Jul 19, 2009

Fair Food Night!

I love the fair. Wait. I love the food at the fair. I actually hate everything else about the fair; the rides, the heat, the kids puking on the rides, the smell of animal crap, the crowds, the walking, the parking and walking....yup, it's official, I hate everything about the fair except the food. The fried food in particular. But at home, I very rarely fry anything. It took me a long time to break those artery clogging inbred habits of my southern predecessors. (not that I don't have plenty other unhealthy habits) There are some exceptions of course and this usually happens in the summertime. Fried green tomatoes, an occassional batch of doughnuts, and then there's what's become our annual "fair food nite". So for one night, our entire meal is fried up in a big vat o' grease. Usually we do it in August (state fair time) but this year I had it early. Yup, it was like Christmas in July! I really REALLY had a hankerin' for pork tenderloins, but opted for our usual corndogs with onion rings on the side and elephant ears for dessert. (the staple dessert being funnel cakes, close, but different than elephant ears) Besides, I now have an 18 year old that is vegetarian, so I thought I'd ruin her otherwise healthy diet with some corndogs, veggie corn dogs that is. Hey, I'm a good mom, what can I say? BTW, That's her on the top right, when she was 4. Yes, at the fair, with her elephant ear that was obviously bigger than her head. Ain't she sweet? (well she used to be anyway! HA!)Now my baby's all grown up, going off to college. The last of 3 girls. YIPPIE, er uhm, I mean....awwwwweeeee (sniff sniff, sad face. what? not convincing enough?)

Ok, let's get on with it. Corndogs. I've tried several recipes over the years and stumbled upon these last year (sorry, can't remember where, otherwise I'd give due credit)..."Indiana Style Corndogs", how fitting, right?

Indiana Style Corn Dogs

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon onion powder
Dash of pepper
1 cup evaporated milk
1 egg, beaten
12-14 hot dogs
12-14 skewers
corn starch for dusting
vegetable oil or shortening for deep frying

You want to get your hotdogs ready before you mix the batter. This is so the baking powder doesn't loose it's "umph" too soon. Dry off hot dogs with a paper towel. Dust with corn starch and rub off excess. This will help the batter stick to the dogs.

Skewer hot dogs with wooden skewers (I used bamboo sticks, cut down to size, but you could also use popsicle sticks); set aside. If you let the hotdogs come to room temp the frying time is quicker and much more even.

In bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl beat the egg with the milk (I just do this in a measuring cup). Add to the dry mixture and whisk quickly.

Coat dogs with batter by laying in and twirling in the mix, a flat whisk is helpful. Or, pour mixture into tall glass and dip hot dogs until coated. (kind of messy but it does work better) me, I do it the "hard" way. LOL The goal is to get the batter even, if you don't your dogs will not "spin" over in the oil and cook evenly.

Gently lower corndogs into hot oil. Deep-fry at 375 degrees F until golden brown (about 2-4 minutes). I can usually fit about 4 dogs in my pot. I wouldn't do more than that anyway, else you may lower the temp of the oil/grease. Drain on paper towels or rack (I used a rack and lined it with parchment paper). Here's a tip: If you're doing veggie dogs, fry them seperately and mark the skewer with a marker when you pull them out so that you can later identify them. BTW, the vegetarian reports that she couldn't detect a difference with the "veggie corndogs".

The original recipe said that it would make 10 corndogs. I was actually able to coat 12 dogs with this batch of batter with enough for probably 2 more. (In all fairness, I made the coating a bit thin). One more tip: keep dogs warm on a parchment lined cookie sheet in the oven set at 170F while you finish the batch and so they'll stay warm while you make the onion rings.

On to the onion rings. Now, at first glance, this recipe my seem a bit too simplistic, but just trust me, it packs a lot of flavor! I've used seasoned salt, and I've use Old Bay seasoning, both are equally good. Now, I haven't tried it with any other kind of beer except for bud light (a staple in our house) but I could totally see a dark stout tasting awesome.

Beer Battered Onion Rings

1 quart vegetable oil or shortening for frying
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 dash seasoned salt (or Old Bay seasoning)
1 dash ground black pepper
1 cup beer
4 medium sweet onions (I use Vadelia or yellow)

Slice onions and separate rings. Set aside to dry. I just put mine in a plastic colander. If you allow them to air dry a bit, the batter sticks to the rings better.

Meanwhile, in a large stock pot, heat oil to 375 F.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, seasoned salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine. Wait until your oil is hot and ready, then quickly pour the beer into the dry ingredients. You don't want to do this too soon or else you'll loose the bubbles in your beer. Whisk quickly until smooth.

Dredge onion slices in the batter, until evenly coated. I usually do half of them at a time so that they all get evenly coated. Lower rings into the oil, one at a time so they don't get stuck together and they'll brown more evenely. Fry in the hot oil until golden brown. This may take several minutes, depends on how thick your slices are. Also, don't try to crowd too many in, you want room enough for them to "swim" LOL Once brown, drain on paper towels, or a rack.

Now for my favorite part of the meal.....the Elephant Ears! Now although I did these last and a couple of hours after dinner, know that the dough has to rise for about 30 minutes, so plan accordingly. I used a recipe from bakespace, that happened to be from one of my beloved friends who is no longer with us, Marlene (aka queenietwo). For her original recipe on bakespace, click here. Parts of the recipe seemed a bit odd to me, but I had grown to trust Marlene's recipes, so, as I do for most dough recipes, I followed it as it was written (well, almost), but I probably will change a few things next time. There WILL be a next time. ;) If you don't know what elephant ears are, they're like a flat, fried (of course) doughnut, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Best eaten warm and they are a staple at most state fairs. (at least, here in the midwest)

Elephant Ears

1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/3 cup shortening
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 quart oil for frying
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons white sugar

Combine milk, salt, 2 Tbsp of sugar, and shortening and heat until shortening is melted. Ok, the original recipe calls for 3/8 C shortening (why?) I just used 1/3 C, close enough and easier to measure. In fact, the only thing I'd change about this recipe the next time is to use maybe only 2-3 Tbsp of shortening, I thought the 1/3 C was a little heavy. The other thing is, she heated hers on a stove (might have been an older recipe, I dunno) I just heated it in the microwave until the shortening was melted. Let that cool to lukewarm. (no less than 110F, you'll need it warm enough for the yeast to rise)Sprinkle yeast over mixture and let dissolve. Give it a little stir.

Next, mix in the flour, all at once. It may be a bit difficult at first, but it does come together. I just mixed it as much as I could then I turned it out onto my cutting board and kneaded it until smooth. Cover it with a towel and let it rest and rise for about 30 min. Here's something else I would have changed. I think next time I'll rub just a bit of shortening on the outside, it did crust over a bit. (ok, I know better) While you're waiting, mix the 3 Tbsp of cinnamon and 6 Tbsp of sugar in a small bowl and set aside. Once the dough has rested, divide it into 2 inch sized balls (a little smaller than a baseball) It really depends on how big your pot is. It took me a few before I got the hang of it. Next, roll them out with a rolling pin and just stack them to the side. I got about 5 or 6 pretty good sized ones out of this recipe.

Once you have them all rolled out, lower one into the hot oil. (I think mine was about 375F) It only takes a few minutes for one side to brown, then, flip it over using tongs or a wide metal spatula. When it's evenly browned, take it out and again, drain on paper towels or a rack. Immediately, while it is hot, sprinkle on the cinnamon and sugar mixture with a spoon (be sure to flip it over and get both sides!)

So there you have it...heart attack on a plate! (for reals) Fry responsibly...too much of a good thing is BAAAAAAAD. ;)

To Marlene....still missin' ya girl, I think of you often. Rest well my friend.


Samara said...

Oh my! It all looks so good! I'll have to try the corn dogs especially. My sweetheart loves them!

Babette said...

Hi DD - We all miss Marlene. :)

Michele said...

Sounds like so much fun! My mom never did things like this but it would have been so cool! I never heard of elephant ears before. I bet they are tasty!

Culinary Alchemist said...

Awesome!!!! I am gonna have to try the elephant ears... I haven't had a good one since the Oregon State Fair back in 1985... (Did I just age myself?) Here's to Marlene! Thanks for sharing this DD... Like I said before, AWESOME!!

Bob said...

Want to know something funny? I've never been to a fair. Not my scene. But I do love deep fried food! That all looks fantastic, I've always wanted to try a corndog.

Danielle said...

Fair food scares me (the stuff AT the fair LOL) but I'd eat YOUR fair food anytime! YUM!!! Im gonna have to fry up some stuff this weekend.

That is the cutest picture!! So, did she eat the whole thing all by her little self? LOL

ok..this is funny...you know those "word verification" things we have to type in? mine is bellysin!! what are they trying to tell me? (insert BS shock face)