Archive for ◊ February, 2011 ◊

04 Feb 2011 Mozzarella Sticks

I had no idea it was so easy to fry cheese.  I also had no idea fried cheese was so delicious.  Dang it. There’s no looking back now, unfortunately. Fried Mozzarella sticks are here to stay and they are my 2011 contribution to my Superbowl Snacks Line up (do they have line ups in football?).

This recipe is so yummy that it is all over the Internet.  I found the source recipe at Pass the Sushi and the blogger that adapted it was Michelle from Une-Deux Senses.

I changed the recipe a bit. The quantities didn’t quite work for me, and I simplified the ingredient list.  I also added on reheating instructions.  The cheese can be prepared/coated in advance (up to two weeks or more), frozen, and then fried at the last minute (without defrosting).

Mozzarella Sticks

  • 1 lb. string cheese, 16 sticks (This recipe can be adapted to make any quantity.  Directions below are based on using the entire 1 lb. package.  Adjust quantities accordingly if you are making more or less)
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 ½ cups Italian-style Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tbs dried parsley (optional)
  • Canola oil, for frying

Prepa­ra­tion:

  1. Remove wrappers from the string cheese and slice cheese into thirds (slice across, NOT lengthwise).
  2. Place the flour in a Ziploc bag. Toss the cheese in the flour, shake off any excess flour and set aside.
  3. In a shallow bowl or tray whisk the egg with the milk to combine.  Pour the Italian-style Panko into another shallow bowl or tray. Set the flour covered cheese in position 1, set the egg in position 2, and set the panko in position 3, set a baking sheet that will fit into your freezer in position (4).  You should have nice line on your kitchen counter like this:  (1) (2) (3) (4).
  4. Dip the flour covered cheese into the egg mix­ture, cov­er­ing com­pletely, then roll in the Panko-press slightly to make sure the Panko adheres-then place the coated cheese on the bak­ing sheet.
  5. Place the coated cheese in the freezer for at least  30 min­utes (overnight is fine, two weeks is fine, longer is fine as long as you remove the frozen sticks from the cookie sheet and place in an air tight, freezer safe container).
  6. Just before serving, fill a small/medium saucepan with the canola oil until it reaches a height of about 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot, about 360-375 degrees. (I have a dedicated small saucepan that I use just for frying.  I always use a thermometer to maintain the correct oil temperature, too.)
  7. When the oil is hot, carefully place the moz­zarella sticks, 4 pieces at a time in a small saucepan or 8 pieces at a time in a medium saucepan, into the hot oil. Watch the cheese closely and turn or stir to evenly brown.  It will take less than  2 min­utes to cook the cheese. Do not allow the cheese to bub­ble and leak.
  8. Carefully remove the fried cheese from the hot oil and drain on a paper towel.
  9. Serve.
  10. If you need to reheat the mozzarella sticks, place in a preheated 350 oven for 5-8 minutes.  Again, do not allow the cheese to bubble and leak.  Drain on paper towel again, and serve.

I hope  you enjoy your Superbowl Sunday!  If you stop by tomorrow, I’ll suggest some other recipes. I am not much into football, but I sure do enjoy setting out good Superbowl snacks for those ardent, noisy fans.  Superbowl Sunday is a great American holiday in my book!

03 Feb 2011 Caramel Corn

Ooooh, Caramel Corn!   Isn’t it lovely?  You know I am not talking about that stale, pale, powdery stuff out of a bright and cheerful tin.  No, no, no, no, no!  I am talking about real Caramel Corn, the homemade variety.  Caramel Corn made with love.  Lots of love.  Lots and lots of love.  Truthfully, Caramel Corn is a bit of a  bother to make.  It’s going to take a commitment.  It’s going to take some time.  And it is going to make a mess in your kitchen.  It’s kinda sorta along the same lines as giving birth  (Forgive me for this analogy). At first bite – that first crisp, sweet crunch – the pain of bringing it forth will be forgotten.

Here’s my recipe.  I think I first got it from Taste of Home about, oh, maybe, five years ago.  Over the years, after reading every other Caramel Corn recipe, and testing out and then incorporating the best tips, I have improved upon their recipe.  It’s still a mess to make, but, using this recipe has a guaranteed outcome.  I know this recipe works.

There are a lot of occasions coming up where Caramel Corn would be very welcome.  What’s happening back East right now?  Snow Days!  How about a Movie Night?  I just had friends over to watch a few of this years “Best Picture” Academy Awards nominees.  Then, in a few weeks it will be the Academy Awards themselves.  Let’s not forget abut Super Bowl Sunday: the best reason on the planet for the best snack layout of the year!  Touchdown! And, Valentine’s Day. Just pop Caramel Corn in those heart motif bags and you’re all set. Your Valentine will melt in your arms…

Need some more reasons to make Caramel Corn?  (Tough crowd today…) Caramel Corn can be made ahead, way ahead, like a week or more.  Once made, Caramel Corn is no more bother.  Just pour it in a bowl on put it on the table.  No refrigeration.  No reheating.  No slicing. No spreading.  No dip.  No utensils. Leftovers, highly unlikely, but if there are any, will keep for up to two weeks. The real reason to make Caramel Corn though?  The taste.  That sweet, crisp crunch.

Caramel Corn

  • 1 cup unpopped popping corn (divided use)
  • ¼ cup vegetable, canola, or corn oil (divided use)
  • 1 cup butter (no substitutions, no margarine)
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Set out two large, rimmed baking sheets and one clean, large brown grocery bag.
  2. First, make the popcorn.  You’ll have to do this in two batches.  Get out your biggest pan (I use my stock pot) with the tightest fitting lid (if the lid is glass, you’ll have it made in the shade).
  3. Note:  I make my popcorn the old-fashioned way, on the stove, in some hot oil, as the directions below reflect.  I am guessing you could also make the popcorn in an air popper or in the microwave.  If you choose to go down that path, skip the popping directions below, use your own method, and have about 16 cups of popped popcorn warming in the oven when you start on the caramel part of this recipe.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of the pan.  When oil is hot, stir in ½ cup unpopped popcorn kernels.  Put the lid on and SHAKE the pan like crazy. After 2-3 minutes, the popcorn will begin to pop.  Keep shaking the pan!  When you can see (if you have a glass lid) or hear the corn has stopped popping for 2 seconds or more, remove pan from heat.
  5. Pour the popcorn onto a baking sheet and place in warm oven.
  6. Make the second batch of popcorn.  Wipe out the hot pan and repeat the steps above with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and ½ cup unpopped popcorn kernels. The popcorn will cook faster this time around because your stock pot should already be hot.
  7. Put the second batch of popcorn onto the second baking sheet and place in warm oven.
  8. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
  9. Stir brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt into the melted butter and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Now, STOP STIRRING.  Let mixture boil, undisturbed, for four minutes.
  10. Remove warm popcorn from oven.
  11. Pour ½ of hot syrup over each tray of popcorn.  Stir to combine.
  12. You can skip this step if you want, but I find it helpful.  Pour the partially coated popcorn into a clean brown paper grocery bag.  Fold over the top to seal, then vigorously shake the bag to evenly coat with the caramel syrup.
  13. Pour the popcorn back onto two baking sheets.
  14. Place popcorn in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and stir to evenly coat caramel over all kernels.  Return pans to oven, switching pan locations.  Repeat three more times, so the popcorn bakes for 45 minutes total.
  15. Remove pans from oven and let cool.
  16. Serve, or store in air tight container until ready to serve.

Thank you for stopping by my kitchen today!  I hope you like the Caramel Corn. Want to serve it with Maple Bacon popcorn?  Stop by again, I have that recipe in my line up. Enjoy!