Fat Stacks

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I dream of pancakes. Literally. I dream of all flavors: buttermilk, blueberry, chocolate chip, Bananas Foster, peanut butter and jelly, bacon-maple. I can totally emulate Bubba Blue from Forrest Gump and name off more combinations, but I’m sure you get the picture. I woke up one morning with the instant craving for oatmeal pancakes. Oatmeal is always in my pantry. And because I love me some strawberries (and they’re perfectly in season right now) I topped ’em with a strawberry compote.

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Oatmeal Pancakes
Recipe slightly adapted from The Flour Sack
Yields 4 pancakes

FOR THE WET INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup old-fashioned strawberries n’ cream oats
1/2 cup water
Pinch of kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted (plus extra for the pan)
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 egg
1/2 cup strawberries, quartered (larger ones cut into 1/8ths)

FOR THE DRY INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup old-fashioned strawberries n’ cream oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

METHOD
Prepare the wet ingredients. Place the oats with water and a pinch of salt in a small bowl and microwave for 60 seconds or until cooked. In the same bowl, add the melted (but slightly cooled) butter, milk, honey and egg. Mix till well incorporated.

Prepare the dry ingredients. In a medium-sized bowl whisk all of the dry ingredients together. Using a rubber spatula, slowly and gently fold in the WET ingredients into the DRY ingredients. I always get asked by friends why their pancakes are always flat. The trick here is not to over-mix the batter. It’s perfectly OK to have flour clumps in the batter, you want a thick consistency. Get it? Got it? Good!

Heat a cast-iron skillet or non-stick pan over medium heat, butter the pan and when hot, use a 1/4 cup to scoop the batter and pour into the pan. Because there is a fair amount of oatmeal clumps in the batter, it may be hard to see the tiny bubbles that form on the sides of the pancake, indicating it’s ready to turn over. In this case, using a spatula gently lift the pancake and check to see if it’s golden brown and “flippable.” If you’re forcing the spatula on the pan to scrape it out, stop. Leave it be for another minute or two. When you start to see the bubbles start to form, sprinkle a small handful of the fresh strawberries onto the pancake. Then when the pancake gets to a golden brown color, flip it onto the side. This should take a total of 5 minutes. Watch your heat, though, to avoid burning the pancake. Continue scooping 1/4 cups of batter into the butter-greased pan till all batter has been cooked off.

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Strawberry Compote
Recipe slightly adapted from Food & Wine
Yields 3 1/2 cups

1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Place all of your ingredients in a medium-size saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and serve warm.

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The Deep Fryer Diaries: Doughnuts

The Deep Fryer Diaries are a collection of my favorite tested and approved recipes, utilizing my most favorite-ist kitchen appliance, my deep fryer.

Doughnuts!

Doughnuts!

Dear Diary,

Let’s talk doughnuts.

My first doughnut food memory was when I was about 5 or 6 years old. When I was off from school and on summer or winter vacation, Mom would take my younger brother, Kevin and me to my grandmother’s house to babysit us while she and Dad went to work. On the drive to Grandma’s (whom I call, Nanang), Mom would often stop by the “Angel Food Donuts” shop on Long Beach Boulevard and we’d order doughnuts in the drive-thru. I always got the old-fashioned glaze while my brother got the ones with the sprinkles, and Mom always got the maple bar. Mom clearly wasn’t concerned with the impact of her children’s unavoidable sugar high while at Nanang’s, as I’m pretty sure she bought them for a reason: to get us kids out of bed. Even at a very young age, I was not a morning person. I was the kid who refused to wake up after naptime in Kindergarten; I always got in trouble with my teachers because of it. Yeah, I was that kid. Which is no surprise as to why I’m still not a morning person.

But the one thing that gets me up and out of bed, is breakfast. Namely coffee (lots and lots of it) and, on occasion, doughnuts.

In culinary school I learned that doughnut-making, like bread-making, is a labor of love. One must allow for the dough to rest, rise, deflate before rolling out, shape, and then rise once more. If you’re as serious about doughnuts as I am, then realize that this will take a lot of preparation and patience. (But I think you’ll agree that it’s well worth the wait.)

This basic yeast-raised doughnut recipe works well accompanying any type of glaze or filling. Because my childhood favorite was the old-fashioned glaze and because I now (at times) like a little booze in my coffee, why not add some whiskey to the glaze? This glaze can be modified to a bourbon, rum glaze as well. And because not all of us can stomach that boozy combination so early in the morning, I’ve also included a chocolate glaze recipe, too.

D’oh!

Yeast-Raised Doughnuts

FOR THE DOUGH
Recipe adapted from The Breakfast Bachelor
Yields: About 2 dozen doughnuts, depending on how thick you roll them out

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
2 packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (and more for kneading)
1 1/2 quarts-2 quarts oil for frying

METHOD
Heat the milk in a sauce pot over medium heat. Once it starts bubbling add the shortening and stir till dissolved. Once dissolved, remove from pan and transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool to lukewarm.

Add the yeast into the *warm* (not hot, not cold) water, stir briefly and allow to sit and wait for bubbles to form. Once your milk is cooled to lukewarm, add the bubbly yeast into the bowl, adding the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg and about 2 cups of the flour. Stir the mixture a few times just to mix, then add in the rest of the flour. Continue to stir with a spatula till it forms a ball and the dough starts to pull from the sides of the bowl.

Place the dough ball onto a well-floured surface. Knead for about 5 minutes, adding bits of flour to keep it from getting sticky. You want the dough to feel somewhat smooth. Form the dough into a ball, add more flour to the surface and cover it with your bowl. Don’t lift the bowl at all. It’s nap time, let it rest for 1 hour.

*While your dough is resting, you can start to make the glazes. (Recipe below.)*

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Don’t throw away those doughnut holes! (They’re the best part.)

After the dough has been resting for an hour, take off the bowl and left the dough. It should be twice its size by now. Take the dough and drop it on the surface to “deflate” it. Next, you can start rolling it out to about 1/2-inch thick. If you have a doughnut cutter, great, if you’re like me and don’t have one, you can use any large round cup. (I used a 1-inch measuring cup for cutting.) Re-roll the scrap pieces to utilize all of the dough if necessary. You should have about 24 doughnuts. (If you want to make some unfilled doughnuts, set aside 12 to cut into rings for the whiskey glazed ones.)

Arrange the doughnuts onto a floured baking sheet and cover with a dishtowel. Allow them to rest for another 30 minutes.

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Fry ’em till they’re a light golden brown color

Heat your oil in your deep-fryer or a deep dutch oven. The oil needs to be 2-3 inches deep. Heat the oil depending on your fryer directions (I used 375 degrees) or to 365 on your dutch oven. Temperature is very important, as you want to make sure the dough cooks to a nice light golden brown. Use a candy thermometer if you have one. You can test the fryer oil, by dropping a bit of dough into the oil. If the dough bubbles and floats to the top right away, it’s ready. If the dough sinks, you need to wait a bit more. You have to kind of babysit the dough when you’re frying because the oil temperature changes, from getting too hot or too cold if you place too many doughnuts in the oil at the same time. Don’t overcrowd the pan! Remember, doughnut-making is a labor of love. It takes patience. So relax. Chill. Drink a cup of coffee.

When the oil is good and ready, carefully place the doughnuts into the pan, one at a time, making sure not to overcrowd them, Fry for about 45 seconds, then flip them over for another 30 seconds or so. Once both sides are nicely golden, remove them carefully into a cooling rack lined with paper towels. Repeat until you’ve fried them all. Once all of your doughnuts are fried, allow them to cool completely. Now you can start making the glazes.

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Glazed and delicious

FOR THE WHISKEY GLAZE
Recipe slightly adapted from The Breakfast Bachelor

INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup whiskey
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

METHOD
Combine the whiskey, milk and extract. Whisk in the sifted powdered sugar till it’s smooth. Adjust quantity of sugar if too thin, or milk to thicken. You want a smooth, good-for-dipping consistency.

FOR THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE
Recipe adapted from the cookbook, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

INGREDIENTS
6 ounces dark chocolate (60% cacao), coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes

METHOD
In a large non-reactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth and dip-able. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly.