New Castle News

September 7, 2013

Culinary Conversation: Some fair food you can make at home

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Sure signs that summer is almost over — school and football have started, and county fairs and baseball are preparing to close down another season.

While I’m reluctant to let go of my favorite time of year, I am glad I was able to make it to two county fairs this year.

What is it about fair food? The aromas of sausage and onions cooking and chicken barbecuing as you stare down stand after stand of lemon shakes, candied apples and fudge are enough to smash to bits any sensible daily eating plan.

I haven’t seen this concession stand around here yet but I heard about a state fair in Florida that offers a cheeseburger topped with deep-fried ice cream. I guess that sweet/salty thing always appeals. The Ohio State Fair’s chocolate-covered banana on a stick was extremely popular, and deep-fried butter balls were a hit at the Montana State Fair last year.

But these events only are only here once a year.

While fairs have traditionally been known for one thing — take just about anything, fry it and people will try it — changes have been made for healthier ways to eat and still enjoy the surroundings.

Nah, let’s face it. People go to fairs with the intention of eating what they normally would never try at home.

Because I missed the much-talked-about pumpkin funnel cakes at the Lawrence County Fair, I made it a point to hunt them down last week at Canfield. This is one treat that can be made at home and it’s not difficult, either. The sausage sandwiches are an at-home winner, too.

Stepping away from fair food for a moment, included this week also is a recipe for a spaghetti dish that’s not exactly low in calories but scores mega points for taste. And because, I attended a seven-year-old’s birthday party a few weekends ago and there were cupcakes, Culinary Conversation has a recipe for those, too.

Hopefully, there’s something for everyone this week. Fair enough?

If not, here’s your chance to be a guest contributor.

Italian Sausage


Brush skillet with some of the oil and cook sausages over medium heat until brown, turning and pricking skins occasionally. Drain on paper towels, slice lengthwise and keep warm.

In another skillet over medium heat, warm remaining oil. Sauté onion, garlic, oregano and black pepper, stirring, occasionally, until onion is tender (about 8 minutes.) Add frying pepper, is using and sauté them until tender (about 10 minutes.) Add roasted bell peppers and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in capers, if using.

Cut bread across into 4 sandwich-sized slices. Cut each slice lengthwise into 2 long halves. Spoon vegetables onto 4 slice soft bread. Add pepperoncini, if using. Top with halved sausage, anchovy strips, if using and 4 remaining slices of bread. Serve immediately.

Funnel Cakes

Beat eggs and sugar

Beat eggs and sugar together and then add the milk slowly. Beat mixture together. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth and creamy.

Pour batter into a funnel and at the same time, use your finger to plug the hole. In a large cast iron pot, add 2 inches of oil to the bottom.

When the oil becomes hot, move your hand over the pot and slowly release your finger so the batter can start cooking.

Move the funnel around to make designs.

Brown on both sides and then immediately remove and drain extremely well.

Top with cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar.

Baked Spaghetti

Mix ground meat and sauce, and simmer on low for 10 minutes, covered, stirring often.

Add 1 stick butter to drained noodles.

Mic sour cream, fresh grated Parmesan cheese and 3 eggs (slightly beaten) together, mixing until lumps are gone. Add this to spaghetti and butter, stirring to mix well. Place spaghetti base in 9x13-inch pan that has been sprayed with Pam. Top with meat sauce. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Top with shredded mozzarella until melted, about 10 minutes. Let set for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine all cake ingredients with mixer. Mixture will be quite thick.

Scoop into 24 paper-lined muffin tins.

Unwrap 24 mini Reese’s cups and push one into each cupcake batter portion. The cupcake mixture doesn’t have to cover the peanut butter cup; when they bake, it will make a nice well in the cupcake that you can fill with frosting.

Bake for 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine butter and peanut butter in bowl and mix with mixer until creamy.

Add powdered sugar a little at a time. Add milk while mixing.

Use icing bag and star tip to ice or put frosting in a ziploc bag, remove air from bag and snip tip off bag to decorate.

Take 12 more of the peanut butter cups and cut them in half. Put one half of the cup into the icing and press down.

*Note recipes have not been tested.