Tag Archives: deep fried food

Weekly Menus: It’s Finally Fall Edition, Week of 10/20/2013

Gentle Readers, wow, what a week. I managed to sit down to eat 3 or 4 actual meals in the span of a week–the rest were food grabbed on the run. Not to downplay the awesome that is Barcelona, but work travel is not the same as leisure travel. Being immersed in a different food culture always makes one think about their own.

Ham and cheese with a side of cafe con leche from Tapa Tapa in Barcelona.

Ham and cheese with a side of cafe con leche from Tapa Tapa in Barcelona.

Barcelona is driven by local, fresh, and reasonable portions. It’s a great concept, and one to which I subscribe. One of the best things I ate all week was this humble croqueta, which was akin to a mildly cheesy chicken pot pie in croquette form. We found it by turning down a side street in a non-touristy neighborhood famed for its cakes. (Guess what in that sentence prompted me to hop off the tour bus.)

My favorite from the week: a chicken, vegetable, and cheese croqueta from El Canalla.

My favorite from the week: a chicken, vegetable, and cheese croqueta from El Canalla.

In a random chance, I also had a rather interesting conversation about sustainable food with someone high up in one of the major international food corporations. We talked about Michael Pollan and the tension between profit and sustainable, especially as pertains to meat. I don’t envy him his job.

Fresh ingredients fill the markets in Barcelona.

Fresh ingredients fill the markets in Barcelona.

But I digress. Look for inspiration from Barcelona appearing in posts for the next few weeks. I respect a culture that is not fussed about diet crazes and every new trend. Barcelona has strong foodways that are built to be flexible and incorporate new traditions. I love that. Visiting always makes me want to go back again.

Eggplant fries with honey and lime from El Canalla. OMG good.

Eggplant fries with honey and lime from El Canalla. OMG good.

Which means my menus for the week are:

Sunday: Leftover surprise
I’ll be eating whatever TPC’s Mom left in my fridge. Surprise! Sometimes, even oatmeal or cereal is enough after traveling.

Monday: Tapas!
Figs and cheese? Tomato bread? Prosciutto and melon? I’m not sure what I’ll combine, but it will be small bites of whatever is in the store.

Fig filled with marscopone and jamon from Cervezeria Catalana.

Fig filled with marscopone and jamon from Cervezeria Catalana.

Tuesday: Spinach Quesadillas and Beans
Simple and direct, one of our favorite easy meals. We’ve got a lot going on this day.

Wednesday: Bratwurst and Pierogie
Just add Brussels sprouts.

Thursday: Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage in Brown Butter Sauce
One of my favorite easy meals courtesy of Trader Joe’s. Served with a green salad, and you’ve got a multi-colored delight for dinner. It’s worth browning some sage in butter–it’s just fun.

Friday: Nachos!
Using up the last of our leftover veggie chili, I’m pouring it over chips, topping it with cheese, and serving it up with a side of guacamole.

Saturday: Deep Fried Everything
This might be our N.C. State Fair Day, and we have a long list of things to eat. Apple fritters, corn, fried okra, and whatever the “it” thing is in deep-fried. We are so ready.

Ironically, I never saw this brand of water in Barcelona, but saw it promptly in NYC upon landing.

Ironically, I never saw this brand of water in Barcelona, but saw it promptly in NYC upon landing.

Have you been to your state fair already? What should we find and consume? No deep-fried goodness too strange. We’ll try it on video even. Post your challenge below!

Farewell Barcelona, see you next time.

Farewell Barcelona, see you next time.

Send your winter squashes, your mad carving skills, and your airline miles to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Weekly Menus

Highlights from the N.C. State Fair: Top 5 List(s) (with video, of course!)

Gentle Readers, what an honor and a privilege it has been serving as your Deep Fried Ambassador at the 2011 N.C. State Fair. It is with a heavy heart, hopefully only metaphorically, that I must relinquish my badge and my parking pass, and return to my kitchen to steam vegetables for the next two weeks. The good news, there are two more days in which to create your own fair memories, so run, don’t walk.

Welcome to the N.C. State Fair Memory Lane, Large Pumpkin Edition

Welcome to the N.C. State Fair Memory Lane, Large Pumpkin Edition

Here are highlights from my journey, broken into two categories: Deep Fried Food and Experiences.

First, let’s roll the tape on 3 of my Top Five Deep Fried Foods:

1. Fried Chicken at Hunnicutt’s. Hot, crispy, peppery, this was a winner. To be fair, polling other people around my table, the fried chicken is the dish to order there. Also consider the veg plate, some of the best field peas I’ve ever eaten. They were like a Southern dal, if Indian cooking utilized pig instead of ghee.

Fried Chicken, Field Peas, and Limas at Hunnicutt's

Fried Chicken, Field Peas, and Limas at Hunnicutt's

2. Barbecue Sandwich at Pik-N-Pig. I would eat this sandwich outside the fairgrounds, and hold it up against top barbecue in the area. If you’re not heading to Lexington today for the BBQ Festival, head to the fair and eat this sandwich.

Pork Barbecue (as if there's more than one in NC) Sandwich from Pik-N-Pig, Winner!

Pork Barbecue (as if there's more than one in NC) Sandwich from Pik-N-Pig, Winner!

3. Fried Okra at Farmer’s Market. Perhaps you’ve noticed, I’m a connoisseur of fried okra. This ranks on my top 5 list. Well battered without being overly heavy, piping hot (it was 10:30 AM, I’m not ashamed to admit), and not slimy (haters), every member of our crew ate this, with the Eldest ranking it on her fave fried list.

Deep Fried Okra from the Farmer's Market Wagon: Group Favorite!

Deep Fried Okra from the Farmer's Market Wagon: Group Favorite!

4. Fried Cheese at Wisconsin Cheese. This should be filed under guilty pleasures. I’m not a ranch fan, but this is quintessential bar food. The crisp was perfect, the cheese was melty, and I almost wanted fries to dip into it. Sick, I know, but a week of deep-fried ambassdorship will do that to a person. I’m sure the other flavors are good too, but I went cheddar both times.

Deep Fried Cheddar Cheese (Yeah, It's That Good)

Deep Fried Cheddar Cheese (Yeah, It's That Good)

5. Deep-Fried Brownie at Chef’s D’Lite. It is worth the hype. Chef’s D’Lite rocks the fried (I had their banana pudding as well), and tends to go with a tasty but heavy coating of batter. They weren’t my top deep-fried Oreo makers, but that thick batter WORKED on a cakey brownie. The cinnamon sprinkled on the top, a perfect counterbalance. I didn’t find this overly sweet, it wasn’t sickening, and I am not a fan of hot brownie sundaes, so this is saying something.

My Fave Deep-Fried Sweet: Deep-Fried Brownie from Chef's D-Lite

My Fave Deep-Fried Sweet: Deep-Fried Brownie from Chef's D-Lite

Now for the highlights reel, including some of my Top 5 Experiences:

1. The People. From the Deep-Fried Crew to last year’s Ambassador (@pretty_swell) to the food vendors to the Food Bank Peeps and the many, many Deep-Fried friends who helped me taste, what an experience. Thanks to one and all, you were amazing and made the experience one to remember. If you’ve been to the fair in the past, and don’t think you belong there, go back and try again. I’m pretty converted and will be back next year.

The Corn Husk Dolls, Because TPC's Jr Want to Share

The Corn Husk Dolls, Because TPC's Jr Want to Share

2. Village of Yesteryear. Speaking of the people, the generosity of these people in explaining their crafts to the Juniors was impressive. These are long hours, a labor of love for many, and non-stop traffic. I learned a lot in the stops we made around the place. Way to go, good job bringing the old into modern times. They weaved and hammered, I tweeted about it. Harmony.

Good Night Ferris Wheel, I'm Still Afraid of Your Magestic Heights

Good Night Ferris Wheel, I'm Still Afraid of Your Magestic Heights

3. Overlarge Vegetables. As a foodie, it’s impossible to resist. The varietals, the beauty, the pageantry, the obscenity of bounty and size, not to be missed.

Gene Simmons Cow refuses to face the camera.

Gene Simmons Cow refuses to face the camera.

4. Animals of All Ages. Not only did I see a cow who looked like Gene Simmons, I got to see baby animals nursing and jumping about, and cows on the runway. Cows define “bucolic” for a reason. I could’ve watched them for hours, like watching the ocean.

Crochet Krispy Kreme Burger, Just Because

Crochet Krispy Kreme Burger, Just Because

5. Prize-Winning Baked Goods, Junior Edition. I root for the up and coming cooks and bakers. Practical Cooks are everywhere, putting their time in at their home kitchens, the next generation to feed us. I salute you.

Deep Fried Ambassador, Amy Lewis (aka The Practical Cook) interviewed by Alyssa Marcus from the North Carolina News Network.

For the new readers, thanks for joining us, I hope you’ll stay for the ride. For my original crew, we’re getting back to a little less deep-fried tomorrow. Thanks to everyone for the kind words, the comments, and the support online and in person. It means more than you know.

The Sun Sets on Another Day at the N.C. State Fair

The Sun Sets on Another Day at the N.C. State Fair

What are your fair highlights? Share them in the comments below, or Tweet with #ncstatefair as the hashtag.

Send your deep fried confessionals and serious, ahem, cooking questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Coming up tomorrow, One Ingredient, Three Ways: Maple Butter.

6 Comments

Filed under Fried, Restaurant Reviews

Low-Cost and No-Cost: The Practical Cook’s Guide to Attending the Fair on a Budget (with video)

The Practical Cook is thrilled to announce that aside from a bit of sunburn (one Gentle Reader referred to TPC’s complexion by way of a popular pork slogan, ahem), yesterday’s adventure with the Juniors went swimmingly. As the Juniors were bankrolling part of their own trip, it’s the perfect time to discuss attending the fair on a budget. Thanks for the Facebook and Twitter questions on the subject as well.

All we are saying, is give @NCPig a chance.

All we are saying, is give @NCPig a chance.

Let it be known, I am The Practical Cook for a good reason. I am Depression-era at heart, and my father could one-up Homer Simpson in his quest for free samples, so these are applied tactics, not just suggestions.

Roll the tape of low-cost ideas and Fried reporting from some thrifty pals, because really, should you put a price tag on world peace?

Number one thing I’ll do differently next year: buy ride tickets in advance. My friend, the wily @convertiblelife taught me that one.

Straight from Mt. Olive to you, that's a lotta pickle for cheap!

Straight from Mt. Olive to you, that's a lotta pickle for cheap!

Low-Cost Fair Activities:

Super Chocolatey Chocolate Peanuts Sampler: Fifty Cents

Super Chocolatey Chocolate Peanuts Sampler: Fifty Cents

  • Food:50 cents gets you a pickle or a sampler size of chocolate-covered peanuts in the Education/Commercial buildings. Well worth it. Ham biscuits are $2 on church row. While we’re on pig, Pork Chop Shop and Pik-N-Pig both do barbecue sammies at a good price, with slaw (see: vegetable). Fudge is also a good choice, because you can buy a little of it, and it’s satisfying.

    Pork Barbecue (as if there's more than one in NC) Sandwich from Pik-N-Pig, Winner!

    Pork Barbecue (as if there's more than one in NC) Sandwich from Pik-N-Pig, Winner!

  • Souvenirs:For little ones, the big hits included origami (cranes or frogs for 25 cents!) and small pottery items ($4 apiece). Another comrade scored a wooden truck for $6. Consider framing a map with a photo for a classic memory.

    Origami for the Win!

    Origami for the Win!

  • Milking: $2 a shot. Not bad for a memorable experience, though I can imagine dairy farmers everywhere who have to get up at o-dark-thirty in all weather must think this is the most ingenious money-making gig ever.

No-Cost Fair Activities:

  • Samples:Hot spots include the Kerr Scott Building (maple butter, peanuts, honey cotton candy, liver pudding—hello, deeply Southern people); fudge shops; Got to be NC Agriculture (Lumpy’s ice cream, peanut butter, BBQ sauces); Commercial Building (maple cotton candy, hush puppies)
    Big vats of fudge, the smell is completely free, and the samples aren't bad either.

    Big vats of fudge, the smell is completely free, and the samples aren't bad either.

    NOTE OF CAUTION: The deliciousness may lead to a purchase. Lumpy and I are on a first-name basis now, and I’ve served the maple butter twice at home with intentions of a whole blog post devoted to it.

  • Shows:Ongoing in Kiddieland and around Heritage Circle. People-watching in one of the quiet spots mentioned yesterday is reality TV without a screen, the human drama unfolding as the day progresses: fresh in the AM, cranky kids in the early afternoon, teenagers teening about at dusk. Check your map for more.

    Cow with Attitude Hoofing the Runway

    Cow with Attitude Hoofing the Runway

  • Animals and Vegetables:Not implying you can walk away with a turkey and a sweet potato, but you can get an eyeful of both in the Expo Center. If you hit one building, go there. Everyone I’ve been with (and that’s 10 people and counting at this point), ranks it as a favorite. If you have more time, cruise over and watch the animal judging, it’s mesmerizing and educational, like the heifer version of America’s Next Top Model (OMG, that cow is so skinnay, like whatever . . .).

    Frankly, my dear, I do love this dress.

    Frankly, my dear, I do love this dress.

  • Craftiness:Obviously, I’m now entering old age (see Depression-era, above) because I can’t get enough of the Village of Yesteryear and the Education/Commercial Buildings. Yesterday we watched candles being made, glass being blown, and origami being folded. It rocked. And the Best in Show dress is complete Scarlet O’Hara (Edu/Comm Bldg). Still trying to empanel myself as a pound cake judge. (Hope springs eternal.)

    Dahlias in Bloom

    Dahlias in Bloom

  • Flowers: No offense to the gardeners of the world, but since my passion is food, I didn’t expect to heart this as much as I did. Seriously, the dahlias were just rocking, and the serenity of the building was supreme. And bonus, small butterfly house inside!

Last but not least, here’s a rough breakdown of average Fried pricing at the N.C. State Fair:

  • Drinks: Around $2-3, more for commemorative mugs and deals with refills; there are water fountains around the grounds, so save your cup and refill
  • Food: $4- 8 (low-end is fries, corn, sides, high-end is  entree, sandwich, etc.), biscuits are the bargain ~$2, portions are large so invest and share
  • Deep-fried:  $4-7, with most being about $5, and you’ll need a village, as there are no single-servings in fried, and I’m yet to meet the person who can eat more than 2 deep-dried Oreos

What deals are you finding at the fair? Share you finds, tips, and tricks in the comments section below, or Tweet using #ncstatefair as the hashtag.

Send requests, telegrams, and queries to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Coming up tomorrow, Deep-Fried Is Fun, Hunger Is Not: Hunger Relief Day at the Fair.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fried, Kitchen Philosophy

Deep-Fried Legends of the Fair: Oreos, Krispy Kreme Burger (with video)

Gentle Readers, the people have spoken. Okay, a few people have spoken, and other people double-dog dared. Today’s dinner adventure at the N.C. State Fair was . . . Deep-Fried Oreos, Krispy Kreme Cheeseburger, and Corn, in that order.

Deep Fried Oreos!

Deep Fried Oreos!

We got them here (on recommendation). Demand them Hot Now, they are infinitely better!

TPC's Deep-Fried Oreo Stand of Choice!

TPC's Deep-Fried Oreo Stand of Choice!

But the true legend has to be the Krispy Kreme Cheeseburger. I admit, I wasn’t up for the challenge yesterday, but hoping for deep-fried culinary diplomatic immunity, I went for it.

Krispy Kreme Cheeseburger: I can't believe I ate that.

Krispy Kreme Cheeseburger: I can't believe I ate that.

This rendition was pretty simple, no toppings at all. I tried it plain, and with ketchup and mustard. All in all, the doughnuts were fresh and tasty, and somewhat overwhelmed the burger. I think it would be better with sausage and cheese, a sort of breakfast hybrid. The problem is the aftermath: sugar crash. I am still somewhat hungry, but with that mildly achy post-Lucky Charms thing going on. Probably wouldn’t eat it again under non-dare circumstances. Would rather just eat a Krispy Kreme right off the conveyor belt.

My Fair Vegetable

My Fair Vegetable

Without further delay, let’s watch the eating of the fried on video, as promised:

Special thanks to @convertiblelife and @pwsoneil for the deep-fried assist, and @charityjen for the Oreo guidance. Have you tried either of the Legends of the Fair? Comment below, or Tweet #ncstatefair !

What else should I try? Email me at practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Tomorrow, we take a Deep-Fried break to discuss Weekly Menus! (Yes, I do cook sometimes.)

3 Comments

Filed under Fried