If you had to choose from two plates: one with a couple fresh “out of the oven” chocolate chip cookies OR a small basket of hot French fries - what would be your choice? For me, the choice is simple – the fries! My palate gravitates towards the savory and fried makes it even better. I know, it is certainly not good for me, but in moderation, it is one heck of a treat. Smile.
Today was one of those days. I typically eat a healthy breakfast of Greek yogurt with blueberries or a banana and lunch is usually a salad. Today, I crossed the healthy boundary and went through the McDonald’s drive thru. Yes – I said it – the drive thru. I left my office to drive about 20 minutes down the road to a client’s location for our weekly meeting. The craving hit me like a ton of bricks – French fries. I must confess the local McDonalds by one of my offices make the fries simply perfect – hot, light in color and not too salty.
Tomorrow is another day and it will definitely be a salad day, I promise. Plus I will be treadmill bound when I get home from work. Last weekend, I was testing some recipes and came up with the Fried Mozzarella Balls that I am going to share with all of you today. As you can see, it ties in nicely with my fried theme.
Several months ago after enjoying a wonderful lunch at AdHoc in Yountville, I always enjoy a stroll through Napa Style to see what “must have” items are lurking. I am fascinated by the flavored salts and rubs section of the store. When I spied the truffle salt, that was a “must have” and into the basket it went. When dreaming up this appetizer, I thought of the truffle salt and how perfect it would be on these bites of fried goodness.
Next I wanted to create a dipping sauce that was more than your standard marinara sauce. Thus the Red Pepper Sauce was born. The flavors are simple yet complement the crunch of the coating and the silky cheese center. I would suggest making this for a small group, since the frying takes a bit of time and they are best right out of the fryer. However, simply laying the fried balls on a cookie sheet and heating in the oven will produce a great product. Enjoy these nuggets for your next appetizer night!
Fried Mozzarella Balls
About 2 to 2.5 cups vegetable oil
8 oz. container Small mozzarella balls (bocconcini), patted dry
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
½ cup Flour
Truffle Salt or regular
Heat about 2 inches oil to 360 degrees in a 4 quart heavy saucepan and use a deep fat thermometer to determine the heat of the oil.
While waiting for the oil to heat, take each bocconcini that is patted dry and dip in the flour. Next roll in the egg and next coat with the panko bread crumbs. Repeat the egg and panko process. Transfer to a plate until ready to cook.
Work in small batches by lowering the balls into the oil with a slotted spoon and fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 30 seconds per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with truffle salt or regular salt. Make sure oil is at 360 degrees between batches.
You can make an hour ahead and simply warm in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes prior to serving.
Note: You can increase the recipe by simply doubling the recipe
Red Pepper Sauce
½ Cup Pine nuts, toasted
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ t. salt
grinds of pepper
12 oz. Drained jar of roasted red peppers or 3 charred red bell peppers with stems removed
1 t. Sherry vinegar
2 T. Parmesan cheese, grated
In a food processor, add the pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper and pulse until combined and fairly smooth. Next add the roasted red peppers, sherry vinegar and parmesan cheese and pulse until combined and smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning to your desire.