Monday, December 10, 2007
The apartment still smells fried, and I assume it will for the next few days. My body is saturated with the after effects of consuming a diet of about 75% oily carbohydrates this weekend, but ‘tis the season, right? Hanukkah is our festival of crispy goodness. What perfect timing, seeing as how I have my final wedding dress fitting this coming Saturday in Florida. Whatever, I’ll take an extra kickboxing class this week and call it even. A bride that doesn’t like to eat is a lame bride.
We continued our holiday party-hosting with a Hanukkah bash on Saturday night.
Snacks from Sahadi’s, including roasted, unsalted cashews (the BEST—the ones from Sahadi’s are huge and slightly sweet with the perfect texture), honey roasted peanuts, jumbo Greek olives, Jeff’s white bean dip (a tasty blend of Trader Joe’s olive oil, cannelini beans, rosemary, pepper, and salt), and Bulgarian feta cheese.
I think I like to host dinner parties so I get use out of the registry gifts we’ve received over the past year. I know Jeff was annoyed when I registered for 12 white ramekins from Crate &Barrel (6 small and 6 medium! What if I want to make mini soufflés!? Or what if I want to serve pudding to my guests, or dainty servings of ice cream?), but look how perfect they are for serving pre-meal munchies. Leave the hosting to me, buddy, you stick with the latke making.
Next, Jeff fried up some lamb meatballs, with mint, tzatziki sauce, and more of the Bulgarian feta. Simple and hearty. I will eat lamb any which way and will always love it. Hmm, that sounds evil, but I can't apologize. Discovering my love for lamb over the past few years has meant a whole new menu section to explore and love.
Next came the star of the event – the latkes with homemade applesauce. Jeff makes his latkes on the thin, crispy side, which I how I prefer mine. See how the thin bits of potato get all brown and flaky?
As people snatch their latkes off the plate, they leave behind a pile of crunchy strips, which I definitely make it my business to grab.
As for homemade applesauce, how incredibly easy. It’s not like I ever purchase applesauce, but that’s largely because it’s way too sweet and a tad oddly textured for me. Is it a dessert? A side dish? I’d rather have an apple and call it a day.
This recipe, courtesy of Mario Batali via Serious Eats, took all of 10 minutes, once the pesky apple peeling and coring business was finished. Take 8 apples, peel ‘em (annoying), core’em, and slice ‘em into 6 wedges (tres easy to do with my new, handy-dandy apple corer/slicer). Toss the slices into a big pot with two cinnamon sticks, the zest from one lemon, and 1/4 cup of orange juice. Stir, and walk away. Return 10 minutes later to find apple sauce. No joke. Just give the whole mess a big stir, and realize that you never need to buy a jar of Mott’s again. Maybe it’s mental, but something always feels cloyingly sweet about ANY kind of jarred or canned product—even when there appears to be no additives at all. Just make it yourself and feel all high and mighty – it’s tasty and it’s good for the soul.
Finally, my frying time came for dessert. We eschewed jelly doughnuts because Jeff doesn’t really like them and they seemed too daunting, anyway. Wouldn’t the insertion of jelly involve a pastry bag of some sort? Who has time for such fussiness?
Then we saw a few fritter recipes—mostly chocolate and apple—and hopped on that train. But what kind would be the most appealing? Out of nowhere, Jeff thought of banana fritters, which made me immediately giddy. Mmm, the fried exterior yielding to the soft, warm, creamy banana interior. And then I’d make a warm chocolate sauce for dipping! Yes, that’s what I would do!
I Googled around and found that with banana fritters, you can go the Jamaican route (simpler, only dough and banana) or the Thai route (the addition of sesame seeds and sometimes nuts). I wanted the former, so I took this recipe and substituted only banana (and then 2 bananas more than the recipe calls for) in place of the pineapple.
This was my first time frying, and I’m not proud to say that I might have burned a few fritters and ruined one of our news pans in the process. The blackened fritters still tasted yummy (exactly what I wanted—a crisp exterior with a doughy, banana-y interior!), and the pan might be fine after a good, hard scrubbing. See, I figured if you’re going to fry, you need your oil as HOT as possible. So I left the oil on high heat the whole time, which Jeff promptly corrected when we walked over after the smoke detector went off. Turns out things will fry even on medium-high heat, and will even turn brown, not black. Lesson learned.
The wine, friends, and family flowed and good was consumed by all. Next stop, New Year’s. Peppermint hot chocolate, anyone?