July 7, 2010

Huh? Cheesy Fried Pickles?

Welcome to my latest attempt at a blog. I really want to start writing again (and continue to do so after the first three posts). If I'm really going to stay interested, it needs to be a topic I love. Well, I love food, and I never get tired of talking about it. So, this seemed like a no brainer. The hard part is thinking of a name for my new blog that is not predictable, boring, or forgettable, but not so out there that it is irrelevant. After several hours of thinking, I came up with Cheesy Fried Pickles. Of course, there is a story here.

Several months ago, I took a trip to Grand Forks, North Dakota (don't ask me why). During my first day on the trip, I met someone who exclaimed that I had to go to The Toasted Frog and try their cheesy fried pickles (actually called Fried Cheesy Pickles on their menu). I have been to Southern restaurants that serve deep fried pickles, but they've never been cheesy. Being the foodie that I am, I was intrigued. So, this (now) friend, took me to The Toasted Frog for dinner that night. There were five of us at dinner, and our hosts were so sure of this appetizer that we had to order two plates. After my first bite, I was in love. This is now one of my favorite beer snacks. They are crunchy, cheesy, salty, and delicious! I loved them so much, that I decided to make them at home for the Super Bowl. Many of my friends were skeptical at first, but now I have requests for cheesy fried pickles before every party. Seriously... you have to try them.

So, what's the point? The point is that you never know, so why not try it? I have a rule (thanks to my parents) that I try anything once every 5 or 10 years. Try anything, because if you haven't tried it, how do you know that you don't like it? Try it again after a few years, because your taste buds change. You could like something that you hated as a kid. Also, sometimes you will never like a certain food, but you may like it as part of a dish. For example, I hate cilantro. It ruins everything. Sadly, cilantro is a new fad, and it is in everything. I have recently discovered, though, that I like a few sprigs of cilantro in bánh mì (or Vietnamese-style sandwiches). Something about the pickled vegetables with mayo and some cilantro makes everything balance just right... who knew?

So, my blog will be about food I've discovered, cooked or just love. Every now and then, I may sneak something in that will scare a few people, but that's what makes it fun. Here's to more discoveries like cheesy fried pickles. I have included my recipe for these yummy snacks below, and if you're ever in Grand Forks, go to The Toasted Frog and try them for yourself!

Cheesy Fried Pickles (a la Toasted Frog)

egg roll wrappers
havarti cheese slices
dill pickle spears (I like Claussen)

peanut oil for frying

dipping sauce:
ranch dressing

Begin to heat oil to about 375 degrees, so it will be ready as you assemble your pickles. I have used a stainless steel sauce pan and a small deep fryer. Use your favorite frying method.

Lay out one egg roll wrapper. Put one slice of cheese in the middle of the wrapper. Put one pickle spear on the cheese slice, so that the ends of the pickle corner to corner in the wrapper. You will want to line it up closer to the end where you start wrapping, so you can get a good seal on the wrapper. Then roll up the little bundle just like an egg roll, tuck in the ends, and dip your finger in water to wet the edge and seal. You can make as many of these as you want. Lower them into the hot oil, and fry just until the outside is golden brown like an egg roll. This should not take more than 3 or 4 minutes.

While you're frying (and letting pickles cool), assemble your dipping sauce. It's only a combination of sriracha hot sauce and ranch dressing. I like it a little spicier than they serve it at the restaurant, but you can mix yours however you like.

Once the pickles have cooled enough, cut in half at a diagonal, and enjoy!

Here is a picture of the finished product... mmmmm.