"Looks good--what are these?" I asked, as usual, at Student Lunch a few weeks ago. Of course they looked good--they were deep fried. Anyway, turns out they were "tempura" vegetables with a beignet batter. They were light, crisp, faintly sweet, and insanely compelling to eat. I was sitting across the table from Chris, a 2nd quarter student, who had his plate piled high with them. "Aren't these awesome?" I said to him--though with my mouth full, it was more like, "Ammt veev awffm?"
"I made 'em!" he said. Chris cooks at Barking Frog in Woodinville, and making beignet batter is one of his regular tasks. Since it was near the end of school, he whipped this out, one of his default recipes. Personally, I'm looking at it as a secret weapon. I continued to rave about them, but he was pretty humble. He complained that they had too much baking soda in them. I can only imagine what they taste like when they are perfect.
Anyway, they've been on my mind, so I looked up "Barking Frog Beignets" to see what they actually use the batter for. Apparently they serve crab beignets, with an herbed crab concoction hidden inside. Sounds dreamy!
Today I picked up some shrimp at the store and decided to take the plunge for dinner tonight. I'll call this round a pleasant first stab at seafood beignets--definitely no award-winner. My batter was simple, with flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, and sparkling water. In other words, not a beignet. From what I have read in the last hour, this is definitely not a traditional beignet recipe. Sometimes you've just gotta slap it up there and see what happens. I will say, though, that my family gobbled them up.
In case you haven't already sneaked off to Wikipedia, I'll sum up: beignets are basically french doughnuts. It's a term that refers to fried dough or batter. It can be made with yeasty batter or a basic Pâte à choux (butter, eggs, flour, and water). Definitely not the recipe I was using.
Looks like I'll be heading over to Barking Frog soon to taste savory beignets again. Or asking Chris for some beignet words of wisdom. Or both. If you've got a good beignet recipe at your house, I'd love to hear about it.