Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Grandma's Plantation Puffs

Normally at the beginning of my blog I give credit to whatever website I pulled the weeks recipe from. This week we are very fortunate to be using my Grandmother's own recipe for Plantation Puffs, which I will be providing all of you to enjoy.

I have something insanely special to share with all of you today. This recipe is actually my grandmother's recipe for Plantation Puffs. These little frittery doughnutty gems are fantastic for anyone of any age. They are fast, they are economical, and best of all they taste far more complicated than what they actually are. This can be used for an appetizer at a party, as a desert, or as a special breakfast item on the weekends (which is what my family used them for mostly). Regardless of the time of day or event these will be a show stopper for all who try them.

For this recipe you will need:

For the Puffs
2 cups AP flour
1 tbsp. sugar
2 rounded tsp. baking powder
1tsp. salt
1 tbsp. melted butter
1 large egg

For the Coating
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

Before we get in to the nuts and bolts of this recipe I'd like to address frying. I do not have a lot of experience in frying, as you will find out later on. It produces fantastic results when done right, and it actually quite quick compared to other forms of cooking. Frying is also inherently dangerous due to the fact you are essentially cooking in napalm, and will feel like it if you get splashed. I urge everyone to please be careful when frying anything.

Basically you can fry two ways. If you are fortunate enough to have an actual "Fryer" it is much easier and less messy. The Fryer will actually maintain your heat for you, and you usually can just cap off the fryer when done and leave the oil in. Personally I do not own a Fryer so I use my cast iron dutch oven to do the job, which is quite common. The cast iron will help maintain heat for you, and is durable enough to withstand long exposure to high temperature without damaging the pot. Using your dutch oven will require a fry or candy thermometer, and a metal spoon or a "spider" to fish out your product (pictured below). There are also many oil options you can use. The recipe called for shortening (Crisco), which I did not use (I didn't have enough). I usually use Peanut Oil when I fry, mostly because of the flavor it provides.

Similar to baking the first step to frying is starting to heat up your oil. For this recipe I found it's best to keep your oil in the 360-380 range. Make sure you monitor your oil temp regularly to ensure you don't under cook, or over cook your puffs.

While your oil is heating up go ahead and get out a mixing bowl and put your sifter in the center of it. Put the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in your sifter and sift until it's all in the bowl (yes... I know normally sugar is technically a "wet" item but for this recipe it's not necessary). At this time put your egg in, and about a half cup of milk to start.

*This is where my grandmother starts to make this a lookin' thing. You have to realize she didn't measure many things while cooking, a lot of it was purely by eye. You have to add your milk a little bit at a time until you get the right consistency. The right consistency should be a sticky dough that appears kind of furry, almost like a tuna salad. After you have the right consistency, add your butter and stir it in.

Another item to complete before frying is getting your coating ready. This is extremely  simple, just put your 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tbsp. of ground cinnamon in to a bowl, and mix well.

Now as long as your oil is at the right temp, we are ready to fry. I set up an assembly line to make things a little more organized for my self (pictured below). First the bowl of batter, next the oil, next the cinnamon mix, and finally a plate (with a paper towel on it) to put the final product.

Using two kitchen table spoons dish out a ball about 1 maybe 2 inches (max) across in to the oil. Fry for about 4 minutes, until you have the right color and ensure it's cooked thoroughly. Trust me on the 4 minute minimum, I actually screwed up the entire first batch I made by not frying long enough. They were raw in the middle. Also the smaller the puff, the less fry time it requires. Trust ya boy on this. This weeks video shows an example of this assembly line, and I will admit I did not fry the puff in this long enough.

After the puff is fried put it in the cinnamon bowl and roll it around. If you need to, spoon the coating over the puff to ensure full coverage and put on the finishing plate.

I will warn all of you, these suckers are addictive. The end product is a cross between a fritter and a doughnut, and you can't eat just one! I have to admit this was actually a very satisfying recipe to cook. I have many memories of my grandmother cooking, and in many ways she is one of the biggest inspirations I have had in the kitchen. This is a recipe that will always be in right in the front of my folder, and I hope you all enjoy these as much as I have. Eat well everyone!

*Note: I wanted to present my grandmother's Plantation Puffs per recipe, and they are fantastic without any fiddling around. I will admit in the future I'll be trying a batch with cinnamon in the batter (maybe some nutmeg too), just to see how it would taste. Just an idea ;)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

No Joke Hamburgers Plus+

The Original recipe for these Hamburgers can be found on FoodNetwork.com at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/burger-of-the-gods-recipe/index.html and is courtesy of one of my food hero's Alton Brown.

Is there anything better than a great hamburger? I don't mean some dime a dozen fast food cookie cut burger that is exceptionally done, I mean an honest to God burger someone took time and put individual effort in to. Thick and meaty, it resembles more of a steak slightly tenderized and put in to burger form than some disgusting grease puck. Personally fantastic hamburgers are a food weakness, and sadly these delicassies are becoming more and more rare (yes pun intended).

Thus the search began for a truly fantastic burger recipe to share with you, which is more challenging than you would think. When it comes down to it, it's the meat that is most important here. Most grocery store grinds are overly fatty, and contrary to popular belief in burgers more fat is not necessarily "more better". It causes "shrinkage" for your patties, promotes grease fires, promotes obesity, and worst of all it adds little to no flavor. Certainly there are "extra lean grinds" you can purchase, and in the case of a party that is what I personally buy. But for some reason that still leaves a small something to be desired...

That's when I stumbled upon the recipe I used, one that actually requires you to grind your own meat in a food processor! You can control the texture of your burger, AND control exactly what goes into it! Perfect! Yet I still wanted to do something extra special for the Blog and do something I've never really done before, then it came to me... the Juicy Lucy! The Juicy Lucy is a smash hit in Minneapolis and St. Paul in Minnesota. Essentially it's a burger stuffed with cheese, and I've got to tell you the final product I came up with was outstanding! So I hope you enjoy these as much as I did, because these are potentially the best burgers I've ever made!

For this recipe you will need:

Equal Weights of Both:
Chuck Steak (I used 10oz)
Sirloin Steak (I used 10oz)
Kosher Salt (salt to taste)

This recipe truly is quick and easy, even if your on a time crunch you'll have time for this.

The first thing you do is bust out your cut board and favorite knife (as usual pictured is my santoku). Lay out your two steaks and cut them in half. It's best to work in smaller portions when doing this, so you don't overload your food processor later. Also to help along your food processor, you're going to cube these four portions.

Before we go on I want to touch a little on food processors. These are truly awesome kitchen tools to have laying around. You can buy them for as little as $50 or for as much as $500 (maybe more). I went with this attractive Food Network model about 3 years ago, and it is pretty basic though powerful. All food processors will come with a minimum of three settings usually on, off, and pulse. Others will come with anything from 10 to 75 settings. This is all a matter of personal need and preference.

From this point you will take one of the loads of cubes and pulse them in your food processor. It's important you don't just turn your processor on in a continuous spin because eventually you will wind up with cow paste if your not careful, which is not a good thing. Use the pulse setting, and your going to press and hold for 1 to 5 seconds 10 times. This weeks movie is actually on how to do this process, enjoy!

You're going to do the same to all of your portions you've made and and combine them in a big bowl. I recommend using your hands to combine to the two different meats. Otherwise they won't be mixed well enough and will not make the proper texture we are going for.  From here take whatever size portions you want to make in to burgers, and make them in to balls by rolling the meat between your hands.

I decided to make mine about 3.3 ounces per burger, which is pretty decent sized. From here you can either mash them down into the proper disc shape (yes they will be irregular), OR you can take another moment to contemplate stuffing them with cheese, which is what I did next. I decided to try a new cheese I hadn't used on burgers before, apple smoked cheddar.

Simply mash your burger down so it's thin and very wide, and put the cheese in the middle of the disc. Then fold the burger over the cheese, and message until there is no cracks or holes in the disc. This is important otherwise your cheese will leak through while being cooked. Sprinkle some kosher salt over your patties and you're ready to cook!

For the cooking method I used a two burner griddle plate (great for big breakfast cooking btw). You want your flames to be at medium heat so you don't burn the hell out of the outside while the inside remains raw. Also these burgers will take longer than your used to due to the density of the meat, the lack of fat, and the hardness of the cheese (if you use a hard cheese). Try not to flip your burgers too much, generally the fewer times the better. For me, on my griddle, on my stove, it took about five minutes per side. Yours maybe more or less time depending on many factors.

Once they're off the griddle your good to go! Put on your favorite buns and enjoy! You'll find these burgers are meatier than you're used to (which is fantastic), and if you used a smoked cheese like I did, you'll find the smokiness of the cheese actually was infused throughout the meat! I actually enjoyed these so much, the first burger I ate was plain (something I've never done before in my life). Plate with your favorite chips or french fries as pictured below. Eat well everyone!