Friday, February 8, 2013

How to Make Perfect???????






Perfect Pinto Beans

Ah, to pre-soak or not to pre-soak.... that is the question.  I have never presoaked my dried beans, really don't know why other than the fact that my  grandmother  or mother didn't pre-soak.  However on a taste level, I think beans that have not been pre-soaked have a better flavor.  Just my humble opinion!

1 pound bag dried pinto beans
salt (to taste) I use at least 1 Tablespoon
Bacon grease
large onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic


Pour beans into a colander   and remove rocks and imperfect beans, wash well and drain. Use a pot with a good thick bottom,  such as  Dutch Oven with lid.  Do not pre-soak.


Place beans in a pot of water filled almost to the top. Bring beans to a boil and reduce heat to medium/low.  Add bacon grease, onion and garlic.  They will continue to cook and you will have to add more HOT water until beans are tender. When tender, add salt to taste

Continue to simmer...as beans begins to thicken you may have to lower temperature. Be sure that there is an adequate amount of water .  When beans are done, Usually about 3 hrs or so) you may need to cook excess juice down.  Remove the lid and turn the heat  up a bit and let the excess liquid cook off until the beans reach the desired consistency.








Perfect Scrambled Eggs

One thing I hate is to order scrambled eggs only to have them taste like rubber.  It seems there is no amount of salt or pepper than can fix them.  I always wonder how anyone could screw up scrambled eggs so easily.  I wonder if these "chefs" forgot that you need to salt raw eggs before you scramble them to attain fluffy curds?  Did they use milk instead of half and half?  Did they add extra egg yolks for fullness and body.  Obviously they cooked it over high heat the entire time!  I know everyone has an opinion on this, but this method has always held up for me.


Just a few hints here:

1.Use  an extra egg yolk for every 4 eggs.
 2.
Don't use milk because it makes the eggs weep or be runny. Use Half and Half. 


3.  Salt your raw eggs before putting in the skillet.  This will produce a fluffier curd. 


4.Use a smaller skillet so the eggs will have a thicker area to cook in utilizing the steam instead of direct heat which would over cook them.


5.  Once the eggs have started to cook ( you can tell this by running your spatula through the middle of the pan without leaving egg mixture behind) turn the heat down!  If you have an electric stove, put the pan on another burner with lower heat.  Let the eggs finsh up on low heat. 



I
INGREDIENTS
4 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
2 tablespoons half-and-half
1//2 teaspoon salt  or to taste
1/8 teaspoon pepper or to taste
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter , chilled  ( I like to use bacon grease when I have it)











Perfect Cream Gravy


Cream gravy has always been a staple in my house, growing up and grown up.  Don't use a mix, it is to easy to make.  You just need to make sure you cook the flour taste out of your gravy.  I don't measure my gravy ingredients any more, I can eyeball my pan drippings and adjust my flour and milk accordingly.  I always prefer pan drippings to vegetable oil or butter.  There is nothing butter than cream gravy made from homemade fried chicken or chicken fried steak!

Cream gravy
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons pan drippings, bacon grease or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste

Combine fat with flour in a hot skillet, continuously stirring, cook on medium for a couple of minutes until a  roux is formed.

Add milk slowly to skillet, and mix with roux using either a whisk or wooden spoon (be sure and press out any lumps). Turn heat to low and continue stirring until mixture is thickened, a couple more minutes. Add pepper and salt to taste.

If gravy is too thick for your taste, you can thin it by adding either more milk or water a tablespoon at a time. Goes great with mashed potatoes, fried chicken, biscuits, chicken fried steak,

Perfect Mashed Potatoes


SMITH / HENRY FAMILY HEIRLOOM MASHED POTATO RECIPE




Start with cut, peeled russets in salted water. They will invariably be done way before something else in your meal is done, so once they are done, drain them and let the chunks sit, covered, in the pan until you are ready to mash them. They will stay hot for a long time like this, and the bonus effect is they will absorb any remaining surface water while sitting there. You know you're in good shape when they look a little dry when you take the lid off.

Put into bowl and mix with you mixer until partially mashed potatoes and then add melted butter first Don't waste the heat in the potatoes on cold butter. Fold in something like 2 Tbsp real butter for every potato (oh, it's the holidays - just do it).

After the butter, sprinkle liberally with salt and then add (this is the secret) a pinch of sugar. (about a teaspoon).  NEVER add milk orhalf and half until you have whipped your potatoes smooth making sure to get the lumps out.  If you add the milk or half and half before then you will never be able to get the lumps out.)  Mix until smooth and then add HOT half-and-half -- I use about a 1/4 cup for every three medium russets. Just do not add too much liquid at first in case the potatoes retained too much liquid. After the holidays you can add whole milk for calorie purposes. The reason for doing this in this order is the butter coats the starch granules first and keeps it from turning into glue. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper , add more half and half if needed.

If you now have to take the mashed potatoes to Aunt Mildred's house, it's a good idea to check them to see if they have soaked up too much liquid. If they look a little dry add a good chunk of sweet butter and stir in before everyone sits down to the table. Yum!!

Another secret is to add 1/2 cream cheese and 1/2 butter.  Then use sour cream in place of half and half, using just enough to be able to finish off with heavy whipped cream.  The cream cheese and sour cream will stabilize the potatoes and keep them from clumping and making them very easy to re-heat. . Of course my great-grandmother and grandmother would have never ever considered the last option because they had those taters on the table immediately!  No time for clumping!!












Three Types of Meringue
French or basic meringue is made by beating egg whites at room temperature and then drizzling granulated sugar into the whipped egg whites. It is the most common in consumer recipes but is the least stable.
Swiss meringue is made by placing the egg whites and sugar in a bowl over hot water and stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warmed. The egg white mixture is then beaten until stiff peaks are formed. Swiss meringue is more stable than French meringue.
Italian meringue is made by drizzling hot syrup through partially beaten egg whites. The hot syrup cooks the eggs. The meringue in the accompanying recipe is Italian meringue. It is the most stable meringue since the egg whites are cooked by the hot syrup.

Perfect Meringue

MERINGUE:1 Tbsp. cornstarch1/3 cup cold water5 EGGS WHITES, room temperature1/4 tsp. cream of tartar1/2 cup sugar1/2 tsp. vanilla



MERINGUE: DISSOLVE cornstarch in cold water in small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; cover.
Step 4 BEAT egg whites and cream of tartar in mixer bowl with whisk attachment on high speed until foamy. Beating constantly, ADD sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time, beating after each addition until sugar is dissolved before adding the next. Continue beating until whites are glossy and stand in soft peaks. Beating constantly, ADD cornstarch paste, 1 to 2 Tbsp. at a time. BEAT in vanilla.


 Make sure your whisk or beaters are clean-as-a-whistle and completely dry. Be especially careful that they're free of greasy residue.

 Use the right type of bowl, and make sure it's clean and dry! Copper bowls are your best bet, but stainless steal and glass bowls also work great. Plastic tends to absorb too much of the egg white.

A hot filling is important. The heat of the filling cooks the bottom of the meringue and prevents it from weeping and creating a slippery layer between filling and topping. Set up your equipment and measure meringue ingredients before you make the filling and work quickly to make meringue before filling cools.



. Make sure your eggs are at least 3 days old (chances are, they're mature enough if you bought them at the grocery store).

Use eggs that have been brought to room temperature. Either let them sit out on the counter for 30 minutes or put them in a warm water bath for 5 minutes.


 Crack your eggs cleanly and make sure you don't include even the slightest bit of yolk. It will weigh down the whites and prevent them from properly aerating.
A hot filling is important. The heat of the filling cooks the bottom of the meringue and prevents it from weeping and creating a slippery layer between filling and topping. Set up your equipment and measure meringue ingredients before you make the filling and work quickly to make meringue before filling cools.
What's a soft peak? To check for soft peaks, stop the mixer and lift the beater. The peaks left in the meringue should curl at the tips. If the peaks stand straight and tall (stiff peaks), the meringue has been overbeaten.  If whites develop stiff peaks, stop beating them! If you continue, the egg whites will liquefy and you'll never get the volume back.
Do not add sugar until you have reached the soft peak stage.
To check if sugar is dissolved: Rub a bit of meringue between thumb and forefinger. If sugar is dissolved, it will feel completely smooth. If it feels grainy, continue beating.

What's a soft peak? To check for soft peaks, stop the mixer and lift the beater. The peaks left in the meringue should curl at the tips. If the peaks stand straight and tall (stiff peaks), the meringue has been overbeaten.
A hot filling is important. The heat of the filling cooks the bottom of the meringue and prevents it from weeping and creating a slippery layer between filling and topping. Set up your equipment and measure meringue ingredients before you make the filling and work quickly to make meringue before filling cools.

Anchor the meringue. Be sure to attach the meringue to the crust all around the edge of the pie. This prevents the meringue from pulling away from the edge during baking.

Beads may form on meringue when refrigerated; gently touch beads with tip of paper towel to absorb.











Perfect French Fries
I have always been on a quest for perfect fries at home.  But like most things wonderfully tasting, it takes a little more time and effort, but the results are well worth it.


Most people complain that their homemade fries are soggy and not crispy like at restaurants.  The trick is to osak the potaotes in cold cold water.  I use ice on top.  This crisps them up and also removes the starch which is the enemy when frying.  The more starch removed, the better the fry!!  I have let my fries soak overnight and they were incredible!
4 large russet or kinnebec potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 by 1/4-inch thick batons
2 quarts peanut oil
Salt and pepper
Directions
Rinse cut potatoes in a large bowl with lots of cold running water until water becomes clear. Cover with water by 1-inch and cover with ice. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days.

In a 5-quart pot or Dutch oven fitted with a candy or deep-frying thermometer, (or in an electric deep fryer), heat oil over medium-low heat until the thermometer registers 325 degrees F. Make sure that you have at least 3 inches of space between the top of the oil and the top of the pan, as fries will bubble up when they are added.

Drain ice water from cut fries and wrap potato pieces in a clean dishcloth or tea towel and thoroughly pat dry. Increase the heat to medium-high and add fries, a handful at a time, to the hot oil. Fry, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are soft and limp and begin to turn a blond color, about 6 to 8 minutes. Using a skimmer or a slotted spoon, carefully remove fries from the oil and set aside to drain on paper towels. Let rest for at least 10 minutes or up to 2 hours.

When ready to serve the French fries, reheat the oil to 350- 375 degrees F. Transfer the blanched potatoes to the hot oil and fry until brown and puffed, about 1 minute. Transfer to paper lined platter and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately.

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