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A European Breakfast, Baked Sweet Potato Fries and A Goodbye to Summer

13 Sep

On a stormy day about six months ago we holed up in the house, drank strong coffee and feasted on cured meats and fine cheeses for a better half of the morning. I also made a bowl of Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Truffle Oil, Sea Salt & Goat Gouda (recipe to follow). I stumbled across these photos today and which evoked a strange wave of happiness. There is something to be said about the long rainy days here in the Northwest. It is actually something I have grown to love, as it fosters bundling up and staying inside with those you love listening to the rain fall sporting your best wool socks. I love the food of fall and winter the most as well. Whenever summer comes, I am always happy to see the melons and the berries and the summer vegetables, but I can say without a doubt I would take a hearty stew and winter squash over a ripe peach on a cold afternoon any day.

We had a weird summer, all though I am catching on to the fact that I think they are always a bit weird. It’s like in the restaurant industry when you and your co-workers stand around and talk about why business is so slow. “We will be so much busier in the summer time, its always busy in the summer time”. Then summer comes and all the sudden, “It’s way too hot for people to eat.  Why would you go to a restaurant with weather like this? Fall is where the money will be”. Sun is supposed to come around the 4th of July every year, and this year it was more like the 4th of August. It is now the middle of September and the ten day forecast went from the 90’s last week to mid 60’s this week.  And when I opened the curtains this morning I found a nice cool breeze and the sight of gray skies, something I can finally say after two years here I am happy to see.

I hope you all had a wonderful sun filled summer, and may the approaching fall months find you well.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Truffle Oil, Sea Salt & Goat Gouda:

Ingredients:

  • Either 1 bag organic frozen sweet potato fries (I buy these all the time from whole foods and they are really good) or 2 medium sweet potato fries cut into large matchsticks, soaked for 30 minutes and dried.
  • Truffle Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Goat Gouda or any other cheese that would be good grated, such as Grana Padano or Parmesan.
  • 1/2 of a lemon

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • Place fries on baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes, shaking tray half way to flip fries.
  • Once fries are cooked through and slightly browned, broil for 2-4 minutes, again not walking away to ensure crispy not burnt potatoes. Broil to desired “done-ness”.
  • Place in a bowl and toss with a good bit of truffle oil and salt.
  • Grate cheese over fries, finish off with a squeeze of lemon juice and enjoy!

Baked Eggplant Parm

1 Sep

So as promised, here is a recipe for one of my favorite simple, healthy meals. We made it the other night with my dad for a late night meal, and it inspired me to share it with the world, as its surprisingly satisfying.

Here we go.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium/large eggplants
  • salt
  • lots of paper towels and counter space
  • flour
  • at least 4 eggs
  • breadcrumbs (for this I would not use panko as is burns easier in the oven and creates a less delicate breading, hey and if Progresso is all you have, run with it)
  • olive oil
  • 2 balls fresh mozzarela, sliced thick

Serving Note: this is only 4 servings of the actual eggplant. Serve with a simple pasta and red sauce, polenta, sauteed vegetables, really whatever suites your fancy.

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375-400.
  • Slice eggplant into rounds about 1/4- 1/2 inch thick, discarding ends.
  • Lay out large sheets of paper towels.
  • Place eggplant on top of paper towels and sprinkle very generously with salt
  • Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes and then blot dry with paper towels (eggplant should literally sweat liquid).
  • Go through the proper breading instructions, spelled out in previous post
  • After placing on a baking sheet and lightly oiling with olive oil, place eggplant rounds into the oven for about 20 minutes, flipping 1/2 way through.
  • If they seem about done, soft in the middle and slightly crisp on the outside, (I always choose a runt to sample along the way), turn on broiler and allow to broil for 2-3 minutes. DO NOT WALK AWAY. Everyone’s broiler functions VERY differently. I have learned this the hard time more than a few times and its really a sad moment. It can absolutely ruin your plate as it burns hot and fast. They should look nice and toasted, nada mas.
  • Remove from oven, turning off heat.
  • Quickly place cheese on top of finished rounds and place back in oven for a nice melting approach.
  • Plate up whatever else you are serving, pop a couple of these on top, garnish with a little extra virgin oil, lemon juice & salt, and voila!

Baked Fried Food for Everyday Healthy Meals. And the Best Way to Bread.

1 Sep

So one of my self proclaimed “specialties” is making comfort food, especially those that are usually fried, still taste delicious but in a more healthful way. I’m not talking replacing silken tofu for cream or using low fat cheese. I’m basically saying that most anything that requires a deep fryer, can be made in your oven (with the help of your broiler, learn to love your broiler). It will obviously not be exactly the same as deep fryers are magical tools that produce the tastiest of foods, but for your Wednesday night dinner cooked at home, its a great alternative. And when you are at your favorite restaurant or at the fry shack down the street, go to town.

My favorites include baked fried chicken, baked sweet potato fries (I eat these like 5 days a week), baked fish and chips, and today’s recipe, baked eggplant parmesan, which will come later this afternoon.

For this new category of the blog, Baked vs. Fried, a little prep school is necessary.

Todays Topic: How to properly bread your food without a) freaking out or b) taking two hours.

What I have found through my days back when I helped in the kitchen at Clyde, where I had to cut and bread huge boxes of green tomatoes as fast as I could to get to my real job on time, was that using medium to large metal bowls was the absolute answer.

So, unless you are breading one piece of chicken, ditch your plates and get out 3 metal bowls (any large bowl will do).

BREADING:

The three ingredients you will need are:

  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Breadcrumbs (homemade, panko, whatever you have depending on what you are making)

Directions:

  • Put a good amount of flour in one bowl, crack and beat a few eggs into another, then put breadcrumbs in the third.
  • Line them up in this order and fill a fourth bowl with water to use to keep your hands clean. (This aids the not freaking out part, also using a fork to transfer between bowls is helpful).
  • Once whatever you are breading is prepped, put it into the flour bowl. Toss the bowl towards yourself until it is fully coated, like you would to toss a stir fry in a pan.
  • Then, move it to the egg bowl and do the same, shaking to bowl from side to side to make sure the item is fully coated.
  • Lastly, put it in the breadcrumb bowl, and toss towards yourself like the flour to ensure total coverage.
  • Repeat and fill bowls as needed to finish everything.
  • Once done, place breaded items onto a baking sheet and lightly drizzle with olive oil.
  • Bake accordingly… time and temperature will vary on what you are making.

Hope this is helpful and stay posted for Baked Eggplant Parmesan coming in a few hours!