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Bubbling Cauldron of Oil

December 5, 2012 By:
Eileen Goltz | JE Feature
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With Chanukah looming large on the calendar it’s to be assumed that there will be a boatload of columns talking about potato pancakes and sufganiyot. While, in theory, I believe you can never have too many latke recipes, I believe that this year we should shift our focus to all other kinds of foods that can be fried and that are just different enough that you’d consider serving them year around.

Truly, this is one of those columns where calories don’t count (they exist, they just don’t count) and your commitment to eating healthier just has to take a vacation. It’s Chanukah. Let the frying begin.
 
First off, contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to have an entire meal based on an item plunged into a bubbling cauldron of oil. You can have fish or baked chicken as a main course and serve tempura vegetables, or breaded and oven-fried vegetables that meet not only the letter but the spirit of the holiday.
 
Let’s consider making tempura. Tempura originated in Japan and is a battered and deep fried dish. You can use seafood or vegetables as your base and then dip them in a batter, fry them up and enjoy. Quick, easy and no chopped onions to cry over.
 
There are a few different basic batter recipes, but one key element to making crispy tempura is to use ice water for the batter. You should never make the batter ahead of time. Prep your vegetables, then just whisk the batter together right before you need it. The oil needs to be hot and the vegetables should drain and cool for a minute or so before you serve them.
 
The following recipes are a mix of the simple to the slightly more complex with vegetable suggestions and dipping sauces to make your Chanukah meal a tad more festive. So this year when you tell your kids they have to clean their plates and eat their vegetables before they can get the gelt, you won’t have a single problem.
 
Tempura Batter #1
1 egg
1 cup ice water/cold water
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
pinch of salt (optional)
 
In a bowl, whisk the egg. Add the ice water in the bowl and whisk to combine. Add the flour and whisk. Add the salt, if using, and combine. Be careful not to over mix the batter.
 
TEMPURA BATTER #2
1 cup flour
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
11⁄2 cups cold seltzer water
pinch of salt
 
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Don’t over mix.
 
TEMPURA STRING BEANS
1 cup flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup soda water
1 lb. string beans, washed, dried and trimmed
1⁄2 cup cranberry sauce
 
Preheat oil in deep-fryer to 375.˚
 
In a large bowl, add the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, sugar and salt and mix to combine. Whisk in the soda water and mix until a batter is formed. Dip the beans in the batter, being sure to shake off the excess.
 
Fry the beans in batches for 2 to 3 minutes until crispy and golden. Remove to a paper towel-lined sheet tray to drain. Arrange the beans on a platter and serve with warm cranberry sauce.
 
Note: When frying the beans, make sure the fryer basket is submerged into the oil. Drop string beans into the basket in the oil to ensure the beans do not stick to the basket when cooking.
 
Oven Fried Parmesan Zucchini
2 Tbsps. olive oil
1⁄2 cup fine bread crumbs
1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
11⁄4 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. basil
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 large egg
6 zucchini squash, trimmed at each end
 
Preheat the oven to 400.˚ Lightly grease baking pan  sides with the olive oil and set it aside.
 
In a large shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, oregano, basil, salt and pepper, and mix to combine. In another bowl, whisk the egg.
 
Cut each squash in half lengthwise. Then cut in half lengthwise again. Then cut them in half. Dredge each piece first in the egg and then in the Parmesan mixture, coating completely on all sides. Arrange the coated spears on the prepared baking pan.
 
Bake for 5 to 7 minutes then turn the squash over and bake until the spear is crisp and browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.
 
This can be doubled or tripled. Serve with marinara sauce.
 
Serves 4 to 6. 
 
FRIED CAULIFLOWER
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp. milk
1⁄4 tsp. salt
11⁄2 cups flour
3-4 Tbsps. shredded Parmesan cheese
1⁄4 tsp. garlic powder
1⁄2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
1⁄8 tsp. paprika
1-3 dashes cayenne pepper (depending on how hot you like it)
1⁄4 tsp. black pepper
oil (for frying)
2 heads cauliflower, washed and broken into bite-size flowerets
salt to taste
 
Preheat fryer oil to 375.˚
 
Place the beaten eggs, milk and salt in a shallow bowl.
 
In another bowl, combine the flour, cheese, thyme, garlic powder, oregano, paprika, cayenne, and pepper.
 
Place the flowerets into the egg mixture and toss to coat well.
 
Then coat the flowerets with the flour mixture. Fry in batches for 5 to 6 minutes or until golden brown.
Drain on paper towels and lightly salt and serve.
 
Great with marinara or onion/sour cream dip.
 
Serves 6.
 
Eileen Goltz is a freelance food writer and the author of Perfectly Pareve. Email her at: eztlog@gmail.com.
 

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