Sunday, September 18, 2011

Stir Crazy, the Robotic Stirrer

My mom got this for me last Christmas.  I giggled and thought it was cute, then left it in my kitchen cabinet for months and months.  A little while ago I thought maybe I'll try it out.  So I used it while prepping a roux for something, IT WORKED!  I have used it for stirring a reducing pot of tomatoes, gravy, cheese sauce, and I love it!  Granted, it isn't a complete replacement for a human hand.  While making Alfredo sauce one night I did notice I had to stir it until the cheese melted into the sauce, but then the Stir Crazy kept it moving while it thickened up.  Yay for useful and clever kitchen gadgets!!!

Gone with the Wind Viewing Party - Southern Comfort Food!!!

I have two dear friends that had never seen Gone With the Wind.  So I got the brilliant idea to invite them over for a viewing party, which naturally would involve food.  In order to get some ideas, I went to the queen of Southern comfort cooking for recipes, the estimable Ms. Paula Deen.

So I built a menu:
"Fried" Chicken
Crab Hush Puppies
Steamed Green Beans
Rosemary Buttermilk Mashed Taters
Buttermilk Biscuits
Milk Gravy
Berry Dumplings

I will go through them one by one.

Fried Chicken:
I wanted to do a Baked "Fried" Chicken, since we were deep frying the hush puppies.
If you use the foil and a wire rack you will get a better crisp on the bottom, but turning them over in the last five minutes would make it even crispier.

Pound the breasts thin so they will cook quickly, about 1/2" thickness.  Dip in milk then dredge in a mix of panko, Parmesan, and seasoning. Bake at 400' for about 30 minutes.

Crab Hush Puppies:

Last two times I attempted deep frying I had explosions, and one friend still bears the scars.  So here we are three or more years later, and I have invested in a fry thermometer.  I figured this would help me at least try to follow directions, which I figure is important for 350' oil staying in the pot and not on my skin.

When I found Paula's recipe I fell in love.  I used surimi instead of real crab (I don't have that kind of money), added some Old Bay seasoning, and went for it.  I used her suggestion of dipping the spoon in water before scooping the dumplings, so easy and no build up on the spoon.

Paula's dumplings are perfectly round balls of batter.  To do this you just roll the spoonful in your hands.  I preferred the odd blobs, more crispy surfaces.


 Steamed Dill Green Bean and Rosemary Buttermilk Mashed Taters:
 You can see the steamed beans in the DeMarle in the foreground of this picture.  I steamed them with a bit of dill and butter.  I used red potatoes, boiled with a bouquet garni of rosemary and a bit of thyme.  I left the skins on and small chop, after boiling I did a rough mash and added some butter milk for creaminess.  The taters are in the middle of the picture, in another DeMarle Round.

Buttermilk Biscuits:
 Laurie was in charge of making these since I rarely bake.  All those precise measurements bug me.  ;)  These biscuits were so yummy with some of Laurie's mom's homemade raspberry jam!

Milk Gravy:
Drippin's... the key to any good milk gravy is drippin's.  I cooked the bacon for the hush puppies in this pot and left the drippin's here.  Making a milk gravy is a simple process, I have made it with sausage and chipped beef before... so yummy!

Berry Dumplings:
I love a dumpling!  The soft biscuit that soaks up the flavors of whatever you steam it in, *licks lips*.  I did not follow Paula's recipe, just took guidelines from it.  I tossed some frozen mixed berries in a pan with some honey and water.  I allowed them to make a decent syrup. 
Using Paula's measurements halved, dropped the biscuit batter and put a lid on the pot.  The dumplings puffed up and steamed beautifully!  I made some fresh whipped cream for on top.
This is Laurie and I with our Southern meal!!!
(We look dumb with our hands in the air, but we are doing the sign for "South")

P.S. Laurie and Ginny liked the meal and the movie!