Category Archives: Baked Goods

Cider House Donuts

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

Voila ici!

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.

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Ray Wu’s Lonely Hearts Club

I hope everyone had a fun and sexy Valentine’s Day. I’ve been single for basically forever, but for some reason, I find that I’m not usually too down as one would expect a single to be on Valentine’s Day. Sure there are years when it seems that everyone is coupling up or getting a date leading up to the day, but the sliver of optimism in me seems to show itself every February 14th. Being a hopeless romantic and thinking that everything will work out for the best, I have to spin things in my favor to make the best of the holiday as I see fit. Working at an awesome company with an awesome boss and co-workers definitely helps too. In summary, there was a building party, 2 team parties, an office party, I got video conferencing to work with my boss in our Chicago office and I got to have dinner with a friend at a restaurant I’ve been meaning to try. This year was probably a top 3 of all time.

Last week, a friend at work decided to organize “Eat Your Feelings Day,” and I agreed to make… wait for it… Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies. In addition to that gem, someone on a team that I’m suppose to be transferring to in the near future asked if I was planning on doing anything on V-Day (like how I put together a Sweets Exchange during the holidays). Hence, “Ray Wu’s Lonely Hearts Club” was added after the “Eat Your Feelings Day” celebration. We booked a conference room and brought our laptops to work while we gorged on sweets, listened to love jams and put a crackling fire up on the projector. I even stayed late at work one night to make a corny flyer.

Overall, it was a pretty big success with a steady flow of people stopping in to grab some treats. In addition to the red velvet cheesecake brownies, I made coconut macaroons with a caramel drizzle, peanut clusters, and some origami flowers for decoration. Let’s just say that the commute that morning sucked, but it was all worth it.


Coconut Macaroons, Caramel and Origami Flowers


Coconut Macaroons with Caramel Drizzle


Peanut Clusters


Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies


M&M Blondies


Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

So next year, if you’re feeling down on Valentine’s Day, just get cookin’ on something delicious. And if you are a lady, ask me out on a date. Either or.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

Wait, I have a blog?

Hi readers. Yes it’s true. I am actually suppose to contribute to this blog, and it has been over a month since my last post. Shame. Starring Michael Fassbender. A lot has happened over the last couple of weeks. I tried Burmese food, Jersey Mike’s and Bobby’s Burger Palace for the first time. I organized a holiday sweets exchange at the office. Four couples I know got engaged, and I accepted the role of groomsman. I ran more than 1 mile straight for the first time on my own free will since high school. I got my wisdom teeth pulled out. I poured boiling hot pasta water on my right index and middle fingers. I found out I would be moving onto a new client early this year. I made lemon chess pie, lobster rolls and rack of lamb for the first time. And lastly, I went to a tasting of new menu items at a friend’s restaurant.


Mint Chocolate Chunk Cookies


Catfish Soup from Yoma


Coconut Chicken Soup


New Years Eve Hot Pot at my Sister’s


Hot Pot Protein Spread


Omni Parker House Boston Cream Pie


Homemade Lobster Rolls


Rack of Lamb with Pale Dinner Roll (from scratch) and Steamed Green Beans


Pan Seared Scallops with a White Wine Sauce and Penne with Pepperjack Cream Sauce

Food wise I still find myself day dreaming about dropping everything and going to culinary school or start planning a restaurant/food venture and getting in way over my head. I took a look at my post with last year’s food resolutions and got somewhat depressed about things I didn’t get to accomplish. So with that, here are food resolutions for 2012.

1. Make noodles and pasta from scratch (rolled over from 2011)
2. Make dumplings and spring rolls from scratch
3. Make Buttermilk Fried Chicken from Ad Hoc at Home (also rolled over from 2011)
4. New ethnic food to try: Russian
5. Meat to try: alligator
6. Fruit to try: durian
7. Dish to eat that I surprisingly never had: eggs benedict
8. Dish to make: souffle
9. Restaurants to try: Neptune Oyster, B&G Oysters
10. Additional skills to learn: properly eating a crab, scaling and breaking down a whole fish, making legit bbq ribs on a charcoal grill

What are your food resolutions for 2012?

a berry nice girl

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!

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of chopped strawberries

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a bowl, cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, around 3-5 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time until combined.  Then add buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.  Mix until just combined.  Add chopped strawberries, folding to avoid mushing the fruit.
  4. Fill lined cupcake pans 3/4 of the way with batter.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes and let cool completely on a cooling rack.

Frosting Ingredients

  • Frozen strawberries, pureed with sugar (to your taste depending on how sweet the strawberries are)
  • 2 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups of confectioner sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

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.

Thanksgiving Eats


Turkey Time

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and adjusted back to life in the grind today. I had all of week plus today off and was pretty happy with the food I consumed over the break. I got home last Monday, and my dad suggested we go to McDonald’s to get some McRibs. Knowing my parents, such a request was pretty shocking. I declined, and he suggested driving up to Edison so I could try some new Chinese restaurants. The first two we tried were closed so we found ourselves in heaven H Mart. Spacious, clean, reasonably priced and delicious food court options. We got a seafood pancake, a bowl of noodle soup, and some Korean fried chicken. Then, we shopped for lobsters and abalone for a late dinner.

On Tuesday my dad got KFC for lunch. My reality is seriously taking a U-turn. Maybe it was a little Thanksgiving warm up? The mashed potatoes and chicken were as I remembered, but the biscuits weren’t as big or fluffy. Recipe change? Sad face.

On Wednesday, the cooking began after some take out Chinese for lunch. I got started on baking treats for in house snacking, friends and neighbors. First up were Chocolate Chunk Cookies based off Tollhouse Cookies without the walnuts and chunks instead of chips. Next were the office favorite, Cookies n Cream Cupcakes, which friends also enjoyed However, they didn’t get them until 2-3 days after so they dried out a bit in the fridge. Finally, Thanksgiving desserts included Pumpkin Cheesecake and Apple Pie.


Chocolate Chunk Cookies


Cookies N Cream Cupcakes


Pumpkin Cheesecake


Apple Pie

The big day included waffles for brunch with a blackberry topping and fresh blackberries and bananas.


Thanksgiving Brunch

For the big meal, we had a 12 lbs. turkey brined and rubbed with sage, kosher salt and a little rosemary along with a half lemon and cinnamon stick in the cavity. Gravy was made using a roux, chicken stock and soy sauce. This was the most successful gravy I’ve made to date in terms of universal appeal, color, texture and taste. I did feel guilty about cutting out the pan drippings, since I had so much to do. Green bean casserole, dressing, sage and rosemary biscuits, sweet potato mash and spaghetti squash with cranberries rounded out the meal. The green bean casserole was the first time I made it completely from scratch, and while it looked sexy, the fried onions still didn’t measure up to French’s. The dressing was still inferior to Stove Top, but I’m still confident that someday I will have a recipe that will be better. The spaghetti squash was a new addition this year and was inspired by a meal at Oceanarie the week before Thanksgiving. The strands from the squash are pretty cool. When my dad asked if I cut the squash into the strands, I was pretty tempted to say yes. Overall, my dad said it was the best Thanksgiving meal to date that I’ve made, so my constant need for approval was satisfied for the time being.


Sage and Rosemary Biscuits


Spaghetti Squash with Cranberries


Green Bean Casserole


The Spread


Coma on a Plate

On Friday night, I met up with a few friends for burgers at 25 Burgers and had a Bull’s Eye Burger with sweet potato fries. The burger itself was pretty messy and greasy, but it’s the best burger within a 15 minute drive from my house. The onion strings and patty were the highlights, while the bun was lacking. The fries were decent, but the portion was rather small. Overall the burger, fries, and drink were a little over $12.


BBQ Burgers Don’t Know How to Disappoint

The next day, I ate at Shanghai Bun and got some sauteed pork and vegetables with Shanghai noodles, and my friend got chicken and mustard green soup. For dinner, I hung out with a few of my sister’s friends and went to the Olive Garden for the first time. The place was pretty empty when we arrived, but was packed by the time we left. I was definitely surprised with the decor and ambiance, since I always though the commercials were so corny. However, the prices were also higher than I imagined. I was thinking most entrees would be $8-15, but the range was more like $12-$20. The seating was interesting, with wheels on all four legs sliding in every direction. The bread sticks were on the salty side, but you can’t go wrong with unlimited warm bread. For my entree, I got braised short ribs. I’m not 100% confident that it didn’t come out of a bag, but the tenderness of the meat was still enjoyable. Overall, the meal was better than I expected, but at $28 with tax and tip, I’d rather spend my dining out money elsewhere.


If Only Plate of Food Grew on Trees


Healthy Can Taste Good


The Most Perfectly Shaped Breadsticks I’ve Ever Seen in my Life


Braised Short Ribs