Sunday, June 13, 2010

A crispier side

Every now and again, I find an ingredient that I just don't know how I ever survived without. Usually these ingredients make this distinction because of their taste, but on special occasions I come across something so simple, so flexible, that it becomes a staple in my kitchen.

One of these ingredients are wonton wrappers. These little squares are probably one of the most flexible food items I've ever found. You can use them for everything sweet, savory, fried, baked, steamed. They are every bit as flexible as pasta, and yet so completely underused. I like underused though, because to me, this translates to "special"
I've used these to make foods that are always met with high regard. They've seen their way into my Best Friend's wedding shower, My first dinner invite to my new coworkers, First Dates, and the list goes on.
I think these are a perfect compliment to sweets, giving a non-traditional flare to traditional desserts. I like to use them to make little, turnover-like pastries. Their taste is so neutral that you can stuff them with anything and it's bound to taste good. Here, I LOVE the taste of honey and poppyseed as a sweet finish to a light meal or an accompaniment to good tea.
As you'll see in a recipe below, my preferred method to prepare these is to deep fry them (I am from the midwest, after all). I feel it not only gives them a wonderful crispy texture, but by far produces the most beautiful result. The crispy, bubbly texture and shine that deep frying produces just beg to be eaten, and trust me, your guests will.

Deep Fried Wonton:
1 pkg wonton wrappers
Poppy Seed Filling (Recipe Follows, but you can purchase this ready-made)
Canola or Peanut Oil for Frying
Powdered Sugar

Poppy Seed Filling:

1/2 c. poppy seed
1/4 c. whole milk
2T honey
1T sugar
Generous Pinch of Kosher salt
1 Egg Yolk

Mix first 5 ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and cook till thick, stirring constantly. when complete, add a scant amount of the hot mixture to the yolk while stirring to keep it from cooking, and add this back into the hot mix, again while stirring. Allow to cool completely.

Once cool:

If you have a deep fryer, set it to 350 and allow the oil to heat. Take a wonton wrapper, and place about 1/2t of the poppyseed mix into the center. Using a small pastry brush, or your finger, brush a light amount of the egg wash on 2 edges of the wrapper that meet at a corner. Fold the wrapper over and seal, keeping as much air out of the wrapper as possible. Place these on a damp paper towel, and cover with another damp paper towel to keep from drying out.
When ready, start by placing 2-3 wontons in the fryer for about 5-10 seconds, and flip immediately to keep the other side from cracking. (otherwise you'll end up with an empty fried wrapper full of oil, and a fryer full of poppyseed filling) allow to fry for 30 secs and flip again. cook for another 15-20 secs and remove from oil, allow to drain completely, and place on a paper towel to allow the excess oil to drain off. Serve immediately on a plate, dredge lightly with powdered sugar and drizzle with honey.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Egg It On!

I'm making this a very short post and for a reason. You CAN make delicious and sophisticated food quickly. I promise.

Yeah, folks, you can totally just go on steaming that asparagus and squeezing a bit of lemon on there if that's your perogative. Just believe me when I tell you that the addition of just a little fat will increase your enjoyment 3.5 fold. Put that asparagus on a broiler pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle some salt, grind some pepper. Cook till done (which means browned, crispy on the tips and oh sooooo good).

Do that. Note how it much better it tastes. Become an envy of all your friends. Write me an email of thanks. And no, I'm not Jesus. Not quite.

If you want to make it really stand out, do what I do and throw (gently place) a perfectly poached egg atop your bed of aspargus (and forget the useless vinegar in the poaching water).

So easy it's sick.