Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter! Semi Homemade Doughnuts with Cinnamon Sugar

This was a little Easter breakfast request and why would I not fulfill it?  These are really easy, really yummy, and Stella likes to make them as well.  Winners all around.

1 package/roll of Pillsbury Biscuits
Pot of oil for frying, I used canola oil
1/3 cup bakers sugar
1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon (or to your taste)

In a small bowl mix together sugar and cinnamon.
Separate the biscuits into rounds and cut each round into quarters.  If you want to get fancy, or don't need as many doughnuts as one package will make, you can use a small round cutter and cut the rounds out.  This is what we did this morning, but it does incur some waste.  I say go with the quarters, it's what I normally do if I'm feeding a sleepover crowd of kids.  And, as we found today, they are easier to flip and fry evening when they are cut into quarters.  
Heat oil to 320.  Fry the doughnuts in batches.  This makes for more even frying and easier sugar coating.  Fry each side until golden brown.  If your oil is too hot, they will brown too quickly and you'll find the centers not fully cooked and doughy.
Line a large bowl with paper towels.  Drain the doughnuts on the paper towels and let cool for a minute.  
Pull the paper towels out and sprinkle the doughnuts with some of the sugar mixture.  Toss to coat evenly.  
Repeat this process until all doughnuts are cooked.
These come out not greasy, lightly sugared, and are a hit every time.  Eat as is or for a sweet dessert, serve with a little jam and whipped cream.  Yu-um!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Grilled Miso Black Cod and Avocado

On with the grilling!  I got my hands on a small whole black cod and decided to make a grilled cod and avocado salad ala the crab and avocado salad from last summer.  
Fillet the cod or buy a filet of black cod and marinade in:
1/4 cup miso
1/4 cup mirin
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon grape seed oil

Refrigerate for several hours.  The small black cod I had was approximately 1 1/4 pounds once filleted. 
Grill the cod until it is easy to flake.  It's easiest to grill it skin side down only and with this recipe, you do not need the skin, so it can, in essence, be used as a pan on which to grill the cod.  Once the cod is cool enough to handle, flake it into large pieces, making sure to remove any bones.

For the avocados:
2 medium sized avocados, not quite fully ripe
fresh lemon juice
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cut each avocado in half and remove the pit.  Remove the avocado from its skin in one solid half using a large spoon.  Cut the avocado into thick wedges, about 3 wedges per half. Drizzle with lemon juice to help keep it from growing.  
When ready to grill, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and grind pepper to taste.  Grill for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side.  You want it on just enough to sear, but not too much to turn it to mush.

For the vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon olive oil 

juice of half lime, about 1 tbsp
1 teaspoon sugar
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine olive oil, lime juice, sugar and pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper.  
You will also need:

1 cup chopped tomatoes, I used yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 scallion, thinly sliced
To assemble, lay the avocado wedges on the bottom of a medium platter.  Spread the cod around and top with the tomatoes, cilantro and scallions.  Drizzle with the vinaigrette.  So clean and fresh tasting.  

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Chicken

Spring break is upon us and the weather here in Seattle actually feels like spring.  You know what that means.. grill time.
The idea for this chicken came from the ssam sauce I use as a condiment.  I had some in the refrigerator which I had made a while back.  When I started to think about the marinade, I realized much of the ingredients I was going to add to my already made ssam sauce was what I actually put into the ssam sauce to make it.  So I started anew and added a few more ingredients.

For the marinade:
1 Tablespoon hot pepper paste
1 Tablespoon seasoned soybean paste
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
1.5 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon honey
2 Garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
1 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons chopped shallots
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Puree all of the ingredients together in a blender. 
Pour the marinade over your chicken and marinade for several hours, or overnight.  I used chicken thighs, because that's what I had on hand, but really any cut of chicken works.   And I like to use a large zip lock bag for marinating, but a pan, bowl, or baking dish works just fine.
Set your grill to medium high and grill until chicken is fully cooked, brushing with the marinade periodically.  If you are using skin-on chicken, expect some flare ups from the fat.  Also, the honey and sugar will burn if cooked in too high ov heat.  This is not a put on the grill and come back later grill session.  Grab a beer and enjoy.

I served the chicken with chilled sesame noodles and roasted brocolini.  Hello spring!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Whirley Pop Kettle Corn

This is a quick recipe for my Stella whose favorite popcorn is this kettle corn made in the Whirley Pop stove top popper.  My sister in-law turned us onto this popper which is truly easy  and fun to use and makes fantastic popcorn.  I'm adding this to the blog so Stella will always have the recipe.

2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
1/3 Cup Popcorn Kernels
2 Tablespoons Fine Bakers Sugar
2/3 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

Our Whirley Pop popper is the 6 quart size and the recipe above makes maybe just over 4 quarts.  For the kettle corn I find that not making a full batch is better as the sugar will sometimes burn with the kettle is full.
Coconut is the best oil to use.
Place the popper over medium heat.  Add the coconut oil and then the kernels and stir together using the crank handle until the oil is melted.  
Keep the lid closed during the whole process except when you are adding things to the popper.
Continue to stir for another 30 seconds and then add the sugar and salt. 
Slowly turn the crank on the handle until the kernels begin to pop.  
As more kernels pop, start turning the crank faster.  The idea is to make sure the sugar and salt are well distributed within the popcorn.
Once the popping slows down to a pop every couple of seconds, remove the popper from the heat.  
Remove popcorn to a bowl immediately, otherwise the popcorn will stick to the popper.
The popcorn is a perfect combination of sweet and salty, light and crunchy and not greasy at all.  Yum!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Creamy Mushroom Conchiglie

Okay, time to move on from that fried fish photo.  Here's a quick and easy mushroom pasta.  I went with Lagana traditional bronze-cut fresh pasta made in downtown Seattle.  The mushrooms I'm using are not so traditional when one thinks of Italian pastas, but hey, I got them on sale.

1 pound fresh pasta

12 ounces fresh mushrooms
1 clove garlic, smashed and finely chopped
1/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, steeped in 3/4 cup hot water
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
freshly ground pepper
additional salt to taste

Steep the porcini mushrooms until the water has completely cooled.  Squeeze the mushrooms and reserve liquid.  Chop the mushrooms into small pieces.
Clean the fresh mushrooms you are using and slice, if needed, into bite-sized pieces.  I'm using King Trumpet and Beech mushrooms.
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and then the porcini mushrooms.  Saute until garlic is fragrant.  
Add the mushrooms and saute until just softened and add the salt.
Then add the reserved porcini mushroom liquid and bring to a simmer.  Let simmer until the liquid is has evaporated by 1/3.  Then add the cream and continue to simmer.
Simmer until cream is thickened and coats the back of a spoon.

Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Toss pasta with the sauce and then add the parsley and freshly ground pepper.
Finish the pasta with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano .
Mushrooms, cream and fresh pasta, how can one go wrong?  Delish!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Beer Batter Fried Fish

One of my biggest missed opportunities in eating, or what I've been calling my biggest eating regret, is the fish and chips and mushy peas at the Rising Sun Pub in Hurley, UK.  This was my sister's neighborhood pub when she was living in England.  We had gone there one Friday night for a pint after dinner.  While enjoying our pint, out from the kitchen came the largest, most beautifully fried filet of cod resting on a bed of chips with a side of mushy peas.  The cod was one solid filet and it had curled up on the ends from frying.  I felt my mouth water.  But, we had just already eaten and there was no room for that lovely piece of deliciousness.  Not to worry I thought, I will just go down another night and feast.  We proceeded to have a lovely evening and Chris engaged in a lively conversation with a local about starting a mushy pea business once back home in Seattle.  I was to find out later that fish and chips were only sold on Friday nights and our plans never allowed me to get my dreamy fish and chips dinner.  And since, it looks like they have remodeled and made the place a touch fancier.  I have since always felt that I may have missed the fish and chips of a lifetime. I will never know.

Tonight, I'm making fish and chips in a beer batter with yeast.  I have no idea how the Rising Sun made their fish, but it looked crispy, with a thin batter and fried to perfection.  I think what appealed to me the most was that it was a thin filet about 15 to 18 inches in length sitting proudly taught and curled.  I have no intention of trying to replicate that fish.  I am not even using cod tonight, but instead rock fish that I picked up at a Costco run today.  I like to keep my little dream of what that fish might have been like.  Tonight's meal results from primarily lack of a better idea.  But the Rising Sun memory was worth sharing, right?

1 1/2 pounds rock fish filets
I cut the fish into strips and brined it in a mixture of water, mirin, kosher salt and sugar for a couple of hours.

For the batter:
12 ounces beer (I used Sam Adams Boston Lager) at room temp
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups flour
1.5 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Combine the beer and yeast and stir, using a whisk, to dissolve the yeast.
Add the flour and whisk until smooth.
Whisk in salt and sugar.
Cover and let rest for about an hour.

Heat a large pot of oil to 325f.  Adjust heat to maintain this temp.
Drain and pat dry the fish on paper towels.
Prepare a large bowl or dish with just flour in it.
Fry the fish in batches.  The idea is not to over crowd the fish and also too many pieces at one time will drive the temp of the oil down and not fry the fish properly.
For each batch of fish, dust the fish with flour, then dip the fish into the batter, and gently place into the oil.  
Fry the fish until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.  Repeat for each batch.
Drain the fish on paper towels to soak up excess oil.
The batter was pillowy, light and yet crispy.  Delicious fried fish.  But I will always wonder about the one that got away.