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2.05.2016

Nashville Hot Chicken




In 2014 I went to Nashville with a group of blogging friends to cover the Pillsbury Bake Off. While there we made it our mission to eat the city in the short time period we were visiting. Of course, on the top of our list was getting some famous Nashville Hot Chicken, from Hattie B's.

I am really not exaggerating when I say it was the best fried chicken I have ever had in my life. Here in New Hampshire, we are not a huge fried chicken people. There are few joints that specialize in it, so if I get the hankering for it, I am left to my own devices.... because I certainly am not hitting up my  local KFC! Norm MacDonald can't even convince me to do so.




Nashville style Hot Chicken, is deep fried with a spiced coating, then it is basted with a hot sauce mixture that is bot sweet and spicy. Traditionally it is served on top of white bread and with a couple dill pickle slices. For sides normally you would serve some traditional southern style grits, mac n' cheese or collard greens.




Nashville Hot Chicken
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

2 quarts frying oil or lard (in true southern fashion, I'd recommend frying in LARD) 

For the chicken:
1.5 lbs of boneless chicken tenders 
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg whisked
1 tbs Louisiana Hot Sauce
1 tbs kosher salt 
1 tbs brown sugar

For the dredge:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp paprika 
1 tsp ground red pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt

For the sauce:
2 tbs Louisiana Hot Sauce
2 tbs brown sugar
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter

4-6 White bread slices
Dill pickle slices


Directions:

In a mixing bowl whisk egg, buttermilk, hot sauce, salt and brown sugar together. Pour into a 1 gallon ziplock bag, and add chicken tenders. 

Place in the refrigerator for 24 hours to marinate. 

Remove from the refrigerator and leave them at room temperature for about 30 minutes before you prepare for frying. 

Preheat fry oil or lard to 330 degrees. 

In a shallow dish, like a pie plate. Whisk the dredge ingredients together.  

Remove chicken tenders from the buttermilk mixture one at a time, and dredge until they are all evenly coated. 

Fry in small batches, until the chicken tenders reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees. 

Drain from oil and place on a paper bag to absorb any extra oil. 

In a small mixing bowl combine melted butter, brown sugar and hot sauce. 

Baste each chicken tender with the sauce, and serve immediately on top of white bread, and with dill pickles. 










1.27.2016

Meyer Lemon Cream Donuts




Good donuts are so hard to come by, I have spent years hunting for a good shop in New Hampshire (hence why I started Ollie Cakes a year ago) Since no one seems to sell a decent one in the area, you should just opt to make them at home instead. The problem with most of the donuts I have seen on the internet, their results are not bakery quality. They are not light and airy, do not properly rise, and sometimes may even be over fried. I have been guilty of this in the past! But I've taught myself to do better!

I am determined to make you all better donut makers too, so from time to time, I will share my favorite recipes, that I have perfected at home while recipe testing for Ollie Cakes, as well as tips and tricks.



My number one pep peeve when I see a donut online or in a bakery, is being able to tell the dough did not rise long enough or if it was too heavy when it was dropped in to the oil.

The trick to being able to know that a donut is going to be airy on the inside, is seeing the white ring around the side. The tops and bottom should be golden brown... but the side should have a dough colored ring. This shows you that the dough was light and airy when it was dropped into the hot oil. If the dough is too heavy (either because they didn't rise enough or because the dough was just too heavy to start with) It will drop lower into the oil and will not float on the top correctly. Think of your dough as little boats. They should bob around the top of the oil while they fry. The doughnut should never be submerged in oil!



Two of the ways I ensure my doughnuts always rise perfectly is by being patient, give the dough time to fully rise. Sometimes it can take 30 minutes, other days it takes hours. The second way I ensure a proper rise, is by using a quality trusty yeast. In my kitchen, I ONLY use Red Star Yeast. Their yeast has never let me down. For doughnuts I prefer to use standard active dry yeast, mostly because I buy it in bulk at my local restaurant supply store, and that's what they have in stock, but you can even use Red Star's quick rise or Platinum for quicker rise results.




These Meyer Lemon Cream Donuts are perfectly fried, light and airy, tossed in sugar and filled to the brim with a tart and creamy lemon filling. The perfect weekend treat, or to indulge on after you have finished shoveling out of the latest blizzard! The bright and sunny lemon filling will make you forget about the cold! Also be sure to check out Red Star Yeast's Instagram Page for more delicious recipes and photos!!



Meyer Lemon Cream Donuts 


Ingredients for the donuts:
½ cup warm water
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tbs kosher salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup whole milk, room temperature
About 4-5 cups  bread flour (or all purpose)
2 qts vegetable oil, for frying


Ingredients for the filling:
1 cup sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice
1 tbs meyer lemon zest
2 large eggs, beaten
½ cup heavy whipping cream
⅛ tsp kosher salt


For the coating:
1 cup granulated sugar


Directions:


In a small bowl combine yeast, warm water and sugar. Mix and then set aside for about 10 minutes or until it starts to foam.


In the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment,  combine salt, eggs and butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the milk, and 1 cup of flour.


Add the yeast mixture to the bowl, mix until combined.


Switch out the paddle attachment for the dough hook. Turn mixer to medium/low and add in more flour ¼ cup at a time.


Continue to add in flour just until the dough is barely sticky. Turn mixer to medium speed and “knead” the dough until it slightly elastic.


Turn the dough out into a large buttered mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set it someplace warm to rise until it has doubled in volume.


Once the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out to be about a ½ inch thick and cut into 3 inch circles (you can use a biscuit cutter, or a drinking glass). Place the dough circles on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Do not reroll scraps, I usually fry them cut into small strips or chunks for extra snacking, they can also be discarded.


Allow to donuts to rise one more time, until they have at least doubled in size, and appear to fluffy and filled with air.


While the donuts rise, preheat cooking oil to 370 degrees in either an electric fryer, or on a stovetop in a heavy bottomed dutch oven.


Fry each donut until it is golden on the bottom, flip and fry until the other side is golden. Be very careful when transferring the donuts to the oil, if they are handled too much, they will collapse. The finished donuts should be golden on each side, with a white ring around the middle, this shows a perfectly risen donut, and will ensure that it is nice and light in the center.


Place fried donuts onto a paper bag or paper towels to drain any extra grease.  Toss donuts in granulated sugar, and place on a cooling wrack to cool to room temperature.


To prepare the filling, create a double boiler by bringing a pot of water to boil and placing a heat proof mixing bowl on top.


Whisk in lemon juice, zest, sugar and eggs. Continue whisking on the double boiler until it starts to thicken slightly. Drop butter into the mixture one tbs at a time.


Once the butter has been added, continue whisking until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.


Remove from heat, and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or until it has cooled completely.


Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl whisk heavy cream and salt together until it forms stiff peaks. Carefully fold in the lemon mixture. Place in the refrigerator for at least another 30 minutes.


Right before serving, cut small holes in the side of each donut, I do this with a paring knife in the shape of an X.  Place filling in a piping bag, fitted with a round tip, a longer tip works best.


Fill each donut, and enjoy!


(Disclaimer: I received monetary compensation for this post and created the recipe on behalf of Red Star Yeast. However all opinions expressed are 100% my own!) 



1.25.2016

Banana Maple Bourbon Bacon Donut Cake


~Layers of dense banana bread cake, topped with an airy, buttery maple bourbon Italian meringue buttercream, vanilla bean maple caramel sauce, mini maple yeast donuts.... AND a giant maple bacon donut. ~



Every year for my kid's birthdays, I let them plan the menu for what we'll be serving at their party. We've done everything from take out pizza, homemade pizza, hot dog bars, sundae bars, taco bars.... and this year for my youngest son's birthday we did fried chicken and  donuts.


I made all of the donuts of course, but we ordered a huge bucket of fried chicken from our favorite chicken take out place (famous in NH).... The Puritan Backroom. Most of our party guests were not local, so this chicken was new to them, and they all agreed afterwards. Best chicken EVER. It's slightly sweet, with the perfect coating, not too thick, not greasy, just perfect. I've always thought their coating tastes like a cake donut.... so it paired perfectly with my donut spread.  



For donuts I served up only yeast donuts ( my specialty), the cinnamon nutmeg were the favorites amongst the crew.... and I also had a Hot Toddy Donut (Jack Daniels, Tennessee Honey, Cinnamon, and Lemon) and vanilla bean frosted donut pops.



For the cake, Chase requested a banana cake, which at first was totally normal for him. I make him banana bread after school atleast twice a week, the kid gobbles it up, and last year he requested a banana biscoff cake. So I wasn't that surprised on his choice... UNTIL, he said he wanted maple syrup frosting and bacon donuts on it. He even went as far as asking that I put a toy squid on the cake too.... but I couldn't find a toy squid to top it with.... so he just got the donut. I don't think he minded one little bit! 




Banana Maple Bourbon Bacon Donut Cake

Recipe Adaptations from Martha Stewart's Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and Joy the Bakers Bourbon Banana Bread  
With buttercream tips from Savory Simple

Ingredients:

For the donuts:
1 package of quick rise yeast ( I use RedStar Platinum)
1/4 cup warm water
3 tbs sugar
2 tbs melted butter
1/2 cup warm milk
1 egg
About 2.5-3.5 cups of bread flour (All purpose will work if you don't have bread flour)
Vegetable oil for frying

Donut Glaze:
1 tbs maple syrup
1 cup powdered sugar + 1/4 cup if needed
1 tbs of milk( only if needed)
Pinch of salt
Water if needed
1 slice cooked bacon for topping (optional)

For the Frosting:
5 Large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup maple bourbon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature


For the caramel:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1/4 cup heavy cream

For the cake:
4 cups cake flour
2.5 tbs baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbs ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 6 bananas)
1/4 cup maple bourbon

Directions:
To prepare your donuts, place yeast, sugar and water together in a small bowl. Set aside until it is foamy, about 5 minutes.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, combine yeast mixture, butter, egg, salt and 1 cup of flour. Mix with your dough hook on medium low speed. Mix in the remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time until it comes together and is just barely sticky and pulls away from the bowl while mixed.

Turn mixer to high and "knead" for about 60 seconds.

Place dough in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until it doubles in size. (this could be anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on which yeast you use, and how warm your home is)

Once it is done rise, place dough on to a lightly floured surface, roll it out until it is about 1/3 of an inch thick. Using a small cookie cutter about 1.5-2 inches in diameter, cut small donuts, removing the center with another small cutter ( used a frosting tip),  cut one donut with a a standard 4 inch donut cutter.

Place cut doughnuts on a greased baking sheet to rise. ( you can save the scarps to fry up as well, we dip them in maple syrup)

Preheat oil to 365-370 degrees.

Once the doughnuts have risen, and appear to be very inflated, almost like if you poked them they would pop.

Carefully drop in to preheated frying oil. If you handle the doughnuts too much they will deflate, and they will not have that airy texture when fried.

Cook each donut until it is golden, flipping over to make sure both sides color evenly.

Strain from oil, place on paper towels or a paper bag to continue to drain.

Allow to cool while you prepare the glaze.

Whisk glaze ingredients together until smooth. Dip tops of cooled mini donuts into the glaze, it should drip down the sides and lightly cover the donuts. With the left over glaze, mix in a tad more powdered sugar to form a thicker frosting that can be spread over the top of your large donut. If the frosting becomes too thick, add in milk to thin it out.

Crumble cooked bacon over the top of your large donut. Set all donuts aside to dry while you prepare the rest of your cake.

For the cake, cream butter sugar and eggs together until light and fluffy. Mix in mashed banana, flour, salt, baking powder and bourbon. Once it is all mixed together, pour into greased 8 inch cake pans. Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes. Or until golden and a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.

Allow cakes to cool on a baking wrack in the refrigerator.

To prepare your frosting, place, sugars, bourbon and salt in a small sauce pan, heat until it comes to a low boil, and all the sugars have dissolved.

Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Whip egg whites on high speed until they form soft peaks. Slowly drizzle in the sugar bourbon syrup while whipping on medium/high speed. Continue whipping until you form stiff shiny peaks.

Cut butter into small pieces and drop in one piece at a time while whipping on medium high speed. Once the all the butter has been added, continue to whip until it is fluffy and smooth. It should be thick and stick to the beaters.

Level cakes so they are flat on the tops and bottoms, spread one layer (about a 1/4-1/2 inch thick) across the top of one of the layers. Place second layer on the top. Frost the entire cake, using all of the frosting.

To prepare caramel, heat sugar, maple syrup, salt and butter on low heat until it reaches the soft ball stage. Remove from heat, mix in the vanilla bean and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Whisk in heavy cream  until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Pour cooled caramel over the center of the cake, using a spoon to guide it to drip down the sides. Place cake in the refrigerator  to cool.

Once caramel has cooled, place small donuts around the edges (you may have extra.... embrace that. Eat them later!)

Place large donut on a wooden dowel or straw and place in the center of your cake.  Keep the cake chilled, remove from fridge 1 hour before cutting and serving.




1.13.2016

Buttery Croissants Made Easy





Have you ever had an encounter with someone who's version of reality is so far from the truth... but nothing you do or say can make them see that? Basically, have you ever dealt with a  compulsive lier?

Remember this story   I told you all? Well, it came to my attention yesterday that the same lady was still spewing things about me. Which I find incredibly entertaining at this point, because I have honestly not given it any thought over the last month... because I have what some might call, "a life".  Anyways, she sent a message to someone close to me, talking about how I publicly called her the C-word on the Internet. (Along with a couple other accusations, that were so far from the truth it was laughable) 

You all know that I can have a potty mouth at times, I may occasionally drop the F-bomb, or the name asshat. But I never, would call someone the C-word, especially in a public forum. I may not be the classiest lady in the world, but I have more class than that. For whatever reason, I have it so deeply ingrained in me that is the mother of all words in the English language....and it is not to be used. 



This entire encounter got me thinking about my language, my upbringing and my kids. The funny thing is, I may swear from time to time. (What can I say, I am a passionate person!) I have set some strict ground rules for myself, and I almost ALWAYS follow my language rules. 

#1 No C-word
#2 No swearing at my kids (because that's so low low low) 
#3 Filter around children, in professional settings, or around people that you know would be uncomfortable by certain words (I have become a pro at filtering over the years, I know when and where I can say certain things) 

Now some of you may assume, that "She has a potty mouth, I bet her kids do to." Actually no they do not, and never have had potty mouths. When they are adults, they can decide what is appropriate for them to say but for now, I am actually incredibly strict with my kids language. Occasionally my 9 year old will have a slip up and say things like, "Dang it" or.... "Jesus". That is the worst of it so far, and when he does slip up, I call him out on it, and he knows those are terms that are completely inappropriate for him to say, and that Mama has zero tolerance for it. 



As for these croissants, these are so flipping easy! (Did you all catch that? I just filtered.) As if yeast baking isn't intimidating enough for most newbie bakers, croissants add in some extra steps that make so many run for the hills after reading some of the recipes out there. I think there are so many bakers and cooks out there that want to pump themselves up, and over complicated things. So when a beginner looks at the 32 steps in a recipe.... they are like HELL NO. And then go buy a tube of store bought crescent rolls instead. 

The truth is, croissants are easy BUT they  do take some extra time. If you can be laid back enough (chill out, put the measuring tape away and start eye balling things) , and use the right quality ingredients, they do not have to be a 48 hour (or more) process. You can make them in one morning, and have some amazing buttery, flaky, airy results.  



Buttery Croissants
Yields 16 medium croissants

Ingredients:

For the dough:
2 tbs quick rising yeast (something like Red Star Platinum is preferred for quicker rise times)
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tbs salt
About 4 cups of high quality bread flour (I only use King Arthur, the amount may very from 3.5-5.5 cups)

Butter block:
1 3/4 cups of cold unsalted butter cut into small slices (1/2 inch thick)

Egg Wash:
2 egg yolks + 1 tbs whole milk whisked together

Directions:

In a small bowl combine yeast and warm water. Stir together and set aside until it is foamy and has "proofed."

In a small sauce pan, add in  1/4 cup butter, granulated sugar, and whole milk. Heat just until the milk is warm and the butter starts to melt.

Place butter and milk mixture in a stand mixer's mixing bowl. Add in 1 cup of your flour and salt. Mix using the dough hook, scraping sides a couple times with a rubber spatula. Once it has mixed, add in  eggs and yeast mixture.

Set mixer to medium low speed, and add in remaining flour one 1/2 cup at a time. Depending on the flour brand and humidity in your home, this amount could vary. Mix in as much flour needed to bring the dough together just until it is barely sticky.

Turn mixer to medium/high speed for 60 seconds. Turn mixer off, sprinkle dough with a bit of flour (no more than a 1/4 cup) Give the dough a few kneads right in the bowl, flouring if needed. Place dough in a large buttered mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place aside to rise for about an hour, OR until the dough has doubled in size.

Meanwhile, prepare your butter block, I use a shortcut in this. I arrange my butter slices in a 1 gallon Ziploc bag, It should work out to be a square. Eye ball it, don't stress. Just made sure they are arranged into a square. Take a rolling pin and gently pound the butter so it all forms together into one piece. Place in the refrigerator until the dough has finished rising.

Once dough has risen, roll out onto a floured surface until it is in a large rectangle. About a 1/2 inch thick. Remove butter block from bag, I cut the sides open and peel the bag off. Place butter block in the center, fold the sides of the dough over the butter block like an envelope sealing the butter in the dough.

Roll dough out so it is just about 1 cm thick. If the butter starts to break through the dough because it is too cold, allow dough to rest for a few minutes, and then roll again. If the butter is too warm and it starts to ooze out of the dough, place in the refrigerator and all to chill for a a bit. Once the dough is about an inch thick, fold it into thirds. I should be a long rectangle now, about 1-1.5 feet long.

Roll dough a second time, but in the opposite direction. (this is called a turn) So that your are rolling out the short side. Fold dough into thirds again, but in the opposite direction you folded the last time. Wrap in plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for a half hour.

Return dough to your floured surface, and continue the same process doing two turns and, and then placing it in the fridge for another 1/2 hour. Repeat this process two more times. You should total 8 turns start to finish.

Once you have done all of your turns,  roll dough out on a floured surface until it is 1/4 of an inch thick.  If it is too hard to roll, allow to rest for a few minutes, and then try again. It does take some arm work.

Once it is rolled out, cut the dough into 8 rectangles,  and then cut each rectangle in half, into 2 triangles.



Take each triangle, and roll it into the croissant shape but starting at the short end, and rolling it up. If you have to pull and stretch dough to get the triangle in the right form, that is ok.



Place rolled croissants onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, brush with egg wash and allow to rise until they are very airy looking like water ballon. They should just about double in size. This could take over an hour. (remember dough likes to rise in warm spots. I crank my heat on bread baking days)

Once they have completed the final rise, bake at 375 for about 12  minutes or until the rolls are golden brown.

Best when eaten warm!












1.11.2016

Maple Cinnamon Hot Toddy




There is nothing better to soothe a sore throat and cough than a little whiskey. Hot toddies are generally made with lemon juice, honey, cinnamon and  whiskey. But here in New Hampshire we use maple syrup. I find they are most soothing to enjoy at night before bed, and I substitute them for cough syrup. 

Today happens to be National Hot Toddy Day, and I happen to have a slight cough, so I figured I should throw this recipe up while the time is right! 






Maple Cinnamon Hot Toddy
(Serves one)

Ingredients:
1/4-1/2 Boiling water (depending on how stiff a drink you like)
1 cinnamon stick
1 oz bourbon whiskey (We always have Knob Creek Single Barrel on hand)
1 oz maple syrup
1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
Lemon slice for garnish
Extra cinnamon sticks for garnish

Directions:

Add one cinnamon stick to water, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.

In a coffee cup, add bourbon syrup, and lemon juice. Top the cup off with boiling water.

Stir.

Garnish with lemon and cinnamon stick.

Sip and enjoy!