I love deep-fried food but I hate deep-frying. (My body doesn't appreciate it very much when I eat deep-fried food either, but it allows me to indulge on rare occasions if I'm moderate in my indulgence.) Deep-frying, however, is scary.
For this challenge, I gritted my teeth, dug up the candy/frying thermometer, my small pot (to limit the damage done to my oil bottle if things went badly) and... completed the challenge! It wasn't so bad, really. The thermometer helped a lot (duh.). Previously, I was trying to do it the way my mom had shown me with bubbles and a wooden spoon, but I don't have her experience and when I tried it, I got severely oil-soggy onion rings. Blech.
As I noted in the Pho recipe below, we didn't have much license to play around with the soup. Instead, we were given two challenges: Prepare the Pho as directed and prepare dessert wontons for dessert. The wontons could have any filling we could think up, any shape, you name it.
Now that was fun. I like creative challenges like this that allow me to play around with something on a theme. So my husband and I sat down at the table and started putting together all sorts of little odd packets.
- Apple "Strudel"
- Apple "Cheesecake" (apple filling with quark)
- Raspberry-pear "Cheesecake" (raspberry-pear preserves with quark)
- Quark with walnut honey
- Quark with honey
- Quark with semi-sweet chocolate chips
We made fresh buttermilk quark for the challenge and combined teaspoonfuls with the apple filling, some fresh raspberry-pear preserves and walnut honey for a kind of "cheesecake" feel. Worked out better than I expected! I'll write about the new and improved quark soon, it's taken some refinement to get it down to a reliable process.
As for walnut honey, I picked it up in Latvia. It's neat stuff to snack on, honey mixed with whole walnuts. Mmm. You can replicate it by taking a strong, raw and unfiltered honey (like buckwheat honey or fireweed honey) and mixing it with halved walnuts.
The apple filling I made because our apple tree went bonkers this year. Even with my landlord suddenly having a fit and hacking half the tree off earlier this summer, we picked several pounds of ripe apples the day we made this and several more pounds over the next several days.
Sorry for the lack of precision in the recipe today. I didn't really write anything down, just cooked off the top of my head. I wanted something a bit dry for the filling so it wouldn't explode out of the wrapper yet sweetly caramelized. It worked really well but sadly, as much as I'd love to share, I can't offer Apple Strudel Wontons for download. ;-)
- 3 small apples, peeled, cored, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp or so of flour
- 1 tbsp sugar
- small handful of walnuts, chopped
- 1 tbsp or so of lemon juice
Over low heat, melt butter. Combine apples with remaining ingredients. Cook apple mixture until tender, somewhere around 10 - 15 minutes.
- You know what would be good in the apple filling? Rum-soaked raisins.
- This would probably make a really good tart filling. Or to top little puff pastry rounds set in mini muffin cups and bake for 15 - 20 minutes.