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Slice of Life

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    Desserts are always on the menu at our house, not that we need them after most meals. But still this is me cooking, so dessert is, well, expected.Cookies? Sure, always good but been there, done that. Cake?
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Feed your onion ring hankering

There are times when I really want (dare I say need) a specific “fried” food, but I have to say to myself, “I just don’t have the time (or desire) to do it myself.”

I want someone else (be it a restaurant, manufacturer or bakery) to make it for me. I’m talking about stuff like doughnuts, fried chicken and my absolute favorite greasy treat: onion rings. In fact, when the cravings for onion rings strike, my trusty foodie sidekick Arlene and I go searching throughout northeast Indiana for the best of the best. So far, Baker’s Street Steakhouse and Red Robin are tied for onion rings. However, when I have the time, nothing beats the homemade, fresh-from-the-fryer-onion ring.

Onion rings can vary greatly from sweet to savory and breaded to crunchy depending on the type of onion you use and how you make the batter. For a sweeter taste, I suggest you use sweet onions like a Vidalia onion or Walla Walla. A stronger Texas or yellow onion will give you a bite, along with the crunch. I’ve never tried them made with red onions but my guess is that they’d be delicious too.

Basic Onion Rings

3 to 4 large Spanish onions or sweet onions, cut into 1/4 -inch sliced rounds

1/2 cup flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg, well beaten

1/2 cup milk

Oil for deep frying

Separate the sliced rounds into individual rings. In a bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper and baking powder. In a small bowl add the egg and milk and whisk to combine. Add egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix to combine. In a deep fryer or deep saucepan heat the oil to 350 degrees to 400 degrees. Dip the onion rings into the batter and then fry until the rings are golden brown on both sides, turning them over if necessary. Remove immediately, drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt to taste and serve.

Serves 6 to 8.

Onion Strings

1 to 2 large onions

2 cups buttermilk

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 quart oil for frying

Pepper to taste

Slice the onions very thin. Place the sliced onions in a glass 9-by-13 baking pan and pour the buttermilk over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt and cayenne pepper. Heat the oil in a deep fryer or deep pot at 375 degrees. Place a handful of onions into the flour mixture and toss to coat; lift and shake off the extra flour. Drop the clump into the hot oil. Fry the clump for 2 to 3 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining onions. Season with salt and serve.

Serves 3 to 4.

Cornmeal Onion Rings

3 to 4 large sweet onions, peeled and sliced 1/4 thick

1 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon onion powder

2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cups milk

1 egg

1/2 cup water

2 cups panko bread crumbs (or toasted regular bread crumbs)

In a bowl combine the flour, corn meal, onion powder, salt, milk, egg and water. Whisk to combine. Let the batter rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Once you make the batter, let it sit on the counter top for about 10 to 15 minutes to thicken up. Heat your oil to 375 degrees to 400 degrees. Dip the onion rings, one at a time, into the batter and then into the bread crumbs. You can make all the rings then fry them. You can dip all the rings in the batter but dip them individually into the crumbs. They will clump and you don’t want that. Flip them when they start to get golden to make sure that both sides are cooked evenly. Drain on paper towels. Season with salt to taste and serve immediately.

Serves 6.

Beer Batter Onion Rings

2 large onions cut into 1/3 to 1/2 inch rings

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup cornstarch

2 tablespoons mashed potato flakes

Cayenne pepper to taste

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup beer

2 cups panko crumbs (or more if needed)

Oil for frying

In a bowl combine the flour, corn starch, potato flakes, cayenne and salt. Add the beer and mix to combine but don’t over mix. The batter will be bubbly, just keep stirring. After about 2 minutes set the batter aside for 15 minutes. Heat the oil. Dip the rings, one at a time into the batter then dip them (both sides) into the panko crumbs. Fry until the rings are golden. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt and serve hot.

Serves 4.

– Modified from Bhg.com – Modified from Southerncooking.com Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at ztlog@verizon.net or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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