Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sweetbreads and Fried Beer and Free Books, Oh My!

In keeping with my recent guilty-pleasure theme--and because apparently I have little life beyond the DVR--I've decided to reveal yet another of my favorites.  I've recently discovered cooking competition shows and I've found they're as addictive as… well… food.  I've been following Top Chef: Texas, just finished watching The Next Iron Chef and I try to catch all the cake/cupcake bake-offs whenever possible.  But I have to admit that Chopped is probably my current favorite.  In case you haven't tuned in before, this show features four chefs competing to create culinary masterpieces from a basket of sometimes bizarre ingredients in thirty minutes or less.  The three rounds—appetizer, entrée, and dessert—are critiqued by four notable chef judges who are charged with sampling the food then chopping one competitor each round until they're down to the final two.   The winner walks away with ten grand and the title Chopped Champion, as well as the knowledge that apples and anchovies can exist harmoniously in a pound cake.       

But does it walk off the table
 when you're done?
Now I personally can't peel potatoes in thirty minutes or less, so I'm totally enthralled watching what could prove to be a disaster if the contestants don't get it right, or on the plate, right or wrong.  Not to mention, I don’t recognize half the ingredients most of the time.  Who cooks with rose water anyway?  Someone who doesn't mind if their buffalo tenderloin tastes like body lotion?  I'm not even sure I'd want to pick up a blue-foot chicken—with the feet still attached—much less prepare it.

Maybe it's just my lack of sophistication.  After all, I cut my teeth on good Southern cookin' in my youth.  My grandmother's motto:  if you got it, fry it.  Apparently that motto still applies at the State Fair of Texas as I've been told you can find everything from fried beer to fried butter.  Fried butter?  If you think that should  earn a citation from the saturated fat police, think again.  Every year they give the Big Tex Choice Award   selected from a list of top fried food finalists.  Fried bubblegum made that list this past year.  Yum! Not.

I'm proud to report that my palate has developed over the years and I no longer limit my options.  I've exchanged standard box mac and cheese for the kind with creamy Velveeta.  I've graduated from iceberg lettuce to romaine.  I purchase shredded parmesan as opposed to the ground-up kind.  Oh, and I've learned about béchamel, thanks to my oldest daughter, who happens to be a chef.  I don't know what to do with it, but I know what it is.  Sort of.  But regardless of what's cooking on whatever show I'm watching, whether it be cupcakes or cod, I always come away with two undeniable reactions—hunger, and the urge to hire a personal chef who'll work for free books.

Speaking of those free books... I'll be giving away two sets of the first two Delta Secrets books—The One She Left Behind and The Son He Never Knew.  In order to enter, just leave a comment about your favorite food, your favorite food show or a food you'd like to see fried.  Winners will be selected in a random draw by the end of the week.  And if you have a spare minute, be sure to cast your vote in the new poll located in the upper right hand corner.

Happy Tuesday, and  bon appétit!  Which in Texas translates as, Enjoy that fried baloney, ya hear?



Playground Monitor said...

There's a little town about an hour or so north of me called Bell Buckle, Tennessee. Each June they host the RC and Moon Pie Festival. And yep, they have fried Moon Pies.

My favorite food? Gotta be bread. Hot from the oven (or in my case, the bread machine) and slathered in real butter with maybe some homemade apple or peach butter too. I'm a carb junkie but I've tried to make my carbs whole grain now.

Did you ever fry day-old biscuits? My grandma used to do that. She'd split them, butter them and "fry" them in a cast iron skillet. I guess she was really just toasting them, but fried biscuits sounded better.


Kristi said...

Yep, Marilyn, my grandmother almost always had a cast iron skillet full of biscuits on the stove when we came to visit--right next to the skillet full of fried baloney.:) My granddad loved moon pies, and he loved my grandmother's fried food, so he would've loved those fried moon pies, bless his heart.:)

Playground Monitor said...

And there was always the can of bacon grease sitting on the stove between the rows of burners, right? I had one, too, for years. Then I decided to stop pouring grease in my body. I can't remember the last piece of fried chicken I had.

Kristi said...

Ah yes, the bacon grease--a little dab will do ya in those collard greens and pinto beans too. My cholesterol just jumped a few points thinking about it.

Playground Monitor said...

All the talk of fried food made me stop by KFC on the way home and get a two-piece meal. But I didn't get gravy on the smashed taters, so that helped offset the fried chicken and biscuit.

Yeah, right.