Like a less wholesome version of Sesame Street, this post is brought to you by the colour brown. Why brown? Because brown is the hue of tastiness. See also: gravy, Jack Daniels, crispy chicken skin, 10 year Scotch and the thin bits on croissants. I seem to have mash liquor on that list twice; oh well, nevermind. I made a whole slew of delicious things with the intention of photographing and writing about them, and belatedly realised they all happened to be a very similar shade of brown and thus were going to be bloody hard to make look desirable and visually appealing. Rather than attempting to solve this [admittedly not huge] problem, I’m just going to roll with it.
Churros are Spanish doughnuts which are made long and thin, and are classically served with dulce de leche or dipped in thickened hot chocolate. At breakfast time. There’s nothing objectionable about any of those concepts, but caramelised white chocolate ganache is definitely worth a try. It is especially worthwhile if, like me, you are one of the generation of New Zealanders who lived in the halcyon days of Cadbury Caramilk bars, and were then dealt the crushing blow of having them suddenly and cruelly taken away from us. Oh, what is life? This event clearly had an untoward effect on me, but it turns out that the mysterious and lovely Caramilk bar is just white chocolate that’s been in the oven, and you can do it with minimal effort at home. I also made a little dukkah-esque mixture of sweet toasted nuts with cinnamon, vanilla and fancy shredded coconut, because I thought it would be tasty. And it WAS. read more…
One of the most timeless and enduring truths of food is the joy evoked by the sharing of it. The act of sharing adds an intangible value to food; where at first it might have nourished and comforted just one person, it effortlessly extends those life-affirming feelings to another by the merest, most humble action. For a short time, more than one soul is drawing from the very same pool of energy. Its all a wee bit magical. You can’t achieve that kind of magic with a $20 iTunes gift card, yo. But sometimes this ephemeral, wondrous element of the human experience has to be cast aside in favour of ensuring one’s own survival. Either that or you just really don’t wanna effing share. read more…
The first time I had apple fritters was in New Orleans Square at Disneyland, while a woman presumably dressed as some kind of voodoo queen was singing a jazz song about jambalaya right next to me whilst throwing Mardi Gras beads around everyones’ necks. As awesome as that sounds, the fritters were in fact horrid, much like most of the food we had in Disneyland. One hotdog I ate there even had me vomiting in a lavishly Alice in Wonderland-themed bathroom stall. That was right after we rode the teacups, however, but I will continue to blame it on the hotdog and not the fact that I’d worked myself into a state of such frenzied over-excitement that I literally made myself ill. The only comestible I remember actually enjoying was a churro (that was life-changer; we bought our own deep-fryer purely so we could make churros at home).
But I digress…back to the topic at hand, that being apple fritters which aren’t terrible. Prone as I am to having odd ideas based on experiences I’ve had, I was thinking the other day about my extensive career as a tempura batter-maker at the restaurant I used to work at. My designated station was the deep-fryer; when I told my parents all about my new job this was the gist of the conversation: “I make the batter and cook the blue cod, the spring rolls and the scallops. And also the fries and onion rings.” “Oh, so you’re working in a fish n’ chip shop? Good one.” One thing I did learn from working there was that tempura is hands-down the best kind of batter because it is so light and crispy without being greasy, so I made a sweet version of it for my fritters. I haven’t tried it myself, but presumably you could recreate this recipe with any similarly starchy fruit like bananas or pears.
- 40g / 1/3 C Cornflour
- 50g / 1/3 C Soft flour
- 1 tsp Baking soda
- 1 Tbsp Icing sugar
- Bottle of lemonade
- 1 Large green apple
- Extra flour for dipping
- Cinnamon sugar for rolling
- Peel and slice the apple into wedges. You’d get about 16 wedges out of one apple. Use a green apple if possible because their flesh tends to stay quite firm when cooked.
- Put your cornflour, flour, baking soda and icing sugar into a bowl.
- While whisking, gradually pour in just enough lemonade (from a freshly opened bottle; you want it to be really fizzy) so that you have a smooth batter that is flowing but still fairly thick.
- Heat your deep-fryer to 180ºC and set up a dish with a paper towel in the base, to put the cooked fritters into.
- Dip each apple wedge in a thin dusting of flour, then into the batter. The batter should coat and cling easily to the apple but some of it will drip off. Just use your hands because it is seriously too much of a pain to try and use tongs or anything.
- Put the wedges into the deep fryer and cook them until they are golden, flipping them so that each side cooks evenly as it floats in the oil.
- When your fritters are all cooked and drained, roll them in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.
Serve the hot fritters with custard or caramel sauce to dip them in.
Friands, made mostly out of ground almonds, rise into a moist, dense cake by way of including whipped egg whites in the batter, which make them a good go-to recipe for me because I inevitably have a lot of egg whites sitting around waiting to be used, and at least some form of frozen berry or tinned fruit stashed away to top them with. This weekend I conveniently happened not to have either of those things but still went ahead and made friands, being in a rush to go to my Dad’s place for Fathers’ Day and not wishing to turn up empty-handed.You might wonder why I did not just think ahead a little and have something organised prior to the morning-of, but sometimes I just abandon all sense and leave things up to chance, uncomfortably close to the moment of reckoning. My final wedding dress fitting springs to mind as I write this…
So, to get to the point of this mundane little tale, I did happen to have some walnuts and thus used them as the defining feature of these particular friands. And having tried them, I don’t think I’ll go back to using any old fruit or berries I can lay hands on (at least not until I run out of those walnuts), because the crunchy, toasted nuts on top were in perfect contrast with the sweet, spongy cake aspect, and the maple caramel that I liberally doused them with soaked in around the edges and went all sticky and delicious as the friands cooled down. My favourite part of a friand is this wee halo of chewy, crisp, cake that they get around their top edge, and coated in caramel this was elevated to even greater levels. read more