Ruhlman’s ratio for pate a choux, which means you need a scale (I’m telling you, if there’s one piece of equipment you really should have, it’s a scale, but you know me, I’m not preachy). The ratio he uses (in his book Ratio, which is a great book by the way) is: 2 parts water: 1 part butter : 1 part flour : 2 parts eggs. For me the eggs are usually the rate limiting step, and I base how big/small the recipe will be on the eggs. Since one large egg weighs 50 grams, if you use 1 large egg, you end up with: 50grams water, and 25 grams butter and flour (besides salt, and other flavorings like sugar and vanilla if you want).

For the pastry cream filing, I based it on another ratio in Ruhlman’s book, the ratio for Creme anglais. Creme anglais is a loose custard (whereby custard is defined by – a mixture of eggs and a liquid, which can either be free standing [eg – quiches, cheesecakes…] or not [ex – creme anglais, which includes French style ice creams, creme brulee, pastry cream]). For the non free standing types, there are different ways to thicken the resulting cream, and for our pastry cream (or Crème Pâtisserie if you want to be fancy) it gets thickened by a starch (cornstarch being the first choice since it’s pure starch, but flour, potato, tapioca/cassava would also work). The ratio he uses for creme anglais is: 4 parts Milk/cream: 1 part yolk : 1 part sugar.

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The general idea for making any type of custard usually is to mix the eggs and sugar together, to start dissolving the sugar, and to lighten the eggs with thorough whipping.

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Then the milk is heated up, along with your vanilla bean.

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In our case, I used some ground vanilla bean, which I got so graciously from Bakto Flavors via Kosher Scoop because I’m one of the taste testers…more on that in the future.

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Once the milk is at the desired temperature, it’s slowly added to the eggs a little at a time to temper the eggs (temper means to slowly bring the temperature of one thing that’s colder to the temperature of another thing that’s warmer, but done slowly and gently to avoid overcooking), once tempered, the remaining milk/cream is added to the eggs, and then it’s all poured back into the pot to cook a little more, and if needed strained out. In our case, to incorporate the starch, you first have to mix the cornstarch with some cold milk until it makes a slurry, and then you add the slurry to the heating up milk, and it will then start to thicken (starch only thickens at a specific temperature, which is also why you don’t want to dump it all in dry, because it will begin to thicken the second it hits the hot milk, and form clumps). Set aside to allow to cool.

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To cook the eclairs, preheat an oven to 450, transfer the batter to a piping bag (what you really need is a tip coupler, which can turn any cut ziploc bag into a real piping bag), and pipe onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, although you might want to pipe them a little bigger than I did. (You can push down any irregularities, by dabbing at it with a wet finger)

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Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, and then lower to 350 for the last 10-20 minutes, until nicely browned. Take out of the oven, and pierce with tip of paring knife to allow steam to vent out. When cooled enough to handle, use the star tip to pipe the pastry cream inside the eclairs (this will be hard if you don’t have the tips). Set aside on cooling rack.

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To make the chocolate topping, melt a whole bunch of chocolate in a double boiler with a little bit of some sort of fat (butter, vegetable oil, whatever), and dip eclairs into the chocolate. Allow the chocolate tool cool and it will slightly harden, but not too much because of the addition of the fat. (I tried making a ganache by mixing equel parts chocolate and hot milk, but it didn’t work as I had planned, but if I were to make it now, I would do it this way)

Comments: So I made a few mistake – From the beginning in order of appearance:

  1. The tip I have for my tip coupler was too small, resulting in these “mini” eclairs (which I guess wasn’t that bad of a result, but not what I was trying to do).
  2. I forgot to poke a knife in the eclairs as they were cooling, so they deflated (whomp, whomp)
  3. The pastry cream was way too thick. I think maybe because when I made the pastry cream, I forgot about the starch, so I had to heat it back up, and add the cornstarch slurry, but I think I added to much starch, plus I’ve never used ground vanilla bean, and I wonder if it also thickened the sauce more than anticipating.
  4. Because I forgot the deflate the eclairs, it made them soggy, so it was very hard to pipe the already thick pastry cream into it..so that didn’t really go over so great.
  5. I thought I’d be better off making a chocolate ganache…I’m not really sure why, but I made the ganache, that was too thin, and had to make it thicker, and whatever it didn’t work out either.

And there ya have it – eclairs. So it might seem like it’s a lot, with fancy words like: scale, piping bag, temper…oooh that sounds like it’s too much…too much of a patchke…well, it’s not, and you should do it. But do it better than I did.

And to the three people who read this much and haven’t been referred here from another blog (Hey mom, dad, and fan favorite Phoenix Fresser), don’t’ forget to Check out all the other participants in this months Kosher Link-up, by clicking on the funny frog thin-a-ma-bob under here.



Eclairs

adapted from Ratio by Ruhlman

Ingredients:

For the pate a choux:

  • 25 grams butter
  • 50 grams water
  • 25 grams flour
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Pastry cream

  • I used the ratio 4 parts milk/cream: 1 part egg yolk : 1 part sugar, and used 1 yolk, but I don’t remember how much everything else came out…yet another reason to get a scale.
  • Vanilla (if it’s a vanilla bean, you want to cut and scrape the pods into the milk as it’s heating up)
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons milk

For the Chocolate sauce:

  • 3-4 grams bittersweet chocolate chips (I know I’m old, because I find the sweetened ones to generally be way too sweet, and I like the Whole Foods brand which is like 70% cacao, which if I was 15, I would think tastes like bitter terrible-ness, but now I love it)
  • 1-2 teaspoon fat (butter, oil, whatever)

Directions:

To make the pate a choux:

  1. place butter and water in medium sized pot (to be able to accommodate the flour also), and heat over medium heat to melt butter.
  2. Once butter is melted, add all of the flour in at once, and with a wooden spoon, mix together until paste forms. Continue mixing and cooking for another 3-4 minutes to cook out the floury taste. Take off heat and allow to cool, 5-7 minutes.
  3. When cooled, add eggs (one at a time, if using more), and start to mix vigorously. At first it will look like the egg isn’t adding into the dough, but continue beating, and eventually it will all come together…trust me).
  4. Transfer batter to piping bag fittest with widest tube, and pipe large eclair shaped ovals (I guess it’s an oval…)
  5. Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 350, and cook until beginning to brown (about 10-20 minutes).
  6. When done, place on wire rack to cool, and when cool enough to handle, pierce eclairs on the side with a small knife, to allow steam to escape

For the custard:

  1. Mix together yolk and sugar vigorously until the color of the yolks lighten (we’re after incorporation of air (which lightens the color) and for the sugar to start dissolving into the yolk)
  2. Heat milk or cream over medium heat (I hate heating up milk, because if you turn around for one second it will boil over, and make a big mess…true story…like every time I heat up milk), and if using a vanilla bean, cut lengthwise, and scrape the pods from the inside, and heat up until just about boiling…If using vanilla extract, add it to the egg/sugar mixture…I used ground vanilla bean from Bakto, which I got via Kosher Scoop to test out, and it’s really cool…more on that to come…eventually)
  3. Slowly pour a little of the heated up milk to the egg yolk mixture, and whisk constantly, to heat up the eggs  ever so slightly (ie – temper), and once warm enough, dump the rest in, whisking constantly. When fully mixed, add it back to the pan, over medium-low heat, to heat up some more.
  4. While milk egg mixture is heating up, mix together the 2 teaspoons cornstarch and 2 teaspoons milk, until no clumps are left, and add to the milk-egg mixture, and continue cooking until custard has thickened (when you drag the spatula on the floor of the pan, it should leave somewhat of a trail…does that make sense? meaning – it should take a little bit of time for the mixture to fill in the void the spatula created)
  5. Strain through fine mesh strainer, and set aside.

For the chocolate:

  1. Place chocolate chips on double boiler (that is: you take a medium sized pot, fill it a tiny bit with water (like an inch or so), and heat up to a simmer. Place smaller metal bowl over top of it) and heat up chocolate gently, with the fat in it, constantly mixing with a spatula, and stop just as everything is melted, because it will continue to cook, and you don’t want to burn the chocolate)

To assemble -

  1. With star tip on piping bag, pipe custard into eclairs slowly, while back out, and stop when custard starts oozing out.
  2. Dip each eclair into chocolate mixture, and set aside to cool/harden
  3. Eat every last one of them with out shame knowing full well it’s 100% fat free if you make it yourself

Stuffing

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All right, so this month’s kosher connection’s theme is stuffing, and I was trying to figure out what to do with that, figuring I can’t just make stuffing, because everyone’s going to be doing that, and I have to be different. But then I thought, wait, probably everyone’s thinking that, so no one will make it. And then I thought, wait, maybe everyone’s thinking that! Ok I really didn’t take it that far, so yeah, I made actual stuffing. Stuffing, which by the way, might be the most non-photogenic food out there, is a pretty cool thing.

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I was thinking, let me take you on a journey…in the vast expanse that is my mind, and go through how I tackle stuff I want to make in the kitchen. You’ll no doubt recall from previous posts, that I’m essentially a 2 year old, and am stubborn. I have to do things my way. Well this is my general thought process when it comes to making stuffing. Enjoy.

In my opinion, the definition of stuffing is a savory bread pudding wherein (yeah, in my mind, I say words like wherein…I’m smart like that) bread pudding = custard + liquid. Ok so first things first. The dried out bread part. The original bread matters, not only for taste, but because what’s in the bread, so you’re going to want good quality bread. To dry it, cut it into cubes, and you can leave it out on the counter, or you can dry it in a 200 degree oven, until it’s, well, dried. (If you really care, according to America’s Test Kitchen, drying in the oven is the best way to do it, because it causes evaporation of the water molecules as opposed to drying on the counter top, which because it takes longer, causes the starch and water to swell, and it’s the starch that hardens, so essentially the water is still left behind, and you want the water out of there, so the dried out bread will then soak up more liquid…)

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Now for the custard part. Custard is what you call something that was a liquid, and is now firmer because of eggs. So the proteins that are found in the eggs, set up into a meshwork that holds the liquid in place. Examples of custards are – creme caramels , cheesecake, quiches,. In all these cases, I usually use Ruhlman’s ratio for a free standing custard (as opposed to a non free standing custard, like creme brulee, or creme anglais, or even French style Ice cream) which is 2 parts liquid to 1 part egg. You can use any water based liquid, provided it has minerals dissolved in it (like salt water, milk, stock, etc). Basically, each individual protein is this large glob of a molecule, and it has a bunch of negative parts to it, and since they all have these negative parts, they kind of want to repel from one another, and will bind on itself, and will bind with only a few other proteins. If you add minerals, the positive parts of the mineral will occupy the negative part of the protein, and now they don’t hate each other as much, and can form a stronger bond, which is really important.

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Think of how weakly bonded a scrambled egg is. it’s pretty easy to rip it apart. Now imagine this concoction, which is relying on the eggs bonding, but is heavily diluted. Which brings us to the next thing, you need to heat the custard gently to work. Reason being you don’t want to overshoot the setting temperature, because if you do, the proteins will bond to each too much, and now it’s actually squeezing the water out of it. There’s obviously more to discuss, but we’ve got stuffing to make, but one last thing. A lot of custard recipes calls for heating the liquid up, and then tempering the eggs, which can be a pain in the butt. Well truth be told, you only need to heat up the liquid, if you want to dissolve something into it (like heating up a vanilla bean in the milk, if you’re making creme caramel). However, if you’re just using the liquid straight, you don’t need to heat it up. So no need to wrap a towel around your bowl, so you can whisk with one hand, while slowly drizzling in your hot liquid with the other. For this recipe, I didn’t use the 2:1 liquid:eggs ratio, but more like 3:1 liquid:egg ratio. I used vegetable stock as the base, and it was like 900ish grams, and I used 6 eggs, which, since each egg is 50grams, comes out to about 300grams. Whisked it all together, and set it aside.

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Then I sauteed onions, mushrooms, celery, and carrots, until softened, about 10 minutes. Added in minced garlic for the last 30 seconds, and then tossed it with my dried out bread. Chopped a whole lot of fresh parsley (which in my family is one of the staples of our stuffing), combined the liquid, mixed until combined, and baked in a 300 degree oven for 40 minutes.

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Personally I like my stuffing, more on the fluffy than crunchy, but if you want it crunchy-er, then you can spread it more thinly on a sheet pan, or make stuffins (ie muffins + stuffing), by putting the stuffing in a muffin pan, so you’ll have more crunchy parts.

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Also obviously you can stuff the stuffing into a turkey and bake away. Personally, I roast my turkey in parts so I don’t have a turkey cavity to stuff, but what I have done, is bake the stuffing with a few pieces of turkey carcass over top of it, to allow the juices to drip through.

Anyway, I hope I didn’t bore you too much.

Questions? Comments? I don’t care!

I kid!! Post away in the comment section!



Stuffing

this is enough for about 15-20 people

Ingredients:

  • Bread, cut into cubes, and dried (about 1lb dried)
  • Liquid (I used 4 cups of vegetable stock)
  • 6 eggs (you can probably use only 4, and still have a good result, but that’s just a guess)
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 medium ribs celery, diced
  • 2 small packages of mushrooms, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 whole bunch of parsley, minced
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300
  2. Sautee onions, carrots, celery, and mushrooms until most of the liquid has evaporated, and vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and sautee for 30 seconds, adding salt and pepper to taste
  3. While vegetables are sauteeing, combine stock and eggs, and whisk vigorously, until thoroughly combined
  4. Combine sauteed vegetables with bread, and parsley, and pour stock mixture over.
  5. Place in 9×13 pan, or if you want a crispier stuffing, spread thinner on a sheet pan, or alternatively in muffin cups, and bake for 30-40 minutes