Grazing with Gary

With the fair comes the fare

By: Gary Gilligan
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Well we are in the middle of summer and there is so much going on. California State Fair opens on Friday and this is always the highlight of summer. Some of you fear the adventure to Sacramento but this is a not-to-miss event. First the counties’ exhibits are always my favorite. In the same building the California kitchen has cooking contest, demos and samples. The farm is a real working farm growing real food. When it’s hot, stop by the wine garden and sample some California award-winning wines and some from Placer County. Don’t miss the cement buildings with the student exhibits when the kids build furniture, draw blueprints, and all kinds of art projects.

And the first weekend our very own Auburn Home Show will present the Tiny Home Village as a kick-off to the fall Home Show. So recipes this week have some fair foods and a great summer pie.


Homemade Corn Dogs


1/2 cups yellow cornmeal

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten

1 1/2 cups buttermilk (regular milk works too)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon honey

1 (10 count) package hot dogs

10 wooden skewers or chopsticks

2 quarts vegetable oil, for frying


In a medium or large pot, add the oil. Turn heat to medium and heat oil to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, add the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir together. Then add the beaten egg, buttermilk, oil and honey. Stir until combined. (Batter should be a little thicker than pancake batter.)

Remove hot dogs from package. Wipe them all dry with a paper towel (this will help the batter stick to them better). Insert one skewer or wooden stick into each hot dog.

Pour the batter into a tall drinking glass. Holding by the skewer, take one hot dog and dunk it into the batter, coating all of the hot dog. Slowly remove from batter and let a little excess batter drip back into the cup. Immediately place it into the hot oil, while still holding the stick. Turn as necessary to brown all sides. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until all sides are a deep golden brown. Remove from hot oil and place on paper towels to drain grease. Repeat with all hot dogs.


Mandarin Orange Pie


For the short crust:

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of flour

1/4 cup of butter

1/4 cup of water

3 tablespoons of oil

1 tablespoon of mandarin rind


For the mandarin orange curd:

1/2 cup of sugar

1/3 cup of cornstarch

A pinch of salt

1 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed juice of mandarin oranges

3 egg yolks

1 tablespoon of butter

For the meringue:

3 egg whites

1 tablespoon white sugar

1/4 cup powdered sugar


Extra: dried beans for baking



For the short crust pastry, combine the flour, butter, salt, mandarin rind with your hands until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the water and oil knead until you get a smooth ball of dough.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the mandarin orange curd, combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a pot. Whisk the juice of the mandarin oranges and the egg yolks in a separate bowl until both are well combined. Add the sugar into the pan. Heat gently. Use an egg whisk to stir constantly. Shortly before the curd starts to bubble, stir in the butter. As soon as the curd starts to bubble, remove it from the heat and transfer the curd into a bowl for cooling. Cover the curd carefully with some plastic wrap, as you don't want to get a skin on the curd. Allow to cool completely.

Roll the dough on a floured surface using a rolling pin. Dust the rolling pin with flour and roll the dough onto it. Unroll the dough over the pie, lower it into it and carefully press the dough against the bottom and the sides of the tin. Cut off any excess dough. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown. Remove the beans and the making parchment.

For the meringue whisk the egg whites and mandarin juice until stiff. Gradually add the powder sugar and white sugar and continue whisking until very stiff.

Spread the mandarin orange curd on the short crust pastry and spread the meringue on the curd. Sprinkle one tablespoon of sugar over it. Turn up the heat to 350 degrees. Bake the pie for about 15 minutes until the meringue has turned a gold brown. Allow to completely cool down before serving.


Funnel Cakes


3 eggs

1⁄4 cup sugar

2 cups milk

3 2⁄3 cups flour

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

vegetable oil, for frying


Beat eggs and sugar together and then add the milk slowly — beat. Add the 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 — then immediately remove and drain extremely well.

Top with brown sugar, honey, cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar.