Friday, March 7, 2014

Fried Pickles

I love pickles in general, and I have recently discovered a new favorite way to serve them: Battered and deep fried with a side of  ranch dressing. This should be my downfall, but fortunately I know how to make it dairy free. Here's what you need:

1 cup flour (use gluten free if you like)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup water
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
oil for frying
1 jar of pickles, drained, dried and cut into spears or rounds

Start by draining the juice from the pickle. If they're whole, cut them into spears or rounds and then spread them on paper towels to dry. The dryer the pickles before battering, the better it will hold. It's a good idea to fry 1 pickle before battering the rest. If they end up goopy, you can dry tossing the pickles with a bit of flour before dipping them in the batter.

While the pickles are drying, sift the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder into a bowl. Mix in the water and vegetable oil, and whisk until smooth.

Heat the frying oil in a deep fryer or a medium pot. You want it about 365 degrees. And here comes the common sense warning: Hot oil is hot. You do not want to touch it because it is hot. If you do touch the hot oil, it will make your skin hot. This will make you sad. Do not test the oil temperature with your finger. This, too, will make you sad. A good way to check the oil temperature if you do not have a thermometer is to GENTLY pop a cube of white bread into the pot. If it browns up in about a minute, you're good to go. Remember, hot oil is HOT!

Dip the pickles into the batter and gently shake off any excess. Fry them in small batches until the batter is golden brown. Place on paper towels to drain any excess oil. Another bit of common sense: The pickles coming right out of the oil will be hot. Do not bite them right away as this will make your tongue burn and you will be sad.

These pickles taste great dipped in ranch dressing.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Mayonnaise: To go vegan or not?

Let's face it people. We're Americans, we eat mayonnaise. There are so many recipes out there that call for mayonnaise, that it's hard to find a household out there without a jar in the fridge. Of course, that also begs the debate of which is better: Hellman's or Miracle Whip? Before you get too caught up in defending your brand to the death, let me ask this: How do you feel about vegan mayonnaise?

I have to admit, I've hated most of the ones that I've tried. They tend to be bland, oily and a little slimy. Not what you want in a food. While there are good brands out there, they aren't always easy to find, and I don't necessarily want to invest the money it would take to try a little of each kind just to find one I like.

My solution is to just make my own. It's easier than you'd think. You can be all hard core and whisk everything together by hand if you want, but I use a blender. My blender is my friend. Here's what you'll need:

3/4 cup soy milk (or almond, cashew, oat... Use what you love)
1.5 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp prepared mustard or ground mustard seed
3/4 cup olive oil (you can use any neutrally flavored oil. Again, use what you love)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Put the soy milk, lemon juice and mustard in a blender and turn the blender on at the lowest constant speed. Let it run for a few seconds to blend and then slowly drizzle the oil in. The mixture will thicken as it emulsifies. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can keep this for a week covered in the refrigerator.

Give this a try and then come back and let me know what changes you make to the recipe (try it with cayenne or a little dill!) and what else you use it for (ranch dressing anyone?)