Friday, October 29, 2010
Usually I would order a small iced latte with 2 shots of espresso. Plain and simple. Sugar is for wimps- I like my cafe pure and angry. Even when it's chilly out. All cafe is frio. But what's this on the menu? Pumpkin spice latte please! Pump that sugary goodness in there! Oh, and can you throw in that muffin too?
That's why winter is for big baggy hoodies and jackets... right? I can eat all this stuff with a clear conscious...*clutches latte
Well. As that Depeche Mode song from highschool went: 'I give in to sin cuz you gotta make this life livable.' Now go curl up on the couch with these donuts and watch the leaves change colors. Eat them while they're hot and fresh so you can enjoy a taste of fall! I used the glaze to keep that warmy gooey feeling lasting even longer. They're a lil time consuming because you gotta keep the dough cold. Other than that, they're a sinch!
Courtesy to the pawn shop across the street from my office for having such a ridiculously cute plate. Only $1.00! (Oh, and thanks G Money for waiting- I had no idea you were outside as I took my time browsing after the lunch) Thank goodness for hand-me downs :D
Apple Cider Doughnuts
adapted by Smitten Kitchen
Makes 18 doughnuts (suggested yield for a 3-inch cutter)
1 cup apple cider
3 1/2 cups flour, plus additional for the work surface
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
Vegetable oil or shortening (see my explanation in the post) for frying
Glaze (1 cup confectioners’ sugar + 2 tablespoons apple cider)
Cinnamon sugar (1 cup granulated sugar + 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon)
In a saucepan over medium or medium-low heat, gently reduce the apple cider to about 1/4 cup, 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed (paddle attachment, if using a standing mixer) beat the butter and granulated sugar until the mixture is smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat until the eggs are completely incorporated. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the reduced apple cider and the buttermilk, mixing just until combined. Add the flour mixture and continue to mix just until the dough comes together.
Line baking sheet with parchment or wax paper and sprinkle them generously with flour. Turn the dough onto one of the sheets and sprinkle the top with flour. Flatten the dough with your hands until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Make sure it's nice and together or else it will be shaggy when you cut it! Use more flour if the dough is still wet. Transfer the dough to the freezer until it is slightly hardened, about 20 minutes.
Line another baking sheet with parchment or was paper. Pull the dough out of the freezer. Using a 3-inch or 3 1/2-inch doughnut cutter — or a 3 1/2-inch round cutter for the outer shape and a 1-inch round cutter for the hole from a set like this, as I did — cut out doughnut shapes. Place the cut doughnuts and doughnut holes onto the second sheet pan. Refrigerate the doughnuts for 20 to 30 minutes. (re-roll the scraps of dough, refrigerate them briefly and cut additional doughnuts from the dough.)
Add enough oil or shortening to a deep-sided pan to measure a depth of about 3 inches. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and heat over medium heat until the oil reaches 350. Have ready a plate lined with several thicknesses of paper towels.
Make your toppings (if using)... while the cut doughnut shapes are in the refrigerator, make the glaze by whisking together the confectioners’ sugar and the cider until the mixture is smooth; make the cinnamon sugar by mixing the two together. Set aside.
Fry and top the doughnuts.... Carefully add a few doughnuts to the oil, being careful not to crowd the pan, and fry until golden brown, about 60 seconds. Turn the doughnuts over and fry until the other side is golden, 30 to 60 seconds. Drain on paper towels for a minute after the doughnuts are fried. Dip the top of the warm doughnuts into the glaze or cinnamon sugar mixture (if using) and serve immediately.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
My present company was a sponsor for the event. Because I've been a champion for volunteer work in the office, the CEO thoughtfully invited me to attend. I was pretty surprised with invitation and did not know what to expect.
I definitely was not expecting all of this! This event rocked! Tons of samples from local restaurants, live music, and a yummy glass of red wine. There was a silent auction for various items like bed&breakfast, restaurants, and so forth. I was more amused because my deer-hunting co-worker literally stalked the hunting cabin bid the entire evening. The attire was pretty much anything goes. I came straight from work but there were people in jeans.
Unfortunately, I was not able to keep up with what food was from where. It was all amazing! I know these adorable carrot mini cupcake are from Bittersweet Cafe off Kings Street in Old Town. They also had these scrumptious praline bars and cake balls. Their feature item is their Giant Cupcakes which you can special order. As it turns out, my old internship was right across the street so I'd been there once or twice for breakfast. Random!
The event itself was hosted by the Alexandria Rotary Foundation and they had volunteers stationed across the venue. When it came time for my wine, the poor attendee did not know what he was talking about and openly admitted he was a volunteer- he didn't know much about wine! I played it safe with my glass of Merlot from the Delfosse winery.
This table was from La Porta's restaurant was probably my favorite of the entire event. Their food was very simple and I was in love with these lil brushetta samples. I have never been there but if the food is as good as the samples, this may be quickly amended!
After an evening of delicious food, it closed with birthday hugs to my homie Flynn. I've known this lug since college. A few years back, he made the intelligent/whack decision to work in the sticks of Maryland. Fortunately, his girlfriend is from Northern VA so we have managed to rope him back to reality :D Happy Birthday Andrew! I cannot wait for you to move back!
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
The staple fish of my life has been sardines, codfish, and salmon. When my mom is feeling lovey-dovey- she will make my favorite: red snapper covered in onions. It's a very simple recipe like all the food my family makes. This white fish threw me off guard. It's very bland and I loath the idea of butter. We had tried fish tacos the other night and that recipe was plain as dry wall. Yuck. That route was closed off.
I went for something we both like: coconut. Fish coated in light, coconut flakes with a touch of lime and then fried. It wasn't overpowering but you could taste the sweetness. My recipe called for an apricot sauce but I didn't have any jam so I threw in some sweet chili sauce from the bottle, like the one for egg rolls.
His family is Cambodian. It's a different food profile but it has one thing in common with my family's: spice. We all love heat. His recipe stole the show. I hate to say that but it's true. Don't get me wrong-- I love coconut. When it comes to my meals though- spice is king.
What a coincidence- his sister had given me thai pepper plant as a gift that same weekend (thank you Tita). I smell a set up!! *cough cough My brother was the judge and he put it best.... they're two very different flavors. Both are delicious and he would make either in his own home. The texture of the coconut was awesome but the flavor of the thai was superior. Like I said, that's our palette.
Pick the one that works for you. Note, our fish was adapted from the recipes. We didn't run out to the grocery store- we used what we had in the house so don't stress if you don't have enough basil or something.
adapted from Asian Food Recipes
4 tablespoons flour, mixed with a pinch of salt and white pepper oil for deep-frying
1 tablespoon oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 thai red chillies, sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon white pepper
10 basil leaves
4 stalks of asparagus (optional)
To make the Hot Basil and Chilli Sauce, heat the oil in a wok or saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and chillies and stir-fry for about 1 minute until fragrant. Add the sugar, oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce and pepper, asparagus (optional) and stir-fry for a further minute. Finally add the basil leaves, mix well and quickly remove from heat. Set aside.
Clean the fish... rinse well in cold water.
Dip the fish in the flour mixture to coat thoroughly. Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. Deep-fry the fish for 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Remove and drain the excess oil on paper towels. Place on a serving platter.
Pour the Hot Basil and Chilli Sauce over the deep-fried fish and serve immediately.
adapted from All Recipes
1/2 cup lime juice (optional)
1/2 cup flaked coconut, finely chopped (sweetened or unsweetened, your call)
1 tablespoons flour
1/2 tablespoon Creole seasoning (I didn't have this so made a quick mix based on this list)
2 fillets tilapia
1/4 cup cornstarch
I poured lime juice in a ziplock bag and let the tilapia soak it in while I prepared everything else.
Toss together the coconut, flour and Creole seasoning in a bowl. In a separate bowl, toss the tilapia with the cornstarch, and shake off the excess. Pour the egg substitute into a separate bowl, and dip the fillets in the egg. Press fillets in the coconut mixture coating all sides.
Heat canola oil in a frying pan to a temperature of about 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Fry fillets one or two at a time on both sides until golden brown. Remove to drain on a paper towel.
Friday, October 22, 2010
I've always enjoyed the concept of Poptarts: a flat pastry filled with of jam or frosting. Simple enough. The best option for a healthy breakfast? Not so much. My favorite kind of poptart is plain strawberry, no frosting. The smores version was dessert back in college. What's your favorite kind of poptart? I bet it will be these if you try them out! Sorry Kelloggs, you can't compete with the real thing.
The pastry is buttery and basic. Can't go wrong with that! It's flaky but not too flaky! It's kinda like a smooth pie crust. Either way-- it sure beats the pants off the boxed version (they're so uniform and plain). Gross! I did not measure when I cut out my pastry rectangles and yet somehow it call came together beautifully.
As for the filling... warm. gooey. pumpkin spice. I was worried at first. It looked a little too thin to be filling. I wanted to get in as much as possible. A few bits even peeked out as I was crimping the edges. They wiped off easy enough but I found the imperfections really cute. You could tell- this was home made and freakin legit! After being baked all together- the angels began to sing. They were even better the next day, when the flavors had more time to get to know each other.
Topped with the maple glaze, it made getting up for work exciting. Yah. It's kinda bad when the first thing you think is what's waiting in the kitchen, hehe. All these fall flavors, I can't help but appreciate Autumn's coat even more.
These are not difficult, but they do take a little love. Makes 9 tarts
Pumpkin Spice Poptarts
Joy the Baker
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 large egg (for brushing the dough)
3/4 cup pureed pumpkin
1 large egg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons milk
For the Crust... In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add the cold butter and break it up in the flour mixture using your fingers, a pastry cutter or a food processor. Work it in until only pea sized lumps remain in your mixture, kinda like making pie crust. The mixture should hold together when squeezed into a ball.
In a small bowl, beat the egg with the milk. Add the mixture all at once to the dry ingredients and stir to make sure that moisture is introduced to all of the flour mixture. Lightly dust a clean counter with flour and knead the dough on the floured counter for a few turns until it really starts to come together. Divide the dough in two, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Again, like pie crust- it's not fun to work with melty butter dough.
While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling... In a small sauce pan, heat pumpkin puree and spices over low. Just heat through until the spices become fragrant. This helps to bring loads of flavor into the filling. Remove from heat and place spiced pumpkin in a medium sized bowl. Whisk in egg, salt and sugar and place in the fridge to rest while you roll out the dough.
On a well floured work surface, press dough into a 3×5-inch rectangle, roll the dough out to about 1/8-inch thickness. The dough should be slightly larger than 9×12-inches. If you wanna cheat, use a 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper for the first round, then roll up the scraps and make the rest. Trim dough with a pizza cutter, creating a rectangle that is 9-inches tall and 12-inches long. Using the pizza cutter, cut each side into thirds, creating 9 squares. Place dough squares in the fridge while you roll out the second piece of dough in the same way.
Brush one set of 9 squares with beaten egg. This will act as the glue for the top layer of dough. Spoon about one tablespoon of pie filling into the center of each brushed dough square. Top with a piece of dough and use a floured fork to crimp the sides closed. Use the tines of the fork to create vent holes in each tart.
Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Let tarts rest in the fridge for 30 minutes while the oven preheats.
Remove tarts from the fridge and place in the oven to bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
While the tarts bake, whisk together ingredients for the glaze and set aside.
Let baked tarts rest on a cooling rack to cool completely before glazing. Best served within 2 days.
Monday, October 18, 2010
I adore Jess and her husband. Whoever this little person is, they hit jack pot for parents. I cannot WAIT to meet this sweet little girl!! Heck- at this point I just want to know the NAME. The parent's won't budge. Knowing Jess... it's something Italian and pretty. Just a clue guys? Come on!!
And darlin, I know you're going through a rough patch right now. It's not forever. You are strong, kind, and brave. Life is full of hardship but we endure. Whether we like it or not. After all... that's the stuff that makes hero's, right Super Woman? Just when the butterfly thought the world was over, it become a butterfly. Eu te amo. This chapter is only part of the story.
So let's celebrate life. We had a small office baby shower. It was sweet and simple. There were some gifts and conversation. Of course, I asked to bake something special for the mommy-to-be.
Jess doesn't have much of a sweet tooth. You're not going to find her hoarding candy at her desk, her palette is more sophisticated. To play it safe, I ran this idea by her- you never know what a pregnant woman wants to eat. I would have made pickle pancakes if it pleased her.
This lemon cake is full of zest. Literally. 1/3 cup of it which translates to about 6 lemons. It's not super fluffy and airy type but moist and soft. It's cake-cake. Some of the cakes were filled with lemon curd, others with chocolate-raspberry gananche, and some were plain. It's entirely up to you!
The raspberry frosting is the first buttercream I've actually loved. The butter does not dominate and you can make it as sweet as you want, depending on how much confectioner's sugar you use. I used enough to make it hold but you can add more. The raspberry flavor was just right- not too strong, not too subtle.
To top it off, I filled raspberries with gananche. Hence, some of the cupcakes had filling- I didn't want to throw away the leftover gananche. Pretty slick, right?
All in all- this was a time consuming recipe. The ingredients are simple and it's very easy to make. It's that 1/3 cup of lemon zest! Lemme tell yah... your arms will feel the burn after awhile. If you can get over the zesting part, you're good as gold.
from Smitten Kitchen
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Raspberry Buttercream Frosting
from David Lebovitz
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4-6 cups powdered sugar (depending of your sweetness level & desired consistency)
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
from Culinary Concoctions
2 pints fresh raspberries, cleaned and dried
5 oz semisweet chocolate
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake tins.
For the cake... Cream butter and 2 cups sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Mixing at medium speed, add eggs, one at a time, and lemon zest.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, buttermilk and vanilla. Add flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to butter and sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Fill tins to almost full and bake for 15-20 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Combine 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan, and cook over low heat until sugar dissolves.
When cakes are done, let them cool 10 minutes. Invert them onto a rack set over a tray, and spoon lemon syrup over cakes. Let cakes cool completely.
As an option, you can use a apple corer to take out the center of the cupcake and insert a flavor. I used some of the left over truffle chocolate and some handy store bought lemon curd.
For the frosting... Place butter and jam in a mixing bowl or an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until you reach desired consistency & sweetness. Frost cupcakes to your desired cuteness.
For the raspberry truffles... place chocolate and raspberry jam in a heat proof bowl. Bring cream to a boil. Pour over chocolate and jam and let sit for about 3 minutes. Whisk together chocolate mixture. If it is still a little lumpy, put in microwave for a few seconds and whisk again.
Put ganache into a piping bag and pipe chocolate into fresh raspberries, then let sit in fridge for about 15 minutes. Use as a decorative topping, just try not to eat them all first!
Friday, October 15, 2010
I stumbled upon this weird junx by King Arthur flour: 'Baker's Cinnamon Filling.' What the heck is this stuff? It looks like gooey, rich paste. It comes from a jar and you 'just add water.' Reading that makes me feel like it's from the cartoon, ' the Jetsons.' My beef with the recipes on the King Arthur website is the specialty ingredients. Many of the items listed have a link for purchase. Fail King Arthur, fail.
The quest continues!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Time isn't the only issue. Enforcing healthy food choices is tough. What's quick, easy, and cheap- a quality salad or General Tso chicken? Exactly. I bet you got Chinese take out on speed dial! It's okay, I got the Vietnamese spot down the street (though I think pho is healthier). Your diet is a reflection of your life style. It's okay...
Life can be hectic.
Yes, it's hard enough to take a break, much less actually MAKE a meal. That does not mean it's impossible. I hope this little recipe helps.
This is a healthy, quick and easy meal. It's meant for two but you can always tailor it to your needs. We had some left over potatoes, that's about it. The potatoes take the longest to soften, but while they're in there, you can easily finish up shrimp and asparagus.
The stir-fry shrimp is full of flavor and I thought the touch of lime at the end was perfect. It's very light and tasty. I got the recipe from Cannelle et Vanille. It's something my family would make- but simplified which is why I love it.
To help fill you up are garlic red potatoes. Compared to my mom's old fashioned mashed potatoes, these are a much healthier alternative. There's isn't a ton of butter or cream. If you love garlic-- go crazy. This is a hand me down from my big brother.
As for the asparagus, it's natural and untouched. I hate when people ruin veggies with too much sauce and seasoning. They're blanched with a touch of salt. That's really all you need.
This meal is good to go in about 30 minutes.
Mashed Garlic Red Potatoes
8 medium red potatoes, quartered
5 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 cup fat-free milk, warmed
1/2 teaspoon salt
Some fresh asparagus (8 stalks, 4 per person)
8 large shrimp, peeled
red pepper flakes, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh parsley on top
Place potatoes and garlic in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender. Drain well. Add the butter, milk and salt; mash. Done.
While the potatoes are simmering, blanch the asparagus. Set some water to boil in a medium pot. Once it reaches a boil, drop the asparagus in. Let it cook for about 4 minutes. Fill a bowl with ice water and put to the side, waiting for the asparagus to finish cooking. Once the asparagus has achieved that bright green color, remove immediately and drop it in the ice water. Leave it there until it's time to serve.
In the meantime, peel the shrimp and season lightly with salt. Set aside. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan on medium-low heat. Add the red pepper flakes and infuse the olive oil for a minute. Add shrimp, cook them in the olive oil for 1 minute on each side. Shrimp is done once it turns pink.
Once everything is done, serve the potatoes as they are. Serve the shrimp with more fresh parsley and lime wedges. Lightly salt the asparagus. You can add a touch of olive oil if you want.