Follow the culinary adventures and misadventures of the Cooking Agents (Ray and Katie). Watch as we eat/cook our way into adulthood.
This past winter, I left my fear at the door, armed with two baby sized tubs of shortening, I got a little crazy with Mr. E… in the kitchen. It’s become a tradition of ours to get donuts at Craigie every Sunday, which proves miracles happen since I’m not the size of a house. I had to run and knock on the nearest piece of wood after typing those words.
We vowed to be more active members in our own kitchen and I’d been whipping up healthy eats during the week with some little cheat meals on the weekends. To jump start us, we forewent our typical Sunday donuts. Instead, we shuffled to the mall Saturday afternoon, picked up a donut cutter ready to make our donuts for the next morning. Mind you, I’m aware this was not a healthy move, but we were taking baby steps. Our impatience got the better of us and we headed to the store late Saturday night for some cider donut fixins.
I have such a wonderful memory associated with cider donuts. Earlier in last year toward the end of September, Mr. E and I drove up to Apple Crest Farms in New Hampshire for their fall festival and ate hands down the most amazing cider donuts.
Piping hot and super cidery from Apple Crest Farms
Seriously, game over. All other cider donut makers, just hang your hats and go home. I figured if we were going to make donuts, it would have to be the apple cider variety. Now I’ll admit, the amount of shortening you need to use is not for the faint of heart. Shortening really does improve the grease factor of fried goods, as I’ve learned with fried chicken. Just think as it sits, the fat solidifies back to its room temperature form so you’re not left eating an oil sponge.
A whole lotta’ shortening
Going at the dough
Cinnamon sugar and cider glazed cider donuts!
Ready to fry the remaining donut holes
For the dough, I used a minimal amount of concentrated cider that boiled down to about 1/4 of its original volume. In hindsight, I should have pureed apple to pump up the apple flavor. If I’m eating a cider donut, I’d like to know I’m eating a cider donut. That being said, I thought we made a pretty solid showing for our first time. Will I be making donuts on a regular weekly basis? Absolutely not. Let’s leave that to the experts. Craigie on Sundays and Apple Crest in October. See you guys there.
My fellow dumpling seekers, Kristen and Andrew
Little XLB beauties
I crave certain foods. Like really crave it. And once I get it in my head, all other meals are meaningless. That’s a very bold statement but I’m known to make an exaggeration here and there. Great storytelling runs in my family and my grandpa did and mother still does add on some mild embellishments every time a story gets told. Anyway, Andrew planted the seed in my head a few weeks ago, and I’ve had buns on the brain ever since. We made plans to grab lunch this past Saturday and he, his girlfriend Kristen, and I were seated at Gourmet Dumpling House a few minutes after we arrived. We promptly ordered the pork XLB and the pork and crab XLB. And then we promptly ordered another round. The three of us ate 32 dumplings and in reality, Andrew and I ate around 13 each.
Under normal circumstances, I would be a complete wild woman and beast all over these buns. Two things stopped me and my embarrassment to eat like a truck driver in front of Andrew and Kristen is not one of them. The first is the temperature. These little suckers are filled with scalding hot liquid. They’re not dubbed soup dumplings for nothing. The second was my extremely ballsy decision to wear all white to lunch.
That being said, it should come as no surprise that there is a proper way to eat this without any spills or injuries. Please refer to the pictorial instructions below so nicely enacted by Andrew:
Andrew wins ‘Best Sport’ award
1. Get your dipping sauce ready – Chinese black vinegar with a nice heap of shredded ginger
2. Carefully pick up your dumpling with your chopsticks, taking care not to pierce the skin.
3. Dip bun in dipping sauce.
4. Nibble the side of the bun and suck the broth inside. If too hot, let the broth pour into your large soup spoon and drink once cooled.
5. Add more ginger and vinegar (optional) and eat the rest of the dumpling.
Won’t see any spilled soup on my plate!
NOM NOM NOM
It was my first time at Gourmet Dumpling House. I tend to shy away from the establishment because of the hefty line that accumulates on weekends. Because it has the recognizable word ‘Dumpling’ in it, I find that many non-Chinese folks gravitate here. The xiao long bao was wonderful here AND they take credit cards. If you’re prepared for wait, definitely check this place out. Otherwise, you can go just around the corner to Taiwan Cafe, which I think has equally delicious xiao long bao and a whole menu of other delicious treats. The only downer is that it’s a true Chinatown joint and is cash only. Long story short, bring your appetite and cash/patience.
Gourmet Dumpling House
52 Beach St
Boston, MA 02111
Two of my fellow food loving girlfriends and I decided that girls night should involve some effort on our parts. A month or so ago, we did Sunday brunch/lunch on Newbury at Joe’s American Bar & Grill, inspired by Marcia’s new found love of crab cakes. The crab cakes had large meaty lumps of crab, a little spicy kick, and were served over a fresh bed of mixed greens. Moral of the story, they were delicious, particularly when paired with a nice crisp white wine. Since then, I’ve played around with some crab cake recipes and realized how easy and quick crab cakes are to make, considering how fancy they can be.
It made a lot of sense to kick off our first girls night dinner with lump crab cakes and a nice bottle of vino.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, mayo, mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco, lemon juice, Old Bay, S&P. Fold in the crab meat and parsley, taking care not to break up the lumps of crab. Add the cracker crumbs 1/4 cup at a time and combine. Continue to add the crumbs until the mixture begins to just stay packed together.
With wet hands, start making small crab cake patties. Do not pack too firmly, but just enough for the cakes to hold their shape.
Place the cakes on a large baking sheet, lightly covered with the olive oil spray. Refrigerate for at least a half an hour before cooking.
Set oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the baking sheet on the middle rack in the oven. After 4 minutes of cooking, flip the cakes gently with a spatula and your hands taking care not to break apart the cakes. Cook another 3 minutes or until golden. Serve with lemon and some spicy mayo (Sriracha and mayo).
Kate and Marcia did most of the hard work, lucky for me. All I had to do was flip the crab cakes and eat them… not that I’m complaining. At the end of our meal, Marcia claimed these crab cakes were in fact BETTER than the ones we had on Newbury Street. How about them apples, Joe? I just love how easy they are to make and the fact that leftovers are delicious in a no fuss sandwich.
It’s been a while since I graced this blog or coworkers’ bellies with yummy treats. I know I’ve said it before, but baking is so therapeutic. It’s precise, like culinary chemistry, and the payoff is usually something delectable.
This past week, my team had an intern whose last day was Friday. I told him he could pick his favorite flavor and I’d come up with a cupcake for him and the team. Strawberry shortcake he said — so strawberry it was!
In a large bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. Beat in 1/3 cup of the strawberry puree and vanilla extract. Add the confectioner sugar one cup at a time beating until well combined. Frost the cupcakes and garnish with fresh strawberries.
The frosting is nothing short of amazing. It literally tasted like ice cream… and I would know! I licked the spoon the night I made it. Did I feel guilty? NO I DID NOT. Make these cupcakes, you will run right down to Boston to give me a big hug and kiss.
Yeah so… salad. New year, same resolution — eat healthier and work out more. It’s been 17 days and I’m running at a 75% success rate. I went to the doctor today, had my annual weigh in and I didn’t hate it. Motivation, yes. In fact, my fingers and typing at with astronomical dexterity and speed, as I still need to get my nightly workout in.
Tonight’s dinner featured blood oranges, which beckoned me while I was perusing the produce section of the supermarket.
What you’ll need —
Combine all ingredients and toss. Eat, feel healthy, and go to the gym.
Goodnight and goodbye.