Fried Sweet Potato Fries

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I am ready for fall.

I know lots of people love summertime, but it’s really not my favorite.  Sure, summer is great when you are in high school and get a solid 3 months off to sleep in, goof off, and hit the beach.  Even though summer is sometimes a little less busy for me, I am slowly losing my ability to sleep in now that I’ve gotten older (saddest fact of my life right now), I still have to work, and the closest body of water is a real sketchy artificial lake outside our mall.

Summer is slowly losing its fun, and I am becoming a ball of sweat.  The heat here is getting real ridiculous.  Oh the heat! I cannot take this constant sweating.  Throughout the night I even wake up sweating a little bit.  I go to work, and I sweat.  I come home, quickly strip off my work clothes, change into shorts and a t-shirt, and sweat.  I make dinner and sweat.  And then I shower.  And then I go to bed, and get ready to sweat.  Basically, I sweat a lot this summer, and I am ready for it to stop.

So I am ready for fall.  Bring on the cool weather, sweaters & scarves, and most importantly the fall food.  Apples, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and cranberries come on down! So while I am outside doing a dance to the fall Gods to bring on cooler temperatures, you all can start taking advantage of fall produce with these fried sweet potato fries.

I know people often eat sweet potatoes as a healthy alternative to normal potatoes and thus prefer baking then rather than frying them, but let’s face it: baking is not the same as frying.  Nothing can rival the crispiness of something being deep fried- sweet potatoes included.  Sweet potatoes are a little tough to fry- they just don’t want to crisp up as much as other food.  I have eaten a lot of sub-par sweet potato fries, but I have found a good recipe for crispy sweet potato fries.

And if you want to bake, check out my method for baking sweet potato fries here.

I promise I eat more than deep fried foods even though my last three posts are all about the oil.

FRIED SWEET POTATO FRIES
Slightly Adapted from Jeff Mauro

INGREDIENTS

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup club soda
Oil, for frying

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil to 375°F. Cut sweet potatoes into 1/2-1/4 inch sticks.

In a small bowl, mix together kosher salt, sugar, smoked paprika, and garlic powder together.  In a large bowl whisk the cornstarch and club soda together.  Dip sweet potato pieces into cornstarch batter.  Let excess drip on and let sweet potatoes drain on a wire rack.

Working in batches, fry the sweet potatoes for 6-8 minutes. Stir constantly while frying, or the sweet potatoes will stick together. Drain on paper towel.  Season with salt mixture.  Eat while warm.

If needed, keep sweet potato fries warm in an oven preheated to 200°F.

Cherry Bomb Donut Holes

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Was this really only a 4 day work week?

I am exhausted.  The second week curse.  When school starts up the first week is sometimes way to ease into our work, and you still feel invigorated at the end. You may even feel really productive and ready to take on lots of work.

Then the dreaded second week comes and you start counting down the weeks until Thanksgiving.  And then you get irritated by the fact that Thanksgiving is occurring later than usual this year.

Things are stressful but good this semester.  I am finally getting in the swing of starting to see clients, and teaching is going better.  At the end of the first week I was ready to stop (prepping is a huge time suck), but this week I was kind of reminded why I love the subject of psychology so much.  I kind of got into a groove of how to give a lecture.  But I still cannot get students to laugh at my jokes- I just look to a sea of blank faces.  Their blank faces in turn make me act goofier, which leads to more blank faces.

Next week I plan to help them make a brain out of playdoh (playdough?), which apparently is an activity students love.  Give a college student playdoh, and they’ll love class.  So many colors of playdoh, so many parts of the brain!  I will let you know how that goes given that my knowledge about the brain construction ain’t super extensive.

But that’s next week.  It is now the weekend- hallelujah! So what should one do when they are feeling a little stressed by work?  Deep fry something.  It all began with my Chorizo Chimichangas and has now proceeded to donut holes.

I made these donut holes last weekend, but I definitely feel like they would be an appropriate way to celebrate surviving the second week of this semester.  They are absolutely amazing.  I was inspired by Gourdough’s, a food truck in Austin whose specialty is donuts.  I ate there a year ago, but those donuts have stayed with me. An important, formative memory in my life.

Donut holes are great because a) they are bite sized, so you can eat more, b) better outside crispiness to inside ratio, c)  you can load them up with lots of topping.  This particular toppings for this recipe are like cherry pie and cake all in one.  You get a sweet Greek yogurt sauce (because we are trying to be healthy right?), cherry filling, and cake batter AKA crack all on top of sweet donut holes. Yummm.

A helpful hint:  If you make them the donut holes a little larger, you get cooked donut outer layer and an inside molten cake batter layer inside.  Heaven is risking salmonella.

This donut holes are worth of a Meg Ryan faked orgasm.  Yes. Yes!  YES!

CHERRY BOMB DONUT HOLES
From Cinnamon Freud
Inspired by Gourdough’s

INGREDIENTS

For the Donut Holes:
1 1/3-1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup & 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
Vegetable oil, for frying

For the Toppings:
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
2-4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup cherries in syrup
1 teaspoon cornstarch, mixed with 1 teaspoon water
3-4 tablespoons cake mix

DIRECTIONS

For the Toppings:

Mix together Greek yogurt, sugar, and milk in a small bowl.  Start with 1 tablespoon of milk and add more to adjust your preferred thinness.  Chill until ready to use.

Place cherries (with syrup) in a small saucepan.  Bring to a simmer and mix in cornstarch mixture.  Cook until thickened, about 1-3 minutes.  Keep warm.

For the Donut Holes:

Fill a pot or pan with approximately 2 inches of oil.  Heat to 375°F.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder.  Beat in egg, milk, and melted butter.  Stir together until just combined.  Take approximately 1-2 heaping tablespoons of dough and roll into a small ball.

Working a few donut holes at a time, fry in oil, about 1-2 minutes per side until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.

Top donut holes with sweet yogurt sauce and cherry syrup.  Sprinkle bake batter mix on top.

Serves 1-2

Chorizo Chimichanga

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For me this recipe is really called taco roll.

I’ve mentioned before that I often eat steel cut oats for lunch since I find them delicious and they help keep me full.  Now that school is back an session and lunch is often squeezed int office hours or eaten during class, I have been eating a lot of oatmeal.  Unfortunately, our building’s communal microwave is out of commission during a remodel, so my oats are often room temp or slightly chilled.  Not my ideal lunch situation.

So, lunch on the weekends really needs to count.  This chorizo chimichanga is inspired by one of my favorite elementary school lunches.

Did you get those monthly hot lunch calendars when you were in elementary school?  For me, it took a little planning at the beginning of each month to decide my best lunch options.  I would often buy lunch when there was pizza or pasta- pretty easy choice.  But I also would have mom pack me a lunch (she often packed a good lunch).  If I wanted to feel sophisticated, I would sign up for the chef salad for lunch (this was often the teacher’s lunch choice- I was basically an adult when I ate that big salad with mountains of toppings.

But there was one lunch that the school served that I always bought.  Taco Roll.  Years later, I learned that this was basically a chimichanga: a deep fried burrito filled with cheddar cheese and ground beef.  And it was delicious.  So I decided to recreate my favorite childhood lunch with a few updates.  I mixed up some chorizo, pepper jack, garlic, and onions.  Stuffed in a burrito and deep fried.

It tasted just like I was eating it off a plastic tray many years ago.

The best lunch I ever ate at school though?  When our middle school first opened, they sold pints of ice cream.  My friends and my lunch of choice then was obviously a pint of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.  Lunch of champions right there.

But for a more balanced diet, I guess I can eat this chimichanga for lunch.  And then the ice cream.

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CHORIZO CHIMICHANGA
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

1/2 tablespoon butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
1-1 1/2 pound chorizo (or ground beef)
4 cloves garlic, minced
6-8 ounces cheese, shredded
5-8 large flour tortillas
Vegetable oil, for frying

DIRECTIONS

Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat.  Melt butter.  Add onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown, about 7-10 minutes.  Stir in chorizo/ground beef.  Cook until cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook for an additional 2-4 minutes.  Drain on a paper towel.  Let cool completely.

Fill a pot or pan with 2 inches of vegetable oil.  Heat oil to 375°F.

Warm tortillas in the microwave.  Divide filling between the tortillas.  Top with cheese.  Fold tortillas.  Fold the top/bottom first then the sides.  Use toothpicks to secure the chimichanga closed.

Fry for 1-2 minutes per side, until golden brown.  Drain on paper towel.  Keep warm in a 200°F if needed.

Makes 5-8 chimichangas.

Funnel Cake: Secret Recipe Club

8-13 Funnel Cake

Today begins my much needed vacation.  As you read this, I am probably high in the sky, making my way out of Texas.  Ahhh…feels wonderful.  I will fill you all in on my oodles and oodles of fun soon.

Vacations make me very happy.  What else makes me happy?  Funnel cake.

Nothing stands in the way between me and my funnel cake.

If that distinctive sweet, fried smell of funnel cake wafts over to me and hits my nostrils, I become a woman with a mission.  Must find funnel cake.  And when I see the stand selling funnel cake, I become a pointer dog, fixated on my goal.

Shoving money at the vendor, I will anxiously and impatiently wait as they fry up my treat.  When they hand me that fried, doughy goodness on a white paper plate (always) topped with a mountain on powdered sugar, I will promptly dig in. And I will promptly get powdered sugar all over myself. #notcocainejustpowderedsugar

Happiness is a freshly made funnel cake.

So when this month’s Secret Recipe Club came around and I was assigned It’s Yummy to my Tummy‘s blog and saw a homemade recipe for funnel cake, I was in.  All in.

Homemade funnel cake in my own kitchen? Right now pleaseandthankyou.

HOMEMADE FUNNEL CAKE
From It’s Yummy to my Tummy

INGREDIENTS

1 egg
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
Oil, for frying
Water, to thin out the batter
Powdered sugar, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Fill deep skillet or pot with 3-5 inches of oil.  Heat oil to 375°F.

In a small bowl, whisk egg and milk together. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder.  Whisk egg and milk mixture into your dry ingredients.  Add additional water if needed to thin out the.  The batter should be easily pourable.

Hold a funnel over the hot oil.  Pour a small amount of the batter into the funnel, moving to make a web pattern.  Fry 1-3 minutes per side, until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels for 1-2 minutes.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and consume immediately.  Repeat with remaining batter.

Fish and Chips: Improv Blog

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How about a nice batch of fish an chips, eh? Chip, chip, cheerio?  Chim chim chimmery?

In my head, this entire post is read with a British accent.  Please oblige me.

Fish and chips have been on my culinary bucket list for a while. So when I saw this month’s Improv Challenge was to make something with fish and chips, I knew I wanted to go the traditional fish and chip route.

So ‘a fish fryin’ we went.  My family and I grabbed some beers and hung out in the backyard while we fried up dinner.  The fish is dipped in a beer batter and fried until flaky and tender.  And the French fries- oh the French fries.  I have baked up some pretty good fries before and even fried a few good batches, but people, hear me when I say, the double fried French fry is where it is at.  They are crunchy, tender, and wonderful.

The best way to enjoy a fish and chip dinner is to clear the dinner table, put down newspaper, and dump it all in the center.  Serve with tartar sauce, ketchup, and vinegar.  Battle it out to get the crispiest fish pieces and French fries . Drink beer.

When we ate our fish and chips, I chose the optimal seat at the dinner table where I got to eat on the newspaper article about Dennis Quaid.

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FISH AND CHIPS
Fish Slightly Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Chips Slightly Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

INGREDIENTS

For the Fish:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
Salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 pounds cod

For the Chips:
3-4 large Russet potatoes, peeled
Vegetable oil, for frying
Salt

DIRECTIONS

For the Fish:

In a large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, 2 teaspoon salt, cayenne, and paprika.  Transfer 3/4 cup of flour mixture to a rimmed baking sheet. Stir in baking powder to flour mixture in the bowl.

Heat oil to 375°F.

Cut the code into equal, bite sized pieces. Dry with paper towels.  Dredge fish in dry flour mixture. Lay fish on a wire rack.  Stir beer into flour mixture in bowel.  Dip fish into beer batter and let excess drip off. Dredge through flour mixture again.  Fry fish in batch until golden brown, 4-8 minutes depending on size.  Drain on paper towels and salt if desired.

For the Chips:

Cut the potatoes into 1/4 inch wide sticks.  Place in large bowl and cover with water.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes, up to 1 hour.  Drain and pat dry.

Heat oil to 300°F.  Fry potatoes in batches, for 3-5 minutes.  This first fry is to cook the potato, so it should be soft and able to be cut with a knife.  They will not yet be golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.

Heat oil to 375-400°F.  Fry in batches until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  Salt while warm.

Serves 3-4.

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Pork Sticky Rice Dumplings

Happy Chinese New Year everyone!  Although I am a little bummed to be missing our traditional family celebration back at home, I will be celebrating today on my own.  2013 is the year of the snake, which is my year, so I am doubly excited!  Maybe this luck will help me figure out a topic for my thesis soon?  Please?

This dish brings back a lot of memories.  When I was a young preteen my doctor told me I “supposedly” had a gluten sensitivity because I was having some sinus problems.  And for some reason, we decided to listen to him, and I went off gluten for almost a year.  Now, this was way back before gluten free was a thing.  There were no gluten free cake mixes in the store, no one had ever heard of quinoa, and all gluten free food was plain awful.  No, I’m not bitter.

Despite my less than thrilled attitude about my new diet, my mom did her best to try and make me good food and recreate classics that I loved, all while I dreamed of McDonald’s cheeseburgers.  She ran all over town to speciality stores to get special, foreign ingredients and scoured for gluten free recipes wherever she could.  She made me cookies that crumbled instantly at the touch, and she made gray pasta that had to be eaten immediately before turning to mush, and bread that was always a little “off”. Now, I complain with love, but I would have starved if it weren’t for my mom, but the weird foods from this era definitely stick out in my mind.

This recipe comes from that era.  Before you all click off this page and never return, this was one of the best recipes my mom found. A salty filling is put inside a dumpling dough.  The dumpling is then deep fried, giving a crunchy outside and a sticky chewy inside.  The description sounds strange, but I promise it’s good.  It’s the only gluten free recipe that I pulled out of the archives to eat today.

Oh, and Mom: I haven’t forgotten about how you lied and made me get blood drawn for this gluten free test.  Never forget.  But with all the work you put into my diet, we can call it even.

PORK STICKY RICE DUMPLINGS
From My Mom

For the Pork Filling:
4 ounces pork loin, diced
1 teaspoon mirin
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 scallions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon seame oil
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
3 ounce dried shrimp
Oil, for deep frying

For the Dough:
3 cups glutinous rice flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1- 1 1/2 cups water

DIRECTIONS

For the Pork Mixture:

In a bowl combine pork, mirin, and cornstarch.  Mix to coat.  Heat canola oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat.  Add pork mixture and cook for 3-5 minutes, until cooked through and browned.

In a bowl whisk soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, cornstarch, and water together.  Add scallions and sauce to pan.  Bring to a boil and let simmer until thickened, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add dried shrimp and toss.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

For the Dough:

In a large bowl combine rice flour, sugar, and 1 cup of water.  Stir together until a soft dough forms, adding additional water 2 tablespoons at a time as needed.  Turn onto a lightly oiled surface and knead until dough comes together.  Roll into a log and cut into 15 pieces.

For the Dumplings:

Heat oil to 350-375°F in a wok, deep pan, or deep fryer.

Take pice of dough and flatten on a hard, oiled surface.  Form into a 2 inch circle.  Spoon about 1 teaspoon of pork filling in the center.  Pinch closed.  Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.  Using a slotted spoon transfer dumplings to hot oil.  Fry until dumplings are golden brown and rise to the surface, 4-5 minutes.  Drain on a wire rack.  Eat immediately.

Makes 15 dumplings.