Thursday, January 5, 2012

Donut Party

The Donut Party has been a New Year's Eve tradition at our house for over twenty years. Jan gets out her grandma Opal's donut recipe, Ray fires up the deep fat in a big kettle and over three or four hours hundreds of donuts are cooked and eaten. The traditional toppings are cinnamon and powdered sugar, but in recent years Mizu and I have experimented with filled donuts. We have used jam and apple butter and creme anglaise and chocolate sauce. Each year we have a big debate over whether or not we will have the Donut Party; as Jan and Ray have gotten older they are less and less enthusiastic about two days of work sandwiched around a house full of drunk people. Mizu and I are still really excited about the party and keeping up the tradition and so we push it and take the burden of leading the charge. Once we get going though, Jan and Ray are all in - cooking, cleaning and organizing.

This year, leading up to New Years I had been thinking about the party. In particular, I was stuck on how many extra donuts we had every year. There comes a point when it is impossible to eat another donut. (Although you'd be surprised how many donuts an otherwise super healthy hippie can eat.) Along about August I had a brain flash...Deep Fry Party! We would supply the hot oil and the cooking expertise and everyone else would bring things to fry. A giant batter filled Stone Soup!

And so it came to pass. For tradition, Jan led off with donuts but those quickly gave way to an incredible variety of things: steak, french fries, onion rings, jalapeno poppers, kalamari, oysters, scallops, Reese's Peanut Butter cups, salmon, pickles, dilly beans, marshmellows...

Although everyone had their favorites, two things stood out for me. First, scallops wrapped in prosciutto. These went in unbattered and came out heavenly. Salty and pungent. At the end of the night, Greg H cooked up a couple pounds of salmon he'd caught earlier in the fall. Simultaneously, I was frying homemade salt pickles and dilly beans. To have a chunk of salmon in one hand and pickled goodness in the other! Oh glory!

The drink of the evening was the Valley of Texas. Here is the recipe:
3 parts fresh grapefruit juice (pink is better)
2 parts gin
1/2 part Fernet
serve up with a dash of bitters

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