Samosas

These little devils…… innocent as they may seem, they almost caused me to have a breakdown of sorts.

Interestingly enough, it was neither the filling nor the preparation of the dough that caused my inner turmoil.

It was forming them. 

I couldn’t get the hang of shaping them the way the recipe instructs… so rather than throw everything out the window, I took a piece of advice from Sabrina and made them into a mezzaluna shape.

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Which made me wonder…. is it possible to commit a cross-cultural offense by using an Italian shape for an Indian snack food?

Samosas – adapted from Saveur

Note: I baked these at 375 degrees instead of frying them.

3 cups flour
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
¾ cup ice-cold water
½ lb. russet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 tbsp. canola oil, plus more
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 (1″) piece ginger, peeled and minced
¾ cup frozen peas, defrosted
¼ cup minced cilantro
¼ cup minced mint
½ tsp. garam masala
2 small green Thai chiles or 1 serrano, minced
Tamarind and mango chutneys, for serving (optional)

1. Make the dough: Pulse flour and butter in a food processor into pea-size crumbles. Add water; pulse until dough forms. Divide into 12 balls; chill 1 hour.

2. Make the filling: Boil potatoes and carrots in a 4-qt. saucepan of salted water until tender, 8–10 minutes. Drain; coarsely mash. Add 2 tbsp. oil to pan; heat over medium-high. Cook cumin seeds until they pop, 1–2 minutes. Add onion and ginger; cook until golden, 4–6 minutes. Let cool; stir into potato mixture with peas, cilantro, mint, garam masala, and chile.

3. Form and fry samosas: Working with 1 ball at a time, roll dough into a 6″ round; cut in half. Gather straight edges of 1 half-round together, overlapping by ¼” to form a cone. Moisten seam with water; press to seal. Spoon 1 tbsp. filling into cone. Moisten edges of cone with water; pinch to seal. Heat 2″ oil in a 6-qt. saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°. Fry samosas until crisp, 8–10 minutes. Drain on paper towels; serve with chutneys if you like.

 

Zucchini Fritters

About a month ago, Sabrina and I took a fun little road trip to Central Market in downtown Austin. Once inside, we spent a good 20 minutes perusing the fresh pepper/chile section, which included a lengthy dialogue with another shopper on the virtues of mild versus spicy peppers.

In our home, it’s #spicyforthewin!

* ahem *

Anyway, we purchased what we thought were Shishito Peppers (more on that later), and several zucchini that were so large they were almost considered obscene.

Which brings upon an important goal for me… (no, not the obscene part!)…. I can’t wait to have a garden at the ranch. I know it probably sounds corny coming from a city girl such as myself, but having the ability to walk outside, and pick fresh herbs/vegetables simply sounds so….. resplendent.

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Of course, I’ll probably be cursing the prolific zucchini by the seasons’ end, but that’s a chance I’m willing to take.

Zucchini Fritters – adapted from Saveur

1 lb. zucchini, grated
½ cup minced flat-leaf parsley
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
½ cup dried bread crumbs
1 medium yellow onion, grated
1 egg, beaten
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pinch of cayenne, to taste
Olive oil or canola oil, for frying

Place grated zucchini to a tea towel; squeeze out liquid. Mix zucchini, parsley, cheese, bread crumbs, onions, and egg in a bowl. Season with pepper and cayenne; divide mixture into 12 balls. Press balls into ¾”-thick patties.2. Pour oil into a 4-qt. pot to a depth of 2″; heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 315°. Working in 2 batches, fry patties until browned and crisp, 5–6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fritters to paper towels.

Tater Tots

Another food item my beloved J has a thing for, are tater tots.

Like Oreo’s, but in potato form.

Somehow, that just doesn’t sound right.

Anyhoo, I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit – and since it doesn’t take much to convince me to break out the deep fryer, I collected the few ingredients needed and had these ready in a flash.
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Make no mistake – these are miles away from the frozen variety you’ll find in the store, far superior in flavor and texture. Honestly, they aren’t time consuming or difficult to make, plus you can make them ahead of time and chill the prepared tots until you are ready to fry.

Because just about everything is better deep fried.

Including Oreo’s. 

Oh yes…..yes I did…. that post is coming up soon…….

Homemade Tater Tots – adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 3 medium russet potatoes (about 2 pounds), scrubbed
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbs sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1 tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • Vegetable oil (for frying; about 3 cups)

Preheat oven to 400°. Prick potatoes all over with a fork and bake directly on oven rack until very soft when squeezed, 60–75 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Cut potatoes in half and scoop flesh into a medium bowl; discard skins. Mash, then mix in scallions, breadcrumbs, cream, sour cream, butter, granulated garlic, pepper, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Mix in eggs just until combined. Roll 1-tablespoon portions of potato mixture into balls.

Pour oil into a medium skillet to a depth of 1/2″ and heat over medium heat until bubbles form immediately when a little potato mixture is added. Working in batches, fry tots until deep golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels; season with salt.

Hush Puppies

Having spent my formative years in Southern California, there are a few specialty food items I’ve come across recently that I am not familiar with.

Right off the top of my head, grits, chicken fried steak and kolaches are at the beginning of the list. And while I’m pretty sure they’re not native to Texas (that would be barbecue, I think), it’s been an interesting culinary adventure since we moved to Austin. And since I’m always open to new ideas and trying new foods, let the record show that I did try rattlesnake this year.

It was….. different… very, very different.

Anyway, slithering foods aside, when this recipe for Hush Puppies popped into my inbox, I was intrigued not only by the name, but the lore behind them. According to my research, they were thrown by Southern cooks to the dogs underfoot, to keep them quiet while food was being prepared.

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My question is, though, why would you throw a delicious chunk of deep-fried-crunchy-yummy-goodness to the dogs? Why should they get all the good stuff? Especially our dogs. One bite of people food and Daisy is sick for days.

That, however, is not a conversation for today. 

Or any day.

These however, were fun, addictive, and definitely not one for the dogs.

Hush Puppies – adapted from Saveur

2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup melted butter
¼ tsp. hot sauce
1 medium yellow onion, minced
Canola oil, for frying

1. In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, butter, hot sauce, onion, and ¼ cup water. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir together with a spoon; let sit for 10 minutes.

2. Pour oil to a depth of 2″ in a 6-qt. Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 375°. Transfer batter to a piping bag fitted with a ¾″-diameter round tip. Working in batches, pipe and cut 3″-long logs of batter into oil; fry until golden brown, 1–2 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Season with salt and serve hot.

 

Cheesy Corn Casserole

Here is another recipe that we all enjoyed so much (and don’t want to forget about), that I decided to post it even though I don’t have a picture of it. However, if you really want to see what it should look like, click here.

Sabrina declared that this dish could only be improved with the addition of a crispy breadcrumb topping…. and I have to admit that she was right. If you take that route, I would recommend following the instructions and baking it in the oven. I actually put the entire mixture into the slow cooker and let it cook/bake that way.

Cheesy Corn Casserole – adapted from Saveur

4 slices bacon, finely chopped

6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup flour
3 cups milk
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
2 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp. paprika
3 lb. fresh or frozen corn kernels
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 375°. Heat bacon in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium heat, and cook, stirring, until browned, about 8 minutes. Add butter and garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add flour, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk in milk, and bring to a boil; cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, colby-cheddar cheese, and paprika, and cook until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in corn; season with pepper. Transfer mixture to a 9″ × 13″ baking dish and bake until top is golden brown and bubbling, about 40 minutes. Let cool before serving.

Eggplant Pizzas – and a lesson of perception vs. reality

Perception: a way of perceiving; awareness or consciousness

Reality: resemblance to what is real

The bottom line? One has nothing to do with the other.

I suppose you’re wondering by now why I’m illustrating the differences between the two words. Well, it goes something like this – more often than not, people’s perception of something is quite far removed from the reality of the situation. And I’ve learned that trying to explain the gap between the two points is futile, and usually ends up making things worse.

Case in point: Sabrina perceived that these eggplant pizzas would be just like eggplant parmesan. The reality was that due to the lack of breading and frying, these really are just what they appear to be – pizzas without the crust.

IMG_6627Class dismissed.

Eggplant Pizzas – adapted from a recipe by Julia Child

1 globe eggplant, about 8 ounces and 9-10 inches long
2 tbs. olive oil, for brushing eggplant before grilling
1 cup marinara sauce – may need more or less, depending on how much sauce you like
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/3 cup grated mozzarella cheese

10 large basil leaves

Cut off both ends of the eggplant and cut it into 3/4 inch thick slices. Brush the slices with olive oil, then grill the eggplant on both sides over medium high heat until cooked through but not mushy. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet, then spread a few tablespoons of sauce on the top of each eggplant slice and top with a generous amount of cheese. Put pizzas under the broiler until the cheese is melted and slightly browned. Top with a fresh basil leaf and serve hot.

Spinach Cheese Casserole

On the off-chance that I haven’t mentioned this before (or mentioned it several dozen times before), I am a certified cheese addict.

I am also certified as part-time lunatic, but I generally try and keep that under wraps.

ahem

So anytime I come across a recipe that involves copious amounts of cheese, I make it as soon as possible. In this case, it was the same day I found the recipe.

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And this did not disappoint us at all! Sabrina and I loved it because it was full of cheese and low-carb, Alexander and my mother loved it because of all the spinach, and my dad loved it because it was a casserole.

He also loved it because it was tongue-scorchingly hot, but that’s another story.

Spinach Cheese Casserole – original source unknown

  • 4 eggs
  • 24 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 8 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I use a combination of pepper jack and cheddar)
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 tbs. all purpose flour
  • handful fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a medium size casserole dish and set aside.

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, then pour into the casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until the center is set and the top is golden brown.