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by Danica Waters / image courtesy of www.unwinnable.com
Traditionally, any yam served in my childhood home during the month of November was baked, mashed with butter, cream, a wee bit of salt and brown sugar, and covered with mounds of fluffy marshmallows that were subsequently broiled until nearly black and gooey on top. Come to think of it, the only time we actually ate yams back then was during the month of November.
Upon having children of my own and deciding early on there was no way I was going to feed my babies processed baby nasty-food, I did some research into the nutritional merits of these terrific tubers. It seems they have a far lower glycemic index than regular potatoes. They also happen to be packed with potassium, manganese, vitamin C and vitamin B3 while registering low on the sodium counter. Best of all, kids actually like to eat them with little or no negotiation, marshmallows or no marshmallows. I started serving them regularly to the whole family as a tasty side that could double as homemade baby food. Two birds with one stone? That’s how I roll! Baked in their skins with a dash of butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, or cut up and oven-roasted, yams are delicious and appear on my household menus at least once a week.
However tasty the good old fashioned yam might happen to be all by itself, the holidays call for something a bit more elegant, more celebratory. This is it. From the Heritage of Southern Cooking, author (and southern cooking guru) Camille Glenn has this to say:
” This is the Deep South way with yams or sweet potatoes. It seems to always show up with the Thanksgiving turkey, but it is just as compatible with a good ham or chicken. Do not peel either the potatoes or the orange. If you don’t have a luscious rich sauce, you have been too cautious with the butter.”
Amen. Be sure to slice the oranges as thin as possible – if you have a mandoline slicer, use it, but if not, just be sure to cut the slices super-thin. Use real butter, and for heaven’s sake, listen to Ms. Glenn! Don’t be shy! It’s the holidays, after all. This dish is excellent served with Green Beans Sauteed With Olive Oil; the citrus overtones keep the palate fresh and thoroughly entertained.
Alabama Yams With Oranges
(Heritage of Southern Cooking, by Camille Glenn)
6 yams or sweet potatoes, fully cooked and cooled (I bake mine for approximately 30 minutes at 400 degrees – the yam shouldn’t be too mushy, but it should be cooked to the point that it can be easily sliced)
3 navel oranges, thinly sliced
1/2 to 3/4 C (1 to –1/2 sticks) butter
3/4 C sugar
1 C fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel and slice the cooked sweet potatoes very thin and place one layer in a shallow buttered baking dish. Top with a layer of orange slices. Dot generously with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Continue layering. You should have 3 layers, ending with a layer of potatoes, butter, and topping it off with sugar.
Mix the orange juice with the lemon juice and pour it over the potatoes.
Bake until a pleasant syrup has formed and the top is tinged with brown.
Serves 6 – 8
Posted November 9th, 2011. Add a comment
by Danica Waters
Having grown up under the influence of heavy-duty Southern Sensibilities and then steeped in the sweet civility of British living once or twice, I must admit that I have come to truly appreciate the merits of a good pound cake. While most folks shudder at the thought of what a pound cake can do to a diet, I personally feel better if I’ve got three or four of them tucked away in my freezer for gift giving and emergencies. And tea.
My Nana was famous for handing out pound cakes to visitors. It was just what she did. The mailman came with packages during the summer and received pound cake and lemonade to go. Mothers would come to pick up their kids after a play date, and they, too, received some version of a delectable pound cake. A cake walk or a bake sale at the school? Yep. Pound cake. She always spoke to the fact that a good pound cake went with everything, was admired by everyone, remained virtually indestructible during transport, and always showed up looking good at a party. While that sounds more like a great travel garment than something you’d eat, go figure; I now find myself collecting great pound cake recipes, baking them in wee tiny pans and putting them away for gift giving, emergencies, and yes, afternoon tea.
This is a lighter version of a pound cake I found on Martha Stewart’s website. It could easily be made with any type of jam, but is completely smashing with a fresh blackberry swirl. As a footnote, I chose to leave my blackberries crushed but not pureed, and the result was fantastic. Super easy to make ahead and freeze, this is a great way to get a head-start on the holiday season.
Marbled Blackberry Pound Cake
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
6 ounces blackberries (1 1/3 cups)
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 5-by-9-inch loaf pan and line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; butter parchment. In a food processor, puree blackberries with 2 tablespoons sugar. (Or, for a more rustic texture, simply crush blackberries and combine with sugar.) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat to combine, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Transfer half the batter to pan and dot with 1/2 cup blackberry puree. Repeat with remaining batter and puree. With a skewer or thin-bladed knife, swirl batter and puree together. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours. Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 30 minutes. Lift cake out of pan and place on a serving plate; let cool completely before slicing.
Posted October 11th, 2011. Add a comment
by Danica Waters – photo courtesy of Martha Stewart. com
Taking advantage of the last glorious wave of the blackberry season, I happened across this delicious-sounding libation on Martha Stewart’s website. As pretty to look at as it is to taste, I had to share.
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Simple Syrup
1 1/4 ounces vodka
In a glass, combine blackberries, lemon juice, and simple syrup; lightly crush berries to release their juice. Add ice and vodka; top with seltzer. Stir to combine. Garnish with a mint sprig.
by Danica Waters (photo courtesy of mexicanrecipebox.com)
Another back-to-school failsafe in my freezer is the trusty enchilada. I have lots of different kinds to choose from: enchiladas with green sauce, enchiladas with red sauce, chicken enchiladas, you name it. This recipe is one of my all-time favorites; while it serves a crowd with ease, it can be easily split between smaller casserole pans and frozen for later use. Simply thaw in the refrigerator overnight and pop it in the oven when you get home from work. Serve with Spanish-style rice and a salad for an easy meal that doesn’t taste easy.
Spinach and Black Bean Enchiladas
Serves 8 – 10
4 poblano peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 – 16 oz can pinto beans, drained
1 – 6 oz bag fresh baby spinach
2 – 15 oz cans black beans, drained
1 – 14.5 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1 – 8oz package cream cheese, softened
1 – 10 oz can enchilada sauce
1 C sour cream
30 – 6 inch corn tortillas, torn into 2 inch pieces
1/2 C Oaxaca cheese
2 C shredded Monterrey Jack and Colby Cheeses, blended
Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place peppers, cut side down, on prepared baking sheet. Broil 5 inches from heat, for 8 – 10 minutes, or until skins are charred. Place hot peppers in a zip-top resealable plastic bag, seal bag. Let stand for 10 minutes. Remove peppers from bag, and peel off charred skin, discarding skin. Finely chop peppers.
In a large bowl, combine peppers, beans, tomatoes, cream cheese, sour cream, and spinach.
Reduce oven temperature to 350?. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Spread half of pepper mixture evenly over tortillas. Pour half of enchilada sauce evenly over pepper mixture. Sprinkle evenly with half of cheeses. Repeat layers, beginning with pepper mixture and ending with cheeses. Bake for 35- 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
by Danica Waters
This is one of the most fantastic and truly unusual cakes I’ve ever made. Having contemplated this recipe again and again over the last five years or so, I finally decided that an occasion such as my daughter’s 23rd birthday would warrant the labor involved. Honestly, the cake turned out to be surprisingly easy to make; it was just very different from anything I’d done before.
The recipe was created by the late Camille Glenn (Queen of Southern Cuisine) when she catered debutante parties and weddings in Louisville. The passage that hooked me can be found in her cookbook The Heritage of Southern Cooking, where she writes:
“This cake holds a secret all to itself – a magical formula that will fool you. The texture is unusually moist, tender, and diaphanous. This delicacy in contrast to the elusive, rich frosting sets the cake apart. It is a gala occasion cake. In fact, if the occasion is not gala, the cake will make it so. You’ll see.”
She was right. It’s almost like an ethereal combination of an angel food cake and a pound cake; it’s light as a feather but incredibly moist like a sponge cake.
With this recipe, Camille provides two options for frosting the cake; one is a bit heavier on the Cointreau, and the other is more a classic buttercream. I chose the first option and it was wonderful. I must advise, however, that the frosting is very strong, and is actually better when allowed to rest overnight in the refrigerator. The resting time not only allowed the sharpness of the Cointreau to mellow a bit, it also seemed to enhance the overall texture of the cake.
Camille Glenn’s Golden Cointreau Cake
(from the Heritage of Southern Cooking)
8 large eggs
1-1/2 C sugar
1/3 C fresh orange juice
1 C all purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp Cointreau
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cream of tartar
Cointreau Frosting or Classic Buttercream with Cointreau (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Separate the eggs. Put the yolks in one large mixing bowl and the whites in another large mixing bowl.
Beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until they have thickened and are smooth. Beat in the sugar slowly, then continue beating until the mixture turns a lighter shade of yellow and is smooth. Add the orange juice and blend thoroughly.
Measure the flour, then sift it twice. Sprinkle the sifted flour over the egg yolk mixture and gently fold it in by hand with a whisk or a rubber spatula, or with the electric mixer on a very low speed. Fold in the Cointreau and vanilla.
Add the salt to the egg whites and beat until they begin to turn white and foamy. Add the cream of tartar, and continue to beat until the egg whites hold a stiff peak but are not dry and grainy, about 4 minutes more.
Fold a few spoonfuls of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it. Then add the remaining egg whites to the batter, gently folding them in.
Spoon the batter into a 10 x 4-1/2 inch angel food cake pan (a tube pan with a removable bottom) The pan should be no more than three quarters full.
Place the cake pan on the middle shelf of the oven and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, or until the cake springs back at once when lightly touched, about 1-1/4 hours.
Remove the cake from the oven, turn it upside down on the tube pan legs, and allow it to rest overnight before frosting.
Loosen the cake with a thin sharp knife, and unmold it. Put the cake on a plate or on a flat surface covered with wax paper or foil. Spread the frosting over the cake.
Cointreau Frosting (*** I used this frosting***)
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2-3/4 C confectioner’s sugar sifted
1/8 tsp salt
1 large egg yolk
6-8 Tbsp Cointreau or more as needed
Put the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the confectioners’ sugar and salt. Beat well with an electric mixer. Add the egg yolk, then slowly add 6 Tbsp of the Cointreau. Continue to beat the frosting until it is smooth, thick, and pliable, 3 minutes. Add more Cointreau as needed; it usually takes 8 Tbsp. This frosting must be thick.
Frost the cake generously in a swirl design. Allow the frosting to firm for 30 minutes, then lift the cake to a serving platter. Keep cake refrigerated.
Classic Buttercream with Cointreau
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
5 large egg yolks
2/3 C sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt, or to taste
5 Tbsp cold water
3 Tbsp Cointreau
Cream the butter until it is light and smooth; set aside.
Beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until they have doubled in bulk, 3 minutes.
Combine the sugar, cream of tartar, salt, and water ini a heavy saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook over medium heat until the syrup spins a thread when it falls from a wooden spoon or until a candy thermometer registers 235-236 degrees F. (If the syrup is not cooked to this point, the frosting will never firm up.)
Immediately pour the hot syrup in a steady stream into the egg yolks, beating constantly. Continue to beat until the mixture has cooled, 15 – 20 minutes.
Add the butter to the yolk mixture a tablespoonful at a time. If the frosting should look curdled while you are adding the butter, place the frosting over hot (not boiling) water and beat vigorously until it is smooth again. Add the Cointreau and mix thoroughly. If necessary, chill the frosting until it has a good spreading consistency, 35-45 minutes.
Frost the cake generously in a beautiful swirling design, and then keep the cake refrigerated.
by Danica Waters
I love strong Southwestern flavors – especially when it’s hot outside. And boy, let me tell you, it’s been hot for the last few days. Rummaging through my recipe collection for ANYTHING that wouldn’t require me to turn on the oven, I re-discovered this yummy summer salad I clipped from a Martha Stewart magazine years ago. It has a Southwestern flare to it that makes it unbeatable for hot evenings; accompanied by Southwestern Corn Cakes, it’s the perfect summer meal. While the tequila in the marinade/dressing is optional, I highly recommend including it because it adds terrific dimension and depth to the overall flavor.
Mixed Greens with Grilled Chicken and Citrus Salsa
¼ c plus 1Tbsp fresh lime juice
¼ C plus 1 Tbsp olive oil
2 jalapeno peppers,1 thinly sliced, 1 diced
4 boneless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat and skin.
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 dashes tequila (optional)
1 navel orange, peeled, sectioned, and cut into ¼ inch pieces.
1 small pink grapefruit, peeled, sectioned, and cut into ¼ -inch pieces
4 scallions, thinly sliced
10 yellow and red cherry tomatoes, seeded and diced
Grated zests of ½ orange an ½ lime
¼ C fresh cilantro, chopped
4 tomatillos, diced
4 handfuls of mesclun or other mixed greens
In a shallow bowl, combine the jalapeno slices with the ¼ c each of the lime juice and olive oil. Rub chicken with salt and pepper, add to marinade. Add a dash of tequila, if using. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine the citrus fruit, scallions, tomatoes, remaining lime juice and olive oil, zests, salt and pepper, diced jalapeno, cilantro, tomatillos, and remaining tequila. Set aside.
Remove chicken from marinade. Cook on hot grill for about 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Remove from the grill and let stand for 5 minutes.
Divide the greens among four plates. Slice the chicken, and arrange it on top of greens. Spoon salsa over each salad, and serve immediately.
by Danica Waters, photo courtesy of chefchloe.com
While most men I know would fall all over themselves for a huge plate of Texas Barbeque Short Ribs, an ever-increasing number of men are choosing a different dietary path. And while I’ve got a ton more information forthcoming for the carnivorous crowd, I’m gonna’ strike a little balance and give our vegetarians some tasty options this Father’s Day.
I know a lot of vegetarian/vegan recipes fall short on the flavor meter, but these little vegetarian burgers are to die for. The miniature-sized “Sliders” make a great buffet selection; they’re easy to eat and impressive to look at, too! While the little burgers require a bit more work, the “Slider” is a great way to help the weight-conscious eat healthy and control their portion size without feeling like they’re missing out on any of the fun!
Adapted from a recipe I found on a fantastic vegan website created by a 22-year old named Chef Chloe, these little baby bean ‘burguesas are outstanding served with my Spicy Oven- Fried Sweet Potatoes (recipe coming later this week). Here’s to all the vegetarian/vegan dads out there! Enjoy!
Black Bean “Sliders” With Spicy Mango Puree and Guacamole
For the “Sliders”:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1- 14-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small carrot, finely diced or shredded (about ½ cup)
1/2 C fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob
1/4 C fresh red pepper, finely diced
½ cup cornmeal
½ cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 tsp whole cumin seed, or more to taste
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ bunch cilantro, chopped
¼ cup water or more as needed
- In a large skillet, sauté onions in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat until tender and slightly caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add chili powder & cumin seed to the onions during the last five minutes of cooking, to open up the flavors.
- In a large bowl of a food processor set to “pulse” (or use a large spoon or your hands) mash together beans, carrots, cornmeal, breadcrumbs, salt, cilantro, ¼ cup water, and caramelized onions with spices. Don’t over-process; there should be some texture to the mixture, rather than being reduced to puree. If mixture is too dry to hold together, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Using your hands, form mini burger patties that match the size of your miniature slider rolls.
- In a large non-stick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium/high heat and fry patties. Let each patty get browned and slightly crisp on each side before flipping (about 3 minutes on each side). Add more olive oil to skillet as you continue to fry more patties. When finished, remove patties to a large baking sheet covered with paper towel to drain.
- Make your condiments:
Spicy Mango Puree
1 mango, peeled and cut
½ cup sun dried tomatoes, whole or sliced
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar, but any kind will do)
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3 ripe Haas avocados, halved, pitted, and peeled
½ lime, juiced
¼ cup purchased salsa fresca
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
by Danica Waters
June gloom is fully upon us here in Southern California. While the rest of you are enjoying the sun during your first days of summer break, here in L.A. all is gray-gray-gray, and a thick, chunky mist permeates the air. But I’m not complaining. The garden loves it… I love it, because it gives me a mid-season opportunity to occupy my kitchen without wilting in the summer heat. And I can make soup.
This is one of my favorite springtime soups. It’s not a heavy winter-weight soup; the ingredients are simple and very calming. The recipe comes from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks by the late Southern chef and author Camille Glen. Here’s what she has to say: “This is one of the best of family soups. Flavorful, nourishing, and easy for a nervous day. Parsley is essential to delicious potato soup. Don’t change the proportions. They are perfect.” Indeed they are.
Old Fashioned Potato Soup
The Heritage of Southern Cooking
4 C diced peeled potatoes
½ C chopped celery
½ C chopped onion
1 quart water
3 C milk
2 Tbsp butter
8 sprigs parsley, leaves chopped from stems, stems crushed and set aside
1-1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
Place the potatoes, celery, onion, and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are soft but not mushy, about 30 minutes. Drain, or allow the water to reduce until almost gone.
Add the milk, butter, parsley stems, salt and white pepper to taste.
Allow the soup to simmer, uncovered, for the flavors to blend, 8 – 10 minutes. Remove the parsley stems; taste for salt. Stir in the chopped parsley leaves.
NOTE: Potato soup should not be allowed to boil hard after the milk is added or it will curdle. Also, Camille Glenn recommends using whole milk instead of low-fat milk. I use low-fat and the results are still outstanding, though not as rich.
This is wonderful served with Spinach, Red Pepper, and Feta Quiche!
Posted June 9th, 2011. 1 comment
by Danica Waters
I’ll never for get walking into a grocery store in a mid-sized Midwestern town with the intent of purchasing a Jicama root. The produce manager stared at me blankly and asked, “Pardon me, ma’am, but what the heck is a Jicama?” Given that this happened a few years ago, and I haven’t been back since, I remain hopeful that the lowly Jicama has made its way onto produce shelves across America. It is something everybody needs to know about.
Indigenous to Mexico and locally referred to as “Mexican Turnip”, the Jicama Root can be found at the base of the Jicama Vine. Composed of nearly 90% water, Jicama root gets its mildly sweet flavor from something called “oligofructose inulin”, which is really, really good for you: it is a prebiotic that improves digestion, enhances mineral absorption, and even strengthens your immune system! While it’s not terribly pretty at first glance, once the brown exterior is gently peeled off, the remaining color is a lovely, refreshing pearlescent-white. Cut into “sticks”, it partners well with both fruit and vegetable platters, and is a hit with kids of all ages. Note: although Jicama is fantastic served cold, you should not refrigerate the root prior to cutting it. Stored at room temperatures, it can keep, unopened, for up to a month.
This salad is simply fantastic. That’s all I can say. Although I found the recipe in an old Christmas issue of Paula Deen’s, I usually serve it when it’s too darn hot outside to even think about cooking. It’s also great with chopped cooked chicken (use the same marinade) if you can’t get your hands on some shrimp… And of course, vegetarians simply need to omit the meat… Enjoy!
Mixed Green Salad with Seared Shrimp, Oranges, Jicama, and Avocado
2/3 C vegetable oil
½ C fresh lime juice
¼ C honey
2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
36 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails left on)
2 tsp olive oil
2 (5 oz) bags spring mix
4 radishes, thinly sliced
2 oranges, sectioned
2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
1 C peeled 1-inch matchstick jicama
In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, lime juice, honey, cilantro, salt, and pepper.
Place shrimp in a large zip-top resealable plastic bag. Pour half of oil mixture over shrimp. Seal bag, and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium – high heat.
Remove shrimp from marinade, discarding marinade. Cook shrimp, for 1-2 minutes per side, or until pink and firm. Remove from pan, cover, and keep warm.
Divide spring mix evenly between 12 salad plates. Arrange radishes, oranges, avocado and jicama evenly over spring mix. Top each salad with 3 shrimp. Drizzle with remaining oil mixture.
by Danica Waters
Ahhh… Just in time for Cinco de Mayo and the onset of lots of summertime bashes, this is party food at its finest. Adapted from a recipe I found a few years back in a Christmas issue of Paula Deen’s, these egg-rolls are an over- the- top crowd-pleaser. They are easy on the host(ess), as well; you can make the egg rolls ahead of time and reheat them to perfection before serving. Because deep-frying is a bit time consuming, I try to make a few batches at a time and freeze them for use later on. Easily served with minimal muss and fuss, they feed a crowd as an appetizer or several folks as an entree, and they taste absolutely DIVINE.
Chicken and Black Bean Egg Rolls
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
3 C chopped cooked chicken (thighs work well)
1 ear fresh corn, kernels cut from the cob
1 – 15-oz can black beans, drained
1 small can green chiles
1 C salsa verde
3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
3 tsp chili powder (I used green chile powder, but red will work fine)
2 tsp whole cumin seed
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
1 C shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
1 C shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 – 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
2 – 16 oz packages egg roll wrappers
Oil for frying (Peanut oil recommended)
Salsa and Sour Cream for garnish (Optional)
In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add onion, and cook until softened and translucent. Add cumin seed and cook about a minute to infuse the flavors. Add chicken, corn kernels, black beans, cilantro, green chiles, chili powder, and red pepper; cook, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add cheeses and cream cheese and stir til melted and thoroughly combined.
Spoon about 3 Tbsp chicken mixture into the center of each egg roll wrapper. Fold the top corner of each wrapper over filling, tucking the tip under filling. Fold left and right corners over filling, and lightly brush remaining corner with water. Roll filled end towards remaining corner, and gently press to seal.
In a large Dutch oven or deep fat fryer, pour oil to a depth of 4 inches. Heat over medium heat to 350 degrees F. Fry egg rolls, in batches, 5-6 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with your choice of salsas and sour cream.
Note: To reheat after freezing, simply place egg rolls on baking sheet in a 350 degree F oven for 15 – 20 minutes, turning once, or until they’re crispy.