Monday, February 15, 2010

Laissez les bon temps rouler! Calas

Photo Credit, Amanda Sudimack, Artisan Events

It's Fat Tuesday and boy am I fat.

Even though I'm Lutheran with no Lenten obligation to forgo anything, I'm looking forward to some lean days.

With birthdays, Super Bowl, Valentine's Day, and now this last hurrah of New Orleanian indulgences, I'm all feasted out. Well, almost. I certainly couldn't let this last day of debauchery go unhonored.

We started this year's celebration a little early with a Sunday breakfast of calas - the red headed step child of New Orleans fried doughs. I've never understood why the beignet has outshone it's rice filled relation. While Cafe du Monde's chicory laced coffee is delicious, its yeasted doughnuts don't hold much appeal to me. But the calas, ah, that's an entirely different story.

I'm glad to know that the calas has experienced a resurgence thanks to intrepid New Orleans food personality, Poppy Tooker, and the local Slow Food convivium.

Calas aren't difficult to make, just a little messy, as all fried foods can be. This recipe is adapted from American Traditions: A Classic Guide to Regional Cooking, an eminently usable coffee table book. Serve these little fried delights with top quality jam.


1/2 cup long-grain rice
1 package active dried yeast
1/2 cup water approximately 110 F
3 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
vegetable oil for frying
confectioners' sugar

Cook the rice in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1/2 hour or until it is mushy and very soft. Drain and cool to room temperature. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let sit until foamy. Mix together the dissolved yeast and rice in a large mixing bowl. Cover tightly and set in a warm location overnight. In the morning, mix the eggs, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and extract into the yeasted rice. Cover and let rise in a warm spot for 1/2 hour. Heat about 4 inches of oil in a large pot until 350 F. If necessary, add a little more flour until the batter drops slowly from a spoon. Drop large spoonfuls of batter into the hot oil. Fry until the calas is browned on all sides, turning several times during the frying. Drain on crumpled paper towels. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve immediately with jam.

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