Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Jam-filled Donuts

As we all learned from Parks and Rec, breakfast food is the best food

Donuts (or doughnuts, do-nuts, or do'nuts) are definitely one of the superior breakfast foods out there... 

. . . and I think we can all agree that filled donuts are the best kind of donuts (followed very closely by blueberry cake donuts). 

While a family favorite in our house is Boston Cream Donuts, this past weekend I decided to try jam-filled donuts. It was a good decision. 

These donuts are a risen donut, fried in oil, tossed in sugar to coat, and filled with jam. (I've decided that "jam filled and sugar coated" is the new "shipshape and Bristol fashion.")

Jam-filled Donuts

Yields: 18-24 donuts
Time: 2 hours

2 tbsp warm water
1 tbsp yeast
3/4 cup warm whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
3 tbsp butter, softened
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour
Vegetable oil (for frying)

raspberry jam

1. Combine warm water, yeast, and a pinch of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let the yeast activate for 5 minutes. 

2. To the yeast, add warm milk, sugar, salt, egg, butter, and 1 cup flour. Stir to combine. Slowly add the remaining flour, until the dough is mixed. I always take out the dough to knead by hand for about 30 seconds to 1 minute to make sure the dough is smooth. Let rise in a covered, greased bowl in a warm place until doubled in size. 

3. Cut a piece of parchment paper into 4" squares. Roll dough out on a floured surface until just over 1/2" thick. Cut into circles with a 2" cutter. Sprinkle flour onto parchment square before placing each donut on a square. Let rise, covered, until nearly doubled. 

4. Heat oil to 350 degrees fahrenheit in a heavy-bottomed pan or fryer. Fry 2-3 donuts at a time, 1-2 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove and let sit for 1-2 minutes on a paper-towel lined drying rack. Then, throw the donuts around in a bag with sugar until coated. 

5. Put jam into a freezer bag with the corner cut off or decorating bag with a round tip. Use a chopstick to poke a hole in the side of each donut, then fill with jam. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

I love peanut butter.

When I'm hungry during the day, I often open one of the jars of peanut butter in my kitchen and eat a spoonful (or two). Surprisingly, I've only posted one recipe involving peanut butter in the 4 years I've had my blog.

It's probably because I chow down on anything with peanut butter before I can photograph it.

I'm the type of person who buys whatever brand of stuff is the cheapest at the store. I'm no snob when it comes to the generic labels! Luckily, my absolute favorite brand of peanut butter (and the only kind I'll buy) is the Kroger brand, which is the store brand where I shop. Is there anything you'll only buy in a specific brand?

This recipe is a variation on the famous New York Times Cookie recipe. I've given the weights as well as the cup measurements. I used my kitchen scale to weigh all the ingredients.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Yields: 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on the size.

1 3/4 cups (8 1/2 oz) cake flour*
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 oz) all purpose flour*
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 1/4 cup (2 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 cup (10 oz) brown sugar
1 cup + 2 tbsp (8 oz) sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup mini peanut butter cups, chopped***
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Sea salt for sprinkling

1. Mix together flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

2. Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat. Slowly add the dry ingredients until it is just incorporated.

3. Fold in the peanut butter cups and chips. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

 4. Scoop 2 oz balls (these are big cookies-- the dough should be at least 2" in diameter) onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment or silpat. I only baked 6 cookies at a time-- they're that big! Sprinkle with sea salt and bake at 350 for 13-18 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. Bake until the edges are golden brown and the middles no longer look raw.

* You can use whatever ratio of the two flours you have-- I was about 1/2 cup short on the cake flour, so I used AP flour for that 1/2 cup. Just make sure you have 17 oz flour altogether.

*** I got mini peanut butter cups at Winco in the bulk section. They're adorable and perfect for baking! They work great in cookies, brownies, and ice cream.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Mushroom Tart

Y'all already know I love puff pastry. My love of puff pastry first started in a French-style cafe my family visited often when I was growing up.

They have a dish called a chicken friand. It's a mixture of french cheese, mushrooms, and chicken stuffed into a puff pastry shell. It was the first "fancy" food I ate, and the first "fancy" dish I learned to cook by myself. Recipe coming soon (once I can muster up the self-control to put off eating the chicken friands long enough to photograph them).

This mushroom tart is reminiscent of the chicken friand, except this tart can be on the table in just a half hour. It's really versatile-- it can work as an appetizer, side, or entrée (or a dessert, if you're really strange).

One of the best parts of this recipe is that you can substitute pretty much any of the ingredients. I've made it with tons of different things, and it's always come out beautifully.

Mushroom Tart

Yields: two 9" tarts (Serves 4 entrees or up to 12 as a side or an appetizer)

1 sheet puff pastry
3 slices bacon
1 tsp minced garlic
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 tsp Emeril's Essence*
3 tbsp water
1/4 cup shredded gruyère (or swiss, or parmesan)
1/2 cup sour cream (or cream cheese)
1 egg, beaten

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut puff pastry in half. Place on a cookie sheet lined with Silpat or parchment.

2. Cook bacon. Remove from pan, but leave the bacon grease in the pan. Sauté the garlic in the bacon grease for 1 minute, then add mushrooms, reserving about 10 slices to decorate the tart. Add Emeril's Essence. Cook until the mushrooms release all their liquid. Add water as necessary to prevent burning or sticking.

3. Remove from heat and add crumbled bacon, gruyère, and sour cream.** Spread on the puff pastry. Top with reserved mushrooms. Brush the edges with beaten egg and bake for 15-20 minutes.

*Emeril's Essence is my go-to seasoning. I use it on everything!! You can also substitute this with your preferred seasoning.

**You can make the mixture ahead of time and refrigerate. It will keep for a day or two.