Aug 25th, 2010 by Marilyn
Another late August, another juicy Summer Fest finale. For last year’s Tomato Week – which, I recall, also featured sweltering heat and flagging ambition – I cranked up the oven and rolled dough spirals and generally made things as hard as possible. Did I learn my lesson? You be the judge.
Better yet, let’s have my late grandmother be the judge. (Trust me, there was nothing she couldn’t judge.) Grandma Trudy enjoyed giving gifts – truly, she did. She chose my and my siblings’ birthday, holiday, graduation gifts with care. But the part she loved? I mean, lived for? That would be the actual giving of gifts, because immediately following the giving came the reciting of disclaimers.
If you don’t like it, it can go back. I like it. Don’t like the color? Gray is nice. I can get it in blue. Really, gray’s fine. If sweaters make you itch, it goes back. Sweaters are fine. So you know! Receipt is in the box.
I’m certain that if grandma were alive and food blogging, it would go something like this:
So, Cherry Tomato & Maytag Blue Beignets. What? Sounds fancy. Sounds like a lot of fat. If you don’t want fat, don’t eat it.
Tomatoes, I like tomatoes. Not too many tomatoes – heartburn. You don’t have heartburn? Good for you! Eat the tomatoes.
Who frys in summer? My doctor says no frying. And if you don’t like cooking don’t cook! Just order in. Wait – I’ve got menus in the drawer.
So, they’re pretty. But they remind me of – what are those things, in the bread, with the lettuce and funny sauce, on Dempster Street, in the round bread? I don’t know. They remind me of those.
I have to say, these were not bad, not bad, might even be okay – but vey schmeer, the work. Who needs work in the kitchen? Your grandpa, he makes French toast in the kitchen. He’s crazy. If you don’t like work, this recipe can go back.
Makes 35-50, depending on tomato size. Serve warm or at room temperature as an appetizer, on a brunch buffet, or as a very fancy sports snack.
CHERRY TOMATO & MAYTAG BLUE BEIGNETS
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1/3 cup water
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper, ground
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
small wedge Maytag Blue Cheese, about 5 oz. (Stilton would also work well)
35-50 cherry tomatoes, small size, in season (I used locally-grown Sun Golds)
vegetable oil, for frying
sea salt, white pepper and cayenne pepper, for rolling
chives or other herbs for garnish, chopped fine
Make beignet dough: Place yeast in large bowl (if using stand mixer, bottom of mixer bowl) and pour 1/4 cup warm water over yeast to dissolve. Set aside until yeast is bubbling and activated. Place 1/3 cup water and vegetable shortening in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 20-25 seconds, until shortening begins to melt. Remove and stir until shortening is completely melted.
Sift flour with sugar, sea salt and white pepper. Add melted shortening, buttermilk, and beaten egg to activated yeast. Whisk (or use paddle attachment, on mixer) together to combine. Add 2 cups of the flour mixture (by hand with a wooden spoon, by mixer with paddle on low) until a wet, sticky mass forms. Gradually add remaining 2 cups of flour to form a shaggy but fully combined dough. NOTE: Humidity makes a difference. If dough looks wet and sticky, add more flour. If dough begins to look dry and resists mixing, stop adding flour.
Roll and form beignets: Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Turn over once or twice to smooth – but don’t knead it. Roll dough into a large rectangle, 1/8 – 1/4″ thick. Using pastry or pizza wheel, mark 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ squares. Place one cherry tomato and a generous dab of blue cheese in center of each square. Pinch up corners of each square to meet, pressing edges together to seal, then roll beignet between palms to create a seamless ball. Place on a foil or parchment-lined sheet pan, and continue rolling filled beignets until done. NOTE: beignets may be formed up to one day in advance. Cover loosely with foil and store in refrigerator until ready to fry.
Frying beignets: Line a sheet pan or large plate with paper towels. Sprinkle the paper towels with an even, fine layer of sea salt, then large dashes of cayenne and white pepper, to taste.
In large pot or deep fryer, heat vegetable oil (at least a few inches) to approximately 360°. I recommend using a fry/candy thermometer to monitor oil temperature – too low and beignets will be heavy and greasy; too high and you’ll get dark outsides, raw insides. When oil is hot (test a small piece of dough – if it puffs to the top, it’s ready) drop the beignets into the pot one by one, working in small batches. Beignets should puff and brown quickly, about 1-2 minutes. If beignets do not rise and puff, slightly raise heat. If beignets burn too fast, slightly lower heat.
When beignets are evenly gold-brown, remove from oil and drain on “seasoned” paper towel-lined pan. When you have several warm beignets on pan, pick up edges of paper towels, allowing beignets to roll and coat with seasoning. Continue frying batches of beignets until done, rolling each batch in seasoning (add more salt/cayenne/white pepper if necessary).
Summer Fest is an annual online celebration of good food and great ideas, featuring food and garden bloggers from around the globe. Every week we highlight a different seasonal ingredient – corn, stone fruit, tomatoes – and our guest bloggers share great recipes, stories and tips. You can participate by visiting these terrific blogs and leaving links or comments – and if you’re feeling particularly inspired, you can contribute a post of your own. Drop by A Way to Garden for details on how join the party.
THIS WEEK’S LINKS: TOMATOES
Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef: Heirloom Tomato Tart with Parmesan Crust
Nicole at Pinch My Salt: What to do with slow-roasted tomatoes
Alison at Food2: Heirloom tomatoes
The FN Dish: Tyler’s Ultimate Tomato Salads
Margaret at A Way to Garden: More than one way to ripen a tomato
Gilded Fork: Celebrating summer lusciousness with a tomato dossier and recipes
Diane and Todd at White on Rice Couple: Sun-dried tomatoes (actually made in the sun!)
Paige at The Sister Project: 3 substantial, healthy, vegetarian tomatoey main dishes
Liz at the Cooking Channel: Easy Tomato Tart
Kelly at Just a Taste: Tomato Jam
Alexis at Food Network UK: The seven deadly tomato sins
Michelle at Healthy Eats: Top 10 Things to Do With Tomatoes
Alana at Eating From the Ground Up: Roasted Green Salsa (green zebras and tomatillos), and how late August makes her hurt for New Mexico
Caron at San Diego Foodstuff: Chunky Garden Gazpacho with Flowered Corn Tortillas and Melissa Clark’s Tomato Tarte Tatin
Judy at Over a Tuscan Stove: Tomatoes, the Italian Way
Caroline at the Wright Recipes: Savory Tomato Crumble
Tigress in a Pickle: Over 50 ways to preserve tomatoes in jars
Cate at Sweetnicks: Loaded Bowl of Deliciousness