Noelle Carter and Chicken Charlie (Amanda Natividad )
Yesterday, the Test Kitchen had some fun at the L.A. County Fair, demonstrating recipes for the crowd (and then stuffing ourselves with -- er, testing -- all of the fried foods we could find).
We demonstrated a pork belly banh mi -- a ciabatta roll stuffed with crunchy-tender bits of pork belly, cucumber, cilantro, a carrot and daikon radish slaw, then slathered with chipotle mayonnaise and pressed on a griddle. Then we moved on to a wonderfully refreshing watermelon salad. Only four ingredients -- watermelon, lime, fresh mint and a touch of olive oil -- it comes together in minutes and is a perfect choice for a hot summer's day!
After the demonstrations, we had to check out the fried food scene at the fair in what has become a sort of Test Kitchen tradition.
We started at Chicken Charlie's, sampling no less than seven deep-fried creations. From deep-fried Klondike bars and Oreos, to avocado, pickles and frog legs -- a couple items were new to me, including the deep-fried cookie dough (it was so rich) and the deep-fried cereal (we had a choice between Trix and Cinnamon Toast Crunch and the Test Kitchen voted for the latter). We didn't know what to expect, but it was definitely interesting (no crunch, the cereal itself was a little soft, but the cinnamon flavor and the deep fried coating worked, it reminded me of a churro). A corn dog and hot dog with all the fixings (if you count the grilled onions and peppers as vegetables, so we weren't entirely unhealthful ... ) finished us off. And that's the last thing I remember before being led back to the car.
We're all doing a little better today and are recovering from the slight overindulgence. I don't know about the rest of the team, but I can't wait to go back. I guess I'm lucky it only comes around once a year.
-- Noelle Carter
Photo: Shrimp skewers with charmoula. Credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times