Friday, June 6, 2014

National Doughnut Day..!




Cronuts are the latest dessert craze to hit the world. A cross between croissants and donuts = cronuts, they are wonderfully flaky and delicious...

Yield: Makes 12 cronuts

Ingredients:

Vanilla pastry cream
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cronut dough
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons softened butter
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon dry active yeast
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
5 cups peanut or vegetable oil

Finishing
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 cup vanilla cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water

Preparation:

To make the vanilla pastry cream -
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk and 1/4 cup of the sugar.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, the remaining 1/4 cup of the sugar, flour, and salt. Remove the milk from the heat and slowly whisk it into the egg and flour mixture.
When all of the milk has been blended in, add the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat (whisking constantly) until the mixture is boiling and thick. Stir in the vanilla extract and pour the mixture through cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer into a non-reactive bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the service of the cream so a skin does not form. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To make the cronut dough -

In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine the milk and water and heat for a few seconds in the microwave to lukewarm. Whisk in the yeast with the warm milk and water and let stand for 5 minutes until it starts to bubble.

Add the flour, sugar, salt, and 1 1/2 tablespoons softened butter to a stand mixer bowl. Add the yeast mixture to the dry ingredients and mix with the paddle attachment until just combined, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for another minute. Press the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover with a damp cloth or loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot. Let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. At this point, punch down the dough, wrap and chill for 1 hour.

While your waiting, place the cup of butter between 2 pieces of parchment or wax paper. Use a rolling pin to flatten and shape into an 8-by-8-inch square.

Once your butter block is ready, roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch by 12-inch square. Place the butter square on top of the dough square so that the corners of the butter block are pointing to the sides of the dough square.

Fold the corners of the dough over the butter block to meet in the center. Use your fingers to pinch together the dough at the seams so the butter block is completely sealed. Roll dough out into a 20-by-8-inch rectangle. (If the dough is too stiff, smack it a few times with the rolling pin to soften.) Brush off any excess flour and fold the dough into thirds, like a letter. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour. Repeat the folding and chilling process 2 more times.

Once dough is chilled after its final fold, roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a 6-by-18-inch rectangle. Use a very sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the dough into 3 6-by-6-inch squares and stack the squares on top of each other. Roll the dough into a 6-by-8-inch rectangle. All this folding and stacking creates layers and layers of buttery croissant dough.

Using donut ring cutters, cut 12 donut shapes out of the dough and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the donuts loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.

Place the oil in a large pot and heat to 350 degrees. Fry donuts for about 1½ minutes, flipping them in the oil halfway through, until they are golden brown all over. Don't crowd the pan, fry in batches if needed. Place on a paper towel lined plate to cool.

For assembly -

In a bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon. Fill a piping bag fitted with a long narrow tip with the vanilla cream. In a separate bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and water. Add more water if necessary, but make sure glaze is not too watery.

Inject the cronut with vanilla cream, roll in sugar, and drizzle glaze over the top.


- On the road post

Monday, April 14, 2014

Easter Deviled Eggs

This time of year Easter is upon us and we get colorful and creative. What better why then with colorful eggs. These simple and bright Easter Deviled eggs can turn not only the outside but the inside into a Easter palette. But first, we need to create the canvas for our creations.
 
Cooking eggs has been a constant battle. Do you use fresh? Old? With vinegar? Without? Do you cover the eggs with water? Do you slow cook them? Well really to cook a hard egg... and that is what we are doing, then first we have to understand the cooking method that works best. In our case steam is our friend. To be more precise, cooking our eggs in a steamer basket will do the job. Steam creates more of a softer method then boiling. It allows for even heat with out the eggs becoming hard and rubbery. And we all have seen the green coating around the yoke after we boil eggs. That green ring is caused by the protein level of the yolk getting over cooked and creating a breakdown of compounds and creating a sulfur ring. Think back to smelling rotten eggs.... remember the smell of sulfur?  Well the same thing happens when you boil the eggs over a high temp for a long time.
 
So assemble about 6-8 eggs and place them into a steamer basket and steam them for about 10 min.
cool over cold water and peel. Now cut in half the eggs and pop out the yokes into a separate bowl. With your nice egg whites, give them a little rinse then dry on a clean paper towel. Set out your containers for each color that you want to use. Make sure that the containers are deep enough for the colored water to go half way up before you dip your eggs. Select the colors you want. I have found that using the pastel food colors that you can find in the mega-mart works great for this application.
 
Next boil some water and then fill each container with the hot water to the half way mark. Add your food color, one or two drops per dipping container. Let the dipping container cool then take your hard steamed half whites and dip in the dipping container. It doesn't take long, about 15-30 sec for the color to adhere to the white. Remove from the dipping container and place on a paper towel to dry.
      
 With your yolks in a separate bowl, make your filling by adding a little mayonnaise, mustard and salt. Mix and then pipette into the colorful "whites" using a pastry bag and a star tip.
 
 Colorful Easter Deviled eggs for everyone and sure to bring a smile to your next Easter brunch!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Herbal Essence...



Herbs, Rosemary, Thyme & Sage
 For most of the country, spring has been anything but sunny mornings and tulips opening up in vivid colors in your garden. It has, for most of us, been a wonder as to what unusual weather pattern will we experience this week. Hail and snow in March for some parts of the country, to record highs when the norm has been in the lower 30's for other parts of the country. It has been hard to really get a handle on the spring time planting season as well as the needed sun to allow the already planted seeds and seedlings to grow.
One of the best things to plant at anytime (excluding outdoors in winter) has been herbs. You can't go wrong with chives or thyme fresh from your garden to bring life to often bland dishes. And where would we be without basil for pesto? Herbs are great for the kitchen window sill or in most areas of your garden that has a small patch of earth that calls out to be filled. Herbs are easy to grow, provide ample supply and can turn a ok dish into a WOW dish!
Some of my favorites tend to be the top five herbs you should always have on hand.

1. CHIVES - Baked potatoes wouldn't be the same without chives. This garlic/onion herb is also perfect for salads, dips, and soups. The flowers of the chive plant are edible and can be added to salads as well. This herb gives any dish a earthy onion flavor with out being overpowering.
2. THYME, We all need a little more thyme in our lives. This wonderful herb is one of the most used in cooking. Adding thyme to all meat dishes, vegetables, soups and stuffing's will spice the dish up just enough to be new again.
3. BASIL - Italian cooking would not be italian without basil. This aromatic, leafy herb is the ground work for pestos, sauces, salads, and pizzas. You can even try adding a little to your next shellfish dish, perfect!
4. ROSEMARY - Most commonly recognized as the herb in rosemary chicken, rosemary is more versatile than most home cooks realize. The delicate herb is the perfect addition to lamb, fish, potatoes, and breads. Rosemary can also be used to flavor oil for cooking and dressing salads.
5. SAGE -Sage is a wonderful herb used in many recipes. This herb is probably most readily known for its use in sausages, but the distinct flavor will bring new life to stuffing's, soups and vegetables as well.

Other herbs you may want to add to your selection are;
Oregano - popular in the use of pizza but it also used in stuffing’s and pasta sauces.

Parsley - this herb is incredibly easy to grow. You just have to be patient because the seeds take at least 6 weeks to germinate. Parsley can be used as a garnish as well as an ingredient in many dishes and comes in several varieties including flat and curly leaf.

Garlic -  this herbs well known and almost universally loved by good cooks across many cultures.

Cilantro - is an herb that is commonly used in Mexican dishes. In addition, the seeds can be used to make curry powder. The dried seeds are called Coriander.

Mint - this herb is the general term used for a variety of highly aromatic herbs, the most common of which, for culinary purposes, are peppermint and spearmint. There is even a chocolate variety that gives a mocha essence. There is no substitute for fresh mint in beverages or as a garnish for fresh strawberries or melons, fruit salads. If you are planting outside be aware that mint can be invasive into other areas of your garden.

So now is the time to get started or make it a simple project for the family, starting your own herb garden. Herbs can make any dish better tasting as well as better looking.





Saturday, March 16, 2013

Food Blogger 2013


Writing a food blog can be a challenge.
The day to day life of work, family and life can leave little time for a project like blogging. So every year there is a conference to help food bloggers find ideas, thoughts and new ways of capturing food and related events onto virtual paper...
 
This years International Food Bloggers Conference ( IFBC) is going to be held in Seattle Washington. It runs for a few days and the interchange of ideas and friendships can find lasting impressions on even the most articulate of writers. 
Organized by Foodista.com and Zephyr Adventures, IFBC was the first-ever conference for food bloggers, first held in May of 2009. The series focuses on three themes: Food, Writing, and Technology. This event often features high-quality educational sessions, personal networking opportunities, and what 95% of attendees say is the best food and wine of any blogging conference!
 
 
 

Monday, December 3, 2012

In The Thick of Things - Beurre manié


Flour and Butter
When one thinks of thickeners for sauces, most people think of cornstarch or flour. One can leave your sauce jelly like and the other, can impart a "dough" type of flavor.
But there are better ways to give your sauce a rich silkiness by adding a few teaspoons of Beurre manié.
Beurre manié (French "kneaded butter") is a dough, consisting of equal parts of soft butter and flour, used to thicken soups and sauces. By kneading the flour and butter together, the flour particles are coated in butter. When the beurre manié is whisked into a hot or warm liquid, the butter melts, releasing the flour particles without creating lumps.

Beurre manié should not be confused with roux, which is also a thickener made of equal parts of butter and flour, but which is cooked before use. And cornstarch (something I would never use except if I was making an asian dish) needs to be added as a slurry to a high temp liquid before it achives the desired constancy.

Because Beurre manié contains uncooked flour, liquids thickened using Beurre manié dough may have an undesirable floury or pasty taste due to the uncooked proteins in the flour. For this reason, it is important that the Beurre manie is allowed to cook adequately, rather than being added to a dish immediately before serving.

Beurre manie is also used as a finishing step for sauces, imparting a smooth, shiny texture prior to service. Once made, your Beurre manié should be kept covered and should last a couple of weeks in your fridge.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Simple Thanks

Cornish Game Hen with Rosemary
This Thanksgiving do something different. Serve a half of a Cornish game hen on each of your guests plate, instead of the traditional 20 lb. turkey. It's fast, easy and provides each guest with ample white meat.Served on a bed of herbed risotto with traditional green bean casserole and sweet potatos, your guests will be amazed at how you were able to make a great Thanksgiving dinner with out spending hours in the kitchen.

You will not find Cornish game hens in the wild. In fact, the breed didn’t exist before the mid-1950s when Alphonsine (“Therese”) and Jacques Makowsky bred Cornish game cocks with domesticated chickens on their Connecticut farm. But the diminutive chickens (and that’s what they are) have come to epitomize elegance and single-serving perfection on American tables.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Eager Bean

Marinated four bean salad

The bean often gets a bad rap for... well... just being a bean! But this little legume is a creative and often a eager addition to the world of food.
One of the easiest and often most tasty additions is in the form of a four bean salad. With a few simple ingredients, you can turn a lonely bean into a great dish.

Four Bean Salad
Ingredients
• 1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained, reserve 1/4 cup.
• 1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
• 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) cut green beans, drained
• 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) cut wax beans, drained
• 1/4 cup scallions (green onions, approx 2) sliced 
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup cider vinegar (for a more mild vinegar taste use rice wine vinegar)
• 1/4 cup canola oil
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
Directions
• In a large salad bowl, combine all of the beans, and onions. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar, vinegar, oil salt and the reserved kidney bean liquid until sugar is dissolved. Pour over bean mixture; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight, stirring several times. Serve with a slotted spoon. Yield: 10-12 servings.