27 October 2010

October Daring Bakers: Donuts

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

Given how much I LOVE Alton Brown, I made his yeast donut recipe. I woulda made more, but 1) that's a LOT of donuts for 1 person and 2) I actually had a donut baking night with Jenn The Cookin Cutie where she made the pumpkin kind, so I got to try different type. We cut and fried away, dipped and decorated. The yeast donuts were light and fluffy with a greaet crust. They're best fresh, but I froze a bunch the same day I made themand have been defrosting as I want them. Still pretty good, though a bit more chewy. Again, just make sure to eat them the same day. It was a great challenge this month!

I guess I used a small cutter because mine made over 4 dozen donuts:
The first set I made had a maple glaze, which was essentially powdered sugar, a bit of vanilla, and pure maple syrup. Look how cute the sprinkles are:
Here are a few I defrosted a few days later. I coated one in cinnamon sugar, and the rest have a plain vanilla icing, which is powdered sugar, vanilla, and a bit of milk. After the donuts defrost and the icing sets, zap them in the microwave for 5 seconds. They taste like new (minus the crisp crust, lol)!

17 October 2010

pumpkin cookies with browned butter icing

I like the idea of Martha Stewart, but don't actually know enough about her style to know if I like her. I've watched her, but never tried any of her ideas to know if I'm a fan or not. I even get her cookie a day emails, but is the first time I've ever actually made anything. Based on these alone, I'm now a fan :-) It was the browned butter icing that caught my eye -- because browned butter is amazing and I have no idea how I lived without it until recently when I made some for a Daring Bakers challenge (which I haven't actually posted, whoops). Holy canoli browned butter is good. So put that on a cookie? Heck yeah I'm in. I also happened to have a lone can of pumpkin in my pantry, and it's getting to be pumpkin and Halloween time, so here I am with these:
After baking them, I wouldn't exactly call them cookies. I understand there are different textures and types of cookies, but I generally don't like this kind... These were basically dollops of cake. Or mini muffin tops. And you know what, they were really GOOD little cakey muffin tops. By themselves, they're fluffy and spiced just right that I kept popping them in my mouth. But then there's the icing... That browned butter icing where you see flecks of the browned parts. Ridiculous. It's rare I meet a cookie that I can't stop eating - I'm usually happy with 2 or 3 in a batch. I could not stop eating these. This recipe easily makes over 5 dozen little cookies... so I had to give them away to save me from myself because I really could have eaten all of them. They're delightful.

Pumpkin Cookies (little pumpkin muffin tops) with Browned Butter Icing
adapted from Martha Stewart

2 3/4 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 C (1 1/2 sticks) butter
2 C brown sugar
1/4 C sugar
2 large eggs
1 15-oz can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie, straight up pumpkin) minus 2 tbsp
3/4 C evaporated milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375. Sift together the dry ingredients - flour through the nutmeg. Cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Mix in eggs. Slowly mix in the pumpkin, evaporated milk, and extract until well blended. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dish out cookies -- you can either use a 1-1/2" scoop then slightly flatten, or pipe out 1-1/2" rounds. I did both, and got the same general result. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool on sheet while you bake the next set. Allow cookies to cool completely before icing.

1 1/4 sticks butter
4 C confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tbsp vanilla
1/4 C evaporated milk

Sift the sugar into a bowl. In a small, light colored bottom pot or pan, melt butter over medium heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, until golden brown. (The milk solids will fall to the bottom of the pan - cook until they get a nice milk-chocolatey brown and the butter darkens a bit. But don't cook too long or it'll burn - it should smell a bit nutty, or like toffee.) Immediately add to the sugar (make sure to get allll the brown bits). Add the vanilla and evaporated milk, then mix until smooth. If it's too firm to spread, add a bit more evap milk. Ice cookies. Try not to eat the icing straight.

Note -- this icing doesn't harden completely. It'll develop a shell, but it's a soft icing that'll squish, so when storing, don't stack them or the icing will stick. That's it you don't eat them all.

14 October 2010

let soup season commence

Today was a soup day - tons of rain, looked like it was night time at high noon, cold, and straight up dreary. I had pho for lunch and STILL wanted soup for dinner, lol. All that rain closed the softball fields tonight, giving me my first free night in a week. Don't get me wrong... I like being busy, but a night of down time is way underrated so I was going to take full advantage. Go fig the rain stopped, blue skies came out, and suddenly it was quite lovely. Quite a lovely evening, indeed, to stick to the plan and make some soup :-)
I got the original recipe off the Eating Well website and it had this long name basically telling you what's in it - chicken, spinach, pesto. Yep, it's all that and some carrots, beans, and broth and little pasta to give it extra bite. That's about it. Deceptively simple and even pretty healthy... and totally awesome. Took me all of 15 minutes to put together plus the boiling time. It's like the fresher version of the hearty chicken soups you'd eat on a snowy (ack, too soon for!) winter day. It's a nice transitional soup, comforting and light.

Chicken Soup for Fall
adapted from EatingWell.com

1 tbsp olive oil
1 C chopped carrots
8-12 oz boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped into bite size pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 C chicken broth
2-4 C water (depending on how liquidy you like it, I just refilled both broth cans ~ 4c)
6 oz baby spinach, chopped
1 15-oz can cannellini beans, rinsed
1 C little pasta (I used stelline, but you can use orzo or something similar)
freshly ground black pepper
5-6 Tbsp store bought pesto (recipe from scratch in the source recipe)

Heat olive oil in a medium pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add carrots and sautee for a couple minutes. Lightly salt the chicken, then add to the pot and allow to brown lightly on all sides. Add garlic and sautee until it's soft. Add the broth and water and bring to a boil.
Once the soup is boiling, add the pasta and spinach. Boil according to the pasta directions. Add the beans with 2 minutes to go to heat them through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Take off the heat when the pasta is cooked al dente. Stir in the pesto.

03 October 2010

shrunken chicken pot pies

I've been craving chicken pot pie lately, but here's one of the moderately annoying things about being single -- making a regular 9" pie recipe for something like this would be very, very wasteful since I can't eat a whole pie by myself, I generally don't like leftovers, and even when I force myself to eat them, most of it still goes bad before I get a chance to finish it. I also rarely have enough people over to eat a whole thing before all that stuff happens. One day, when I have a family all my own, I'll be able to make a whole pie. But until then... Solution for a single gal? Mini pies!
I got this cute little lattice pocket pie mold from Williams Sonoma a while back and it made for perfectly portioned pies. Here's a little trick about this sucker, by the way -- it's a dough cutter and mold in one, but when you cut the dough it's not quite big enough for the mold (dumb, I know) so I just cut them then rolled them a little to give it the extra width. Just make sure to wet the edges before crimping or else they're going to come apart. Worked brilliantly. You can freeze them and take one out at a time for a simple meal for one.
Chicken Pocket Pies
adapted from allrecipes.com

1 lb chicken breast or thigh (boneless), cubed into bite size pieces
2 cans chicken broth
1 1/4 C carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3/4 C green peas, frozen
1/2 sweet onion
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
rounded 1/2 tsp salt
pepper, to taste
ground red pepper flakes, to taste
2/3 C milk
2 C chicken broth (from the boiled chicken)
2 9" pie crusts (see below)

Place chicken, celery, and carrots in a medium pot and cover with chicken broth (about 2 cans). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain, saving the liquid.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and sautee until translucent. Stir in flour, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and peppers. Continuously stir to allow flour to mix in and cook a little - about 2 minutes. Slowly add in milk and chicken broth. Simmer over medium low heat, stirring regularly, until thick.

Cut out, fill, and form the pocket pies -- makes 10 using the pocket pie cutter.  If baking right away, set oven to 425, place on parchment lined baking sheet, brush with egg wash, and bake for 16-20 minutes, or  until golden. Otherwise you can freeze them -- when ready to use, take right out of the freezer then follow the same directions above except bake for about 25 minutes or until golden.

Oh. About that crust... That flaky, buttery, lovely crust... It's really just a variation of the crust I used for the galette and peach pies.
Pie Crust for something savory -- you'll need to double this recipe to make the chicken pocket pies

1 stick butter, cut into small pieces and frozen
1 1/4 C flour
1/2 tsp salt
4-6 tbsp ice water

Combine flour and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or food processor until it forms a coarse meal. Stir in ice water a tablespoon at a time until dough starts to come together into a dough ball. You may need fold/roll it around to get most of the pieces. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight before using.

Definitely keep pie crust cold -- Since I was cutting out shapes, I'd cut each disc into two, then roll/cut only a half at a time to make sure the rest of the dough stayed chilled.

And yay, I get to check another item off my 2010 Hit List!