Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oven Roasted Vegetables

An easy way to draw out the flavor of vegetables is to oven roast them. Most root vegetables cook up using this method very well. The vegetables caramelize and develop a pleasant depth of flavor. I use a variety of vegetables in combination. Some of the possibilities are:

Sweet potatoes
White potatoes
Winter squash such as acorn

The vegetables should be roughly cut up into medium sized pieces. I don't peel white potatoes, but everything else I do peel. When using zucchini, cut them into larger pieces than the other vegetables as they take less time to cook. Put all the vegetables onto a shallow baking pan. A jelly roll pan works well. Sprinkle olive oil over vegetables and mix them well to cover. Add pepper, salt and garlic powder. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about an hour, turning vegetables over once about halfway through the cooking process, until vegetables are browned and soft.

They make a great accompaniment to roast chicken, pork or beef.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rosette Cookies

Rosette cookies are a cookie made from very light batter that is deep fried. A rosette iron is used to make them. They are of Norwegian origin, and are made as a Christmas treat.  Rosette irons come in many shapes and sizes. The more expensive ones are made from cast iron while the less expensive ones are made from cast aluminum. Mine is aluminum and works very well.

The most important thing with making rosettes is the temperature of the oil. It must be kept between 350-375 degrees. Any cooler and the cookie won't cook quickly and evenly as it should, any hotter and the cookie may burn or stick to the iron.  You can use an electric fryer with a thermostat, but I use a cast iron skillet and a thermometer.  The picture on the right shows my setup with a cast iron skillet filled half way with vegetable oil and a probe thermometer hanging halfway into the oil to keep tabs on the temperature.  If you do it this way, keep your eye on the thermometer. You'll probably have to make slight heat adjustments to keep the temperature within the 365-375 degree range.

Rosette Cookie Batter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • small pinch of salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Beat together eggs, salt and sugar. Add rest of ingredients and beat until smooth. 

Pour oil into pan or fryer, making sure to fill no more than half way to allow for expansion of hot oil when food is placed into it. Make sure you have the lid for the pan or fryer close by.  There is always a risk of oil catching on fire (although it is minimal if you keep it below 375 degrees) and the best way to douse an oil fire is by placing a lid on it.  Safety first!

Make sure rosette iron is clean and dry. After oil comes to temperature. put iron in oil for a minute or two so that it heats up.

Shake off excess oil, and dip iron into batter, but not all the way to the top. Leave a quarter inch or so from the top of the iron, otherwise the batter will cook over the iron and the cookie will be difficult to remove.

Place batter-coated iron into hot oil and cook for about 30 seconds or until brown.  

The cookie may slip off the iron when still in the oil. Just remove it with a metal turner.  If the cookie doesn't come off the iron in the hot oil, give it a gentle shake and it usually will fall off, or gently remove it by putting a metal turner edge alongside one of the edges of the cookie. Place it on a wire rack with paper towels underneath to drain.

Continue this procedure until all the batter is used up.  It may take a few tries to get a perfect cookie, but with practice you'll be cranking them out in good order. Just remember to keep that temperature between 365-375 degrees and you'll be rewarded with some of the lightest, crispiest cookies you've ever eaten! Once the cookies are done, dust them with powdered sugar and enjoy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Salt-Cured Salmon Salad

Salt curing will reduce the size of the fish and concentrate the flavors. As long as the fish is rinsed very well with plenty of cool water after it is cured, it won't be overly salty in flavor.
  • 1/2 lb. fresh skinless, boneless salmon fillet
  • 1 cup pickling or Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 medium head Napa cabbage
  • 1 lime
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 small clove garlic
Combine salt and sugar. Place half of the mixture onto a large piece of plastic wrap, making sure to spread it out to a size as large as the piece of fish.  Put fish on top, place rest of salt and sugar mixture on top of fish. Wrap the fish with the plastic wrap and place in a large plastic bag. Place bag ont oa plate and put in the refrigerator and let cure for at least 24 hours.

After fish is cured, remove from bag and unwrap over the sink. The plastic will be full of liquid that has been leeched out of the fish by the salt.  The fish will be dry and hard when it is properly cured. Rinse repeatedly under cool water to remove as much salt as possible.  Don't skimp on the water, take your time and make sure all the salt is removed or the fish will be too salty and spoil the dish.

Mince garlic and place in the bottom of a large bowl. Chop the Napa cabbage up and place in bowl along with garlic and toss until mixed. Cut up green onions fine and dice the Roma tomatoes. Add to cabbage in bowl.  Cut up salmon into thin strips and add to bowl. Add the juice of the lime and a little black pepper, toss until all ingredients are well mixed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cow Pie Cookies

A simple, easy and quick recipe that makes a really good chocolate cookie. It's the perfect dessert to go with a good mess of Cowboy Beans!
  • 1/2 cup room temperature butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugars until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well.  In a separate bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to the sugar and egg mixture,  mix until well blended. Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips.

Drop spoonfuls of batter onto greased cookie sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing. Substitute unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts instead of the walnuts for a great taste variation. Cocoa powder is cocoa solids minus the cocoa fat or cocoa butter.

Cocoa solids hold all the chocolate flavor, are low in calories and carry all of the beneficial antioxidants that have been found to help prevent many diseases.   The solids and fat are separated by pressing, which can lead to an acidic taste tin the chocolate.  Solids that have been produced by the Dutch process are less acidic and have the traditional brown color associated with chocolate.
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