Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Dangers of a Deep Fryer

Okay, so this post isn't as grim as you'd think. It's not about burning yourself with a deep fryer. It's more about how you could become a lardass if you have a deep fryer.

A couple of weeks ago, some of us at work started talking about our favorite fair foods. Don't ask me how or why. We just did.

I said my favorite was the Tom Thumb Donuts that were sold yearly at the National Cattle Congress in Waterloo, IA. It's only held in September and the last time I had any was in 2008. Those little suckers are ADDICTING. They are made in a little trailer right in front of you and there's typically a line. But at least you know your donuts are going to be freshly fried.

I can hear my arteries clogging just thinking about those donuts.

I decided I was going to try and make some.


Semi-Homemade Donut Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 package ready-made biscuit dough (such as Pillsbury Grands or equivalent) (I bought three tubes of the Kroger Value brand of buttermilk biscuits. You don't want the kind of biscuit with flaky layers.)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • Oil (for deep fryer OR frying pan, if stovetop frying)

Materials Needed:

  • Deep Fryer (if desired) OR frying pan (I used our Fry Daddy.)
  • Paper Towels
  • Container for sugar and cinnamon
  • Spatula
  • Plates or bowls – at least two

Instructions:

  1. Preheat deep-fryer to 375 degrees OR pour 2 inches oil into frying pan on stove and preheat using medium to medium-high heat.
  2. Mix together sugar and cinnamon in container and set aside.
  3. Line both plates with paper towels.
  4. Very carefully, put a hole in the center of biscuit dough by pulling apart gently with fingers or using a small, round cookie cutter. Pull apart center enough that there is a definite hole in the middle, but not so much that the edges are torn. (For our donuts, I slightly flattened each biscuit and used a cutter that removes corn kernels from the cob.)
  5. Drop dough into preheated deep fryer or oil in pan on stove and fry for approximately 1 minute, or until doughnut is golden-brown on the outside. (Don't forget to fry up the donut holes you made too!)
  6. Using spatula, carefully turn donut over and continue frying until golden-brown all over. (About 4-5 minutes each.)
  7. Pull donut out of oil and transfer to paper-towel covered plate for 2-3 minutes to allow oil to drain.
  8. Place donut in sugar-cinnamon mixture and shake or push around to coat.
  9. Turn donut over and coat other side.
  10. Transfer donut to plate and allow donut to cool before eating.

Tips:

  • Fry no more than 2-3 donuts at a time, whether using deep fryer or frying pan.
  • Remember that donuts need room to be turned while frying, no matter what method is used.
I made so many of them, that I took a container of them to work with me. I have to be honest here...I think I really nailed it. My donuts were bigger than the true Tom Thumb donuts, but they were just as good!!!!

Additional Entry on 06/21/10
I did realize these are best served the day they are made. I put some in the fridge and they became soggy the next day. I've also got some in the freezer. No word on how those fared yet.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Easy Shepherd's Pie

It's been a few days since I posted anything. Time to get all caught up!

Over Memorial Day, my husband and some of his friends rode up to D.C. for the annual Rolling Thunder memorial ride. "Rolling Thunder began in 1987 as a demonstration to bring awareness to the plight of prisoners of war (POW) and to those missing in action (MIA). Rolling Thunder originated when four Vietnam Veterans, exercising the First Amendment "Right to Petition and Assemble", organized the first group of 2500 motorcycles to ride through the streets of Washington, DC." Anyway, this posting is not about Rolling Thunder. It's about Shepherd's Pie.

While they were up there, the group stopped at a restaurant and a couple of them, Hubby included, ordered Shepherd's Pie. (My friend Nicole, the knitter, is of Scottish background and she makes a hella good Shepherd's Pie.) Shane came home and said it was alright but the mashed potatoes on top were totally smooth, like they came out of a box of instant mashed potatoes. He was on a mission to have something better.

So recently, we made a more traditional (at least, according to Nicole) Shepherd's Pie by using this recipe.

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground round beef
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1-2 cups vegetables - chopped carrots, corn, peas
  • 1 1/2 - 2 lbs potatoes (3 big ones)
  • 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (Okay, so I forgot we didn't have any Worcestershire sauce. In a pinch, I poured some A-1 Sauce in a bowl and watered it down. Hey, don't judge me...it worked! :) )
  • Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice

Method

1 Peel and quarter potatoes, boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes).
2 While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 Tablespoons butter (1/2 a stick) in large frying pan.
3 Sauté onions in butter until tender over medium heat (10 mins). If you are adding vegetables, add them according to cooking time. Put any carrots in with the onions. Add corn or peas either at the end of the cooking of the onions, or after the meat has initially cooked.
4 Add ground beef and sauté until no longer pink. Add salt and pepper. Add Worcesterchire sauce. Add half a cup of beef broth and cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10 minutes, adding more beef broth as necessary to keep moist.
5 Mash potatoes in bowl with remainder of butter, season to taste.
6 Place beef and onions in baking dish. Distribute mashed potatoes on top. Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely. You can use the fork to make some designs in the potatoes as well.
7 Cook in 400 degree oven until bubbling and brown (about 30 minutes). Broil for last few minutes if necessary to brown.
Serves four. (Like holy hell it ONLY serves four...maybe four members of the Klumps family. We had leftovers for days!!!! Which was a good thing, because both Hubby and I thought it was better as leftovers as the flavors had more time to meld and mix together.)

We both really liked this recipe. However, when I told Nicole about it, she suggested the next time we want it, to call her to come over and make a more Scottish version. She had said Americans typically use beef in their pie, while Scots used lamb. Also., the seasonings she uses are a little different. She's got something called Bisto that she adds to her Shepherd's Pie.

I thought this was funny...she called it "leftover food:" something you'd make with the leftovers in your refrigerator in order to get your kids to eat them. Either way, it was very good.