Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Learning to juggle

I always wonder why things always seem to happen at the same time, whether they be good or bad. Do they like it, or what? I don't know if they like do though, because it makes more complicated to spend enough time for each of them. Let me give you an example. 

For my roommate's birthday, I wanted to cook something new and festive, something you could pick like eggs (… bad comparison), according to your desires. I was looking in my "Art pictures" folder for something to inspire me when I found a series of photographs from the fifties. They were about the Ringling Brothers, one of the most famous circuses. Printed in Life, several of them showed the great Massimiliano Truzzi, juggling with balls and plates. They won me over, and I decided I would juggle a bit myself. 

It was fortunate, because on that day (her birthday), there were electricians in my home. When I say that it was fortunate, it's because it forced me to juggle with several things : prepare my dough, host and inform them, then bake my little preparation before they finally left five hours later and 20 minutes before my roommate arrived. This was fortunate, too, that I cooked something that did not require the use of an oven, whereas the number of times the power was cut during the day would have driven me crazy (but just enough not to show)

My new juggling balls were Churros. But since I don't master this art -yet- I limited myself to plant them on sticks, a bit like spinning plates. They were crunchy and sweet, and even better when you add a delicate fragrance. While eating them, I remembered summers in the South, when we bought giant churros with my grand-mother on the port of Sanary.

Ingredients for 20 churros:
250ml water
30g butter
2 teaspoons orange blossoms essence
200g flour
1 / 2 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
1 large egg, beaten

75cl cooking oil
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Boil water with the butter in a saucepan. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
Remove water from heat and add the essence, then dry ingredients. Do this slowly, stirring with a whisk first then with a wooden spoon, until dough is smooth.

Pour oil into a large sturdy pan (I used a big saucepan, because I had nothing else) and heat at high temperature (180 ° C). The best is to use a thermometer, but if you don't have any, test it with a piece of dough. If it rises to the surface, golden and crispy, it's good!

Fill a tablespoon of dough and drop it into boiling oil. Cook about 4 minutes, or when the ball is puffed and golden all over. Remove the balls with a strainer and place them on a plate covered with absorbing paper. Before serving, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. The more simple, the better. I added chocolate on some of them, but you know, it's like saying I can juggle with 10 balls : downright pretentious.

Picture by Gjon Mili for Life Magazine, showing juggler Massimiliano Truzzi at work, Madison Square Garden, 1941.

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