I seriously did a happy dance in my kitchen the other day when the mail arrived and brought me the new cookbook, On a Stick!, written by one of my favorite bloggers, the esteemed food photographer, Matt Armendariz, of Matt Bites.
I had the pleasure (and honor!) of meeting both Matt and his partner, Adam Pearson (famed food stylist) this past January at Food Blog Camp and have to say that they are even more awesome in real life! They gave an incredible session on food styling and photography, sharing their immense talents with us. But besides being generous with their knowledge, they are really super nice people with great sense of humors. Matt truly has the most infectious smile that lights up the room and instantly improves the moods of all those around him!
His new book, On a Stick, 80 Party Perfect Recipes, was written for Ari and me. Well, not really, but it could have been, since we absolutely love food on a stick! We enjoy taking our family to fairs, and we find fair fare, irresistible! The sausage pepper hoagies, the cotton candy, corn on the cob, fried turkey legs and of course, our favorite on a stick fair food, Corn Dogs! (Page 48!)
But this book isn’t just about all the cool foods on a stick you’ll find at your local fair, you’ll find those recipes too, like Spaghetti and Meatballs On a Stick and Fried Candy Bars On a Stick (HELLO!), it’s also about taking everyday foods and upping their fun factor by stabbing, skewering and piercing them with a stick. There is something for everyone in On a Stick!; sophisticated Stuffed Olives, Grilled Fruit Skewers, Caprese Sticks; Fun Fried Mozzarella, Pizza Skewers, Fudge Pops and Worldly Dak Sanjuk, Scotch Eggs and Lamb Souvlaki. But it’s tons more fun when presented On A Stick!
In the first section, Matt introduces readers to all kinds of things that can be used as the “stick”, from sugarcane and rosemary to cocktail picks and traditional wood skewers. He encourages you to “think off the plate” and employ a more portable, hand hold-able, convenient utensil that can be thrown away to make clean up a breeze!
If you are looking for the perfect dipping sauce to accompany your hand held treat, Matt includes several pages of recommendations and recipes to tantalize your taste buds including one for a Latin Green Goddess Dressing, a Mango Salsa and a Sweet and Sour Chili Sauce.
On a Stick! is divided into sections for both Savory and Sweet dishes, with each of the 80 recipes personally introduced and brought to life by Matt’s beautiful photography. (See more of his stunning portfolio here.)
While I am dying to test out every recipe in this entertaining book, here’s a list of my Top 5 to try right away:
1. Breakfast Pancake Dogs
2. Chicken and Waffles
3. Chinese Five-Spice Skewers
4. Deep Fried Mac ‘n’ Cheese
5. Molotes with Fresh Tomato Salsa (An Oaxacan street food of masa crusted potato and sausage filling)
6. Pizza Skewers with Garlic Butter Dipping Sauce (the kids and the child within will love these!)
7. Son-in Law Eggs with Tamarind Sauce (Thai fried egg salad)
8. Suppli (Italian Rice Balls)
9. Chinese Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Chili Sauce
10. Tofu Tod (who’s Todd?) with Sweet Chili Sauce
Did I say 5? I really meant Top 10! This short list is only from the Savory recipe section! (There really are so many fabulous sounding recipes to choose from! How could I possibly just pick 5?!)
The Sweet recipe section should be recreated page by page as each recipe could only bring more and more joy! There’s Deep-Fried Candy Bars, Chocolate Covered Cheesecake, Cinnamon Rolls with Creamy Vanilla Frosting, Frozen Elvis and even Margarita Jello- Shots. And yes, they are all On a Stick!
So if you are looking for incredible ideas for a party, or if you just want to bring out more fun in food, be sure to grab a copy of On A Stick! I guarantee you will have a blast with these and will definitely be a hit at your next gathering!
Last year, we saw this at a fair upstate and were mesmerized by this food on a stick and wondered how it could possibly be made (as well as eaten, but that’s another story!). Well, we were so happy to see this recipe in On a Stick! and wanted to share it with you:
Spaghetti and Meatballs
by Matt Armendariz
I know what you’re thinking: Spaghetti and meatballs on a stick? What was wrong with them on a plate? Well, you can relax. This recipe takes everyone’s favorite, pops it on a stick, fries it, and increases the fun factor by about a million. Seriously.
8 Popsicle sticks
1/2 lb lean ground beef
2 tbs minced yellow onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 egg white
2 tbs seasoned bread crumbs
Salt and pepper, to taste
5 cups plus 3 tbs vegetable oil, divided
1/2 lb cooked spaghetti
2 cups marinara sauce
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1. Line a baking sheet and a shallow baking dish with parchment paper.
2. Make the Meatballs: Place all meatball ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until well combined. Shape into 1-inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheet.
3. Warm 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs and cook, turning to brown all sides, until just cooked through. Remove from heat and let cool.
4. Gently toss meatballs, spaghetti, marinara sauce, and Parmesan in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. Place mixture in the prepared baking dish, cover, and refrigerate at least 12 hours and up to overnight.
5. Preheat the remaining 5 cups of oil to 350 degrees F. Cut chilled pasta mixture into 8 equal squares. Remove squares from baking dish and insert a pop stick into each. Carefully place spaghetti sticks in pot, one at a time, and fry about 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden and crispy. Drain on paper towels, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve warm.
To find out more about Matt and this book, be sure to check out his blog, Matt Bites. You can also find Matt on Twitter.
Disclosure: We received a copy of On a Stick! to review. All photos and recipes have been reprinted with permission of Quirk Publishing.