When my sister and I were growing up, our dad travelled to New Orleans from time to time and would come home with beignet mix from Cafe du Monde. Sometimes he’d wake us up early on a Saturday Morning and the three of us would form a little assembly line in the kitchen, rolling out the soft dough and slipping it into the hot oil.
“Beignets” is pronounced BENyays, but we called them bingYAYS. And even though I studied French for 4-years and have a pretty decent level of cultural awareness, I still like to call them bingYAYS– it just feels right.
A few months ago, Yuseff and I were sinking our teeth into Season Two of Treme. If anybody has HBO, or Netflix, or ANYTHING, I would highly recommend watching this show, which follows a set of loosely connected characters rebuilding their lives– and the unique culture of the city– in Post-Katrina New Orleans. The show is somewhat political in its criticisms of how things were handled during and following the storm, but it’s not heavy-handed and the jazzy soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal. Take a look at the intro– which hooked me from the start:
Aside from the astounding musical presence that the show has, the New Orleans Cuisine is also showcased every week– usually through one character who is a chef– first in New Orleans then later in NYC. One night, I started craving beignets and thought that they would be a fun snack to make while we watched the show.
I searched my local grocery store for the lovely orange box of the Cafe du Monde mix, but to no avail. Then I found a super easy yeast-free recipe and gave it a try. For seasoned beignet fans– it DOES taste a little different than a traditional recipe, but the bonus is that this recipe uses staple ingredients, so you don’t have to rush out to the store and buy yeast and evaporated milk. I do plan on trying this more authentic recipe from Paula Deen sometime– but it takes 2 1/2 hours total and I am an instant-gratification kind of gal.
So, if you want to whip up a little treat to enjoy with your morning coffee, or as an after-dinner treat, or to celebrate your next Mardi Gras, this recipe will do the trick.
Step 1: Heat oil in a saucepan or deep fryer to 375°
Step 2: In a separate saucepan, heat 1/4 cup of butter (4 Tbsp/ half a stick) in 1/2 cup of water until the butter is melted and it starts to simmer up.
Step 3: Remove saucepan from heat and add 1/2 cup of flour and an 1/8 tsp of salt. Mix it up with a fork until it gets sticky
Step 4: Beat in two eggs (one at a time) until the batter is nice and smooth.
Step 5: Drop rounded spoonfuls of the dough into the oil. I used a cookie scoop.
Step 6: Let them fry for about 6 minutes each. They will expand.
Step 7: Use a slotted spoon to scoop them out and drain on a paper towel
Step 8: Dust with powdered sugar and Enjoy! Tip: If you aren’t going to eat them all, I would recommend storing them plain and adding the sugar when you are ready to eat them. If the powdered sugar melts, it will turn into a glaze and make the beignets mushy and kind of gross.
So– the main ideas of this post are that beignets are a huge comfort food for me, especially when I’m thinking about my dad and sister, who now live in different states; Treme is an amazing show that everybody should check out; and beignets are super delicious and can be easy and fun to make!
Also– if you’re the kind of person that likes to reserve your frying oil for the next time you’re in a frying kind of mood, wait until the oil has completely cooled before you transfer it into your storage container. Otherwise, you run the risk of deep frying the index finger of your left hand. And that doesn’t feel good. And the blister on your knuckle will look pretty horrifying. Just sayin’…