Farm Stand Donuts

farm-stand-donuts

I have no idea why these are called Farm Stand Donuts. Of all the items I have seen at a farm stand, I am pretty sure I have never seen a donut.  In fact, fried donuts seem like the opposite of a farmer’s ‘live off the land’ mentality. Regardless, it turns out the farmer can make one mean donut. And if you don’t have the time this Saturday to head to the farmer’s market to pick some up, I recommend you make these.  I got this recipe from my beloved ‘Baked Explorations’ cookbook, which I highly recommend to any baking enthusiast out there.

Recipe:

 

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 stick melted butter, cooled.
  • Vegetable oil for frying
Glaze:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Sprinkles (not optional)
To make the dough, whisk all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, milk, and sour cream until combined. Add the melted butter.
Create a hole in the middle of the flour mixture. Pour the egg mixture into the well. Fold in the flour using a rubber spatula to create a sticky dough.  Create a floured work surface, and pat the dough down to 1/2 inch thickness.  Using cookie cutters, cut out the circles and holes and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use the excess dough to make donut holes.  I wish I could take credit for inventing the donut hole.
Pour oil into a large pan, about 1 1/2 inches deep. Heat over medium until it reaches 350-360 degrees.  While oil is heating create the glaze. Mix all ingredients in a liquid measuring glass. Set aside.
 Using a slotted spoon place the donuts carefully into the hot oil.
Fry for 2-3 minutes, then flip each one over using tongs. Fry for another 1-2 minutes.
Glaze the donuts and top with sprinkles. I also covered a couple of them with plain powdered and brown sugar.
Enjoy!!
grilled-vegetable-salad

This is a perfect summer salad that can be served with anything. It is a grilled salad, so I typically make it with grilled steak or fish.

Recipe:

1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 bunch asparagus
1 onion
1 box cherub tomatoes
1 lb mushrooms
Large bunch fresh basil
1 / 2 – 1 cup crumbled feta or mozzarella cheese
Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil

Chop all vegetables into large pieces while you heat the grill. Drizzle with Olive Oil. Over medium heat, grill all the vegetables except tomatoes for approximately 10 minutes.  Turn vegetables over and add tomatoes; grill for another 2-3 minutes.

I choose to place the vegetables directly on the grill rack because I like the marks it makes on the vegetables. For easier clean up, you could use a grill pan or aluminum foil. You want the vegetables to retain a little crispiness so be careful not to over cook.  Remove the vegetables from the grill and let cook for a few minutes. In a separate bowl, mix 1 tablespoon olive oil with 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar. Pour over vegetables and add fresh basil to taste. I use a lot. Toss with cheese and serve.

 

This picture is shown with mozzarella, but I prefer feta. Somebody (I won’t mention any names), decided the fresh feta I bought last week no longer belonged in the refrigerator and tossed it. The mozz was great but feta adds a little extra flavor.

Popovers

popovers

My favorite place to eat lunch is the Neiman Marcus cafe due to the giant popovers they serve with strawberry butter. I have never met a popover I did not like.  I make them quite frequently now; they are easy, delicious, and sort of impressive-looking.

Recipe:

1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup whole milk
3 eggs
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Whisk together all ingredients in a mixing bowl. These turn out best if everything is at room temperature.  Grease the cups of the popover pan and pour the batter into each cup so they are about 1/2 – 3/4 full.  The key to successful popovers is baking them in a very hot oven. Do not peek. Bake for exactly 35 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Chicken Pot Pie

chicken-pot-pie

It was a very chilly rainy day in Dallas today (a freezing 60 degrees), so I decided to make braised short ribs in a red wine sauce. I went to the grocery store, put all 85 ingredients in my cart, and made the meat counter my last stop. I picked up my ticket, patiently waited for numbers 52-70 to get called and finally! About 30 minutes later 71 was called. 8 short ribs, I said. ‘Girl, you must be jokin. We ain’t had no short ribs since about 9 this mornin’ was the meat lady’s response. I was not joking, I did want 8 short ribs. Under the extreme pressure of the meat lady and the 8 million people that surrounded me, I had to make a quick decision. I  decided on one of my favorite comfort foods: Chicken Pot Pie.

For the filling:
  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
  • 4-8 tablespoons butter (4=healthy, 8=indulgent. Both=tasty)
  • 1-2 chopped onions
  • 3/4 cup flour or corn flour (love the corn flour variation!)
  • 4-5 cups chicken stock 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 bag frozen pearl onions
  • 1 cup chopped carrots, steamed in the microwave for 3 minutes
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley

 

Start by preparing the chicken. Rub generously with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Take the chicken out, and cut into cubes once it is cool enough to handle. Full disclosure, I often use a rotisserie chicken here. Saves some time and prep work and the chicken is so delicious.  You will need one giant chicken if you go this route, about 44 oz.Next, make the pie crust.  Also full disclosure: my husband doesn’t love eating a bunch of the crust, so I have started using store bought pie crust to save even more time and effort.  It’s definitely not as tasty, but if your customers aren’t going to fully appreciate the labor of love that is a pie crust, SKIP IT.

For the pastry:
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 stick cold butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 – 1/3 cup ice water
Mix the dry ingredients, then cut in the cold butter and shortening. Mix with a pastry cutter until pea sized balls form. Add the ice water in gradually, just to bring the dough together. Knead to form a ball, then wrap in aluminum foil and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Now you can work on the filling.
First, sauté the onion in your choice amount of butter, about 15 min.  I have used up to 1.5 sticks of butter before, and let me tell you – it’s GOOD.  But I’ve started using more like 5 tablespoons for a healthier weeknight pot pie, and I can’t tell you that I necessarily miss the other 700 calories.  I guess it ultimately depends if it’s winter sweater weather or summer bikini weather.
One the onions are cooked through, add the flour to the mixture and let thicken. Stir for about 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and buillion cube to onions, starting with about 4 cups. I typically leave it at 4 cups, because I like the pot pie to be thick and mashed potato-like. You can add another cup of stock if you want to thin it out. Simmer on medium heat for another 2 minutes. Add half and half. Add peas, pearl onions, carrots (lightly steamed), cubed chicken, and parsley. Add pepper to taste (you probably don’t need any more salt, unless you used low sodium broth).
Next, get the pie pan ready and roll out the dough.  Roll the dough out on a floured surface, to a diameter big enough to fully cover the top of the pie pan.  Create an egg wash with one beaten egg 1 T. water. Brush the edge of the pie pan with egg wash. Fill the pie pan with the filling, and cover with the pastry dough.  The filling should be heaping so that it creates a full-looking pot pie. Trim the edges of the pastry and fold over the edges. Create 3 slits on top, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper.
Bake the pie in 375 degrees for exactly one hour. I highly recommend placing a baking sheet underneath it to catch anything that spills over. Take out after 1 hour and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.  The filling will continue to thicken as it cools.
This pot pie is so delicious you will want to eat it for days and days after. I highly recommend you change into stretchy pants before serving.

Banana Toffee Coffee Cake

banana-toffee-cake

Make this if you only attempt one baked good this year. Or if you know you are dying tomorrow. I used a standard coffee cake recipe (well, a standard coffee cake recipe with an extra cup of flour and 1/2 stick butter)…and added a ripe banana to the batter and toffee chips on top. Not necessary, but highly recommended.

For the Cake:

  • 1-1/2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 whole egg whites, beaten until stiff
  • 1 large ripe banana, or two medium

For the Topping:

  • 1-1/2 sticks butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1-1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Heath toffee bits

This recipe is a serious case of multi-tasking. I creamed the sugar and butter in a stand-mixer, mixed the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl, mixed the milk with 2 mashed bananas in another bowl, and beat the egg whites.

Alternately add the flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture. Mix until just blended. Fold in the egg whites with a rubber spatula. I added vanilla here, because I add vanilla to everything.

Eat the dough.

For the topping, mix the butter, flour, sugar, and cinnamon with a pastry cutter to chop the butter. Or, use a potato masher if that’s all you have.

 

Pour the batter in a 9 X 13 inch buttered pan, pour the topping over it.

 

Bake in 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes, until no longer jiggly. Top with the toffee bits.

Yum.

 

Eat as much as you can before someone else finds it.

Ham & Spinach Quiche

easter-brunc

I decided to make Easter brunch this year. Typically I just like to eat cereal in the morning, but the re-birth inspired me to do something special. So, after careful consideration and interrogating my husband-to-be on possible brunch items, I decided on quiche, banana toffee cake, and fruit salad.

For the quiche, I went straight to my new cookbook, Dorie Greenspan’s ‘Around my French Table.’ My table is not french, but it hopes to be some day. I started by making the crust, or pate brisee if you’re fancy. I mixed the dough together, then rolled it up in aluminum foil to refrigerate for 3 hours (or 30 minutes if you are hungry and dying to eat as soon as possible, like myself).

After refrigerating, I rolled out the dough to a 12 inch diameter. I believe this is the step that would have benefitted from 3 hours of refrigeration. However, we both survived and Easter went on.  I placed the dough in a very buttered pie pan, then froze for approximately 42 minutes.

Now it is time to partially bake the crust. In order to maintain a flat crust, I lined it with parchment paper and filled it with ben’s instant white rice. I came up with this idea on my own.

Just kidding. That idea was Dorie’s. How do people come up with things like that??!  Bake it for about 20 minutes. Take out the parchment paper/rice, and bake for 3-5 more minutes.

For the filling, I did spinach, ham, and mushroom.  I started by sautéing some onions until golden brown.  I then added mushrooms, steamed spinach and chopped ham.

While the tart was cooling, I mixed the quiche filling. I modified Dorie’s recipe slightly to add more heavy cream and cheese, to lighten it up a bit. I mixed 3 beaten eggs with heavy cream.  I placed a layer of mozzarella on the bottom of the tart, then the ham mixture, followed by more cheese.

I then poured the custard (I did not know this was called a custard. Dorie is one smart lady) over the soon-to-be quiche. Oh – I also added a lot of pepper. There can never be too much pepper.  I then baked in a 350 degree oven until the middle was set, about 35 minutes.

And…voila! It tasted great and was delicious 1 hour later as well.  Here is the full recipe:

Crust (or pate brisee):
– 1 1/4 cups flour
– 1 t. sugar
– 1/2 t. salt
– 6 T. very cold butter, preferably unsalted
– 1 large egg
– 1 t. ice water

With a food processor ( or your clean hands if you don’t own a food processor, like me) mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and cold butter. Mix in the egg (beaten first), and 1 t. ice water. Knead the dough into a ball and refrigerate.

Filling:
– 1/2 chopped sweet onion
– 3/4 c. chopped mushrooms
– 5 oz. baby spinach, steamed and chopped
– 1/2 lb chopped ham
– 1 c. cheese of your choice. I always like mozzarella or cheddar.

Custard:
– 3 eggs, beaten
– 1 c. heavy cream

 

So there you have it.  A good, solid quiche recipe you can make again and again for your own french table.
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