It all started with Julia Child, who else?
What I mean to say is, when it was finally my turn to pick a book for our book club, I picked Julie and Julia. You may remember that I then hosted a Saturday book club brunch, complete with three of Julia's recipes. And that's how it started.
For me at least, I like to tie things together. Sure, I could have just had a few random snacks for the ladies, but to me, it was more meaningful, and more FUN, to have a Julia-would-be-proud brunch. So that's how it started.
However, when it came time to choose my next book for book club, the choice wasn't because of any kind of food-related notion. I chose it because my dad told me Water for Elephants is one of the best books he's ever read. And that was enough for me. Naturally, then, the book club meeting needed (for me) to have a theme.
And the theme for the book club meeting? Well, Water for Elephants is largely about a circus. It is indeed a great book, so engaging and interesting and well-researched, it really makes you feel like you're part of the circus. There you have it.
Circus = caramel corn (check, stay tuned!)
This particular circus = lemonade (check again)
Circus = FUNNEL CAKES!!
Also, for this month's Taste & Create, I was paired with Carol of No Reason Needed. Searching for a recipe of hers to make, guess what I found?
That's right, Funnel Cakes! She got her recipe from Moms Who Think, but added the water to get the batter to the right consistency.
I'm taking one small leap: I'm going to make the batter ahead of time, refrigerate it overnight and then transport it an hour to make the cakes at my friend's house so they're nice and fresh and warm. (It works for crepes, why not funnel cakes?) She's letting me use her house to host the book club since we had to reschedule at the last minute because we ran out of propane on an arctic cold Thanksgiving night and the propane guy won't come until next Monday at the earliest. Whew. I mean Brrrrr.
*If you STILL haven't heard of Taste & Create? It's the best monthly food blog event around, in which bloggers are paired up and must create a dish from their partner's blog. It is fun, can expand your cooking horizons, and can be as challenging as you make it. My friend Nicole, of For the Love of Food, created it, and if you haven't yet participated, what are you waiting for??*
So, the funnel cake batter worked fine being made ahead of time! This is great news. The only issue I ran into was that I had chosen a funnel with a hole that was too small--next time I will use a bigger funnel. But the cakes turned out great, and ended up cooking about 2 minutes total. I made a double batch, so I did need to add more oil in the middle of cooking (and then wait for it to heat up), but no big deal.
Jenny helped me, and sprinkled half of the cakes with powdered sugar, half with cinnamon sugar. Lovely! Served with Caramel Corn and Lemonade (if you read the book, you'll know why it HAD to be lemonade!)
2/3 cup milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup water
1. In a deep skillet, heat about two cups of oil over medium-high heat until hot. Test the temperature by dropping a pinch of flour into the hot oil. If it sizzles right away without smoking, it's perfect.
2. Beat egg and milk. Mix all other ingredients in a separate bowl and slowly add to the egg mixture, beating until smooth. (I tried to mix this by hand, but ended up pulling out my mixer to get the batter smooth).
3. Using a funnel, drop into hot oil working from center outwards in a web pattern. (You can use a gallon sized freezer bag instead of a funnel by pouring the batter into the bag, snipping off a small corner of it, and squeezing the batter into the oil.)
4. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, turning occasionally, remove from the oil when golden brown and crispy.
5. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar and serve.