I was served a delicious latte with a tablet of bittersweet chocolate sitting on the spoon alongside. I usually drink my coffee without sugar, although occasionally I crave a great mocha. The chocolate waiting to be tasted piqued my thoughts. I was not planning to use it. But it was served with the drink for a reason. It rested on the spoon, directing me to stir it into the latte. I followed the cues. I was not a very good stirrer. As I finished my drink I saw the half dissolved tablet of chocolate on the bottom. I used my spoon to eat the coffee-coated molten chocolate. Perhaps that one intense bite was the actual goal. I'm not sure.
I am sure that the idea of adding tablets of flavors to drinks and dishes is exciting. It is a starting point to be explored. I'll drink to that.
We blanched parsley and pureed it with ice instead of shocking it in an ice bath. The idea was smart, the process was slow. The result was a powerfully flavorful parsley water. We strained the water and combined it with semolina to extrude parsley shells.
We let the shells air dry for several hours and then combined them. Both pastas became better when we combined their flavors.
I'm a sucker for crispy roasted potatoes. I'd happily make a meal out of them, with just a bit salad or veg on the side. When they are cooked well, they are utterly satisfying, crispy and crunchy on the outside, creamy within, with little hits of salt throughout. These potatoes were peeled and cut in half lengthwise, but if your spuds are big you can cut them into quarters. Over the years I've tinkered endlessly with these potatoes and I've finally accepted that they must be boiled first, preferably in heavily salted water. While they boil you can preheat the oven, with the baking pan in it, to 425°F.
Once they are tender, drain the water and return them to the pan. Set it over low heat and shake gently to dry out the potatoes and rough up the edges for extra crunchy bits. Here you see Yukon golds but russets work too, although their texture is lighter and less creamy. As the potatoes dry, pull the hot pan out of the oven and add a generous amount of fat. You can use any flavorful fats you like here, but it must be at lest 50% butter. This is important because potatoes roasted in butter stay crisp overnight in the refrigerator. They don't turn into a leathery, unpleasant snack for those of us who like to eat these straight out of the fridge. So again, at least 50% and up to 100% butter in the pan. Here I've added an equal amount of bacon fat. Return the pan to the oven for a minute or two to melt the fat and then pull it out and tip the potatoes into the hot pan. Season lightly with salt, turn them a few times to coat them with the fat, and put the pan back in the oven.
After abut 20 minutes, flip the potatoes. This is another seemingly excessive step that ensures that you have potatoes that are equally brown on the top and bottom. It also stirs up the crunchy pieces floating around on the bottom of the pan and allows them to adhere to the larger pieces. Bake for another 20-40 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes and the heat of your oven until they are a deep golden brown on the top and bottom. Feel free to flip them again after 20 minutes if you think they need it. Once the potatoes are browned to your liking, remove them from the oven and let them rest for 5-10 minutes. If you like, you may scatter whole herbs over the top as they rest and their flavor will permeate the roasted potatoes. Discard the herbs before serving. This resting period ensures that your potatoes are hot and delicious rather than molten and dangerous when you serve them. Make lots because you will want leftovers.
While we were in PA for Thanksgiving, Amaya and I stopped at our favorite Chinese restaurant, Chinatown Cafe, for lunch. We were the only ones there, which made Amaya slightly uncomfortable at first. As we settled in to wait for our lunch I reflected upon the fact that we had never actually eaten in the restaurant before. Pretty much once a week we would call from gymnastics and then pick dinner up on the way home. There would usually be a few people eating in the restaurant but the vast majority of food seemed to be prepared to go. Growing up in New York City there were Chinese take out places and Chinese restaurants and they were different. The food was similar but there was a distinct difference between the places designed for diners rather than take out. Out in the "burbs' that fine line seems to disappear and most Chinese restaurants seem to straddle the line between the two.
One of the owners was folding dumplings at a back table and she paused momentarily to deliver our food. It was delicious, exactly as we remembered, only better. The fried dumplings had an edge of crispness that you'll never get after a trip home in a paper carton, and were juicy and flavorful. The chow fun, almost impossible to find in NH, was slippery and rich, and full of savory flavor. While the two of us were barely able to make a dent in the food it was so satisfying to sit and eat freshly prepared Chinese food, taking our time to savor each bite. It's a good reminder to slow down. We may search out the best local places but we do not always take the time to appreciate the food as it should be enjoyed.
When an ingredient is purchased it has a certain value. When an ingredient is grown, created, developed, or made by you, it has a different value. We find ourselves being reckless and free wheeling with ingredients we buy, using them in recipes without a thought because we know we can go out and buy more. When we make them we have a tendency to hang onto them. We have a tendency to put the homemade onto a pedestal. Is it the time involved? Is it the bond we form with the ingredient during the cooking process? Is it knowing how long it will take to make more?
Oh, you want some examples. Pepperoni is a great place to begin. I'll do everything and anything to pepperoni that I buy. When I make my own I feel a need to either look at it adoringly and then, perhaps, find the best way to use it. And as I wait, ponder, contemplate, I miss windows of delicious opportunity.
Today we started marshmallow development. We use a fair amount of marshmallows in our Doughnut World. I figured that if I could make time, I should be making them. And then as I finished our first batch of Molasses Marshmallows, I stared at the precious creation wondering how to best highlight them in our kitchen. But that is not the point of marshmallows in our world at the moment. We use them as background players. So tomorrow we will cut out a few to place in the center of our S'mores and the rest will be pureed into pie and melted into cracklings. It was important for me to realize that I need to be equally free handed with home made ingredients. In making my own I just gain a bit more control in the process. I get a better marshmallow and then it's my next job to make sure that I use it.
Listening to and observing our daughter is inspirational. She connects words and ideas with clear thoughts. Her instincts have her searching for happiness. After her birthday party today, I had some surprise Silly String waiting for her at home. She had been wanting to play with Silly String for some time. We opened the cans and released the streamers. As she laughed and giggled and plotted she paused. She looked at the ground and observed: "Color bomb." She coined the phrase for me. I'm not sure how we shall use the idea in our world. For now we have it stored in our memory for future reference.
We played with a few variations and combinations of gingerbread and eggnog. We made 2 batches of our New Fashioned Doughnut dough. We flavored one with eggnog and the other we made into gingerbread. As we were cutting the doughnuts we saw the possibilities of putting a round peg in a round hole.
In these doughnuts we were able to combine flavors while keeping them distinctively separate. It was equally fun to have the eggnog and gingerbread doughnuts side by side.
We glazed the rings with an eggnog glaze and dusted the insets with cinnamon sugar. It was a playful and delicious morning.
One difficulty when making malloreddus, the semolina based Sardinian noodle, is the difficulty in kneading the hard wheat. Yesterday we worked around that by borrowing the technique of using hot water in the dough from classic gyoza wrappers. As it turns out, we played around with the same idea this past March. In that instance we were trying to achieve a fusilli of sorts. Yesterday we were working to efficiently produce malloreddus. We love the way the hot water hydrates the dough and seems to make it more elastic. It adds texture and chew simply by changing the temperature of the dough before you knead it. Sometimes it's the small changes that make the biggest difference.
Boiling Water Semolina Malloreddus
Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as a side
300 grams semolina flour
1.25 grams baking soda
150 grams boiling water
Put the semolina and baking soda in a bowl and mix them together. Pour the boiling water over the mixture and use a rubber spatula to begin stirring it together. When the dough looks rough and shaggy, begin to knead it by hand in the bowl. The boiling water makes the dough hot and it's important to make sure the dough is not too hot to handle. You can let it cool for s few minutes, if need be, or you can wear rubber gloves to protect your hands as you knead. Our hands are a bit weathered so we just dove in. Knead the dough for several minutes, until it became silky and smooth. What is interesting is that this dough feels almost oily, even though it is not. It does not stick to the bowl or your hands.
After kneading the dough we wrapped it in plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes to allow for further hydration. We rolled the dough into a 1/4 inch sheet and cut it into 1/2 inch strips. We ran the dough through our cavatelli machine. If you don't have a machine, you can use the hand rolled technique found in our miso cavatelli recipe. After making the noodles we arranged them onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and refrigerated them, uncovered. We were looking for some of the surface moisture to wick away. After 18 hours in the refrigerator we put the malloreddus into a zip top bag and refrigerated them until we were ready to cook them. Alternatively you can freeze them and cook them directly from the freezer.
When we boiled the malloreddus in salted water, they had a tenderness and a firm chewy bite. We served them with a quick broccoli and cheese sauce. What was equally exciting is that the noodles retained their texture and bite after being kept warm for several hours. Did I mention we packed the noodles in a Thermos container to eat during gymnastics practice? Homemade pasta makes a great meal on the go.
Years ago we made pretzel praline. Today we revisited and simplified the idea. We put demerara sugar and a splash of water into a pan on high heat. We watched the sugar to melt and let it begin to caramelize irregularly. We added pretzel rods and gently stirred and folded the mixture together. The sugar crystallized on the rods. The crystals grew and dried. In a matter of 2 minutes we had sandy pretzel rods. We removed them from the heat and let them cool on a sheet pan lined with greased parchment paper. These salty, sandy sticks are addictive. It was well worth revisiting an old idea. It was even more exiting to improve upon it. The pretzel sticks are delicious eaten as is. These particular sticks are destined to be the twigs in an upcoming flower pot birthday dessert. After that appearance they will take on a life of their own at Curiosity Doughnuts.
When I was in elementary school I was convinced that I couldn't draw. It was thing among the girls to draw pictures, usually of girls and trees and puppy dogs. I couldn't visualize what they were supposed to look like, so I often ended up copying the techniques of my peers while adding a small twist here or there to make mine just different enough to pass without anyone realizing that I hadn't actually created a unique character of my own. Of course by the time I was done it was a unique character but I thought that because I couldn't pull how to draw the hair-eyes-dress from my own imagination, that automatically made my creations a fake. It's interesting how these mentalities follow us as we age.
I've always been a good cook. I can follow directions, internalize them, and twist them into new variations without a second thought. It's my old drawing technique reborn in the kitchen. The difference is that now that I'm older I understand that's how we learn. We copy, we change. We make things our own. Every recipe we create has its roots in something else we cooked at some other time, even if we no longer remember it. Sometimes we forget the origins of a dish and I think that's how recipes evolve. We color and we fill in the blanks to make recipes or drawings or stories our own. It's not about being the first or the best, it's about creating something we truly enjoy and then sharing it with anyone else who's interested. Life, to me, is about creating things and then letting them go. They will evolve in the wild and that's what makes the world an interesting place.
I am notorious for not reading my own books and not following my own recipes. It's not because I don't like them. It's because somehow, once I've published them, they take on a life of their own. They aren't mine anymore. I'm always thinking about the next meal and what I want to eat now. What I had yesterday holds little interest for me unless I'm using the memory to explore a new idea. I may eat a lot of roast chicken or mashed potatoes but each batch is subtly different, based on how I feel and what's in the pantry. What would be delicious right now? That's what goes into our recipes. It's what we want to eat at the moment we are creating it.
I was reading a magazine this morning and it showed a picture of these deep, dark, chewy ginger cookies with a caption explaining that the recipes for their amazing vegan holiday cookies could be found on their website. Of course I immediately went over to my computer and looked them up. The resulting slideshow was a total disappointment. If the ginger spice cookies were there, I missed them. The other cookies pictured looked vegan and healthy, if you know what I mean. I had been captivated by the idea of delicious vegan cookies and I expressed my disappointment to Alex. A few hours later I was eating the best cake-like spiced sugar cookies I had ever tasted and the fact that they were vegan was just an added bonus.
There's a lot you can do with this recipe. For instance we used avocado oil because we like it, but if you don't happen to have avocado oil in your pantry you can substitute a different oil, canola or corn oil if that's what you have or perhaps even a walnut or almond oil to give these cookies a different spin. We didn't have any fresh or ground ginger in the house when he made these, though you could definitely add them to the spice profile, and turn them into ginger chews or leave them as is, and sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar for a play off the classic snickerdoodle.
As you can see in the pictures, for this first experiment we rolled them in sugar. These cookies are so moist that the bottom layer of sugar got sticky as the cookies sat at room temperature, so we adjusted the directions accordingly. If you like a heavier layer of sugar on your cookies you can dip the tops in the sugar and press it into the dough.
The starch paste is what makes the difference here, giving the cookies structure without using eggs. It's an old baking trick, seen in French pate choux and Asian sponge cakes and breads, and one that continues to serve us well. The flavor is sweet and clean, focusing on the sugar and the spices. The texture is soft and tender with a hint of chewiness and a bit of crunch from the sugar. They're just good cookies.
Vegan Spice Cookies
Makes about 30 cookies
50 grams / 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon avocado oil
75 grams / ½ cup all-purpose flour
130 grams / 9 tablespoons apple cider
150 grams / ⅔ cup apple cider
100 grams / 7 tablespoons avocado oil
250 grams / 1 cup + 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
5 grams / 1 ¼ teaspoons vanilla paste
350 grams / 2 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
9 grams / 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
4.5 grams / ¾ teaspoon salt
1 gram / ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 gram / ½ teaspoons ground mace
0.5 grams / ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
coarse (raw) sugar for sprinkling on the cookies
To make the Cider Paste, put the oil and flour in a small pot set over medium heat. Use a whisk to stir the mixture continuously as it cooks. When the flour thickens and pulls away from the sides of the pan, 2-3 minutes, add the cider and whisk to combine. Once the cider has been absorbed into the flour, switch to a spatula and continue to cook the mixture, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes, until it forms a smooth ball that pulls away from the sides of the pan. Transfer the Cider Paste to a bowl and let cool slightly.
Put the apple cider, avocado oil, brown sugar, Cider Paste, and vanilla paste into a bowl and stir until smooth. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, mace, and cardamom. Use a rubber spatula to stir the flour into the liquid mixture. Beat the mixture by hand until it forms a smooth dough, about 2 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F. (175°C.)
Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Scoop cookies using a purple ice cream scoop or a heaping tablespoon and roll it into balls. Press the cookies onto the parchment, flattening them slightly and leaving 2” of space between each cookie. These will rise and spread. Sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the cookies are just set.
A few of our favorite shops are having some great Cyber Monday sales. We thought we'd share the love. There are no kickbacks involved in these listings.
Jasper Hill Farms is offering $40 off all orders of $140 or more sent to a single address. Could be a great time to buy yourself (or someone else) a gift or sign up for their cheese club.
Mighty Nest is offering free shipping and a discount on their Mighty Fix monthly mailing. I've been holding back on trying this out and I immediately signed up for this Cyber Monday deal. I also appreciate the fact that your local school can earn cash back on your purchases. They have some great, eco-friendly products worth checking out.
Quinn Popcorn is offering 25% off their popcorn on their website and from Amazon. It's an equal opportunity discount for some delicious "farm to bag" popcorn. Alex and Amaya are partial to the Butter & Sea Salt microwave popcorn but I often find myself craving the Kale and Sea Salt.
This is not a Cyber Monday deal, though it was so cool we had to share. Island Creek Oysters is putting two golden oysters in their shipments on December 21, 2015. If you find one, you and a friend will be flown to Boston for an oyster extravaganza. That would definitely make for a Merry Christmas. I want one even though I can drive to Boston from here.
Using doughnuts as the medium for creation allows us to explore possibilities we would not have otherwise discovered. S'more doughnuts grew out of the details we surrounded ourselves with. We start with our marble doughnuts. We coated them with a chocolate glaze. We made our glaze ganache style with the addition of powdered sugar. We topped the ganache with our brown butter crumbs. We toasted the marshmallows on a sheet pan with a torch. This allowed us to control the toast without torching the doughnut. (We learned this lesson the hard way.) We press the semi-molten marshmallows into the doughnuts hole. The s'more doughnut is playful, delicious and exciting.
Aki's Uncle Bob suggested that we make a cannoli doughnut. We decided to use the thumbprint model to bring it to life. We roll the new fashioned doughnuts doughnuts in toasted pistachio sugar. We pipe a hefty dollop of cannoli cream into the thumbprint. To make it we blend cream cheese, ricotta, and non-fat milk powder with vanilla paste, sugar, and salt to make a creamy and decadent filling. We top the doughnuts with roasted, salted, chopped pistachios. Brilliant and delicious.
When we don't sell out of doughnuts we are challenged with what to do with the surplus. Doughnut-bread pudding was a delicious solution. With the doughnut-bread pudding now on the menu, we have continued exploring. We cut the doughnuts into pieces and air dried them overnight. We pulverized the semi-dried doughnuts in the food processor and the delicious results were moist, fragrant, doughnut crumbs.
Today we deep fried a turkey and made lasagna. For the fried turkey we had it cut up on a band saw. We brined it for 24 hours in a mixture of buttermilk, hot sauce, liquid smoke, and salt. We dredged the pieces in seasoned potato starch and fried them in peanut oil.
We made the lasagna with smoked turkey legs we braised in tomato sauce. We added body to the sauce with minced vegetables softened in turkey fat. We built the lasagna with noodles, the braised smoked turkey, and ricotta seasoned with Pecorino. We topped the the massive creation with fresh mozzarella and baked it until it was crispy and browned. We then let it rest for 45 minutes to allow the noodles to absorb the sauce and let the molten mass cool to an eat-able temperature. It was a great, non-traditional turkey feast.
Happy Thanksgiving. We give thanks for all of the people who enrich our lives and all of the experiences that make us who we are. Life may not always be easy but it is always good.
We were fortunate to be gifted with a few smoked turkey legs. The legs had taken on a nice bit of smokey flavor although they did require some additional cooking. We put them in a pot with Dr. Pepper and Sriracha and added a cartouche. We cooked the legs until they were tender and the meat was fork-tender, about 3 hours. We let the legs cool for 30 minutes and then proceeded to pull the meat from the bones. We strained the braising liquid over the meat and let it continue to meld with the turkey.
The blend of sriracha, Dr. Pepper, and smoke created a sweet and fully savory taste experience. The heat of the spices accented the other flavors and accentuated the natural umami of both the turkey and the smoke. The rich fruity flavor and the sweetness of the Dr. Pepper added fullness to the meat. The base is ready. Where we take it next is the question.
Sometimes our best inventions are inspired by others. One of the great things about being chefs is being able to bring people our best versions of the things they love. When people are forced to change their diets it can make them feel deprived on a visceral level. Although it feels like a physical hunger, it's more spiritual than anything else. It's a fear of change and we can all relate to that. We've found that creativity flourishes when you narrow your focus. It can be very freeing once you get past the idea of limitations. The only limitations are in your imagination. There's always a way to do something. You need to be creative about how to get there.
These gluten free doughnuts were created for Jenny, who was in dire need of a chocolate doughnut fix. Her desire fueled us. These doughnuts are rich and moist. They have a decadent chocolate cake texture. The doughnuts are topped with a chocolate ganache and sprinkled with our cocoa crumbs. You sink your teeth into them and they are gooey and crunchy and utterly indulgent. These Triple Chocolate Doughnuts satisfied her chocolate cravings and our creative desires. Win-win.
Doughnuts are our current canvas. Yeasted chocolate doughnuts were a delicious undertaking that made all of our effort worthwhile...
There's always time to make a memory.
We don't always sell out of doughnuts. We also have trim from cutting doughnuts. And I hate waste. To solve these problems we created Doughnut Bread Pudding.
We make a custard base with brown sugar, buttermilk, cream, eggs, milk vanilla and salt. We put the custard over the fresh doughnuts and fried trim. We let the custard soak into the dough. We fill bundt pans with the mixture and bake the bread pudding for one hour and forty minutes at 350°F. The internal temperature is 190°F. We cool the bread pudding in the pans for 30 minutes and then un-mold them. We cool the bread puddings down and refrigerate them overnight.
We like the flavors to blend and the custard to set in the doughnuts. We bring the bread pudding to room temperature and cut it into thick slices. It is delicious on its own and even better with frozen custard and hot fudge.
I was looking for a new crumb topping to add to our cluster doughnuts. We started with a cocoa crumb recipe from Eric Plescha over at Charcoal BYOB. When we follow a recipe we can become blind to the opportunities it offers. When we break a recipe apart and disregard the ingredients, instructions, and direction we miss out on the story being told. We started with the original. Then we broke it to suit our vision. Both versions were tasty. And not quite right for us. It is in the tinkering where we discover. As we tasted and observed the results we began to see clearly. Our biggest breakthrough was blending brown sugar and cocoa. The other key was using whole eggs in the mix. As I reflect on the crumbs it appears we took a streusel and evolved it into a cookie. And the idea of cookie crumbs is one we had been planning to get to but hadn't, till we had.
There are hidden gems in any landscape. For many of us, the pleasure is in the search. Easy treasure is rarely given the attention that it deserves. In fact, the ease of acquiring something is usually directly related to it's perceived value. Things that we have to work for leave an impact. Failure teaches us lessons that are not easily forgotten in ways that crossing the finish line without effort will never do. Recipes are easy. Google will instantly give you 4,956,327,042 recipes for any given dish and most of them will work. It's the stories that reel us in, the small challenges and complexities that color our perspective. While we do write recipes, they are not the crux of what we do here. For us blogging is about sharing ideas. Recipes can be illustrative but are not always necessary here because in many cases the actual recipe isn't the point. The process is what compels us and once we figure it out, it can be applied to any recipe that works. This space is for our pursuit of ideas and our books are where most of the recipes reside.
There's a window of time when something is perfectly cooked and that window is different for everything you cook. One of my instructors at culinary school loved to teach first year students. He would always begin by demonstrating a perfectly cooked chicken breast. He would have us taste them straight from the pan and then after a 10 minute rest so we could really understand the magic of the resting period. We talk about resting periods for meat all the time, and resting periods for breads and cakes and pastries are equally important. While we are easily lulled by the idea of warm bread or doughnuts, in reality, the time spent cooling off is vital to the finished texture and flavor of any pastry. It allows the crumb to reabsorb fats, it cools the temperature so flavors can bloom, and it allows for evaporation so that you get a crispy crust or a crunchy topping. Never underestimate the importance of a resting period in baking. It is the difference between experiencing something amazing and something that just doesn't live up to the hype.
Well, to answer my recent question about pumpkin pie, Alex made pumpkin pie doughnuts. These were stuffed with a pudding made with canned pumpkin, eggs, marshmallows, maple syrup, a touch of butter, and salt. The marshmallow acted as both the sweetener and the thickener. We stuffed this into vanilla yeasted doughnuts, topped them with Betterscotch glaze, and finally sprinkled brown butter streusel over the top. A new tradition is born.
Amaya was eating thumbprint cookies last night. I saw her enjoyment and new we needed to turn them into a doughnut. Today we took our New Fashioned dough and rolled it out. We cut it using our doughnut cutter. Except we didn't remove the hole. We cut it and pressed into the hole to form a permanent indentation during frying. After frying the doughnuts we rolled them in brown butter sugar. We blended 80 grams of pressure toasted milk solids with 2000 grams of sugar. After rolling the doughnuts in the aromatic sugar we pressed the indentation down a bit more to make a nice hollow to put preserves. I tapped our friends at Eat This in the Stockton Market. We used raspberry preserves and blood orange marmalade. Both versions were delicious. My bitter side preferred the marmalade. The thumbprints were born and have made the menu. Next weekend we will be making the blood orange marmalade version for sure and another inspired by a late in the day tasting of the other amazing creations from Eat This.
This conversation between Marie Forleo and Elizabeth Gilbert is a little longer than most of the videos that we put up here but it is worth watching to the very end. It will make you laugh and it will inspire you to do more, and maybe, download GIlbert's new book on creativity: Big Magic. That's what I did.
We have finally gotten our New Fashioned Doughnuts dialed in. We have reduced the amount of milk paste we add to the dough. We have also gone back to using flour rather than cornstarch for the pastes structure. We have increased the overall hydration in the dough. We utilized Trickling Springs eggnog as the primary liquid in the dough. We balanced the sweet richness with our go to doughnut staple, buttermilk. The milk paste adds a tender structure to the dough. The doughnuts split and form rough cracks and crevices. The exterior forms a delicate crisp crust. The inside crumb is moist and tender. The eggnog flavors the dough. It does not overpower the doughnut with nutmeg. We ate the first few dredged in our cinnamon-cardamom sugar. As we continue to play I foresee an eggnog glaze. And the vanilla-buttermilk custard was a delicious compliment to the decadent doughnut.
I have been adding grapefruit and hops bitters to my Clausthaler beer to increase its flavor and provide a bright crispness to the beverage. And now Clausthaler is making a dry hopped NA beer. It is rich and the hops add a spicy bitter floral citrus backbone to the beer. It is a delight to drink and I am thoroughly enjoying it as I write. I hope other beer makers begin to explore the importance of full flavored non-alcoholic beers. Till then I'm doing great with Clausthaler and its newest beer to market.
What's in your bundt pan?
The dark horse at Curiosity Doughnuts is our frozen custard. We have one flavor, vanilla buttermilk, and we offer a variety of sauces to accompany it from Ciderscotch to Hot Fudge. The Curiosity Doughnut is actually an ice cream sandwich. We take the doughnut of your choice, split it in half, and stuff it with frozen custard.
Our other custard creation is the freeze brain. Alex is notorious for getting ice cream headaches and is always mumbling about brain freeze when we go out for ice cream. The first time we showed Amaya the ice cream machine, she said: "That's great, but what about Daddy's freeze brain?" With that a new name was born. The freeze brain is an ice cream sundae (Alex's favorite thing to order) studded with doughnut holes. It's decadent and indulgent and totally worth the risk of an actual freeze brain because it's just that good.
We started with our vanilla doughnut clusters, made with 6 doughnut holes fused together. We coated the tops with a glaze made with cold brewed coffee, instant coffee, powdered sugar, and salt. Finally we sprinkled our brown butter streusel over the doughnuts. The little nuggets of streusel stuck to to the glaze and filled in the nooks in the clusters. The combination of doughnut, coffee, and rich, sandy streusel became the ultimate exploration of coffee cake with the coffee on the cake.
Took Amaya to the movies and introduced her to that classic combination of Milk Duds and popcorn. She thought I was a little crazy at first.
"You want me to chew on a Milk Dud and then put some popcorn in my mouth? And eat it all together?"
"Yes I do."
"We-eell, okay." As Amaya added the salty popcorn to the warm caramel in her mouth and began to chew, a smile broke out across her face. "Mom, this is good!" Now I just have to get Dad to turn it into a doughnut.
I've been working on a recipe for Japanese milk bread and in the process I pulled out my buttermilk powder. It's a roux-based dough based on the Tang Mian method (often used for sponge cakes) which has led to some interesting doughnut explorations. Adding a cooked starch paste to the dough helps give it a unique firm-tender crumb. I grew up loving Japanese milk bread. It was only an occasional treat because I could only find it at Asian bakeries and supermarkets. To me it was practically a meal in itself, so sweet and tender. Asian white bread was so much better than packaged loaf bread we used for sandwiches and so different from the fresh Italian breads we bought from the Sicilian bakery every weekend that it always seemed like a special treat when we had some.
As I played with the recipe, I found that many versions out there were good but somewhat flat, either lacking salt or a bit too sweet. Many of the recipes out there call for adding nonfat milk powder to the bread dough. This Organic Valley buttermilk powder happened to be on my shelf right next to the nonfat milk powder, When I saw it a light bulb went off in my brain. It's actually a blend of buttermilk and non-fat milk powder. When I added it to the dough, that tiny hint of tang gave it just the boost it needed to reach full flavor. It's like a secret weapon because you'd never even know it was there. Now that buttermilk powder is back on my radar I'll have to find other recipes where its subtle impact will be welcome.
I was working on a new variation of our starch paste for our New Fashioned Doughnuts and I wondered why we hadn't made a roux with cornstarch. I melted butter in a pan and added the cornstarch. I cooked the mixture until the butter was absorbed and for a few minutes beyond that, until the mixture had thickened and smoothed.
Then I added a cup of cider to the mix. The cornstarch roux easily dispersed in the cider and as it cooked, the starch hydrated and gelatinized the liquid. It was a simple solution to make a smooth, flavored paste, ideal for adding structure and texture to our doughnuts and for other ideas yet to be explored.
November 6, 2010
We called on our pressure toasted milk solids to bring a rich full flavor to a brown butter streusel.
Brown Butter Streusel
225 grams soft butter
225 grams all purpose flour
225 grams sugar
50 grams toasted milk solids
3 grams salt
54 grams / 1 large egg
10 grams vanilla paste
Put the butter, flour, sugar, toasted milk solids and salt in a bowl and knead the mixture together until the butter is distributed and the mixture forms fine crumbs. Add the egg and the vanilla paste knead it into the crumbs. Refrigerate the mixture to firm up the butter and allow the flour to absorb the egg. Spread the streusel mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 300°F. Remove the streusel from the oven and allow it to cool. Break the cool streusel into crumbs. Reserve in a zip top bag or lidded container.
Last weekend we adapted our funfetti doughnut idea to our drop doughnuts. We folded the sprinkles into the cake doughnut batter. We piped our sticks and they fried into delicious crispy treats. The sprinkles studded the batter and decorated the dough. The idea of a birthday cake-cake doughnut made us smile with delight. The sign of a great idea.
Were they good? People came back the very next day looking for more. Come see us this weekend to try them for yourself.
I love my cast iron pots and pans. They cook evenly and hold heat well. They are naturally non-stick too but sometimes they can be hard to clean. I'm not above using a small amount of soap in my pans, despite the rule that you should only use water, but even with some extra effort, sometimes the pans are just sticky. When that happens I throw them in the oven and leave them there until the next time I do any baking or roasting. A little time in the hot oven is all the pan needs to absorb any excess oil and when I pull it out it's smooth and happy once again. Easy-peasy, no scrubbing required.
Is it a muffin or a cupcake? That's always the question. I added maple icing and some Halloween sprinkles to these because I was sending them into school on the day before Halloween. For a normal breakfast muffin I leave them plain. The super moist muffins don't actually need the icing but it does give them a festive touch, possibly turning them into cupcakes, depending upon your thoughts on the matter. Either way these muffin are easy to make and absolutely delicious. The pumpkin not only adds flavor, it keeps them moist for days, which, if you have a small household as we do, is a very good thing.
Makes 24 muffins
1.5 cups / 225 grams all-purpose flour
1 cup / 113 grams white whole wheat flour (or regular whole wheat flour)
2 teaspoons / 12 grams baking powder
1 teaspoon / 5 grams baking soda
1.5 teaspoons / 9 grams salt
1.5 teaspoons / 3 grams ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon / 1.5 grams ground ginger
0.25 teaspoon / 0.5 grams ground mace
2 cups / 540 grams pumpkin puree (we use canned organic)
1 cup / 225 grams vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
1/2 cup / 115 grams plain yogurt, room temperature
4 large eggs, room temperature
1.75 cups / 375 grams light brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Spray 2 muffin tins with pan spray and line them with paper liners.
Combine the flour, white wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and mace in large mixing bowl and whisk to blend. Put the pumpkin, oil, yogurt, eggs, and brown sugar in a medium bowl and whisk to blend. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until you have a smooth batter. Fill the muffin cups 3/4 of the way to the top, about 2/3 cup of batter. Any extra batter can be baked in a small greased loaf pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the muffins are firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into a center muffin comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and then turn the muffins out of the pans and cool completely on racks.
November 2, 2009
We unleashed floats on market today. I still like to call them cows. I remember the brown cows and black cows from my childhood. Such whimsical names for these very indulgent treats. Every once in a while I would have a purple cow. We are using Boylan sodas to complement our Vanilla-Buttermilk custard, we have orange, grape, and birch beer on hand to finish these delicious treats.
Have a safe and happy Halloween and remember to hug somebody you love!!!
At Curiosity Doughnuts we serve doughnuts and frozen custard. I love pie. I love the fillings and the crust. In order to weave pie into our world we use classic pies as the inspiration for our filled doughnuts. We opened with apple pie. The filling was made with apples from our trees. As the seasons change and we begin to get our feet underneath us we are able to do a bit more. This week we are unveiling pumpkin pie. And while not a true pie, we have added Boston Cream pie to the mix. The pumpkin pie filling is flavored and thickened with marshmallows. The vanilla pudding for the Boston Cream is sweetened with condensed milk. It is exciting and interesting to narrow our focus and then play with the available resources.
We have been working on relocating back to PA from NH. Our house has been on the market for too long. Recently we changed realtors. The new team's first action was to bring in a home stager. She went through the house with fresh eyes. She made notes. She had ideas. Her goal, to make the house look its absolute best. It amazes me how the fresh look changes what we see. It helps clear the fog and bring clarity to the subject. I would not have sought out a home stager on my own. And that was short sighted. There are specialists for a reason. Taking the leap to work with them is something that is essential to elevating ourselves.
First we work on ideas. Then we sift through the ideas and work with what we think are good ideas. We don't discard the other ideas. They are set aside in a separate pile. We work with and tinker with the good ideas. We let them bounce around our minds. Then we introduce them to other ideas, both old and new. Occasionally ideas are drawn together like magnets. And sometimes they repel each other, also like magnets. We don't always have to be working, tinkering, and developing. We do need to be open to new ideas in order to make way for new combinations.
There are books that I reach for when I'm feeling exhausted and in need of a little comfort. Home Cooking and More Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin are those books for me. I read them for the first time so long ago that I couldn't tell you how old I was, though it was definitely before I hit my twenties. As a New Yorker and a home cook, they touched me on many different levels. Colwin wrote of places that I had been to and people who were amazingly similar to the ones I knew. Her approach to coking was casual, and yet, the food was thoughtful and she understood why people ate. It's not as though hunger is the only thing that drives us, or at least not physical hunger. The books are entertaining and inspiring and written in this friendly, matter of fact tone that is implicitly hers. Every time I open them it's like visiting an old friend, one I've never met in person. They are books that make me happy and one day I hope to write something that will make someone, who I'll never meet, happy too.
Turns out you can deep fry sprinkles. We folded rainbow sprinkles into the trimmings from cutting doughnuts. We let the dough chill again and rolled out the doughnuts. We cut them and fried away.
The sprinkles in the doughnuts browned a bit. Inside they melted into the doughnuts.
The color vibrantly stained the tender interior. And a new doughnut was born.
When we added our frozen custard the doughnut got an upgrade.
We were recently re-introduced to filet mignon served on the bone. We cooked up a traditional filet beside one on the bone and people unanimously chose the one on on the bone. It looks larger and more impressive and it cooks beautifully. It's interesting to see how size adds value in the eyes of the diner, even when you are dining at home. A perfectly cooked steak is a thing of beauty and this one is easy to carve with almost a 100% yield. It's definitely a cut worth looking into and exploring more.