Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Crispy Fried Shallots

If you’re gluten free, or cook for anyone who is, you’re going to love this.

If you’re a foodie, you’re going to love this.

If you’re a huge fan of French’s French Fried Onions and can’t imagine why anyone would want to do any unnecessary work when they could just open up a can of those – you might not be interested in this at all.

I came across this technique a couple years ago when I was making Green Bean Casserole for Thanksgiving.  One of the essential ingredients, the french fried onions, are full of gluten.  (As is cream of mushroom soup.  Thanksgiving is a marathon of prep for us, isn’t it?  Anyway.)  For a couple years I had substituted (gasp) Funyuns for the crunchy onion topping we know so well.  They’re GF.  Who knew?  And for the record, if you can get past the horror of seeing Funyuns on your Thanksgiving table, they’re not actually that bad of a substitute.

But after a couple years of Funyun Thanksgivings I saw someone on TV, I can’t even remember who, making their Green Bean Casserole with crispy fried shallots on top.  Plain onions with no coating can be fried and end up crispy?  I was intrigued so I tried it.

Never going back.  They’re seriously easy to make and are so impressive on top of a wide variety of foods.  I prepare them almost every time I make mashed potatoes.  So good, so easy, so impressive.  What’s not to love?

Here’s what you do.  Slice up your shallots as thinly as you can.  I probably have five shallots here.  Shallots are the little pinkish-brown ones.  They’re exceptionally sweet as onions go.  Our grocery store stocks them next to the garlic.

Next, heat a couple inches of oil until very hot.  You can reuse oil, did you know that?  Just strain it and put it in tupperware in the fridge.  That way you don’t have to feel like you’re wasting oil every time you need to deep fry something.  The oil will get darker with each use so when it gets too dark just toss it.

I didn’t use a thermometer this time but if you are, we’re  working in the 350-375 range.  Add your shallots, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.  (This ^ is me not following my own advice.)  Toss the onions around every once in a while just to make sure they’re not sticking together.

You want to cook them until they are golden brown.  The onions are not going to be stiff and crispy when you pull them out of the oil.  That happens when you lay them on a paper towel lined plate to drain.

I use a strainer to pull them out quickly.  These are just a shade darker than I prefer but still absolutely wonderful.  At this point you can salt them or season them as you like – you don’t want to salt them beforehand, it’s not good for the oil.  I have no idea why, but that’s what I was taught when I worked at Burger King a million years ago.

These would be a delightful topping on any casserole, piled high on a burger, scattered atop mashed potatoes or meatloaf.  They would add a great salty crunch to a salad and would make a beautiful garnish on any number of soups.  Fried shallots have so many uses and it only takes a couple minutes to make them.  So please do.  Your foodie/gluten free/fried-food-loving friends will thank you for it.

Enjoy!

Crispy Fried Shallots

shallots, as many as you want to do, sliced as evenly and thinly as you can (mine were probably 3mm thick)

enough oil to cover your pan 2 inches deep ( you can use less than that, maybe an inch deep, but it’s harder to control the temperature of your oil the less you use)

Instructions:

Heat oil until very hot (350-375 degrees) and add in sliced shallots (add in batches if doing more than 4 or 5 so as not to crowd the pan.  The oil should sizzle frantically when you put them in.  Stir the pan occasionally to make sure the shallots are not sticking together.

Fry until golden brown (I have never timed this – I’ve always gone by the color – it takes a few minutes).  Using a small strainer, remove them to a paper towel lined plate.  The shallots will still be wiggly when you remove them from the oil, they will crisp up as they drain.

These are best used right away.  Refrigerating fried foods always makes them lose their crispness.

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Popovers

Persistence.

This photo is from the 5th time I made these rolls.  FIFTH.  The first time I made them they came out so well I said, “This HAS to go on the blog”.  But, of course, I didn’t have any pictures so I decided to just make them again because they were so yummy and so easy.

This is what I got the next three times.  They still tasted great but they looked like hell.  Couldn’t send you guys off with this.  Especially not right before Thanksgiving which is when I was intending to get these on here.  (I was intending to get a lot of stuff on here.  I’ve done soooo much cooking these last couple weeks – amongst many other things –  not so much blogging.)  So anyway, now they are here for Christmas/Hanukkah!  Is Hanukkah the one where you can’t use leavening or is that Passover???  Well, whichever one it is, this is your go-to bread recipe.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you may have noticed I tend toward certain kinds of baked goods.  I generally don’t put up recipes that don’t adapt to gluten free easily from the wheat-based original.  I also generally don’t bother with stuff that is “a good enough substitute” but not the same.  That’s why you won’t see a bread recipe up here.  Yes, you can make gluten free bread.  It’s good in it’s own way.  But it’s not like wheat bread.  It’s it’s own thing.  Can you get used to it?  Of course.  But that’s not my goal here.

My goal is to make really, really, mind-blowingly awesome food.  Food that everyone not just can eat but wants to eat, whether they are gluten free or not.  I did Thanksgiving at my house last week for 24 – a little over half of whom could eat wheat.  So my recipe choices had to be as good as or better than the more traditional dishes.

For the last few years I have not attempted gluten free dinner rolls for the holidays.  I’ve done GF rolls a number of other times.  At best they come out like biscuits.  Which is fine if what you want is a biscuit.  But a light, soft, poofy dinner roll?  That’s the kind of thing that is very difficult to replicate without gluten.  So I just haven’t bothered.  I don’t want something that looks, tastes, and feels like a substitute.

Popovers to the rescue!  I had never made these before but when I read about them a few months ago I thought they would work really well with gluten free flour and I was right.  Now, if you can use wheat (and I realize I’ve probably already lost anyone who is not interested in doing this GF) go for it!  They’re awesome either way.

That’s kind of the point.

Popovers start out as a thin batter.  It’s actually very close in makeup to pancake batter – mostly milk and eggs.  But there is no leavening in popovers.  No baking powder, soda, or yeast.  So how do they rise up out of the pan to great poofy heights, earning them their name???  The answer is STEAM.

You pour the batter into a hot muffin tin (or popover tin if you have one, I don’t) and place it in a very hot oven.  The rapid change in temperature creates steam.  The eggs in the batter stretch to accommodate the expansion of the hot gas, giving the popovers a strong, crusty outside and an almost hollow middle.   The transformation is as dramatic as popcorn, which incidentally, pops for the very same reason.

They’re buttery and soft and they tear in your teeth like wheat rolls do.  Enough yakkin.  Let’s do this already.

First, I have to give a shout out to Michael Ruhlman’s book, Ratio.  It has totally changed the way I cook.  It’s kind of an “anti-recipe” book which lays out very plainly the ratios for all kinds of basic foods we make and eat everyday.  If you know the ratio you never have to rely on a recipe again.  It’s been very freeing for me.  I’m a better cook because of it.

You will need two large eggs, milk, butter, salt, some All Purpose GF Flour Mix (or regular flour), and Xanthan Gum (only if using GF flour).  That’s it.

First, stick an un-greased popover pan (if you have one, I don’t) or a muffin tin in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.  A popover pan will give you a more impressive poof but a muffin tin works too.

In a medium bowl whisk together two eggs, 1/2 tsp salt (a full teaspoon if using unsalted butter)…

…a cup of milk (8 oz by weight AND volume, just like water), 4 Tbsp of melted butter (not shown – this was part of the puzzle I had to figure out to make this work as you’ll see in a minute)…

…4 ounces of flour (GF or regular), and a teaspoon of Xanthan Gum, if using.  If you don’t own a scale, 4 ounces of wheat flour is a scant cup.  Gluten free flour mix weights depend on their composition.  Mine is pretty close to wheat flour…but seriously…just buy the scale.  It makes life in the kitchen so much easier.

Okay, you see those pats of butter?  Don’t do that.  I repeat – DO NOT BUTTER YOUR MUFFIN TIN.  This is why my popovers refused to pop.  The globs of butter that the recipe TOLD ME to use were what was inhibiting the rise.  If these were glutenous they probably would have been just fine but GF popovers only work if the butter is added with the rest of the ingredients.  The first time I did these – the time they came out so well?  I forgot, I made “the mistake” of not doing this step.  Live and learn.

So anyway – this part happens quickly.  Using an oven mitt, get your popover pan/muffin tin out of the oven.   Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, divvy up the batter between 9 of the very hot muffin tins.  You want to work quickly and carefully.

And here they are right out of the oven!  It’s important that you wait a few minutes before getting them out of the pan.  Trust me on this one.  A few minutes makes the difference between rolls that are sticking to the pan and tearing apart and rolls that actually come out in one piece and look nice.

I’m not real good at following my own advice :p  I did tear this one in half just so you could see the light, airy texture inside.  Mmmm.  They’re light and yet rich – they don’t even need butter.  But they would be so lovely with jam or honey.

There, I waited.  Actually I didn’t.  That was just the last one we pulled out.

Enjoy!

Popovers

8 oz (1 cup) milk

4 Tbsp butter, melted

2 large eggs

4 oz All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend (or a scant cup regular flour)

1 tsp Xanthan Gum (if using GF flour)

1/2 tsp salt

Instructions:

Put an un-greased muffin tin in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together all ingredients.

Remove muffin tin from oven.  Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, divide batter between 9 of the 12 muffin cups and put in oven.  Work quickly and carefully.

After 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 375 degrees.  Bake for another 20-25 minutes.

Let popovers rest 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Serve with jam and/or honey.

Makes 9 popovers but can easily be doubled or tripled.


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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Don’t these look totally amazing???  You know you want one.  I want one.  Too bad for me, ’cause they’re gone.

I offered these up to my 8 year old daughter and her best friend as they were being made.  The looks on their faces told me this one was a keeper.  And can I just say now thank goodness for pumpkin???  It is literally the only vegetable my daughter will willingly eat.  No wonder since it’s always paired with sugar.  But that’s okay.  A vegetable it still is.

I like them so much I think they may make the cut for Thanksgiving.  I know.  Thanksgiving already?!?  Where has the time gone???  Usually I take weeks to plan the menu and figure out the logistics of seating 23 people in my smallish kitchen/living room/dining room space.  Suddenly it’s, holy cow, it’s the 8th and there’s just a little over two weeks until the big day.  And yes, I did just scroll over the time on my monitor to check what day it is.  I live in a bubble.

So over the next couple weeks it is likely you will be seeing a few test recipes before we hit the actual holiday.  Yay!  LOVE Thanksgiving.  I mean, I think when asked why we like certain holidays the first thing that comes to mind is the food.  And Thanksgiving is the only holiday explicitly dedicated to the food!  And being thankful and our cultural heritage and all that.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.  Southeastern PA, this one’s for you.

 

First let’s mix our dry ingredients.  Here we have 210 grams of my All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix (or you can use 1 1/2 cups regular flour), 1 tsp Xanthan Gum (only if you’re using GF flour), 1/2 tsp EACH salt, baking powder, and baking soda, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, and an 1/8 tsp ground cloves.   Whisk those all together.

As for our wet ingredients, in another bowl we have one egg, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 3/4 cup pure pumpkin (not Pumpkin Pie Mix), 1 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract.  Mix that all up as well.  Pour the contents of the smaller bowl into the bigger one and mix until well combined.

Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet and pop into your preheated 350 degree oven.  I used parchment paper.  Obviously.  Makes the whole process run quicker and easier.

Can you tell spatial reasoning is not my strong suit?  Here’s the first batch of…seven.  You’ll get about 28 depending how “heaping” your tablespoons are.

The filling is super easy and it’s probably already in your house waiting to be made.  It’s just 3 oz cream cheese, softened, mixed with 3/4 cup marshmallow fluff.  That’s it.  I nuked mine just a little to get it to come together easily.  I have a “soften cream cheese” setting on my microwave.  I know, I’m spoiled.  Spread some of that loveliness on the bottom of one cookie nice and thick…

Put another soft, fragrant cookie on top and voila!  You have your Whoopie Pie.  Pillowy, sweet, wholesome (haha), portable delights.  So yummy and easy.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (adapted from allrecipes)

1 egg, slightly beaten

3/4 cup Pure Pumpkin (not Pumpkin Pie Mix)

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

210 grams All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix (or 1 1/2 cups regular flour)

1 tsp Xanthan Gum (only if using GF flour mix)

1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground cloves

For Filling:

3 oz cream cheese (I used light)

3/4 cup Marshmallow Fluff

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine flour mix, xanthan gum (if using), baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

In a medium bowl combine egg, pumpkin, oil, sugar, and vanilla.  Add to dry ingredients and mix until smooth.

Drop dough (it will be thin) by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper leaving room for the cookies to spread.

Bake 10-12 minutes.

Allow cookies to cool on racks.

Meanwhile, make filling.  Combine softened cream cheese and marshmallow fluff until smooth.

Spread on the bottom of one cookie and top with another to form a sandwich.

I’ve heard these can be frozen for three days.  Haven’t tried it yet.

Makes about 14 Whoopie Pies.

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