it's okay to play with your food

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Support Brew on 12/11

For those of you following kitchenplay's coverage of Brew, you know that it's already a great coffee shop with the dream of becoming a coffee and beer-to-go shop. Actually getting the beer component of Brew up and running has been delayed multiple times over various neighborhood issues. However, fans of Brew have a chance to rally for the establishment on Friday, December 11th at the License Transfer Hearing.

Whatever your interest - local businesses, Newbold, good beer - it's an opportunity to demonstrate your support.

Sign up for the hearing at Brew by December 4th.

License Transfer Hearing in Support of Beer at Brew
Friday, December 11th @ 10am
801 Market Street, entrance at Marshall's Store

Update 11/30: Meal Ticket has the scoop here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


After a full day of gluttony, followed by a couple more days of nibbling and picking at leftovers, surely many of you are feeling sated and in need of a food respite. Why speak of luxe desserts and carb-heavy side dishes at a time like this?

To that I say, doughnuts!

Apple cider doughnuts, to be precise. Melanie and I made these a few weeks ago, on a perfectly brisk fall day.

Apple Cider Doughnuts
Adapted from Lauren Dawson at Hearth Restaurant from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 18 doughnuts + 18 doughnut holes (suggested yield for a 3-inch cutter; my larger one yielded fewer)

Most apple cider doughnuts, despite their name, are kind of a bummer because they don’t taste very apple-y. One of the many things that appealed to me about this recipe was the way the apple cider was reduced and concentrated to hopefully give it more presence. And despite the fact that these are cake doughnuts, which have always played second fiddle to yeast doughnuts in my experience (likely because cake are more likely to get stale sooner, or you know, by the time you buy them), I think this is all the more reason to make them at home.

Personally, I don’t think a sweetened doughnut needs any kind of topping, but I went with a cinnamon-sugar coating anyway. Hearth dips theirs in an apple cider glaze, and serves them with applesauce and barely-sweetened whipped cream. We had ours with a dark beer.

1 cup apple cider
3 1/2 cups flour, plus additional for the work surface
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
Vegetable oil or shortening (see my explanation in the post) for frying

Toppings (optional)
Glaze (1 cup confectioners’ sugar + 2 tablespoons apple cider)
Cinnamon sugar (1 cup granulated sugar + 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon)

Make the doughnuts: In a saucepan over medium or medium-low heat, gently reduce the apple cider to about 1/4 cup, 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed (with the paddle attachment, if using a standing mixer) beat the butter and granulated sugar until the mixture is smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat until the eggs are completely incorporated. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the reduced apple cider and the buttermilk, mixing just until combined. Add the flour mixture and continue to mix just until the dough comes together.

Line two baking sheets with parchment or wax paper and sprinkle them generously with flour. Turn the dough onto one of the sheets and sprinkle the top with flour. Flatten the dough with your hands until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Use more flour if the dough is still wet. Transfer the dough to the freezer until it is slightly hardened, about 20 minutes. Pull the dough out of the freezer. Using a 3-inch or 3 1/2-inch doughnut cutter — or a 3 1/2-inch round cutter for the outer shape and a 1-inch round cutter for the hole from a set like this, as I did — cut out doughnut shapes. Place the cut doughnuts and doughnut holes onto the second sheet pan. Refrigerate the doughnuts for 20 to 30 minutes. (You may re-roll the scraps of dough, refrigerate them briefly and cut additional doughnuts from the dough.)

Add enough oil or shortening to a deep-sided pan to measure a depth of about 3 inches. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and heat over medium heat until the oil reaches 350°F*. Have ready a plate lined with several thicknesses of paper towels.

Make your toppings (if using): While the cut doughnut shapes are in the refrigerator, make the glaze by whisking together the confectioners’ sugar and the cider until the mixture is smooth; make the cinnamon sugar by mixing the two together. Set aside.

Fry and top the doughnuts: Carefully add a few doughnuts to the oil, being careful not to crowd the pan, and fry until golden brown, about 60 seconds. Turn the doughnuts over and fry until the other side is golden, 30 to 60 seconds. Drain on paper towels for a minute after the doughnuts are fried. Dip the top of the warm doughnuts into the glaze or cinnamon sugar mixture (if using) and serve immediately.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I've been a part of a friend-based Thanksgiving for the past six years. Friends meet up in Philly from all over the East coast (and on occasion, farther away) and share the responsibilities of the meal. We eat a lot. We drink even more. Last year, we worked off Thanksgiving dinner with a dance party.

This will be my second year hosting. The turkey has been ordered from the Fair Food Farmstand at Reading Terminal Market. I recently purchased a dining room table with plenty of room for guests. I only have five chairs (for a party of 12), but I'll figure something out.

I always make at least one thing that I am 100% confident in (maple nutmeg cream pie) and then something else that I've never made before. Last year it was pigs-in-a-blanket, a simple but effective appetizer. I am still debating my new project for this year. We have mac and cheese, two kinds of stuffing, a yam souffle and cranberry sauce already on the dinner menu. Desserts are covered. Maybe another veggie side dish? I had roasted cauliflower with pine nuts last night at a new restaurant in town... it got me thinking about roasted Brussels sprouts with pine nuts and bacon...

If you are still looking for some inspiration, here are a few recipes that have served me well over the years...

Potato Leak Soup: In my childhood, my chef father always put together Thanksgiving meals that were gourmet to the hilt. Potato leak soup is the dish I associate most with Thanksgiving (yes, even more than turkey, believe it or not). Disclaimer: I have never tried this particular recipe, but of the ones on Epicurious, it was closest to what my dad would make.

Sage and Honey Skillet Cornbread: I made this a few weeks ago for a chicken fry. Golden, moist bread lined on the bottom with fresh sage leaves; it's also very simple to put together.

Pigs in a Blanket: An appetizer for pre-meal noshing is a must. I like these because they aren't too hard to make or too filling and are crowd pleasers (even if some people loathe admitting how much they love them). That said, Mike and I are planning on making homemade hot dogs (Mike) and dough (me), so we are upping the difficulty ante a bit.

Maple Nutmeg Cream Pie: this has been my Thanksgiving staple for the past three years. I was first drawn to it for how unique it is. While there is nothing wrong with apple and pecan pies, I like preparing something a little different for the end of the Thanksgiving meal. Now I love it for how simple and aromatic it is. Making the custard filling, full of fresh nutmeg and pure maple syrup, is almost as delicious as eating it.

Roasted Root Vegetables
: A great and simple side dish, provided you have the oven to spare.

If you make any of the above recipes, send me pictures!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

E's Whoopie Pies at the First Person Festival

The First Person Festival is underway! We've met Ruth Reichl, consumed burgers, and eaten America. We still have one more foodie event on the roster, The Girl from Foreign, with Indian food courtesy of Ekta.

And in more foodie/First Person news, E from Foodaphilia is stocking our concessions stand. And here is the line-up:

Oatmeal Whoopie Pies
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Chocolate Whoopie Pies
Coconut Crunch Cookies- coconut, toffee, almonds, oatmeal
Junk in the Trunk- white and dark chocolate, cookie pieces, pretzels and potato chips

A BIG thanks to E and A Full Plate Cafe for their support of First Person Arts!

The First Person Festival is taking place November 3-8 at the Painted Bride, 2nd and Vine St.

(photo from Foodaphilia)