Monday, March 22, 2010

Hush puppies and other deep-fryer adventures

Sorry for being AWOL this weekend. I spent Saturday lounging around La Jolla Beach (I know, life is hard in sunny SoCal, isn't it?) and I couldn't be bothered to do any real cooking this weekend since we had a fridge full of leftovers that needed to be eaten.

I did, however, bust out the deep fryer for its inaugural whirl. I bought a small countertop deep fryer some months ago, whereupon it sat in the pantry until I could remember to pick up a three-gallon bottle of vegetable oil at Sam's. Hard to fry things without enough oil. It worked great--no mess, no splatter, just deep-fried goodness. I'll be utilizing it on a fairly regular basis, I think (but don't worry, I'll mainly be using it for fun garnishes like fried collard greens and fried sage. My diet isn't very fry-heavy.).

The first thing I tried were beignets, the official breakfast of New Orleans. Well, maybe not, but they should be. Beignets are little square French doughnuts, served coated with powdered sugar. I had a couple of boxes of beignet mix, courtesy of my last visit to the Big Easy. They didn't poof up as much as I would have liked, but I think I just overworked the dough a little. Still entirely servicable and very delicious. Probably still better than pan-frying them would have been.

Next, I tried hush puppies. I made them with stone-ground blue cornmeal I picked up in New Mexico last summer, so they turned out a very fun shade of blue (ignore the picture; it's hard to find stock images of blue hush puppies). The hush puppies were the win, and I discovered that served with sweet chili Thai dipping sauce, they make a very fine lunch.

2 cups cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup water
1 beaten egg
1 cup finely chopped onion

Mix the dry ingredients together, then add the milk and water. Mix, then add the egg and onion. Drop by spoonfuls into 375-degree oil and fry for approximately two minutes on each side, flipping them to ensure even browning.

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