Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Daring Baker's October Challenge: Donuts Galore

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

I went for Traditional Yeast Donuts:

Yeast Doughnuts:
Preparation time:
Hands on prep time - 25 minutes
Rising time - 1.5 hours total
Cooking time - 12 minutes
Yield: 20 to 25 doughnuts & 20 to 25 doughnut holes, depending on size
Milk 1.5 cup / 360 ml
Butter 1/3 cup / 80 ml / 70 gm / 2.5 oz )
Active Dry Yeast 4.5 teaspoon (2 pkgs.) / 22.5 ml / 14 gm / ½ oz
Warm Water 1/3 cup / 80 ml (95°F to 105°F / 35°C to 41°C)
Eggs, Large, beaten 2
Brown Sugar ¼ cup / 60 ml / 55 gm / 2 oz
Table Salt 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / 1/3 oz
Nutmeg, grated 1 tsp. / 5 ml / 6 gm / ¼ oz
All Purpose Flour 4 2/3 cup / 1,120 ml / 650 gm / 23 oz + extra for dusting surface
Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)
  1. Heat up the milk till luke warm and melt the butter.Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. (Unless using instant yeast which is more common now a days.)  After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and butter mixture.
  3. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.

  1. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.
  2. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes (for me this only took about two minutes). If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
  3. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  4. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch (9 mm)thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).

Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F/185°C. ( I baked half of mine in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes)
Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown. Check the first one on the inside to see if it's cooked. It will give you an estimate of how long they should ocok for.

Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.

You can use any chocolate glaze you like. I chose chocolate fudge sauce.
I also filled my fried donuts with chocolate sauce.

Here is another idea for filled donuts.. They are Called Bomboloni.. Have any of you visited Bomboloni in NYC? 187 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10023-5103 It's worth it!

Bomboloni: Recipe From Food and Wine
Preparation time:
Hands on prep time - 35 minutes
Rising time - 1 1/2 hours plus overnight
Cooking time - 10 minutes
Yield: About 32 Bomboloni
Water, Lukewarm 1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon
Active Dry Yeast 3 ¼ teaspoon (1.5 pkgs.) / 16.25 ml / 10 gm / .35 oz
Honey 1.5 Tablespoon / 22.5 ml
All Purpose Flour 3 cup / 720 ml / 420 gm / 14 ¾ oz
Milk 3 Tablespoon / 45 ml
Egg Yolk, Large 6
White Granulated Sugar 1/3 cup / 80 ml / 75 gm / 2 2/3 oz + more for rolling
Kosher (Flaked) Salt 2 teaspoon / 10 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
Butter, Unsalted 3 Tablespoon / 45 ml / 42 gm / 1.5 oz
Canola Oil 3 cup / 720 ml / (Or any other flavorless oil used for frying)
Raspberry Jam, Seedless ¾ cup / 180 ml / 300 gm / 10.5 oz (or any flavor jam, preserves, jelly)
  1. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, mix the water, yeast, honey and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (160 gm) of the flour. (Alternatively, whisk the ingredients by hand.) Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 1 hour.
  2. Return the bowl to the mixer, fitted with a dough hook. Add the remaining 1 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons (260 gm) of flour, along with the milk, egg yolks, 1/3 cup of granulated sugar and the salt. Mix at low speed until blended, then add the butter and knead at medium speed until silky but sticky, about 5 minutes; the dough will not pull away from the side of the bowl.
  3. Using an oiled spatula, scrape the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
  4. In a large saucepan, heat the canola oil to 360°F/180°C. Line a rack with paper towels. Fill a shallow bowl with 1/2 inch (12 mm)of granulated sugar. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough a scant 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick. Using a 2-inch (50 mm) round biscuit cutter, stamp out rounds. The original recipe said to not re-roll the dough, but I did and found it to be fine. Fry the rounds, 4 to 5 at a time, until they are browned, about 4 minutes (mine only took about a minute each – try to go more by sight). Be sure to keep the oil between 360°F and 375°F 180°C and 190°C. Drain the bomboloni on paper towels.
  5. Roll them in the granulated sugar.

Filling Directions:

Fit a pastry bag with a plain donut tip (or a 1/4-inch (6 mm) tip) and fill with the preserves (you can also use a squeeze bottle). Poke the tip three-fourths of the way into the bomboloni and squeeze in the preserves, pulling the tip out slightly as you squeeze to fill them as much as possible. Serve warm.

And more festive halloween ones:

Pumpkin Doughnuts: Recipe from Epicurious
Preparation time:
Hands on prep time - 15 minutes
Chilling time - 3 hours
Cooking time - 10 minutes
Yield: About 24 doughnuts & 24 doughnut holes
All Purpose Flour 3.5 cup / 840 ml / 490 gm / 17 ¼ oz
Baking Powder 4 teaspoon / 20 ml / 24 gm / .85 oz
Table Salt 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
Cinnamon, ground 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
Ginger, ground ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml / 3 gm / .1 oz
Baking Soda ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml / 3 gm / .1 oz
Nutmeg, ground ¼ teaspoon / 1.25 ml / 1.5 gm / .05 oz
Cloves, ground 1/8 teaspoon / .6 ml / ¾ gm / .025 oz
White Granulated Sugar 1 cup / 240 ml / 225 gm / 8 oz
Butter, Unsalted 3 Tablespoon / 45 ml / 42 gm / 1.5 oz
Egg, Large 1
Egg Yolk, Large 2
Pure Vanilla Extract 1 teaspoon / 5 ml
Buttermilk ½ cup + 1 Tablespoon / 135 ml /
Pumpkin 1 cup / 240 ml / 285 gm / 10 oz (Canned pure pumpkin or fresh cooked and pureed pumpkin – DON’T use pumpkin pie mix!)
Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)

Powdered Sugar Glaze:

Powdered (Icing) Sugar 2 cup / 480 ml / 250 gm / 9 oz
Whipping Cream (About 32% butter fat) 4 Tablespoon + more if needed / 60 ml
  1. Whisk together the first 8 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until blended (the mixture will be grainy and not smooth). Beat in egg, then yolks and vanilla. Gradually beat in buttermilk; beat in pumpkin. Using rubber spatula, fold in dry ingredients in 4 additions, blending gently after each addition. Cover with plastic; chill 3 hours.
  2. Sprinkle 2 rimmed baking sheets lightly with flour. Press out 1/3 of dough on floured surface to 1/2- to 2/3-inch (12 mm to 15 mm) thickness. Using 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) -diameter round cutter, cut out dough rounds. Arrange on sheets. Repeat with remaining dough in 2 more batches. Gather dough scraps. Press out dough and cut out more dough rounds until all dough is used.
  3. Using 1-inch (25 mm) diameter round cutter, cut out center of each dough round to make doughnuts and doughnut holes.
  4. Line 2 baking sheets with several layers of paper towels. Pour oil into large deep skillet to depth of 1 1/2 inches (40 mm). Attach deep-fry thermometer and heat oil to 365°F to 370°F (185°C to 188°C). Fry doughnut holes in 2 batches until golden brown, turning occasionally, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Fry doughnuts, 3 or 4 at a time, until golden brown, adjusting heat to maintain temperature, about 1 minute per side. Using slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain. Cool completely.

Glaze Directions:

  1. Whisk powdered sugar and 4 tablespoons whipping cream to blend. Whisk in additional cream, 1 teaspoon at a time, to form medium thick glaze.
  2. Can be made up to 3 hours ahead.
  3. Add doughnut holes to bowl of spiced sugar and toss to coat.
  4. Spread doughnuts on 1 side with powdered sugar glaze.
  5. Arrange doughnuts, glazed side up, on racks. Let stand until glaze sets, at least 30 minutes.

And last but not least.. I didn't make it but look at the biggest donut I ever saw: in Florida! They Actually Dare people to eat this thing! And ocasionally someone does!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dessert Tasting

In preparation for my upcoming job as Executive Pastry Chef of a new restaurant due to open at the end of this year, I threw myself a challenge of creating a few unique recipes for a Dessert Tasting Party. Obviously no recipes will be given but here are just some images of a few of the desserts.
This one is a raspberry curd and ginger compote within layers of crepes. Chocolate sauce and raspberry sauce on the side and chocolate accents on top.

This is my petit four selection. A chocolate nut bonbon, a caramelized pear financier, a Cecilia with a condensed milk creme anglaise and chocolate dipped lady fingers, topped with a sweet foam, and last but not least, a Yuzu cheesecake with candied citrus. The cheesecake was the favorite! Light citrousy flavors, not too filling.  
This is a coffee white chocolate glacee on top of a chocolate brownie, with chocolate sauce and creme anglaise.

And this was the petit four platter with a few extra additions, the bonbons, pear financier, lemon curd and raspberry curd tarts, yuzu cheesecake, bonbons, and the raspberry dessert as a miniature.

I hope you enjoyed this visual representation, but now you have to go to the restaurant for a tasting... will keep you posted on the opening night!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Do you Chimmy?

Chimichangas that is ...

Ever wonder what the difference is between a taco, chimichanga, and burrito? I think we all have and there are a lot of mixed recipes out there that call it one thing and  in reality it is actually another. I did some digging and discovered it is a deep fried burrito.

I looked at the Food Network Magazine for a recipe on chicmichangas and it turns out their so called Chimichanga Recipe is actually classified as an enchillada.
Yes, very confusing but here is a breakdown of mexican food that will set us straight:


Nachos (NAH-chos):    Corn chips baked with toppings, such as melted cheese, onion, peppers, tomatoes, and more. 

Guacamole (gwa-ka-MO-lee):  A mild, creamy dip made from avacados.  Dip your corn chips into it, or spread it into your tacos or quesadillas as a condiment.

Tacos (TAH-kos): Typically hard corn tortilla shells, stuffed with spiced beef, chicken or sometimes fish, plus lettuce, tomatoes and grated cheese.  Can also have other toppings, or be made from soft corn or flour wrappings.

Burritos (bur-REE-toes) :  Wheat flour tortilla pockets stuffed with shredded, spiced chicken or beef and a chili sauce.

Chimichanga (chi-mi-CHANG-ga):  A deep-fried burrito.  Eat plain or with its side condiments.

Chorizo (cho-REE-zo): Spicy pork sausage.

Quesadillas (kay-sa-DEE-a): Two flour tortillas with cheese in-between fried in a pan.  Feel free to open each triangle up and put in the items that come on the side- sour cream, guacamole, veggies.

Flautas/Taquitos (flaw-TAHS) (ta-KEE-toes): flour tortilla pockets stuffed with shredded meat and deep-fried.  Taqauitos are smaller than flautas.

Enchiladas (en-chi-LAH-das):  Rolled tortillas stuffed with any number of items, baked with a sauce- usually spicy, as enchilada sauce is made from chilies.

Fajitas (fah-HEE-tas):  Grilled fillings such as chicken or beef, and onions and green peppers, served on a smoking hot stone.  Take a soft flour shell, which will be on the side, and place toppings within, folding on three sides to avoid dripping.

Mole (MO-lay):  A savory sauce made from cocoa powder (yes chocolate).

Tequila (te-KEE-lah):   Popular Mexican alcohol- drink it straight as a shot chased by lime, or mixed in a drink.  Distilled from the agave plant.

Tostadas (to-STA-das):  The real name for tortilla chips, sometimes also referring to a dish similar to an open-faced taco.  If it's big, eat it with a knife and fork; if it's small, pop the whole thing in your mouth.

Now, Guy Fieri knows his mexican food, his Chimichanga recipe was legit.. don't be intimidated by so many ingredients, it's just little things here and there with very few techniques.. try it.. you'll love it!!


  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 pounds boneless beef rump, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons seeded and minced jalapenos
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 1/4 cups beef broth, plus extra if necessary
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (about 3 limes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 4 to 6 cups corn oil
  • 10 (11-inch) flour tortillas, steamed
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 3/4 cup salsa
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup seeded and diced tomatoes
  • 1 avocado, diced


  1. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cayenne, granulated garlic, and flour. Set aside.
  2. In a heavy bottomed, large stock pot, heat canola oil over medium-high heat. Add beef cubes and brown on all sides. Add onions and jalapenos and saute for 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute more. Mix in flour mixture, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Deglaze with beef broth. (remember, to deglaze you need high heat) Then add vinegar. Stir well to combine. Bring to a boil.
  4. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 2 hours, adding additional beef broth, if necessary, to keep meat simmering in liquid.
  5. When meat is fork tender, remove to a sheet pan and shred with 2 forks. Add shredded beef back into pot, along with pinto and black beans, lime juice and half the cilantro. Cook until mixture is heated through. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large, deep-sided skillet, heat corn oil to 325 degrees F.
  7. While oil is heating, prepare chimichangas. Fill bottom half of a tortilla with 3/4 cup of the beef and bean mixture and 2 tablespoons pepper jack cheese (when filling tortillas, use a slotted spoon to scoop out beef if mixture is a little liquidy). Lift the edge of the tortilla and roll it over the filling to secure it. Fold in both sides and continue rolling until you reach the opposite end. Secure with a 6-inch skewer weaved through the seam side of burrito. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  8. Slowly lower chimichangas into hot oil and cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. You can cook 4 burritos per batch. Remove from oil, drain on paper towels and keep warm in oven until all are cooked.
  9. To serve, place a bed of shredded lettuce on each plate, then a spoonful of salsa. Place chimichangas on top and add a dollop of sour cream, sprinkle with diced tomatoes, avocado and remaining cilantro to garnish. Serve immediately.
Note: If tortillas tear while folding, make them more pliable by wrapping tortillas in a damp paper towels, then fully cover with foil. Place in 250 degree F oven to warm them up.

Now if you are in a hurry you can do my very quick version (photo shown above)...

2 T butter
1 small onion chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 jalapeno pepper/ or one half of a green pepper if you don't like a lot of spice
1 1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
salt as needed
1 can tomato
2 T cilantro
2 1/2 cups rotisserie chicken or a few slices of any deli cut meat
1/4 cup sour cream (I use yogurt to healthify)
1 can refried beans
Tortillas as needed
1 cup mexican blend cheese
shredded lettuce
oli for frying
  1.  Preheat oven to 450
  2. melt butter and cook onion, garlic and pepper until soft. Add spices and a teaspoon salt and toast 30 seconds.
  3. Add half a can of tomatoes and the cilantro and cook until mixture is dry.
  4. Add the chicken and yogurt and warm through.
  5. Place refried beans, some cheese and some of the warm chicken mixture in a tortilla and fold it closed and close with toothpicks. Repeat with other tortillas.
  6. Heat oil to 325, make sure it is just enough to go half way up a tortilla, you don't want to deep fry them. Brown tortillas on each side and then pat them dry off the excess oil.
  7. Put the tortillas on an oven proof dish. Pour remaining tomatoes and some cheese on top of the tortillas and put them in the oven for about 5-8 minutes. 
  8. Serve with shredded lettuce on top and remaining refried beans on the side.

Chimmy Away.. they will be delicious I guarantee it!!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

State College, PA

State College, Pennsylvania may not be known for its food, but it sure has a tasty little nook called Zola Bistro which is always my favorite spot.
What I must ALWAYS eat when I go there is their signature crab cake with a mango sauce.
The Pros have called this crabcake supperior to any maryland crab cake!! That's saying a lot!
Then for the main course I chose filet mignon with a truffle ravioli on top (yes it looks like a sunny side up egg) and with a roasted butternut squash and sauteed spinach mixture. The cream sauce just tied everything together so nicely!. It was quite an explosion of flavor. Absolutely magnificent.


And what you must all be waiting for... dessert...

The menu called it a Peanut Butter Pie.. however.. yes my critique is comming... The chocolate component of the dessert barely tasted like peanut butter. I had to really dig for the flavor. I believe the chocolate ganache in the tart was peanut butter infused, but it didn't come out. Then there was a ginormous scoop of very delicious peanut butter ice cream that totally overshadowed the tart itself. It was also a badly done scoop that didn't look very polished.  A quenelle would have looked more delicate I think. And the caramel decoration on top just wasn't necessary. In fact, it was burnt! It tasted bitter and the coloring was very dark. So I have to say dessert was my least favorite part of the meal. But I have had many other desserts there. Their creme brulee tasting is delicious, as well as their Chocolate fondant. I recommend those two! So not all is lost!! If you are ever in State College, PA, maybe to watch some college football, stop by Zola's but make sure you make a reservation!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Halloween Pumpkins - Soup

If you've looked at any news stand the last 3 weeks you might recognize this photo above. The cover of the Food Network Magazine for october showed this amazing little pumpkin filled to the brim with a delectable soup.
 I decided to make some since it looked oh so adorable!! It was delicious, although I must say the soup tasted better the second day than right off the stove.. I'll let you decide but here is the recipe I used.

Pumpkin-Butternut Soup
2 small pumpkins
3 T butter
1 small onion
1 small butternut squash (cut into cubes)
1 tsp brown sugar
pepper as needed

  1. Cut open the pumpkin from the top and scoop out the fibers and seeds.
  2. Sprinkle salt and roast in an oven at 400 degrees until softened. (about 45min-1h)
  3. Meanwhile melt the butter in a saucepan and cook the onion for 5 minutes. Stir often so it doesn't burn.
  4. Add squash, sugar, thyme, pepper and coat for a few minutes till it's glazed all around.
  5. Add water just until it covers the contents of the pot and cook until squash it tender.
  6. Blend the soup to a puree.
  7. Crisp the Prosciutto either in the oven on top of aluminium foil or over a stove, until crispy.
  8. When the pumpkin is roasted and the flesh is soft, pour the soup into it and top with prosciutto and any other toppings you desire. Put the lid back on it and serve. to your wowed guests and family.
Note: Other toppings could be pumpkin seeds, croutons, fried onions, paprika, etc...

This soup was so delicious even my kitten wanted to join us for dinner.

When you mix the flesh of the pumpkin with the soup it actually tastes even better. And if you do that first and allow the flavors to marry before serving that will be a top notch soup!! Good Luck and Happy Halloween!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dr Seuss' Cat in the Hat

This year, the inspiration for my husband's birthday cake was The Cat in the Hat since we got very into Thing 1 and Thing 2 while we were in Florida.
Here is the final outcome:

I wanted a very whimsical look and topsy turvy, so the cake was shaved off at an angle at the top so that it would look like a crooked hat. The Cake is vanilla with lemon curd layers and covered in coconut meringue frosting. The Things and the fish bowl are made out of rice crispies.


And here is a recipe for LEMON CURD in case you'd like to make your own.

Zest of 2 lemons
6 fluid oz lemon juice (note: fluid, not weight measure)
6 oz Sugar
4 oz butter
8 yolks

  1. Put all the ingredients in a pot except for the yolks and whisk together.
  2. Allow the butter to melt and strain the mixture.
  3. Whisk the yolks together and pour the warm lemon mixture over the yolks while stirring continuously.
  4. Return the entire mixture back over a pot over medium heat, and stir untill it thickens and small bubbles start to form.
  5. Turn off the heat and ice bath the lemon curd mixture with a piece of plastic wrap directly covering and touching the surface of the curd.
  6. As it cools, the curd will thicken even more.
  7. Keep refrigerated at all times. It will last about a week or 2 in the fridge.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I kid you not!

I wasn't sure if it was a joke or if it was for real.. but this is what I saw being sold at Universal Studios Florida:

They are real alright, but you couldn't pay me to try them. Kudos to those people that don't mind eating them. I just thought it was strange to have thems old at a family amusement park. Whatever rocks their boat.. I personally prefer the candied apples.
If you are interested in  Entomophagy or, eating bugs check out this website with recipes and nutrition facts:  There is even a recipe for Mealworm Chocolate Chip Cookies

And if you want to buy your own online.. try here:

Enjoy !!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Latin Quarter

I love food, especially ethnic food and those with different flavors from what I am used to.
One of my favorite appetizers is Ceviche. I was pleasently surprised to find a great one at the Latin Quarter Restaurant in Orlando's City Walk.
This is a huge portion size (seeing a common factor here) and it was almost enough as an antree itself. The seafood was so well marinaded in it's lemony sauce. It's a Shrimp and Snapper Ceviche marinated with lemon, lime and orange juices and also with chilled jalapenos, tomatoes, red onion, cilantro and green olives.

It was also served with warm bread rolls with a compound butter that I just couldn't figure out. Tasty though!
And the main course...
Broiled Snapper with tomato rice and creamy sauce, topped with chorizo and asparagus. The fish lacked a little flavor but the rice and chorizo made the dish.

Unfortunately I didn't get to dessert that day, but here is a dessert that might have gone well with that meal:
Churros with chocolate sauce:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The good, the bad and the Ugly

That's right.. there are some restaurants out there that just don't make the cut.
I have to say I was very dissapointed when I whent to Emeril Lagasse's Restaurant. It started out with a ripped table cloth right next to my plate and pepper shaker. Trust me.. it was the first thing I saw before even sitting down.

Then came the meal... The appetizer which I didn't get a photo of, had what it tasted like 2-day-old fries hiding the skimpy portion of mussels on the bottom.

As for the main course.. oh it was dreadful.. Rabbit Pasta.. do you see rabbit meat anywere? I felt like I was playing where's waldo when this dish came.

The dish looked unappetizing and it was so so so SALTY. It was dreadful.
The dessert looked prettier than it tasted:

It was called Godiva White Chocolate Bread Pudding. First of all... Godiva shouldn't be the star here, Emeril is a Chef and he should be the star. Next.. there was no godiva white chocolate in the bread pudding itself. They took Godiva's white chocolate, melted it and pooured it over a mediocre bread pudding that had little flavor of its own. Then they piped a ginormous dollop of whipped cream with a strawberry on top, and called it a dessert.

Needless to say, I was very dissapointed by this experience.

Let me give you readers my bread pudding recipe instead so that you can get more taste out of your bread pudding.

2 oz raisins (pre-soaked in hot water to plump up)
2 oz rum (I love rum in this dessert, but you can ommit it if you like or add in another flavoring)
optional: cinnamon, chocolate chunks
As needed- day old brioche bread or another sweet bread. (If you don't have either just use a baguette.) Here you have the option to toast the bread before using it if it's still too soft, or leaving it as is.
As needed custard mixture (below)

Custard Mixture (very large batch)
2 quarts milk
1lb sugar
8 eggs
16 yolks (or just add 6 more eggs)
1 fl oz vanilla extract

1. Bring the milk to a boil with sugar.
2. Whisk eggs and yolks together till uniform.
3. Pour boiling milk and sugar into eggs as you whisk continuously.
4. Strain the mixture and whisk in vanilla extract.

Directions for Bread Pudding.
1. Grease an oven proof dish and pour in shredded pieces of bread until almost to the top. Add raisins and  rum and toss to spread evenly. At this time you can add in any extra optional items you like such as cinnamon or chocolate chunks.
2. Pour the custard mixture into the dish just untill it covers the bread pieces.
3. Let the mixture stand for about 1 hour untill the bread is completely soaked through.
4. Bake at 300 degrees in a water bath until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the mixture comes out clean.

You can serve these in individual ramekins or unmold them, or decorate them with fresh fruit, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, the possibilities are endless!! Enjoy!!

Vacation Eats in Orlando Florida

I stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel on my visit to Orlando and I have to say the best thing I ate on vacation was at the hotel's 'The Kitchen' Restaurant. and it was a classic too... the best and biggest burger I ever ate:

And this fried thing that I kept staring at.. Pickles.. Fried pickles. I think I just learned that the saying of "if it's fried it's gotta be good" is not always true. This is the only case thus far! But the burger as you can see is huge and amazing. The Brioche bun was very fluffy and the meat was cooked perfectly. It also had bacon cheddar cheese and a mayo sauce and onion rings.
I think the bacon and the brioche bun made this burger my top pick.

And then came dessert... and was it heavenly!
It came displayed on a marble guitar. There were shooter glasses, creme brule, fried pb & j dumpling, chocolate cake, cheesecake, banana pudding, brownie and lots and lots of ice cream! I Scream for deliciousness.

And a little recipe for you all who want to know how to make a creme brulee... here you go:

2 cups heavy cream
3 oz sugar
1/2 split vanilla bean or cinnamon or any flavoring you might like (don't use extracts as their flavor will be cooked off)
6 yolks
Granulated sugar for torching

1. Combing cream and sugar and vanilla bean and bring to a simmer.
2. Whisk yolks together in a bowl and then whisk the hot mixture into the yolks while whisking constantly.
3. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer and pour into shallow baking dishes.
4. Bake in a water bath at 300 degrees until set and not very jiggly.
5. Cool in a refrigerator a minnimum of 1 hour or until ready to use.
6. When ready to serve, sprinkle some suger over the entire surface, torch the sugar till caramel color.
7. Decorate with colorful fruits or other desired garnish.

Other flavoring ideas: Cinnamon and a lemon peel. 1 oz of pumpkin puree. 1 oz Rum

Monday, October 4, 2010

Halloween is near..

I love Halloween for its decorations. No, I am not into gothic things at all, but I just love looking through Martha Stewart's Decorating magazines with all her kid friendly decorations.
This year I decided to go with a less scary apporach on my haunted decorations. And after spending a week in Orlando and a visit to Disney World, I got inspired:

Pumpkins are great because they can serve as jack-o-lanterns or you can place another bowl inside them and use them as a candy, chip, drink container, etc...

When you carve out your pumpkins, save the seeds! Rinse them in cold water to separate the orange gooey stings and pat them dry. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes till dry. Mix these for trail mix or toppings.

Another tip: when you carve your pumpkins dig into the pumpkin meat a little so you thin out the walls of the pumpkin. This will help it rot less quickly and make the pumpkin easier to carve since it's thinner. Make sure you save the pumpkin meat and roast it at 350 degrees until the water runs out and it's soft. Then process the meat and you have your very own pumpkin puree ready for pumpkin pie. No Libby's necessary!

And as for halloween cake ideas.. here is one that I just worked on: a Not-So-Scary Nightmare Before Christmas Cake. Frankly, I wasn't a fan of the movie, but the cartoon characters and the whole concept are pretty great so they make an excellent cake decor.
I rushed this cake out in 1 hour. I could have done more with more time.. but that's what you get in 1 hour: A moist vanilla cake (recipe found in previous posts) with chocolate buttercream and caramel frosting.

The Magical World of Harry Potter

I was in Orlando Florida last week and got to experience the magic that lives within the Islands of Adventure Park: The World of Harry Potter!
It was like being on the movie set. It was beautiful, and you can't imagine how giddy I got when I saw Butterbeer and Chocolate Frogs- the ones like in the movie, not the ones you buy at Dylan's Candy Store or Toys R Us.

Inside Honeydukes is a beautiful Candyland- a sight to see for any wizard or muggle:

And outside the shop windows you can see giant versions of the famous Bertie Botts Every Flavored beans as well as the Chocolate frogs with 4 wizard cards to collect. I got Lucky, I got them all!

When you purchase the chocolate frogs you have this fantastic frog sitting on top of a magical wizard card.

This next one is a chocolate Cauldron. There are also candy jars with hard candy and Honeydukes on them, as well as chocolate skeletons and cotton candy floss.

And this licorice man is sitting in the sentre of the store. He is getting his hair done by the house elves.

And this is my favorite part. The Butterbeer that you can buy at the Three Broomsticks restaurant or on outside carts. They come frozen or regular with a souvenir mug.
The mug is worth the extra $$$. And the frozen is way better than the regular.
I asked the witches what the drink was made out of and they were vague. When I came home I googles it and was pleasantly surprised when I foun a Fox News article with the recipe.
Here it is below- I haven't tested it yet but will very soon...

Start to finish: 1 hour (10 minutes active)
Servings: 4

1 cup light or dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
6 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
3/4 cup heavy cream, divided
1/2 teaspoon rum extract
Four 12-ounce bottles cream soda

1. In a small saucepan over medium, combine the brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring often, until the mixture reads 240 F on a candy thermometer. (Please be careful when cooking sugar, the burns are dangerous)
2. Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4 heavy cream. ( I actually plan on using skim milk to healthify it a bit. It's a rich beverage with cream on top so here's your chance to cut the calories) Set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the rum extract. (Don't use real rum, uncooked alcohol doesn't taste very pleasant in a drink that isn't supposed to taste like it!)

4. For the Foam: In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Use an electric mixer to beat until just thickened, but not completely whipped, about 2 to 3 minutes. (just before soft peaks form)

5. To serve, divide the brown sugar mixture between 4 tall glasses (about 1/4 cup for each glass). Add 1/4 cup of cream soda to each glass, then stir to combine. Fill each glass nearly to the top with additional cream soda, then spoon the whipped topping over each.

Mugglenet also has other Harry Potter recipes that will be a great addition to your halloween party planning this year.