Monday, December 27, 2010

Beignets with Maple Glaze

It's Day 2 of Beignet Week... today we top with a beautiful maple glaze.

For the original post, click here: Beignets

Here's where I started...

I took a 1/2 cup powdered sugar and slowly added about 1/2 teaspoon milk and whisked.

Then I added about 1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup... and whisked...

And a very small amount of pure vanilla extract... and whisked...

Then I tasted it and it needed more... so I added more syrup...

And more vanilla extract... but I also added a little bit of regular pancake syrup (not pictured here and I'm pretty sure it's currently unrated by the Maple Syrup Institute)... but that was the extra kick it needed.

(Confession: next time I might just use the unrated pancake syrup instead of the pure maple syrup from Canada. Don't take offense Canada... it's not personal. I think it's just a little more of that typical maple I was looking for here...)

Plate your freshly fried beignet and drizzle some of this light and easy glaze over the top of it.

This is not a place for maple frosting, like you'd find at the corner donut shop (although you would find my hero-of-a-hubby and I fighting over the last maple bar if that's what it came to).

For this light and fluffy beignet you want a light glaze. It's just perfect...

Did I say it was perfect?

And speaking of my hero-of-a-hubby, I guess I should set it aside and save some for him. Hmph...

enjoy your time in the kitchen...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

RECIPE: Beignets

Beignets... they truly are a beautiful thing. Pronounced "ben-yay"... they are the state donut of Louisiana. Does your state have a designated "state donut"?! Mine doesn't...

They are light and fluffy, sweet and satisfying... and come with a disclaimer: they are not doctor approved. :::Thinking to self: thank goodness January 1's resolutions don't come into play until next week:::

Here's what I started with...

Flour, vegetable shortening, sugar, active dry yeart, kosher salt, powdered sugar, eggs and evaporated milk.

Start with blooming the yeast in some warm water...

And here's a tip from Lori: while using active dry yeast that has been stored in the refrigerator or freezer it will help to bloom the yeast by adding a pinch of sugar to the water mixture. Sugar increases the yeast's activity, which will speed up the blooming process. (Some bakers might argue with this... and say that sugar isn't required. And it's not. It's just what I like to do... )

Using your stand mixer, transfer the yeast/water mixture to the proper mixing bowl and set the mixer on low speed. Then add the eggs, sugar, kosher salt and evaporated milk.

Add 4 cups of flour... and then the vegetable shortening. Mix until smooth.

Then you will want to switch attachments... remove the whisk and replace with the dough hook. Because you're getting ready to add 3 more cups of flour...

You may find that the dough gets to be too big of a ball for the mixer. So, then I turned it all out onto a floured/flat surface and kneaded in the rest of the flour. This just took a few minutes.

The dough then went back into the mixing bowl, was covered with plastic wrap and allowed to chill for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.

Once you're ready to fry these little beauties, do two things:

1) Heat up your oil...
2) Divide the dough into 4 smaller pieces. With a floured rolling pin roll out the dough until it's 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 2-3" pieces... you will have both squares and triangles, depending on how you roll out the dough. (No need to trim your dough pieces into perfect shapes - when they fry they will change shapes.)

Find your strainer/skimmer (also known as a "spider" - not sure why), or some sort of kitchen gadget that will allow you to flip the dough in the oil and strain the oil off before you move it to the plate to cool.

Once the oil has hit the 360 degrees F mark try frying 1 dough piece. The oil will slightly sizzle/bubble. The dough will sink, but will begin to float within about 5 seconds. Within a minute the dough will start to brown around the edges. With your spider, flip the dough over – you are looking for a golden brown color. Allow to cook for about another minute and flip again to check doneness.

Once you have determined it is done, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and generously sprinkle with powdered sugar (while hot). Allow to cool for several minutes before enjoying...

After you've stopped drooling, move on to another batch of 2 or 3 or 4 dough pieces at a time.

As they finish, remove the cooked beignets and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

And for my little addition (not sure if this would be acceptable or not in New Orleans), sprinkle the plate with a pinch of kosher salt ... and enjoy thoroughly.

Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

1 ½ cups warm water (110-110 degrees F)
1 envelope active dry yeast (or 2 ¼ teaspoon)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces evaporated milk
7-8 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup vegetable shortening
2-3 cups canola oil
Powdered sugar/kosher salt for sprinkling

Remove bowl from stand mixer and add 1 ½ cups of warm water. Sprinkle one envelope of active dry yeast over the top of the water, add one pinch of sugar and stir until the yeast is dissolved. Allow the mixture to stand for 5 minutes. Place bowl back into stand mixer with whisk attachment.

Add whisked eggs to the water and yeast mixture. Turning the mixer onto low, add ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 8 ounces of evaporated milk. Mix thoroughly.

With the mixer on low speed, add 4 cups flour to the wet ingredients. Whisk until smooth. Add ¼ cup of vegetable shortening and beat until smooth. Switch to dough hook and gradually add in 3 more cups flour until a smooth, thick dough is achieved. Towards the end you may need to turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface to knead in the rest of the dough.

Make large ball out of dough, place back into the bottom of the mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours. (You can make the dough ahead of time –however use the dough within a week.)

When ready to finish the beignets, start by heating the canola oil in a heavy bottom pan, ideally a dutch oven. You will want approximately 4 inches of oil in the bottom of your pan. The oil is ready to use once it has reached 360 degrees F.

For ease of handling, divide beignet dough into 4 portions. Transfer one portion of beignet dough out onto a floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Cut into 2-3 inches, you will most likely have squares and triangles.

Start by testing one piece of dough. The oil should sizzle, slightly bubble. The dough will sink, but will begin to float within about 5 seconds. Within a minute the dough will start to brown around the edges. With your spider, flip the dough over – you are looking for a golden brown color. Allow to cook for about another minute and flip again to check doneness. With spider, remove to plate lined with paper towels. Immediately sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Allow to cool several minutes before testing. When you bite into it you will see the inside is hollow. If the first one has turned out ok – then continue on with the rest of the dough pieces. Right before serving, sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt over the top. Serve hot. Yield: 40-50 beignets.

Optional toppings/fillings: instead top with a chocolate glaze, or fill/serve with a fruit preserve, etc. There are also savory versions of beignets... have fun!!!

enjoy your time in the kitchen...

A new kitchen toy ...

Paula Deen ... I already loved you. But now I love you more!!!

Thank you for making this nice board available at a very good price (under $30)! In my small kitchen I did not have a large enough flat surface to work with... and this is the perfect remedy to that problem.

This is an 18" x 20" x 3/4" board made of acacia. On one side is a visual guide for rolling out pie crusts... as well as a helpful guide for dry and wet measurements.

Take a gander... click on the picture below to enlarge it.

And the opposite side is even more beautiful! I can see myself using this as a cheese/fruit board when entertaining... this will help to make a very nice presentation!

Love it! And when I pulled it out from behind the tree and unwrapped it my hero-of-a-hubby asked who it was from. I simply said "Well, it's from Santa... of course!"

He knew better than to ask anymore questions...

enjoy your time in the kitchen...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Pork Roast with Mushroom Gravy... recipe from America's Test Kitchen

This is a yummy pork, roasted low and slow. It's encrusted with dried herbs and cooked with some aromatics. Then topped with THE most velvety-rich mushroom gravy you ever did have.

I would like to thank America's Test Kitchen for sharing this recipe... thank you for making our lives just a little bit better by testing this recipe and then sharing it with the rest of us.

Today I used a pork leg... once the roast is done the bone slides out nice and easy. For flavor the roast got encrusted with a dry rub of dried thyme and sage and kosher salt and black pepper.

I tied it up nice and tight... and cooked it in a 300 degree F oven for about 3 hours.

After 3 hours of cooking it was time to add more flavor. So I added sliced crimini mushrooms, quartered onion pieces, some bay leaves and chicken stock/water mixture (about 1 cup of each)... oh yeah, and some more of the dry rub seasoning.

Once a fork inserted into the largest meaty part of the roast inserts and comes out easily... then it's just about ready. Take the roast out, transfer to another platter, cover with foil and set aside. It needs to rest for about a half hour and then it can be sliced.

In the meantime discard the onions and bay leaves and through a fine mesh strainer strain the juices, setting aside the mushrooms. From the strained juices, use a few tablespoons of fat to start the gravy with a couple tablespoons of flour. Then slowly add the rest of juices and whisk until nice and velvety. Add the mushrooms back to the pan and reduce the heat until you're ready to use it. Before ladeling over your meat and fixings taste to see if needs any more salt/pepper.

Now it should be time to slice the roast and plate your fabulous dinner.

Be prepared to be kissed... or better. It's that good... again, a big thank you to America's Test Kitchen! Love ya for it! Really, I do!

enjoy your time in the kitchen...


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