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Archive for the ‘buttermilk’ Category

As regular readers know, a few months ago I was the fortunate recipient of some sourdough starter that’s older than most college students. Historically, sourdough starters were a precious family legacy, a means of making yeast-risen bread without relying on little store-bought packages. You can make starter yourself, but getting it from a friend makes it much easier! My friend sent my starter with three pages of instructions (including feeding it every single day), which I read thoroughly and then filed for safe keeping. (No, really, I know exactly where they are.) Then I started messing around with it, seeing how long I could go without feeding the starter (when the storms hit and work got too busy, I went close to 4 weeks without feeding it) and how many recipes I could modify to use it. (more…)

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Buffalo Shrimp

Got a big pigskin party coming up?  Would you like something other than traditional wings?  How about crunchy, spicy buffalo shrimp?  These are so quick and easy that you can make enough to feed a crowd!  A delicate tempura-type coating encases the tender, spicy shrimp.  Try them piled on a plate to pass, or serve them on a bed of crunchy salad greens with celery and homemade blue cheese dressing.  

Ingredients for two servings (1/4 pound each)

  • 1/2 pound of medium or larger shrimp, peeled and cleaned
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons of tabasco or your favorite vinegar-based hot sauce
  • [really, really optional:  1 teaspoon honey for the wimps out there who can’t take the heat!]
  • 1/2 cup of corn starch
  • oil for frying
  • optional:  salt for sprinkling

Peel and clean the shrimp.  I like to cut along the back of the shrimp from head end first with kitchen scissors and then slide off the peel and remove the “vein” all at once.  Pile the shrimp in a glass bowl and add everything except the corn starch and oil.  Marinate the shrimp for at least an hour.

Drain the shrimp,  not bothering to make them really dry.  We want some of that spicy goodness to cling to them!  Dredge the shrimp in the corn starch, taking care to keep the corn starch as dry as possible.

Buffalo Shrimp

Set the shrimp aside for a few minutes and then heat your oil to about 350-375 degrees F.  I actually use a wok for small batches of this recipe, but a deep Dutch oven would work well if you’re feeding a crowd.  Fry the shrimp, a few at a time, for a couple of minutes until both sides are golden.  Be careful; shrimp always cook quickly!  Drain carefully as you remove the shrimp and sprinkle lightly with salt if you want.

Serve with blue cheese dressing, made simply of buttermilk, mayonnaise,  and about crumbled blue cheese.  Use about 1/3 cup buttermilk, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, and 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese for about 2/3 cup dressing.  If you want to herb it up, try adding snipped chives or even a good quality ranch dressing mix like Simply Organic if you want.  (No, they’re not paying me.  I just like the product.)

Ingredients per pound of shrimp

  • 1 pound of medium or larger shrimp, peeled and cleaned
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons of tabasco or your favorite vinegar-based hot sauce
  • [really, really optional:  2 teaspoons honey for the wimps out there who can’t take the heat!]
  • 2/3 cup corn starch
  • oil for frying
  • optional:  salt for sprinkling

Ingredients per four pounds of shrimp

  • 4 pounds of medium or larger shrimp, peeled and cleaned
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1 cup of tabasco or your favorite vinegar-based hot sauce
  • [really, really optional:  1-2 tablespoons honey for the wimps out there who can’t take the heat!]
  • 3 cups corn starch
  • oil for frying
  • optional:  salt for sprinkling

buffalo shrimp salad, awaiting blue cheese dressing

Copyright 2011 Ozarkhomesteader, including photographs.

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August and September end the lazy days of slow breakfasts, but they don’t have to end good breakfasts.  For a quick, healthy breakfast or afternoon snack, bake a loaf of whole-grain, low-fat, higher protein but still moist and delicious zucchini bread, chocked full of good stuff like pepitas, which contain healthy fatty acids.  Take a look at the ingredients:  your only fat is from the egg(s) and the pepitas.  All of the moist goodness comes from buttermilk and yogurt, plus those dairy products and pepitas bring extra protein, calcium, and some good fats.  One loaf will yield close to 2 dozen slices for several breakfasts, lunchbox treats, afternoon snacks, or even as Mr. Homesteader likes it best, dessert at night (warmed with a dollop of ice cream).

Ingredients for 1 loaf baked in a 9×5 inch pan

  • 1/4 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
  • 1/3 cup sugar (or less)
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk or kefir
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 1 cup grated fresh or frozen (drained) zucchini
  • 1 cup plus one tablespoon whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 -3 tablespoons cinnamon (or less, if you aren’t a cinnamon nut like I am!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or 1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • handful or two of golden raisins, regular raisins, or currants (optional if you hate raisins, of course)

Preheat oven (or toaster oven!) to 350 degrees F.  Grease the bottom only of a 9X5 bread-baking pan (glass or cast iron preferred over a flimsy metal pan, as you’re going to bake this for a while).  Combine the first five ingredients in a small bowl or large mixing cup–about 1 quart size should give you plenty of room.  Combine the remaining ingredients except the pepitas and raisins in a 2-cup measure and stir well.  Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir just to combine.  Stir in the raisins and pepitas, reserving a few pepitas for the top of the loaf.  Pour everything into your prepared pan and sprinkle on the last of the pepitas.  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 70 minutes, covering the top loosely with foil to avoid over-browning about half way through the process.  Let the bread cool 5 minutes in the pan, and then slide a knife around the edges to make sure the bread is separated neatly.  Remove the bread from the pan and let it finish cooling on a rack.  Slice after it cools, as you need it, from the center outward.

If you’ve got space in your freezer, you can double or even triple this recipe and freeze loafs for easy breakfasts in the winter.  If you decide to freeze the zucchini instead, be sure to grate it first and then drain it very well after it thaws before you use it for bread.

Does your family have a favorite quick back-to-school breakfast?  Do you have a special way to bake zucchini bread?

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader, including photographs.

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It’s dessert time again.  Today’s dessert is carrot cake, perfect for using up the last of your winter carrot crop.  This rich cake is loaded with fresh carrots for good health, and apple sauce and buttermilk bring moisture without fat to the crumb.  Neufchatel cheese for the cream-cheese frosting gives all the flavor of traditional carrot cake without quite as many calories.  I also made this cake for today’s smaller families, in a 6-cup pyrex dish, about 6 inches by 8 inches at the widest point.   You could easily use a standard 2-quart Corning casserole dish if you have that instead.  And, as always, you can get all of these ingredients in organic form.

Cake ingredients and method

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or 1/2 whole-grain oat flour and 1/2 whole wheat flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup apple sauce
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk of kefir
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2-3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Mix together the first four (dry) ingredients in a measuring cup or small bowl.  Now combine the wet ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl, starting by beating the eggs and then adding in the other ingredients, including the carrots.  Now stir in the dry ingredients and finally the walnuts.  Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 55 minutes.  If you use a toaster oven, reduce heat to 325 degrees, set the pan on a broiler liner on the lowest rack setting, and put a sheet of foil over the top, flat (not fitted). Let the cake cool thoroughly before frosting it.

Frosting ingredients and method

  • 2-3 tablespoons real butter, room temperature
  • 6 ounces neufchatel cream cheese (naturally lower fat), room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (or a dash more!)
  • 3/4 cup confectioner’s (powdered) sugar

Cream together the butter and cream cheese.  Add the vanilla.  Gradually beat in the sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Spread it on the cooled cake.  Let the kids lick the bowl.

Mmmmmmm.  Carrots. In a cake.  With frosting.  Mmmmmm.

What’s your favorite way to sneak veggies into your family’s food?

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Short excerpts with full URL and attribution to Ozarkhomesteader are welcome. Please contact me via the comments if you would like permission to reproduce photographs.

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Every once in a while, we get a hankering for alligator.  Once on the verge of extinction, American gator has come back from the brink.  You might as well eat it.  Grin. Thank goodness, gator comes from an adjoining state to Arkansas–Louisiana–so it’s sort of local.  Arkansas actually has gator too, but Arkansas gator doesn’t show up in markets; it’s just not that widespread here, and it’s usually an accident when it ends up as far north as even the edge of the Ozarks.

Some people ask me what gator tastes like.  I would say, “It tastes like chicken,” but that’s just not true.  I think gator tastes like frog legs, but with a lot chewier texture.  No, frog legs don’t taste like chicken either.  They taste like an incredibly mild fish with a texture that’s like the softest, moistest chicken you ever had.  Both frog legs and gator are family-friendly food; their flavor is mild, somehow familiar, and they can be prepared like your kids’ chicken nuggets, only much tastier.  I can also easily imagine a table of kids who would be delighted to nosh on an animal that’s so much like a dinosaur, such a big predator.

When we buy gator, we usually treat it like the Louisiana product that it is in this neck of the woods.  We’ll marinate it in a mixture of buttermilk and Tabasco to tenderize it.  Then we shake off the excess moisture, dip it in seasoned flour, and pan fry it.

Mmmmm:  husband at work in the kitchen.  He looks delicious when he cooks!

The gator looks pretty good too!

Turn, baby, turn!

Oh, Mr. Gator, are you ready for your close up?

We like gator with cole slaw.

Try it too with remoulade, a French-Cajun sauce that’s a fancier, tastier version of tartar sauce.  Gator is pretty tasty in etoufee or gumbo too, but if you overcook gator it will go from a pleasant al dente to rubbery.  You could also do smaller gator chunks, fried as above, as appetizers for a party.

Do you have questions about cooking gator?  Do you have a gator recipe you’d like to share or advice about its preparation?  Jump in!

By the way, alligator attacks on full-grown humans are rare, but you should always supervise children and pets near where gators could be hanging out.  And never, ever, ever feed an alligator.  You’ll make it associate humans with dinner, and none of us want gators thinking that way!

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Short excerpts with a full URL link and attribution to Ozarkhomesteader are welcome.  Please contact me for permission to use photographs.

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Every now and then I get a hankering for an old Southern favorite.  This week it was angel biscuits, also known as “honeymoon biscuits” because with yeast, baking, and baking soda, they are just about guaranteed to rise, even for novice bakers.  The original recipe featured ingredients we don’t use for health reasons–like lard or Crisco–but the recipe is easily adaptable.

makes about two dozen biscuits–or a bit more

Ingredients: use organic if you can

  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (Yes, you can use a hard wheat flour, but your results will not be as good.)
  • 1/4 cup wheat gluten  (Gluten is only bad if you’re sensitive to it.  It’s just wheat protein, and it helps whole-wheat flour build flexibility.)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (okay to use a little less)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk or kefir (You really, really need this ingredient, although Alton Brown has tried a lemon juice-milk substitute on his show “Good Eats” that looked like it might work in this recipe.)
  • 1 big tablespoon of yeast, dissolved in 2 tablespoons of warm water (See here for why you want water the temperature of a good bath.

Method:

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Use a whisk to mix ingredients together and add lightness to the mixture. Now cut the cold butter in quarters, lengthwise, and then slice the butter thinly.  Work the butter into the dry mixture quickly, using a pastry cutter (shown here).  If you do not have a pastry cutter, you can use a fork, but it will take longer, and you’ll need to take breaks to keep the butter cold.

After you cut in the butter, the dry mixture should have a mealy texture.  Now stir in the dissolved yeast and buttermilk or kefir, just until you’re sure that the yeast is fully incorporated.  Stop.  Do nothing else except cover the bowl securely.  Biscuits, like pie dough, do not like to be overworked.  There is enough liquid in this mixture that the dough will sort of knead itself.Can you see the bits of butter?  That’s good!  Those will help build flaky layers when you roll out the dough.  Now walk away for several hours or even overnight.  Here’s another dough picture while you wait.  Mmmmmm:  bits of butter.

Okay, let’s assume you’ve given the dough a chance to rise a bit.  It’s relatively cold in our house right now (high 60s F), so I just left the bowl out overnight (securely covered).  Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.  Now you need a bread board (or any clean surface).  Take out about a third of the dough.  Dust some flour on your bread board, and plop on the dough.  Add some more flour to the top of the dough (just a dusting!), and roll the dough about 1/2 inch thick–or maybe just a little thicker.

Using a round cutter (or old clean can, both ends removed, as you see here), cut out biscuits.  Scoop up the leftovers, reform them, and cut more.  

Put the biscuits on a shiny pan and bake on the middle oven rack at 450 degrees F for about 10 minutes (in other words, 9-12 minutes).  Oven temperatures vary, so please watch closely.Take the biscuits out of the oven.  Admire them.  Smell the combination of biscuit and yeast.

Think about whether you need butter.

No, no butter for me, thank you.  I’ll just add a slice of turkey ham steak and some apple butter.

Oh–you’re wondering what to do with the leftover dough?  Refrigerate it and use it.  It’ll keep well for about a week, getting more yeasty the whole time.  You could have another round of breakfast biscuits with sausage and red-eye gravy.  (From start to finish this morning with dough I left out (covered) on the counter last night, rolling out and cutting, and baking, I had biscuits in less than 20 minutes.  I’d have had them more quickly if I’d thought from the start to use the toaster oven instead of the big oven.)

Consider making smaller biscuits to fill with cream cheese and pepper jelly for appetizers.  Add slices of cooked bacon (or turkey bacon) and tomato with lettuce in the summer for a good Southern BLT lunch.  Serve biscuits with dinner instead of rolls.  You’ve got lots of options!

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Short excerpts with full links to this URL and attribution to Ozarkhomesteader are welcome.  Please contact me for permission to use photographs.

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