The Setting: A chilly fall day.
The Soundtrack: Gilmore Girls.
On the Stovetop: Piping hot peanut oil for frying up some Homemade Corndogs.
Steaming up the Oven: Crème Brulee, broiler style (I don't have a torch).
The Scenario: Making a surprise dinner of Hoosband's favorite treats to celebrate business-school midterms!
I'm the kind of person who likes to do big, themey dinners: fried chicken with all the Southern fixins, French or Italian feasts...things that go together, that make sense.
But tonight I wanted to celebrate Hoosband's progress in business school by making a few of his favorite things: corndogs, salad, and crème brulee.
And I have to admit...I kind of love the nonsensical nature of it all.
Back in Florida, before there was a bun in my oven, we had a bit of a Sunday ritual.
We never found a church to call home, so we spent Sunday mornings at the scenic and surprisingly serene shotgun range.
Midday was a bite of lunch, any housekeeping or errands leftover from Saturday, and often a bit of bread-baking.
Afternoon was yoga.
We liked to joke that out of all the people who went to the range in the morning or yoga in the afternoon, we were likely the only ones whose day included both.
This dinner reminds me a little of that.
Out of all the people dining tonight on corndogs or desserting on crème brulee, we are likely the only ones whose menu includes both.
I guess the theme tonight could simply be Bifecta.
Corndogs and crème brulee.
That is how we roll.
peanut oil for frying
8-12 hotdogs ( I like to cut them in half to make mini-dogs)
1 cup flour, plus a little for sprinkling
1 1/3 cup cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp turmeric (helps make the batter nice and yellow, plus, I like it)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 cup milk
popsicle sticks or wooden skewers (I use skewers and break them in half)
Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Set aside.
Skewer the dogs and sprinkle them with flour (this helps the batter stick).
Heat a depth of about 3 inches of oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or frying pan with tall sides.
Meanwhile, whisk together the dry ingredients.
Whisk together milk and eggs, and whisk this mixture into the dry ingredients.
Pour the batter into a tall glass or jar.
Test the oil with a small droplet of batter. If the droplet sinks to the bottom and sizzles very minimally, the oil is too cold; if it sizzles violently and quickly burns, the oil is too hot. The droplet should sizzle, brown slowly, and float to the top if the oil is ready.
When the oil is ready, start dunking and frying your dogs! Fry in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. The dogs are done when they are puffy and golden on all sides. Use heatproof tongs to carefully remove dogs from oil and place on prepared baking sheet to absorb any excess oil.
Season leftover batter with a little extra salt, and drop by spoonfuls into the hot oil to make corn fritters (you could also add sauteed onion and celery to make some pretty tasty hushpuppies).
Leftover fritters and corndogs can be stored in the fridge for up to a week and reheated for 15 minutes in a 350-degree-F oven.
2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp spiced rum (I prefer Sailor Jerry's--if you've never tried it, you really should)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Place 4 crème brulee ramekins in a roasting pan, and pour water into the pan so that it comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins (you can place a damp kitchen towel under the ramekins to keep them from sliding around if desired).
Place heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium-to-med-low heat.
Split vanilla bean, scrape out seeds, add seeds and pod to the cream, and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat, cool slightly, and remove pods.
In a quart-sized Pyrex measuring cup or bowl, whisk together egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt.
As you continue to whisk, slowly stream in the warm cream, bringing up the temperature of the yolks gradually so they do not start to scramble.
Whisk the rum into the yolk and cream mixture, and evenly distribute the mixture among the prepared ramekins. Bake at 300 degrees F for 40 minutes or till just set.
Cool completely and chill, covered, in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to a week.
Preheat the broiler. Place ramekins on a baking sheet. Sprinkle 1 T sugar over each ramekin.
Watching closely, broil just till sugar melts and begins to brown--do not walk away!
This method usually heats up the custard more than I'd like, but it creates a great brulee. So if you are torchless like me, it'll certainly do the trick.