Friday, April 19, 2019

Flashback Friday - Maple Bacon Baked Donuts

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This post originally appeared on on April 28, 2014.

A few months back, I received a cookbook to review. It was full of gluten-free donut recipes, and I wanted to try at least one before I said anything about the book. But each recipe called for several ingredients that we didn't normally have on hand, and it took a while to compile them all. Eventually, everything was in the larder and we were eager to eat some delicious, home-made donuts.

I whipped up a batch for breakfast one day. They looked really pretty, but they were horrible. Dry and flavorless, despite the insane amount of vanilla in them. What a disappointment. (Celiacs, you have my sincere sympathy.)

So now we had these special donut pans that were taking up precious room in the one small cabinet that we use for baking sheets and muffin and cake pans. I had to use them again (and again), but this time, we were going to skip the gluten-free business and going straight for the good stuff: wheat flour. Real sugar. Butter. Forget the applesauce (every damn recipe in that book had a minuscule amount of applesauce in it). An Internet search revealed a recipe for relatively plain baked donuts flavored with nutmeg and I decided to use it as my base. The nutmeg is key in this recipe--it's what makes the donuts taste like donuts. And since we had a few slices of bacon left over from dinner the night before, I sprinkled them on top, with a layer of maple syrup-flavored glaze in between.

Oh so good!

Ok, so while baked donuts aren't exactly like the fried kind, they are pretty damn delicious. The texture is somewhere between a honey dip and a madeleine. Spongy, but not spongecake. Not at all like a cupcake. I'd love to find a recipe for a denser, cake-donut-type baked donut, but I'm pretty happy to eat these until I find one.

Maple Bacon Baked Donuts (adapted from Joy the Baker)

For donuts:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla

For frosting:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Splash vanilla
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 slices bacon, chopped

To make donuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two 6-well doughnut pans and set aside. (I use this one by Wilton.)

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and sugar. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk egg, buttermilk, and vanilla together. Add melted butter and whisk again. Pour wet ingredients over dry and stir together just until everything is combined and no flour bits remain.

Spoon batter into a small zip-top bag, Squeeze out as much air as possible without squeezing the bag too much and seal. Use scissors to cut off one of the bottom corners of the bag. Pipe batter into as many donut wells as you can fill halfway. If you're using the Wilton pan linked above, you should be able to fill all twelve. Don't overfill, otherwise the donuts will rise too much and the holes will close.

Place pans in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pans to a rack and allow to cool completely before unmolding donuts.

While the doughnuts cool, make the glaze.

To make the glaze, in a medium bowl whisk together powdered sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, and cream until smooth.

Once the doughnuts are cool, dip top-side-down into the glaze. Return to the wire rack and sprinkle with bacon. Eat immediately, or, if you want to put a couple away, wait until the glaze has set and wrap each donut separately in plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Fogo de Chao Adds New Items For Spring

For serious meat lovers, Brazilian steakhouses like Fogo de Chao are sheer nirvana. One can simply sit at the table while waiters arrive with skewers of various grilled meats. For one set price, meat lovers can gorge on steak, pork, chicken, and lamb in all varieties until they cannot eat another bite. Fogo is also good for people on low-carb diets as, in addition to all the meats, they offer a huge self-serve bar full of vegetables and salads.

When the warmer weather sets in, some might feel that a meal heavy in proteins might be too rich for the rising temperatures. However, Fogo is introducing seven new items for Spring with lighter cuts of meat, seasonal vegetables, and a new tribute wine. The Minx and I were recently invited to try out these new menu items.

I started out with their new Blood Orange Manhattan. Buffalo Trace Bourbon is mixed with a splash of Carpano Antica and dashes of blood orange and angostura bitters, then served over rocks. While it did remind me a bit of a Manhattan, this cocktail had a bright citrus touch.

Fogo has also unveiled “Eulila,” a red wine blend that pays tribute to Eulila “Selma” Oliveira, Chief Culture Officer of Fogo de Chão. She was born and raised in Brazil, but moved to the United States in 1985, determined to achieve the American dream. Following a chance encounter with the founders of Fogo de Chão while in Dallas, Oliveira joined the company as the brand’s first female manager and, ultimately, executive. Oliveira is affectionately known as the Fogo matriarch; the wine was named in her honor for her unwavering affection, passion, and appreciation for every restaurant guest and team member.

Specially created for Fogo by the award-winning winemakers at Viña Vik, Eulila the wine is a blend of 48% Carmenere, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 22% Syrah. Carmenere is a new varietal to me, its fruitiness balanced nicely by the Cabernet and the Syrah. Though full-bodied, Eulila is not particularly tannic and pairs well with Fogo's meat selections.

Now it was time to get to the food. The Minx and I started with Fogo's new Carrot & Ginger Soup. This light, vegetarian friendly, gluten-free soup is made with baby carrots and spicy ginger, blended together with fresh herbs and coconut milk.

Although Fogo is known for its grilled meats, they also offer several seafood options. We decided to order one of our favorites - the Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail. Jumbo shrimp are served in a huge bowl of ice and paired with a malagueta cocktail sauce. In the background of the picture, you can also see ttheminx's go-to cocktail, the Strawberry Hibiscus Caipirinha. The hibiscus-infused cachaça is mixed with muddled strawberries and lime to create a refreshing warm weather drink.

Before we started in with the meat, we visited the bar for our vegetables. The Roasted Cauliflower Salad is made of cauliflower that has been oven-roasted with olive oil, garlic, and black pepper, and finished off with scallions and sesame seeds. The Brazilian Kale & Orange Salad is composed of fresh kale, crunchy red onion, juicy oranges, and is topped with a citrus-honey vinaigrette. I also picked up some asparagus, green beans, hearts of palm, and potato salad, but the Market Table has so many more fruits and vegetables to choose from.

With the preliminaries out of the way, we were ready for the meat. We flipped over our cards from red to green, notifying the waiters that they could come over with their skewered of grilled goodness. The Pork Picanha is butchered and prepared with the same simple style as traditional Picanha, then carved right at the table. I was particularly impressed with the spicy Linguica Sausage, a pork sausage with red pepper, garlic,and fresh onion. I also had to partake of the beautifully cooked sirloin. All the meats were tender and juicy. (Also featured in the above photo is a beautifully pink chunk of rib eye.)

Fogo has also created a new dessert for Spring, the Crème de Coconut. Freshly-shredded coconut is combined with condensed milk and cream, baked in the oven, and then served warm with ice cream and a little lime zest. I'm usually not a fan of shredded coconut, but the incredible coconut flavor made me overlook the chewiness that I normally dislike. Also, the ice cream and lime zest provide a refreshing coolness to the dessert.

Fogo de Chao has always been a great place for meat-atarians, but they also have a lengthy menu of options for everyone's palate. If you have been debating about visiting Fogo de Chao, these new Spring items are worth checking out.

Fogo de Chao
600 E. Pratt St.
Baltimore, MD 21202
(410) 528-9292

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Friday, April 12, 2019

Flashback Friday - Rice Salad with Chinese Sausage and Roasted Broccoli

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This post originally appeared on on April 30, 2014.

Have you ever read a food magazine and felt the urge to cook one of the recipes RIGHT NOW? As in, drop the magazine and run to the kitchen immediately? I had that feeling when I spotted the recipe for savory granola in the April 2014 issue of Bon Appetit. I had just turned the oven off 10 minutes earlier after removing a tray of roasted broccoli and knew I wouldn't have to wait for the thing to pre-heat (it takes forever, which can be a real buzz-kill during a cooking frenzy). We had most of the ingredients--old fashioned oats, walnuts, sesame seeds, fennel, seeds--and I substituted for a couple others (pumpkin seeds in place of sunflower seeds, skipped the pistachios entirely). I mixed up the ingredients pronto and banged them into the hot oven.

Now you must recall that I had just roasted broccoli. At 450°F. So the oven was a wee bit hotter than it needed to be, hence the charred appearance of my salad topping (some of the black bits are black sesame seeds though). No matter, even slightly burnt, the granola was AMAZING. It took all of my willpower not to shove handfuls of it into my face hole. The combination of nuts + fennel seeds is delicious and I wish I had thought of it myself.

Rather than eating all of it right then and there (it makes about 3 cups), I decided to use it as a component in the dinner I was preparing--cold rice salad with Chinese sausage and a peanut butter vinaigrette. Oh, and roasted broccoli.

I wanted the salad to have a peanut sauce flavor, but not a standard sweet peanut sauce. Instead, I made it ultra vinegary, using both rice wine and Chinese black vinegar (also called Chinkiang vinegar). Chinese black vinegar is, as Isaac Mizrahi is fond of saying, EVERYTHING, Darlings. It's mellow, malty, and woodsy, with a burnt caramel aspect. If you're a vinegar fan (and I know not everyone is...weirdos), then you have to try it. I then added a bit of agave syrup, soy, and sambal oelek for heat. (We use Huy Fong brand, the company that makes the ever popular "rooster sauce" sriracha. Oelek is different in that it's just crushed chiles in vinegar and salt, no garlic or sugar.) It was perfect on plain steamed rice garnished with Chinese sausage and scallions.

I tossed the broccoli into the salad after the sauce was added, because I didn't want the broccoli to have soggy florets. And then I sprinkled a bit of the granola on each serving.

So. Good. I need to make this again very soon.

Rice Salad with Roasted Broccoli

Roasted broccoli:
3 broccoli crowns
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt

Peanut sauce:
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
5 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sambal oelek
1/4 teaspoon salt

To assemble salad:
3 cups cooked, room-temperature rice (Jasmine is nice, or basmati)
3 Chinese pork sausages, sliced into coins, lightly fried, and drained on paper towels
1/2 cup julienned carrots
3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped

Savory granola (optional, but delicious)

To make broccoli: Preheat oven to 450°F.

Remove thick stem from each broccoli crown. Break the floret into small pieces. Cut the stem into lengthwise slices. Toss both florets and stems with olive oil and salt and arrange in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Roast for about 20 minutes, turning broccoli halfway, until tender and browning in spots. Remove from heat and set aside.

To make peanut sauce: In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir well. Taste for seasoning--it should be vinegary, lightly salty, and lightly spicy. Add more salt and sambal if you wish.

To assemble salad: Using a fork, stir rice into prepared peanut sauce until well-coated. Add the sausages, carrots, and scallions and toss to combine.

Serve at room temperature with a helping of broccoli and a sprinkle of the savory granola.

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Monday, April 08, 2019

Limoncello Balls

When I was approached by Fabrizia Spirits to promote their limoncello products, I jumped at the chance. For one thing, I love limoncello. For another, booze! And while limoncello is a fine drink all on its own (particularly after dinner, in place of dessert), it's also an excellent spirit for cooking. And for drinking while cooking.

I've tried many limoncellos in my day, and Fabrizia is among the very best. It's light, not super sweet, and very smooth. Their limoncello cream, too, is excellent, as is their blood orange limoncello. Mr Minx and I had fun tasting and re-tasting each spirit, which inspired us to create some recipes for each.

The first, using the regular limoncello, is a riff on a bourbon (or rum) ball. For the uninitiated, they are somewhat like tiny adult cakepops, minus the stick and icing. Bourbon balls can pack a real boozy wallop, but a lower-alcohol drink like the Fabrizia limoncello (27% abv) makes the end product a lot milder. And easier to eat!

Limoncello Balls
Folks who like lemon bars will love these tiny treats!

12 ounces vanilla wafers, finely crushed
1 cup ground almonds
3/4 cup powdered sugar
Scant 1/2 cup Fabrizia limoncello
2 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Finely ground zest of 1 lemon
1 cup powdered sugar, for dredging

Combine the cookie crumbs, almonds, and 3/4 cup powdered sugar in a bowl. Add the limoncello, corn syrup, and zest and stir well. Allow the mixture to sit for about an hour to allow the cookie crumbs to soften.

Place 1 cup of powdered sugar in a bowl.

Knead the crumb mixture a bit with your hands to ensure all ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Form small balls and roll in the bowl of powdered sugar to coat evenly.

Store completed balls in a covered container in the fridge.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. This is a paid promotion, however, all opinions are my own.

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