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Fall Favorites: Cider and Doughnuts September 27, 2009

Filed under: Breakfast,Doughnuts,Uncategorized — amynb2008 @ 2:33 pm
Tags: , ,

Cider and doughnuts.  It’s a seasonal right of passage for so many of us.  A beacon that lures us over a bridge from warm, sunny summer to the crisp, clean air of fall.  And what a delicious beacon it is!  Apple Days and Doughnuts 097

Some of my fondest memories of cider and doughnut are from Halloween.  As a child, my hometown would have a Halloween parade and then we’d all congregate in the municipal parking lot waiting for the judges to announce the winners of the costume contest and eat cider and doughnuts.  As an only child, the only “siblings” I had were my cousins so we’d all be together along with our parents, not really feeling the chill since we were warmed by our costumes and our slight sugar buzz.

These days you won’t find me in any costume parade but I do love a trip to the apple orchard with my family and two years ago I discovered an organization that sponsors “Apple Days”.  There, you can taste test apples, watch applesauce being made and press your own cider.  So yesterday we loaded the kids in the car and went to make cider!

The process is quite fun.  First you visit the local farmer who is on hand to buy your apples.  He has a variety on hand and it’s best to mix them up.  Afterwards, you wash your apples, something the girls really enjoyed.  Next, you have to grind up your apples into what is called pumice.  You get a choice of a hand-crank machine or electric.  We chose to do both and make the best of the experience.  After that, you dump your pumice into the press, squeeze, and watch the sweet, amber liquid pour into the bucket.

Since we made our own cider, I figured we should make our own doughnuts too.  I did a little research online and found a recipe for pumpkin doughnuts that I wanted to try.  It comes from Food Network stars Pat and Gina Neeley.  While the dough does have a lot of ingredients, many of them are just spices.  The dough comes together quickly (even when you have three children helping) and easily.  All you do is mix together the dry ingredients, mix together the wet ingredients, and combine.  You don’t even have to roll it out.  The soft, sticky dough pats out easily into the required half inch.  Once there, you cut it with a round cutter, making a circle in the middle with a another smaller cutter.  After that, a nice warm bath in hot oil…viola…doughnut!

The best sign of a good doughnut (or anything deep-fried)  is that it isn’t oily at all.  When you cook at the right temperature the oil cooks the food but any excess didn’t get absorbed into it.  These doughnuts turned out perfectly.  Not an ounce oily just a nice, deep brown.  They were perfectly crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and drenched in a sweet maple glaze.  They were exactly what you want a doughnut to be:  the perfect texture, not too sweet and just, well, just delicious.  Ella took one bite of them and declared them “perfect”.  I had to agree.  After that, it got pretty quiet.  Everyone was too busy eating.

Maybe that’s the best sign of a good doughnut.  Silence.

Apple Days and Doughnuts 115

You can view the recipe here:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/patrick-and-gina-neely/neelys-maple-glazed-donuts-recipe/index.html

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TWD: Cottage Cheese Pufflets…Don’t let the name fool you! September 22, 2009

When I saw that Jacque of Daisy Lane Cakes (http://daisylanecakes.blogspot.com/) chose Cottage Cheese Pufflets for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie, I didn’t quite know what to expect.  For some reason, I was thinking maybe they were a pancake of sorts.  Little did I know that these are actually cookies.  What a pleasant little surprise!  And they aren’t just any cookie.  They are filled cookies that look like a lot more trouble than they are.  The kind where people’s jaws drop open upon discovering that you actually made them.

cottage cheese pufflettes 007The most interesting thing about this recipe is that it does, indeed, have cottage cheese in it.  And butter.  A lot of butter.  The pastry dough is exceptionally easy to put together.  Just cream the butter, sugar and salt, add the cottage cheese and vanilla and process until completely smooth.  Then, pulse in your flour.  Done.

Unfortunately, the ease of making the dough itself is a bit offset by the difficulty the dough is to work with.  It requires a lot of chilling.  The recipe calls for three hours of chill time before rolling out, cutting, and assembling but you’ll find that it’s easier to chill, roll, chill again, and then cut.  The key to working with this dough is to work in small batches and keep it cold (and it does warm up quickly — at least it did for me because when I made these it was very hot and humid).

The recipe calls for the dough to be filled with jam.  I didn’t have any that I was happy with so I tried to figure out what I could use instead.  The obvious answer was chocolate so I went with that.  I whipped up some ganachecottage cheese pufflettes 008 and let that chill too so it was nice and firm.  Since I really liked the half-moon shape of the apple turnovers from last week, I decided to cut the dough into circles instead of the prescribed squares.  This did mean I had leftover dough, but we’ll deal with that later.  Because the dough isn’t very sweet and neither was the ganache, I topped the pufflets with some raw sugar.

My first batch turned out so pretty and they tasted pretty good too but now I was curious what they would be like with the jam.  That’s when it hit me that I had bought some dandelion jam on a whim at the farmer’s market over the summer.  I broke that out and gave it a try.  For those of you who have never had dandelion jam, it tastes a lot like honey.  Mine was also very sweet so I didn’t top these with any sugar.  I found the jam much harder to deal with.  The jam kind of oozed out of the sides as I tried to seal the cookies and I wasn’t left with much on the inside.  This version turned out much different from the chocolate version.  With the chocolate ganache, the cookie and filling remained separate while the dandelion jam pretty much melted into the dough and became a sort of glaze rather than a filling.  Both version were equally delightful though, so no complaints here.

As for the dough I had leftover…well, I knew that the pastry wouldn’t be as tender once it had been rolled out but I didn’t want to waste it.  Last week in my pastry class, I made some various things from puff pastry.  One of those things were palmiers which is fancily rolled puff pastry that is rolled in sugar, cut into slices and baked.  I decided to do the same thing with my leftover dough.  I covered my work surface with raw sugar and rolled out my dough.  I made sure both sides with covered.  Then I rolled the dough into a spiral.  After chilling, I cut them into slices and baked.

I think that these actually turned out to be my favorite.  Like I knew, the dough wasn’t quite as tender, but the sugar melted and gave a very nice, subtle caramel flavor.  I’m thinking I may make this again just do all of it like this.  Or I may try nutella.  Such tough decisions!

cottage cheese pufflettes 005

 

Mallorca Bread September 20, 2009

Filed under: Bread,Uncategorized,Yeast Breads — amynb2008 @ 7:44 pm
Tags: ,

I love chocolate.  That’s never been a secret.  I often say that it’s my favorite food but I think there is one thing that might rival chocolate.mallorca bread 001

Bread.  Really, really good bread.  Hot and buttery.

Sigh…

One of my favorite breads come from a restaurant called Carson’s.  It’s slight chewy on the outside, warm and soft on the outside and served with a side of citrus butter.  It is so good, that I am often disappointed in my actual entree because I’d rather just have the bread.

Another favorite, are the rolls from the Common Grill in Chelsea and yet another is the baguette from Cafe Japon.

Sigh…

I am a member of a new website called Tasty Kitchen (www.tastykitchen.com).  Those of you who follow the Pioneer Woman will know of this site.  While I was looking through the recipes there, I came across one for Pan de Malloraca or Mallorca Bread posted by a member from the food blog The Noshery (http://thenoshery.com).  These little rolls looked like soft, edible clouds.  They looked heavenly and were simply too good to pass up so yesterday, I gave them a try.

By looking at these breads, you would think they would be complicated to make.  On the contrary, they were very easy.  The dough is sweet and very rich, containing a whole stick of butter and six egg yolks.   It requires no kneading.  It is also very soft.  To form the bread you must roll out portions into strips to be curled into a coil.  I found this part the most difficult because the dough was so soft.  Or it could have been that I had a two-year old distracting me, insistent on either eating the dough or drinking the melted butter.  Not sure which.  In either case, the dough wasn’t as difficult to work with as it looked like it would be but I did find it hard to roll out evenly.  Still, they slowly took shape, some better than others, and baked up soft and sweet.   It was a hit with the whole family.  I particularly enjoyed watching Howie and Norah sitting side by side eating our Mallorca and watching football.  Ella loved that you “got the texture of bread and the sweetness of the powdered sugar.”  Even Melanie liked it.  And that’s saying something!

I think these are great little breads.  They are rich and sweet and delicious.  I had mine with tea and the flavors complemented each other so well.  They seemed to be made for each other.  I highly recommend giving this recipe a try.  It is time consuming since the dough does need to rise three times, which will take nearly 3 hours for rise time alone.  Still, like all good bread,  it’s worth the wait.

You can find the complete recipe at The Noshery:  http://thenoshery.com/2009/08/19/mallorca/

 

TWD: Flaky Apple Turnovers September 15, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — amynb2008 @ 2:42 pm

Melanie's first day of preschool 018I missed the last two weeks of Tuesdays with Dorie.  The first week was both  my daughter’s and my mom’s birthday and I already had plenty of baked goods.  The second week I was sick.  To tell you the truth, I almost skipped this one too.  I’m still not quite as energetic as I was before I was sick and I wasn’t sure I wanted to exert what energy I do have on apple turnovers.

Will I ever learn?

Grudgingly, since I had already missed two weeks and didn’t want to miss another, I set out to make these turnovers (chosen by Julie of Someone’s in the Kitchen).  I have to say this was the easiest pastry dough I have ever made.  It came together really easily and could be rolled out even after refrigeration.  It didn’t fall apart on me when I cut it out and filled it.  The filling was equally as easy.  It was simply diced apples (I used a mix of granny smith and fuji) with a little flour, sugar and cinnamon and then dotted with butter.

Once everything was together, I cut out the dough.  The recipe called for 4 1/2-inch circles but I didn’t have one that big so I used a 3 1/2 inch.  I actually quartered the recipe since I wasn’t sure anyone would like them.  I’m not really a pie eater and my husband doesn’t like apple pie.  I got nine turnovers out of the dough.  I could have gotten more had I rerolled the scraps but Norah had decided to “help” me and was playing with them.  It was just easier to let her than fight with her.

I used a scalloped-edged cutter and the turnovers turned out to be pretty half-moon shapes.  They smelled delicious as they baked and when I pulled them out of the oven, they were all puffy and golden brown.  After they cooled a bit, we all gave them a try.  I have to admit that they were delicious!  Even my husband like them.  He said they were “delightful, better than apple pie.”  Ella just ate them and said, “Mmmmm”.  Norah’s disappeared without me actually seeing her eat it, so I’m just assuming that’s a good sign.  Melanie’s on the other hand went nearly untouched.  Not surprising considering the source.  I don’t really count her in the success of a recipe anymore anyway.

These flakey apple turnovers lived up to their name.  The pastry was tender and flaky and exactly like I imagine good pastry should be.  The filling was nice and not overly spiced with cinnamon.  These are the perfect after-dinner treat or lunchbox dessert.  My only complaint was I wish the turnovers could hold more filling.  They felt mostly like pastry.  I’m filled them as full as I could but they still needed a bit more.  I also felt that it could have been a little more sweet — either the dough itself or the filling.  More filling might have helped with this though.

One of the best things about participating in Tuesdays with Dorie is that I get to try things I normally wouldn’t try.  I get to expand my horizons.  I never would have tried these turnovers on my own and that would have truly been a shame.  I’m already looking forward to making more.  Maybe even the whole recipe this time!

Good thing it’s apple season!

Note:  to view the complete recipe, please visit Julie from Someone’s in the Kitchen athttp://someonekitchen.blogspot.com/http://someonekitchen.blogspot.com/)

 

Sickness and Other Woes September 8, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — amynb2008 @ 2:04 pm

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I do have a few things in my backlog of things to write about but I haven’t had the chance.  The end of summer brings lots of busyness getting ready for school…not to mention I’ve been sick for nearly a week now.  I’m finally feeling a bit better.  I am hoping to complete the Tuesdays with Dorie recipe tonight and post later.  We’ll have to see how much energy I have.  In any case, don’t abandon me!  I’ll be back when I can!