Monday, February 27, 2012

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

    In celebration of Mardi Gras, I decided to host a little dinner party. The menu included items such as Deep Fried Pickles, Chicken Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo and for dessert, Beignets. Everything was so delicious.
   Beignets (ben-YAYs) are a traditional New Orleans breakfast dish, often served as dessert. In New Orleans they're topped with a shovel full of powdered sugar and usually served with a steaming cup of Cafe au Lait. I decided to toss them in some Homemade Vanilla Sugar that my dinner guests had given me as a hostess gift.

New Orleans Style Beignets:

New Orleans style Beignets with Homemade Vanilla Sugar.

1 envelope active dry yeast
3/4 cup water (110 degrees F)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup evaporated milk
3 1/2 – 3 3/4 cups flour
1/8 cup shortening
vegetable oil for frying
flavored sugar or powdered sugar for topping

1) Combine the yeast, water, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Let this sit until frothy, about 5 minutes.

2) Add the salt, egg, and evaporated milk.
3) Place the bowl of a stand mixer into some hot water to warm it's temperature (if you add the yeast mixture to the metal bowl while it's cold it will not proof). Once you've done this, add the yeast mixture to the bowl of the stand mixer and mix on low speed using a dough hook.
4) Add half of the flour and mix until it starts to come together, then add the shortening.
5) When the shortening is incorporated start adding the remaining flour, a little at a time until most of it is incorporated and it resembles a ball.
6)Turn the dough onto a floured surface to finish kneading by hand. Knead the dough, adding just enough flour as necessary to make a non-sticky, smooth dough.
7) Spray a mixing bowl with kitchen spray and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft free place (I use the microwave), for about 45-60 minutes, until it has doubled in size.

8) Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out into a rectangle that is about 1/2″ thick. Using a pizza cutter or a very sharp knife, cut the dough into 2″ wide rectangles. 
9) Place the beignets on a floured baking sheet to let rise about 40 minutes in a warm place.
When the beignets have risen, heat 2-3 inches of vegetable oil in a large saucepan to 350-360 degrees. 10) Place 2-3 beignets into the hot oil at a time, being careful not to smash or deflate them. When they are golden brown, flip them over until golden brown on the other side (They go pretty quickly so start checking them right after they go into the oil).

11) Remove to paper towel lined plates to drain. Serve hot topped with plenty of powdered sugar.

This recipe yields approximately 24 Beignets.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!!
You may also like:
Chicken and Andouille Sausage Jambalaya
Chicken, Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Six Year Olds School Assignment, and a Cookie Recipe

     Hello everyone.
     My son came home from school last week with an assignment. His assignment is to prepare a speech, on a topic he gets to choose, which he is to present in front of his class.
The assignment listed ideas on what they could write their speeches on, topics like "Washing my dog", "Playing with my Lego", "Why my mom should let me have a puppy"....etc. My son chose to write his speech on "Why I like making cookies with my mom". How cute. *my heart melts*
    I took this as the perfect opportunity to bake a batch of these delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies to refresh his memory on the cookie making process (as if his memory needed to be refreshed).
    While we were making these cookies I asked him questions like, "What is your favourite part of making cookies"? to which he responded, "Pouring in the chocolate chips" and "What is the most important part of making cookies"? to which he responded, "Following the recipe" I just love his perspective on things.
    Since I was in the kitchen baking up these scrumptious Chocolate Chip Cookies, I thought I would share the recipe with all of you. Hope you enjoy it.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies:
Delicious Chocolaty Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup butter/baking margarine, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

(1) Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or grease with cooking spray.
(2) Melt the butter and place in the refrigerator to cool.
(3) Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

(4) In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Add the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy.

(5) Add the sifted ingredients and mix until just combined.

(6) Add the chocolate chips and stir until well incorporated using a wooden spoon.

(7) Drop cookie dough 1 Tbsp at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets.

(8) Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are set and lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.               

This recipe makes approximately 3 1/2 dozen cookies.
    There are often times when I don't have a need for 3 1/2 dozen cookies laying around my house all at once. In times like this, I place the prepared cookie sheet straight into the freezer. From here I just freeze the cookie dough mounds, and place them into a freezer safe plastic bag until I have a need for them. They will keep for up to 6 months. Just keep in mind you will need to thaw the cookies before baking them.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

5th Book Club Selection: The Help, by Kathryn Stockett

    The Help, by Kathryn Stockett is another wildly popular best selling novel turned motion picture. I have been hearing of The Help everywhere and figured I might as well find out what the hype was about. So I am choosing it as 9er Domestic's 5th Book Club Selection.       

    The Help is 2009 novel about the African American Women in Jackson, Mississippi, working as maids in white households during the 1960's. It is written in the first person, and mainly from the perspective of the three main characters Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter. This book covers the struggles and experiences of the maids, by focusing on their daily lives and the hardships they had to endure as to maintain their jobs and to earn a living.