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Toss some Hush Puppies to your guests and conversation will die down

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As I was watching an episode of Restaurant: Impossible with Chef Robert Irvine, I noticed his attention to the Hush Puppies being served in his current project. It occurs to me that the cornmeal flavor of this Southern treat might be under-appreciated. Consider the idea of using Hush Puppies as appetizers. They used to be prepared in the South to keep the dogs from crying for food, especially when barbecues or outdoor kitchens were used, hence their name.

So what goes well with the flavor or corn? I always liked cornbread with butter and honey, and you can certainly come up with a sauce that relies on those two flavors. A sweet barbecue dip would also work. Why not a contrast in flavors, like with ranch dressing or even bleu cheese? I can understand how Hush Puppies could be a delicious crispy, buttery corn treat that you could use for a cocktail party or a barbecue.

Southern Arizona is barbecuing all over town by this time, even though wintry weather is still sweeping over parts of the U. S. mainland further north. Every now and then we notice clouds overhead and get guilt because they are either going to be rain or snow when they make contact with the temperatures that will precipitate them to the ground in the Midwest.

Some organic cornmeal and even corn flour will make these Hush Puppies flavorful. If you'd prefer to use corn flour instead of wheat flour, it will probably work but I have not tried it. The consistency of the batter for Hush Puppies is normally thicker than batter (which would be used to make cornbread) because what you are going to do is scoop the dough into fritters, basically, and deep-fry them.

For this I have one of the popular Fry Baby/Fry Daddy appliances. It works perfectly well and automatically heats the oil to 350 degrees, which is right for frying flour products. I made wonderful Italian Rosette cookies last year for Christmas using it.

You need not use buttermilk for this recipe, but the tang of it will enliven the flavor of the Hush Puppies and it is undeniably part of the Southern mood of this tasty appetizer.

Check out Chef Emeril Lagasse's recipe for super-elegant hush puppies in the video I included today.

HUSH PUPPIES

Ingredients:

1/2 cup organic all-purpose flour
1/2 cup organic yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 large organic egg at room temperature
1/2 cup organic buttermilk
1/4 cup organic minced onion
2 cups organic vegetable oil

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl; make a well in the center of the ingredients.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and the buttermilk; add to the dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Stir in the onion.

Pour the oil into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, and heat to 375. Drop the batter by tablespoonfuls into the oil and fry in batches 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels, and serve immediately.

Frying in a cast-iron skillet is a tradition in Southern cooking; I have an extra-large and extra-deep one that is designated for fried chicken in my house.

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