Pumpkin Churro Recipe

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Growing up I remember my parent’s having big fish fry’s on the weekend.  I was a huge fan of these parties because I knew at the end of the fry fest would come dessert, and fry fest dessert meant churros! Oh yes!!! Right before dinner wrapped up, my dad would pull out his churro contraption (extruder) and my mom would disappear into the kitchen to make the dough. One thing that stood out was my mom adding banana to the dough. The banana worked as a thickener for the dough, and made for crispy churros on the outside and fluffy churros on the inside. I tried the same concept with pumpkin puree, and the result was an amazing pumpkin spiced churro! The familiar tastes of my childhood mixed with flavors of fall. I’m in heaven. :)

2C flour

1-1/2t ground cinnamon

1t ground pumpkin spice 

1/8t salt

3/4C, pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie puree)

1 stick and 2T unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/2t vanilla extract

4 large eggs, at room temperature

Vegetable or canola oil, for frying

3/4C pure cane granulated sugar + 1T of ground cinnamon, for rolling

Special equipment: Pastry bag with large star tip

Whisk together the flour, 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon, pumpkin spice and salt in a large bowl. Bring 1-1/2 cups water, the pumpkin puree, butter and vanilla to a boil in a medium saucepan. Be sure to whisk constantly, because the mixture will burn, and you’ll have to start over.

Pour the pumpkin mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Warning, the mixture will be HOT as please use caution when mixing. When the pumpkin and flour are combined, you will notice that the mixture will be thick. At this point I know you’ll be tempted to “sample” the batter. I mean the batter is mixed, no eggs are in the batter… Yet. Seems like a perfect time… Well, don’t! It’s missing sugar so It won’t be so good. Believe me, I do it every time, and I don’t learn. 

Next…

Add in your eggs, one at a time, until well combined. The dough will look separated as you add the eggs, NOT TO WORRY, continue to mix and the dough will come together. The dough will be thick and smooth. Once your dough is smooth, place the dough into a pastry bag with a large star decorators tip. I use Wilton Open Star Tip No: 1M. 

Heat 2 inches of canola oil in a deep pot (I used my dutch oven, It works great for frying) until it reaches 350 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

Pipe the dough directly into the pan in 3-inch pieces, cutting off the pieces with your fingers. It will try to avoid the fryer, so give your finger a little wiggle and they will plop right into the oil. 

Fry until golden and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes.

Stir together the sugar and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon in a medium shallow bowl. Transfer the churros to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet or plate to drain the oil and immediately toss in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Baked Chocolate Donuts

Because every Ying, needs it’s Yang, here’s a recipe for some chocolate donuts. Yes, another baked donut recipe, but this time it’s a chocolate dream. Why? Because the hint of cinnamon in the donut reminds me of a Mexican hot chocolate. Mmm. Suddenly I miss my neighborhood coffee shop and their Mexican Mocha. Sadness. :(

But the bright side is I have these donuts to bring a smile to my face. 

Donut Recipe:

1C all purpose flour

1/2C sugar

1t of baking powder

1/8t of ground nutmeg

1/8t of cinnamon

1/2t of salt

1/2C of buttermilk

1 egg, lightly beaten

1T of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Spray donut pan with cooking spray, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt.

Add the buttermilk, eggs, and butter. Beat until combined. Do not over beat or donuts will be rubbery. 

Fill each donut cup until 2/3 full. Bake for 10 minutes until the top of the donuts spring back when touched, or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked. 

Let cool in a pan for 4 minutes, then proceed to glaze chocolate glaze. 

Chocolate Glaze:

1/2C of semi-sweet chocolate chips

2T butter

2T of corn syrup

1-2t of hot water

In a medium bowl, microwave chocolate chips, butter and corn syrup 10 seconds at a time. Stir after each 10 seconds, once the chocolate is melted, thick, and smooth proceed to glaze your donuts by dunking them into the chocolate glaze, and allowing them to set on a wire rack.

Vanilla Sprinkle Donuts

I’ve finally had it with the donut chain down the street from my house. Although everyone loves their coffee, their donuts are always soggy and greasy. Traditional cake donuts from your local donut shop are fried, but since I’ve been grossed out over the amount of oil that had been soaked up into my donut, I decided to bake some instead. Better tasting, and no worries about grease pockets. Hooray!

The best thing about these donuts is that the vanilla really comes through when you don’t fry your batter, and the sprinkles look so cute baked into the donut that it don’t even miss my local donut shop back in California. 

For the Donuts: 

1t baking powder
1/3C superfine sugar
1/2t freshly grated nutmeg
1/2t salt
2T unsalted butter
1/4C whole milk, scalded
1/4C plain yogurt
1t vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
1/4C of sprinkles (do not use the nonpareil sprinkles they will bleed into your donut batter)
Special Equipment: Donut pan

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a doughnut pan.
Sift the flour and baking powder together into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk in the sugar, nutmeg, and salt. 
Add the butter and use your fingers to rub it into the dry ingredients. Add the milk, yogurt, vanilla, and egg and stir until just combined. Do not overmix or your doughnuts may be rubbery.
Using a spoon to fill each doughnut cup about three-quarters full, making sure the center post is not covered in batter. Bake until doughnuts are a light golden brown and spring back when touched, 6 to 10 minutes. Let cool slightly before removing from pan. 

Vanilla Glaze:

1/4C milk
2C powdered sugar
1t vanilla
extra sprinkles to sprinkle on top, optional

Combine all the ingredients together in saucepan, over low heat. Whisky until the glaze is smooth, and remove from the heat. Proceed to dunk the donuts in the warm glaze and set on a wire cooling rack. Once all the donuts have been coated, dunk the donuts again for a second coat of glaze, and toss a few sprinkles on top.

Enmoladas

You’re probably looking at the picture above thinking, “Hey those are enchiladas”. Oh, no my friends, these are enmoladas. What makes them different from an enchilada is that these tortillas are rolled in mole sauce, and Mole is amazing! Especially the mole in yesterday’s blog post (Mole Rojo). They are smokey, spicy, and sweet all rolled up with some shredded chicken, topped with cotija cheese, onions, and a bit of cilantro (my mouth is watering just writing about them). 

2-1/2C cooked chicken, shredded (if you’re feeling lazy, go grab one of those Costco chickens) :)
3C of warm mole sauce, in a shallow dish. I use an 8 x 8 glass baking pan.  (Great way to use the left over mole from last night’s dinner) 
12 corn tortillas, warmed
3T vegetable oil
1-1/2C of cotija cheese, crumbled
1/2 medium size white onion, diced.
3T of cilantro, for garnish

Heat the vegetable oil in a sauté pan on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, start frying the tortillas. This is done by quickly dipping the tortilla in the oil so it is coated, then flipping over so the other side is coated as well.  Place the tortillas over a paper towel covered plate to absorb any excess oil.

After frying all the tortillas, dip them one by one into the warm mole sauce. Flip the tortilla over so the other side is covered in mole as well. Remove the mole covered tortilla from the mole pan and place on a plate. Add the shredded chicken to the center of the tortilla and roll the tortilla to look like a taquito. This will be very messy, so keep a stack of napkins or a dish towel handy. Continue to coat, stuff, and roll the remaining tortillas. Once ready to serve, crumble the cheese and onions over the emoladas. Garnish with cilantro and enjoy. 

Mole Rojo

Mexican Independence day is coming up on the 16th (And no, Mexican Independence Day is not May 5th.) So let’s celebrate with some authentic Mexican cooking.  

I love mole, It’s a bit of work to make it, but once you make it any left overs can be put to good use in Enmoladas (Mole Enchiladas) or tamales. I’ll cover these two left over options in my next posts, since I’ll be celebrating Mexican Independence day with a week of Mexican food posts! YAY!!

First thing’s first… This dish may seem complicated, but I’ll break it down into to three parts so it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. It’s going to take some work, but believe me it’s worth it.

And P.s. The mole get’s better on the second day. :)

First We’ll make the chicken broth-

2 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed

1/4 of a white onion, cut in half

6 chicken thighs, skin removed

1T of salt

1 bay leaf

6C of water

Add 6 cups of water to large pot and bring water to a boil. Place all 6 pieces of chicken in the pot along with the garlic, onion, salt, and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil again. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and allow chicken to cook for about an hour. Remove chicken and garlic cloves and set aside. Maintain a low heat under the broth since we will be using it for the mole sauce. 

Next we’ll work on the veggie part of the mole. You’ll need:

1/2 a pound of roma tomatoes, cut in half

1/4 of a large white onion, cut in half

canola oil

Drizzle the tomatoes and onion with oil. Broil the tomatoes and onion in the broiler until the tomatoes skin starts to blister, and the tomatoes are soft to the touch. Remove from the oven. Once cooled, peel the skin off the tomatoes. 

For the mole base:

4T canola oil, separated in half

2 oz of dry guajillo chilies

2 oz of dry chile negro

2 oz of dry chile nuevo mexico

1 stale tortilla, broken into pieces

1 slice of toasted white bread, broken into pieces

1/4C of peanuts, shelled 

1/4C of sesame seeds

1/8C of whole raw almonds

1/8C of raisins

1/4t of Mexican oregano

1/8t of cumin

1/8t of thyme

2 coriander seeds

1 black peppercorn

1/4” cinnamon stick

2 large tomatillos, cut in half

1T of salt

1/2 a disk of Abuelita chocolate

In a heavy sauté pan, working in batches, quick fry the chiles in the 2T of oil. Try not burn them, or they’ll become bitter. Add the fried chiles into the pot of chicken broth and simmer for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, add 2 tablespoons oil to the sauté pan and fry the roasted onions and garlic from the broth. Add the stale tortilla, slice of bread, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the peanuts, sesame seeds, almonds, raisins, oregano, cumin, thyme, coriander seeds, whole black peppercorns and cinnamon stick. Saute for 4 minutes and remove from the heat. Cool slightly. Remove the cinnamon stick and discard.

Working in two batches, transfer half of the cooled nut and seed mixture into a blender. Then transfer half of the simmered chiles, 2C of the broth, into the blender. Add half of the roasted tomatoes and fresh tomatillos. Process until smooth. A paste will form. If the mixture is too dry, add 1 cup of reserved chicken broth at a time. Strain the mixture into a large pot. Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients, processing until smooth and then strain.

Heat the pot with the mole over medium-high heat. Season with the salt, some pepper. Add another 1 1/2 cups of the reserved chicken broth and stir to combine.

Add the Mexican chocolate and stir to melt. Simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.

Return the chicken to the pot with the mole and cook until the chicken is warmed through, an additional 5 minutes.

When serving sprinkle with some sesame seeds and a drizzle the Mexican crema. Serve with white rice. 

Ultimate Cherry Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Forget the traditional cinnamon roll, if you like fruit in your pastries like I do, this is the ultimate roll for you. The roll is a traditional sweet roll dough made with vanilla pudding (yes, you read that right, pudding). The pudding makes the dough soft and fluffy along with adding a subtle sweetness and hint of vanilla to the bread. I’ve made LOTS of sweet dough and this one is by far my favorite. I’ll be making all my rolls with this sweet dough recipe and then just changing up the filling. The possibilities are endless! Today cherry rolls…. tomorrow raspberries, and maybe even a savory roll filled with pancetta. Can you tell i’m excited about the dough? What every you decide to make with the dough you won’t be disappointed. I must warn you, the dough recipe takes patience due to the the required proof time.  Don’t cut corners and allow the yeast to work it’s magic… you won’t be disappointed. (promise)

Ultimate Cherry Rolls-

Recipe makes 12 rolls

1/4C warm water

2 1/4t of dry yeast or one yeast packet

1T sugar

1/2 a package of vanilla pudding

1C of cold milk

1/2C butter, melted

1 egg, beaten

1/2t of salt

4C all purpose flour

1- 21oz can of cherry pie filling (or whatever filling you like)

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine water, yeast and sugar. Stir, and set aside.


In a separate large bowl, mix pudding and milk with a whisk. Add in the melted butter, the beaten egg and the salt. Once combined, transfer the pudding mixture to the bowl of the stand mixer, and combine into the yeast.  Gradually add in the flour, 1 cup at a time, and knead until smooth with the dough hook attachment. This will take about 8- 10 minutes. Remember… Don’t cut corners.  
Once the dough is soft and smooth, transfer the dough to a well-greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to double in size in a warm place. This will take about an hour. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and let rise again. Yes, that means another hour of waiting. (sigh)


When the second proof is complete, roll dough out on a very large floured surface. Dough will roll out to a long rectangle. Spread the cherry pie filling over the dough. Once completely covered with pie filling, starting on the long end, roll up the dough like a jelly roll.

Grease your baking pan with butter or cooking spray. 


Using a serrated knife, measure dough every 2 inches and slice. Take each roll into the palm of your hand and gently pack the roll to keep it from coming apart during baking. (This part will get extremely messy).

When the last roll has been transferred to your baking pan, cover and allow the rolls to rise one last time, for 20 minutes.

I know… I know.. so much waiting around. Don’t worry, I promise It will be worth it. But hey, you can use this time to preheat your oven to 350° and make the cream cheese frosting. (Recipe below)

When the last 20 minutes of the final rise are complete, bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and frost with cream cheese frosting while still warm. Then proceed to eat one, or two… or three. I know I did. ;)

Cream Cheese Frosting-

4oz of cream cheese, softened

1/4c of butter, softened

1/2t almond extract

1-1/2C powdered sugar

1T of milk

In a clean bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk cream cheese, butter, and almond extract until creamy. Slowly add in powdered sugar. Mix well. After all of the powdered sugar has been mixed in, add the milk. Blend on medium speed until smooth. 

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Poppy Seed Bulochki

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I don’t like arriving empty handed to a friends house when invited. Playdates are no exception. Before heading over to my friends home a few days ago, I woke up early to bake us some Russian bulochki. A fermented sweet dough pastry stuffed with poppy seeds. We know them better as cinnamon rolls when we fill them with a cinnamon and sugar paste. These rolls however are filled with vanilla-milk poached poppy seeds. The flavor of the pastry is very delicate and the poppy seeds add nice texture.
Important Note: If you do end up making these, DO NOT consume if you have any drug tests for a new job scheduled. Poppy seeds have been know to produce false positives for morphine or codeine use.   
Recipe:


Dough: 
1 1/4C milk
1/3C sugar
1/2 stick butter, room temperature
2t yeast
1 egg
1t salt
3 1/2 - 4C flour


Egg Wash: 
1 egg yolk 
1T water


Poppy Seed Filling:
1C poppy seeds
2C milk
1C sugar
1t vanilla extract
1 1/4C milk
1/3C sugar
1/2 stick butter, room temperature
2t yeast
1 egg
1t salt
3 1/2 - 4C flour

Egg Wash: 
1 egg yolk 
1T water

Heat milk in microwave for 20 seconds (until lukewarm) and add yeast. Mix. Allow yeast to get foamy, about 15 minutes. This lets you know you have good yeast and you’ll get some fluffy bread. 

Meanwhile, in a bowl of an electric mixer combine egg, salt and sugar. Sift the flour in and add milk/yeast mixture. 
With a hook attachment, combine flour and the milk mixture. Once combined,  increase the speed and continue kneading the dough until the dough looks smooth, about 15 minutes.
Add the room temperature butter and kneed the dough until butter is fully incorporated into the dough. This should take about 5 minutes
Remove dough from mixer and shape into a ball. 
Place into a well greased bowl and flip the dough to make sure both sides are covered with oil. Cover the bowl with clean kitchen towel and let the dough double in size (about an hour). In the mean time, prepare the filling-
Poppy Seed Filling 
Place the seeds in a medium sized sauce pan and add the milk. Boil the milk, but keep a close eye on it, so it does not boil over and create a mess. Once you have a rolling boil, lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for about 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes of simmering, remove the pan from the heat and cover for additional 30 minutes. 
Drain the poppy seeds through a fine sieve.
Place the drained poppy seeds in your Vitamix (or grinder) and break down the seeds to a paste. Remove the paste from the grinder/blender and set in another clean bowl. Add the sugar, and vanilla extract, mix until well combined.

At this point your dough should have doubled in size and will be ready to shape. 

Punch down the dough. Shape a round ball, and then roll out the dough to about 30 inches long and 15 inches wide. Spread the poppy seed filling along the length of the dough, leaving about 2 inches at the other end.
Roll dough like you would cinnamon rolls, pinch the end to seal the dough log. 
Cut the log every 2.5” creating rolls.
Then cut in middle of each piece, leaving the two pieces attached by about 1/4” of dough. Take the two ends, separate them and lay them inside part out facing up, side by side.
Transfer to a baking sheet, that has been lined with parchment paper. Continue the process with the remainder of the dough, place the pieces 3” apart from each other since they will expand. 
Cover the rolls with a clean kitchen and allow the pastries to double in size, about 40 minutes.
Turn the oven on to 350F.

Whisk the egg with the 1T of water, brush pastries with egg wash mixture right before placing in oven. Bake for about 18 minutes, until golden brown.
Transfer to a cooling rack.
Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

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Dal

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Indian week continues with an meal time staple, Dal. Dal is a fragrant and flavorful stew made with yellow lentils. Dal is really a treat for the senses, it has all the traditional indian flavors from the cumin and mustard seeds, but the hint of spiciness from the Serrano chiles adds another layer of flavor to this dish. The lentils can be served over rice, or eaten alone with some roti, or naan bread. Either way, you won’t be disappointed with this dish, although it’s simple, it has become one of my favorites. 

1C Yellow Lentils or Toor Dal

1/4t ground turmeric

3T chopped cilantro

1/4t cayenne powder

7 cloves of garlic, minced

2 roma tomatoes, peeled and minced

2 serrano chilies, thinly sliced

1 1” piece of ginger, peeled and grated

Salt to taste

3T oil, for frying the raw spices

1/2t cumin seeds

1/4t mustard seeds

3 chiles de arbol

Wash the lentils, and soak for 30 minutes. Drain.

Bring lentils to a boil in 8C of water. Reduce heat to medium and stir in turmeric. Cook until the lentils are mushy, about 45 minutes. 

Stir in the cilantro, chile powder, garlic, tomatoes, serrano chiles, ginger, and salt. Bring to a second boil. 

Reduce heat to medium, cook until slightly thickened, about 15 min.

Heat the 3T of oil in a skillet over over high heat. Cook cumin and mustard seeds until they pop, then add the chile de arbor cook until fragrant about 6 min. Stir into stew and remove lentil stew from heat. Serve with rice and enjoy. 

Seviya Kheer

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Forget Gulab Jamun, finish up your indian meals with this delicious Indian “rice” pudding made with vermicelli noodles. I must admit, at first I couldn’t get past using vermicelli in a sweet dish since I have always been used to savory dishes. This dish is typically used for special occasions, the last time I saw it made was by my husbands grandmother for my daughters Annaprashan (first feeding) ceremony.  I don’t know why it’s not used as an everyday dessert. The green cardamon brightens up the dish from a traditional bland rice pudding, and the pistachios and almonds add a bit of bite and texture. You don’t have to add them if you have a nut allergy or don’t like nuts in your desserts, it’s just as good without them.

Special Note: You can make this dish ahead and serve cold or hot. I prefer a chilled kheer, but that may be because I live in AZ and It’s 100+ degrees outside right now. ;)

2T clarified butter

1C vermicelli pasta cut into 1” pieces

5C whole milk

1/4C + 1T  white sugar

1/4C pistachios, shelled and minced

3T almonds, sliced

1/2t ground green cardamom

Melt the clarified butter in a sauce pan over medium high heat. Fry pasta until it turns a reddish brown. 

Add the milk and sugar; stir the ingredients and bring to a boil. 

Reduce the heat to medium cook until thickened, stirring occasionally to avoid burning, about 15 min. Stir in the pistachios, almonds, and cardamom. Cook for additional 3 minutes. Traditionally served warm but it’s mighty tasty cold as well. 

Beef and Bean Chili with Cumin Crema

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Football is BACK!

YAY!

Next Thursday is the official start of the 2014 season with the Seahawks battling it out against the Green Bay Packers. I really don’t care for either team, (Go Niners) but that doesn’t matter because football is back.  But… this isn’t a football blog, it is a food blog, So i’ll get right to it.

Every year for the NFL kick-off game I make my NFL kick-off chili. It’s a hearty chili with two kinds of beans, a bit of heat from some diced jalapeños, and some smokiness from the chili powder blend. I love serving up a bowl with some fresh avocado and a dollop of freshly made cumin crema. The best part is the chili can be made ahead and stored in the fridge. Simply warm it up again when ready to serve. The best part of that is the flavors develop even more in the second day. Oh, and if you have too much chili left over, make some chili fries, chili burgers, or chili dogs the next day, it’s the dinner that keeps on giving. :)

  
2T olive oil
1lb of ground beef
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium red onion, finely diced
1/2 of a large bell pepper, diced
1/2 of a seeded jalapeño, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2T ancho chili powder
1T pasilla chili powder
1/2T ground cumin
1/2T ground corriander
2 cans of low sodium chicken stock
1 (16-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1T brown sugar
1 can of kidney beans
1 can of pinto beans

Cumin Crema:
1t of oil
1/2T cumin seeds
1/4C of sour cream
1/4C of plain yogurt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Granish: 
avocado, diced
green onion, sliced
cheddar cheese, grated

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper, and sauté until browned. Transfer the meat to a plate and remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan.

Add the onions, bell peppers, and jalapeño to the pan and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the ancho powder, pasilla powder, cumin, and corriander and cook an additional 2 minutes. 
Return the beef to the pot, add the chicken stock, tomatoes, sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan, and simmer for an hour. Add the beans and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and adjust any seasoning required. 

Serve with a dollop of Toasted Cumin Crema and avocado, green onions and cheese.

Toasted Cumin Crema:
Heat oil on high heat in a small sauté pan. 
Fry seeds until fragrant and black. 
Place seeds and frying oil in a small bowl. Stir in the sour cream and yogurt. Season with salt and pepper.

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