Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nutella Donuts

Dangerous. That is what I would say about these if I could only use one word. I love donuts. I never allow myself to eat them because I know that I would loose all self control immediately if I did. I also love Nutella, and have been known to dip any number of things in it, including a big empty spoon, or my finger. I decided to buy the Nutella I needed for this recipe at Costco. "It is cheaper there" I tell myself. And it is...way cheaper. But really, I just wanted the larger quantity of Nutella. That said, I am wondering how many different ways I will come up with to use this deliciousness. I have already mixed it in with coffee ice cream. Result-spectacular. There will, no doubt, be more Nutella concoctions to come, and I will hopefully share a few with you all. I don't want to be the only fat-by-Nutella girl on the block.
Now, regarding these donuts. They are a perfect balance of crispy and light. A little brown on the outside, and soft and fluffy on the inside. The dough has a distinct lemon flavor which is a wonderful compliment to the Nutella. Lightly dusted with powdered sugar they are not too sweet to stop you from having two, or four. I had a couple for breakfast yesterday morning with an orange and coffee and I felt like I was on vacation.
My sister-in-law wanted to make a few plain donuts coated in sugar. The dough is definitely tasty enough to hold it's own without the filling, but I was not a fan of the sugar coating. It needs a simple glaze or to be dusted with superfine sugar. The granulated sugar added a texture that I really did not like.
Nutella Donuts
Adapted from http://www.bellalimento.com
You should go check out Bell' alimento's site right now. Her photographs are gorgeous, and she always has something tasty to share over there!

3 cups of Flour
2/3 cups Milk - room temp
5 tsp of Yeast
1/2 cup of Sugar
2 large fresh eggs
1 lemon - zested
4.5 tbsp Unsalted Butter -softened
1 jar of Nutella
Powdered Sugar
1 large container of canola oil
***We needed an extra egg white for brushing the outside of the dough, so be prepared for that just in case***

Mix your yeast with your milk in a small bowl. Make sure that the milk has been brought to room temperature, so as not to inhibit yeast activity. Mix flour, sugar, 1 egg plus 1 yolk, (reserve the extra egg white), lemon zest, and a pinch of salt into the bowl of your mixer. Pour in the milk/yeast mixture. Mix this on a med-low speed until your dough forms into a ball. Knead with your dough hook for 8-10 minutes. Mix in your butter. Now, place the dough on a floured surface and knead it by hand for an extra 8 minutes. Put your dough into a large, oiled bowl. Roll the dough around to grease it on all sides. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it rise until it has doubled in size. This should take about 2 hours, but if you need to leave it a bit longer (I did!) it is no problem!

After your dough has finished resting, knead it again by hand for 8 minutes. Roll out your dough to a half centimeter thickness on a well floured surface, and use a glass to cut out even circles. Continue this until all the dough has been used. Onto half of the circles place a teaspoonful of Nutella.

Use your reserved egg white to brush the edges of circles. Sandwich one Nutella circle with one plain circle and seal by pinching the edges with your fingers. Brush the outside with egg white.

Repeat with all dough circles. Allow dough to rest & rise again for 10 minutes.

While your donuts rest get your oil ready. Place a large dutch oven or soup pot on the stove and pour in 1.5-2 inches of oil. Heat the oil over a medium flame until the temperature reaches 360 degrees. Watch the oil, make sure that it does not heat-up too rapidly, and that it stays consistent once it reaches the desired temperature.
Place a few donuts in the pot at a time, make sure not to overcrowd the pot. Let them brown for about 1 minute and then flip them to cook the other side for 30 seconds. Remove them to a surface layered with paper towels and dust with powdered sugar. Repeat until all of your donuts are cooked. Allow to cool for a few minutes and dig in! They are best straight out of the pot, but are good the next day too as long as you put them in the toaster oven for a few minutes.

***A few notes*** Using a deep pot to fry these greatly eliminated oil splattery messes. There was virtually no mess from the oil, which made clean-up a breeze!
Do not be scared to make donuts, please! I was very nervouse before we started cooking them-thinking there would be a huge mess, or something would catch on fire. The whole process went very smoothly, and though it was time-consuming, it was relatively easy and totally worth it!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Christmas Present Delivered

For Christmas this year Tim and I gave my parents a menu of food choices and a promise to make whatever they picked at an agreed-upon date in the near future. We promised that we would come to their house, prepare the meal in their kitchen, and do all the clean-up after the meal was over. This past Saturday was that date. Tim and I had a lot of fun buying the ingredients and preparing all of the food together, and it was fun to serve this meal to my parents. It was also so nice to be able to splurge on high quality ingredients because we were making this food especially for other people. My parents seemed to enjoy this treat, and I would definitely recommend this as a great gift option for your food-loving friends and family. It would be a great way to pamper someone who is too busy to treat themselves to a nice, fresh meal, or just someone who loves food.

The final menu selections were:

An appetizer of Mushrooms Stuffed with Brie

-recipe here

These were really simple to make, and tasted really good! They were a nice start to the meal as their flavor was not too rich. The brie added a nice smooth flavor to the mushrooms and the parsley and green onion topping added just enough of a bite to make it interesting. This was super quick to pull together, and would be a great snack for a party.

A main course of Seared Steaks with Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onions

-recipe here

These steaks have a rich, decadent flavor. The cheese adds a salty bite, but the large bed of caramelized onions adds just enough sweetness to balance it out. I am not a huge beef eater, but I love these.

The steaks were accompanied by Creamed Spinach

-recipe here

This side dish was rich enough to hold it's own against the steak. I am usually too health conscious to indulge in something like this on a regular basis, but I did enjoy it. It is a great balance to the steak with a little crunch from the spinach, and a creamy texture to help smooth out any leftover saltiness from the steak. This gave the meal a real steak house feel.

For dessert, my mom got something that she has been wanting to try since I originally posted about it in July. She shares my love for peanut butter and jelly, so she knew she had to have the PBJ cupcakes when she was picking her dessert.

-recipe here

If you like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, you need to try these. Comfort food goes to a new level with these babies. Add a big glass of milk and you are all set.

I also brought along some dark chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. These were not as good as the PBJ's but they were a good way to use up my extra peanut butter frosting. It would be a travesty to let that go to waste.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Savory Rice

I finally decided that I needed to share this recipe with you. This is in regular rotation at our house, and Tim loves it, which is actually a huge surprise considering that it has no meat or potatoes in it. The real title of this recipe is Savory Rice Loaf, but I left the loaf part out because I think it sounds gross. I avoided trying this recipe at first because of the name, and I didn't want you to make that mistake and skip this post all together because of the name. This is a simple, healthy, and delicious dish. The flavor combination is really good and creates a wonderful base for many types of sauce. Last night I had this with black bean salsa, previously I have tried marinara sauce. I can imagine that it would also be good with a nice cream sauce, or even a meaty pasta sauce. There are so many places that you could go with this, and again, totally out of character for him, Tim always chooses to eat this plain, by itself, and is always completely satisfied by it. You could serve this as a side if it does not sound hearty enough for you, but we always eat it as a main course. It is great with a colorful salad.

Savory Rice Loaf
Recipe From More-With-Less Cookbook

Grease a loaf pan
Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees
Toss together:
3 eggs
1 1/2 C COOKED rice
1 1/2 C grated cheese- I always use extra sharp cheddar. The cheese adds a large amount of the flavor so be sure to pick a cheese that will add a flavor punch
1/2 C bread crumbs
1/4 C chopped celery
2 Tbsp chopped onion
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 Tbsp chopped green pepper
3/4 t salt
1 C milk
1/4 C melted butter

Pour into loaf pan. Place pan inside a larger baking pan that is filled with 1 in hot water. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour-until loaf is set in the center. Loosen loaf around the edges with a spatula and turn it out onto a platter. Serve plain or with sauce of choice.

No this is not gourmet food, but it is delicious and satisfying. I hope you will try it.