Spicy Pickled Okra

Well howdy pardner…now that you’ve ventured over these here Mason Dixon lines, you my friend are in the south, and down here in the south we like our okra, and by the south I mean good ole Mrrrrland, the entryway to the south, where we’re just slow enough to considered “southy” but still too brash and rude to know we really belong in the north. Anyway, okra, I hardly knew ya! See what happens when I don’t blog for months?? I just have a stockpile of jokes, and I’m just going to use them all up now…So yeah, Hi, didja miss me?? Good.

The first time I ever had okra was actually pickled okra, from a company called Wickles, and they make these awesome pickled okra, which are just the right amount of spicy and sweet, that it made me want to make them. Luckily I wasn’t inundated with okra beforehand, because if you ask most people they’ll tell you they hate okra because it’s too slimy, which they disgustingly are, but as we’ll soon see, they don’t have to be.

Okra for the uninitiated is this star looking pod, that when cut produces the infamous mucilage that is actually something valuable as a thickener when making gumbo, but otherwise it’s pretty gross. Now there are ways around it. First off, the mucilage only happens when you cut into it, and release some enzymes. So you can either keep them whole, or you can heat them over really really high heat, to denature the enzymes (like if you were to use them in a stir fry…). Here’s an interesting tidbit that I’m pretty sure I didn’t make up, the candy we know of today as marshmallow, was called the “marsh mallow” because when those kooky Frenchies developed it in the early 17th century, they used the mucilage from a specific mallow from a marsh, not very unlike what’s found in okra (in fact I think it was a relative of okra…). Chew on that disgusting fact the next time you eat marshmallows!

Anyway, let’s talk about pickling. When we speak of “pickling” something, we’re usually referring to preservation of said food, without any heat. The idea behind it is: there are some friendly bacteria present on said food that will, in the right conditions, produce anti-microbial stuff (ex – lactic acid, carbon dioxide..), and also metabolize the sugars in the food, so said food will now not only taste differently, but also not spoil. We can either accomplish this by traditional means, which is adding a lot of salt, which will then draw stuff (water, sugars…) out of the food you’re pickling to create an environment that is friendly for the good bacteria to flourish and do their things (ie – no oxygen). Or we can do the non traditional approach, and give those little stupid bacteria some help. The way we do this, is by adding vinegar that kills the bacteria that causes spoilage, and allows the good bacteria to do its thing of metabolizing sugars, yada yada yada….I lost you didn’t I?

Long story short (tl/dr) – pickles can either “ferment” by just adding salt, which will then kill off bad bacteria, or you can quickly “pickle” it by adding vinegar to kill the bad bacteria…..make sense??

For our little application we decided to go the quick route, because contrary to what my verbal diarrhea might imply, I like shortcuts.

Generally you want at least half of the brine to be vinegar, so equal parts water:vinegar works, but I find that upping the ratio of vinegar helps. So I like to go with about 60% vinegar. You can use any type of vinegar you want, and I’ll usually use half regular vinegar and half apple cider (I’ve never tried any of the heavier types of vinegar like balsamic or even red wine, but I’m intrigued…if anyone’s every tried that, I’m curious how it’s come out).

The next step is deciding what other components/flavors you want.

For this spicy pickle, I added about 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon of sugar, a bunch of dried thai chili peppers, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, and some dried rosemary.

I poured a ½ cup of hot water over top to dissolve the salt and sugar, and re-hydrate the peppers. Added my vinegar mixture (I think it was apple cider and regular vinegar), covered the okra with the liquid, and placed it in the fridge for a day.

So yeah, that’s it for today…It kind of sucks that I’m not the blogger I claim I am. I mean just this summer alone, I’ve already made 4 batches of okra pickles, 1 batch of classically lacto-fermented cucumber pickles. Pickled beets. Pickled red onions…and none of it presented itself on these here interwebs. And I blame you! I still haven’t worked out why or how I blame you, but suffice it to say that I do.

I kid!! I miss you…this was fun, and not at all weird right?? Let’s try to do this more often, ok?

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.

Another one pot noodle thingamabob…plus a link up

Quite a catchy title there, I know. Anyway remember way back in the day when I used to post regularly? And one of those awesome posts was about the one pot noodle dishes that was all the rage a few months back? Oh you don’t? Well fear not, relive the experience by clicking here, but don’t forget to come back for some even more awesomeness. So much awesome, its awesome.

Anyway, moving right along, so this month’s link-up Kosher Connection, is all about comfort food. Well just what is comfort food? Well I guess its food that comforts you, duh…but what’s that? Well I don’t know, but who cares, let’s eat.

So ever since I posted that one pot linguine recipe I was talking about earlier, a few people have told me they really liked it, which is always nice to hear. And to be honest, I’ve made a few different iterations of the same dish, but this one stood out, namely because I actually remembered what I put in to it, and more importantly, I had some quasi usable pictures.

It all starts with stock. Vegetable stock to be precise, but not just any vegetable stock, a really quick vegetable stock; like 20 minutes quick. How, you wonder? Well, you’re going to have wait on that one…that post is coming up…eventually…maybe. Who am I kidding…more like don’t get your hopes up.

So anyway, you’ve got vegetable stock, which makes everything better (by they way, you can obviously use plain ole` water, if for some odd reason you don’t have stock handy), now it’s all a matter of throwing a few vegetables and some cheese together.

For this dish, I sauteed cauliflower, then added my noodles (orichetta), spinach (raw), ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. I added the stock, and let it all cook down.

While the stock was cooking, I took some feta cheese, and mushed it (which is the precise culinary term) with some chopped parsley.

Once the pasta was cooked through, and the stock was cooked out, I topped the whole shooting match with the feta-parsley awesomeness, and obviously some more parmesan, and then proceeded to be comforted.

Wow that was quick…I know you’re sad that that’s all, but if you have any questions type away in the comments below, and as always, click on the funny frog man under this paragraph to see what people who actually know how to blog are doing.

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