When in doubt, fry.
I always get a little stressy when Thursday rolls around and I still don’t know what I’m cooking. I know there are bloggers that plan ahead, that have backlogs of posts…I am not among them. So I try to figure things over the weekend so I can take care of the grocery shopping, but sometimes the weekend gets away from me. And then Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday escape me as well, and suddenly it’s 5:45 on a Thursday and I have no plans.
You’d think I’d be better at this after nearly two and a half (seriously? whoa!) years. It’s a sad statement about my ability to think ahead. Although when you think about it, half this blog is a testament to my inabilities, namely to read directions thoroughly and to make macarons. I accept that I will never be able to do either.
Whenever things get too last minute I, for reasons unknown, feel compelled to make dessert, as though making an unknown dessert is somehow less time-consuming or stressful than making an unknown dinner.
I never said these things made sense.
I went to the bookstore at lunch in search of the new David Lebovitz book, but Borders had the gall to be out of stock. THE GALL. So I ended up with Dulce: Desserts in the Latin-American Tradition instead, because I firmly believe that you can never have enough recipes for different flavors of flan. If this book is any indication, you can have dozens.
Which I could have made, but while I was flipping through the book these banana fritters with strawberry-passionfruit dipping sauce caught my eye. Brian loves bananas and I love strawberries and deep-frying and pretty pictures of fried things, so it was a win all around.
Not a win? The bananas, which, as you can imagine, play a starring role. We only had one at home, and do you know how nigh-impossible it is to get a perfectly ripe banana at the grocery store, let alone at my shitty PathMark? I’ll give you a hint: really fucking hard. So I had one overripe banana and two slightly-to-very underripe bananas, and I just had to kiss them up to Jesus and hope that they’d balance each other out.
I mixed up a quick batter of flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, and egg and some warm milk in which yeast and sugar had been dissolved, folded in the bananas and let it sit for 15 or 20 minutes to rise.
While the batter sat, I threw together the sauce. The one redeeming quality of my shitty PathMark – and I really mean the only redeeming quality – is that the freezer section is always well-stocked with Goya tropical fruit purees to meet my passionfruit and mango needs.
The sauce was a bit of risky business, because there’s an alarming crack in the base of my blender and there was no telling if the fruit would actually blend, or whether there would be some kind of blendertastrophe, like in those true-to-life commercials where the stupid husband can’t press the damn button on a damn blender properly and milkshake ends up all over the ceiling fan; and thank god Wife is there with the Brawny.
I don’t like to worry about these kinds of logistical details, so I screwed the bottom on tight, filled the pitcher with berries, puree and sugar, kissed things up to Jesus AGAIN and went to town. As you can see, either my ceiling fan is just fine or I cleaned up really well before I took this picture. If you know me, you know my stance on cleaning and can easily guess the right answer.*
*Answer: I don’t HAVE a ceiling fan. Ha!
The puree went into the fridge to wait, and it was fryin’ time. I assumed; the batter was supposed to have doubled in volume, but I couldn’t really remember how much batter there was to begin with. After a scant FIFTEEN MINUTES of rising. See? Testament to inability. So, for the third time in less than half an hour, I kissed things up to Jesus and scooped tablespoonfuls of batter into the waiting hot oil. AND I DON’T EVEN BELIEVE IN JESUS.
Besides, if he does exist, he’s not worried about my fritters; I think much of his time is taken up assisting professional sports teams win their various championships.
The batter doesn’t make neat little balls, so I ended up with tentacled fritters that look not unlike sea urchins. I had the good sense to use a tiny pot, so I could only make four at a time, necessitating multiple batches.
When my urchins were all done, I heaped them on a platter and covered them with powdered sugar.
I have no problem saying that this, along with some pretzels I munched on when I first got home, is what I had for dinner tonight.
The thing is, there was really no way for this to go wrong. There’s batter, there are bananas, there’s frying and there’s a tangy-sweet, fruity sauce. These fritters could just as easily be served with a chocolate or caramel sauce, which would up the decadence level and make them much heavier; as it is, the banana and passionfruit taste so wonderfully tropical that you forget you’re eating something deep-fried. If there’s one thing I like, it’s junk foods that provide the illusion of good health, and these fritters have that in spades. Of course, these would have been worlds better had all my bananas been fully ripe, but the neighbors on whom we pawned off the leftovers didn’t seem to mind very much. Thanks, neighbors.
I now have a bunch of extra strawberry-passionfruit sauce, which I’m considering thinning out a bit and chucking in the ice cream maker tomorrow night. Two for one! AND I have ten thousand and one recipes for flan, so I almost don’t feel bad that I bought this book instead of Bouchon.