Yesterday, I attempted another recipe that I had marked off: The jalapeño goat cheese hush puppies. I hesitated to make this recipe because of my fear of frying. I am just not very good at it. Even pan frying can end in disaster or at least an oily soggy mess (like the time I attempted sweet potato latkes which ended up mostly greasy and uncooked inside—yikes!). Nonetheless, I faced my fears and decided it was time to get frying because, as the saying goes: "Practice makes perfect!"
The recipe calls for cornmeal. I had a bag of "semolina #2" in my pantry but was unsure if this qualified as cornmeal.
So, I emailed Bon Appétit to find out. I got a response within a day (very prompt!) from Leslie Anne Wiggins with an explanation that what I needed to use was stone ground cornmeal, not semolina. She also provided me with a link to an example of a product I could use. Sadly, we don't carry the brand in Quebec, so I went to the grocery store to see what I could find. My options were "semolina #2," (which I already had a bag of) and "maïs moulu moyen" (which somehow translates to coarse cornmeal? Ummm.... no! Is it coarse or medium grind people?), which is what I ended up purchasing.
|Bottom photo: The 2 corn meals|
Top spoon: Maïs moulu moyen
Bottom spoon: Sémoule #2
|Top: Perfect hush puppies|
Bottom: Not-so-perfect hush puppies made with a batter that was too loose to fry
By the way, I used cherry peppers instead of jalapeño. I find the jalapeño peppers that we get in Quebec just aren't very spicy. So I opted for a pepper with more kick. According to IGA, a jalapeño is a 2 (not very spicy) on a scale from 1 to 8, while the cherry pepper is a medium spiced pepper, scoring a 5 on the scale (for reference, a habanero is an 8—use with caution!). The hush puppies were crisp on the outside and light on the inside. Not at all oily (SUCCESS! Look Mom, I can fry! I can fry!). The key is to use a thermometer so that you can monitor the temperature of the hot oil to make sure that it is hot enough before dropping dollops of batter in it. Also, I only fried 3 or 4 hush puppies at a time so that the oil temperature would remain constant.
Here's my recipe, tweaked from the original:
Cherry pepper and goat cheese hush puppies
Makes ~18 (depending how big your dollops of batter are)
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 cup semolina #2
- 1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons beaten egg
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped seeded cherry pepper
- 4 ounces coarsely crumbled soft fresh goat cheese (about 1 cup)
- Lots and lots of canola oil (for deep-frying)
- Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
- Whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and pepper in another bowl.
- Add the goat cheese to the dry ingredients, along with the wet ingredients.
- Preheat a medium–large saucepan, filled half way with canola oil, to 350°F.
- Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into the hot oil (carefully!). If the batter is too loose and spreads in the oil, add a sprinkling of semolina #2 to the bowl of batter to tighten it up.
- Fry about 3–4 hush puppies at a time.
- Fry them for about 3 or 4 minutes, until they are golden brown. Make sure to turn them a couple times as they fry to be sure that they are evenly cooked.
- Serve for breakfast with coffee!