Buttermilk Onion Rings


I. Love. Onion. Rings.  As a kid, I would order them, crack them open, pull out the onion and and just eat the batter. Though I loved the flavor, I hadn’t quite warmed up to eating the actual onion yet. Now, I love them in EVERYTHING! Especially sweet onions. Vidalia’s, Peruvian, Maui, Walla Walla, Sweet Imperial, Spring/Summer, Fall/Winter… it doesn’t matter. If it’s a sweet onion… I’m a fan.

Most recipes for onion rings are pretty basic. But I’ve added a couple of little extras to make these special. Like buttermilk and Panko and an Asian hot sauce. I hope you love these as much as I do.

Ingredients

ONION RINGS

  • 1 large sweet Vidalia onion, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 – 1 1/5 cup buttermilk, or as needed
  • 1 cup dry unflavored bread crumbs
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • salt to taste
  • 1 quart peanut oil for frying, or as needed (you can sub vegetable oil but peanut tastes better and takes the  high heat better)

DIPPING SAUCE

Preparing Dipping Sauce

Mix two ingredients thoroughly until completely blended. Use more or less of the chili sauce depending on your “heat” preference.

Preparation

  1. Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or dutch oven to 365 degrees F.
  2. Separate the onion slices into rings, and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Dip the onion slices into the flour mixture until they are all coated; set aside. This will help the batter adhere.
  4. Gently beat the egg and milk into the flour mixture using hand mixer.
  5. Dip the floured rings into the batter to coat, then place on a wire rack to drain until the batter stops dripping. The wire rack may be placed over a sheet of aluminum foil for easier clean up.
  6. Mix together the corn meal, bread and Panko crumbs and scatter out on a plate or shallow dish. Place rings one at a time into the crumbs, and scooping over the ring to coat it. Give it a gentle tap as you remove it from the crumbs. The coating should cling very well. Repeat with remaining rings.I suggest completing this entire step before starting to fry rings. Its very easy to burn them if you’re distracted. I may or may not be speaking from experience. :o)

Ready To Cook?

  1. Deep fry the rings a few at a time for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. They should float to the top immediately – if they don’t your oil is not hot enough. Turn rings over once during the frying time.
  2. Remove from oil and transfer to a paper towel to drain. Season with seasoning salt, and serve warm.

The Perfect Bite

Give them about 30 seconds or so to cool.. swirl slightly in the Sriracha Sauce and enjoy! Although they’re best served within minutes of cooking…  be sure to let them cool enough so as not to burn the roof of your mouth. Again, I may or may not be speaking from experience.

The Perfect Pairing

I enjoyed these with a bottle of my favorite beer, Negra Medelo. But any amber or pale ale would be a great pairing. Also, try putting a few of the smaller rings on top of a large summer salad or add one of the large rings to the top of your favorite grilled burger.

The Perfect Health

Okay, let’s face it – these are deep fried onion rings. I’m not going to try and fake a health benefit here. But, onions have a variety of medicinal effects. Early American settlers used wild onions to treat colds, coughs, and asthma, and to repel insects. In Chinese medicine, onions have been used to treat angina, coughs, bacterial infections, and breathing problems. Read here for more details.

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Make My Own Cheese? What? Ricotta from Scratch


It’s an amazing thing to make your own cheese. It makes me feel like I’m really making something… not just opening a package or a can… but making food. It’s a thing of wonder.

Also… I was surprised at how absolutely simple this is – and trust me… once you get this down… you will impress your friends.

The recipe below is a lower fat version of ricotta… which means it yields less volume than the full fat version. But it will make about 2.5-3 cups. Be sure to plan on using it right away. It will only last (in the fridge) for a few days because it isn’t packed full of preservatives like your store brand… and you will certainly taste the difference! It’s really hard for me to buy it off the shelf now. TIP: The fresher the milk the longer the shelf life of the cheese. Keep in air tight container.


Ingredients
1 Gal 2% milk
5 cups low-fat buttermilk
3/4 tsp of fine sea salt

Equipment Needed
Large soup pot
cheese cloth (4-5 layers)
candy thermometer

Preparations
Pour both milks into stock pot and turn to medium heat. Continue cooking until it reaches 170 degrees. Should be 15-20 minutes. gently stir every 5 minutes or so. Be careful not to stir too vigorously or curds will not form.

When the milks reach 170 degrees, curds will have formed at the top. Using a large slotted spoon, gently remove curds (aka milk solids) and place into a cheese cloth-covered strainer and bowl. Let cheese drain in bowl for about 5 minutes. Then, taking the 4 corners of the cloth and bringing them together, rubber band or tie them up… and hang from kitchen faucet. Let drain about 15 minutes. TIP: Don’t toss that whey (the leftover liquids after scooping out the curds)! It is packed with protein – great for smoothies and cooking oatmeal.  You can also cook starches with it (rice, polenta, potatoes). And try watering your tomato plants or other planted veggies and herbs – they will grow like crazy!)

Carefully open the cheese cloth and scrap the fresh ricotta into a mixing bowl. It will be more textured than you’re used to seeing, if you normally have store bought. It should have the consistency of cottage cheese. It will firm up more in the fridge.

Gently stir the sea salt in until throughly mixed. Taste and add more if necessary.

Voila! You have ricotta cheese! Congratulations…

The Perfect Bite
We tasted it straight out of the bowl… while it was still warm… and salty… and tangy… and sweet… and it was probably our favorite thing ever.

The Perfect Pairing
My friend Michele (who acted as Sous Chef on this week’s project) helped me think of all kinds of things to pair this fresh-goodness with. We mixed it with a little homemade salsa and scooped it on a chip. Yep… Delish! We spread the ricotta mousse we’d made for the Zucchini Flutes recipe on a cracker – heaven! We talked about putting it on crustinis and topping with pickled onions or peppers or a tapenade. Can’t wait to try that! Let us know what you come up with… and enjoy!

Did You Know?
Research shows whey protein from dairy foods helps muscle recovery after a bout of exercise. And an easy found source of whey protein can be found in ricotta cheese. More info here.
Ricotta, 1/2 cup (124g) (part skim milk)
Calories: 171
Protein: 14g
Carbohydrate: 6.4g
Total Fat: 10g