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deep frying

Rice Bran Oil

About a year and a half ago I ordered a book called Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work that has become one of my staple cooking references. Their recipe for cold-smoked fried chicken sent me on a bit of a wild-goose chase for rice bran oil because at that time it wasn’t carried very widely in Toronto grocery stores. The Hansells Group and their Alfa One brand of rice bran oil is now working to change that.

From the preview event they held a couple weeks ago at the Sub Zero & Wolf Showroom in Toronto I took home a sample of the product. They were demo’ing examples of the oil used for sauteeing, baking, in a salad dressing and as part of the sauce for Thai curry mussels and everything tasted but I wanted to test the oil out at home.

Eggplant fritter frying in rice bran oil.

Eggplant fritter frying in rice bran oil.

On our trip to Spain last April we managed to develop a low-level addiction to fried eggplant fritters with honey. Since we’ve been back we’ve made them at least once a month. Most recipes like the berenjenas con miel in Claudia Roden’s The Food Of Spain call for soaking eggplant slices in milk, dusting them with flour and then frying in sunflower oil. Because the coating is so light and the other flavours are so neutral this seems like an ideal situation for a side-by-side test. (more…)

Zucchini Blossoms

Tempura zucchini blossoms with kimchi dipping sauce

Some food, like asparagus, peaches, and tomatoes we wait all year for and are then treated to several weeks of excess. Deep-fried zucchini blossoms are good enough (and enough trouble to make) that I’m satisfied by a single meal.

Last year I used flowers from my own garden but I feel like this cut into the yield of actual zucchini so I bought a pint of them from the North York Farmers’ Market. One of the girls from Thames River Melons stand was nice enough to put together a container of still closed flowers for me so that they would stay fresh until I was ready for them three days later. They’ll also pick out one of their excellent watermelons for you timed to be ready when you want it.

I forgot to repeat one of the most successful tricks of last year’s version. If you’re not going to the trouble of stuffing the flowers (and I never have) it really is best to cut them in half along the vertical (longest) axis. This way the petals tend to splay randomly outwards and give the light batter an even more interesting texture. (more…)

Apple Beignets: Won’t keep the doctor away

Two apple beignets with a scoop of vanilla ice cream

Two apple beignets with a scoop of vanilla ice cream

I would have to say that my favourite fruit is pineapple.  But only in a one-bite Pepsi taste test kind of way.  It’s too sweet to eat every day (though I tried while I lived in residence during my undergrad days) and definitely not convenient enough for midday snacking. So, if I were forced to commit to one fruit for the rest of my life it would have to be apples.  Apples are healthy, come in a variety of delicious flavours, and are extremely convenient.  Consider that my way of explaining this third post about apples in two weeks.

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Deep-Fried Pickles

Deep-fried dill pickles.  Next time Ill work on finding some takeout containers for presentation.

Deep-fried dill pickles. Next time I'll work on finding some takeout containers for presentation.

For Christmas two years ago Alex–my cousin, neighbour at the cottage, and fellow amateur cook–and I were given a turkey deep fryer rig.  We had it out once last summer for a rainbow of fried experiments–mozzarrella sticks, sweet potato tempura, shrimp, chicken wings, and probably a couple more that I am forgetting about.  We decided this year that it is time to get closer to the original purpose of the fryer and fry some whole poultry.  The chickens were great (and will be featured in an upcoming post) but if you’re going to the trouble of setting up the deep fryer and heating all of that oil you also want to fry an appetizer and a dessert.  Happily, my absolute favourite fried starter, deep-fried pickles, are  relatively difficult to find done well in bars or restaurants so make an ideal at-home experiment. These are not quite as over-the-top as deep-fried Mars bars (at heart pickles are vegetables after all) but still very decadent. (more…)