No matter how much of a foodie you’ve become, I will bet there is at least one packaged snack you still love. As a kid, you probably ate more of these kinds of foods than you might want to admit now. As for me, I still have a thing for cheese puffs (although I now buy the organic, gluten-free version) and I have fond memories of Hostess cupcakes, mostly because I watched other kids get them in their lunches and I never did (as an adult, I found them pretty bad: dry and tasteless, but they remain as a symbol of childhood to me!). Oreos and Keebler Fudge Stripe cookies were other childhood favorite of mine though and I have a weird memory of taking an empty egg carton and putting one Oreo in each section and eating out of it while reading one of the Little House on the Prairie books.
Whatever your secret craving or childhood obsession, you probably never thought you could recreate that food at home yourself. Now you can. The fun new book, Classic Snacks Made From Scratch by Casey Barber (Ulysses Press) has 70 recipes for all sorts of foods you could only buy in a package until now. Nutter Butters, Oreos, Fudge Stripes, Mallomars, Entenmann’s Donuts, TastyKakes, Twinkies, Cheez-Its, Pop-Tarts, Doritos, BBQ potato chips, Klondike Bars, Funyuns, Fudgsicles, fruit roll-ups, and even Peeps made it into the pages of this book of 70 recipes.
This isn’t a cookbook you’re going to cook from every day or even every weekend, but it is definitely a fun resource to have on had, particularly if you have kids, or if you just like to challenge yourself to recreate foods. Barber calls for some ingredients that might be harder to find (like cheese powder or buttermilk powder), so plan ahead for your binge. The recipes are all rated for difficulty level which is a nice feature, but there is no nutritional information (probably a good thing!). This book is simply pure fun. Just paging through it will give you a thrill as you slip past all the stuff you used to eat (or still eat on occasion) or dream about eating.
I made the tater tots recipe from the book. I had some trouble grating the potatoes, but it may be that my potatoes were cooked longer than they should have been. When I mixed it up, it just looked like mashed potatoes – it lost the texture of grated potatoes (again, I think this was my bad). They fried up nicely though and looked good. My kids both liked them. They tasted like potato balls to me, mostly because it didn’t have the right texture, but it got a thumbs up from the people who really matter. I probably wouldn’t make this again – I make fried food very rarely as a special treat and I think I would rather have French fries! But if you’re looking for a good tots recipe, I would definitely try this one.
- 1 lb russet potatoes
- ½ cup flour
- ¼ cup Pecorino Romano cheese
- ½ tsp garlic salt
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 egg, whisked with 1 tbsp water for egg wash
- 2 cups panko
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Scrub potatoes, then puncture with one or two tines on all sides with a fork. Wrap in foil and bake for 45 min to an hour until on the tender side. They should retain some firmness.
- Unwrap the potatoes and allow to cool, then peel the skins off by hand.
- Grate the potatoes into short and chunky strips using a box grater. Mix with flour, cheese, garlic salt, salt, and egg in a bowl, using your hands.
- Put the egg wash in a bowl and the panko in another bowl. Roll a small ball of potato with your hands and form into the cylinder tot shape. Dip in egg, then in panko. Repeat. Place on a baking sheet and freeze for an hour.
- Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil to 350 degrees. Cook in batches, until golden brown then place on a paper towel on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt.