A few weeks ago I celebrated my first birthday living in San Francisco. Now I love a theme party, and if there is any city that embraces the spectacle and absurdity of costume and themes parties more than any other, it is definitely San Fran. I decided to do it up full force SF style and bring the Karnival to town. My first inspiration for choosing a carny-themed extravaganza, besides the obvious excuse for bearded ladies and circus music, was the epic popcorn machine that has always sat mysteriously on top of our cabinets but has never actually been used that I know of. (I'm not sure if anyone even knows where it came from....)
From there I planned a Barnum and Bailey worthy menu of peanuts, popcorn, watermelon, mini "sliders", and of course, funnel cake.
For my sliders I decided to pick up some sweet potatoes, onion, mushrooms, black beans, spinach, basil, carrots, and steamed beets.
I cooked up some lentils and brown rice, soaked some cashews, and took out some oats. I boiled the sweet potatoes and sauteed my onions and mushrooms and went to work.
I threw the carrots, sweet potatoes, some basil and garlic in the food processor to begin mixing. I didn't want to mix it so long that it blends all into mush, but just enough to get rid of all the big chunks for when I was ready to start forming my patties. I threw in the beets, beans, and other ingredients one at a time until blended just enough and switched them over to a big mixing bowl.
Spicing time. I played with the above until satisfied.
I continued to add oats and bread crumbs until it was thick enough to form patties that wouldn't stick to my hands.
I let them sit in the refrigerator over night to thicken up as much as possible. When the carny patrons started to arrive, I threw the pan on the stove and cooked them in some light olive oil on high heat until they cooked well on each side. I served them up on delicious slider buns I found at Trader Joes.
Big Little Hits I tell you!
On to the funnel cake:
I prepared the following batter to serve up a larger crowdm but you can obviously cut it in half or thirds for a smaller gathering:
4 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
7 1/2 Tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs 4 cups soy milk (or whatever kind you have)
3 tsp vanilla
a few shakes cinnamon
oil, for frying
Mix eggs, soy (or hemp) milk and vanilla. Make sure you are dressed like a madame fortune teller. In separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and mix well. You should have a batter about the same consistency as pancake batter so it will flow easily through the funnel.
With the help of a angry clown, fill a skillet with 1" oil and heat to 375 degrees. I used a candy thermometer.
Cover the funnel hole with your finger and have your clown assistant fill the funnel with about 1/4 cup of batter. I held the funnel over the pan, removed my finger, and began moving the funnel around back and forth, zig-zagging back and forth like juggler on a unicycle . You want the batter to stick together so don't spread it out too much once it hits the pan or you won't be able to flip it in one piece.
Fry the cake 1-2 minutes on each side, turning with a spatula or tongs, until golden brown.
Once out of the oil and onto a paper towel for a cool down, I sprinkled the cakes generously with powdered sugar.
I barely got a taste as they babies went like... hot (funnel) cakes...
Truly, the Greatest (birthday) show on earth....