Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Years! Cocktail Weenies for your Party!

Happy New Years everybody! Figure while I'm cooking up some snacks for my party tonight I'd share a quick and easy recipe for Cocktail Weenies.

So quick, that you can cook these up in the few minutes you have running between work and your party!

You will NEED two packs of hot dogs, some brown sugar or maple syrup, and a bottle (~18oz) of a sweet BBQ sauce. In addition, you can try out some other flavored ingredients, such as: hot sauce, chili or red pepper, garlic, beer, ketchup, mustard, vinegar, salt. Hey it's a festive event... be creative!

Get a sharp knife and slice the hot dogs lengthwise into 1/3" pieces. Throw them into a medium sized pot. If adding dry spices or vinegar, put them in now and mix it so the pieces are equally covered. Now pour in the entire bottle of BBQ sauce, stirring as you go. Save the bottle with it's innards dripping in sweet sweet BBQ sauce. You'll want to fill it about 3/4 way with water (also try cola or a stout beer).

Add the brown sugar/maple syrup into this bottle (at least 3-4 tablespoons, add more per taste) and let it melt. Cover and shake vigorously so the sauce, liquid, and sugar all mix together. Pour this into the pot and stir.

Heat to a boil then let sit under medium heat for 10-15 minutes. The sauce will thicken as it cooks. Keep covered on a low heat until ready to serve.

So quick and easy. And cheap too. This appetizer is good for at least 12 people and cost under $4 to make. If you want to go ritzy though, try some smoked sausage or bratwurst instead of hot dogs.

Your cooked party dish will be the highlight of New Years. Well that and the countdown...

Enjoy, and have a decadent 2011!


(ps - pix coming soon)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Habanero Fritters

Let me start this one with a shoutout to my friends Merdan and Torre at The Corner Bar on Elliston Place in Nashville.  If you pop in at the right time, you might just find me working the grill there!  They are the inspiration for this recipe… and the dudes who gave me the Habaneros for this recipe!

And I might as well also give a shoutout to Adam Richman at Man V. Food.  I saw this first on his show and decided to come up with my own recipe for these spicy demons.  This is the signature appetizer at Salvador Molly’s in Portland, Oregon.  But my recipe seems a bit more tame, for anyone who witnessed Adam’s masochistic act on the show!

You will need a box of cornbread mix (and the necessary ingredients.  Some require just water, some milk, some egg, etc), butter, sugar, an egg, breadcrumbs, onion, spices, and the great Habanero!  You will also need a deep fryer.

Habaneros are the hottest peppers you can commonly find and eat in the US, reaching up to 300,000 Scoville Units (units of spiciness). They are extremely hot, but also very sweet and flavorful.  You can sometimes find them in Chili and hot sauces in restaurants and supermarkets.

For this recipe I used six large Habaneros.  You can use more or less depending on your heat preference.  The ones I made were pretty darn spicy, but not insanely hot.  Throw them into a food processor with half a cup of onion and puree finely. 

(if you are sensitive to heat, try not to breathe deeply.  The aroma can burn your nose!)

Prepare the cornbread in a large bowl as per instructions on the box.  Add a quarter cup of butter, a few tablespoons of sugar, the egg, and your habanero/onion mix.

You will need about a cup of breadcrumbs for the recipe.  Use whichever type you like, but I prefer the ones I made for the Meatloaf recipe.  Take some bran flakes and grind them in the food processor.  When pulverized, stir them into the mix.

(I actually used raisin bran.  The scattered raisins were a pleasant addition to the fritter!)

Add some spices too.  Salt, pepper, and oregano are the basic staples, but you can also add garlic, basil, and anything else you can come up with!

Mix everything together well.  You are now ready for cooking.

Using a ladle, I scooped out several balls of the mix and dropped them into the fryer.  I didn’t have one, but I’d recommend using an ice cream scoop, as it will release a better sphere.

With a long spoon, rotate the fritters until golden brown on all sides.  When ready, lift the basket.  If you see batter seeping out through the wires, they’re not done yet, so put it back quickly!  When they are finally done, keep in the basket for the oil to drip.

Let cool for a few minutes, and there you go!

Another hint I might suggest would be to put the batter in the freezer for a short while before frying it.  Keep an eye on it, you don’t want it to freeze solid, just enough for it to clump together better.  Think more ice cream consistency than cornbread batter.  I did this quick without this step, and some of the larger ones fell apart upon hitting the oil. You could also toss them in a pan or griddle for a few seconds before throwing them into the fryer – just long enough to solidify the outside.  They’ll be more pancake-shaped, but they’ll fry up better if you’re in a rush. 

These came out as a spicy, crispy, sweet snack that was perfect for a day of football with the guys.  When you bite into them, the heat comes on strong and heavy, but fades rather quickly.  This isn’t the type of heat that will ruin your day or make you bowl over your friends for the faucet.  But you might want to have a beer or glass of milk ready for the kick you are about to receive! 

Enjoy the burn!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bonus: Latkes, The Director's Cut

Ok, remember last week for the first night of Hanukkah I tweeted that I made some Sweet Potato Latkes.  Well, they didn't really work out.  But figured I'd post the story anyway.  I added in some comments and suggestions, so next time they will come out better!

The art of Bachelor Cheffing emphasizes finding new uses for leftovers.  So originally I had tried to make Sweet Potato Latkes from my Thanksgiving remainders. 

I took a container of mashed and prepared sweet potatoes, and added the same ingredients as the regular latke recipe… onion, egg, and spices.  Scooped them into the oil in the same way.  Prepared sweet potatoes are mushy and soft, so they clump together nice.  I hoped they would fry just as well.

Well, they didn’t  L

Mmm...  Burned Sugar
Holiday sweet potato dishes are already formed into a pasty consistency, and contain a ton of added sugar.  The combination of these two factors led to the demise of the dish.  The sugar quickly caramelizes and burns.  Even turning down the heat, you get a charred patty before the potato ever cooks.  Even trying to salvage the burned latkes, I found they fell apart instantly after taking them out of the oil.

The few bits that weren’t burned did taste good, but I basically had to pick the unburned bits off the full latkes.  And they were still a bit raw in the middle.

These few came out ok...
Not so much these guys...

What I would suggest, if you want to try this, is use fresh sweet potatoes.  Grate them by hand, and follow the recipe for the original latke.  Do this properly and you will have a decadent, crispy pancake!

What can I say, they can’t all be winners.  Half the fun is learning from your mistakes.  Delicious, delicious mistakes…

Well, the pics came out good.  Too bad they didn't survive outside the pan

Happy experimenting, and enjoy!     

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lotta Latkes!

Happy Hanukkah everybody!  Let’s enjoy the holiday with the traditional dish: Potato Latkes!

Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, celebrates the miracle that during wartime, the lights at the Great Temple in Jerusalem lasted eight days when there was only enough oil for one day.  So for that reason, oily foods are theme of the holiday meals.  Jelly Donuts are often seen, but everyone’s favorite dish is the Latke – A pan fried potato pancake.

And for a traditional dish, they’re fairly easy to make.  You just need uncooked potatoes, onions, egg, and spices.  Luckily, you can more than likely find the potato and onion pre-chopped in your local supermarket freezer section… which is what I used!

Use about a pound of potato and half a pound of onion.  If you have fresh potatoes, use a cheese grater and cut them into small flakes.  Put them and about half a pound of chopped onion into a large bowl.  Make sure the potato is thawed and sticks together… you may need to add a little bit of water.  Add your spices;  I used a few shakes of salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and a sprinkle of chili powder.  Throw in an egg and mix together.

Prepare a frying pan with enough oil to cover the bottom.  I probably used a bit too much, but you don’t need a ton to fry these babies up right!

When you hear the oil crackle, spoon out a clump of the mixture and carefully drop it in the pan.  Latkes can be any size, but I found that the smaller ones cooked better.  Flatten them with your spatula.  After 4-5 minutes you will want to flip them… they should come up easy and stay together otherwise let them sit another minute or two. 

Ok, you’re not supposed to use metal in a Teflon pan, but I did anyway… just be careful.  I don’t trust plastic spatulas in boiling oil, even if they are kitchen-rated.

After another 4-5 minutes, scoop up each patty and let it drip back into the pan to remove the excess oil.  Place on a paper towel atop a plate or other surface.  I luckily had a pizza box lying around which was perfect!

The excess grease will drain out after a few minutes and you will have a crispy, potatoey Latke ready to be scarfed down at your Hanukkah celebration… or as a quick snack.  They’re also good for breakfast in place of your every day hash browns.

Traditionally, Latkes can be served with Sour Cream and Applesauce.  But, I didn’t have either of these lying around at the time.  But what I did have was leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving.  So, like a good bachelor chef, this is what I used, and it worked just as well.

Chag Sameach (Happy Holidays) and Bon Appetit!