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    Entries in homemade is best (67)

    Friday
    Sep022011

    Buffalo Wings - Thanks to Hurricane Irene

    I know many people’s lives were shaken up by Hurricane Irene.  My heart goes out to all who were affected negatively by the storm.  And I apologize if I'm the reason for it coming here.  These things seem to be following me.  I'm not entirely certain I haven't become part of a Final Destination movie.  As for me, I have to say thank you to Irene.  Without her, we wouldn’t have spontaneously decided to leave the home we just moved into and take a trip to Buffalo.  We wouldn’t have experienced stopping at 4:00 in the morning to sleep for a few hours in the only room available along the way… a jacuzzi room at the Budget Inn.  Heart shaped jacuzzi, colored lights, mirrors… Eewww.  We wouldn’t have eaten “The Original” Buffalo wings.  And most importantly, without Hurricane Irene, we wouldn’t have seen this.

    This picture hasn’t been photoshopped or enhanced in any way.  It is a picture Hubby took with his iphone, and it is just one of the many views we got to see.  Niagara Falls is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful, most amazing places on earth.  It’s beauty like this, that the word breathtaking was created for. 

    So, moving on to Buffalo wings.  As I mentioned before, we stopped in at the Anchor Bar, home of the original Buffalo wing.  My reaction… I can do better.  I probably had no business making that statement, since I’ve never made wings before, but I wasn’t terribly impressed.  Now, I don’t know if this is a Utah thing, or what, but we eat our wings with ranch dressing.  Since ranch from a bottle always sucks, I make my own.  It has to be made first so that it has a few hours in the fridge for the flavors to get friendly.  If you like blue cheese, I’m afraid you’re on your own. 

    For the ranch:

    1 cup mayo
    ⅓ cup buttermilk
    1 Tablespoon chives
    1 Tablespoon parsley
    1 Tablespoon dill
    ½ teaspoon garlic powder
    ½ teaspoon onion powder
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    ¼ teaspoon pepper

    Measure the mayo into a bowl and pour in the buttermilk. 

    Whisk them together until they become a smooth mixture.  Now for the herbs.  If you cut your chives in half and line them up like this, they’re easier to chop. 

    The parsley should be chopped finely.

    The dill as well.  Make sure you don’t use any large stems of the dill or parsley.

    Throw all your herbs into the mayo mixture and sprinkle on the spices. 

    Stir it all together, and you have ranch dressing.  Simply cover and refrigerate it for a few hours. 

    Next in line is the Buffalo sauce.  You’ll want to make this in advance, as well, so that it has an hour or so to cool. 

     

     

     

    Sauce stuff:

    1 cup hot sauce
    ½ cup butter
    ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
    ¼ teaspoon onion powder
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    ¼ teaspoon pepper
    1 teaspoon sugar

     

     

     

    Measure 1 cup of whatever your favorite hot sauce is.  Hubby likes Cholula, so that’s what I used. 

    This is where you can adjust the heat level of your wings.  I’d rate this somewhere around medium hot.  If you want milder wings, reduce the amount of hot sauce or increase the butter.  Also, I only made 12 wings, but this would be plenty of sauce for even 30 or more wings.  Pour your hot sauce into a pan over medium heat, and add the butter and spices. 

    Stir it until it just starts to simmer, then turn off the heat, and stir in the sugar. 

    After that has had some time to cool, it’s finally time to start on the main attraction.  The wings! 

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    12 wings (6 whole ones)
    2 Tablespoons oil
    ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
    ¼ teaspoon onion powder
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    ¼ teaspoon pepper
    2 Tablespoons Buffalo sauce
    ¾ cup flour
    Oil Spray

    *I was apparently smoking crack when I set up this picture.  There is no butter for this part, but there is oil spray.

    If you can get your wings already separated into wingettes and drumettes from your butcher, do it.  It’s a bit of a pain to process them yourself.  I’m not going to go over how to do it here, but this is a great video tutorial.  Once that’s done, throw your wings into a zip top bag along with the oil, spices, and sauce. 

    Close the bag most of the way, then blow into it and seal it to make it like a balloon. 

    Shake the bag around to get everything coated evenly.  Then pour in the flour, reinflate the bag, and toss again.  The wings should all be nicely coated. 

    Line a sheet pan with foil and spray on some oil.  Place the wings on the pan and spray the wings with oil as well. 

    Bake them at 400° (oops, did I forget to mention that you need to preheat your oven?) for 30 minutes. 

    They don’t look really fabulous at this point, but flip them over and put them back in for another 30 minutes, and good things happen.

    Give them about 5 minutes too cool and then place them in a bowl and pour over some sauce. 

    I used maybe ⅓ cup or so for 12 wings.  Just use as much as you like.  Stir or toss the wings to give them an even coating of sauce.  Serve with lots of ranch and a few bits of veg. 

    So, are they better than ‘the original’? 

    Hell yes they are! 

     

    Tuesday
    Aug302011

    How to Impress a Southern Boy

    Show him your biscuits!

     

    I love biscuits. They’re deceptively simple and infinitely variable. And for some reason they really seem to impress people. As if they’re some kind of fancy or something. Really, they’re not. Yes, it is nice to have freshly baked warm biscuits on the table at any time of day, but the ingredients are basic, and the process is simple.

    To me they will always bring back memories of being flat broke, which is quite apropros to the origin of this dish; it gained popularity shortly after the stock market crashed about a hundred years ago. Recipe Guy’s grandma learned to make them from her mom, who was feeding a family of 6 on less than half an income. I learned how to make them when I cooking with Food Bank ingredients. Every week, I got flour, margarine, and powdered milk. Every week, I made biscuits and ate them for breakfast with jam, for lunch with peanut butter, and for dinner with soup.

    Had I known back then that I could make a cream gravy with those same three ingredients, I’d have been eating biscuits and gravy for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    Because for all that it really is cheap Depression-era food, it’s freaking tasty!

    Especially when you can dress them up a bit. Like with sharp cheddar in the biscuits and Argentinian beef sausage seasoned with garlic and chives in the gravy...

    Biscuits and Gravy, Northern Style

    What you need:

    Biscuits:

    • ½ c whipping cream
    • ½ c milk
    • 1 tbsp lemon juice
    • ½ c butter
    • 2 c flour
    • 4 tsp baking powder
    • ½ tsp salt
    • ½ c grated sharp cheddar (optional)

    Gravy

    • 1 large sausage
    • 1 tbsp butter and/or bacon fat and/or sausage drippings
    • 1 tbsp flour
    • 1 c milk
    • salt
    • black pepper

    What you gotta do:

    Let’s start with the biscuits. In your measuring cup, mix the cream, milk, and the lemon juice and let it sit for a few minutes.

    I did this because I couldn’t find a smallish container of buttermilk. So yes, you can just use a cup of buttermilk here instead.

    Chop the butter into chunks in a large bowl. For once, I’m not going to tell you to have all of your ingredients at room temperature. Biscuits are more like pastry and pastry is best made with cold butter.

    Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the big bowl.

    With a pastry cutter, or a couple forks, cut the butter and flour together. You can’t do this with warm butter, you end up “creaming” them like you would with sugar and butter for cookies and that’s not the effect we’re going for here.

    What you’re making are tiny chunks of butter covered in flour.

    When you’ve got a nice mixture with a texture kinda like damp sand, make a well in the middle with a spoon and pour in your lemony cream.

    You’re not going to actually taste the lemon in this. That’s not what it’s there for. It’s there to make the cream even more acidic than it already is. The higher acidity will cause more of a reaction with the baking powder (which is alkaline) and you’ll get lighter, fluffier biscuits.

    Mix the cream into the buttery flour until it’s just combined.

    Turn it out onto a floury counter. Do Not Knead The Dough.

    I know it’s tempting, but the last thing you want to do to this stuff is stretch it. Stretching forms gluten and gluten is not flakey. Pat it down into a shape as closely resembling a square or rectangle as you can, then roll it a little flatter. Flour it, fold it into thirds and roll it into a rectangle.

    Since I only needed to feed two people and since biscuits are always better freshly baked, I split the dough in half and froze some for later… (I totally promise to show you what I did with it)

    Roll out the half you’re keeping into a rectangle. You can flour, fold and roll again if you want. The more you do this, the more layers you’ll have in your biscuits and the flakier they’ll be. But once will do, if that’s all you feel like.

    Spread half your grated cheese over the middle, fold one third in. Spread the other half of your grated cheese on top of the folded part. Fold in the other third.

    Roll the cheesey foldey dough into a rectangle and cut it into 8 pieces.

    Bake these at 400 for about 12 minutes until they’re nicely golden and the cheese is melty.

    If you decide to stop here and just eat cheese biscuits, I will totally understand.

    But really, it’s only a few more steps to make the gravy. And you can even do it while the biscuits cook.

    Remove the casing from the sausage and break it up into a hot pan.

    Fry it until it’s golden then remove it from the pan to drain on paper towels.

    Depending on how fatty the sausage was, you may or may not need to add bacon fat, but I recommend a little at least, just for the extra flavour.

    Add the flour and pepper, and sautee them in the fat for a few minutes.

    Slowly pour in the milk, stirring as you go.

    Don’t worry if it gets all clumpy,

    just add a bit more milk and keep stirring.

    You can use a whisk to break up any clumps or a soft spatula to mash them.

    Just keep stirring and adding milk,and maybe a little more pepper,

    and eventually you will have a lovely smooth, happy gravy.

    Add the sausage to the gravy to make it even happier.

    Put a couple of the cheesey biscuits onto a plate and smother them with gravy.

    Um, I need to go make more now.

    What did your family make during the depression?