Fried Food Fail

I love bar food. Which is probably a (not so) good thing, because everyone seems to want to do after-work dinner and drinks lately, which puts me at the bar… a lot.

Usually for us veggies, bar menus usually mean trying to make full meals out of slim pickins on the appetizer list. For me, that typically amounts to mozzarella sticks and onion rings, for the win!

The other day, out for drinks with a friend, splittin’ a basket of aforementioned finger foods, I started thinkin’; these foods are soooo ubiquitous, they can’t be hard at all to make, right? Bread some stuffs, heat some oil, fry ‘em up, and serve… puhhhleasseee, I could do that with my eyes closed.

Uh yeah…well, apparently I was wrong…

There are some very simple things that even as an avid cook, I still have trouble with. Omelets, for example, or grilled cheese. I guess now we can add fried foods to that list…

I have complete faith in the recipes I borrowed from. I have even more faith in their authors to execute them perfectly. You can find them here and here if you want to learn from the masters. Otherwise, please enjoy the following tutorial on how to not fry foods:

Step 1: As tasty as it appears, don’t choose whole milk fresh mozzarella sticks (as apposed to normal, part-skim mozzarella sticks that are rubberier and sturdy). To be fair, I did this by accident. I didn’t know Trader Joe’s (or, um..  anyone) carried fresh mozzarella sticks… in fact, I’m not sure why they would, they’re completely useless as string cheese. I picked them up by accident and then wondered for a good few days why my string cheese was wet and soft and wouldn’t pull apart. When I figured it out, I thought, “fresh cheese fried mozzarella sticks? Now that’s classy!”

Oh boy was I wrong…

Step 2: Don’t be fooled when your foods appear to be breaded adequately (like above). They are not. They may even still look semi-normal when you put them in a frying pan:

But, friends, beware. When the cheese melts, you’re gonna have one big sloppy mess on your hands:

I attribute this to failures on Steps 1 and 2. The whole milk fresh mozzarella just doesn’t want to stay in one cohesive unit… it’s like a viscous liquid, it will seep out every uncrusted nook and cranny. I tried to cover as much of the cheese as I could… I even triple rolled each stick in the batter…but alas, fresh mozzarella found a way.

Step 3: When making onion rings, cut perpendicular to the onion stem/root, not parallel. If you cut perpendicular, you get nice rings like this:

Cutting parallel? Uhhhh not so much. Trust me, I learned the hard way (I didn’t take photos because I wasn’t expecting this to be a fail…)

Step 3: Use a wet coating slightly heartier than water.

I completely concede that I didn’t read the recipe too closely, but I’m pretty certain that these onion rings were supposed to be dipped in a cornmeal dry batter and a water/flour wet batter.

This is what happened when my water-battered onion rings hit the frying pan:

Yep, hasta la vista cornmeal coating, nice seein’ ya…

Step 4: If at first you don’t succeed, fry, fry again.

Even though the water batter completely bailed on me, I decided I still had some fight left in me and attempted a new wet batter, this time with egg, which would hopefully be a lot more heartier than water…and it was…

But, I missed one key part of the picture…

You can’t shallow fry onion rings… they have to be deep fried. Duh. But it was 10 p.m. at night, and I didn’t have enough vegetable oil to deep fry these puppies…

So these were my results. The batter completely fell off, the onions were still too raw to even attempt to comfortably bite into, and I was left with a pile of chopped raw onions and a rumble in my tummy.

So I did what any smart foodie would do…

I poured myself a large glass of w(h)ine, caramelized the onions, heated up some frozen pierogis, gobbled ‘em up, and called it a night…

Kitchen fail? On all counts. Mrs. T dinner save? Oh hell yes.

Alright foodies, help a sista’ out. Does anyone out there have a fool(Lauren)-proof recipe for either one of these bar treats? If so, send ‘em my way and I’ll try not to totally eff ‘em up.