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.
Summer always makes me happy because it’s berry season. Growing up I loved the favor red so you could always count me in for watermelon, cherries, raspberries and strawberries. Blueberries grew on me because of the deliciousness that are blueberry bagels, muffins, pancakes and scones. Yet when I buy blueberries from the super market, eating them by themselves just doesn’t do it for me. Days pass, and I stress on what to do with them and it inevitably gets tossed into a baked item. The cycle repeats itself every year, and I don’t have any plans to stop it.
Last week I made blueberry muffins in my non-air conditioned kitchen during a heat wave. The kitchen got so hot that the butter in the crumb topping started to melt before I could finish pouring the muffin batter into the cups and sprinkle the topping. That made for ugly muffins, but today the heat wave ended and I’m at it again with blueberry scones.
Double recipe from Cooks.com
4 cups All Purpose Flour
4 tbsp. White Granulated Sugar
5 tbsp. Baking Powder
3/8 tbsp. Salt
1 1/2 cups Butter (Melted)
4 Eggs (Beaten)
1/2 cup Milk (I used skim)
1 1/3 cups Blueberries (I used closer to 2 cups to use up the rest of my blueberries)
Get Ready for a 20 Minute Super Heat Wave
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 cookie sheets with vegetable oil or butter.
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside. In separate bowl, mix butter, eggs and milk. Pour liquid into dry mixture and stir until everything is combined. Fold in blueberries.
Separate dough/batter into two equal sizes. Dump one pile onto a floured surface and flatten into about a 9 inch disc. Divide into 8 wedges and place on cookie sheet. Repeat with second pile.
Update: I added a dusting of powdered sugar because I can. I also would have liked to add a squirt of lemon juice and some lemon zest.
In typical Ray fashion, I had friends over this past weekend and had a few days of pure gluttony. When friends come over, I try my best to get a sense of they are looking to try wherever I’m living and plan the weekend around meals that will be satisfying and give Boston a chance to impress.
To begin our journey, we headed to the North End since it would be a little less crowded on a Thursday night. We got on line at Giacomo’s and after 30 minutes, we were treated to calamari, garlic bread and pasta. Calamari was good, but could have been fried better. The marinara sauce was tangy and had a homemade taste to it. Pass on the garlic bread. Lobster Ravioli was finished off quickly as the portion size was small. Linguine with Fra-como sauce and shrimp and scallops and swordfish with a cream sauce were wins. Next, we braved the only semi-hectic crowds at Mike’s Pastry for cannolis. Peanut butter, yellow cream and pistachio all safe bets.
The next day, berry tarts from the previous day were for breakfast followed by UBurger. After some afternoon beer at Sam Adam’s Brewery, it was time for dinner at Yankee Lobster Fish Market were all 3 of us enjoyed clam chowder and Lobster Rolls. This was probably the most fulfilling meal of the weekend for me both because of the concept of fresh seafood by the water at the start of summer. Perfectly crispy fries and a long walk down Seaport Blvd. help too.
Lobster Roll from Yankee Lobster Fish Market
The next day, we hit up a few Asian establishments including Japonaise Bakery for some sweets including their Azuki Cream Bun, cakes and mochi. Take a pass on the cake and head straight for the Japanese cream items and pastries. For lunch we hopped between Bonchon Chicken for some wings, pork buns, and fried octopus balls and Jojo Taipei for soup dumplings, scallion pancakes and minced pork over rice. Finally for dinner, we headed to Redbones for some BBQ. St. Louis ribs won out above all and the smoked brisket was dry. Before my friends left, we had dim sum at Hei La Moon in Chinatown. If you’re concerned about my health right now, rest assured that I’ve been eating like a rabbit since the weekend.
Almond Cake with Oranges and Cream with an Azuki Mochi
One and a half weeks into the new apartment, and I thought that it was time to try out the oven and bake. Since it’s berry season, berry tarts seemed to be in order. For my tarts, I used raspberries and blackberries.
I didn’t pay much attention to presentation since it was getting late and the recipe didn’t call for any additional butter or egg wash. Hence a pale looking tart like a swimsuit model in the off season. Still, something to look forward to in the morning.
Get Ready for a Hot Tan.
Needs a Refund.
While taking a break from apartment hunting, I went through my food blog bookmarks and came across a seriously awesome croissant making video on Serious Eats. I’ve always idolized bakers and their ability to create beautiful treats that take both meticulous technique and skill to create batches and batches of pastries. The hours that they keep are killer just so that they can have these ready in time for your coffee heading into work.
This ten minute video takes you from measuring ingredients to pulling out golden brown calorie bombs out of the oven. The baking process is truly a mouth watering process as the slow build up of raw ingredients builds as you can see the final outcome forming especially as the fragrance begins to drift from the oven. Just try to control yourself from opening the oven before it’s finished and drooling all over your shirt.
This video is also getting me pumped for my return to Boston as I will be able to once again visit Clear Flour Bread, Flour Bakery & Cafe, and various Asian bakeries. Washington DC bakeries have lagged, but I was able to sustain myself on local chains like Firehook Bakery and not to local chains like Le Madeleine. Heller’s Bakery was disappointing and Stick Fingers Bakery is vegan. And just to be clear, cupcake shops aren’t bakeries!