recipes, food snaps, and travel musings
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
I've been busy
And not just busy cleaning oil out of the burners on my electric stove, but "real" busy: dealing with assignments, abstracts, reports, and other mundane, non-edible things in life.
When I'm so very busy, sometimes I let somebody else do the cooking. That's a good sign that I've gotten to an unprecedented level of busy.
But the results can be surprisingly excellent. Take Sunday, for example. I spent the afternoon at a friend's bridal shower/baby shower (yes, she's multi-tasking too...) and I had been up until 4am the previous day making a batch of very photogenic, if entirely undocumented, chocolate-blood orange cupcakes.
Exhausted from the party, and staring down the barrel of a long night of homework, I let Five do the cooking for once.
Beer Battered "Fish" 'n Chips with Minty Mushy Peas
1 350g block tofu, sliced thinly (~1/4" thick), and in triangle shapes
2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 12oz can beer (Boddington's works well, as would another pub lager)
1 tsp kelp powder, whisked into
1 cup cornstarch
4 large Russet potatoes, chopped up like french fries
3L vegetable oil (canola or corn oil are good choices)
1 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 Tbsp dill pickle, chopped finely
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp lemon vodka (you can substitute 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 Tbsp vodka)
1 Tbsp wasabi (if using powdered wasabi, reconstitute 3/4 Tbsp powder in 3/4 Tbsp cold water)
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1) Press the tofu between clean tea towels, under a few pounds of cookbooks for about one hour. If you've never done this before, expect it to release a lot of water, but be a much tastier in the final dish.
2) While the tofu is pressing, soak the potatoes in cold water for at least one hour. Drain, and dry well using a clean tea towel. You should have used up most of your tea towels by now.
3) During that hour, feel free to make the tartar sauce. Leave it in the fridge until you're ready to eat. You can also spend your hour trying out the beer, to make sure it's... fresh. Just make sure you have at least one can left when you're ready to make the batter.
4) Make the batter: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, white pepper and cayenne pepper in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the beer until well blended and smooth. If the batter looks thicker than pancake batter, add a 1/4 cup more beer (you should have lots on hand, right?) or water. Put the bowl of batter in the fridge - the colder it stays, the better.
5) Preheat oven to 200F. Take out a big cookie sheet, cover it in newspapers (>8 pages deep), and place some of your cooling racks on top. Hopefully you have cooling racks - you make cupcakes, don't you?? If you don't, a metal steamer basket or colander might work, if it is oven-safe.
6) Heat oil in a deep pot to 275F. A candy thermometer clipped to the side of the pot is a good way to get there accurately. If the oil smokes, take it off the heat and don't add any food until it has stopped smoking. Reprimand it harshly.
7) Working in small batches, add potatoes to the pot of hot oil and cook until soft but still pale. Remove potatoes and drain on the rack/cookie sheet aparatus. Keep them warm in the oven.
8) Turn up the heat, and bring the oil temperature to 350F. Lightly dredge tofu (where did you put it? look under the cookbooks!) in cornstarch and kelp powder, and then dip in batter, coating evenly. Carefully add battered tofu to pot and cook until golden, turning once. Remove tofu and drain on the same rack in the oven.
9) The last step! With the oil still at 350F, refry the potatoes for a few more minutes, until golden and crisp, then drain on the newspaper again.
10) Serve your oil-drenched meal with sea salt, malt vinegar, lemon wedges, tartar sauce, and whatever beer you still have left in the fridge. Listen for the seagulls.
Wait, what about the mushy peas? Well, we forgot too, until the last minute.
Minty Mushy Peas
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 green onion
1 handfull fresh mint
200g frozen peas
1 Tbsp vegan margarine
salt and pepper
In a small soup pot, heat oil and add onion and mint. Cook for a few minutes, then add peas, cover and cook for five minutes on high heat, until peas are done. Stir in margarine, mash it up like crazy, and season to taste.
Kudos: The recipe for the beer batter and the chips is courtesy of Cooking with Booze by Ryan Jennings & David Steele. We changed it in a few ways, but they deserve some credit. The mushy peas are courtesy of Jamie Oliver, with some small changes.