Tempura Okra

Well, it’s Monday again, and all sorts of things are going on around here.  The print function of the recipe plugin I use is still broken (I apparently have the developers stumped as to why), so for the time being, I’m uploading a printable .pdf file of the recipe and linking to it until we have this issue worked out.  Although it’s beginning to look like it might be my web host, so I’m looking for a new one – I’d welcome any suggestions as to which company is best (this isn’t the only reason, it’s just the latest).

I’ve also changed the permalink structure – how the URLs, or web addresses, of individual posts are displayed – and have installed a redirect plugin.  It seems to be working, but if you attempt to access a page or post, especially via a search engine, and get a “404 – page not found” error please let me know.  I know it’s happening – I’m getting them right and left for the old printable .pdf’s of recipes – and I’m not sure why.

*sigh*  They never tell you these things when you start a blog, do they?  Thank goodness I’m reasonably geeky, or I’d be completely lost.

Anyhoo – moving forward.

Tempura fried okra is a thing of beauty – I truly do not know why I hadn’t tried it before.  Tempura anything, for that matter, but it takes fried okra to a whole ‘nother level.  It is light and crispy and not greasy or heavy at all.  The secret, it seems, is in the ice cold club soda in the batter.  No, don’t ask me why; I may be reasonably geeky when it comes to technology, but am not at all certain why this should be.

I do know, however, that a traditional tempura batter contains wheat flour (often a combination of wheat and rice), and should never be over-mixed or it will activate the gluten, resulting in a tough and doughy texture when fried.  There’s no worry here, since I used tapioca flour and an egg yolk – you can beat it to death and that will never happen.  The final product does not suffer at all; a tempura made with this way will rival anything made with a more traditional recipe.

Note:  I didn’t really measure anything when making this, but I did use approximately equal parts of club soda and tapioca flour.  If you feel you need to use more, go right ahead, but anything over 2 cups of each will probably need an additional egg yolk and a bit more salt.  You should also be aware that you won’t use all of the batter or all of the dipping sauce, so the calorie/carb counts in the nutritional info are overstated.

Tempura Okra
Tempura Okra
Tempura Okra

Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces okra, cap removed and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 cup club soda, ice cold
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup lard or other fat suitable for frying
  • Dipping Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
Instructions
  1. Combine the ingredients for the dipping sauce – honey, soy sauce, lime juice and red pepper flakes – in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, until reduced by half, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl or container and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the egg yolk and club soda in a medium bowl until well-blended; slowly whisk in the tapioca flour until a thin batter forms (you may not need all of the flour). Heat the lard in a small, heavy skillet over high heat to 350 F. Working in batches, drop the okra into the tempura batter and turn with a fork to coat. Transfer to the hot lard and fry until crisp and beginning to lightly brown, turning once, about 1 minute per side. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate to drain; repeat with the remaining okra until it has all been fried.
  3. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 271 calories, 10.8g total fat, 54.2mg cholesterol, 813.6mg sodium, 214.6mg potassium, 42.1g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 9.6g sugar, 2.9g protein

 

Crispy Fried Chicken Livers

Warning:  This recipe could be dangerous to your health.

Bet you never thought you’d see that here, did you?

No, it’s not the chicken livers; if you’ve been hanging around here any length of time at all, you know I love me some variety meats (I may be making another tongue this weekend, or maybe a beef heart – aren’t you excited?).  And the chicken livers I used to make this dish were just about as fresh as they could be – they were residing in their pastured owners a mere 6 hours earlier.

Our poultry farmer raises not only laying hens, but broilers as well – you can drive up to his front door any afternoon and see the laying hens running amok around the barnyard (and lately, the apple trees), and the broilers in their covered pens in whichever field he has them that day.  If you’re lucky, there will be turkeys, too, and you can go out and say howdy to Thanksgiving dinner, as well.

He processes six times a summer; while they keep their laying hens year-round, they only raise the broilers in the summer, since they don’t do so well in cold weather – they just won’t grow, since all of their energy is used to keep themselves warm.  At any rate, we get six chickens each time they process and cozy them up in the freezer with our pork, beef, goat and venison, if we’re lucky enough to be gifted a deer (and have I mentioned I’m trying to source a llama?).  We often order the feet from the birds for our homemade chicken stock, and we’ll take livers if we can get them, too.

We got them yesterday, and I made this. Which is why I’ve added a warning to go along with it.

It seems that because chicken livers have so much moisture they cause the fat in your pan to splatter and splash – sometimes very violently.  And do I have a splatter screen?  I do not.

I do however, have a lot of burn ointment.

It was very much worth it, though, because these were absolutely wonderful.  I wanted seconds, which is rare for me, and I practically had to fight not only Beloved, but The Young One as well, to get some – you should have seen the kid wolf these things down.  Chicken livers have a much, much milder flavor than beef liver, and these were just so fresh and tender it was amazing.  I served them with homemade barbecue sauce, but next time I think I’ll do a nice (dairy free) pan gravy.

Yum, yum.

Crispy Fried Chicken Livers
Crispy Fried Chicken Livers
Crispy Fried Chicken Livers
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 pound chicken livers, cleaned and cut in half
  • 1 1/2 cups tapioca flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 2 cups tallow or other fat suitable for frying
Instructions
  1. Whisk the eggs, coconut milk and water together in a large mixing bowl. Drop the livers in the egg/milk mixture; cover loosely and allow to sit for about half an hour.
  2. In a large, shallow dish, stir together the tapioca flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Drain the egg/milk mixture from the chicken livers, and dredge them in the seasoned tapioca flour.
  3. Heat the tallow in a heavy skillet – preferably cast iron – over high heat until it reaches 350 F. Reduce the heat to medium.
  4. Fry the chicken livers, in batches if necessary, for 6 to 7 minutes, carefully turning once halfway through – cover the skillet with a splatter screen, because the fat will splash and splatter.
  5. Remove the livers to paper towels and drain briefly. Serve with barbecue sauce, hot sauce or salsa if desired.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 452 calories, 33.4g total fat, 442.4mg cholesterol, 1269.4mg sodium, 307.2mg potassium, 16.4g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, <1g sugar, 20.4g protein

 

Fish and Chips

If you couldn’t guess, yesterday was bad for me hormonally.  I managed to stay on track, although – well, you’ll see.

Breakfast – 2 eggs scrambled in ghee.  3 mugs coffee with coconut milk once I got to work.

Lunch – we had some leftover roast chicken, so I made chicken-potato salad with some chopped onion, celery, a small Japanese sweet potato I quickly peeled, cubed and boiled, along with the last of the spicy mayo from the fish the other day.  Oh…and a handful of dried currants I found in the pantry.  Aaaaaand, I had a banana afterwards.

Yeah, that’s the bad news – the raisins are gone, but the currants are there.  A generous handful of those when we got home from work.  *sigh*  At least there is no added sugar or sulfites.  (I’ve shoved the box in the back of the pantry; we’ll see if I can forget it’s there.)

For dinner I thawed a quart jar of Alex’s marvelous Sausage and Red Pepper Tomato Sauce that I had in the freezer.  I reheated it and served it over zucchini noodles – it was really delicious.  Unfortunately, that whole thing I said about being constantly and ravenously hungry?  Yeah, I had two eggs, scrambled in ghee, later that evening.  I’m sorry, it was that or kill the dog and eat him raw.

Speaking of the leftover spicy mayo that went into the chicken potato salad, did I mention how much I loved the fried perch I made for lunch the other day?  I don’t cook a lot of fish; it’s just not my forté.  This dish, though, has me rethinking that – it was just that good.

Freshwater perch is quite popular in northeast Ohio, and is found on the menu of many family-owned restaurants, especially on Friday.  Of course, it’s usually breaded with a combination of all-purpose flour and corn meal, but trust me – the almond and tapioca flour used here is every bit as good; you’d never know it isn’t “the real deal.”  The spicy mayo with the addition of some apple cider vinegar was my substitute for the tartar sauce I love so much, and it was really, really good.

I hadn’t thought much about the potatoes with the lunch beyond it being something nice to serve with the fish, tomato and watermelon, but when I sat it in front of Beloved, he said, “Oh!  Fish and Chips – cool!”

So there you go.

Note:  if you don’t have, or don’t want to use, lard to fry the fish, Spectrum Organics non-hydrogenated palm oil shortening is excellent for frying.  Also, I used a Japanese sweet for this – they are have less moisture than common, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes and are excellent for pan-roasting.  But if you can’t find them, regular sweet potatoes will be fine.

Fish and Chips
Fish and Chips
Fish and Chips
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • Fish
  • 4 freshwater perch filets
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 cup lard or other fat suitable for frying
  • Hot Chili Mayo
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili sauce, such as sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • Chips
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or other cooking fat
Instructions
  1. Bring a quart of salted water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the potatoes and parboil for 3 minutes; drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Melt the ghee in a medium sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat; pan-roast the potatoes, stirring frequently, until cooked through and golden brown, about 7 or 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm.
  3. Whisk the mayonnaise, hot chili sauce and apple cider vinegar together in a small bowl; set aside.
  4. In a deep, heavy skillet heat the lard to 350 F.
  5. Whisk the egg and water together in a bowl large enough to hold the fish; in a wide, shallow dish, stir together the almond and tapioca flours, salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne.
  6. Dip the fish in the egg wash, then dredge it in the flour mixture until well-coated, shaking off any excess. Fry in the lard until the fish is cooked through and the outside is brown and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Drain briefly on paper towels.
  7. Divide the fish and potatoes between 4 plates; drizzle the fish with the spicy mayo and serve immediately.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 471 calories, 39.1g total fat, 143.3mg cholesterol, 813mg sodium, 337.6mg potassium, 14.1g carbohydrates, 1.9g fiber, 1.9g sugar, 14.1g protein

 

 

Buffalo Chicken Bites

Good Monday morning, everyone!

Well, I took the last of the antibiotics this morning, and am halfway through the steroid treatment.  As far as the horrible cough goes, it’s getting better but I’m still really tired.  The steroids aren’t helping, of course; they make me jittery and irritable when it’s already hard enough to “rest and take it easy.”  But whatcha gonna do?

I’ll tell you what – you make this!

I had a package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the fridge that needed to be used and no idea what to do with them.  I don’t know what possessed me to cut them into bite-sized pieces, fry them up and toss them in a traditional buffalo sauce, but I am glad I did – these were good, y’all.  The Young One ate them with great enthusiasm, even if he wouldn’t touch the ranch dressing or watermelon salad (recipe for that tomorrow or Wednesday) I served with them.  There were absolutely NO leftovers.

We ate this for dinner, but it would also make a great appetizer or party fare.

Note:  While buffalo chicken “purists” insist the sauce be made with Frank’s Red Hot Pepper Sauce. any Louisiana-style hot sauce will do (in fact, I used Louisiana brand hot sauce).  Louisiana hot sauce isn’t all that hot – at least not to this Texan’s palate; it’s really more sharp and vinegary.  So how hot your sauce is depends on the amount of cayenne you use, if any.

Buffalo Chicken Bites
Buffalo Chicken Bites
Buffalo Chicken Bites
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups tapioca flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 – 3 cups palm oil shortening
  • Marinade
  • 1 tablespoon wheat-free tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry
  • 2 egg whites
  • Sauce
  • 1/2 cup ghee or butter
  • 1/2 cup Louisiana hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine the marinade ingredients. Add the chicken, and stir to coat; cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a heavy, shallow skillet over low heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, while frying the chicken.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the 1 1/2 cups tapioca flour with the salt and pepper. Toss the marinated chicken in the tapioca mixture to coat; shake off any excess before frying.
  4. In a wok or large, deep skillet, melt the palm oil shortening over high heat to 350 F. Working in batches, fry the chicken cubes until golden brown outside and just cooked through inside, about 4 minutes per batch. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all of the chicken has been fried.
  5. Transfer the fried chicken to the pan with the buffalo sauce and toss to evenly coat the chicken. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon, allowing any excess sauce to drain from the chicken.
  6. Serve immediately with ranch or bleu cheese dressing, carrot and celery sticks.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 482 calories, 36.5g total fat, 116.2mg cholesterol, 1027.6mg sodium, 506mg potassium, 10.7g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, <1g sugar, 26.9g protein.

 

General Tso’s Chicken

I’ve long been a proponent of the “If you’re going to eat it, make it yourself” school of thought.  Want cake?  Bake one – from scratch.  Want ice cream?  Make it yourself – again, from scratch.  Want biscuits and gravy?  Ditto.

Want some wonderfully sauced, deep-fried Chinese food?  I can do that.

Despite the fact that I love it, I’ve never been real huge on Chinese take-out.  Oh, we’d get it once in a blue moon, but it wasn’t something we’d get on a weekly, or even monthly, basis.  But when we did, you can be sure General Tso’s Chicken was one of the dishes we’d order.  It’s probably Beloved’s favorite, right behind crab rangoons and barbecue spare ribs.  I won’t turn my nose up at it, either, although The Young One usually did, opting for chicken fried rice.

I can’t remember the last time we ordered it, though – certainly not in the last two years, and it was probably quite some time before that.  But once in awhile, it just sounds good, so I thought I’d look around on the interwebz for a reasonable recipe.  And boy, did I find one.

The original recipe calls for corn starch, sugar, hoisin sauce and vegetable oil, but we all know I’m not going there, so I made suitable substitutions of a little extra wheat-free tamari, some honey, tapioca flour (potato starch would probably also work quite well, if you’re so inclined) and non-hydrogenated vegetable palm oil shortening, simply because it has such a neutral flavor.  The results were better than I hoped for – the chicken was suitably moist, yet crunchy, and the sauce was spicy but not too sweet.  The three of us – yes, even The Young One, who went back for more (something that is almost unheard of) – scarfed it down with great pleasure.

Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients; it really came together pretty quickly – frying the chicken was the hardest, most time-consuming part, and even that took maybe 10 minutes, tops.  I also added some sliced carrots, onion and tatsoi we’d picked up at the farmer’s market, stir-frying them briefly before adding the garlic and red pepper flakes to the wok – you could use just about any vegetables you like.  Or none at all, if that’s what you want.  (Michele, I totally see this working with some tofu.)

All in all, this was really very good – I can easily see making this again sometime.  Or maybe turning the recipe into Orange Chicken.  Or Sesame Chicken.  Mmmmm…

General Tso's Chicken
General Tso’s Chicken
General Tso’s Chicken
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups tapioca flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 – 3 cups palm oil shortening
  • Marinade
  • 1 tablespoon wheat-free tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 egg whites
  • Sauce
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon wheat-free tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon tapioca flour or arrowroot powder
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine the marinade ingredients. Add the chicken, and stir to coat; set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients until well combined. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the 1 1/2 cups tapioca flour with the salt and pepper. Toss the marinated chicken in the tapioca mixture to coat; shake off any excess before frying.
  4. In a wok or large, deep skillet, melt the palm oil shortening over high heat to 350 F. Working in batches, fry the chicken cubs until golden brown outside and just cooked through inside, about 4 minutes per batch. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all of the chicken has been fried.
  5. Drain the hot oil into a heat-proof container, reserving one tablespoon; discard the rest once it has cooled. Wipe down the inside of the wok with a paper towel, but do not wash.
  6. Reheat the wok or skillet over medium-high heat; add the reserved tablespoon of oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir-fry until fragrant, about 15 to 20 seconds. Add the sauce mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Add the chicken to the sauce mixture in the wok and stir to coat well. Transfer to a serving dish; garnish with sesame seeds and sliced scalliions, if desired. Serve with the vegetables of your choice.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 504 calories, 31.4g total fat, 73mg cholesterol, 1052.6mg sodium, 601.1mg potassium, 28.3g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 10g sugar, 27.9g protein