Category Archives: Everything is better fried

Boy? Girl? Let’s Find Out!

284967_395016050552859_1805443785_nOK, I’m going to admit that I completely dorked out over the gender reveal party for our baby. Massive, massive dorkage.  Maybe it’s because I was so tired in my first trimester and wanted to get my food groove back on or I’ve been fatigued and haven’t been able to spend as much time with friends as I’m used to, whatever it was, I was pumped pandas. Never mind the fact that we were about to start calling “it” her or him instead! David and I got to see baby Kealey that Friday on a sonogram (such a cutie) and then proceeded to give the sealed card to Tyler, my niece’s super gentle chef boyfriend. Alex, my niece, created a blueberry and a strawberry pie filling, the super cute cutouts and then gave Tyler directions on how to make the pie once he opened the card. We got back from lunch and Tyler had done such an awesome job with the pie…look at that, he SHUT IT DOWN. I kept swearing up and down the color looked blue underneath and David thought so too. Not until tomorrow would we know!

So down to the food geeking out part. I wanted to make foods that represented our very different backgrounds including something that embraced my East Texas/Southern roots and his Canadian/Northeast ones. Obviously, my Mama’s chicken fried steak and creamy gravy was on the menu and as was poutine –  the national dish of Canada. David requested tomato soup and grilled cheese since he loved that as a kid and fried mac ‘n’ cheese because it’s “just so awesome” in his words. I also served a kale salad for those trying to eat healthy (weird, but it does happen here sometimes) plus Devils on Horseback because bacon, dates and cheese are never wrong, a cheese plate and crackers. I thought earlier in the day that I had bitten off way more than I could chew, but actually, it wasn’t that bad making all this food!

Continue reading Boy? Girl? Let’s Find Out!

The Momofuku Challenge

As I’ve mentioned before, the Momofuku cook book has intimidated the heck out of me for quite some time. I’m not sure why, but the recipes can be lengthy and it seems a majority of them require a lot of marinating or sitting to make everything work. For someone with a new business, planning a wedding and remodeling a home with their adorable husband-t0-be – time is of the essence right? So I wasn’t sure if had time to tackle or take on lengthy recipes with a lot of steps. Yeah, wrong as usual.

I have three words for Chef Chang: God Bless You. I tried his Fried Chicken (with Octo Vinaigrette) and Ginger Scallion Noodles last week and I can’t get the flavors out of my head. No wonder his restaurants are so successful – the food haunts you. So memorable in fact that I’m trying a pork dish of his on top of, wait for it, Ginger Scallion Noodles. Love, love, love. I can’t wait to go to New York and actually visit one or four of his restaurants to try the real thing. Intimidated no more I am! What I also love about this cook book is Chef Chang’s tone, he can be brusque and drop tons of f-bombs (which is too funny in parts) but I also love his passion for cooking and his belief that his recipes will knock your socks off (they do poodles) which in turn makes you want to roll up your sleeves and let ‘er rip.

Give these a try and it will blow your mind. If I like the pork, I’ll share here too…wait, I did and it was AMAZING. Hands down, my favorite slow-roasted pork recipe ever and all you do is cover it in salt and sugar and sugar. Who knew? Recipes below pandas.

Recipes courtesy of Momofuku Cookbook, Published by Clarkson Potter, 2009

Fried Chicken (Serves 2 to 4)

  • 4 cups of lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of kosher salt
  • One 3-t0- 3 1/2 pound chicken, cut into 4 pieces (2 legs, 2 breast halves with wings attached)
  • 4 cups grapeseed or other neutral cooking oil
  • Octo Vinaigrette (below)

1. Combine the water, sugar, and salt in a large container with a lid or a large freezer bag, and stir until the sugar and salt dissolve. Add the chicken to the brine, cover or seal, and refrigerate for at least one hour and no more than six.

2. Set up steamer on the stove. Drain the chicken and discard the brine. Put the chicken in the steamer basket (if you are using a stacking Chinese-style bamboo steamer, put the legs in the bottom level and the breast on the top). Turn the heat to medium and set the lid of the steamer  ever so slightly ajar. Steam the chicken for 40 minutes, then remove it from the steamer and put it on a cooling rack to cool. Chill it in the refrigerator, preferably on the rack, for at least two hours or overnight.

3. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you fry it.

4. In a deep skillet, heat enough oil for the chicken to be submerged to 375 degrees. Fry the chicken in batches, turning once, until the skin is deep brown and crisp, six to eight minutes. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.

5. Cut the chicken into a few pieces: cut the wine from the breast, cut the breast in half, cut through the knee to separate the thigh from the drumstick. Put in a large bowl toss with the vinaigrette, and serve hot.

Octo Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped Pickled Chiles (page 68 of the cookbook) or 1 fresh Bird’s Eye-Chile, seeded and chopped (I used the Bird’s Eye)
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of usukuchi (light soy sauce)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the garlic, ginger, chile, vinegar, soy, grapeseed oil, sesame oil, sugar, and a few turns of black pepper in a lidded container and shake well. This will keep in the fridge for 4 to 5 days, and is good on everything except ostrich eggs, which is really the ostrich’s fault than the vinaigrette’s. (love him :) ).

Ginger Scallion Noodles (A must make!)

  • 2 1/2 cups thinly sliced scallions (greens and whites; from 1 to 2 large bunches)
  • 1/2  cup finely minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup finely minced peeled fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons usukuchi (light soy sauce)
  • 3/4 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

Mix together scallions, ginger, oil, soy, vinegar, and salt in a bowl. Taste and check for salt, adding more if needed. Though it’s best aftre 15 to 20 minutes of sitting, ginger scallion sauce is good from the minute it’s stirred together up to a day or two in the fridge. Use as directed, apply as needed.


  • 1 whole 8-to-10 pound bone-in Boston Pork Butt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup plus one tablespoon kosher salt
  • 7 tablespoons light brown sugar

1. Put the pork shoulder in a roasting pan, ideally one that hold it snugly. Mix together the granulated sugar and one cup of the salt in a bowl, then rub the mixture into the meat; discard any excess salt-and-sugar mixture.  Cover the pan with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least 6 hours, or overnight.

2. Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Remove the pork from the refrigerator and discard any juices that have accumulated. Put the pork in the oven and cook for 6 hours, basting with rendered fat and pan juices every hour. The pork should be tender and yielding at this point – it should offer almost no resistance to the blade of a knife and you should be able to easily pull meat of the shoulder with a fork. Depending on your schedule, you can serve the pork right away or let is rest and mellow out at room temperature for up to an hour.

3. When ready to serve…turn the oven to 500 degrees.

4. Stir together the remaining one tablespoon salt and brown sugar and rub the mixture all over the pork. Put it in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes, until the sugar has melted into a crisp, sweet crust. (Emily just drooled)

Kids Night!

Looking over my blog I realized, gosh darnit, we eat pretty well around these parts. Lamb the other night, Moroccan dates another. I was feeling a little too fancy for my own pants and decided to take it back a notch. Nothing can make me feel like a kid again than crunchy chicken fingers with a dipping sauce and creamy mac and cheese. I grew up in a house with a home cooked meal every night (thanks Mom!) with fun food items like these to look forward to when I came home from school. Something about this simple combo just made me giggle like a little Emily again.

I chose these Pan-Fried Chicken Fingers with Spicy Dipping Sauce and the Chicken, Bacon and Ranch Mac and Cheese both from Cooking Light plus some adult grape juice aka a nice bottle of a 2008 Cols Du Vents Corbieres to go along with. Trust me it just sounds fancy, it was on sale for $9.00 at Whole Foods Market! 

I also like Cooking Light’s comparison of regular chicken fingers versus their creation:

703 calories per serving
1,000 milligrams sodium
10.7 grams saturated fat
Deep-fried in lard
Drowning in sauce
Greasy, heavy coating

414 calories per serving
495 milligrams sodium
1.5 grams saturated fat
Pan-seared in canola oil
Just enough spicy mayo sauce
Light, crispy, crunchy

Pan-Fried Chicken Finger with Spicy Dipping Sauce (Photo by John Autry)

Dude, the sodium and saturated fat difference alone should be enough to convince you to give these a try. I couldn’t find the recommended Kashi brand cereal at our HEB so I winged it and grabbed Grape-Nuts Flakes cereal. YUM! This cereal made a delicious sweet crust for the chicken. I pan-fried two minutes per side as instructed but had to chunk the whole batch into the oven for about 8 minutes at 350 degrees to finish them off as they were still pink inside. After that though? Awesome chicken fingers with a crispy, crunchy crust and not greasy just like they say plus the chicken was still juicy. I heart this sauce. It was so simple but y’all it is a spicy little fireball so watch out and lower the amount of Sriracha if you are not a heat seeker. Of course I loved it’s spicy kick.

The mac and cheese. Nom, nom, nom. I omitted the chicken from the recipe because well that’s too much poultry for one night. Also, I decided to use turkey bacon and used three slices instead of regular bacon and only using one slice. I can’t help it, I love bacon or bacon flavor in anything! Otherwise I followed this to the letter and it turned out perfectly. I especially loved the ranch flavor of this dish. With the onion and garlic powder and fresh dill, it just zinged and zanged but without all of the calories of a true ranch dressing.

After dinner, bellies full but not too much, we sat down and watched Zombieland. This was David’s first time seeing the film and my second. My goodness I love this movie. I think every single line of Woody Harrelson’s is an excellent one-liner. My favorite…? Here you go. We have leftovers for lunch today and I’m thinking about making a chicken tender salad with the Pioneer Woman’s – don’t you just heart her?! – homemade ranch dressing with the remaining mac and cheese on the side.

Update! Leftover chicken fingers on top of mixed greens with above mentioned ranch dressing and mac and cheese – SUPER LUNCH!

Hot and Hot Tomato Salad – Just skip this review and make this dish immediately

Ok, you can read the review if you want, but I will make it quick so you can head to the farmer’s market ASAP. Here’s what Cooking Light’s Vanessa T. Pruett has to say about this dish: Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, Hot and Hot Fish Club’s signature summer staple is adapted here, combining crisp fried whole baby okra and delicate lady peas served over fresh heirloom tomato slices and topped with smoky bacon and a creamy herbed dressing. “With fried, okra, fresh peas, and tomatoes, this would be hard to beat as the perfect summer meal,” praises Test Kitchen Director, Vanessa T. Pruett.
Agreed and then some. There’s a reason this Hot and Hot Tomato Salad recipe was chosen as the Cooking Light staff favorite for the month of August. First of all, there’s a hamhock mixed with peas and onions. I do love me some hamhock in anything, collard greens, beans, cereal, you name it. I couldn’t find lady peas so I went with frozen peas – not farmer’s market I know but hey they were still delicious. We did find some gorgeous red and yellow heirloom tomatoes which are always to die for in any dish. For the fried okra, I grew up eating my Mom’s version as a kid and I’ve never found a better way to make it than she does. So, I followed my Mom’s method for fried okra and, of course, it turned out perfect. The dressing complemented the entire salad perfectly and let’s not forget there is BACON on this bad boy to make it the perfect salad. All I have to say is go make this right now and if you do, please let me know your thoughts. Here is our version! It aint as purdy but it sure did taste good.

Gobbling Up Portland Food Trucks

I visited Portland in April, yes April, and yes I’m aware it’s mid-June so this is a smidge late but who cares it’s delicious food! I have been dying to post my food adventures in one of the coolest cities I’ve visited in a while. If you know anything about Portland, you know it’s a funky, small city with a thriving food truck scene that reminded me very much of Austin. Living in Austin, I know we have a great food truck scene here but I was blown away by the amount and variety that Portland has to offer…they are literally everywhere like little food truck hives.

I visited a few trucks and like true fat kid managed to stuff myself with Creole Pie from Swamp Shack, an awesomely fresh Caprese Sandwich from Built to Grill, and peanut butter/chocolate and tangerine/marshmallow flavored doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnuts. While all of these were excellent, the one thing that literally almost made me fall over with sheer glee was the YouCanHas Burger from Brunchbox. Get this, it’s two Texas toast grilled cheese sandwich “buns” with a burger and bacon between them. A burger and bacon between two grilled cheese sandwich buns. Burger. Bacon. Two grilled cheese sandwich buns. Yep…think about that one for a minute while you stare at the photo.

Hands down BrunchBox was my favorite but I know I missed out on some fantastic ones due to my short trip. I will be back poodles so send me suggestions of where I should go next!

Cooking Light’s Beer-Battered Fish and Chips

Well, Cooking Light and I are having a blessed day of cooking aren’t we? Let’s see, we’ve gone to Miami, now let’s go across the pond to the U.K. shall we? This was sort of a random lunch as I had some leftover cod from a recipe I tested last night and decided on the spot to make their Beer-Battered Fish and Chips.

YUM! I am most certainly not a fish and chips expert nor do I normally seek them out, so you can imagine how surprised I was that I loved these so much. The breading was perfect and with a bit of lemon juice (they didn’t recommend it but I wanted it anyway), salt and malt vinegar, these were delicious and the small batch of perfectly baked fries really rounded out this traditional meal.

This felt way more indulgent than it really is and I’m sure it is way healthier than the real version. I can see this being a good alternative to fish sticks because it really doesn’t have a fishy taste and gives a satisfying salty, crunch.
Now I managed to get through this post without doing anything stereotypically British, although I must admit that in my head I was using my British voice – you know you have one – while typing this. I did want to share one of my favorite commercials that has a funny British twist.
Here is the recipe, enjoy!
1 pound cod fillets, cut into 3-inch pieces (they recommend Alaskan Cod and I used it too)


1 cup dark beer (such as Negro Modelo), divided
1 pound baking potatoes, cut into (1/4-inch) strips
1/4 cup canola oil, divided
3.38 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3/4 cup)
Preheat over to 450 degrees. Combine fish and 1/4 cup beer in a medium bowl. Cover and chill for 1 hour. Place potatoes on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oi, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss well. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes or until browned and crisp, stirring after 10 minutes. Drain fish; discard liquid. Sprinkle fish with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine remaining 3/4 cup beer, flour, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in a medium bowl.
Add fish to beer mixture, tossing gently to coat. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove fish from bowl, shaking off excess batter. Add fish to pan; cook 3 minutes or until browned. Turn fish over; cook 3 minutes or until done. Sprinkle fish with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Serve immediately with chips.

I Heart Portland (Maine that is)

Can I share a vision in my mind with you? I envision Portland, Maine as this super duper gentle place full of delicious food and chilly, fall days with beautiful coastlines. I know they have summer but shushie we are in my vision. Maybe something like this…

Now, I have never been to Maine, let alone Portland (someday lambs, someday), but I am still quite happy for the city to receive the honor of America’s Foodiest Small Town 2009 from Bon Appetit. I kind of hate that word foodie or foodiest but that’s another story, because I would go there in a heartbeat after reading about the food.

Wanna hear why? An excerpt from the magazine article to tickle your tastebuds:

First, it’s got great product, from oysters to fiddlehead ferns. Second, the town has attracted stellar chefs who know how to turn these resources into great food. Third, it even has a signature meal, breakfast, that turns the first fare of the day into a celebration of all this bounty. And finally, it has citizens who expect a lot, and get even more.

They had me at breakfast.

The magazine featured this absolutely bonkers recipe from a local restaurant in Maine called Cod with Mussels, Chorizo, Fried Croutons and Saffron Mayonnaise. I say bonkers because wow you guys did I pick a lengthy recipe for the week night or what? What was I thinking? I’ll tell you exactly what I was thinking, I had to try this now and nothing was going to stop me. I also use the word bonkers because the combination of these ingredients was intense, just look at the title of the recipe to paint your own mental picture.

Yes, there was a lot going on here but it all really came together for me to truly love it. From the creamy, saffron mayonnaise and delicious, moist cod that has been roasted in clam juice (hold on it’s not bad) and white wine (see I told you) to the spicy chorizo and succulent mussels with their delicious broth plus the fried sourdough croutons that soaked up said broth to absolute perfection. Wow.


I’ll pack the bags you go start the car.

(Recipe photo from Bon

Doughnut Holes with Raspberry Jam

I saw this recipe in the July issue of Food & Wine magazine and had been dying to make it, but could never seem to find the time. Finally, I did and thank goodness! 

I got all the way through step two and my stupid dough would not form at all, I was frustrated to say the least but nothing would stop me now. I got through step two again and voila! the dough formed and I let it rise for an hour.
They didn’t have raspberries at HEB so I decided strawberries would work just fine. I followed the steps for making the jam, quite simple if you ask me, and I had a perfect dipping jam for the holes which I still had to make.
When I was working with the dough, which was quite sticky, I thought “I’ve messed these up again!” but when I formed into balls and deep fried them they looked like doughnut holes but I couldn’t tell until we tried them…
THESE ROCKED! The sugar coating was fantastic and I loved smothering them in the strawberry jam. These are labor intensive but I definitely can see these being a unique party snack, a fun dessert after dinner or anytime you want to treat yourself.
Here is what the doughnut holes are supposed to look like (photo from Food & Wine), mine were a little more misshapen but who cares they were still amazing!

Pan Fried Chicken and Peonies!

I love fresh flowers but my budget does not allow them too often. My local H-E-B had these beautiful Peonies on sale and had to share them with you…Ok, now to my perfect little Sunday dinner. First up was Pan Fried Chicken from Cooking Light. I have tried many a fried chicken recipes from Cooking Light including an oven-fried version that just didn’t get the crispy, crunchy skin you find when pan frying. With this recipe they nailed it. Simply combining all-purpose and whole wheat flours with ground cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika and ginger, this skin turned out perfectly and the chicken was deliciously juicy. I served with a little bit of honey because I love the combination of honey and fried chicken. If you are concerned that the ground spices might overpower the chicken, don’t be, the flavors were subtle but fantastic.

I served this with some grilled zucchini, red bell peppers and red onion with a delicious Creamy Feta Vinaigrette from Food & Wine. It was so easy to make and the vinaigrette was creamy and yummy.

I finished my meal with some simple strawberries with fresh basil and balsamic vinaigrette. What a great Sunday meal!

Mom’s Fried Okra

I had the pleasure of growing up in home where my Mom made a home cooked meal every night. I’ll never forget the nights of her Enchiladas or Chicken Fried Steak or Corn Bread with Pinto Beans and Pork Chops.

My mom a few years ago lovingly put together a cookbook that had all of her signature recipes in them including one of my favorites – fried okra. I’ll never forget my mom making this during special occasion meals and when she would set it out on the plate with a paper towel over the top, me (and my whole family actually) would casually walk by and steal a few pieces before dinner. You know she saw us but never said anything!

With that I would like to share with you my Mom’s Fried Okra recipe. I love how she wrote this because the key to this crispy treat is (1) not fresh okra as it’s too slimy (2) the proper cooking method to get it just right (3) and leaving it alone to work its magic in the pan. You do not know how many times I called my Mom asking her how she did it so well. Follow these instructions and you will get it down pat.

I know my Mom is reading this right now and so happy that I’m sharing her love of great food with you. Thanks Mama Ingle and I hope you make a batch the next time I’m home.

Mom’s Fried Okra
Approximately 30 minutes to one hour before cooking the okra, let it thaw in the bag. If cooking the entire bag, fill it with water to thaw it more thoroughly. If using only a small portion of the bag, take out what you need and put in a bowl of water and place the rest back in the freezer. Either way, drain well of water and pour enough corn meal (white or yellow) to coat okra well. In a large skillet fill with oil (about 1/2 full)*. Turn burner on low and fill skillet with coated okra, try to not get too much in pan. Cover and turn burner on high. Check on it about every 5 – 10 minutes. When okra starts becoming very brown in color, it is most likely fairly crisp. Remove from pan and place on paper towel covered dish. Add salt to taste.

*Emily note, I like vegetable oil