Y’all Come Eat Now- Jalebi

Jalebi

Hi friends! We have a really fun dish for “Y’all Come Eat Now” this week. When I first started hitting up my friends and family with cooking session requests, my friend Julie was very quick to reach out to her mom to get the details on a dessert that her family made on Christmas Eve. when she was growing up. In the initial email Julie described them simply as “funnel cakes covered in syrup”, um, funnel cakes at home?! I was definitely intrigued. This also was definitely a sharp left turn outside of my cooking comfort zone. I’ve never actually fried any food before. My parent’s owned a deep fryer but I hated the way that it made the house smell so I let the fine people at Popeye’s do their thing. I was willing to test the waters (or should I say oil) in order to try this dish. This was also my first time working with yeast. I was very excited to learn this dish!

So you may be asking what the heck jalebi are. Jalebi are small, deep-fried sweets common in India and Pakistan that are soaked in sugar syrup. Julie’s mom gave us a little insight on the origins of the version that their family makes:

“I learned to make them from the TA of the Persian class I took in college; Iranians call them zulbia and they have a slightly different flavor from the Indian jalebis. The Iranian ones are not quite as heavy. So what we were making was more Iranian, but we called them jalebis because that was familiar to Riggses. Also, the honey syrup was kind of adapted and made up, not completely right for either culture, but they were still good.”

Julie informed us as to exactly how her family began making jalebis which I found fascinating. Both her mom and dad came from very well-traveled families that lived in other countries while they were growing up. Her mom lived in Chile until she was 12 and moved to Wisconsin and Julie’s dad lived in India until college, where he grew up eating jalebis. It is only natural that they would adopt a variety of traditions along the way.

The actual recipe is very easy. There is some wait time for the dough to proof. This is a great time to order some Indian takeaway, pick it up, pour a few glasses of wine, and stuff your gullet full of Chicken Tikka Masala. I’m not saying that is what we did but it’s a damn good idea…this is definitely what we did.

dough

Dough- ½ tsp dry yeast, add 1 cup lukewarm water, add flour until consistency of yogurt, cover with a dish towel and let sit for 3 hours; spoon into a squeeze bottle when ready to fry

The Riggses have learned over time that a honey bear works best. I learned that it’s the cutest bottle to repurpose!

Syrup- heat 1 part sugar and water to create simple syrup add honey and stir

Syrup

Fry- heat oil (canola or other non-flavorful oil) in a skillet

Now that you have everything made and ready to rock this is when the fun starts! This dish is very interactive. It’s the first time that I’ve been in the kitchen with four people all taking turns in the kitchen and didn’t feel overwhelmed.

  • You squeeze the dough into the hot oil and can attempt to make designs similar to funnel cakes or go fancy like butterflies or flowers like in the restaurants. You let it cook for 30-60 seconds until it becomes a light golden brown then flip it. Don’t splash!!
  • Pull the fried jalebi out of the oil and dunk directly into the syrup and using a fork that is being used for syrup only, fully submerge the jalebi for just a few seconds. You do not want it to get too soggy. TJ quickly became the jalebi syrup expert.
  • Place jalebi on a plate with some paper towels to cool and allow the syrup to harden a bit. It will not flake off like a glazed donut but you don’t want it to be too sticky either.
  • NOMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOM while still warm.

Julie shows us how it’s done!

 photo 3 (1)Juliesyrup soaked

 I required additional supervision

supervision

I wasn’t scared at all to work with hot oil, nope not at all…

Jessie

I made jalebi nuggets…don’t do that

nuggets

This is my “Oh my god, it’s still sizzling! What do I do?!” face

ah

Chris & TJ got in on the fun too!

photo 3 (2) photo 2 (2) done

TJ was instantly a skilled syrup soaker!

photo 2 (1)

These steps happened VERY VERY quickly. A few tips to make this go as smoothly as possible is to have multiple paper towels or dishes to place your scooper for the oil on while you use a syrup only utensil for dunking and plating. I wanted to use the same utensil for the oil and the syrup which would have ruined the syrup but also made a horrifying sizzling noise. I was still scarred, more so mentally than physically, from my first big kitchen wound earlier in the week.  So that was a little overwhelming. So having prepped stations for each stage before you start will go a long way.

I highly recommend making this dish. It was very hands on and fun. Not many recipes get everyone in the kitchen working together like this recipe did. I can certainly see why this was a great Christmas Eve tradition for Julie’s family. Thank you to Chris and Julie for having us over and to Julie for sharing this recipe with us. We had a great time recreating it with you and watching you as the memories started coming back to you as we cooked.

Y’all Come Eat Now- Mama’s Specials

Mama's Specials

Only three ingredients!

I teased this sweet treat a few weeks ago on Instagram and on Twitter. In the second installment of “Y’all Come Eat” we’re fixing up a batch of Mama’s Specials. Mama Mona and I snacked on these after we made our lasagnas.

This dish is really hard to describe and the photos do NOT do it justice…do not buy generic marshmallows! It’s just one of those things that you’re going to have to trust me and actually try it for yourself. It is a salty sweet after school kind of snack that you should never had more than 3 of…unless you’re a fan of your dentist.

My mom’s been making this snack for as long as I can remember and her mom made it for her. This dish is so synonymous with my grandmother that we made this on the night following her viewing. As everyone was sitting around telling stories and looking at pictures Mama’s Specials kept coming up so my Aunt Lisa and I made up a batch. God bless Mama Mona for always having the necessary ingredients on hand. There were plenty of people in the room that had never tried them so this was a fun experience. They all politely tried them but I don’t think it went over very well. Maybe it’s something you’ve had to grow up eating…you guys can let me know if you’ve tried them and what your thoughts are!

Ingredients

  • Saltine crackers
  • American Cheese (I prefer Kraft singles…I know that it’s not even really cheese)
  • Marshmallows (NOT GENERIC)
Mama's Specials

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Lay Saltines on a cookie sheet, salt side up
  • Tear the slice of cheese into quarters
  • Lay cheese on top of Saltines
  • Place marshmallow on top of cheese
  • Bake for about 5-7 minutes depending on how “done” you like your marshmallow
  • If you really like a well done marshmallow, broil for about 60-90 seconds
  • nomnomnomnomnomnom
Mama's Specials

Generic Marshmallows do not look pretty but they taste just as yummy!

“Y’all Come Eat Now”- Lasagna

Finished Lasagna

Y’all Come Eat Now- Lasagna!

Good Afternoon and Happy Wednesday from Sweet Tea Cooking! Today is the first post in a series that we call “Y’all Come Eat Now”. That’s how my grandma always called us to the table and that’s how I’m calling y’all to the Sweet Tea Cooking table! All of the dishes that will be featured on “Y’all Come Eat Now” are going to be family recipes that have been shared with me by both friends and family.

No Hair Net

Mona pointing out that I don’t have my hair wrapped…a big no no in the Bentley kitchen.

To things kick things off my own Mama Mona let me in her kitchen…with her…at the same time…THIS…ACTUALLY…HAPPENED…PEOPLE! As we touched on in an earlier post Mama Mona is a bit of a lone wolf when it comes to cooking. She likes to just do things her way and I get it. My parent’s ended up with a daughter that spent most of her 20’s referring to Chef Boyardee as her personal chef. My mom did show me how to make a grilled cheese so that’s how the “The Jessie Special” was born. Any can of Chef Boyardee and 2 grilled cheese sandwiches can be dinner for 2 and takes about 7 minutes to get on the table. My mom’s specialty dish is much more elaborate and iconic than mine. She has been making lasagna for about as long as I can remember. She said that she first started making it not long after she got married. My Dad liked Italian food and nobody in her family really made it so she looked up a recipe in a cookbook and took a crack at it. Well we’re all glad that she did! Mom would always have one ready for when guest came over or when we had a lot of people to feed at one time. They are a great dish to assemble, freeze whole, and bake as needed. These types of dishes are right up my alley! I love having something that puts a good homemade dish on the table without having to actually cook after a long day at work. It helps decrease our reliance on “The Jessie Special”.

I’m going to list the ingredients and directions exactly as Mama Mona did it. I will give you the warning right now that my parent’s house has 2 full fridges and 2 giant freezers so the Bentley’s have zero concern with food storage space. For those of us without all of that luxurious space may want to adjust the ingredients or (even better) share the cheesy, gooey wealth and pass a tray on to someone who could use it!

Mama Mona’s Lasagna
serves a small army

Granddaddy* sized Aluminum Baking Trays (2-3)

Large Mixing Bowls (2- one for cheese filling, one for meat sauce)

Lasagna noodles (2 boxes)

Ricotta (2- 3 lb. tubs)

Mozzarella , shredded ( 2- 32 oz. bags, reserve 1 cup for topping)

Parmesan, shredded (4 oz. bag)

Pasta Sauce (2- 67 oz. jars of traditional AND 2- 24 oz. jars of a flavor of your preference, reserve about a cup for lining your trays)

Italian Seasoning (Bentley’s are McCormick loyal but whatever you have is fine)

Ground Beef (6 lbs.)

Ingredients

We seriously used all of those items!

Instructions

  • Boil water for noodles, about a tbsp. oil to keep the noodles from sticking and a few shakes of salt and  pepper, and cook per box al dente instructions (had to be cooked in 2 batches)
  • Once the noodles are done cooking run them under cold water so they do not continue cooking
  • Brown & drain ground beef (this needed to be cooked in 2 large pots there was so much meat)
    Pots

    Those are some industrial pots to cook two boxes of noodles and 6 lbs. of meat!

    noodles

    SO.MANY.NOODLES.

  • Dump ground beef into a bowl once it’s done cooking and mix
    Meat Sauce

    Meat Sauce (with a little ricotta cheese)

 

So far so good!

So far so good!

While the noodles and ground beef are cooking  you can make the cheese filling

  • In mixing bowl dump 1 tub of ricotta, ½ bag of mozzarella, and ½ bag of parmesan then mix with hands. (I tried to avoid it but there is no spoon strong enough for this much cheese!)
  • Once that is fully incorporated then add the second tub of ricotta, rest of mozzarella (minus the cup you’ve set aside), and the rest of the parmesan and mix
    Cheese Filling

    This is where the real magic is!

  • Assemble! You can layer it up the way that you like but Mona recommends doing a double layer of noodles as the base.  Her tried and true method is noodle, meat sauce, cheese mix, noodles, meat sauce, and heavy sprinkle of the reserved mozzarella cheese and a few shakes of Italian seasoning
    Assemble

    Now it’s time to build these mofo’s!

  • Mona’s lasagna only had two layers of noodles due to the cheese, and meat sauce layers being so thick so adjust per personal preference
    Assemble

    Is there such thing as too much sauce?

    Assemble

    Everything is lined up, now it’s time to get your hands dirty!

    Assemble

    *Mona tip- If there’s any leftover meat sauce use it as spaghetti sauce for dinner and just freeze the lasagna’s for later.

    Assemble

    Cheese, cheese, and more cheese!

  • You can either wrap the whole tray with saran wrap and aluminum foil and freeze or loosely cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour remove foil for last 10 minutes to ensure that the cheese topping melts
    unbaked lasagna

    Either wrap it for the freezer or throw this bad boy in the oven!

  • I found my mini pan to be so dense that it took about 50 minutes at 350 degrees. For a large tray I would maybe set the timer for an hour and evaluate if it needs to be baked for longer. For the big trays that we used I would think that they would take about 90 minutes based on how long my mini pan took.
Baked Lasagna

Never complete without a slice of garlic bread!

I hope that you guys get a chance to make Mama Mona’s lasagna. It was fun to finally learn how to make this myself. There are some great cooking sessions lined up for “Y’all Come Eat Now”.  I’m so excited to get into the kitchen with so many cool people! If you have a dish that you’d like to share and teach me how to cook let me know in the comment section below! The dishes do not need to have multi-generational tradition. Even if it’s a dish that you taught yourself and is important to you then I’d love to hear about it.

*Granddaddy is an actual measurement in my family. It’s a nice way of saying “big ass, ginormous, huge, el gigante”…you get the idea.

*Bonus recipe!
Jessie’s Garlic Bread

In a small bowl spoon about ½ tsp (more if you’re a bold person!) of chopped garlic and about 3 tablespoons of butter and microwave to melt. Brush melted butter on any available bread that you have and sprinkle with italian seasoning and bake for about 3-4 minutes as the lasagna finishes up then broil for about a minute once you take out the lasagna…keep an eye on it!!