Fair season recipes that bring the fun indoors

Several baskets hold food that's been battered and fried on a stick. Squeeze bottles of ketchup and mustard sit nearby.
On-a-stick recipes from Nicole A. Taylor’s book “Watermelon and Red Birds: A Cookbook for Juneteenth and Black Celebrations.”
(Beatriz da Costa)

It’s one week before Juneteenth, and in today’s paper, you’ll find two recipes in the Weekend section excerpted from Nicole A. Taylor’s fantastic new cookbook, “Watermelon and Red Birds: A Cookbook for Juneteenth and Black Celebrations.” Taylor’s book is a vibrant resource for educating yourself about the holiday, its traditions and the foods essential for celebrating it.

Her recipe for Sweet Potato Spritz, which fits into the category of “red drinks,” is a refreshing cocktail combining bitter Cappelletti aperitivo and a spiced sweet potato syrup that’s fizzy and delightful. To go with it, good, old-fashioned corn dogs, which are easy to make at home and customizable to your preferred hot dog or sausages.

Reading about corn dogs and all sorts of fair foods that are eaten to celebrate Juneteenth reminded me of other great foods that you usually eat only at a fair but that are fun to make at home. They’re especially great if, like me, you missed the fair this year and/or you don’t have much outdoor space and want to bring that backyard-celebration feeling indoors.

Funnel cakes are pure indulgence — just fried batter and sugar, and their squiggly nature makes them way more fun than eating a doughnut. Genevieve Ko makes a Rainbow Funnel Cake that gilds the lily with crushed Lucky Charms marshmallows. I highly approve of the more-is-more strategy here.

What most reminds me of the fairs I went to as a kid are vendors hawking mountains of sausages and peppers on hoagie buns. This recipe for Sheet Pan Sausages With Cherry Tomatoes and Onions, by Dawn Perry, can be easily adapted for a homemade version of the fair staple. Just swap the cherry tomatoes for some thinly sliced red, orange and yellow bell peppers (or add to the tomatoes; it’s your life!) then serve all of it atop good store-bought sandwich rolls.


For dessert, there’s nothing better when you’re strolling through a hot, crowded fairground than to find a spot of shade and relax with a slice of cold pie. Nicole Rucker’s Key Lime Pie would be my choice for the occasion since it’s bracingly tart and refreshing — the proper ending to a fair-foods experience. And since you’re making it at home, there’s no walking for an hour to find where you parked your car.

Corn Dogs

A lightly sweet cornbread batter envelopes hot dogs in this iconic fair snack. Use your favorite hot dogs or sausages — even vegan ones — to customize the corn dogs to your taste.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 50 minutes.

Baskets hold corn dogs, battered and fried mushrooms and zucchinis and more.
(Beatriz da Costa)

Sheet Pan Sausages With Cherry Tomatoes and Onions

All the cooking for this dish takes place in the oven, and it couldn’t be easier to prepare. You can even prepare the onions on the baking sheet in advance and refrigerate them for a day so you can throw them directly in the oven when you’re ready to start cooking.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 40 minutes.

Sheet Pan Sausages With Cherry Tomatoes and Onions.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

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Rainbow Funnel Cake

A simple pancake-like batter fries into funnel cake in a matter of minutes. Top it with powdered sugar, whipped cream and rainbow marshmallows for a county fair effect.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 30 minutes.

Funnel cake with Lucky Charms magical marshmallows.
(Genevieve Ko / Los Angeles Times)

Nicole Rucker’s Key Lime Pie

You can use pre-ground graham cracker crumbs to make the crust, or finely grind about 10 whole graham crackers. To serve a crowd, try the slab pie variation and cut into bars.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 30 minutes.

A slice of key lime pie on a plate.
(Ricardo DeAratanmha / Los Angeles Times)

Sweet Potato Spritz

Cinnamon, cardamom and vanilla bean flavor a delightful sweet potato syrup that blends with Cappelletti and vodka in this refreshing spritz. Make the syrup ahead of time so it’s chilled and ready to mix when you want it.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 5 minutes.

A glass full of liquid with a slice of orange on the side.
(Beatriz da Costa)

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