Iâ€™m not sure I understand the competition to come up with the next best fried thing, and Iâ€™m not here to judge, but every year, when the State Fair of Texas (Sept. 27â€“Oct. 20) announces its list of fried food offerings, my ears perk up. I am excited to know whatâ€™s being tossed into the vat next.
Recipes:Â Corn dogs, fried coke, funnel cakes and more. Try these fair faves at home.
I know it sounds crazy to drink hot chocolate when the temperature is still regularly above 90 degrees. But on a recent trip to Houston, I couldn't resist the chocolate confection with chocolate made in-house from cocoa beans imported from Oaxaca at Hugo's, which serves its frothy cup with fresh, hot Mexican churros. Look for our story on Hugo's and its terrific hot chocolate in the Drink section of the December issue. Until then, do you know of any other spots in Texas that serve amazing hot chocolate?
Hot Chocolate at Hugo's, with ice cream and churros; Photo by Lori Moffatt
Right or wrong, the Freemasons are sometimes stereotyped as a closed group, characterized by secrecy and backroom power brokering. But when you come upon the massive Memorial Masonic Grand Lodge Temple in downtown Waco, it's hard to imagine the fraternal organization as a group of shrinking violets.
When I got to thinking about the concept of sightseeing by bus in Texas, San Antonio was one of the first destinations that came to mind. Not only does San Antonio have a walkable downtown with a dense concentration of tourism sites, its intercity bus-line stops are conveniently located in the city center. Still, I wasn't sure whether it would be practical or enjoyable to take a sightseeing trip by bus and foot. So I decided to give it a shot, purchasing a round-trip ticket between Austin and San Antonio for a 10-hour daytrip.
I recently made the short drive from Austin to Elgin, a town about 25 miles east of the city via US 290. Iâ€™d heard about a new wine bar and home dÃ©cor shop on the townâ€™s historic downtown strip, and I realized: While I frequently pass through Elgin on my way to Houston, Iâ€™d never really explored the town except to stop for barbecue at Southside Market or Meyerâ€™s.
Welcome to the Fried Food Capital of Texas! aka the State Fair of Texas. (Photo/State Fair of Texas)
Youâ€™ve heard the phrase, â€œDonâ€™t try this at home.â€ Well, that warning may also apply to these recipes, but each year it's hard to not be overcome with a mix of disgust, amusement and even a curious craving at the fried offerings of the Texas State Fair. For some, it's THE reason to attend year after year.
"What will they fry next!?" Check out the September 2013 issue and also stay tuned later this month for another blog exploring the menu of this year's State Fair, slated for Sept. 27-Oct. 20.
Til then, we've trolled the sources and made some adjustments, but here are a few recipes for some of the more popular State Fair items over the years.
What's your favorite fried State Fair dish? Do you have a similar fried recipe to share? Please do! Weâ€™ll be glad to share more.
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup flour
- Â¼ tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
- Â¼ tsp. sugar
- 4 tsp. baking powder
- 1 egg
- 1 Â¼ cup milk
- Vegetable oil for frying
- About 16 beef hot dogs (2 packs)
- 16 wooden skewers
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add milk and egg to the bowl and whisk well. Insert skewers into hot dogs, then dip into the batter to cover hot dog completely. Cook battered hot dogs in a large pot of vegetable oil until golden brown.
- 2 ounces cream cheese
- 2 sticks butter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- Â 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- Salt and pepper
- Vegetable oil for frying
Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, cream cheese, salt and pepper (to taste) until smooth. Form small balls of the mixture and arrange on a parchment-paper lined pan, then freeze them. Coat the frozen balls in flour, egg, and then breadcrumbs and freeze again. Fry (oil at 350 degrees) balls for 10 to 15 seconds until just light golden.
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups cola
- Â 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
- Powdered sugar
- Cola syrup
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, and then add the cola and sugar. Blend together the flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly add dry ingredients to cola mixture until batter is smooth. Fry (oil at 375 degrees) small dough balls for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Dust hot coke balls with powdered sugar. Drizzle with cola syrup.
- Â 1 egg
- Â 2/3 cup milk
- Â 2 tablespoons sugar
- Â 1-1/2 cups flour, sifted
- Â 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Â 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- Â Vegetable oil
- Â Confectioners' sugar
Combine beaten egg and milk. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, flour, salt and baking powder together. Slowly add the egg/milk mixture and beat until smooth. Pour batter into a funnel, using finger to keep tip closed. Hold funnel over hot oil (375 degrees), remove finger and allow batter to drop into oil (about 1/4 cup of batter at a time). Build a circular funnel cake starting from the center moving outward. Turn once, and remove from oil when golden brown. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and serve warm. Additional topping suggestions include cinnamon, strawberries, chocolate sauce, etc.
You can also use the funnel cake batter to make Fried Snickers.
- Â Snickers candy bars
- Â Popsicle sticks
- Â Funnel cake batter (see above)
- Â Oil
Insert popsicle sticks into Snickers bar from the bottom about half way up. Freeze Snickers until frozen solid. Dip frozen Snickers in the funnel cake batter. Fry until golden brown. Top with powdered sugar or caramel sauce if desired.
Fried Twinkies The Twinkie went away in November, but a private equity firm took over the Hostess brand after Hostess filed for bankruptcy. Twinkies are back on shelves. But, just in case, Little Debbie Cloud Cakes are apparently Twinkiesâ€™ twin. I personally, donâ€™t like either.
- 6 Twinkies (frozen)
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Strawberry Sauce (recipe follows)
- 4 cups vegetable oil
- Flour for dusting
Freeze Twinkies for several hours or overnight. Combine milk, vinegar and oil. In a separate mixing bowl, blend flour, baking powder and salt. Add wet ingredients into dry mixture and blend until smooth. Dust Twinkie with flour and dip into the batter. Place battered Twinkie into hot oil. Because the Twinkie will float, use a fryer-safe cooking utensil to keep it submerged and cooking evenly. Cook until it reaches a golden brown color.
Dust with powdered sugar. Optional: Strawberry topping.
- Â 1 pint of strawberries
- Â 1/3 cup sugar
Clean and cut strawberries in quarters. Combine strawberries and sugar in a saucepan and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
For the August 2013 print issue of Texas Highways, I wrote about a Madeira tasting, held at Austin's Red Room speakeasy, which featured the wines of Haak Vineyards in Galveston County. Haak is the only Texas winery that makes Madeira a richly flavored fortified wine that is usually produced on the Portuguese islands of Madeira.
Freedom Over Texas, Houston's Fourth of July celebration, includes a huge firworks show over downtown. (Photo by Richard Carson)
From big-name concerts to small-town celebrations, there are plenty ofÂ places to celebrate America's birthday Texas-style this Fourth of July. Here are my top three picks for sure-fire fun this weekend:
The nightlife scene continues to heat up on Austin's Rainey Street, a former residential byway in the shadow of downtown. Transformed in recent years with bars, restaurants, and food trucks, Rainey Street draws crowds interested in craft cocktails, local beers, and food ranging from authentic Oaxacan fare (at El Naranjo) to Indian (at Raj Mahal). And now, Rainey Street boasts Austin's first food truck devoted to Southeast Asian Noodles, DFG Noodles.
Some Texas rivers are running too low for good floating, but a few waterways are flowing well enough for tubing or boating, according to the National Weather Serviceâ€™s Texas River Recreation Advisoryfor this weekend.