Eatin' at the Fair
By Lori Grossman
It's that time of year when the kids are back in school, the Dallas Cowboys are back on the football field, and you can forget about your diet for a day or two. Yes, it's time to go visit that mecca of gastronomic delights – the State Fair of Texas.
The State Fair of Texas is the largest in the United States. Ever since it was first held in Dallas in , it has attracted large crowds every year, if the weather is good. There's lots to see, do, and eat! Fair officials proudly claim that the fair is the "Fried Food Capital of Texas," so if you're counting calories and watching your cholesterol intake, you'll have to eat sensibly either before or after that one glorious day of gluttony.
Before I let you in on the secret to making some of your own fried treats, here are some State Fair history highlights.
Funnel CakesA cherished tradition and my favorite fair or festival snack!
In a large pot, heat oil to 375°F. Pour batter into a funnel, keeping tip of funnel closed. Hold funnel over hot oil and put tip of a finger over funnel's spout. Remove finger and allow batter to drop into oil (about 1/4 cup of batter at a time). Make swirls from the center out in a circular shape.
Deep-fry cake until golden brown, turning once. Remove cake from oil and drain on paper toweling. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and serve warm. Repeat process with remaining batter. Yield varies depending on the size of the funnel cakes.
Keep that deep-fryer going. Here's where we get into some more recent fair food innovations. If Elvis hadn't left the building, he would have loved these!
Deep-Fried OreosThe success depends on the batter, which insulates the fried object from direct contact with the hot oil. If the batter is done right, it will become an edible shell and protect the cookie inside.
While oil is heating, set up a cookie sheet with paper towels, so that the fried cookies can drain.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir water into buttermilk pancake mix with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. As soon as batter is smooth, dip each cookie, one at a time, into batter. Smooth batter, making a thin coat completely around the cookie.
Place coated cookie carefully into hot oil. Repeat for each cookie. Fry on both sides, turning over once until golden brown. They cook fast, so watch closely to make sure they don't burn. Remove fried cookie from hot oil with metal tongs and drain on paper towels. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Let cool slightly (about 2 minutes) before serving. Makes 14.
Fried TwinkiesOur favorite school lunchbox treat, complete with a dipping sauce.
Heat the 4 cups of vegetable oil in a deep fryer to about 375°F. In one bowl, mix together milk, vinegar, and oil. In a large mixing bowl, blend flour, baking powder, and salt.
Whisk wet ingredients into dry and continue mixing until smooth. Refrigerate batter while the oil heats.
Push stick into Twinkie lengthwise, leaving about 2 inches to use as a handle. Dust with flour and dip into the batter. Rotate the Twinkie until the batter covers the entire cake.
Place carefully in the hot oil. The Twinkie will float, so hold it under with tongs to make sure it browns evenly. It should turn golden in 3 to 4 minutes. Depending on the size of your deep fryer, you may be able to fry only one at a time, or two at the most.
Remove Twinkie to paper towels and let drain. Remove stick and allow Twinkie to sit for about 5 minutes before serving. Fry the rest of the Twinkies the same way. Makes 6.
Variation: Slice Twinkie into 4 pieces. Flour and batter each before frying. This way, one Twinkie will serve 2 people.
Berry Dipping Sauce
You can always check out what you are missing at the official website for the State Fair of Texas.
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