Wednesday, December 29, 2010

day 29 - beignets

This morning I felt myself getting into a rut.  Grabbing the same cookbooks, looking on the same web sites, and going for the same old simple treat.  No more!  Out came Joy of Cooking.

I started in the candies and confections section, but unfortunately Jimmy has found the stash of chocolate a few too many times in the past month, so there wasn't much I could make from there.

Onto the cookies and bars... I know, I just said I needed to do something different, I thought Pfeffernussen, once again thwarted, this recipe called for brandy, seriously, brandy?

Flip through quick breads, I have a ton of bananas... nope, too boring.

Then I found doughnuts.  Yummy hot, fresh doughnuts!  Earlier in the year I made doughnuts with a bunch of teenage girls, it was a blast.  In the doughnut section was beignets.  A French deep friend confection from New Orleans.  Now I've never been to New Orleans, and the only time I've had a beignet, was when our neighbors brought back a mix from their trip.  I think I was around 10.  I remembered them with fondness.  As I perused the recipe, it seemed simple, I had everything in the house, and they would certainly kick me out of my rut!

First, get your frying liquid ready.  I hauled out my huge enameled cast iron pot circa 1968.  It is that burnt orange color of the era.  I didn't have enough oil to fry in, so I grabbed my Costco sized tub of Crisco.  Why do I have that much Crisco?  I use it for my pie dough... just wait until Friday!  Anyways, I nearly emptied a full container of Crisco into the pot, clipped on my thermometer, and turned up the heat.  The recipe called for a temp of 365*F.

As the shortening was coming up to temp, I started on the batter.  Into a saucepan went 1 Tablespoon butter, 6 Tablespoons water & 6 Tablespoons flour.  It called for bringing to a boil and stirring for 5 minutes.  There was no way I could get this to boil, and stirring for 5 minutes? Maybe it is because I used a whisk - I didn't want flour lumps after all - and it was all stuck inside.  Needless to say, I did stir long enough to cook out the raw flour taste.  Off the heat I added 4 eggs, one at a time and stirring to combine.  Now I don't know what it is about older recipes, but this one did not make sense.  It said to remove the pan from the heat, and add the eggs... you don't want scrambled eggs. But it never said to return to heat to cook the eggs, and if I didn't cook the dough, it was only a runny mess... certainly not any sort of batter that could be fried.  So after adding all 4 eggs, I returned the pan to a low heat and stirred constantly with my whisk until I felt it was thickened enough.  Lastly add 1 tsp of vanilla.

Once the fryer was ready, I dropped a teaspoon full of batter into the pot.  I was able to fit about 5 beignets into my pot, just be sure to not let the temperature drop too much, otherwise they will absorb more oil.  It didn't take long for them to fry up and turn a golden brown.  Once they are cooked, place on a stack of paper towels to absorb the excess fat and dust with powdered sugar.  Repeat with the remaining batter until all gone.

I quickly piled my warm sugary beignets into a bowl, took a couple pictures, then handed them out.  They are history.  Resting comfortably in the bellies of my family.

Here are a few more pictures... just to make you drool!

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