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~ Rainy Day Sunday Fun: Deep-Fried Strawberries ~

IMG_8169The weather forecasters have been spot-on this weekend.  It's been raining since Friday and we've been told the skies aren't going to start to clear until Tuesday afternoon.  This means I've had to switch blogging gears from outdoors to indoors for a few days.  Joe suggested we deep-fry some chicken wings for our weekly Mad Men dinner this evening.  I got the deep-fryer off the shelf and filled it with fresh, clean oil while he took the short drive to Sam's Club to pick up a big package of wings.  When he got home, he put the wings on the counter, then placed a 2-pound box of strawberries down beside it.  I giggled when I saw the strawberries and the wings sitting next to the deep-fryer because it conjured up a unique, blast-from-my-past foodie memory:  

Something my mother never taught me!

Be still my heart:  Batter-Dipped, Deep-Fried Strawberries!

IMG_8122I wish I remembered more specifics, but, my encounter with deep-fried strawberries was unplanned, accidental and brief.  It was back in the early 1980's and we were driving through Georgia in a rental car (I was tagging along on one of Joe's business trips) when we started seeing signs for a strawberry festival.  We had some extra time, so we stopped at this street fair full of shady tree-lined streets and lots of friendly people. In the midst of this 'strawberry heaven', I came across a booth with a large gathering of people around it (always a sign that the food this vendor is selling is exceptional).  Five minutes later Joe and I were eating a basket full of batter-dipped, deep-fried strawberries coated in powdered sugar!  

PICT0012May is officially National Strawberry Month, but June is when we start seeing really good ones in our Central Pennsylvania grocery stores and local farmer's markets. The berries Joe brought home today are exceptional:  large, even-sized, firm and sweet.  I just can't resist sharing this off-the-beaten-path (which is how I came across it), out-of-the-ordinary extraordinary recipe with you.  Crispy on the outside, soft and sugary sweet on the inside... the perfect sweet treat for a rainy Sunday afternoon!

IMG_80022  dozen, large, 1 1/2"-2", firm, ripe, not over-ripe, strawberries

1  cup pancake & waffle mix, for dredging

1 1/2  cups pancake & waffle mix, for batter

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 1/4  cups tonic water or club soda, plus up to an additional 1/2 cup (Note:  I like the tangy flavor the quinine in the tonic water adds to the batter.)

IMG_8006corn or peanut oil, for deep-frying

confectioners' sugar, for dusting finished strawberries

freshly whipped cream, for dipping fried berries into (optional)

~ Step 1.  Rinse the berries, pat them dry in paper towels and arrange them in a 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish that has been lined with 3-4 layers of additional paper towels.

IMG_8010~ Step 2.  In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the 1 1/2 cups of pancake mix, sugar and tonic water, until a smooth, drizzly batter is formed.

Set the mixture aside for about 3-5 minutes, to allow the batter to thicken.

Add additional tonic water, only if necessary, until the batter is drizzly again.  How easy was that!

IMG_8025~ Step 3.  Place 1 cup of pancake mix in a small mixing bowl.

IMG_8028Working in batches of 6, raise the leaves up off the surface of each of 6 berries and place a skewar through the center of the hull deep into the center. Dredge in pancake mix, without coating the leaves.  Shake, to allow excess mix to fall back into the bowl.  Note: Keeping the leaves uncoated makes for a prettier end presentation.

IMG_8044 IMG_8043~ Step 4. Dip the first dredged berry into the batter. Once again, give it a shake to allow excess batter to drip back into the bowl. Again, and for the same reason, do not coat the green leaves.  It's time to deep-fry.  Read the following technical (technique) directions (Steps 5 & 6) carefully:

IMG_8075~ Step 5.  Slowly and gently lower the strawberry into the basket of a deep-fryer of oil that has been preheated to 360 degrees according to manufacturer's instructions.  As you batter-dip and add each one, twirl the skewer in your fingertips to swirl the strawberry around in a circle for about 5-6 seconds.  This will result in an even coating on your berries. Close fryer lid and cook all six until golden, about 2 1/2-3 minutes. Remove fry basket from fryer. Using the skewers as handles, transfer berries from fryer to the paper-towel lined baking dish.

IMG_8103~ Step 6.  Repeat this process until all strawberries are deep-fried, removing and reusing the skewers as you go.  While one batch is frying, skewer and dredge another. One-at-a time, dip each berry into the batter just prior to lowering it into the deep-fryer and swirling it in the the oil (as directed above). Repeat this process, working in batches of 6 berries each, until all berries are coated and fried.  Dust each batch of deep-fried strawberries with a light coating of powdered sugar as they come out of the deep-fryer and serve ASAP.

These are like eating strawberry pancakes only with more strawberry than pancake...

... I like them with warm Vermont maple syrup for breakfast or brunch!!!

IMG_8122Rainy Day Sunday Fun:  Deep-Fried Strawberries:  Recipe yields enough batter to coat 2 dozen large, 2"-2 1/2" strawberries.

Special Equipment List:  13" x 9" x 2" baking dish; paper towels; 12, 6" wooden skewers; deep-fryer

PICT0026Cook's Note:  For another one of my unique and delicious strawberry and chicken pairings, you might want to try ~ Quesadillas:  Grilled Guajillo Chile Chicken Thighs w/Vidalia Onions, Black Beans & Queso Fresco ~ topped with my recipe for ~ Sweet Heat: Strawberry & Guajillo Chile Sauce, or:  Summer Strawberries Never Tasted Sooooo Good! ~.  Both recipes can be found in Category 13 or 20!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)


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