Monday, February 15, 2010

The Comfort Of Hot Grease

There is something magical about hot grease. It can make just about anything taste good.  I didn't have to stretch my imagination far because sent a recipe for Fried Mozzarella Balls to my inbox a couple of weeks ago. I finally made it out to Trader Joe's to pick up the cheese Friday night.

I had a rough night last night. My aunt went back to the hospital for emergency surgery.  I stayed up past my bedtime talking to family and then there were a couple of calls in the wee hours for updates.  Even when I wasn't on the phone, the worry kept me from getting good sleep.

The surgery was successful and she will be okay.  I still feel the stress. You know there was only one place for me to head -- the kitchen.  This was the time for gooey melted cheese.

Let's get it.

Start with marinated fresh mozz balls, the little ones.  The marinated ones were at least $2.00 more at the store, so I figured I could marinate them myself.  (It's a recession.) I kept it basic -- olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. I was going to make these yesterday when I found out about my aunt, so they had a good 24 hrs to marinate in the fridge.
Heat oil to 360.  I did whip out my oil thermometer for this.  Since I was only doing a handful of balls, I used a 2-qt pot for the oil.  Pat the cheese dry.

Dip the cheese into a beaten egg and roll in bread crumbs. Repeat. Let it rest on waxed paper.  This is the one time I wished for store-bought bread crumbs.  I wasn't able to get mine to a consistent size.  They were very light and airy after frying though.

Place the cheese into the oil and fry away.  Be careful with the oil.  These go quick! So quick that I have no pic.  Hey, that rhymes. Back to the food.  Isn't this pretty?  Not bad for a first attempt.

Now this is what I'm talkin' 'bout! Don't hurt yourself.

Yep. Hot grease makes everything better. Now I gotta figure out what else I'm going to do with this oil.  Perhaps I'll try some makeshift hush puppies tomorrow.

Tools of the trade

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Crackers - The First Attempt

A few weeks ago, my coworker brought in some Cracked Black Pepper and Olive Oil Triscuit crackers.  They were unbelievably good. That sent me to my cookbooks and the Web for recipes! I started with Rosemary-Parmesan Icebox Crackers from Williams-Sonoma.

Now for some reason, I didn't take enough "making of" shots or either I accidentally deleted them.  However, the recipe is easy so have no fear. In the food processor, combine flour, salt, pepper and rosemary. Now, you know I didn't follow the recipe exactly. I reduced the cheese and amped up the rosemary and black pepper.  I used kosher salt instead of table salt.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal.  Add the cheese and pulse twice.

*Imagine shot of mixture in food processor bowl here*

Roll the dough into a log on a lightly floured surface.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least three hours.

The rest is easy -- just slice and bake!  I need more practice with making even thin slices.  I added an extra sprinkle of black pepper before baking.  The first batch was baked on a sheet pan with a Silpat.

They came out okay. They were a little soft and not as dry as I would have liked.

I baked the next two batches directly on a baking stone.  I used a fish spatula to remove the crackers because they were a bit delicate when they were warm.

I liked these much better, but I suspect it's the cheese that's keeping me from getting that dry, crumbly cracker texture.

I tried some different shapes too.

These had a lot of flavor, but too much salt, even with me cutting back on the Parm.  I'll be more careful with my kosher-table salt swap next time.  I'd make these again, but they didn't sastisfy my black pepper Triscuit goal.

Tools of the trade: