Saturday, March 31, 2012

Baked Fish and Chips Gubna?

The original recipe for Baked Fish & Chips I used can be found on Food Network's page at Courtesy of Food Network Magazine.

OK so thus far on Idiotdad we've covered a wide spectrum of items. From Frite's to Gumbo to Carrot Cake. This week I wanted to concentrate on reusing some ingredients I had used on the blog before, and stay on the healthier side. It's fun to cook with tons of butter and sugar and Frank's Red Hot sauce and things, but like everyone else I do need to concentrate on keeping things lighter these days. The blog is called Idiotdad not Fatdaddy. Thus we stayed on the lighter side by doing a Baked Fish and Chips recipe I found on This recipe uses the Frites I posted before, as well as many other ingredients we've used in the past. I also liked the idea of this recipe because it's an entire meal, not just one dish.

A note or two before we begin. We will be working with fish today. Fish while healthy, has crazy potential for food born illness. Please Please PLEASE wash your hands often when handling raw fish, and please make sure you cook it thoroughly. Bake times swing wildly from oven to oven, I will give you the times and temps I used but keep your own oven in mind.

For this recipe you'll need:

3 Medium Sized Russet Potatoes
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
Pinch of Cayenne
(if you are offended by cayenne you could substitute Old Bay Seasoning, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, or any other flavored savory powder your heart desires)
Kosher Salt

Olive Oil Cooking Spray
2 3/4 cups of Rice Krispies
Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper
3 large egg whites
1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless Cod (any white firm fish will do though)
Tartar sauce

Before you do anything set your oven to 475, line your frite pan with foil and put it in the oven. Also make sure your racks are on the top, and bottom rungs in your oven. Proceed with making your frites.

We've already covered how to make frites in the past. Click here <> for in depth instructions on how to make them. I will say this time we are using less olive oil, and we are actually whisking in a pinch or dash of cayenne to the oil before coating the frites. DO NOT BE SCARED OF CAYENNE! It's very tasty and will NOT burn you if used in moderation and evenly distributed. Below are some pics of the frite making process used for this dish today.

Feel free to pop these in the oven while you work on your fish. 15 minutes on the top rack, rotate, and another 15 minutes after that. Make sure you salt your frites after you take them out of the oven, your final product should look like this.

While your frites are in the oven line another baking sheet with tin foil, and put two wire racks on it. Spray liberally with Olive Oil Spray (Pam makes a great version of this) and set that to the side.

We now are going to learn how to do what's called a dredge. Measure out your Rice Krispies in to a bowl, and crush them. Crush them well, and actually make them more fine then what is pictured ahead. I learned this too late in to the process, a finer crush will coat the fish better than what you'll see. Salt and Pepper this mixture to your liking, and mix thoroughly. In a different bowl, separate 3 eggs and keep the whites in the bowl, you can discard the yolks we will not need them for this recipe. Put a dash of salt in the whites, and whisk until frothy. Set the two bowls aside. For those who do not know how to separate eggs, you're in luck, that this week's video!

Now you can set up your cut board and cut your fish in to roughly 4"x2" portions. Once you've cut them to size dip the fish in the egg solution, then put it in to the breading bowl. Coat the fish in the Rice Krispies well, and put it on the wire rack. I would like to point out, you really should use a two handed approach to the dredge process. One hand picks up the cod, puts in the egg, and rolls it around and puts it in the breading mix. The other rolls and coats the cod in the breading, and transfers it to the wire racks. This will help reduce "club hand". Repeat this until all your fish is well coated, and on the wire racks.

Now for my oven it took about 14 to 18 minutes to cook this fish and get it right. Watch yours closely but do not open the oven too often. The final product should look like what is below. The fish should have some give when you poke it but be relatively firm. Plate the frites and fish together, and dish out the tartar sauce baby!

This is a very nice dinner for any couple or family (fish and chips usually does well with kids). It's light, but it certainly is filling as well. It's also relatively low in fat, and has a lot of good nutritional value. Also it's quick, this whole thing would have taken me a half hour to prep had I not been wrestling around with the camera! All in all this should take about one hour start to finish. Give this try some time, I'm certain you'll enjoy it! Eat well everyone!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mmmmmm... Wings.

Normally at the top of every blog I would credit any websites or chefs that invented the recipe I used for that day. Today I actually invented the recipe we will be using from my own experience and research over the course of my cooking past time.

I love Buffalo Wings. Period. There are very few entree`s and fewer appetizers I love more than wings. Thin sauced, thick sauced, a lot of sauce, little sauce, it doesn't matter. I love good wings. Today's goal was to try to create a quality wing recipe from my head and experimentation, and I believe I succeeded. This recipe is a very basic wing recipe, that can be either be made straight up or bent to serve your own creativity.

For this recipe you will need:

1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1/4 cup melted butter (salted or unsalted depends on you)
1 tsp. Worcestershire
1/8 tsp. Cayenne
Approx. 3lbs. Chicken Wings

Before we get to the down and dirty I want to address some food safety here. We are using raw chicken. I'm not paranoid but I am intimately aware of the crazy stuff that can come from handling raw chicken. Please pay attention to what you are doing, and touching. Also PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE wash your hands often.

OK the first thing you'll need to do is set your oven to 375. (I realize most wings are fried, but honestly I didn't want the mess and hassle this time around) You'll also want to set up your cut board and get a good knife ready, because you'll likely need to perform some surgery.

The wings I bought came packaged as below. Unlike in your grocers freezer section or how you see wings in restaurants they come as whole wings. This is not really a big deal. You simply take a wing and cut off the "tip" section at the joint. You can discard the tip, we will not be using them. Then I found it easiest to stand up the wing joint down, and cut into the joint attempting to get your knife in between the bones. Once you've got the process down, this will go quickly. Just set them on a plate on the side until you've completed the surgery portion of this dish. I hope the pics down below help, it's difficult taking super helpful pics on your own while working with raw poultry.

Before the next step, please take out your sheet pan and cover it with aluminum foil, then spray it down with Pam. Don't be scared to be liberal with the Pam by the way, chicken stuck to a pan is never fun. Set the pan by your sink.

After you've cut up all your wings, take your plate to the sink and run cold water over them, trying to get a decent rinse on all the pieces. Have a few paper towels handy, and one by one dry off the chicken, after which set them on the pan. Continue this process until you've washed, dried, and placed all your chicken.

Place your wings in the oven and set your timer for 10 minutes. After your timer goes off quickly flip all your wings over, and put them back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes. Now, on the nectar of the gods, BUFFALO SAUCE!

For as good as buffalo sauce is, it's dumb how simple it is make. In a bowl simply mix the all the ingredients listed above. Use a whisk to combine everything, and simply dip a spoon in and taste. If it doesn't taste "deep" enough, use more Worcestershire sauce. If it's not hot enough use more cayenne (CAREFULLY). As mentioned before the recipe I came up with is very basic and can be customized very easily to suit your individual wing craving experience.

Pretty soon your wings should be done baking. They should appear pretty similar to the picture below.

Now the fun part of making wings is "coating" the wings with sauce. This is done with a bowl, preferably metal. Simply put your wings in the bowl, add the sauce, and toss. I included a video of this process to illustrate how it should be done.

Now as I said in the video that CAN be your finished product if you wish. Just please be sure the chicken is cooked thoroughly and you're good to go!

IF you like a more baked in flavor, set your oven to "Broil" and let it heat up for a few minutes. Finish coating all your wings and set them back down on the pan. Once your oven has heated up, put your wings under the broiler, for about 6-8 minutes. Longer if desired. The finished product should look like the picture below. (on a side note: you can also toss them in sauce a second time after you've broiled, which is what I plan on doing the next time I make this recipe)

The smell is fantastic. When I plated as you'll see below I kept some wing sauce for additional dipping, and put some celery and bleu cheese on the dish as well. Believe it or not, that's it. That's all it takes to make wings at home, about 1 hour front to back. They're simple, they're delicious, and best of all they're easy. Eat well everyone!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Carroty is the Cake

The original recipe for Carrot Cake that I used can be found at Food Network's page at Courtesy of one of my food heroes Paula Deen.

I'm absolutely sure I will lose some Foodie points for saying this, I am not a big cake fan. I said it, Mark is not a fan of cake. Generally it's from a box (which is understandable, Mark is not hatin'), the frosting is too sweet with almost no flavor, and it has a texture like your chewing on nothing. It wasn't until about a decade ago when I started experimenting with home made frostings and batters that I started to appreciate what cake can be. BUT even before that, Mark did have a cake weakness that persists to this day, one of my absolute favorite desserts ever, and vice, Carrot Cake.

"Mark why carrot cake?" Well for starters, carrot cake is actually not a cake. It's a muffin (which admittedly is another food weakness of mine). That's right you read it correctly, the batter is actually a muffin batter. Thus not only does this cake have flavor it has body and texture as well. The icing most people associate with carrot cake, cream cheese icing, is also extremely flavorful and extremely quick to whip up fresh any time you want it.

I'd like to talk equipment before we get in to the down and dirty. The official recipe calls for 3, 9" cake pans. I used two. You'll find my cake turned out well in the end, if not a little uneven. Either way you go will be fine. I personally use Aluminum cake pans, not the dark coated. I've met people on both sides of the argument "dark v. aluminum". I will say this, I've been baking my own cakes since I was 14. I have never burned a cake in aluminum, and have burned almost every one in dark pans. Use what you prefer. Also we will be using a "hand mixer", and a "mixer safe" glass bowl. Also as you will see I used an icing spatula, and cake turn table (optional). Also I used a 4 sided grater.

For this recipe you will need:

2 level cups AP flour
2 level cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 1/2 veg oil
3 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (yum!)
(Mark Addition to this recipe)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup golden raisins

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 stick SALTED butter
16 ounces powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans

OK so first things first. Get the 2 packages of cream cheese and stick of salted butter out of the fridge and set them on the counter or table to get up to room temp while your working. Also set your oven to 350 degrees (universal baking temp).

One of the cool things about this recipe is that you can really just throw everything in to the bowl, mix, dump in to the pans, and bake. There isn't much of an order you have to follow, which is rare in the dessert world. BUT I always like to get everything prepped before I start combining things in to the bowl. So we will start with the prep.

Start with the pecans, because they're a pain if you have to chop them. I bought whole so I could show you how to chop them of course. Get out your cut bored and set the prescribed amount of pecans on the cut board. Your going to simply pile them up as well as you can, put your (if your right handed) left hand over the tip of the knife, and use your right hand to go up and down through the pile. DO NOT ACTUALLY "CHOP", you don't want pecans flying all over your counter top. Simply run the knife through the pile cutting as nicely as you can, when the pile gets messy scoop it up in to a nice pile again, and repeat until it's to the consistency you require.

Set those aside, and while your in the pecan mood do it again for the pecans you'll need for your icing later. Once that's finished, wipe off your cut board, and prepare to GRATE!

The process of grating is actually quite simple. Wash your carrots in cold water, then use a peeler to peel them prior to grating. Set up your grater on your cut board, and use the medium grate side. Keep doing this until you have the required amount of grated carrots. Yes this will take some time, yes your arm will be tired.

Once the carrots have been grated and your pecans chopped you can go ahead and throw all the ingredients in to the bowl for the batter. Flour, sugar, carrots, pecans, oil, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, eggs, raisins, etc. all go in the bowl.

Just an aside on the next step. The recipe calls for a hand mixer at this stage, which I used. I regret it. I own a KitchenAid stand mixer, as well as my hand mixer. Certainly there are times I actually prefer my hand mixer over the KitchenAid and vice versa. This batter is well defined as sludge. It is thick, it is hearty, and may actually kill your hand mixer if you aren't careful. If you have a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment, and follow the below directions. Otherwise, be careful as I had to be.

When all the items are combined start to mix the concoction on the lowest setting possible at first. I say this because you have a lot of flour and sugar in there, and if you put the spurs to it too quickly you'll be wearing your batter not eating it. If your mixer starts to sound like its struggling, don't be afraid to give it rest, grab a spoon, and hand mix for a second to give it a head start. Eventually the batter will loosen up and start to come together. Increase speed as it does. The last picture in the series below is how you want it to look when you're done.

The original recipe calls for butter to lube up your pans with before you bake, so it will come out easily when it's done. Call me lazy, but use Bake Easy. It's a canned baking lube that actually has flour in it, and it turns out perfectly every time.

Simply spray your pans, and put the batter in. Done. Too easy? Maybe, but I'll take it. After you've distributed the batter between your pans you'll want to lift one about a foot off the counter, and drop it. Yes drop it. Make sure it doesn't flip or anything, make sure it lands flat. This will remove most air bubbles and make your cake have the proper texture. Repeat for each other pan you filled. Once this is done, put your cakes in your oven on the middle rack side by side.

You'll bake these for 40 minutes total. Do me a favor though, set your timer for 20 minutes. When it goes off, switch your pans around. That will help reduce the effects on any hot spots you may have in your oven.

While your cakes are baking take this time to make your icing.


Use again a mixer safe bowl. Put the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract in to the bowl. Again set your mixer to the lowest level possible and slowly combine. Once everything is mixed up a little and not "powdery" give it some juice and start to stir while the mixer beats. Pretty soon you'll have a smooth creamy icing fit for any cake you could possibly want to whip up. There is also a movie tip below for those of you with little or no experience in this matter.

Once you've mixed your initial icing, dump the remaining pecans you chopped earlier in to the bowl. Use a regular spatula to mix them in well. This really will put your carrot cake over the top once you've completed it.

Once your cakes are done baking you need to take them out of the oven and put them on cooling racks immediately until they are completely cooled.

Finally we are on the last step. Icing the cake. I have a turn table for this, but it is not necessary. Then again, it does make things nice and they are only about $20.

Put on cake down on your cake board or whatever you intend to keep this on. Put a relatively thin layer of icing on the top only. Then put the second layer on top.

After that put a large dollop of icing on the top of the cake. Smooth the icing around the top of the cake until it looks to be about the right thickness. Put another dollop on top of the cake, and work it down the sides. Continue until the cake is completely covered.

After you've covered the cake evenly take a wet paper towel and wipe out any excess icing that may be on your board. This will help it look a little more professional and less like a hack job.

Below is the finished product both uncut, and cut.

Simply put, this carrot cake is awesome. I hate to say it that way especially since I made it. But it's true. Thick, flavorful, this carrot cake is everything you could ask for in a dessert. It simply tastes far more complicated than what it really is.

"But Mark it's not piped and all beautiful!" True it's not. It's rustic, and home made. Piped and beautiful only goes so far, it has to taste great too. I tend to prefer ugly cake (no offense to those with wicked piping skills, you're awesome) over most "pretty" cakes you'll find. But that's me. Try this, you'll love it. Eat well everyone!