I love French fries. I am constantly seeking a way to make the best ones. Sometimes I like them thin and crispy, sometimes thick and pillowy light inside (best done by roasting at a high temp.). Most often like Goldilocks, I like them “just right.” That means that they are medium cut fries, a little crispy on the outside and soft on the outside, full of potato flavor, not the grease they were cooked in. I like fries cooked in duck fat, but that is not always something I have an abundance of. Here is the method, it is simple and only requires a large pot (best for keeping splatters contained) a deep thermometer used for frying or cheese making, a spider (or other mesh spoon to retrieve your fries and some good quality canola oil. The thermometer is the only thing you may need to go out and buy. Here is an example. You need this because you will need to control the temperature of the oil.
Russet Potatoes, well washed
Canola Oil at least 3 ” deep
Smoked or Kosher Salt
- Cut the ends off of the potatoes and then the rounded edges. lay flat and cut into 1/2 ” strips. Place in salted water till finished cutting.
- Preheat the oil to 250 degrees.
- Use either a salad spinner or a dish cloth to completely dry the fries. Once the oil is ready place fries into the oil. You should not be crowding them, you may need to do this in batches.
- Cook until they start to look slightly golden, about 4 minutes, making sure that the oil temperature stays at 250.
- Carefully remove to a straining tray (cookie sheet or steam pan) with a rack. I say carefully because the potatoes are very tender at this point and can easily tear.
- Bring the heat of the oil to 365 degrees.
- Add the potatoes in batches and allow to cook till they are perfectly golden with a subtle bit of brown on the edges. Remove to the draining tray again and salt IMMEDIATELY. Serve right away with home made mayonnaise, BBQ sauce or ketchup.
It is Meyer Lemon season. I have been in love with Meyer Lemons since I was a little girl. My great grandmother had an ever bearing Meyer. Coming from a citrus family has advantages. I wonder how that 60+ year old tree in Glendora, California is doing now. I do lots with the lemons on my tree and those I buy to supplement my habit. Here is what I did with some of them yesterday.
Meyer Lemon Focaccia
Makes 1 focaccia.
- 1 package (1/4 ounce) instant yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons if you use bulk
- 5 cups all-purpose flour, preferably organic
- 2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- Olive oil, for bowl and baking sheet
- 1/2 cup mozzarella or pecorino toscano thinly shredded
- 2 lemons, very thinly sliced crosswise
- about a tablespoon of fresh rosemary
- 1-2 meyer lemons sliced thinly and seeded
- Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to grate over the top
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (more if you like a kick)
- thinly sliced sweet onion
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I use smoked)
*Note: It is best to use very fresh lemons for this, as older lemons rinds become difficult to chew.
- In a large bowl, or in a bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast and 2 1/2 cups flour with 2 cups water; whisk to combine. Let stand 15 minutes.
- Add remaining 2 1/2 cups flour and salt; mix until well combined. Change to the dough hook if using a stand mixer. If using the mixer, knead with the mixer. If doing by hand, turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead until wet and tacky, but not sticky, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand until doubled in size, 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
- Scatter semolina on a large rimmed baking sheet and press dough evenly into baking sheet. Let rise until puffy, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
- “Dimple the dough with your fingers Drizzle some olive oil on the dough. Cover dough lightly with Pecorino or Mozzarella and lemon slices, then sprinkle with rosemary and pepper; drizzle with more extra-virgin olive oil. Gate a little Parm over the top.
- Transfer to oven and bake for 15 minutes. Rotate baking sheet, and continue baking until lemons and crust are golden brown, about 15 minutes more.
- Remove bread from baking sheet and transfer to a wire rack to cool at least 10 minutes before serving.
Wonderfully easy and fresh Ravioli! So easy 40 minutes from oven to table. You can also roast the tomatoes ahead of time and make this even faster.
The tomatoes are mostly small grape tomatoes, but I tossed in a few others too. The ravioli dough is actually won ton wrappers. I cannot find my ravioli cutters after the move, so I used a biscuit cutter. This recipe serves 2, but you could easily double it.
- 1# of ripe cherry or grape tomatoes
- Olive oil
- Vik’s Garlic Fix (or fresh garlic minced with a sprinkling of Kosher salt)
- finely chopped Italian Parsley, Basil and rosemary (about 3 tablespoons total)
- 8 nice leaves of Italian Parsley and Basil for the raviolis
- 8 small balls of fresh mozzarella
- 1 package of wonton wrappers
- 1 cup of dry vermouth (or chicken stock)
- Reggiano Parmesan for grating
- Additional seasoning to taste for the sauce, smoked salt, Vik’s Garlic Fix, coarse black pepper & crushed red pepper.
Cut the tomatoes in half. Place on a cooking sheet with rim. Drizzle with olive oil, Vik’s Garlic Fix, a spring of rosemary leaves and black pepper.
Roast at 350 for 30 minutes
Remove and cool slightly
On a floured counter, lay out 8 wonton wrappers and place one parsley leaf, one basil leaf, one tomato half and one ball of mozzarella ball on each. On 8 other wonton wrappers, brush the egg wash and then place on top of the “loaded” wrappers. Seal carefully and then cut with a ravioli cutter or leave square. Place these on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and allow to dry a bit. 10 minutes is optional, but 5 is fine.
While the ravioli is drying, put remaining tomatoes and juices in a saute pan and simmer with the vermouth and additional basil, parsley and rosemary. Season to taste.
In a pot of boiling water, cook the ravioli for 3-4 minutes in small batches. Use a slotted spoon to plate and cover with sauce and top with cheese.
I have two grapefruit trees. Both are heavy with yellow and pink orbs. So, when I was grilling chicken the other night, I decided to see what would happen if I grilled some. The results were amazing. The heat brought out the juices in the already juicy fruit and set the sweetness soaring. I used the wonderful Salted Caramel Sugar from The Spice and Tea Exchange of Charleston where I work, but you could use Sugar in the Raw with success.
All you have to do is remove the skin and pith from the grapefruit, this is achieved in much the same way as doing orange supremes. Cut off the top of the grapefruit so you can clearly see where the pith meets the fruit. Then do the same on the bottom. Using a sharp knife, cut away the pith and skin in slices (you can save these for twists in your beverages) and once you have removed the skin, cut thick slices and place on a plate.
Just before grilling, top with the sugar and place the unsugared side on the grill. It only takes a few minutes to get grill marks. Flip and sugar the grill marked side. When the sugar has melted and started to caramelize, remove and serve immediately or cool and cut into quarters for salads.
I make Latkes (my mother called them Potato Pancakes) year round. Sometimes I make them dense as a breakfast food and other times I make them tiny and serve them as appetizers with sour cream, dill , caviar and applesauce. Yesterday morning they were on my brunch table along with candied bacon BLTs and broiled grapefruit from my trees. While generally latkes are made with flour, I used cornstarch with mine so they are also gluten free. If you have a food processor it is a super easy recipe, if you don’t it is still pretty fast. Give them a try both ways and you will see how delicious they can be. I like mine savory, so I eat them with really good BBQ sauce and bacon, but for a fancier meal I go for the lighter version and add sour cream, smoked salmon and dill.
- 2 large russet potatoes
- 1/2 red onion
- 2 eggs (beaten)
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- Pinch of Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill (optional)
- 1/2″ of olive oil & 1 tablespoon of butter in a large heavy pan
Using the fine grater on the food processor grate the potatoes and onion. Place in a sieve over a bowl and allow to rest for 5 minutes, then push the excess water out.
*Note if using a hand grater, use the larger holed grater, the fine one on that is too small.
Place the potatoes and onion in a medium bowl and add the egg and stir, then sprinkle the corn starch and dill over the bowl and stir again till all are incorporated. For larger portions, create 2-3 flat cakes and add to the pan when the oil sizzles when a piece f potato hits it. For the smaller portions add cakes about 1 1/2 to 2″ across. These cook more quickly, so keep your eye on them. You want the small cakes to be lighter, more light gold and the larger cakes to be a crispy golden brown. Place on a rack to drain before serving.
I have loved and learned from Nathalie Dupree for over 30 years. She is the Grande Dame of Southern Cooking and quite literally a Grand Dame in the organization Les Dames de Escoffier. . Fortunately she holds court in my new home town, Charleston, South Carolina and I am lucky to be in her presence more often now. I lived in Beaufort and Atlanta in the ’80’s and that is when she first came on my culinary radar. She continues to prolifically produce work on truly great southern cooking, but it is not the southern cooking your mind conjures up when you hear the term. She is classically trained and most of her early work was more in the “gourmet” realm, though using mostly southern ingredients. She has inspired cooks young and old to do what they do better. She has given us a vast work, including her most recently released tome of great proportion, Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking, collaborating with Cynthia Graubart. Their book Southern Biscuits is full of perfect recipes and techniques for making biscuits. Believe it or not, there are several different kinds of biscuits! When my step son was visiting last week he saw the book on my cookbook stand and asked, “There is a whole book just on making biscuits?” Yes, Kevin there is. One of my favorite recipes from the book is extremely simple and successful for almost any cook. The one thing you must remember when making biscuits is, “BE GENTLE.” Overworking this tender dough makes tough biscuits. Keeping that in mind, when you use a food processor, just just the minimum amount of maneuvering the pulse button is your friend. You barely want to mix this recipe, using the buttermilk as the glue that holds the flour together. It is simply the easiest recipe for making biscuits as long as you are gentle, they will be light and fluffy and melt in your mouth.
The three simple ingredients are Buttermilk, Self Rising Southern Flour and Butter (or shortening/lard) It is that uncomplicated.
*Note: If you do not live in the South, or in Wegman’s territory up North, you may have a difficult time sourcing southern flour (made from Winter Wheat), though you can find White Lily on Amazon. Other brands of Southern Flour are : Red Band, Martha White or Southern Biscuit Flour. Nathalie suggests using a mix of cake flour and all purpose flour to make a flour that is more like Southern Flour. Keep in mind it is the protein in the flour that makes a crispy chewy crust, not what you want with a biscuit. Start with 1/2 all purpose flour to 1/2 cake flour.
- 2 1/2 cups self-rising flour (I keep mine in the freezer so it is nice and cold), divided
- 1/4 cup (half a stick) of butter (or any combination of butter, shortening or lard) cut into 1/4″ dice
- 1/4 cup (half a stick) of butter (or any combination of butter, shortening or lard) cut into 1/2″ dice
- 1 cup of buttermilk divided
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. I bake in a convection oven on the convection bake selection.
Select your pan; for softer biscuits place in a greased 8-9″ cake pan or skillet. For crispy exterior, place on a greased baking sheet about 2″ apart.
- In the bowl of a food processor, pulse 2 1/4 cups of flour with the knife blade 4-5 times. Set aside the remaining 1/4 cup of flour.
- Scatter the chilled butter pieces around the bowl of the processor.
- Pulse 2-3 times quickly, no piece should be larger than a pea
- Add 3/4 cup of buttermilk, reserving the remaining 1/4 cup
- Pulse briefly to incorporate the liquid, resulting in a shaggy dough, then remove the lid and feel the dough, it needs to be wet but not sticky. If needed add more flour or buttermilk to achieve this result, but do not over process.
- Pour the dough out onto a chilled floured surface and allow to rest for a minute
- Gently flour the dough and roll into a ball with floured hands, then, roll over again into a disc. GENTLY
- Using a rolling pin flatten the disc to about 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick
- Using a floured cutter or glass, cut into biscuits
- You can roll out the scraps for a final biscuit, but I usually toss because this one will be tougher
- Place in your baking pan
- Bake for 6 minutes on the middle shelf, then turn the pan so that it is evenly browning. If the bottom looks like it is browning too fast, you can add a baking sheet under it
- Bake for another 4-6 minutes, until the tops of the biscuits are a light golden color
- Remove from the oven and brush a little softened butter on them.
Enjoy with honey, butter, jam or gravy!
This is the recipe my Great Grandma Wolf made and served me when I would spend the night at her house in Glendora, California. I have taken liberties by adding the mac nuts and the rum. When I was a little girl my Great Grandma Wolf would give me buttered rum Lifesavers to keep me quiet in church, so the flavor is homage to her. These freeze well and can be re-heated. You can also make and proof the dough the night before and then refrigerate the dough. If you do this, it will take about 2 hours for the rolls to rise in their second fermentation.
Cook Time: 20 minutesPrep Time: 2-3 hours (depending on rising time)
· 1-1/2 packages (about 3-1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast
· 1/2 cup shortening, lard or butter (I usually use home rendered lard)
· 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon or orange zest
· 4 to 5 cups sifted flour
· 1/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts
· Softened butter (about 1/3 a cup, maybe a little more)
· brown sugar (or I used a combination of male sugar and vanilla sugar)
· ½ cup mascarpone cheese
· 5 Tablespoons good quality rum
Add the warm water to the yeast and soak 10 minutes.
Scald milk; pour over the shortening. Add sugar, zest and salt and cool to tepid. Add the dissolved yeast and beaten egg. Add 4 cups flour adding one at a time beating after each addition.
Dough should be soft yet firm enough to handle. Knead on floured board until elastic and smooth. Avoid too much flour. Turn dough into well oiled bowl. Let rise for 1-1/2 hours.
Softly press dough down and shape into a rectangle. Roll dough out into a rectangle about 18 inches wide and 8 inches tall. Cover with the soft butter. Layer with a generous layer of sugar (brown or a combo of vanilla sugar and maple sugar.) Sprinkle on cinnamon and evenly distribute the nuts. Roll up jellyroll fashion.
Using a piece of thread or dental floss cut off slices about 1-1/2 inches thick. Place slices in a full side sheet pan lined with a silpat pad (or you can spray the pan with PAM.) Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until rolls fill the pan generously. This should take about an hour.
Bake in a 350 degree F oven about 20 – 30 minutes. Do not over bake rolls. Make sure the center rolls are cooked all the way through by testing with an instant read thermometer. It should read about 200 degrees. Allow to cool at least 15 minutes before frosting.
For the Frosting:
Using a mixer with whisk attachment whip the mascarpone, then add the powdered sugar and rum. Whip till fluffy. Spread over warm rolls as soon as they are placed on a plate to let the frosting melt and run into the rolls.
This recipe is quite simple. You will need an icecream maker of some kind, but even the very inexpensive ones work well for this. You will also need a fine sieve.
8 Prickly Pears (they call these Tuna) in Mexican markets. They come in yellow, orange and pink. My favorite is pink.
1 cup of simple syrup (half water/half sugar till sugar melts) or light agave syrup. Sometimes I put fresh mint in the syrup too.
Juice of three limes
1/4 cup raspberry liqueur such as Framboise. This step can be eliminated if you do not want the liquor.
Often times you can find these pears growing wild and in gardens. In Mexico they also candy them. In Italy they are used to make gelato ad sorbet in the fall.
When making your simple syrup, you can add spices, in this case I used one cardamom pod, mint, a cinnamon stick and 3 star anise. These just flavor the syrup slightly.
Using a fork, cut off the ends of the prickly pear. Commercial pears like you would find in a hispanic grocery will have the little prickles removed. If you harvest them your self, you will need to be more careful. Hold the fork on one end, stand the pear on the other end and using a sharp knife cut just the skin from the pear. Then cut into large chunks and place in a food processor. Pour in the simple syrup, lime and liqueur. Pulse until the mixture is smooth.
Strain carefully, there are a lot of seeds inside. Cool the mixture.
Process as you would in any ice cream or gelato machine. Pack tightly in freezer containers. It will be ready to eat within a couple of hours.