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Monday, October 17, 2011

Baked Vanilla Doughnuts: Secret Recipe Club

This is my fourth post for Secret Recipe Club and I'm so excited to share it with you all!  Every month a part of being in Secret Recipe Club is to go around and read the other posts written and revealed on the same day in your group.  Every time I've been to this blogger's site I've thought, "Man, it would be neat to get her blog sometime!"  Then this month, I did!  For October I was assigned the blog Fake Ginger.  I've enjoyed this blog for quite some time now, and I actually already had a few connections to it already -- she's a fake ginger, I'm a real ginger; and about this time last year I was the winner of one of her awesome giveaways!  So it was fun to get assigned her blog after reading it for awhile and even participating on it as well.

I was especially excited to see that she had some posts about baked doughnuts.  I had been seeing baked doughnuts popping up all over the blog world in the last few months and I've been wanting to make some for myself.  The only problem was that I needed a doughnut pan.  Since we live near a Williams-Sonoma outlet, I tend to wait for things like this to show up there so I can get them at a discounted price.  I've been stalking the shelves and a doughnut pan hadn't yet arrived.  But, I was at another fantastic kitchen supply store -- Sur La Table and found a doughnut pan on sale for 3.99.  It was the long, cruller shape and not the typical round but I figured for 3.99 it's worth a try!

So I had the doughnut pan, all I needed was the recipe.  A few days later I got my Secret Recipe Club assignment and was thrilled to find baked doughnuts on Amanda's page.  I let Zach chose the flavor -- he picked vanilla with vanilla glaze, but if it were up to me I would have made her Peanut Butter Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze recipe.  We had these for a lazy Sunday breakfast and they were amazing.  Nice and tender, great vanilla flavor and super delicious.  I love having them warm form the oven when the glaze soaks in a bit and makes them extra moist and sweet.  The only change I really made was to double the cinnamon since I love cinnamon.  Other than that it was great as is!

Baked Vanilla Doughnuts
makes 3 cruller-shaped doughnuts (or 6 round)


For doughnuts:
1 cup flour
6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons buttermilk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter, melted

For glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 – 2 teaspoons half and half
sprinkles (Sprinkles!  Who doesn't love a recipe that calls for sprinkles?!?)

  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Spray your doughnut pan with cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Stir until combined.
  • In a small bowl whisk buttermilk, egg, vanilla and butter until combined.  Pour buttermilk mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined.  
  • Portion batter into doughnut pan (3 crullers or 6 round doughnuts).  Bake 8-10 minutes for round doughnuts or 20-25 minutes for the larger/thicker cruller shape.  They should spring back when touched.  Let cool for 5 minutes in pan before removing.
  • While doughnuts cool, make the glaze.  Combine powdered sugar, vanilla and 1 teaspoon half and half, stirring and adding half and half as needed to achieve the right consistency.  
  • Remove doughnuts from pan, top with glaze and sprinkles and serve.

Check out the other recipes and blogs that are a part of this week's Secret Recipe Club reveal day!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Southwestern Cornbread and Beef Skillet

I've always enjoyed cooking.  There is a comfort to taking a recipe, shopping for ingredients and then following the steps to create a dish.  I've also always been pretty comfortable putting my own twist on a recipe.  I like to change up the spices or switch out a few ingredients according to what I have on hand, or what better suits my tastes.  I'm not afraid to change things up and as I've gained more experience in the kitchen I've gotten more and more comfortable making changes, additions and substitutions to recipes and this dish is a great example of that. 

I was searching for a one-dish meal to make for Good Life Eats and My Baking Addiction's Holiday Recipe Exchange.  This week the contest is sponsored by Le Creuset.  I couldn't think of any one-dish meals off the top of my head besides soup so I did a quick search on the website for one of my favorite food magazines -- Everyday Food.  I found a slideshow of one pot meals and decided on this one.  After reading some reviews decided to make some changes. 

First of all I wanted to use things I had on hand, so I switched out the mushrooms for sweet corn.  The combo of corn, red peppers and onion then immediately brought to mind southwest flavors.  Some of the comments on the recipe suggested that the sauce was rather bland as it was written, so I thought a flavor profile with cumin, smoked paprika and cayenne would be a good move.  The other major change I made was to use buttermilk instead of sour cream and an egg to make the cornbread dough.  As I went to the fridge to get the egg I realized we were out of them.  Oops.  But, we happened to have buttermilk so I just substituted that instead.  The flavors were great and really worked well with the peppers and corn.  It was a quick and easy weeknight meal -- with only one pot to clean!!

Come join the fun with the My Baking Addiction and Good Life Eats holiday recipe exchange sponsored by Le Creuset!

Southwestern Cornbread and Beef Skillet
serves 4-6

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour  
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 red bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), thinly sliced
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 1/2 cup corn (frozen or 15 oz can, drained)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon mexican oregano
1 pound ground sirloin
1/4 cup tomato paste
2/3 cup beef broth
3/4 cup buttermilk

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a small bowl mix cornmeal, 1/2 cup flour, baking soda, smoked paprika and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Stir to combine. 
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Pour olive oil in the pan then add peppers and onion.  Saute until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.  Then add corn and cook 2-3 minutes longer.  Add cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, and oregano. 
  • Raise heat to high and add in ground beef and tomato paste.  Cook until beef is fully browned, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour over the pan and stir until flour is dissolved.  Add in the broth  and stir until a sauce forms.  Turn off heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour the buttermilk into the cornmeal/flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Drop tablespoons of batter on top of the beef mixture in the skillet.  There will be enough batter for  6 scoops, placing them about one inch apart.  Bake until biscuits are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Grilled Sausage Panzanella

This is a great recipe for the end of summer.  It's a fantastic way to get out and use your grill a few more times before the cold weather hits.  We had this one week in early summer and then have quickly repeated it almost every week since.  It's a great, fast weeknight meal and tastes fabulous.  Grilling the bread as well as the sausage really emphasizes smoky, charred flavors in the dish.  And it's so versatile.  We always have a few packages of sausage in the freezer, usually a flavored chicken sausage.  Trader Joe's has a great selection of varieties and our favorite grocery store in the world, Wegmans, has also recently launched a line in their own brand name as well.  We've done this with pesto sausage, sun-dried tomato sausages, Italian (both sweet and hot), smoked chardonnay and apple, andouille, spinach and feta, the list can go on and on.  I bet kielbasa would be particularly good as well -- which gives me another excuse to put this dish on the menu for the upcoming week (like I needed one!).

Grilled Sausage Panzanella
adapted (and infinitely customizable) from EveryDay with Rachael Ray, June/July 2010
Serves 4

2 plum tomatoes, finely chopped (I've also used cherry/grape tomatoes that are halved and chopped heirloom tomatoes.)
1/4 large onion (or 1/2 medium), thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped 
Salt and pepper 
Four thick slices bread (Use your preferred variety, I find Italian or sourdough work well.)
4 sausage links (about 1 pound), any variety 
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 
15 fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese 

  • In a large bowl mix together the tomatoes, onion and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Let stand 15 minutes.  Preheat your grill to medium.
  • Once grill is hot and ready, grill bread slices, about 2 minutes in each side.  You want them to get toasty brown and have some charring around the edges.  
  • After removing the bread, grill the sausages.  If your sausages are precooked then you are just heating them up, so about 5-7 minutes total.  If you are using raw sausages you will need to grill until cooked completely, so about 10-12 minutes total.  Turn sausages often for even cooking/heating and nice grill marks.  
  • Add olive oil and red wine vinegar to the tomato mixture.  Cut bread into 1/2 -3/4 inch cubes.  Cut the sausages into similar sized slices.  Add the bread, sausage, basil and half the parmesan to the tomato mixture.  Toss until combined.  Divide into bowls and serve with the additional parmesan for sprinkling on top. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Triple Chocolate Cookies

I found this cookie recipe when flipping through a stack of my Cook's Illustrated magazines.  I knew I had to make them as soon as I saw them.  Like all Cook's Illustrated recipes, it was perfect.  Their recipes often involve steps that seem unnecessary at the time, but when you read the narrative and it is explained to you why included these steps you understand and take the extra time to make it right.  I have never had a recipe of theirs not turn out.  I may not like the particular combination of flavors, and might change up seasonings here or there, but the recipes pretty much always turn out flawless.  I do wish the same could be said for my pictures, but these were too good not to share because of a not-so-great picture.  The key is the three types of chocolate -- the melted chocolate in the dough, the cocoa powder and then the chips that are added in as well.  These cookies are ginormous.  You use an ice cream scoop to portion them out, and they spread quite a bit.  They really remind me of they kind you would buy at a bakery or in a store, giant and crispy on the edges but chewy in the middle. 

I am submitting this recipe to the Holiday Recipe Exchange hosted by Good Life Eats and My Baking Addiction to have a chance to win a gift basket from Scharffen Berger Chocolate, which actually is the brand I used when making these cookies.  Zach had gone to visit his brother in Hershey, Pennslyvania and brought me back several bars of their high quality chocolate for baking.  I'd love to win more for use in future recipes!  Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Exchange sponsored by Scharffen Berger.

Triple Chocolate Cookies
Cook's Illustrated, September/October 1999

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
16 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips 
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • Sift first four ingredients together into a medium bowl and set aside.
  • Set up either a double boiler, or a medium pot filled with 3-4 inches of water with a metal bowl that will fit in the pot without touching the water.  Melt the chopped chocolate in the bowl, stirring until smooth.   Remove from heat and turn off burner.  
  • In a small bowl, beat the egg and vanilla together.  Sprinkle the coffee powder on top.  Set aside.
  • Using a stand mixer, beat butter until smooth and creamy, about 10 seconds.  Add in sugars and beat about one minute, mixture will still look granular.  Reduce speed to low and slowly add in egg/vanilla/coffee powder mixture.  Beat until incorporated, about another minute.  Add melted chocolate and additional chips in steady stream and beat another minute.  
  • Stop mixer and scrape bottom and sides of bowl.  Turn mixer on low and slowly add flour mixture.  Beat until just combined, do not overmix.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, until fudge-like.  
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment (the parchment plays a key role later -- don't use a silpat!).  Scoop cookies onto cookie sheet using 1 3/4 inch ice cream scoop.  Leave 2, even 3, inches between each ball of dough. 
  • Bake for 10 minutes, reversing the cookie sheets halfway through baking.  The centers of the cookies will still be very soft-looking.  Cool cookies on sheets 10 minutes, then slide the parchment off the cookie sheet and onto the cooling rack.  Cover pans with new parchment and bake next set of cookies.  Once cookies are completely cooled, remove from parchment.