Monday, October 12, 2009

Beer Battered Asparagus

So we got it in our heads that it would be a really good idea to make up a batter of flour, salt, pepper, and beer, and toss asparagus in it. From there, we would submerge the battered asparagus in oil and fry it up. With the leftover beer batter, we decided to take a stab at frying chicken thighs and chicken tenders. Well, how did it all turn out? It was beyond our expectations.

As it turns out, frying beer battered asparagus really is a great idea! We were afraid that the batter was a little too simple, that it would have no flavor or just taste really weird. Thankfully, we were wrong. Frying the asparagus actually really brought out the flavor of the vegetable, and they were perfectly cooked inside. They only took about 5 minutes per spear to fry up. Delicious! However, they weren't so good as leftovers, not that I expected them to be. The outside crust turned totally mushy and soggy, not a good combo. We were pleased that we got the chicken to turn out well, too. The first chicken thigh we fried up didn't turn out. We pulled it out of the oil way too early, and it was severely undercooked. A quick internet search taught us that chicken thighs take a much longer time to fry than you would think. I ended up frying each for 15 minutes, and they turned out just perfect. The tenders were good, too.

Before our magical dinner, we had a cupcake decorating party. The ones above were done by me. I figured I would put my new cake decorating skills, as well as all that leftover frosting, to good use and make some cute Halloween-themed designs. Xander found out what I was doing and wanted to do some of his own, so below you will see the ones he decorated all by himself.

It was a splendid mess, but we had a lot of fun, which makes it all worthwhile. Next time I will be better prepared. I need to make sure I cover the whole kitchen table in newspaper so I can just pick up the whole mess of sprinkles and such and dump it right in the trash. A beautiful thing!

Beer Battered Asparagus
adapted from Recipezaar

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 cup beer
1 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed
vegetable oil, for frying

1. Heat oil in a heavy saucepan (we used our wok) until it reaches 375 degrees.

2. Whisk together flour, salt, pepper, and lemon zest until combined. Add beer and whisk ingredients until smooth.

3. Dip each asparagus spear in batter to coat. Shake off excess batter, then drop asparagus in oil, a few spears at a time. Stir gently to prevent spears from sticking together. Fry until golden.

4. Transfer spears to a baking sheet lined with paper towels, and keep warm in a 200 degree oven until all the asparagus is done.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cake Decorating Class

Rather than bore you with excuses as to why I haven't written a blog post in months, I thought I would just jump right in with a cute picture of the boys. If they can't entice people to read on, who can?

Anyway, so I have just finished taking a 4-week Wilton cake decorating class at our local Michael's. I had a blast, and I think that with practice I may be able to become good at this whole decorating thing. Right now I still feel like I have a long way to go before I will be ready to have anyone besides my husband and sons actually see one of my finished products up close and personal. The cakes I completed for class always had help and direction from my teacher, so I don't think they really count.

The first cake was this pirate ship cake. I bought a brand new pirate ship cake pan for the occasion. I figured I could practice in class, and then I could attempt to make another one of these for Evan's first birthday. In the future, I think I will change the color scheme. Overall, I think it turned out all right. If I squint, it looks even better!

The next cake we did was a rainbow cake. I feel like this one turned out pretty badly. The rainbow is much thicker on the right side than on the left, and so are the clouds that underline the bottom of the rainbow on that side. But I was proud of the colors that I mixed up, and I dig the stars on the lower half of the cake!

Then, this past Sunday, we did the final cake where we learned how to do the Wilton rose, a crazy feat of frosting if you ask me. I have to admit, I can't take the credit for two of my roses. The teacher actually used my cake as the teaching cake, so she made a couple to demonstrate and then put them right on my cake for me. Part of me was happy to have such attractive flowers adorn my cake! The other part of me was almost disappointed that I had to put my much inferior roses alongside hers. To me, there's a big difference. If you look at the top flower cake picture, mine are the two roses on the lower half of the cake. I know it's hard to see, because the roses are small in the picture, but the two roses on top are so much prettier!

Oh well. Practice will only help at this point. I have a ton of frosting left over now, so I'll have to find something to do with it. Xander and I are overdue to make cupcakes together, so maybe that'll happen this weekend. If we do make some, I'll have to post them on here. And hopefully, it won't be three months from now!