Monthly Archives: May 2012

Vidalia Onions and the First Yellow Squash of the Season

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Low Country Squash with Pork Chops and Butter Leaf Salad

For me, it is a right of passage of sorts. I remember back over 30 years ago when as a young bride in the Low Country we had just moved in to a new house on the St. Helena Sound. my neighbor brought me over a little brown paper sack filled with yellow squash. She told me to go to the Piggly Wiggly and buy a “mess” of Vidalia Onions and explained this very simple recipe. Every spring I make this and think of the gift that Belle gave me. These two vegetables which appear at the same time every spring in the South will always be a perfect pairing in my mind. You can use any sweet onion to make this. Fortunately I had the amazing luck to come upon a shipment of Vidalias here in Hawaii. I grabbed them up and have been making all kinds of good things with them. But when I was at the farmer’s market and saw this yellow squash, I had to make this.

The recipe is embarrassingly simple and I am sure you will love the velvety texture that is the result.

Vidalia Onions and the First Yellow Squash of the Season

3 Vidalia or other sweet onions sliced

3 tender yellow squash sliced

3 cloves of garlic finely minced

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Freshly grated Parmesan

In a generous skillet, heat the olive oil and put in the squash in an even layer. Brown and turn.

Add the onions and stir, sautee till the onions start to sweat.

Clean a hot spot in the center of the pan and add  the minced garlic. Stir again.

When the onions turn translucent and just start to brown, add the cheese and stir till it starts to melt.

 

Add salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

 

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

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Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

The Cupcakes
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar 
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
3/4 teaspoon baking powder 
3/4 teaspoon salt 
2 large eggs 
3/4 cup buttermilk 
3 tablespoons vegetable oil 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
3/4 cup warm water 

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line mini muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, add eggs, buttermilk, oil, extract, and the water; beat until smooth and combined.

Spoon the batter into liners about two-thirds full. Bake approximately 15 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Transfer tins to wire racks and allow to cool for 10 minutes; turn cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 1 month in air tight containers.

To finish, use a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece (about 1/2 inch deep) from the center of each cupcake and throw away the pieces (or eat them). Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons warm Salted Caramel Filling into each hollowed-out cupcake. You will notice the caramel will sink into the cupcake a little, just fill it up a bit more. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over filling.

Use a pastry bag with a medium open-star tip and pipe Dark Chocolate Frosting onto each cupcake, swirling tip and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Garnish each cupcake with a pinch of sea salt. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are filled and frosted. Store at room temperature in airtight containers – do NOT refrigerate. 

Salted Caramel Filling
Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups sugar 
2/3 cup water 
1 tablespoon light corn syrup 
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream 
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, preferably fleur de sel 

Directions
Heat sugar with the water and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over high, stirring occasionally, until syrup is clear; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan and stop stirring.

Cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed. Boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is caramelized and just reaches 360°F. Remove from heat and slowly pour in cream; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in sea salt.

Use immediately; if caramel begins to harden reheat gently until pourable.

Dark Chocolate Frosting
Ingredients:
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water 
2 1/4 cups (4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature 
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 1/2 pounds best-quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Directions:
Combine cocoa and boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved.

With electric mixer on medium-high, beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the cocoa mixture. 

Frosting can be refrigerated up to 5 days, or frozen up to 1 month in an air tight container. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat on low speed until smooth again. Pipe onto cupcakes. 

Polenta and Furikake Crusted Vidalia Onion Rings

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imageIt is that magical time of year when Vidalia onions appear in the markets. Yes, even here in Hawaii, home of the Maui Onion (which is almost as sweet) we get Vidalias. I have been making cornmeal crusted onion rings for a long time, but I decided to change it up a little by using Greek yogurt instead of buttermilk to soak my onion rings in and to add Furikake  to the Polenta. In this recipe I used a course ground Polenta which added a lot of texture. You could also use stone ground grits for this. Furikake is a Japanese seasoning used to spice up plain rice. I use it for lots of things and love adding it to the panko crumbs when making fish. My favorite Furikake is wasabi, sesame and nori. It ads little pops of flavor in the crust.

Ingredients: 

2 cups of Greek Yogurt, thinned with 1/2 cup of milk

4 large Vidalia onions

2 cups coarse polenta

1/2 cup all purpose flour (or rice flour if you are gluten free)

1/4 cup Firikake

plenty of fresh cracked pepper

1 teaspoon of salt

Peanut oil for frying

 

Method:

  • Slice onions into thick slices, place the slices in the bowl of yogurt and milk and allow to rest for 30 minutes
  • Mix all other ingredients except oil in a shallow container
  • Heat oil to 350
  • Pull out slices of onion and shake off excess yogurt but allow a bit to remain
  • Dredge the onion slices in the breading, making sure it adheres to the onion slices
  • Fry the onions, 6 or so slices at a time for about 3 minutes, draining on a grid.
  • Serve immediately

I like to make a chipotle mayo for dipping. In a small blender mix 1 cup of mayonnaise with half a can of  chipotles. (freeze remaining peppers for another use) Blend till they are combined.