Southern Fried Chicken with Fiery Sweet Potato Fries and Buttermilk Biscuits

Friday, March 30, 2012


After making that sweet potato puree, I had leftover sweet potatoes and wanted a way to use them up that wasn't in pie or casserole form. Inspired by a segment I'd seen on the Food Channel a few days earlier, I decided to make them into fiery sweet potato fries--and boy did they have a kick! 

Sweet potatoes always remind me of home and when I was planning this dish, I got a bit nostalgic for North Carolina and decided to take it in that direction. One thing that we always had a lot of growing up was fried chicken. And when you're in the south, where there's fried chicken, there's biscuits. Chicken and biscuits and sweet potato? Mmmm, it smelled like my momma's kitchen!

groceries...


For the chicken
  • chicken parts of your choosing
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
  • cornstarch if you're in America; cornflour if you're in the UK
  • salt & pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • enough vegetable oil for frying
For the biscuits
  • 2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  •  1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • splash of water
For the sweet potato fries
  • 2 to 3 sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • blacked pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
alright, let's cook:

For the fried chicken, warm the vegetable oil. While the oil warms, line a cookie sheet with a wire cooling rack. Whisk together the egg, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Set aside. In a large Ziploc bag, combine the flour with the cornstarch. Coat the chicken in the egg mixture before coating with the flour mixture. Once well coated, arrange on the wire rack and leave to set for 10 minutes before frying.

tip::make up the biscuits now and set aside, ready to go in the oven::

For the sweet potato fries, preheat your oven to  450 F (230 C). Chop the sweet potato into French fry batons. In a bowl large enough to fit the sweet potato, combine cayenne pepper, paprika, five spice, garlic powder, black pepper and salt. Add the sweet potato batons to the spice mixture and toss. Once well-coated, arrange on a greaseproof (wax) paper lined cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through cooking.

For the biscuits, put the dry ingredients into a food processor with a metal blade attachment. Add the cold butter and pulse five or six times until the mix yields large crumbs. Add the buttermilk and pulse again until a dough i just about to form. Empty the contents onto a floured work surface and knead lightly. Cut into rounds using a pastry cutter or cookie cutter. Use up the remaining dough by gathering it up, rolling it out and cutting more rounds. Do as many times as needed. Beat an egg together with water in a small bowl. Place the rounds onto a cookie sheet, brush with the egg and bake for 10 minutes.

    Mini Crispy Fish Tacos

    Thursday, March 22, 2012

    As somewhat of a taco connoisseur, I was always a bit dubious about the idea of fish tacos. I mean fish is great on its own, tossed into pasta, or even whipped up into a pie English style, but in a taco? Nah, I always thought, just gimme the beef.
    Tentatively, I approached the idea of a fish taco, willing to give it a try. After making a few adaptations to the recipe I saw of this, I came up with these little gems, both unusual and stunningly sophisticated in their presentation, if you ask me. Tacos are always regarded as cheap delicacies, this is one quick and simple way to jazz them up. You take your favorite firm white fish and dice it into bite-sized chunks. Dip in egg and dredge in flour before shallow frying and placing between tortilla discs. These little orbs of goodness are dressed up with a fresh and tangy pico de gallo
    All right, let's cook:

    For the pico de gallo, you'll want to be sure to make this well in advance so it has time to marinate. Dice the pepper and onions and add to a bowl. Scoop out the seeds of a cucumber, dice and add to the same bowl.

    In a saucepan, bring the water, sugar and vinegar to a boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat and pour over the vegetables. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

    For the fish, dip each piece into the egg then dredge in the flour before frying.  Be sure to season your flour. If you don't want to use any eggs, you can add some milk to your flour to make an easy batter.

    Shallow fry the fish in batches until golden brown and cooked through. If you have lots of fish bites to fry, then deep fry them in batches to make the process quicker. Strain on a paper towel-lined plate.

    For the tortilla discs, cut store-bought soft tortillas into smaller discs using a chef's ring or circuar cookie cutter. Assemble the tacos and sprinkle with extra cheese and chives for an extra kick.


    Honeyed Tarragon Pork with Roasted Cabbage and Sweet Potato Puree

    Tuesday, March 20, 2012

    There I was, bobbing about on Pinterest (as you do) when I came across a pin for roasted cabbage. Right away my tastebuds perked up and I could instantly see how it would work, that lovely earthy cabbage flavor lightly charred and tender? Yes, please!
    So, I had the veg, but what about the starch and the protein? I noticed that the photo of the roasted cabbage contained fennel seeds, another favorite of mine. I first encountered fennel seeds in sausages and love the subtly spicy and bitter kick they give foods. Naturally, I decided to go with pork because fennel + pork = nomgasm. 

    The rest of the dish just seemed to fall into place after that, I'd decided to pan fry the pork with honey and tarragon, vamping up the earthyness of the dish and undercutting the bitterness of the fennel and the char that would be on the cabbage with playful honey. When it came to addressing the starch, I wanted something that I could use to compliment the honey in the dish. The obvious solution seemed sweet potato. Taking my inspiration from candied yams, I blitzed up a sweet potato puree laden with brown sugar, cream and cinnamon. 

    The groceries you'll need are:
    pork loin steaks
    2 tbsp honey
    1 tbsp tarragon
    one head green cabbage
    one large sweet potato
    butter
    1/2 tbsp brown sugar
    100 ml double cream
    2 tsp cinnamon
    pinch of salt
    olive oil
    1 tbsp fennel seed

    For the pork, sear 1 to 2 minutes each side, using a hot pan. Coat with honey and tarragon and grill until preferred doneness. 
    For the roasted cabbage, cut a cabbage head into rounds. Place onto a greased cookie sheet, moisten with olive oil, seasoning and fennel seeds. Roast for 30 minutes at 400F.
    For the sweet potato puree, dice, boil and mash one large sweet potato. Season and add cinnamon, brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Transfer to blender and add double cream. Blend until desired consistency. Pass through a sieve or muslin to remove any stringy bits. 


    Deep Fried Loaded Mash Potato

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012


    Why has it taken me so long to discover these?! I am a bona fide potato-holic. Spuds and I go way back. They've been my favorite food for as long as I can remember, yet, until recently it never occurred to me to deep fry them (other than chips --er, fries, of course)!

    So I was flipping through my latest cookbook purchase when I came across the words fried mashed potato balls. There was no recipe for them, they were just mentioned in passing. I was immediately intrigued and set out to make these on my own. It seems most people make mash potato balls to use up leftover mash. Really? You people actually have mashed potatoes left over? I don't think I've ever sat down to an offering of mashed potatoes that I couldn't polish off. No potato dish--mashed, roasted, gratin, boiled--ever goes uneaten in my house!
    Here's my take, freshly made deep fried mash potato. For heaven's sake, don't even consider making this with instant mash!
    Deep Fried Loaded Mash Potato::Marabel potatoes, Applewood Smoked cheddar, dried chives, fresh sour cream, rock salt, pancetta, chives, seasoning, mustard powder, milk, butter, batter, breadcrumbs

    The thing that makes this dish so special to me is its zingyness. You've got that salty pancetta blended with the lightly salted sour cream and the delicate crunch of breadcrumbs with warmed mash (dotted with chives) oozing forth.

    Note: There are no exact quantities needed for this recipe. No exact ingredients either--everybody likes different things in their potatoes, so just go with what you know and what your family enjoys.

    That said, here's how I made my deep fried loaded mash potato:

    Add roughly diced Marabel potatoes* to a pot of boiling water.  Allow to boil for 15 to 20 minutes, strain and proceed to mash incorporating seasoning, milk, a little butter and drived chives. Note, lumpy mash yields better balls than mash that is too smooth.
    Grate over any smoked cheddar cheese that you prefer, add a dash or two of mustard powder, give it a good stir and refrigerate until firm. 

    Once the mash has firmed up a bit (shouldn't take long if the mash still has some lumps), shape into balls. This is the fun part--you can do millions of little balls using a melon baller, or hearty orbs using an ice cream scoop. Or, and I plan to do this one day, enormous grapefruit-sized balls. Whatever you fancy.

    Once you have your balls formed, drop them in batter, then coat individually in breadcrumbs. I found the best way to crumb the battery balls is to pour some breadcrumbs into a bowl, drop a ball in and roll it around quite vigorously. This way, you kind of knock the shape back into the ball and don't end up with a crusty breadcrumb manicure.

    Fry the balls until golden, this should only take a couple of minutes. Place the balls on a lined cookie sheet or plate to the let the excess oil drain off before garnishing with crispy pan-fried pancetta, fresh chives, salted sour cream (add some rock salt to store bought sour cream, it really makes a difference) and more of the smoked cheddar.
    *Marabel potatoes are a European cultivated potato from Germany and The Netherlands with a sweet taste, creamy texture and yellow flesh. In America, they can be substituted with the Canadian Yukon Gold variety of potato.

    Chicken Saltimbocca Strips with Sultry White Wine Sauce

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    My Italian isn't up to par, but I am told (thanks, Wiki) that the Italian word saltimbocca translates as being "jumps in the mouth". With this being the case, I envisioned creating almost bite-sized chicken saltimbocca pieces. What I've come up with are more strips than nuggets; this way you get way more proscuitto.This dish is full of richness--it has a lovely salty tone from the crispy proscuitto, a creamy, slightly nutty flavor from the edam and a rich, full-bodied tang from the sultry white wine sauce.

    Chicken Saltimbocca::chicken, sage, Dutch edam, proscuitto, white wine, garlic, chicken stock, seasoning
    Now, I know there's nothing Italian about Dutch cheese, but I love edam. It is by far the stringiest cheese there is and when it has been warmed, it gets a 10 on the goo scale. This is super gooey cheese, the kind of cheese that grilled cheese sandwiches were invented for. Alas, this delicious Italian dish is no grilled cheese; so let's get to it!

    The groceries you'll need:
    chicken breasts
    proscuitto, halved
    30 grams of Dutch edam, shaved
    1/2 tbsp minced garlic
    black pepper
    1 tbsp dried sage
    1 tsp olive oil
    4 tbsp white wine
    3/4 cup chicken stock
    2 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cubed
    salt
    2 tbsp lemon juice
    salt



    To prepare the chicken strips, place the chicken on a cutting board and first sprinkle with some pepper. Next, top with the sage, followed by the edam and then covered with a piece of proscuitto. Drape a sheet of cling film over the chicken and using a rolling pin, beat 'til thin.

    Cook the chicken proscuitto side down in a hot, well-oiled pan. You'll probably get cheese oozing out of the sides and some of the proscuitto falling off when you flip the meat. Don't worry, just let this stick to the pan; it'll enrich the sauce later.

    After the chicken has been cooked thoroughly, move to rest, covered. To make up the sultry sauce, remove the pan from the heat, discard any oil but not any bits left in the pan, and add the garlic and the white wine. Placing the pan back over the heat, allow the garlic and wine to reduce by about 1/3.  Use this time to scrape up any bits of cheese or proscuitto

    When the sauce looks syrupy and has a nice shiny gleam, add the chicken stock. Bring to the boil and allow to reduce by about half. Once the sauce is shiny and gleaming again, switch off the heat and gently stir in the cold, cubed butter. Once all the butter has melted, add your lemon juice and give it a stir. Plate up, dressing each strip with the sultry sauce.

    Chocolate Truffle Sandwich Cookies

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012

    Chocolate Truffle Sandwich Cookies

    Some of the best things around had their start as mistakes. Don't take my word for it, just look at these beaut's.
    They were originally meant to be truffles, but instead we ended up with these! The cookies, which are more like British biscuits, have a nice crunch, but they're buttery and (surprisingly) light. Filled with vanilla, chocolate chips and walnut pieces, they provide much needed texture before, and after, the silky chocolate ganache.

    ganache: French. derived from the French word for jowl, ganache is a glaze, icing or filling for pastries made from chocolate and cream.

    Now about that ganache. It's a rich mix of melted milk chocolate, a few pieces of dark chocolate, double (heavy) cream and a hint of milk. I mentioned that these little nuggets were the result of a mistake, let me briefly explain. I had set out to make truffles--little ganache balls hugged by a coating of cocoa, coconut or candies.
    My hiccup? I didn't spread the ganache into a thin enough layer when trying to set, so that the top of my chocolate pool was set but the subsequent bits weren't. Instead, I was left with this lovely firm top that gave way to fluid underpart. There was no way I could get that softly set chocolate to form a ball.


    Out of failure, came the chocolate truffle sandwich cookies. They're dead easy to make: whip up some ganache, allow to firm up in the fridge for a day. Bake your cookies (the day after you make the ganache), fill with the gooey filling, munch and enjoy.
    Fancy a go?


    Ganache::chocolate, cream, milk
    For the ganache you need equal parts chocolate and equal parts double (heavy) cream. Play around with the combinations that you like, you could use 50 percent milk chocolate and 50 percent dark or 25 percent dark, 25 percent milk and 50 percent white. Whatever you like, really. Just make sure it's equivalent to the amount of cream.
    Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling over on the stop. Warm the cream in a separate saucepan. Once your chocolate is melted, remove the glass bowl from the pan and begin to add the warmed cream, a little bit at a time. After the first bit of cream, you might find that the chocolate seizes up a bit. No worries, just continue to give it a good stir until it loosens before adding more cream.

    After you've incorporated all of the cream add a splash of full fat milk. Decant the creamy chocolatey pool into a shallow dish and let cool at room temperature. Once cooled, pop it in the fridge to set.


    Crunchy Cookies::flour, butter,margarine, sugar, vanilla extract, walnut pieces, chocolate chips
     To make two dozen small cookies, you want:
                         50 grams of unsalted butter
                         50 grams of margarine
                         150 grams of plain (all-purpose) flour
                         57 grams of caster sugar
                         2 tsp vanilla extract
                         1 tbsp chopped walnuts
                         1/2 tbsp chocolate chips


    Using your food processor cream together your butter and sugar. Once creamed, add the vanilla, walnuts and chocolate chips. Pulse once or twice before adding the flour and continuing to combine the lot. Once a nice dough is formed, remove from the food processor, roll out and cut out your cookies.


    You'll probably have some dough leftover. If you're like me, you'll probably nibble on it while you're cooking. But if you're a bit more restrained, wrap it in greaseproof (parchment/baking) paper, pop it into a Ziploc and store it in the fridge. (In a few weeks time when you're craving cookie dough ice cream but don't feel like leaving your house, break off some of the cookie dough into a bowl of ice cream and enjoy!)

    Pan Fried Salmon with Beurre Rouge (Red Butter Sauce)

    Thursday, March 1, 2012

    For the last four years, if you asked me what the best salmon dish I ever had was I would have replied, "Canapes of smoked salmon on Guiness bread." Back in 2008, I had the pleasure of spending St. Patrick's Day in Dublin. While there, we took a tour of the Guiness factory and in celebration of the holiday, they were serving canapes made using Guiness. The salty chilled smoked salmon next to the warm, rustic Guiness bread was edible bliss. No salmon dish came close to touching it. Until last night.

    Behold, the salmon dish that trumped the Guinness bread concoction.
    Pan fried salmon with red butter sauce. It was my intention to pair this dish with purple sprouting broccoli, to enhance the flavors and to really play around with the presentation. But, unfortunately, I wasn't thinking and boiled instead of steamed my purple sprouting broccoli. My vibrant lovely broccoli that reminded me of wild sprigs of wisteria or lavender looked pretty humdrum when it came out of the pan.

    For the beurre rouge (a butter emulsion made with red wine), place the diced shallots in a small sauce pan, add the wine and simmer. Let the liquid reduce by two-thirds. Once the wine has reduced, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and whisk in the butter, one cube at a time. This forms the emulsion. After all of the butter has been dissolved season the emulsion with salt, pepper and a few drops of lemon juice. Leave the emulsion on low, whisking every-so-often to prevent splitting, and prepare the salmon.

    For the salmon, season the fish with salt and pepper. Fry skin side down first, for about 3 minutes. Flip over and fry for a further minutes. Serve with whatever combination of vegetables you'd like. If you use purple sprouting broccoli and fine beans, I'd recommend steaming as opposed to boiling.