Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Broiled Salmon with Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

Broiled Teriyaki Salmon

This week kicks off my second big catering job this year. I'll be serving one meal a day for five days for 12-13 people. Today I'll be knee deep in prepping roasted tomato and sausage lasagna, perfect Caesar salad and dulce de leche brownies. Tomorrow it'll be all be about orange scented brioche french toast, berry salad with mint, strong coffee and cream and some breakfast sausages for good measure. Soup and salad night is next, complete with a s'mores platter and hot chocolate for stargazing and so on and so fourth. But before all of this, I wanted to quickly share this simple Salmon Teriyaki I made last week. It's not so much a "teriyaki" as it is a soy-ginger-honey marinade, but Queen Gwyneth Paltrow calls it teriyaki, and so it shall be.

In other news, my sister made me order a bridesmaid dress for her wedding in June that is not actually a maternity dress even though it is technically an empire waist style. I will be 9 months pregnant. She has ordered me extra fabric in hopes we can rig it to fit over my belly. She has done this because it is absolutely necessary and crucial to her that the dresses all be the same color and fabric as her other non-pregnant bridesmaids. I realize this is a gamble. But it is a gamble to argue with my sister who is in the throes of wedding planning too. Her original thought was that I should order a size twelve dress so that it could fit over my belly and then we could just get the top part altered. I'm a four in real life and six in bridal, for reference. I said no. Because, obviously.

Broiled Teriyaki Salmon

Yeah, so back to salmon because I'm a natural at writing transitions. This is a grown up teriyaki salmon with fresh flavors that don't completely mask the fish in an overly sweet sauce. It's light but has tons of flavor and a perfect fit for the upcoming Summer months. Gwyneth likes to cut cubes of fish for her kids before broiling to make "bites" with extra sauce for dipping. Next time I think I'll add a sprinkle of sesame seeds along with the green onion for garnish. Served with some brown rice and an Asian cucumber salad this was a winner, winner salmon dinner. I love how the salmon gets perfectly browned under the broiler.

You'll need to start the marinade about 1-2 hours before you need it but I recommend making it the day before so you can marinate the salmon in it longer. Read the recipe completely before starting. It's not complicated at all, but you should plan ahead with this one, even if it's only by a few hours.

Broiled Salmon with Homemade Teriyaki Sauce
adapted from My Fathers Daughter, by Gwyneth Paltrow

serves 4

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
3 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon peeled and finely grated ginger
a fistful of cilantro, chopped
4 6-ounce salmon fillets, skin discarded
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh chives, for serving

Combine the soy sauce, mirin, honey, water, ginger, and cilantro in a small saucepan over high heat. Once it boils, turn the heat to low and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the sauce cool down. Once it's cool, pour into a large bowl or plastic bag and add the salmon. Marinate in the fridge for at least an hour, up to overnight. 

When your ready to eat, pre-heat the broiler.

Put the salmon on a heavy baking sheet with whatever sauce adheres to it and broil until cooked to your liking, 7-8 minutes, but check after 5 minutes if your salmon is on the thin side. While it's cooking, strain the extra sauce into a clean saucepan, bring to a boil, and let it reduce. It won't ever get thick - just expect that.

To serve, drizzle the cooked salmon with some of the extra sauce and a sprinkle of chives.

Make it kid friendly: Cut some of the salmon into 1-inch cubes, broil alongside the larger pieces, and serve without chives. Kids love these, especially if you call the teriyaki "honey sauce"

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Best Caesar Salad. Ever.

The Best Cesar Salad. Ever.

In about 30 minutes of writing this post my friend Kel will be coming over for lunch. I am going to serve her the same thing I've been eating twice a week for two weeks now. Theres something addicting about this Caesar salad. When my sister was visiting a few weeks ago she told me she used to crave Caesar salads all through her pregnancy, but they had to be good. She talked about the croutons not being too dry and needing to be house made (no pre-bagged stuff) and the dressing needed to be real Caesar dressing which meant no overly milky concoctions that resemble something more like ranch. This is Caesar salad we are talking about and it should come with a proper Caesar dressing.

The Best Cesar Salad. Ever.

I don't order Caesar salads much because I guess, like my sister, I'm somewhat of a salad snob. With Caesar you only have a couple components going on (lettuce, dressing, croutons and cheese) so it makes sense that it would be important that all those things should work together in harmony. For my part, I like salads that are well tossed in a big bowls and served in the same. I love huge salad bowls to push the roughage around with my fork so I can orchestrate the perfect bite. Everything must be bite sized. I hate having to cut lettuce or croutons after I'm served. Of course, at a restaurant you can't control these elements. That's why I prefer to make a batch of this dressing on Sunday and leave it in the fridge to use whenever I get a salad craving. Of course, being the snob that I am, this means I need to make homemade croutons fresh right before I need them each time, but I don't mind since it take 4 minutes and only dirties a small saucepan. Plus, when I crush that garlic clove to infuse the olive and oil and small pat of butter where I'll later add my bread cubes, it makes me happy. I like to be invested in my lunches. Once the oil is infused, it's just a matter of tossing in cubed bread and crisping them up in the skillet. This method makes for chewy crisp croutons which are my favorite for texture. It pairs so well with the lettuce and they don't scrape up the roof of your mouth, which is always a good thing. I use Ezekiel brand english muffins for this just to keep my figure in check and to justify using that butter, but anything will work.

The Best Cesar Salad. Ever.

One thing most Caesar salad afficianattos will scoff at: This salad dressing does not have a raw egg yolk in it and it really should if it's a proper Caesar. There are rules to these things, you see. I'm fine with this because I'm pregnant and shouldnt have them. Plus, I really only care about the flavor which is spot on without said egg yolk. You can always add it. The other thing? I leave out the anchovies. I know, another no-no. Don't get your panties in a bunch becuase the recipe still calls for it so you can breathe a sigh of relief.

The Best Cesar Salad. Ever.

I love that my friend Kel is super talented. Like, when you invite her over for lunch and ask her to snap a few pictures of you preparing salad for the blog, she happily obliges, clicks a few times and that's it. Miraculously, every picture is in perfect focus. Photographers are not fair this way. It's like they don't even have to try. Even though I know she practiced and practiced and learned such things to make it look effortless. Or maybe she has no skills and I just have a stellar camera with phenomenal lighting in my kitchen. Except then I'd have to explain why my pictures don't turn out as well. There goes that theory.

The six-month bump
The Best Cesar Salad. Ever.

The Best Caesar Salad. Ever
adapted from Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman

Salad Dressing:
4 whole anchovy fillets (optional)
2 tablespoons (and up to 3 tablespoons) Dijon mustard (I use 3 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon balsamic or red wine vinegar (balsamic makes it nice and rich. I use this)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
1/2 whole lemon, juiced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 dash salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 loaf crusty French bread (*see my note at bottom)
1/4 cup olive oil (I substitute about half of the olive oil for butter. I really recommend)
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled

Hearts of romaine lettuce
Fresh Parmesan wedge

For the dressing: Place the anchovies into a blender or food processor (I use a magic bullet). Throw in the Dijon mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire, garlic and lemon juice. Pulse the processor or blend on low speed for several seconds. Scrape down the sides.

With the food processor or blender on, drizzle the olive oil into the mixture in a small stream. Scrape down the sides. Add the Parmesan, salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Pulse the whole thing together and mix until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate the dressing for a few hours (it just gets better!) before using it on the salad.

For the croutons: Slice the bread into thick slices and cut them into 1-inch cubes. 

Heat the olive oil and butter in a small saucepan or skillet over low heat.

Crush-but don't chop-the garlic and add them to the oil. Use a spoon to move the garlic around in the pan. After 3 to 5 minutes, remove the garlic from the pan.

Add the bread cubes to the butter and oil in the skillet. Mix together, and then sprinkle lightly with salt. Toss and cook in the pan until golden brown and crisp. 

For the salad: Wash and dry the hearts of romaine lettuce and chop into bite size pieces by cutting once vertically down the rib and then  horizontally. Use a vegetable peeler and shave off large, thin slices of Parmesan.

Drizzle about half of the dressing over the top of the lettuce. Throw in a good handful of the Parmesan shavings. Give it a good initial toss, just so you can evaluate how much more dressing you need.

Add more dressing and Parmesan to taste. Add the cooled croutons. Toss gently.

*Since I make this salad for one, I just use whatever bread I have on hand which is usually an ezekiel english muffin. This works fine. Also, I eyeball how much olive oil and butter I'll need to make the croutons, usually about a half tablespoon of each, and one garlic clove to infuse the oil. It's not rocket science, so don't be afraid to mess this up. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca

Did you know that Pasta Puttanesca literally means "whores pasta" in Italian? It's spicy, salty, tangy, sultry and delicious...you know, like a...wait, I don't think I like that. I even have a spicy sense of humor and it still bothers me. One of my confessions? I love dirty comedy. I love stand up comedy. Dane Cook makes me pee my pants until he goes too far. Once he goes to far, he's just gross. What? I also have a super classy proper side so I have to keep both sides happy which means it can only go so far. I can handle quite a bit though. I loved "Bridesmaids", profanity and all. I think Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig are genius. "Knocked Up" made my year when it came out. And you better bet I love some Puttanesca "whore" pasta. Even if I still firmly believe that "whore" and "pasta" should not be used in the same sentence.

Once while at Ace Hardware, my son held up something and asked me what it was. I replied "It's a rape whistle" (I grew up in LA and it was honestly the first thing I thought of). He promptly ran through the store shouting "Dad! Can I buy this rape whistle?! Can I have this rape whistle?!" Oh, people heard him. To this day, this is one of my favorite stories. These are the kind of innapropriate things I tend to find hilarious. Not necessarily while it's happening mind you. I'm more likely to hide in the aisles completely mortified and pretend I don't know the boy. But after? Pure comedic gold.

Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca is supposed to be spicy like my sense of humor, but it doesn't have to be. I make it for my children, and they can handle the heat called for in this recipe since it's not very much (In fact they would tell you it's not spicy at all). I'd say it's a 3 on a scale from one to ten. Feel free to add more crushed red pepper flake if you like yours with more heat. Puttanesca is about more than spice though. It's salty from capers and olives and has a nice backbone thanks to a few cloves of garlic and anchovies if you choose to add them. Most chefs would say it's essential to the dish, but I've made it both ways and honestly like it equally with or without. For the record, I am not a real chef. All in all, this is not complicated food, but it sure has spunk. Which makes it one of my favorites, naturally.

Be sure to start this dish and hour before you want to eat. The recipe is simple and easy but the sauce will have to simmer for 45 minutes before you can use it. Alternately, you can make the sauce ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator until ready to use. I love the big rustic chunks of tomato in this sauce. It's my go-to recipe for red sauce.

Pasta Puttanesca
adapted from My Fathers Daughter, by Gwyneth Paltrow

serves 4-6

1lb box penne
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
Pinch red chile flakes
4 olive-oil packed Spanish anchovies (optional)
1 heaping tablespoon salt-packed capers, rinsed (I like to use a bit more)
1/3 heaping cup pitted ni├žoise olives (or a mixture of green and Kalamata olives)
1 recipe Basic Tomato Sauce (recipe below)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
A few tablespoons pasta water, to thin
1/4 cup torn fresh parsley, for garnish
 First, make your tomato sauce (recipe below). While it is simmering and almost done, Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously. Drop in the penne. Cook according to package directions.
Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat and add the garlic and chile flakes. Cook for about 1 minute, adjusting the heat if necessary to avoid burning the garlic. Add the anchovies and stir for another minute, or until they begin to break down. Add the capers and olives, crushing them gently with the back of a wooden spoon, and cook for 1 minute, or until quite fragrant—it should smell divine. Stir in the tomato sauce and black pepper. Turn the heat to high, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium and let it bubble for about 10 minutes, or until quite thickened. The penne should be perfectly cooked at this point. Drain pasta, reserving a few tablespoons of pasta cooking water. Add pasta to the skillet with the sauce and stir to coat, adding a bit of the pasta cooking water if necessary to get the sauce to the right consistency. It shouldn't be too thick, but also not too soupy. Scatter the parsley over the pasta, add a bit more fresh black pepper, and serve.

Basic Tomato Sauce
yield: 4 cups

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
6 fresh basil leaves
2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over low heat, add the garlic, and cook for 5 minutes. Add basil leaves and stir for a minute. Add the tomatoes and their juice. Turn the heat to high. Bring the sauce to a boil, turn the heat to low, season with salt and pepper, and let it bubble away on low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and crushing the tomatoes with your wooden spoon. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Our Go-To Green Juice - Kale, Cucumber and Lemon

Green Juice- Kale, Cucumber Lemon

I am so inspired by simplistic style. Honestly, I am inspired by style, period. Whether it be different packaging, natural materials, a perfect color palette, a beautiful antique rich with history, food served in a unique way, or a different sort of get together. Things done with style slay me everytime. This week I had the honor of attending a "Poetry Night" that my friend hosted for a group of really cool women. You could say it was a night filled with style, from the soft music playing upon entry, long, white candles flickering, and the guest of honor, Amy, an award winning poet from Hawaii (born and raised) sharing her work. Other attendees brought along their favorite poems and shared as well. I brought food. Go-figure. Our host, organized the night beautifully with food and drink to start and guided the night along asking different people to share at different times and asking what we thought at the end. She gave us guidelines on how to listen to poetry which helped me a lot. She advised to just listen  without trying to analyze what it means. Poetry will speak to you in different ways and evoke feelings and meanings, or it won't. I've found that sometimes you just don't "get it" like any art form. But when you do? It's magic. It was different and unique and I'll remember it forever. I came not knowing much about poetry. I left with an aware ear and a new appreciation for the craft.

This juice has more cucumber and is made with lighter colored kale. Note the difference from the first and last pictures.

Green Juice- Kale, Cucumber Lemon

My favorite part of the evening came with the last poem. It was one that Amy had written when she was stargazing one night at 16 years old. She talked of slipping Jupiter's rings around her fingers, and shoving piles of silvery moon dust in her pockets which tasted of peppermint and felt like January on her skin. Upon spying the beautiful sister constellations, she pondered whether she would ever feel beautiful? What was she here for? It was honest and memorable. I listened eagerly as I ate cookies made by the lovely and deep Mrs. Julie Howard, and crostini tapenade brought by my sweet, pregnant hairdresser, Emily. I also devoured a mushroom cheese tart made by Amy. The crust was sweet like you might make for a dessert, but the filling was savory and rich. I loved it.

The rest of the week? I needed a food reboot.

Ah, but it was heaven that night.

First thing this afternoon though, I'm making our families go-to green juice. We drink this two-three times a week. It's tart and refreshing and the vibrant green color makes me happy as I visualize all the health and wellness it brings to my body. Green juice will give you energy like no other, glowing skin, and cleanse your liver. The type of kale you purchase will determine how strong the flavor is. We use dark lactino or dinosaur kale, but if you're just starting out, you may want to try the lighter, ruffly leaves type. We've also used purple kale which make for a rather ugly color but is surprisingly mild. Sometimes, you just get a grassier tasting bunch no matter which type you buy so don't stress about it. Just add another cucumber if you'd like. I do like the taste of the lactino kale best though, and you can always cut down on the amount of greens used to make a milder juice. You can also substitute spinach here, which is always mild.

Green Juice- Kale, Cucumber Lemon

I suggest after the heavy St. Patricks Day food (fish and chips anyone?) and Guinness, that this be the first thing you make the day after to help you get back on track. Plus, this juice is Kelly Green, which is so stylish right now, wouldn't you say?

Our Go-To Green Juice - Kale, Cucumber and Lemon
serves 2-4

We like to really taste the lemon in our juice. You can always add more or less depending on your preference.

1 big head of kale
3-4 cucumbers (if they are very large, three will do it. We usually need four)
1 lemon

Wash kale leaves throughly and slice the skin and peel of the lemon off. Juice everything together and drink fresh over ice.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bloglovin' Switch

Google Reader will be no more in a few short months, so be sure to transfer the blogs you follow onto bloglovin' now while you can! Follow my blog through Bloglovin' here.

Switching to Bloglovin

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Moroccan Spiced Vegetables and Quinoa with Olives and Lime

Moroccan Spiced Vegetables over Quinoa with Lime

Isabella had a sleepover with her friend Taylor last weekend. I made them go to bed at 11pm, after we let them watch a movie downstairs alone. I set these rules ahead of time since Isabella has made a habit of staying up all-freaking-night-long while sleeping over at other peoples houses. Ten/eleven year olds shouldn't be allowed do that. They are complete emotional hell the next day and choose to stay sleeping in the car after you've picked them up while you go grocery shopping. Just me?

I woke up that morning at 5am. I rolled out of bed at 5:24am. I was ready and downstairs by 5:45am. I was really excited for my morning quiet time. At 6am, the precise moment I settled into my comfy chair and cracked open my book, I heard talking and quickly discovered the girls were up. Not my normally rise-and-shine-up-and-at-em son, but my sleep loving tween. WTH? I seriously cannot get up early enough. It's now 6:40am and my son just strolled down too. The TV is on cartoons, and I'm blogging out my frustration instead of reading before my littlest rat gets up in an hour.

Rat is an affectionate name, I swear.

For the record, we watched my friends three kids, (ages six, four, and three) for two days and nights last weekend. This brings our grand tally up to three or four sleepovers hosted at the MacGray household in the history of ever, besides cousins. Sleepovers are hard when you have other little kids in the house, especially ones with special needs and sleep issues, plus limited space. It makes for interesting times...

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Since I'm almost six months pregnant and whiskey is not an option, I made sure to reward our hard work last Sunday with a lunch of Moroccan spiced vegetables over quinoa with plenty of salty olives, parsley, lime and salt. We get wild up in here. This was actually very welcome after a kid focused couple days filled with cheese pizza and pancakes. Besides, I don't even drink whiskey...Unless you've made me one. If you've made me a cocktail and you hand it to me, I'll drink just about anything. Unless it's Parrot Bay Coconut Rum straight out of the bottle because I have a "young adult" backyard house party story about that stuff. And also, unless I'm six months pregnant. I digress.

Moroccan Spiced Vegetables over Quinoa with Lime

I wouldn't have gone for roasted vegetables over quinoa if it wasn't for the bump in flavor from the warm spices like cinnamon, cumin, and coriander and the appeal of fresh tangy lime juice and olives to brighten the earthiness of the vegetables. Moroccan spices are awesome on sweet potatoes and carrots. The cinnamon helps to highlight their subtle sweetness, but the other spices ground it and keep it a savory vegetable which I like. I don't tend to like sweet on sweet vegetables. I'm thinking a crumble of feta might be a really great addition.

Moroccan Spiced Vegetables and Quinoa with Olives and Lime
adapted from Gourmand in the Kitchen

serves 4

  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus for for serving
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of red pepper for extra spice (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 pound carrots, sliced in half and into thick strips
  • 1 pound of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
  • ¼ cup/ black Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • The juice of one lime or lemon, plus more for serving
  • Cooked quinoa for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Melt the coconut oil and whisk in the salt, spices and garlic.
  3. Toss the carrots and sweet potatoes with oil and spices and roast in a shallow baking pan in lower third of oven for 30 minutes or until lightly browned and tender.
  4. Squeeze the lemon over the warm vegetables and toss with the chopped olives.
  5. Top with chopped parsley and serve warm over a mound of quinoa with more lime wedges and salt

Monday, March 11, 2013

Vanilla-Glaze Yeast Donuts

Vanilla Glaze Yeast Donuts

Vanilla Glaze Yeast Donuts

The best thing happened the other day. My sister moved back to Colorado! Patrick, her fiance, got a job 3 hours west of us and I couldn't be happier. This means I get to kiss my new nieces cheeks, like, 3-4 more times a year than I would have. And that's saying something. Look at those suckers. Girl is not messing around.

Vanilla Glaze Yeast Donuts

No really, get a good look...
Vanilla Glaze Yeast Donuts

My sister and that cheeky baby stayed with me for a few days while Pat drove the U-Haul down from Seattle and unpacked it. I thought it might be lovely to partake in some activity together, and making homemade donuts seemed like just the thing. Except for the fact that when it came time to actually make the donuts my sister didn't help at all.

She slept through the first part.

Then, she sat and watched with the baby for a bit
Vanilla Glaze Yeast Donuts

And then she would change it up and check her phone from time to time
Vanilla Glaze Yeast Donuts

Cameras come in very handy for photographic evidence.

Okay, well she did help with one part - the frying - and If I'm being honest, it's the best part to help me with because I'm a huge wuss with such things.  She was afraid too, though, so I didn't feel so bad. However there was no need for fear because it just gently sizzled when the dough hit the hot oil. No splashing. No jumping back necessary. No disfiguring oil scars on our faces like I had initially imagined. I ended up using a spider to place my donuts gently in the oil and to turn and get them out. I highly recommend.

Gentle frying, see?
Vanilla Glaze Yeast Donuts

Even when the oil got hotter, it wasn't bad
Vanilla Glaze Yeast Donuts

My sister dropping in the first donut hole:
Vanilla Glaze Yeast Donuts

I couldn't remember the significance of the bottom tattoo on her wrists, so I asked. She simply said "free bird" like that was supposed to clear everything up. I still didn't know exactly what they were supposed to represent, so I pressed further. All she said was "you know the song Free Bird, right?" like that was supposed to clear everything up. Kaylee does that a lot.

No, Kaylee, as a matter of fact, sometimes you'll need to expound on things. Sometimes you'll need to explain further. I'm not telepathic.

She's always been like this. As the other person, you have two choices. You can either keep asking questions until you can piece together enough information and are satisfied with her answer, or you can shrug your shoulders, walk away and say "oh yeah" and decide it's not worth it.  I suggest the latter unless you really need to know because Kaylee dishes out the bare minimum. I can't explain this pheonomenoa, but I can explain donuts, and this is lucky since it's why you came.

There are three things you need to know about homemade yeast donuts:

1) They will take you a good half a day to make. Mine took five hours and this is a process that can't be rushed. I've made yeast donuts at home before and trust me, if the recipe says to let the dough rise and rest for 1 1/2 hours, then that's what it will take. Don't move on to the next step after 45 minutes just because the dough looks doubled in size already.

2) Don't expect homemade donuts to be or taste the same as your local donut shop. I was very satisfied with this recipe, namely because the donuts rose beautifully and puffed up nicely after frying. Also, they were not as heavy as other homemade donuts I've fried, however, they definitely will be much heavier than anything you can buy at a store. This is why they can charge money for such things, you see. I think donut people are magical gypsies for getting donuts so light and airy. Now let us talk about taste. Like I said, these don't exactly taste like your average twisted glaze. They do however taste an awful lot like Krispy Kreme's glaze donuts. I leave that to you to decide whether that is a good thing.

3) Only glaze these once! Meaning, coat them once with the glaze and let them dry on a rack. Do not be tempted, like I was, to keep applying glaze layer after layer. I did this. I admit it. It was not a good decision. One layer will cling and stick to the donut nicely and dry ever so slightly. Two, three, four coast later and the glaze won't set and will appear milky in color.

Vanilla Glaze Yeast Donuts

The kids were just a little excited when they got home. And we all gorged ourselves on donuts.
The end.
Vanilla Glaze Yeast Donuts

Vanilla-Glaze Yeast Donuts
adapted from Saveur Magazine, March 2013
makes 1 1/2 dozen donuts

2¼-oz. packages active dry yeast
½ cup sugar
1½ cups milk, scalded and cooled
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 eggs
6 tbsp. vegetable shortening, plus more for greasing
5 cups (1 lb. 6½ oz.) all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for dusting
Canola oil, for frying
10 tbsp. unsalted butter
⅓ cup evaporated milk
2 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 ½ cups confectioners' sugar


1. Combine yeast, 1 tbsp. sugar, and 6 tbsp. water heated to 115° in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment; (should feel warm to the touch if you don't want to use  a thermometer) let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add remaining sugar, plus milk, salt, eggs, and shortening; mix until combined. With the motor running, slowly add flour; beat until dough is smooth. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap; set in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1½ hours. I set my bowl in a 200 degree pre-heated oven (before I covered with plastic wrap) and let the bowl sit for one or two minutes with the door cracked open, just to make sure my dough got warm for a head start. Then, I placed it on the counter and covered loosely at room temperature for the remainder of the time.

2. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; roll dough into a 13" round about ½" thick. Using floured 3½" and 1½" ring cutters, cut out donuts and holes; gather and reuse scraps. Place on greased parchment paper—lined baking sheets, at least 3" apart, and cover loosely with plastic wrap; set in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Don't skip the parchment paper step. 

3. Heat 2" oil in a 6-qt. saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reads 325°. Using scissors, cut the donuts out of the parchment paper, leaving about 1" of paper around the sides of each donut (the paper makes it easier to transfer them to frying oil - this is why we don't skip this step. The donuts deflate the more you handle them). 

Parchment paper step:
Vanilla Glaze Yeast Donuts

Working in batches, place donuts in oil, paper side up, using tongs to peel off and discard paper. Cook, flipping once until puffed and golden, about 3–4 minutes. Test your donut holes first. They will also cook much faster than your donuts. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a baking sheet with a wire rack; let cool completely. Do not glaze warm donuts. It will make them soggy.

4. Melt butter in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium-low heat. Using a small ladle, skim and discard white film from surface. Slowly pour liquid from pan into a bowl, leaving sediment behind; let cool 1 minute. Add evaporated milk, vanilla, ¼ cup water, and sugar; whisk until smooth. Dip donuts in glaze, coating completely; return to wire rack until glaze is set.

*To avoid oily donuts, remember: Fat attracts fat. The less you use in your dough, the lighter the donut will be after frying. Also go light on flour when rolling out dough, and use a brush to remove any excess; loose flour particles attract and absorb oil

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tostada Skillet Dinner and Jeopardy (vegetarian)

Tostada Skillet

The other night the family was watching Jeopardy. Usually if we watch, Jeremy and I will get a handful of the questions right if we're lucky, and the kids root us on. But the other night was totally different. Jeremiah was sitting in the crook of my arm when I correctly fired out the answers to NINE questions in a row. Jeremiah was squealing and declaring that he was was "on my team" and I was stunned and thrilled. Then, Jeremy came to sit by us. He started telling me a story (unaware at this point of my superstar winning streak) when I couldn't help but read the next question out the the corner of my eye. I blurted the correct answer out totally cutting him off mid sentence. He was like are you even listening to me? and I was like yes, but Jeremy, I have just answered TEN questions right! TEN!!!!

I started yelling about double digits.

Then, you guys, I swear, over the two minutes I got four more right! Fourteen correct answers in like 5 minutes! I felt...alive.

I started to sing This Girl Is On Fire!

Jeremy was laughing but I didn't care. I was clearly awesomesauce. And brilliant.

Then...then, Jeremy said:

 Sweetie, I know you are all excited, but have you noticed how old these contestants are? 

Um, no, not really until now. I guess they are pretty young...

Krysta, they are like 15-16 yeas old. I hate to tell you, but this is some kind of Junior Jeopardy.

What? It is not!

Krysta, all the questions you have been answering fall under the categories of "Disney Movies", "TV Shows", and "Famous Authors", no wonder you know them all.

(I have a silent 'oh crap' moment). But, but, there were health and nutrition questions before you came over. One of the questions was: 

"Not to be confused with chloroform, this "C" word gives plants their color" and I knew it was "What is Chlorophyll!". 

Toasted Skillet

He just shook his head in pity. Okay, so I know about nutrition and how plants work. That was just lucky. I am as brilliant as a brilliant 16 year old. Except for the stint of question falling under the "small rivers in Europe" category. I totally bombed those. At least I knew what the Danube was. That's all I have to say.

veggie crumble "meat"
Veggie Crumbles

No wait, that's not all I have to say. I also have to say that what I lack in foreign river knowledge, I make up for in the kitchen. So there. You know how this dinner came about? I was making my usual tostadas, but subbing the beans for veggie crumble meat (you can use ground beef or turkey). Then, I got really lazy and didn't want to fry tortillas for the tostadas. And also, I didn't want to make guacamole. So, in a moment of apparent sheer 16 year old brilliance, I popped open a bag of tortilla chips, put the tortillas away and just cut avocados and scattered them haphazardly over the meat. Then I placed a hefty portion of salsa and Greek yogurt smack dab in the middle, and scattered shredded romaine and cilantro over everything. You'd have thought I was presenting Duck a la orange when I walked this skillet to the table. Chips and dip for dinner? You can't go wrong. It was the best dinner ever. So much cooler than tostadas.

Tostada Skillet Dinner
serves 4

For the Tostada Meat:
1lb. Boca Brand Veggie Crumbles or Lean Ground Turkey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add veggies crumbles or ground turkey and cook until cooked through (follow package directions). Add the Dijon, Worcestershire, spices and salt and stir to combine. Remove skillet from heat and top with desired toppings. Serve with tortilla chips for scooping.

Tostada toppings:
Avocado chunks (we use about one per person)
Shredded romaine lettuce
Greek Yogurt or sour cream
Shredded cheddar or Jack cheese (optional)
Pinto or black beans
Pickled jalapenos
Black olives