Archive for the ‘Cooking Method’ Category

Method: Gluten Free Sushi Rolls

dscf0304

Yum! YUM YUM YUM. This picture makes me hungry. ūüėČ

Sushi has got to be one of my favorite things to stick in my face, and one of the riskiest in my area due to a pretty major language barrier. ¬†When we’ve gone out for sushi, it seems like the sushi chefs always like to substitute something when you ask to leave something else out (and it almost always has got gluten!). ¬†So, I only have sushi at home now… and man, it’s a money saver!!!!!!!

I read this sushi book by Kimiko Barber and Hiroki Takemura and it influenced me a great deal. ¬†I also learned a lot from watching people at sushi bars make sushi… so my methods aren’t really what you would call “authentic” but they are certainly tasty! ūüôā

Sushi rice is the first thing you have to do, always. ¬†Here’s my sushi rice recipe, it will make about 6 rolls:

Ingredients (Part 1):
1 1/2 cups sushi rice (this is a short grain sticky rice, so make sure you get the real deal)
2 cups hot water
salt, to taste
4 tblsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sweet rice cooking wine
1/4 cup unflavored rice vinegar

Directions (Part 1):
1) ¬†In your rice cooker, add rice and hot water and some salt. ¬†Let it cook your rice while you do the next step. ¬†If you don’t have a rice cooker, well, you’re on your own. ūüėČ ¬†We eat so much rice here that we have a rice cooker to simplify things… if you’re Celiac, it would be a good idea to invest in a decent one. ¬†Mine has fuzzy logic, so even if I do something stupid, the rice generally comes out good.

dscf0279

Only use real sushi rice... it will make your life easier!

dscf0283

My friend, the rice cooker.

2) ¬†In a small saucepan, combine ¬†last four ingredients. ¬†Cook over medium heat until the liquid turns clear. ¬†DON’T LET IT BOIL! ¬†Remove from heat and let cool while you wait for your rice.

dscf0285

Be sure to stir this to dissolve the particles.

3) ¬†Here’s where we depart largely from tradition. ¬†Find a large metal bowl and dump your rice in it (once it’s cooked). ¬†Be careful, that bowl is getting ready to get HOT! ¬†Using a rice paddle, mix in the vinegar mix that you made and cooled on the stove (remember it?). ¬†Allow the mixture to sit on the counter for a half hour or so, then give it another good stir.

dscf0287

Cooked, but unseasoned sushi rice in a metal bowl. That white thing is a rice paddle, it helps a lot!

You should notice that the rice is sucking up the excess liquid. ¬†Let the rice cool a total of about 90 minutes, stirring every 15-30 minutes until the liquid is incorporated and rice is cool enough to handle. ¬†The metal bowl will speed cooling, making the traditional fanning unnecessary, in my opinion. ¬†This is the lazy way, it cools whether or not I’m even in the house.

dscf0288

Finished sushi rice, all shiny and sticky.

Ingredients (Part 2):
Nori
Rice Vinegar
Water
Sushi Rice from Part 1
Gari (pink pickled ginger)
Wasabi (optional, but delicious)
Assorted veggies, cheese and meat

Directions: (Part 2):

Ok , this is where we start to get technical. ¬†It’s sort of hard to explain how to do this, but once you’ve done it a few times, it will make more sense.

1) ¬†While your sushi rice is cooling is a great time to lob up whatever veggies, cheese or meat you intend to use in your rolls. ¬†My top three favorites are avacado, cream cheese and smoked salmon. ¬†Other great sushi fodder includes celery, green onion, dill pickles, carrots, radish, daikon, fried tofu… really anything you can chop into long skinny pieces. ¬†You can do this same day or the day before… just be sure to practice safe food storage. ¬†I don’t recommend raw fish, though we’ve done it before. ¬†I’ve had sushi with fried chicken, which was delicious (but I’ve not done at home).

dscf0290

My sushi cut veggies. I always keep them seperate from meats and cheeses.

dscf0291

Meat and cheese plate. Cream cheese on the left, smoked salmon on the right. This is only safe because the fish is cooked.

2)  Next, set  up your sushi stations.  You will need a rolling area where all your ingredients are within easy reach (veggies, cheese, meat, rice and any condiments you want to put in the roll, like sriracha or wasabi mayo and your nori).  It should also have your bamboo mat and a bowl of warm water with vinegar big enough to put your hand in.  Your other area should have a cutting surface (large cutting board is good), a long, thin, sharp knife, pickled ginger, wasabi and your plates.

dscf0293

This is my rolling area. The rice (not shown) is on the right hand side, along with the vinegar bowl (not shown)..

dscf0294

This is my finishing area. Knife is not pictured, but you'll see it. The blue bowl is just there to get it off of the counter.

3) ¬†In your rolling area, lay out your bamboo mat, shiny side up (you absolutely need this device, it’s like ten bucks at an Asian grocery). ¬†Place an uncut sheet of nori shiny side down on the bamboo mat. ¬†Dip your hands in the vinegar water and grab and large handful of rice. ¬†Spread it thinly over about 1/3 of the nori sheet, leaving a half inch or so on one side (see photo).

dscf0297

Nori on bamboo mat. I use it shiny side down so that the rice can grab at the bumpier texture on the top side. It makes sense to me this way.

dscf0298

Spread your rice on 1/3 to 1/2 of the Nori sheet, don't get too crazy, though, or it won't roll well.

4)  Add your fillings and any condiments you want inside the roll.  I usually try to limit myself to 3 fillings, it makes rolling easier.

dscf0300

Make sure to keep your fillings in the middle of your rice. It will roll easier and look better. ūüôā

5) ¬†Now here’s where it gets tricky. ¬†Wet both ends of the exposed nori sheet. ¬†With the fillings on the side closest to you, fold the bamboo mat and ingredients over on themselves, pulling the mat toward you as you do. ¬†If a little squishes out the short sides of the roll, it’s ok; you shouldn’t have any squish out the long sides, though. ¬†When you’ve pulled the roll as tight as you think it will go (only practice will help you judge that), use the mat to maintain pressure and finish rolling the roll. ¬†Press the wet strip of the nori against the roll to seal.

dscf0301

I always turn my mat so that my ingredients are closest to me before I start to roll.

dscf0302

Hopefully this illustrates the rolling method. Be sure to keep steady pressure as you roll or you'll have to do it again.

6) ¬†Move your roll to the finishing area and place it sean-side down on the cutting board. ¬†Start by cutting your roll in half, then cut each half into half and so on, until you have made bite size pieces (I usually go for about 3/4 inch slices). ¬†The ends will always be odd sized and not evenly filled… even at sushi bars I’ve gotten them this way. ¬†Plate your sushi, add some gari and wasabi and a little dish for soy sauce. ¬†If you want to be really fancy, a drop of condiment on the top of each slice is a nice touch. ¬†If you keep your knife blade clean and warm (warm water rinse), your cuts will tend to be better. ¬†Use one hand to stabilize the roll. ¬†Try a gentle sawing motion intead of a straight slice and use an unserrated knife with a long, sharp, thin blade (I use a utility/filet knife).

dscf0303

Don't be discouraged if yours don't come out this nice the first time, I've been making sushi for years and I still make a mess of it half the time. ūüôā

Above all else, have fun. ¬†Don’t forget that even though this is a traditional food from a land steeped in tradition, there is always room for innovation and just making it the way you like it. ¬†The best cooking is all about keeping the best parts of tradition and mixing them with the best parts of innovation.

Method: Brined Turkey Breast

Delicious, tender, moist gluten-free turkey

Delicious, tender, moist gluten-free turkey

Here at Ye Olde Gluten Free Blogge, the holidays are always killer. ¬†We’re busier than ever and have less and less time to get more and more things accomplished. ¬†Now that they are over, I’m posting some of my better finds/creations. ¬†I hope you enjoy! ūüôā

For the most moist turkey you’ve ever had in your life, a brine is necessary. ¬†On Good Eats, Alton Brown discusses what a brine actually does: when the salt in the brine starts to permiate the turkey in order to balance osmotic pressure, it takes other stuff in with it, like liquid and flavor. ¬†Here’s how I do it.

Ingredients (Part 1):
1 turkey breast, bone-in (7-10 lbs)
1 lb. table salt
1 lb. brown sugar
water (a whole lot!)

Directions (Part 1):
1)  After thawing your turkey breast (or buying fresh), remove the bags from the cavity and toss them in the trash can.

2) ¬†In bowl, bucket or sink large enough to submerge turkey breast, put salt and sugar. ¬†Fill about 1/2 way with cool water and stir until salt and sugar are mostly dissolved. ¬†Put in turkey, meat down (or however it will fit best, but be sure the meat is submerged) and fill the rest of the way with water. ¬†Try very, very hard to cover the breast. ¬†However, if it can’t be done, be sure that the meat part is submerged. ¬†The side with the cavity is mostly skin and nasty, so it’s not the end of the world if it sticks out a bit.

This is my turkey breast, meat submerged.

This is my raw turkey, meat submerged.

3)  Allow to brine about 6 hours.  Much longer and you risk the cold water getting too warm.  It will be plenty long, I promise.  If you have a cat who has a bad habit of trying to steal meat twice his size, be sure to put a heavy pot lid on top or be prepared to watch your brine!!!!

dscf0107

If your cat is eyeing your turkey, you may be in trouble!!! Safely on his favorite perch, Gaius is trying to figure out how to wrestle this turkey breast from the sink...

Ingredients (Part 2):
1 or 2 onions, cut into wedges
2-4 apples, mixed varieties, cut into wedges
3-4 tangerines, wedged and skin-on
3-5 ribs of celery, trimmed to fit in and around turkey
peppercorns, to taste
granulated garlic, to taste
fresh rosemary, to taste
fresh thyme, to taste
1 cup warm water
high smoke point oil (corn, canola, peanut, etc… whatever you’d use for deep frying)

Directions (Part 2):
1)  Remove turkey breast from brine, turn cavity down and allow to drain, 5-10 minutes.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2) ¬†Pour 1 cup warm water into a 12-inch cast iron skillet (please use cast iron, you’ll thank me later). ¬†Place turkey breast cavity up (meat down) in the skillet. ¬†Stuff about half of your veggies, fruits and seasonings into the cavity (do the best you can). ¬†Layer the rest around the turkey in the skillet. ¬†It really will all fit. ¬†Rub all your exposed breast parts with your oil. ¬†Poke an oven-safe thermometer into the center of the deepest part of your turkey, taking care not to touch the bone (it will throw off your reading). ¬†Tent with foil to prevent burning (not shown) and slide into oven.

Here's my turkey breast, dressed up for it's date with the oven.

Here's my turkey breast, dressed up for it's date with the oven.

3)  When thermometer hits about 150 degrees F, remove turkey breast from oven.  Allow to rest for at least a half hour (carry-over will continue to cook the breast for a little bit and make sure it gets to a safe 160 degrees F).

dscf02561

I like to double-check my thermometer to be sure that my turkey is safe.

4) ¬†After turkey breast has rested, remove to a large cutting board (preferably over the sink to contain the mess) and carve. ¬†I always pull off the skin and toss it into a LARGE stock pot and do the same with any meat I don’t like the looks of and, of course, the carcass.

dscf0262

Carcass in a stock pot.

5)  Put about a cup of water into the stock pot, clamp a lid on and let it simmer for 2-4 hours or until the bones are thin and break easily.  Strain out the bones and skin and things, let cool and store in freezer for delicious turkey stock.

6) ¬†While you’re doing the stock, you might as well take that cast iron skillet full of turkey juice and goodies and put it over medium heat. ¬†Simmer it down until the veggies and fruits practically turn to mush. ¬†Strain them out and put the juice back on the stove. ¬†Salt if needed and thicken with a little corn starch or flour. ¬†This makes excellent turkey gravy!!!!!!

dscf0261

Turkey gravy fodder.

Method: Gluten Free Pan Frying

Fried Chicken Strips, Onion Rings and French Fries...

Fried Chicken Strips, Onion Rings and French Fries...

I promised it a while ago and have just now gotten around to doing some more pan frying (it’s not something you do every day… you know, it’s a Sunday thing). ¬†I live in a funny place, that has a strangely fused food heritage. ¬†See, where I am is kind of where the South meets the West… so we do things like pan frying, we love our macaroni and tomatoes and our fried okra, but we also love our enchiladas, our chili con carne, our beans and ham. ¬†This is a great place to be if you like food! ūüôā ¬†Since I do, well, I’m glad I’m here.

So, to the business of pan frying. ¬†The very, very, very first thing that you should know is that you should only pan fry in a heavy frying pan (preferably cast iron), you should **NEVER** use expeller pressed oils due to their low smoke points and your should **NEVER** fry anything that’s in a frozen state! ¬†Always thaw first or you will seriously regret it. ¬†Ice crystals turn into water pockets that will react with the oil to burn your flesh off… and believe me when I say it’s no fun.

The Hardware:
1 10″ cast iron fry pan
Enough oil to fill it about 1/2″ deep (or deep enough to submerge your food half way)
Thermometer that will read up to 400 degrees F
Splatter screen
Cookie sheet with a cooling rack that fits inside
Tongs that can resist high heat
2nd cookie sheet for warming
3 bowls of similar size

The Software:
2 eggs
1/4 c. milk (your choice, I used almond milk)
Gluten Free Fry Mix (described below)
Chicken strips, pieces, etc, thawed
Onion
French Fries (or use the french fry method from before but stop after the first frying and freeze them for later!)

The Method:

1.) ¬†Be sure that your target foods are thaw!!! ¬†Ice crystals are not your friends, nor are pockets of water. ¬†Hot oil will cause water pockets to vaporize and you will get a very bad burn. ¬†I’ve been frying for many years, please trust me when I say this. ¬†I have battle scars to prove it.

I used a cooling rack suspended over the sink to thaw my chicken, this way all the excess water would come away from the chicken and not form pockets.

I used a cooling rack suspended over the sink to thaw my chicken, this way all the excess water would come away from the chicken and not form pockets.

2.)  Your Gluten Free Fry mix will consist of 1:1:1 of rice flour, tapioca starch and corn starch.  This means that if you have 1 cup of rice flour, you have one cup of everything else, see?  I also like to add spices to my mix to make it a little more interesting.  I always add paprika for color, salt, pepper and garlic to taste.  You might have to fiddle with it a bit to get the ratios the way you want them.  I always build my mix in a large ziptop bag for easy mixing and storage (I never use it all at one sitting).  Zip bag tightly and turn and knead until mixed well.

3.) ¬†Sit out your three similar bowls. ¬†Crack your two eggs into the middle bowl and beat until they well mixed (like you’d beat scrambled eggs), then beat in about 1/4 c. of milk. ¬†Moo milk, almond milk, whatever kind of milk you like. ¬†This makes it a little creamier and easier to use. ¬†In the two bowls on the end, scoop out some of your fry mix. ¬†One scoop for the first bowl and 2 scoops for the last bowl (believe me, you will need more in the last bowl than the first).

fry mix, egg dredge, fry mix.

Three bowls: fry mix, egg dredge, fry mix.

4.) ¬†If you’re ultra paranoid about contamination, do the onions first. ¬†Personally, I figure that any sort of germ that can tolerate 300 plus degree oil deserves a chance to make me sick. ūüėČ ¬†Oh yeah, and heat your oil on your range top to about 350 degrees or so. ¬†This part kind of takes practice to get right. ¬†Always start your oil out low and add heat, it’s much easier than subtracting. ¬†Besides, if you get your oil above 400 F degrees, you’ll ruin it. ¬†No one wants that.

5.) ¬†I like to start with the chicken, so I will. ¬†While your oil is heating (and it will take a while, so don’t rush it), drop your singular chicken piece into the first bowl, cover well with flour and then dust as much off as will come. ¬†Next, drop in the egg mixture and leave for about 30 seconds. ¬†Last, move to the 3rd bowl and coat throughly with the flour mixture again. ¬†Lay out on cooling rack for a few minutes to allow crust to set. ¬†Oh yeah, and be sure to choose a wet hand and a dry hand. ¬†The wet hand only goes into the wet bowl and the dry hand only goes into the dry bowl. ¬†Otherwise, you get club hand and that’s not pretty.

Chicken strip emerging from bowl 1

Chicken strip emerging from bowl 1

Chicken emerging from bowl 2

Chicken emerging from bowl 2

Chicken lounging in bowl 3

Chicken lounging in bowl 3

All the chicken strips waiting patiently to be fried

All the chicken strips waiting patiently to be fried

6.) ¬†Once your oil has reached something in the neighborhood of 350 degrees, gently insert your chicken. ¬†DO NOT DROP THE CHICKEN IN OR YOU WILL GET BURNED!!! ¬†The oil should start to sizzle immediately, if it doesn’t, it’s not hot enough and you’ve just ruined your chicken… it will be a nasty, greasy mess. ¬†Cook your chicken for about 5 minutes and then flip and cook another 3 minutes. ¬†Since we’re using gluten free flours, you will not be able to tell by the color if the chicken is done!!! ¬†It will be pale in the pan and lightly golden as it sets. ¬†Put it back on the rack so it can shed some grease and cool. ¬†Set your oven to 200 degrees F and stick your extra cookie sheet in.

Side one of the chicken, ready to be flipped.

Side one of the chicken, ready to be flipped.

Flipped chicken ready to be pulled out.

Flipped chicken ready to be pulled out.

This is a splatter screen. This is your best friend if you're frying and you don't want to get a bad burn.

This is a splatter screen. This is your best friend if you don't want to get burned while you're frying!

7.) ¬†Once your chicken has cooled, put it on the pan in your oven to keep it warm. ūüôā

8.) ¬†For the onion rings, slice your onions into 1/2″ slices and seperate the rings. ¬†Do the onions the same way you did the chicken, going through all three bowls of stuff and resting on the rack. ¬†Bring your oil back up to 350 or so, but don’t allow it to overheat, so work fast!

Onion rings resting and waiting to be fried.

Onion rings resting and waiting to be fried.

9.) ¬†Gently place onions in oil with tongs, and don’t crowd the pan. ¬†You won’t be able to get many in at once, but that’s why we have a warm oven. ¬†Fry for one and a half minutes, then flip and cook for another one and a half minutes. ¬†Pull them quickly and place back on the rack to cool. ¬†Stick them in the oven with the chicken.

Onion rings in the fry pan... DON'T CROWD THE PAN!

Onion rings in the fry pan... DON'T CROWD THE PAN!!!

10.) ¬†To fry your previously frozen french fries, allow them to thaw and then fry in the same oil for 3-4 minutes. ¬†They shouldn’t be so thick that they need to be flipped. ¬†Pull and drain, then stick in the oven with the rest of the party. ūüôā ¬†Serve and eat… don’t expect this stuff to keep, though. ¬†The breading tends to pull water out of the air and gets really icky after a while.

11.) ¬†To clean up (allow everything to cool), first drain your oil into a funnel with a coffee filter, to catch any of the nasty bits. ¬†Oil is made to be reused several times. ¬†Funnel into a clean container with a lid. ¬†Rinse your pan and scour with course kosher salt and a sponge (don’t use soap or else you’ll ruin the season).

Method: Deep Dish Pizza

Delicious Deep Dish Pizza

Delicious Deep Dish Pizza

What food do you miss most as a Celiac? ¬†Mine is pizza… but not just any pizza: I miss beautiful, delicious, butter-soaked deep dish pizza… with simple toppings, a sweet tomato sauce and soft and crunchy crust. ¬†So, I made one… cuz I’m cool like that. ūüėČ

Ingredients:
1 1/2 c. rice flour
1/2 c. acorn flour (found in Asian markets)*
1/2 c. tapioca starch
1/2 c. corn starch
1 tblsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tblsp. salt
1 stick butter, divided into 3 tblps and 5 tblsp and melted
1 1/2 c. lukewarm water
2 tblsp. granulated sugar
2 tblsp. active dry yeast
1 egg
3 egg whites
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
spices to taste (ie. black pepper, dried basil, dried garlic, dried rosemary)
pizza sauce (canned or homemade)
assorted pizza toppings

Directions:
1. ¬†Combine flours, starches, gum and salt in the bowl of your mixer. ¬†I’m too lazy to own a sifter, so instead, I mix them up on low to aerate and combine everything.

Flours in mixer

Flours in mixer

2. ¬†While you’re mixing flour, proof your yeast. ¬†Combine the lukewarm water and the sugar and stir. ¬†Add yeast and stir again. ¬†I like to use a big mug for this, but use whatever you’ve got. ¬†Your yeast is proofed (that is, it’s awake and active) when it starts to foam and sorta looks like a smelly beer. ūüôā

This is properly proofed yeast

This is properly proofed yeast

3. ¬†While your yeast is proofing, crack your eggs into a bowl. ¬†Remember, one whole egg and 3 whites. ¬†To seperate the yolk from the white, crack the egg in the middle and gently pull the two halves apart above your bowl. ¬†Pass the yolk between the two pieces of shell a few times, until most of the white is out. ¬†I’ve never successfully gotten it all, so don’t sweat it if a little bit of white is left. ¬†You can freeze the yolks for use later, or toss them. ¬†I never use as many yolks as whites, so I opt to feed them to my garbage disposal. ¬†Also, don’t freak if a little extra yolk falls in the bowl, you’re not making angel food cake, it’s not that critical (but that’s no excuse to be sloppy). ūüôā

Delicious raw eggs... yum

Delicious raw eggs... yum

4.  Add your 3 tblsp of melted butter and your vinegar to the flour and combine.  Add eggs and combine.  Add your spice selection and combine.  Add yeast slurry.  Mix well, and for longer than seems right.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 minutes should be about right.

Mixed up dough

Mixed up dough

5. ¬†In the meantime, prep your pizza pan. ¬†If yours is 1000 years old like mine, you should spray it liberally with nonstick cooking spray. ¬†If it’s nonstick and still in good shape, don’t spray it unless you want your pizza to stick (it’s sort of counter-intuitive that way). ¬†Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepped pizza pan, pizza dough and a silicone spatula

Prepped pizza pan, pizza dough and a silicone spatula

6. ¬†When you’re done mixing up the dough, which is a weird word for something that’s more like sticky mud, use a spatula or gloved hands to work it onto the pizza pan and into a circular shape. ¬†I use my hands, but that’s just me. ¬†It’s not going to be perfect, so we just need to accept that. ūüôā ¬†Allow the dough to rise for about 30 minutes uncovered. ¬†Brush the dough with part of the 5 tblsp of butter, leaving enough to brush the crust around the outside again.

Shaped dough on pan prior to rise

Shaped dough on pan prior to rise

Dough after rise and brushed with butter

Dough after rise and brushed with butter

7. ¬†Parbake your pizza crust for about 25 minutes for a chewy pizza, longer for more crunch. ¬† I would think another 10 minutes or so wouldn’t hurt it any.

Parbaked pizza crust

Parbaked pizza crust

8. ¬†Top your pizza, starting with your tomato sauce (you won’t need as much as you think, so go easy on it), then toppings and cheese. ¬†I like to alternate between toppings and cheese for a layered effect. ¬†Brush the crust that’s around the edge with the remainder of the butter and put back into the oven for about 10 minutes or until your cheese is bubbly (if you’re using cheese). ¬†Allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

My topped pizza, with pepperoni, pineapple and sharp cheddar cheese.

My topped pizza, with pepperoni, pineapple and sharp cheddar cheese.

Pizza Accomplished!!!

Pizza Accomplished!!!

* Note: Acorn flour has so far been the best option for this dough, however, if you cannot find it and don’t want to make your own, any high protein, moderate to high fat flour should do just fine. ¬†I’ve used garbanzo with a lot of success, but the flavor is not as good. ¬†Also, acorn flour may be found as Acorn Starch due to a common mistranslation. *

9. ¬†Other uses for this recipe include sandwich bread (dump in a loaf pan, allow to rise for 90 minutes, bake for 45 at 400 F) or rolls (fill cupcake tins about 3/4 of the way, allow to rise 90 minutes and bake for something like 25-35 minutes at 400 F). ¬†You’ll know that the bread is done by thumping it. ¬†If it rings hollow, you’re probably there. ¬†This makes an incredible loaf of crusty bread. ¬†Very nice for sandwiches and for rolls to go with soup.

Method: Homemade Tomato Sauce

Frozen tomatoes in pots, seperated by color!

Frozen tomatoes in pots, seperated by color!

I spent the weekend reducing many of my frozen tomatoes into a plain tomato sauce to be used in place of the canned stuff. ¬†Here’s how to do it!

Ingredients:
Frozen or fresh and ripe tomatoes
Salt
Water

Directions:

1) ¬†In a pot large enough to hold your tomato cache, put about 1/2 inch of hot water. ¬†Add frozen tomatoes and put on a medium heat setting and bring to a boil. ¬†This will take a long, long time. ūüôā ¬†Shoot for a loud simmer, the steam from the water will help thaw the tomatoes faster.

2) ¬†When tomatoes have been simmering a good long time (this will depend on the size of your pot, how many tomatoes are in it, the weather, the alignment of the planets and the way you hold your mouth when you’re cooking) and begin to look deflated, poke them with a knife to accelerate the breakdown. ¬†Sprinkle with salt (it will help pull out water).

Garden Peach variety tomatoes at the "poke 'em with a knife" stage.

Garden Peach variety tomatoes at the "poke 'em with a knife" stage.

3)  Continue to simmer until the tomatoes look really sad and deflated.  Turn down the heat and start moving them into your food processor.  Run food processor for a minute or so, or until all the skins are broken up and the tomatoes are smoothish.  Return to pot and put back to a simmer.

Garden Peach tomato sauce entering the reduction phase.

Garden Peach tomato sauce entering the reduction phase.

4) ¬†From here on out, it’s pretty hands off. ¬†Watch your heat, as your sauce reduces, it will take less and less heat to maintain your simmer. ¬†A fast boil will make a heck of a mess and you risk burning the sauce. ¬†When sauce is finally reduced as much as it seems possible (when the simmer starts to make craters in the sauce, it’s done), kill the heat and let cool enough to put into jars or freezer bags. ¬†I have a vacuum sealer, so mine went into vac packs.

Garden Peach sauce (crater stage) reduced to about 1/4 of its original volume.

Garden Peach sauce (crater stage) reduced to about 1/4 of its original volume.

Method: French Fries

I was asked recently to give some pointers on how to use a Mandolin slicer. ¬†So, I figured I’d use it to make french fries and kill two birds with one pot.

What you will need:
Potatoes, Russets are good.
Mandolin slicer (or you can cut them with a good knife to your desired size)
Catch Plate (to go under Mandolin)
Strainer or Salad Spinner
Dutch Oven
Enough oil to fill up about halfway
Thermometer (has to read up to around 400 degrees F)
Clamp (optional)
Splatter screen (optional, but you really want to use it)
Nearby sink
Something to hold your fries in
Cookie Sheet or Jelly Roll Pan
Cooling rack the size of the Cookie Sheet
Something to get the fries out of the oil (tongs, spider, etc)

Method:

1)  Take out your mandolin and select the largest Jullienne blade it has.  Set it to a thick setting (I used 5/16).  Grab Mandolin hand guard and stick a potato on it.

Potato stuck firmly in place.

Potato stuck firmly in place.

2) ¬†Stand with the mandolin’s side to you, but position yourself so you will be pulling and not pushing the food.

This is the proper angle. You should be looking at your mandolin like this.

This is the proper angle. You should be looking at your mandolin like this.

3)  Put one hand on the handle at the end of the device and pull food over the blades and towards yourself.

Put left hand on the back of the device and take hold of the handle!

Put left hand on the back of the device and take hold of the handle!

Pull hand guard and food toward you while pushing against the mandolin body. (I realize this is ALSO my left hand, but I didn't have anyone else to take photos)

With right hand, pull hand guard and food toward you while pushing against the mandolin body. (I realize this is ALSO my left hand, but I didn't have anyone else to take photos)

4) ¬†Remove spent veggie when you can’t get anymore slices and toss it!

5)  Take all fries from the catch plate and fill up your vessel with cold water and french fries (I like to use the sink).  Let soak at least 10 minutes!!

Fries soaking in the sink (biggest bowl I have!) in cold water.

Fries soaking in the sink (biggest bowl I have!) in cold water.

6) ¬†Once fries have soaked, take them out by the handful and put into a strainer or salad spinner. ¬†DO NOT be tempted to just dump the vessel into the strainer. ¬†The point here is to get rid of surface starches and if you pour that starchy water over the fries, you didn’t really get anywhere, did you?

Fries drying in collander. I have a splatter screen so I'm not going to freak if they splatter a little.

Fries drying in collander. I have a splatter screen so I'm not going to freak if they splatter a little.

7) ¬†Allow fries to dry if using a strainer or pat dry with a clean towel. ¬†If fries aren’t really dry, you’ll get hot grease splatters, which aren’t fun.

8) ¬†Heat fry oil to 320 degrees F. ¬†Fry fries in small batches for 3 minutes ONLY! ¬†They should come out floppy, it’s ok.

Your large dutch oven with splatter screen, thermometer and clamp!

Your large dutch oven with splatter screen, thermometer and clamp!

9) ¬†Remove batches of fries to drying rack (cookie sheet with cooling rack on top) and allow to drain until you’re done with the first batch.

This is what your draining rig should look like (well, mine is very used, but you get the idea... cooling rack on top of cookie sheet)

This is what your draining rig should look like (well, mine is very used, but you get the idea... cooling rack on top of cookie sheet)

10)  Crank the heat up to 375 degrees F and drop coolest fries in first, working in batches again.  3 minutes tops on this, unless you like burned fries.

11)  Lay fries back out on rack to drip.  Sprinkle with your favorite seasonings.

Finished product!

Finished product!