Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Enjoying a Cup of Tea on a Cold Day

I am getting less fond of the cold weather. Snow, while once the magical harbinger of the holidays, is now the white stuff that gets slush and water spots on my boots. The freezing weather--in addition to the fact that my favorite coffee shop has now shut down due to economic woes--makes for a depressing situation.

Tea seems to make it all better.

I found myself another coffee shop, Espresso Royale, a San Francisco chain that has made its way to the midwest and beyond. Espresso Royale has a great selection of teas. One of my new personal favorites is their "Paris Tea" blend, a fruity black tea with sweet, floral notes. After adding honey and milk, stirring, and sipping, all my worries started melting away.

Snow looks beautiful again.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Onion Rings!!!

I consider myself a pretty healthy eater: vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and fresh fruits are the staples of my diet. However, this does not mean that I do not indulge in greasy, sugary, fatty foods every now and then. For the past few weeks I have been craving deep-fried onion rings and I have finally learned to make them myself. This is the first recipe I have tried, so feel free to let me know if there is a better recipe out there.

The onion ring recipe comes from AllRecipes.com (submitted by Jean Marie) and received 5/5 stars. Making the onion rings was pretty easy and straightforward overall. I do recommend double dipping the raw onions in the egg and flour mixtures (egg mixture, then flour mixture, then egg mixture, then flour mixture) to get an even coating; dipping the onions just once wasn't working. I ended up serving the onion rings with a ketchup-mayonnaise dip to complete the assault on my arteries. If you're really adventurous, you can throw in some beer.

Fry, enjoy, and indulge!

Old Fashioned Onion Rings
1 large onion, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup milk, or as needed
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
seasoned salt to taste
1 quart oil for frying, or as needed

Heat the oil in a deep-fryer to 365 degrees F (185 degrees C).

Separate the onion slices into rings, and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Dip the onion slices into the flour mixture until they are all coated; set aside. Whisk the egg and milk into the flour mixture using a fork. Dip the floured rings into the batter to coat, then place on a wire rack to drain until the batter stops dripping. The wire rack may be placed over a sheet of aluminum foil for easier clean up. Spread the bread crumbs out on a plate or shallow dish.

Place rings one at a time into the crumbs, and scoop the crumbs up over the ring to coat. Give it a hard tap as you remove it from the crumbs. The coating should cling very well. Repeat with remaining rings.

Deep fry the rings a few at a time for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove to paper towels to drain. Season with seasoning salt, and serve.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Best Recipe: Fast and Easy Ratatouille

Many of us are on the go, and it becomes quite difficult to get enough vegetables into our everyday diet. This is one of the best veggie recipes I've tried recently and comes from a book called, Without Reservations, by Joey Altman. It's quick, fast, tasty, and really fun to say: ra-ta-too-ee. Enjoy!

Fast and Easy Ratatouille (or Fresh Basil Ratatouille)

1 med-small globe eggplant
1 med green zucchini
1 med golden zucchini or crooked-neck squash
1 med red onion
1 med red bell pepper
6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (more if needed)
Kosher salt
1 heaping tbsp. minced garlic
1, 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup roughly chopped or torn fresh basil
Freshly ground black pepper

Cut eggplant, zucchini, pepper, and onion into 1/4 inch dice, placing each in a separate bowl.

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large skillet over med-hi heat. When oil is hot, add eggplant with 1 tsp. salt. Cook until eggplant softens and is slightly browned all over. Remove eggplant and place in a large serving bowl; set aside.

Add remaining 2 tbsp. olive ol to the pan, then add onions and garlic. When onions are softened and light golden, add the red peppers. Saute peppers until softened, then add the zucchini and 1 tsp. salt. Add more olive oil as needed. When finished cooking, vegetables should be tender, but not mushy.

Return the eggplant tot he pan and add the tomatoes with their juices. Stir and saute to heat everything through and combine the mixture well.

Stir in the torn basil and season with pepper and salt to taste before transferring to a serving bowl.