Island Cooking: Getting ‘Fried’ in the Kitchen?

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t eat a lot of fried foods, or at least I try not to, but on some occasions, I really get a craving for something fried. Of course, this week was one of those occasions and I indulged in two of my favorite fried foods.

Oh, I might as well make that four because I forgot I went to one place last week and they had an appetizer of fried olives with blue cheese dressing. I swear, they fried an entire jar or two of green olives and piled them high on the plate.

Also because, by the time this column comes out, I will have had my first Oh Boy Dough Boy from Maine-ly Delights in Bass Harbor, and it was so good topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. They have a fruit one, too, but, of course, I opted out on that one.

The other night, four of us had dinner at my house and my friend decided that he was going to make homemade fried raviolis and homemade marinara sauce for our appetizers. Now right here, I would have gone out and bought fresh raviolis from the store because I don’t own a pasta maker. But this did not deter him. He made the pasta dough from scratch and used my rolling pin and dining room table.

I guess it was quite a job with my old rolling pin and my table kept shaking so he had a hard time getting it really thin. But the end result was really great. We had homemade raviolis stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella, spinach and different seasonings, then dipped in egg and buttermilk, rolled in Italian bread crumbs and fried to crispy perfection, topped with parmesan cheese and served with a marinara sauce that we all thoroughly enjoyed.

When you bit into them, they exploded with all that cheesy goodness and we all could have made them a meal just by themselves.

The other fried food I indulged in this past week was when my son had his friend over for burgers and I decided to make onion rings.

I really love the really thin-cut onion rings so I went really simple here with soaking them in buttermilk for about 30 minutes then dipping them in flour seasoned with a pinch of salt and my favorite cayenne pepper. I then fried them until crispy and topped them with a little more Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

I think I did a back flip in my head (my Olympic fever talking here) when my son’s friend told me they were phenomenal. My picky eater asked me if they were actually homemade and did I really make them – he thought they were quite good!

I was wondering to myself, do they really not ever pay attention to anything that I’m doing in the kitchen?

Because I don’t really care to eat fried food all the time, I really enjoyed this past week’s indulgences.

I still have to share a couple of my favorite fried food recipes, just in case anyone else gets a craving in the near future!

This week, the cocktail of choice has been Tequila Sunrise, something I hadn’t had for ages but find oh so refreshing!

Tequila Sunrise

1½ jigger tequila

¾ cup chilled orange juice

½ ounce grenadine syrup

Orange slice or cherry to garnish (optional)


Fill a glass with ice cubes (a wine goblet works great), then add your tequila and orange juice and stir. Tilt your glass to the side and pour the grenadine  down the inside of the glass and let it settle to the bottom. Garnish if you desire and enjoy!

This fried recipe is one that all kids and adults can enjoy while watching a game or having a pizza night or a slumber party!

Fried Cheese

2 eggs, beaten

¼ cup water

1½ cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs

½ tsp garlic salt

2/3 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup corn starch

1 quart oil for frying

1 16-ounce package mozzarella sticks

In a small, bowl mix the eggs and water.

In a medium bowl, mix the bread crumbs and garlic salt, and in another medium bowl, mix the flour and cornstarch.

In a large heavy sauce pan, or a deep fryer, if you have one, heat your oil to 375 degrees.

Coat each mozzarella stick in the flour mixture, the egg mixture, then in the bread crumbs.

When your oil is heated, fry until golden brown. They are definitely done if the cheese starts to ooze out, but oh so good.

Heat up some store-bought or your own marinara sauce to dip in and enjoy!

Deep fried mushrooms

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp garlic salt

1 egg

1 cup water

1 pound button mushrooms, small or, if bigger, halved

2 cups frying oil, or as needed

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and garlic salt. Mix egg and water until smooth.

Heat your oil in a large deep skillet over medium high heat. Test to see if hot by dropping a bit of batter. If it sizzles and floats to the top, the oil is ready.

Dip your mushrooms into the batter and place in the hot oil. Fry a few at a time (don’t crowd them) until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel.

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Holly Simason

Columnist at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander cooking columnist Holly Simason is co-author of the mystery series “Death of a Kitchen Diva." Simason has collaborated with her screenwriter brother Rick Copp for the Bar Harbor-based series. The books are written under the pen name Lee Hollis.