Archive for October, 2010

Green Tea Doughnuts

So the final course of Boy’s birthday dinner was the lychee coconut sorbet and GREEN TEA DOUGHNUTS!

I was really excited to try making doughnuts for the first time. They’ve been on my “to try” list for awhile and so when the October DB challenge came out I was overjoyed. To make it fit into my Asian-themed dinner, however, I made a few adaptations to the original recipe and added some green tea to the mix. I also chose to add a green tea glaze to the doughnut holes as an experiment. They came out a bit ugly but the glaze definitely added some extra green tea flavor so I highly recommend it!

I originally tried to make the yeast doughnuts but, alas, they did not rise very well for some reason (the yeast was not cooperating that day!) so very last minute I made the cake doughnuts instead. They were much easier, didn’t require a rising time, and were done start to finish within an hour which made my day a lot better. In the time it took to heat up the oil I had the doughnuts all set and ready to go! Definitely a plus for a recipe. If you’re afraid of making doughnuts, these cake doughnuts are a breeze. And if you’re afraid of the oil, I’m pretty sure you can bake them as well but these are NOT oily by any means. At the perfect temperature of oil, the oil doesn’t actually soak into the doughnuts so you don’t feel like a total fattie by eating more than one (or two.. or five).

Boy said I should sell these they were THAT good. And then he wanted me to make these in lieu of a birthday cake when we went out to dinner with all our friends last weekend. Um.. no. (I made the full-sized version of the Black Pearl Cupcakes I posted about a few weeks ago and it was well received by all.)

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.

Green Tea Cake Doughnuts
adapted from a Daring Bakers recipe

Makes approximately 15 doughnuts and 15 doughnuts holes.

Ingredients

  • 3 inches of vegetable oil in whatever vessel you are using
  • 1/4 c sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 3 1/4 c all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp matcha powder
  • 1 1/8 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3/4 c + 2 tbsp buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

* also need frying thermometer

Instructions
Heat oil to 375F.

Heat sour cream until just warm in a small bowl set over a pot of simmering water. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and matcha. Make a well in the center and sprinkle yeast into the well. Pour the warmed sour cream over the yeast and allow to sit for a minute or so.

Pour the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla into the well. Using one hand, draw in the dry ingredients, working in a little bit at a time until completely incorporated. It will be quite sticky!

Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour. Sift a layer of flour onto a work surface, scrape dough onto the surface, and sift more flour on top. Pat dough into an even 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out the doughnuts and holes using cookie cutters, glasses of different sizes, piping tips, or what have you. Place cut-out doughnuts and holes onto a floured surface. Continue gathering, patting, and cutting.

When ready, drop doughnuts into the hot oil. Take care not to overcrowd. They should only cook 20-30 seconds per side or until golden brown. As they finish, transfer to a baking sheet covered with paper towels to drain.

For green tea glaze on the doughnut holes in the first image, I didn’t exactly measure things out but it was approximately 1 tsp matcha powder, 1/4 c powdered sugar, and a couple tbsp of milk whisked together until thick.

Lychee Coconut Sorbet

So let me tell you about Boy’s birthday extravaganza!

All-in-all the dinner was a huge success but it wasn’t without its bumps in the road. Also, if I didn’t start the night before and then start the day of at noon we would have eaten at midnight. I’m not a very organized cook. I’m definitely a much better baker.

But so it goes. He loved it anyway.

(And we all know he’d have loved anything I made – or at least said he loved it.)

First course, Momofuku’s Pork Belly Buns adapted from epicurious.

High points: They were absolutely delicious and tasted very much like the original buns that I had with Joanne. (Hi Joanne!) Assembly was quite easy as was the actually pork belly part. Plus, they make for a beautiful looking appetizer. Boy loves him some pork belly!

Low points: I couldn’t, for the life of me, get my bun dough to cooperate. The yeast wasn’t having it, the flour to water ratio seemed off, and a box of dry milk ran me $10. After several attempts, two the night before and one the day of, I ran out to the Asian store for some frozen premade buns which still tasted delicious so I highly recommend it.

Next course, Wine-Braised Beef Short Ribs from No Recipes with Wilted Watercress from epicurious and jasmine rice.

High points: Everything. This was super easy to make. For the beef, you just throw everything into a pot and let it simmer away for a few hours until it’s beautifully tender and dark! I used a cheaper bottle of red wine and it came out perfect. The watercress took minutes and was a perfect side to the beef.

Low points: Nothing!

And for dessert, Lychee Coconut Sorbet from epicurious with Vermicelli Crisps from epicurious and the October Daring Bakers Challenge.

Can’t show you the Challenge dish yet but I thought I’d share the recipe for the sorbet since it was so delicious and super easy.

Lychee Coconut Sorbet
adapted from epicurious

Makes 1 pint.

Ingredients

  • 1 can lychees in syrup
  • 1/2 c well-stirred cream of coconut (Coco Lopez brand preferred; this is NOT coconut milk and NOT coconut cream)
  • juice of one lime, plus more if desired

* also need a pre-frozen ice cream maker

Instructions

Drain lychees, reserving syrup.

Combine lychees, cream of coconut, 1/4 c syrup, and lime juice in a blender until smooth. Strain to remove leftover lychee pulp and taste, adding more lime if desired. Refrigerate until cold.

Freeze in pre-frozen ice cream maker.

Vermicelli Crisps
adapted from epicurious

Ingredients

  • Dried rice vermicelli (rice-stick noodles)
  • Enough vegetable oil for 1 1/2 inches of oil in whatever vessel you are frying in
  • Powdered sugar

*also need a deep-frying or candy thermometer

Instructions

Soak noodles in cold water until pliable. (This took me about an hour.) Drain, pat dry, and spread on paper towels to air-dry for about 30 minutes.

When ready to fry, begin heating oil until thermometer reads 350F.

Gather mounds of noodles (about 1 tbsp) and pull apart slightly to form a loose tangle. Drop tangles into oil and fry until crisp. about 20 seconds. They will sink, the oil will bubble, and then the noodles will rise to the surface for the duration of frying. Use a slotted spoon to pull crisps out of oil and drain on paper towels. Dust with powdered sugar.

Dinner was a lot of work but definitely worth every bit of effort. It was a wonderful birthday for Boy!

Tune in on Wednesday to find out how the Daring Bakers October challenge went!

Godiva Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

Nothing says “thank you” like homemade baked goods in my opinion.

Thanks for having me over for dinner!

Thanks for writing me a letter of recommendation!

Thank you for being a friend.

Golden girls, anyone?

I’m sure many of you think along the same lines and if so have I got a recipe for you!

(If not, this is still a great recipe and I’m sure you’ll find an excuse to make this.)

In other news, I am busily preparing for Boy’s birthday in 2 days. It’s going to be an Asian extravaganza of sorts and I’m quite stressed out about it. I think I’ve gone all out and I’m pushing myself to make things that I’ve never made before and require time, time, and more time (which I never seem to have but I have off for the next couple of days to study for my exam.. and I guess I’ll be cooking instead of studying). Since I know he doesn’t read this on a daily basis, I’ll let you in on the meal.

Momofuku Pork Belly Buns

Braised Short Ribs with Watercress and Jasmine Rice

and finally

Lychee Coconut Sorbet with this month’s Daring Bakers challenge and Fried Vermicelli Noodle Tangles (for garnish)

Does that sound like a delicious meal for a wonderful Boy’s birthday?

Wish me luck! These brownies will be with me every step of the way unless I eat all of them at the first step and then I’ll be lost.

Godiva Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies
adapted from Godiva

Original cut in half for an 8×8″ pan of brownies.

Ingredients

  • 4.5 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 c granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, divided
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line pan with foil and allow edges to hang off as handles of sorts. Coat bottom and sides with nonstick spray (although I’m not sure it’s needed).

Heat chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until melted. Stir until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

In a mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and 3 tbsp sugar until smooth. Add in 1 egg and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Set aside.

In a clean bowl, beat butter and remaining sugar until combined. Add the other egg and mix then add in melted chocolate and remaining 1 tsp vanilla. Mix in flour and salt until just combined on low speed. Set aside 1/2 c of this batter and pour the remainder into the prepared pan.

Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over the chocolate batter. Then spoon the reserved 1/2 of chocolate batter over the cream cheese and pull a knife or skewer through the banner to create the swirl.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Cool before cutting into squares, pulling brownies out of the pan using the foil handles.

What do you like to munch on while you cook/bake?

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

After the ridiculously hot summer we had over here in the Northeast, the entrance of fall has been welcomed with open arms and mine are most definitely wide open.

I’m on Emergency Medicine right now which means shift work (good thing? bad thing?) and also means scrubs every time I go into work. I usually just throw the same sweatshirt over me as I rush out the door (the same one because it’s usually sitting on my floor from the last time I wore it and I really just wear it on the car ride to and from the hospital since I wear my white coat in the hospital – I’m not as dirty as I made myself out to be just there).

Today, however, I had the day off and I pulled out my first cute jacket of the season.

Ahh fall. It’s wonderful to be able to wear a seemingly new wardrobe now since it’s been many many months since I’ve looked over into the jacket area of my closet. I finally got to appreciate the cooling down weather.

And so after I came back from errands I did the most natural thing in the world when I’m happy.

I baked.

These cookies.

Perfectly fall and comforting with the flavors of cinnamon, pumpkin, a pop of chocolate, and little bursts of dried cherries. These cookies could not be more fall. They’re also perfect with a cup of tea while you sit and watch the leaves change (not that anyone really has time to do that kind of thing.. but in case you’re the exception).

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice
from Taste of Home

Ingredients

  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves

Instructions

Mix it all up in a bowl. Makes 2 1/2 tbsp which is more than enough for the cookies so save the rest for later. Yay!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from My Baking Addiction

I halved the recipe for about 22 cookies.

Ingredients

  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 c light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 large egg (I realize this sounds crazy but it’s not difficult to do!)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c dried cherries, roughly chopped

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F and line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a separate bowl for a stand or hand mixer, beat butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla and mix until combined. Add flour mixture. When mixed, fold in chocolate chips and cherries.

Using two spoons, drop rounded tablespoons of batter onto baking sheets 2 inches apart. Bake 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes on baking sheets and then move to wire racks until completely cooled.

What’s your favorite fall cookie?

Apple Crisp + Review

The quest for America.

The quest to land on the moon.

The quest for a map of the human genome.

The quest for the cure for AIDS.

The quest for the perfect apple.

One (and only one) of these things concerned me this weekend.

I went apple picking! (Incidentally, do you enjoy these pictures of yours truly? Do they add to the experience? Or no? I appreciate the feedback.)

It was a gorgeous day in the TriState area so Boy and I took a little trip down to an orchard for some afternoon fun in the sun with some apples.

And I’m sure we’re not the only people who suffer from this problem but we really got into the quest for the perfect looking apple and would pick, and pick, and pick to our heart’s content until the bags got a little too heavy for even Boy to carry. (My heart soared when he grabbed my bag early on in the picking. That meant one hand for pictures and one for apples! Yay!) Then we realized that the two of us had to eat two entire bags of apples. Oh goodness. We picked Granny Smith, Winesap, Fuji, and Empire apples and I couldn’t wait to get started on some fall baking!

I had gone apple picking a few years ago with different friends from school and afterwards held a get-together at my place. I spent the afternoon baking an apple pie and an apple crisp and I think Boy started his crush on me when he bit into that crisp. He couldn’t get enough!

So this year when we finally got around to doing it ourselves, I knew it was the first thing I had to make.

It also nicely coincided with the arrival of my new apple peeler from cookware.com!

Take a look at this little beauty:

Oh baby. I am on a roll with this thing! I was peeling, coring, and slicing apples like no one’s business. It definitely makes the process go a lot faster and it’s actually kinda fun to use! You just crank the apple through the device and it takes care of the rest. All you have to do at the end is make a cut down the middle of the slices to separate them and you’re good to go. Perfect for making pies, crisps, or even just to slice an apple for a snack. I also loved the suction bottom so the device wasn’t slipping and sliding all over the place. You can use it for potatoes etc too. I’m looking forward to trying that out! I highly highly recommend this product. It’s my apples’ new best friend.

 

So, after processing all my apples in under 5 minutes, I got to work on my favorite crisp recipe. Ina Garten is one of my favorite Food Network hosts. Her recipes never cease to impress and they’re often quite simple with perhaps a little twist for an extra oomph. The oomph in this case is the addition of citrus. The result is a wonderful tang to the crisp that’s perfectly offset by the crumbly topping which also has its own oomph in the form of kosher salt though I’m sure sea salt would be extra fabulous!

Apple Crisp
adapted from Ina Garten

Makes one 9″ x 14″ baking dish’s worth of crisp.

Ingredients

For filling:

  • 5 lb baking apples, peeled, cored & sliced (I used Winesaps & Granny Smiths in about equal proportions)
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • zest of one orange
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

For topping:

  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 c oatmeal
  • heaping 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and diced

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9″ x 14″ baking dish.

For filling, Toss apples in the remainder of the filling ingredients. Pour into baking dish.

For topping, pour all topping ingredients into a stand mixer and, using the paddle attachment, beat until the butter is pea-sized and the mixture is somewhat uniform. Alternatively, use a pastry cutter or two butter knives running in opposite directions (which is what I did) until the same endpoint is reached. Scatter over apples in the baking dish.

Bake on top of a foil-lined baking sheet in case of spill for 1 hour or until brown and bubbly.

Heaven.

What are you making with your fall apples?

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

(Pardon the poor lighting and picture quality. This was at a very dimly lit restaurant.)

Part 2 of my birthday baking series was actually part 1 of my birthday celebration. But let’s not cry over spilled milk.

I’ve been eying (eyeing? WordPress puts a red squiggly under this latter spelling but.. it looks more right to me than eying. Opinions?) this recipe since I first saw it on Annie’s Eats many moons ago. I admire Annie a great deal. Besides her and Joanne (hi, Joanne!), I don’t know of any other medicine-inclined food bloggers out there. I’m relatively new at this blogging thing so maybe I just haven’t been around the block enough. Please enlighten me if you are or know a food blogger in medical school/residency/etc! I’d love to know!

Back to Annie.

She seems to juggle residency (I’m fairly certain of this fact but can no longer find the post/page where I learned this so I cannot confirm at the time. Correct me if I’m wrong! I love her regardless though so it doesn’t quite matter.) ..

I hate when I start sentences and then go into a multiple-sentence aside.

Back to Annie.

She seems to juggle residency, a marriage, a child, and still cooks and bakes gorgeous dishes after which she takes pictures of said gorgeous dishes! Have you SEEN the birthday parties she throws her little one? I’m not sure how she does it. I barely have time to do one of 10 loads of laundry I’m due for. (I’m not sure how either but I have THAT many clothes. Also, I never seem to NOT have time to buy butter. Strange, but true.)

Back to Annie.

She’s pretty fab. So when I saw this beauty back in May I knew it was something special and I’d have to make it for some day special and someone special.

And that someone special was ME!

ME! ME!! MEEEEEEEE!!

I went out and bought the best chocolate I could find (Valrhona, Scharffen Berger, and Guittard) and out of my oven/fridge came this amazing cake of absolute decadence. If I hadn’t shared it with 15 of my nearest and dearest I’m not sure I could have eaten my whole slice! Each layer was richness upon richness upon richness. Essentially, a flourless chocolate cake, a dark chocolate mousse, topped with a white chocolate mousse = heaven in my mouth coating each singular tastebud with chocolate.

In truth, it may have been a bit too rich for some of my friends. But for those who love chocolate, it was fantastic. For me and my birthday, I couldn’t have asked for more.

I know the recipe looks long but it really doesn’t take that long and it’s just wordy descriptions for the most part. Don’t be afraid.

Embrace the chocolate.

Clearly, I did!

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake
from Annie’s Eats, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated November/December 2009

Makes 1 9″ round cake.

Ingredients
For bottom layer (flourless chocolate cake):

  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, plus extra to grease the pan
  • 7 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 c light brown sugar, packed

For middle layer (dark chocolate mousse):

  • 2 tbsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 5 tbsp hot water
  • 7 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt

For top layer (white chocolate mousse):

  • 3/4 tsp powdered gelatin
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 6 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 c heavy cream

  • Cocoa powder or chocolate curls for garnish

Instructions

For bottom layer, butter the bottom and sides of a 9″ springform pan. (I took a note from Annie and lined the pan with parchment. Also, per the comments, if you don’t grease the pan, this layer won’t shrink away from the sides as it did for me and for Annie. This is more of an aesthetic thing so if you don’t care, no worries.) Preheat the oven to 325F and center a rack in the oven.

Combine butter, chocolate, and espresso in a double boiler (large bowl over simmering water). Stir occasionally until smooth then remove from heat to cool a bit, 5 minutes or so. Whisk in the vanilla and egg yolks and set aside.

In a separate bowl with a stand or hand mixer, beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. Crumble half of the brown sugar into the bowl, trying to remove all lumps, and beat about 15 seconds or until incorporated. Crumble remaining brown sugar and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Whisk 1/3 of this egg white/sugar mixture with the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Then fold the remaining egg whites in with a rubber spatula until no streaks remain.

Pour into springform pan, smooth top with a spatula, and bake 14-18 minutes. The cake should be firm around the edges and the center should be set but still soft. Allow to cool on a wire rack completely. At this point, you can refrigerate the cake, covered in plastic wrap, until ready to continue.

For middle layer, whisk cocoa powder and hot water in a small bowl and set aside.

Again, in a double boiler, melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally until smooth and then remove from heat and allow to cool 2-5 minutes.

With a hand or stand mixer, whip the cream, sugar, and salt on medium speed until it begins to thicken. Then increase the speed to high until soft peaks form. Whisk in 1/3 of this whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to lighten. Then fold remaining cream with a rubber spatula until no streaks remain.

Pour mousse over the cooled cake. Tap gently on the counter a few times to remove air bubbles and smooth top with a spatula. Clean up any drips or dribbles on the side of the pan. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes while making the top layer.

For top layer, place white chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside.

Sprinkle gelatin over water in a small bowl and allow to soften for at least 5 minutes. Bring 1/2 cup of the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add the gelatin, stirring until dissolved. Pour this mixture over the white chocolate and let stand for about 1 minute. Then whisk until smooth. Cool to room temperature, about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Using a hand or stand mixer, whip the remaining cream on medium speed until it begins to thicken. Then increase the speed to high and whip to soft peaks. Whisk 1/3 of the whipped cream into the white chocolate mixture to lighten (are you seeing a pattern yet?). Fold in the remaining cream with a rubber spatula until no streak remain. Spoon mousse over the middle layer, smooth the top, and refrigerate at least 2 1/2 hours until set. Don’t cover the pan unless you plan on getting stressed out later by having to fix it.

Garnish with curls or cocoa powder before serving.

My attractive self about to indulge.

Why do I have such scary witch-like fingers?!