Monday, May 26, 2014

Onion Straws

I thought I had posted this already - but it might just be because I dream about them a lot.  Stitch Bitch turned me on to them a while back (I prefer my onion rings thin and crispy, rather than thick and chewy).  I've not looked back.  They appear as a side a lot, with sausage sandwiches, burgers, etc.  It means there is usually buttermilk in the house, now.  But I still don't have a deep fryer, yet.

Onion Strings
from the Pioneer Woman

  • 1 whole Large Onion 
  • 2 cups Buttermilk 
  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour 
  • 1 Tablespoon (scant) Salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon (to 1/2 Teaspoon) Cayenne Pepper 
  • 1 quart (to 2 Quarts) Canola Oil 
  • Black Pepper To Taste

Preparation Instructions
Slice onion very thin. Place in a baking dish and cover with buttermilk and soak for at least an hour.

Combine dry ingredients and set aside.

Heat oil to 375 degrees. Grab a handful of onions, throw into the flour mixture, tap to shake off excess, and PLUNGE into hot oil. Fry for a few minutes and remove as soon as golden brown.

Repeat until onions are gone.

Eat before your family sees them.

Repeat with another onion, because they’ll be really mad they didn’t get any.

Dr. Pepper Ribs

It's Memorial Day today and that means the pool's OPEN!  On Saturday, our little town will celebrate itself with all sorts of games and fireworks in the evening.  It is the best fireworks show I've seen and you basically get to sit right underneath them.

For the past few years, we have taken a break from the daytime activities, come home and had dinner "on the collective" with our good friends and neighbors.  This year, we will be without our good friend Riley and we continue to miss him every day.  Riley would often grill ribs for the collective, low and slow for a long time.

Here's a recipe from the Pioneer Woman that might be worth trying.  The recipe calls for baking the ribs, but I bet they would be good on the grill, maybe with some of her onion straws.

Spicy Dr Pepper Ribs
Prep Time: 8 Hours
Cook Time: 3 Hours
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 12

  • 1 cup Brown Sugar 
  • 1 can Dr. Pepper 
  • 1 can (5 Ounces) Chipotle Peppers Packed In Adobo 
  • 1/3 cup Brown Mustard 
  • 1 Tablespoon White Vinegar 
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced 
  • 2 packages Pork Baby Back Ribs 

Preparation Instructions
Prepare the marinade by gently boiling the first 6 ingredients in a medium saucepan until reduced and thick, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Divide into two containers and refrigerate one container for later.

Place ribs on a large baking sheet lined with heavy foil. Brush half the marinade all over the ribs on both sides. Cover with foil and refrigerate for 8 hours to marinate.

When you're ready to cook the ribs, preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Place the pan, still covered in foil, into the oven for 2 hours. Remove the foil and increase the temperature to 300. Using the other half of the sauce, brush another generous layer all over the ribs. Return the pan to the oven and continue cooking for another 30 to 40 minutes, brushing on another layer of sauce as it cooks.

Remove the ribs when they're fork tender (keep cooking until they are). Slice and serve!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Buttermilk Beignets

SoBA has been after me to make crepes again.  I might be able to placate him with these. From Epicurious

Buttermilk Beignets
Epicurious | January 2010
by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel
Yield: Makes about 4 dozen beignets

  • 3/4 cup whole milk 
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk 
  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast 
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar 
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour plus extra for flouring work surface 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • Peanut oil for frying 
  • Confectioners' sugar for serving, as much as you think you'll need—then double that! 

Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until small bubbles form at the surface. Remove from the heat, add the buttermilk, and then pour into a stand mixer bowl. Whisk in the yeast and the sugar and set aside for 5 minutes. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, and mix on low speed, using a dough hook, until the dry ingredients are moistened, 3 to 4 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium and continue mixing until the dough forms a loose ball and is still quite wet and tacky, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set the dough aside in a draft-free spot for 1 hour.

Pour enough peanut oil into a large pot to fill it to a depth of 3 inches and bring to a temperature of 375°F over medium heat (this will take about 20 minutes). Line a plate with paper towels and set aside.

Lightly flour your work surface and turn the dough out on it. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour, gently press to flatten, fold it in half, and gently tuck the ends under to create a rough-shaped round. Dust again and roll the dough out into a ½-inch- to ¹/³ -inch-thick circle. Let the dough rest for 1 minute before using a chef's knife, a bench knife, or a pizza wheel to cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares (you should get about 48).

Gently stretch a beignet lengthwise and carefully drop it into the oil. Add a few beignets (don't overcrowd them, otherwise the oil will cool down and the beignets will soak up oil and be greasy) and fry until puffed and golden brown, turning them often with a slotted spoon, for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to the prepared plate to drain while you cook the rest. Serve while still warm, buried under a mound of confectioners' sugar, with hot coffee on the side.

Make ahead:
The beignet dough can be made up to 8 hours in advance of frying. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. After cutting the dough, place the beignets on the paper and place another greased sheet of parchment paper, sprayed-side down, on top. Wrap the entire baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The beignets can be fried straight from the refrigerator.

Source Information Reprinted with permission from DamGoodSweet: Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth, New Orleans Style by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel, © November 2009 Taunton Press

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Westward Ho!

Two hundred and ten years ago today - at the request of President Thomas Jefferson, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set out from St. Louis to explore the Northwest from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean.  Less than six months earlier the United States finalized the Louisiana Purchase.  After setting out, Lewis and Clark were joined by Sacagawea and in November 1805, they arrived at the Pacific - the first European explorers to reach the Pacific by an overland route from the east.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Salted Dark Chocolate Rolo Cookies

Let's just say that the research for Mrs. BA's March Madness Bakeoff has already started, shall we?

Salted Dark Chocolate Rolo-filled Cookies
from Ring Finger Tan Line via BuzzFeed

  • 2 c flour
  • 2 tsp cornstarch 
  • 1 c dark cocoa powder 
  • ½ tsp baking soda 
  • ½ tsp baking powder 
  • ½ tsp salt 
  • 4 oz dark chocolate with almonds and sea salt (regular dark chocolate will also work! This is just what I had on hand) 
  • 2 oz milk chocolate 
  • 1 tsp instant espresso powder 
  • 2 sticks butter + 2 tbsp butter or shortening for melting chocolate 
  • 2 ½ c granulated sugar 
  • 4 large eggs 
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • Sea salt for sprinkling 
  • 1 bag Gharidelli 60% chips 
  • 48 rolos 
  • Fleur de sel for sprinkling 

Sift dry ingredients together twice and whisk until completely combined. In a double boiler, melt chocolate with instant espresso powder and 2 tbsp butter (or shortening). Cream remaining butter and sugar with paddle attachment in stand mixer. Beat in eggs one at a time, then vanilla. Add in chocolate mixture and continue mixing. Add in dry mixture and beat until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Using a tbsp sized scoop, fill half the scoop with dough, then place rolo face down in the center, then cover the rest so you have a heaping tbsp full. Place on greased baking sheet and bake at 325 for 10 min per batch. Top with fleur de sel while still warm. Allow to cool for 10 min before serving.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Chicken with Shallots

I don't normally eat chicken thighs - I prefer white meat.  But this might be a hit at the launchpad.  But probably not.  It certainly sounds tasty though.  Recipe from the New York Times Magazine, March 23, 2014.

Rishia Zimmern’s Chicken With Shallots
Adapted from Andrew and Rishia Zimmern, by way of Martha Stewart
Here is a recipe that came to The Times via the Twitter account of Andrew Zimmern, who eats bugs on television as the host of “Bizarre Foods” on the Travel Channel but lives a sedate life back home in Minnesota when he’s not working, which is not often. His wife, Rishia Zimmern, adapted it from Martha Stewart, and he put it on the social network: “Brown 8 thighs, 3 C shallots. Add wine, tarragon, Dijon, sim 30 min covered. Remove lid, reduce. Add 2C cut cherry toms.” We’ve been messing around with that ever since, and thrill to its flavor. It’s a simple, excellent one-pot recipe for a midweek feast. Lay in bread to accompany it, and sop up the sauce. 

TOTAL TIME 1 hour 30 minutes
  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs 
  • 2 tablespoons flour 
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt 
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper 
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • 12 to 15 whole medium shallots, peeled 
  • 2 cups white wine 
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 
  • 2 sprigs tarragon 
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half.

  1. Rinse chicken thighs in water, and pat them very dry with paper towels. Sprinkle over them the flour, salt and pepper.
  2. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or skillet set over medium-high heat. When the butter foams, cook the chicken, in batches if necessary, until well browned and crisp on all sides. Set aside. 
  3. Add the whole shallots to the pot and sauté them in the butter and chicken fat until they begin to soften and caramelize, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Add the wine to deglaze the pot, stir with a large spoon, then add the mustard and tarragon, then the chicken thighs. Cover the pot, turn the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. 
  4. Remove the lid, and allow the sauce to reduce and thicken, 15 to 20 minutes. 
  5. Add the cherry tomatoes to the pot, stir lightly to combine and serve immediately. 
YIELD 4 to 6 servings.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Happy Anniversary to Mrs. BA!

Twelve years ago today, on a bright Spring day, much like today, was one of the best days in my life.  In front of my family and many friends, I married the woman who I was meant to be with, and we started down the road of life together. Mrs. BA remains my best friend, the love of my life, the mother of my children, and the woman that I look forward to spending the rest of my life with.

Today we marked the day by celebrating "First Communion Sunday" and the First Communion of one of our "collective" members.  It was a bittersweet day as it also marked the three-month anniversary of the passing of our good friend and collective co-founder, Riley.  He was however, with us throughout the day.

On FB the other day, some friends noted they would celebrate their 10-year anniversary in 2017, when Mr. and Mrs. BA will celebrate their 15th anniversary.  It has been decided that we will have either several parties over the course of the year, or one big bash for those celebrating milestone anniversaries in 2017.  Who wants in?

So what does one get his beloved for their 12th Wedding Anniversary?  If you're wondering, the gifts are silk/linen (traditional) and pearls (modern).  Mrs. BA got both, a "silk-like" pashmina, and a pearl necklace and earrings.

The picture above was taken on our honeymoon - at the top of the Cape May Lighthouse.  I love you, Mrs. BA.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Building of the Empire State

On this day in 1931, the Empire State Building was dedicated.  In Washington, President Herbert Hoover ceremonially pressed a button that lit the building in New York.  The Empire State Building was a marvel of architecture - it was completed in under a year, under budget, and ahead of schedule.  At certain points the building grew four and a half stories per week.  At its completion it was the tallest building, at 102 stories and 1,250 feet high.

The Empire State Building figures very prominently in the life of the Brave Astronaut.  I have been to the top many times, most recently during our Christmas visit to New York.  Mrs. BA and I went to the top when we were still dating and have also brought LBA and SoBA to the top as well.

When I lived in Poughkeepsie, my neighbor used to be fond of saying the line noted above about the building being finished early and under budget - anytime he saw a construction project run amok.

For your enjoyment, please have a look at these photos from the construction of the world's tallest building, until the completion of the World Trade Center in the 1970s.  Sadly, the Empire State Building regained the status of the tallest building in New York after the September 11 attacks, but it has been eclipsed again with the completion of the new Freedom Tower.  The building is currently the fourth tallest in the United States and the 23rd tallest in the world.  Bonus points for listing those in front of it.