Monday, June 16, 2014

blueberry + vanilla sugar doughnuts

Doughnuts are the best. I cannot find much wrong with sugary, fried, dough.  My husband claims to "not like them" but he's a huge liar because he ate five of these in under ten minutes.. One of his first jobs after arriving in America was working the first shift at Dunkin' Donuts. I think he only lasted a week and developed a supposed aversion to doughnuts/donuts.

Making fried doughnuts can be a bit messy and time consuming, but it is worth it. A fresh, homemade doughnut is such a treat. I recommend not thinking about the future messy kitchen (or cellulite) and just going for it.

blueberry + vanilla sugar doughnuts (makes about two dozen)
-2 cups all purpose flour
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 cup sugar
-2 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature)
-1 egg
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 medium, over ripe banana (mashed)
-1/4 cup milk
-1 cup fresh blueberries
-3/4 cup white sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (for the vanilla sugar coating)
-canola or vegetable oil for frying (3-4 cups is plenty)

1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until well combined - about a minute. Add in the egg and mix for another minute. Finally, add in the banana, vanilla extract, and milk and mix until well combined.
3. Next add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure that everything is incorporated. Last, fold in the blueberries. This dough is sticky, so it's helpful to refrigerate it for a few hours before frying.
4. While the dough is in the refrigerator, make the vanilla sugar by mixing a teaspoon of vanilla extract with 3/4 cup white sugar. If you have a vanilla bean, use this instead for a better vanilla flavor. Simply scrape out the inside of the bean and toss with the sugar.
5. After refrigerating the dough for a few hours, flour a work surface. I rolled my dough out on floured parchment paper because I find this helpful for flipping the dough over. Also, the parchment paper helps to cut down on the amount of flour you will have to use.
6. Roll out about a third of the dough at a time and cut with a round cookie or biscuit cutter. If you don't have one of these, use the top of a glass or round lid. The circle I made was about 3" wide. Once you have the circles cut out, cut out the middle with a smaller circle. I used the lid from a bottle of olive oil for the hole of the doughnut.

7. While you are rolling and cutting, have the oil heating over medium-high heat. Use a large pot and allow the oil to heat until small bubbles form along the sides of the pot. You can throw in a small piece of scrap dough to test the heat. The oil will be hot enough when the dough quickly rises to the top. Roll out all the dough (combining the scraps once you have cut the circles) and set the doughnuts aside. If you don't have room to lay out all the cut doughnuts before frying, you can roll, cut, fry, repeat - this is what I did.
8. Before frying the doughnuts, it is helpful to set up each "station." Next to the pot of oil, set a plate lined with paper towels. Next to the plate, put the dish of vanilla sugar (a shallow dish is best for this). Next to that, put a clean plate for the finished product.
9. Begin frying the doughnuts. I cooked three at a time by gently placing them in the hot oil and flipping (with a flat wooden spoon) after about a minute.

10. The doughnuts cook fairly quickly. Each one should take less than two minutes. After removing them from the oil, place on the paper towel lined plate in order to soak up some of the excess oil. While they are still hot, place them on the vanilla sugar plate and coat them with the vanilla sugar. When I finished with all the doughnuts, I fried the doughnut holes. So delicious!

In order to make this recipe go as smoothly as possible, prepare! Once the doughnuts are frying you will need to work fast. 

If blueberries aren't your thing, try substituting strawberries or raspberries or fresh, diced peaches. Yum, peach doughnuts sound pretty amazing - I think that might be my next doughnut project ;).

Thursday, June 12, 2014

chicago - lincoln park zoo

I am heading to Chicago next week for the Renegade Mini Market, so I decided it was high time I got around to posting the photos from my last trip.

Last time I was in Chicago (visiting my sister, bro-in-law, niece, and nephew) we went to the Lincoln Park Zoo. I had never been there before and it was really fun. It's a small-ish zoo, free, and has great views of the city.  Also, in the middle of the zoo, there is this cute little farm. It reminded me of the Fisher Price Little People farm brought to life. 

If you ever find yourself in Chicago, the Lincoln Park Zoo is worth a visit!

Until next week Chicago......

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