Do I need to say anything?
Corn dogs. Gluten-free.
Okay, I will tell you this, before you leave this space and scroll down to the recipe. The lovely nostalgia of childhood summers and country fairs comes to us from our friend Matt Armendariz. You know Matt, don’t you? Incredible photographer, intrepid traveler, husband to the wonderfully talented Adam, buoyant and alive. Matt is one of the most loving and hilarious people I’ve ever met. Whenever I see him, I hug him 20 times in 5 minutes, just to get my hug quota in, since it will be months before we’re in the same room again. I lurve him.
That’s not why I’m telling you about On a Stick!. This book stands on its own. If I were not friends with the author, I would still grab up a copy, get hungry flipping through the pages, ogle over the coconut shrimp, the grilled sweet potato wedges, the fried mozzarella, and the savory tofu dango, and then take a copy home. (Being friends with Matt meant the publishers sent us a copy of this book.) The concept? Easy. Everything on a stick. As I write, we are one hour away from the day it turns summer. Bring out the grills. Soak those bamboo skewers. Time for Chinese five-spice skewers, caprese sticks, bratwursts, and even sweet and sour lollies. (Don’t put those on the barbecue.) Hopefully, someday, it will be warm here. We’re having skewer parties soon.
On a Stick! has recipes for the food found at fairs that gives Americans a deliciously bad name: fried pickles, candy bars, and chicken and waffles. Those decadent recipes are outnumbered by the far healthier, world-flavored foods you might not try unless they were presented to you in adorable fashion. For those folks at your party who would like to drink instead, there are red and white sangria pops.
Need I say more? Besides, look at that photo. Corn dogs.
(Oh, one more thing. I’m deeply honored to be part of the Gilt Taste team with this piece about how giving up gluten helped me find the love of life. And Danny. I can’t believe that I can write this: Francis Lam and Ruth Reichl helped to edit it. Faint.)
GLUTEN-FREE CORN DOGS, adapted from On a Stick!
Okay, so some of you may have this ewwww feeling about corn dogs. If you ate them in your elementary school cafeteria, as I did, you may associate these with suspect hot dogs and plenty of chemicals. Good news? You can make these healthy.
We like the hot dogs from Hempler’s, a local product made without nitrites or gluten. I recognize every ingredient on the package as being food. Surely you too have good hot dogs in your area! (After all, originally hot dogs were another form of handmade sausages.) We used our whole-grain flour mix for the batter, so we could at least console ourselves with that. However, if you want to make these tonight and you don’t have a whole-grain flour mix made up, use 105 grams of any gluten-free flours that work for you.
And frankly, life is meant to be lived a little. I had not eaten a corn dog in over six years. I might have another on the 4th of July, with friends. After that, it will probably be another year before it happens again. Bon appetit!
4 wooden skewers
1 quart vegetable oil (we like safflower for frying)
105 grams whole-grain flour mix
120 grams cornmeal (make sure it’s gluten-free)
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
¾ cup milk (we used soy but cow or rice milk would be fine here too)
4 jumbo hot dogs
Preparing to fry. Preheat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. (We like to use our Dutch oven.) Cover a plate with several paper towels.
Making the batter. Mix the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper together. Whisk them together to aerate and incorporate them together. Pour in the milk and egg. Combine them with a fork until the batter is smooth. Transfer the batter to a tall glass or empty yogurt container.
Put the hot dogs on skewers and stand by.
Frying the corn dogs. Once the oil reaches 360°, dip each hot dog in the batter. Swirl it around until the hot dog is fully and evenly covered in batter. Drop the entire stick into the batter. Repeat with another hot dog. Fry until the coating is brown and firm, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the corn dogs to the waiting paper-towel-covered plate and repeat the frying process with the remaining corn dogs.
Serve immediately. I say mustard is enough. Danny likes mustard and ketchup both.