A while back I wrote a list of food items that I don’t think you should ever buy because you can easily and cheaply make something at least as good at home. As time goes on Lisa and I strike upon simple recipes and quick techniques that add items to the list. Most recent are tortillas, the kind made of wheat flour.
There are loads of tortilla recipes online. We’ve tried several, and most are garbage, producing tortillas that are either too dense and doughy or way too delicate to stand up to filling and wrapping and eating out of hand.
We use a food-processor to mix the dough. It takes less than 5 minutes. With a small amount … Continue reading.
A simple definition. Fritters are made from a simple batter that is garnished with meat or vegetables or fruit and then fried, either in a pan or deep-fryer. They can be sweet or savoury.
Why you should care about fritters. Fritters are an important preparation to master for the following reasons: you almost always have the ingredients needed to make them; they fry up quickly; and they are a fantastic way to use leftovers, whether it’s meat like ground beef or ham, or sautéed vegetables, or cheese.
The fritter continuum. The degree to which the batter or the interior garnishes dominate varies widely. Let’s explore the two ends of the Fritter Continuum using corn fritters.
You can make a … Continue reading.
Before the exciting conclusion of Custard Week, I want to take you on a quick detour to show you some applications for the custards we’ve been making. Let’s talk about choux pastry.
Choux pastry is a bit weird. First of all it’s weird because it’s not clear whether it’s a dough or a batter. Next it’s weird because it’s cooked twice, once on the stove, and once in the oven. Then it’s weird because when you cook it the second time it puffs itself up so that it’s entirely hollow. And finally it’s weird because its name is French for “cabbage pastry”. To my knowledge it is never eaten with cabbage, so I’m thinking that the name refers to the … Continue reading.
When I was little we called these savoury pastries “scones,” our pronunciation rhyming with the word “owns”, but they are much more like American biscuits than British scones (the pronunciation of which rhymes with “lawns”).
For the sake of clarity I’ve taken to calling them biscuits. Whatever you call them, they are flaky quick breads made with butter, milk, and flour. A little salt and a little baking powder. That’s it.
My mom used to make a ham and cheese biscuit. She made her dough with milk soured with vinegar (buttermilk would have been used when she was growing up, but we never had this in our fridge). The dough was rolled into a sheet, covered with slices of ham … Continue reading.
Crêpes are very thin, unleavened pancakes.
The batter is very runny. I mix the ingredients with a stick blender to make sure there are no clumps of flour and the batter is very smooth.
Being so thin, crêpes take on the flavour of their cooking fat readily. For instance, to flavour your crêpes with butter, you need only quickly rub the surface of the hot pan with a stick of butter so there is a very thin, uniform layer. Lard is a good cooking fat for savoury applications.
Crêpes look and taste best when they are golden brown. This means cooking over medium-high heat. The side of the crêpe that cooked first will have a uniform, golden brown surface, while … Continue reading.
Last night was Pancake Tuesday, the appropriately subdued Canadian version of Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday.
I want to tell you about my pancakes.
Pancake styles occupy one point on a continuum between slack batters and stiff batters. Slack, or high-liquid, batters make thin, soft, limp pancakes the size of dinner plates. Stiff, or low-liquid, batters, yield thicker, cakey pancakes the size of tea saucers or smaller. For home-cooking I favour the stiff variety, making a batter that is barely, barely pourable. The resulting cakes are more dense, but still soft and moist. They develop a delicate, crisp exterior during frying, something that the slack batters can’t do because of their high liquid content.
In the … Continue reading.