Posted: July 31, 2011 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Johanna | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

2011 has been a rough year.

A very rough year.

Looking back on a month that I *hoped* would bring good things, and started with such promise and success, I have to say that July …. you’re in the doghouse. You sucked too.
I lost my job this month.

So, instead of writing about anything that I’m cooking, or making, or whatever, I’m going to post pictures of the food I made for 4th of July weekend. The things that I made when it felt like everything good was on the horizon and nothing bad would happen.

Tuna tacos

I had recently learned that you could fry your own tortilla shells, and have now resolved to not eat soft tacos all that much. I tried to make puffy tacos from a respected recipe (I won’t link it until I nail it, I don’t want to embarrass myself) and that tanked on July 3rd, so I fried my small flour tortillas, and stuffed them with seared tuna, shredded lettuce, tomato, and an avocado-parsley-jalapeno crema. And they. were. awesome.

My first successful blueberry pie

Back in July, Shauna, the amazing Gluten-Free Girl, held a pie party on Facebook. And I decided to jump in. Blueberries were the only thing on my mind in early July, so on the 3rd of July, I made a blueberry pie. And it was awesome. And I’m amazed. I’ve had problems with blueberry-based pies, being too runny, being messy, not tasting right. But this one was fantastic.

For dinner on the 4th of July, I made fried chicken, and potato salad. I made the mayonnaise for the potato salad. Like, made it from scratch, from egg yolks and vinegar and lemon juice and olive oil and… I was so proud of it. And then I mixed the mayo with the potatoes and learned a fundamental issue: Your homemade mayonnaise will run all over the place, if your potatoes are too hot when you mix them. Which…. mine were. But oh well. It was delicious, and I mixed some of the dill we got from our CSA into it, and I will definitely be making mayonnaise again. For sure.

And then for dinner, we had this. The last slices of pie, with peach-pie ice cream that I made myself.

They were good times. It was a good weekend. And I need to remind myself of that, when things get hard and jobs are scarce and frankly, I’m getting a little afraid. I can be strong, and brave. I can get through this, and there will be pie. And fried chicken. And many other things. Good things. Again.

Fancy-Fried Chicken

Posted: January 18, 2010 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Chicken, Johanna | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

I have made fried chicken many, many times. I always shallow-fry, because the idea of dunking a raw piece of chicken into a pot of boiling oil and hoping that you can cook the chicken without burning the outside and without turning the whole thing into an oil slick freaks me out. It’s too much anxiety.
However, I’ve been feeling slightly bummed out by my last few fried chicken events. I mean, they’ve tasted good, but they weren’t great. So I was in need of some inspiration, and maybe some change to the technique.

While reading Food 52 one day, I saw that there was a new recipe up from the hubby of one of my favored bloggers (Jen from Last Night’s Dinner). Her husband, Mike, posted an ingenious-looking recipe for Buttermilk Fried Chicken.
The beauty behind this recipe is that you first brine the chicken in buttermilk, Old Bay, salt and pepper for several hours. Then, you par-boil it IN the brine and some water, until it’s basically cooked through. Then, you coat it in flour and deep fry it, to get that crispy, delicious outside.

I love this technique. I’ll tell you right now, it is 100%, 150%, 200% worth it. ¬†Brining the chicken makes it super juicy and very flavorful. The par-boiling means that there’s no risk of drying out your chicken. Shaking it up in the bag of flour is where it gets all the crispiness and yum. And then of course, there’s the 2 minutes of deep-frying per piece, which makes it TASTE ridiculous and bad for you, but keeps it from really BEING ridiculous and bad for you.
The one modification that I might make to the method is in the next-to-last step. I found that not enough of a crunch came through from just a pure ¬†coating in flour. It might be that I let the chicken cool too long (the recipe didn’t specify) and it got too dry on the surface for much flour to stick.
But in general, I would probably dip each piece of chicken in one more buttermilk bath before a shake in the flour, just in an effort to bring a TEENY it more crunch to the party. But the method, otherwise, is phenomenal. Please do not skip the last step of the recipe, which is to sprinkle it with crunchy or flaky salt after frying. It makes a HUGE impact.

Oh. Ahem. One last tip. Buy enough oil. I bought a too-small bottle of oil, and ended up having to use my tiniest saucepot, and deep fry one piece of chicken at a time.

It didn’t impact the taste of the chicken in any way. It was just really darn annoying.

Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.