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.
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
Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies
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!
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.