Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fried mother effin' pickles.

I'd heard of fried pickles before, but up until about a month ago I'd never had them, and was pretty sure they sounded weird.

Woah. Just.... Woah. Holy moley, fried pickles are AWESOME. The crunchy breading combined with the warm, acidic pickles dipped liberally in homemade dill and chive dressing? DELICIOUS. I unabashedly ate a huge plate of these suckers instead of dinner, nearly made myself sick in an attempt to eat a whole jar's worth, and still went back the next day for a soggy fried pickle breakfast. Even without their crisp these things are disturbingly delicious, but fresh out of the fryer their flavor is unparalleled.

Here's what you're going to need in order to ensure that what you put in your face this week is better than anything you've ever put in it before:

Fried pickles

A jar of pickles
panko bread crumbs
1.5 c buttermilk
hot sauce
chili powder
frying oil (I'm a fan of canola or corn since they have high smoke points and are cheap.)

When you're breading and frying things, the best thing you can do for yourself is set up your station before you even get started.

In a large, deep pan, heat up about 2 inches worth of oil on just below medium heat. You can tell the oil is hot enough if you drip water into it and it crackles, and too hot if the surface starts to sort of ripple and look like... well.... oil. Kind of like the way an oil spot in a parking lot looks with all the waves. Trust me, you'll understand this description if you ever get to see it.

In a large bowl, mix together one part flour to two parts panko bread crumbs. Put this bowl as close to the fry oil as possible.

In the next bowl, beat one whole egg and 1.5 c. of buttermilk with as much hot sauce as you want. I recommend going heavy on the sauce.

Work smarter, not harder and grab a zippy big enough to put all your pickles in with some flour, with room enough to shake 'em like... well, not a polaroid. It doesn't make any sense to shake a polaroid.

In a space that makes sense for immediately depositing something covered in hot oil without letting it drip everywhere, grab a sheet tray and line it with a double layer of paper towels.

Now your station is set up.

Drain your pickles and pat them as dry as you can. You don't really need to try that hard-I certainly didn't.

Put your drained pickles in your zippy followed by enough flour to coat all of them, a good shot of chili powder, and a light pinch of salt. Zip the bag up and shake them like crazy until every single piece is coated.

Grab a strainer if you have one and dump the flour-coated pickles into it over the trash. Again... smarter not harder. Shake off as much of the flour as you can without taking it off the pickles.

Now dump THAT into your buttermilk mixture. You don't need to be elegant about this-I ended up dumping the entire batch in after those first three in the picture because laaaaazzzzyyyyyy.

With one hand, pluck a pickle from the buttermilk and drop it into the panko. Press the panko onto the pickle as firmly as you can to ensure it all remains coated when dropped in the fryer.

Carefully lower the coated pickle into the oil-feel free to use a skimmer or metal spoon if you're worried about getting splashed! 


Cook the pickles about 30 or 40 seconds on each side until DEEP golden brown. Trust me on this-the darker ones were the tastier ones. Transfer them to the paper-toweled pan, and try to wait at least a couple of seconds before shoving it in your face.

Repeat as needed, and I recommend serving it with a dill and chive or ranch dip. (Which I already posted the recipe for last week!)

Try not to pickle yourself sick!
<3 Kat.

BONUS! If you hate frying things because it wastes so much oil, or you're not any good at it, or laaaaaazy, you can do the same thing in the oven! Just bread them all, throw them onto a lined sheet tray that's been sprayed with oil, and then spray the whole batch with more oil before throwing them into a 380° oven for about 45 minutes to an hour-just until the crust is crunchy but not so much so that the pickles are dry. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

We be jammin'.

I've got a lot of philosophies about food, one of which is that literally ANYONE can make it. The most important ingredient in any recipe is a heaping helping of confidence and a daring amount of don't give a fuck. For real. Most of my recipes are "Put some stuff into a pot. Heat it up until it's food." I'm never too careful about measuring things out, even if I start off working with a recipe. I always think of recipes as suggestions of things you can do with random ingredients and finished food as a glimpse into the world of what its creator thinks is delicious. The only thing you need to be able to cook well is to be brave enough to find your own path and follow it.

Jam is a good place to start.

There are a billionty zillionty combinations you could create for jam based on flavor combinations you personally dig, and as far as I can tell... It's pretty darn hard to mess up so... Go to town with it!

You could do something like.... Blueberry lime, or peach basil, or apple cranberry jam (although since apples have such a high pectin content, you might not need any of the powdered stuff.)

Since I made some strawberry deliciousness, though, I'll give you the recipe based on what I did.

Strawberry Jam

2 pints fresh strawberries (If they're close to rotting, even better-they'll be extra sweet!)
1 c. Sugar

Put your strawberries in a pot and mash them with a potato masher until they're to the chunkiness you prefer. I like a little extra texture in mine so I left 'em nice and hunky.

If you get packaged pectin like I did, literally every single one tells you how much to use for each particular fruit. I am just waaaaay too lazy to wash measuring spoons if I don't have to, so I abandoned the instructions and just sprinkled some on there. I'll estimate that it was about a teaspoon and a half.

Add the pectin to your pot of smashed berries and stir while cooking over medium/medium high heat.

Once the berries start to boil, let them go to town for a minute or two while, still, stirring like someone will jump out of the closet and steal your pants if you stop.

Add the cup of sugar and.... you guessed it.... stir. Keep stirring. Stir until it's all foamy on the top and it boils despite the stirring.


Take it off the heat and wait until it cools before funneling it into jars. I highly recommend dropping a bunch of it on top of some homemade yogurt and delighting in just how unbelievably soft and sweet and flavorful your jam is compared to the questionable stuff you've been buying for years from the store.

By the way, feel free to spice things up a little and throw in some cinnamon and ginger when you're cooking with strawberries. I've got a feeling they'd taste fantastic with this. 

Try not to spend it all in one place. 
<3 Kat.

I do what I want, I do what I want!

As far as I can tell, pickles are a "do whatever the heck you want" kind of food. The basic concept is "Put some stuff into some jars. Then put some stuff into some vinegar. Let the two stuffs do some stuffs together for a while. Stuff them in your stuff-stuffer."

I'm a big fan of foods that don't make me think about them when I make them, which means pickles? Totally down my alley.

Donning my total air of don't give a fuck, I decided to literally just grab the first couple of things I could in the pantry and turn them (and the cucumbers that I admittedly purchased specifically for this purpose) into noms.

Here's what you're gonna need to pickle like a champ:

Some produce (I got 5 pickling cucumbers specifically for this.)
Some vinegar (dealer's choice! I used white because it's cheap and plentiful! And I probably used about 3 cups of it.)
Some vinegar-flavoring stuff! (I used mustard seeds, celery seeds, turmeric, sugar, and chili pepper flakes)
Optional-things it doesn't make sense to boil! (I used dill and garlic.)
Some jars!

Now at this point you may have noticed that this recipe is less like a recipe and more like a note that your crazy aunt may have scrawled on a filthy index card that's been floating around the house for roughly a decade. Well... Welcome to the family, schnookums! These pickles are about doing whatever the crap you want, so grab your lab coat and experiment! Hate sweet pickles? Don't use sugar! Like 'em more than just a touch spicy? Put a chopped up jalapeƱo in there! Allergic to cucumbers? Do carrots instead! (True story-the Hunky Dreamy is allergic to cucumbers but really digs pickled carrots.)

I believe in you. You can do this.

So once you get your flavors all sorted out, put the 'stuff it doesn't make any sense to boil' like fresh herbs and the produce into your jars. For the love of bob, use something made of glass because... we're about to put some boiling hot vinegar in those suckers. 


If you're fancy, you can use a mandolin to make your vegetables all pretty and uniform. If you're ghetto and don't give a butt, do what I do and hack away at them with a lack of regard so well refined that you may even end up having the most ridiculously uneven cut cucumber slices in the universe and totally not be bothered by it. Put those babies in the jars next.

Get yourself a pot that makes sense for the amount of liquid you think it would take to fill the gaps between the stuff you put in the jars just now.

....Pour about as much vinegar as you think you're going to need to fill those gaps into said pot. Then halfway through realize you've judged poorly and add some more like it ain't no thang. You might even decide to add some water because vinegar is super strong and you might be afraid it will melt your tongue off if you look at it the wrong way-don't worry champ, I won't hold you back. Go for it. 

Put whatever flavorful junks you want into that vinegar in whatever proportions you want and boil it all for a minute or two. Then pour it into your jars over all the other stuff. Let it cool on the counter before you put the lids on so it doesn't create condensation and up the risk of going bad. Put the room-temperature jars into the fridge for about a week to let them really get their magic going.


And you know what's great about this recipe? You invented it while you were going. AND THERE'S A SECOND PART COMING NEXT WEEK. Just in time for your pickles to be done pickling, methinks.

See you then, you little rapscallions you.
<3 Kat.

P.s. if you decide to use some turmeric, I recommend using close to none-it's super strong and will stain everything you have ever owned simultaneously.