Last month, I went out to lunch with two mystery author friends of mine, Vicki Delany (Valley of the Lost), and Deborah Turrell Atkinson (Pleasing the Dead). Both women have new books out and were touring the Southwest together, after attending Left Coast Crime in Honolulu. I met up with them in Tempe, where I live, after their gig at Tempe Public Library, and went out for supper with them in Scottsdale before their event at Poisoned Pen Bookstore.
I took them to a fabulous little Jalisco-style Mexican restaurant in Scottsdale called Frank and Lupe’s. We sat outside on the patio, ate fish tacos and drank Cervezas, and generally had a spiffy time.
After the meal, the waiter brought to our table a basket of sopapillas. (so-pa-PEE-ah) Now, Vicki is a Canadian, and Debby has lived in Hawaii for thirty years, and neither of them had ever seen this Mexican treat before, much less knew how to eat one, so it was my great pleasure to introduce them to the joys of the sopapilla.
For the uninitiated. a sopapilla is a cross between Indian fry bread and a doughnut. A three-inch square of dough is tossed in a deep-fryer until it puffs up. It is sometimes sprinkled with granulated sugar and maybe a little cinnamon when it’s fresh out of the fryer, but a purist does not sweeten her sopapillas before they go to the table. In fact, sopapillas can easily be eaten as part of a savory dish, stuffed with beans or chili.
But when they bring them to your table, all hot and puffy, with a squeeze bottle of honey, at the end of your meal, the only thing to do is to rip off one of the corners of your little pillow and squeeze a whole bunch of honey into the cavity, swirl it around, and eat it up. If you don’t end up sticky as Winnie the Pooh, then you’re not doing it right.
4 cups white flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 tablespoons of shortening,
1 1/2 cups of warm water
enough vegetable oil for deep frying
Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and shortening and mix well. Stir in water and mix until the dough is soft. Cover the bowl and let dough stand for about 20 minutes. Punch down the dough and roll it out on a floured board to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut the dough into 3 inch squares. Heat the oil in a deep fryer to about 375 degrees. Drop the dough squares into the oil and fry until golden. Let the sopapillas drain on paper towels for a few minutes, then serve hot.