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The Science of Fried Donuts

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French Toast, the breakfast of champions, is quite possibly my favorite breakfast of all time. But, a few weeks ago, I was plopped down at a diner in New York, a little weary from the evening before, and I saw my other favorite breakfast of all time on the menu. Donuts. Oy vay… How can you decide?

Well, I chose not to and ordered both, but it got me thinking, “How could I combine by two favorite things??”

It was a Hallelujah moment.

Donuts are a pain in the behind to make, but french toast is easy as pie. So buy the donuts, then treat them just like I would the Challah bread that I usually use for my french toast!

Now, here is where the science (and the most important) part comes in- what donuts do I use?

Donuts are a controversial topic in any friendship, family discussion, or relationship for me. Your donut choice defines you.

I am a Dunkin Donuts chocolate iced with rainbow sprinkles girl until the end of time. And if you don’t like them, or prefer others, then your taste buds just simply are not sophisticated enough for me to have a meal with you. I have always poo pooed any type of fancy donut. In a pinch I’ll have a krispy kreme, but never, ever will I go anywhere near a fancy donut.

DSC_8468However, in the spirit of culinary exploration I figured that I should try a couple different types, but was positive that my double D’s would win every time.

I admit, I was wrong. It wasn’t the double D’s, nor the double K’s, but it was the fancy donuts that won.

So how on earth is it that the fancy donuts won- that is my question.

Let’s get down to business with the science of french toast. My recipe contains the bread (or donuts), egg yolk, whole milk, cinnamon, and vanilla. The last two don’t have any effect on the final toast, they just taste darn good.

DSC_8473So that means that the milk and eggs determine the final batter structure. When egg yolks are cooked  (not whites because we want that rich flavor in our finished dish) the proteins denature and form a strong network (i.e. when you fry an egg it all comes together and is firm). So the egg yolks actually set the milk (that makes the bread soft) that is used so that the milk doesn’t seep out.

Now, the double K’s and the double D’s are pretty darn moist already. And that ladies and gentlemen, is the problem with them. Dip those babies into the milk and egg batter and they get soggy, fall apart, and are generally icky. Can’t believe I am saying this.

But the fancy donuts are much drier (which is why I don’t really like them). But they soak up that egg and milk mixture to perfection. And stay together even after you have saturated them giving that perfect custardy inside and crunchy outside.

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The not so beautiful double K’s

The crunch is the reason you should fry donuts in the first place. The texture is unreal. This is because of the Maillard Reaction: a chemical reaction between amino acids and sugar that gives browned food that delicious nutty flavor. However, this reaction actually produces water, so having a high water environment inhibits the reaction that gives that nutty richness to your food. Therefore the moist Double D’s and Double K’s don’t brown up properly whereas the fancy, dry donuts, are actually just right.

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The perfect fancy donuts

Disclaimer: This does not make me a convert to fancy donuts- but I guess when I am frying them I’ll consider it.

 

So, without further ado: The Perfect Fried French Toast Donut

DSC_8472Ingredients:

  • 240ml single cream (1 cup half n half)
  • 5 Egg yolksDSC_8476
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla beanDSC_8480
  • 8 Donuts (better if a day or two old)

Preparing your French toast:

  1. Whisk all of the ingredients well in a deep dish.
  2. Cut the donuts lengthways and then dip both pieces into the batter, allow excess to drip back into dish.DSC_8482
  3. Melt butter in a frying pan on medium, add your donuts. Cook until golden brown on both sides. (This should take about 1-1.5 minutes per side).DSC_8487
  4. *Serve with maple syrup or powdered sugar. Or both!—I was raised on Aunt Jemima’s “comes-in-a-plastic” bottle syrup in in Miss-ur-ah

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mousse featured

Nadia’s Airy Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse

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Photography by Gregor Reid, as seen in the Westender Magazine, Sweet Liberty

Okay, we have all had our stepping on the scale moment; screeching, crying, yelling, and/or pounding the floor experience. Hopefully, over the month of January you have gained a little bit of control (in my case, a very small little bit). But now the cold and dreary days are getting to you and it is time to bring back a little light i.e. dessert. Now, this mousse is actually a good start- not heavy, not crazy calorific, it is just perfection. Whether it is for the January blues, a romantic Valentine’s day, or the most fantastic Mother’s Day brunch, this mousse has got you covered.

Ingredients
225g good quality milk or dark chocolate
2 Tbs nutella
1.5 Tbs butter
1 Tbs bourbon, optional
6 egg whites
½ tsp lemon juice
40g caster sugar
150ml double cream, lightly whipped
6-8 serving tubs, any size, any shape, be creative! (ramekins work too…)

Liberty (1 of 1)-3To prepare:
Serves 6
1. Put chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Melt very very gently.
2. Stir in the butter, nutella, and bourbon one at a time and mix until combined. Set aside to cool a bit
3. Whisk the egg whites until frothy, add the lemon juice. Continue whisking until soft peaks are formed. Slowly add caster sugar as you continue to whisk until stiff peaks.
4. Fold 75mL double cream into chocolate mixture until combined. Fold egg white mixture into this until combined.
5. Spoon into serving tubs i.e. ramekins, wine glasses, or one large glass vase.
6. Refrigerate up to 24 hours (but at least 3 hours) and serve with the double cream or sprinkle with icing sugar. A ferrer roche on the side doesn’t go amiss!

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Red Velvet Pancakes with a Cream Cheese Drizzle – Valentine’s Day

Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together

Elizabeth Taylor

To some of us, February 14th is Valentine’s Day. To others of us (names shall never be mentioned), February 14th is a usual no-calorie Sunday. Therefore, in the spirit of fairness, and Sunday’s, I will be making red velvet pancakes that can easily be shared…or eaten in your silk pajama set, on your couch, alone…

So without further ado,  homemade red velvet pancakes for two if it’s Valentine’s Day, or a perfectly acceptable amount of pancakes for one, if it’s Sunday.

p.s. On Valentine’s Day, or Sunday, I pretend that  that MM’s are upside-down weight watchers pills

DSC_7720Ingredients:

  • 300g flour (2 cups)
  • 2 Tbs cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp soda of bicarbonate
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 170g caster sugar (3/4 cup)
  • 300mL single cream (1 1/4 cup)
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 110g melted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean
  • ½ tsp cider vinegar
  • red food colouring

for the frosting:

  • 115g cream cheese (4 oz)
  • 2 Tbs icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean
  • 60mL sour cream (1/4 cup)
  • 3 Tbs whole milk

DSC_7712To Prepare:

  1. Add the lemon juice to the single cream. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, soda of bicarbonate, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and caster sugar until light yellow. Add the cream mixture, melted butter, vanilla, vinegar and food colour.
  4. Fold the wet mixture into the dry until just combined.
  5. Heat a skillet to medium and grease with vegetable oil. Pour the batter in and let cook for 4 minutes, flip, and let cook for 1 more minute.
  6. While cooking the pancakes, mix together all ingredients for the frosting. Set aside.
  7. When the pancakes are finished, serve with frosting.
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Venison Burgers by A Scot’s Larder

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Graeme Taylor of A Scot’s Larder kindly agreed to write a guest recipe for us. A Scotland native, he regularly brings heritage recipes into a contemporary sphere, fully appreciating the natural harvest and gorgeous meats of Scotland. I bet you haven’t ever had venison burgers at a BBQ, but I can tell you that you’ll be looking forward to it! For more recipes and information check out scotlarder.co.uk

Graeme1Venison burgers by A Scot’s Larder

Spending a lot of my childhood summer holidays camping in the Scottish Highlands I got to know that part of the world pretty well. During these holidays I became acquainted with wild brown trout, picked wild raspberries, made jam, and had my first prawns and crabs that I’d watched land that day. However, it was always the red deer and the name venison that caught my imagination. These majestic creatures which are as wild as the hills yet also roam so close to man as to render a boy awestruck as they cantered off, antlers proudly pointing skyward with a mythical beauty. These are the deer which yield my favourite meat, quickly cooked and very rare, the flavour is rich beyond measure. However they also make the finest burgers and this was the first way that I tried them and it’s my interpretation of them which I give you here. Venison is very low in fat and I don’t add pork fat so if you’re frying, give them plenty oil and if barbecuing then be careful not to overcook and dry them out. These are my flavour of a Scottish summer and are filled with memories.

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Venison burgers (makes 4)

Ingredients:

500g Venison mince (1.1 lbs)

1 onion finely chopped

1 tsp Garlic (grated)

1 tsp Ginger (grated)

¼ tsp Allspice (ground)

¼ tsp Sea salt

Black pepper

Sunflower or vegetable oil for frying

To prepare:

  1. In a good glug of oil, brown the onions really well without burning. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until no longer smelling raw.
  2. Add the onion mix to the mince, allspice, salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Mix together to a homogenous mix.
  3. Split the burger mixture into four balls then flatten into patties. Shallow fry in more of the oil for 6-7 minutes each side or until cooked through.

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Build Your Own Breakfast Sandwich

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For my breakfast sandwiches, I like an open-faced toasted croissant with about an entire slab of butter, a smooth layer of creamy scrambled eggs, precisely one slice of bacon, 1.5 slices of tomatoes, and a thin layer of avocado. The gentleman who shared this breakfast with me prefers a butterless (sacrilegious) full brioche bun, a full heap of scrambled eggs, every single piece of bacon I didn’t take, and not a single sign of health (i.e. bacon greased fried tomatoes or avocado) in sight on his breakfast sandwiches. This is precisely why we build our own. Everyone has their own way of building a sandwich and in order to make the cook’s life easier, as well as everyone happier, this is the perfect method. As for the main ingredient (the scrambled eggs) this is, without a doubt, the best I have ever tried (and probably the greatest hangover cure ever since the hair of the dog, but you can always add in some of that too!)

Ingredients for 4:

  • fresh berries (or some kind of fruit to make you feel better about yourself)
  • croissant, brioche or your type of choice (I usually get about 3 slices of something per person)
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 avocado
  • 12 rashers of bacon
  • 12 eggs
  • 120mL single cream (1/2c half n half)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 40g butter (2 Tbs)

To prepare:

The eggs take the longest to prepare, so always begin with them. Whisk well the eggs, single cream, salt and pepper in a bowl. Over low heat, melt the butter in a large pan. Pour in the egg mixture and whisk regularly for about 10-15 minutes (the longer they take to cook, the better). Scrambled eggs should be creamy and soft, so don’t turn up the heat or they will become like an omelette.

While the eggs are puttering away, fry the bacon. Remove from the pan and immediately add in chopped tomatoes (I pull the pulp out but to each his own!). Fry for about one minute and set aside.

As for the rest, it’s pretty simple; wash the berries, cut up the avocado, and toast the bread.

Serve family style.

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