Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sopapillas, the weather, & NKOTB {The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight & Cook-Off}

Temperatures in the 60's are the temps I enjoy most.  I feel revitalized, energetic, and refreshed.  Not too hot.  Not too cold.  Just right.  Which I actually find kind of ironic, because as a "kid", I loved sun and heat.  My parents would have to pry me away from the pool.  I spent my days slathering coconut-scented Hawaiian Tropic dark tanning oil on my body and dousing my hair with Sun In.  Or lemon juice and water if I didn't have any.  Radio on...six songs on my back and then flip...six songs on my front.  Then diving into the pool for some swim time.  Repeat.  Occasionally hop out to use the loo or eat an ear of corn or a bowl of BooBerry Cereal.  Looking back, I do get nostalgic, but I don't wish for 80 and 90 degree days like I used to.  Unless we one day magically acquire a pool.  Then I may have to compromise.  But until then, my older self relishes in the 60°'s. 
So, with that air of rejuvenation buzzing through my body and every window in the house thrown open wide (causing everybody else to grab blankets, sweatshirts, and socks...pshaw), it's only logical that music and cooking should ensue.  And I'm feeling like a little New Kids.  Or should I call them by their "grown-up" name, NKOTB?  Whatever.  One of the thing's that sun-goddess-me and withers-in-the-heat-me can agree on. Music.  I've always had, what we'll call, eclectic taste in music.  Just as I saw no reason that New Kids on the Block, Poison, Led Zeppelin, Cinderella, Kenny Loggins, Alabama, and The Fresh Prince couldn't share space in my precariously teetering tower of cassette tapes, I see no reason NKOTB, Dave Matthews, Godsmack, Ella Fitzgerald, Rusted Root, Grupo Cañaveral, and Jason Mraz can't share space in my MP3 player.  If it gets me "there"...it's good with me.  Plus...ummm...Donnie Wahlberg.  Yeah.  Only got sexier.  I have a story about how I conned my mom into bringing me to my first New Kids concert.  3 hours away.  After I bought the tickets.  But I'll save that for another day.

Anyway, though it doesn't really seem like much of a point now, the temps were in the 60's yesterday...my windows were all open...NKOTB and I were singing loud enough for the neighbors to hear...and I was making Sopapillas.  That's pretty much the formula for a fabulous day.  Really, you can't go wrong with fried dough.  One bite (followed by ten more) into a soft, chewy, warm, puffy triangle of fried dough, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and dripping with honey was enough to make the whole fam dam "overlook" my madness.  Even though that's one of the reasons they love me.  I'm sure of it.
Sopapillas
slightly adapted from The Homesick Texan Cookbook
yield: 24

dough:
1 Tbs. yeast
1½ c. warm water
4 c. all-purpose flour + more for kneading
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 Tbs. kosher salt
1 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted

vegetable oil, for frying

for serving:
sugar
cinnamon
honey

Combine yeast with warm water.  Let sit for five minutes, or until the yeast has dissolved and starts to look "creamy".  Combine flour, sugar, and salt.  Add those along with the melted (and slightly cooled) butter to the bowl.  Mix until well combined (I use a wooden spoon until it's mostly mixed, then switch to my hands).  Turn out onto your work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 2-3 minutes.  Grease a bowl, place your dough in, cover and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, ~1 hr.
Punch dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Roll or pat it out into a rectangle that is about 12 inches by 9 inches.  Cut into 12 equal squares (~3" each).  Cut each square diagonally so that you have 24 triangles.  I used a pizza cutter to do this, but I think that a bench scraper or knife would work just fine, as well.

Pour about 1½" oil into a deep-sided pan.  Lisa suggests using 3", but since the cooking time is so quick, and they rise to the surface almost immediately, I decided not to use that much.  Plus, that was all the oil I had.  Plus-plus, my pan isn't that deep.  An inch and a half was plenty.  Heat to ~350° F (which in my book, is until the oil is shimmery and you can see some ripples under the surface...and when you dip the corner of the dough in, it will start to bubble rapidly).  Fry a couple of triangles of dough at a time, for ~45 seconds to 1 minute per side.  The dough will puff when it hits the oil.  Carefully lift the fried dough out of the oil with a skimmer (or something like it) and place on a tray that has been lined with paper towels.  Repeat until all of the dough has been fried.
Combine equal amounts of cinnamon and sugar (or go more of one or the other, if you prefer).  Sprinkle them over the fried puffs of dough while still warm.  Serve warm with honey for dipping.
What are you waiting for?  Go make a batch.  I'll be here when you get back.  Listening to "My Favorite Girl" and "I'll Be Loving You Forever".  Maybe practicing my "The Right Stuff" dance moves.  Not that I need the practice.  I mean, I've been doing them for 22 or 23 years now....
*This post is part of The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted (right here!) at girlichef*




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