Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Donut Muffins

I’ve made variations of the sugar donut muffins that have been popular on food blogs. (Sugar donut muffins are mini muffins that taste like cake donuts.) I realized that while I’ve made several versions of the donut muffins, I haven’t tried the original version that I found: just regular mini donut muffins rolled in some sugar.

I thought about making the original version, but then at the last minute I decided to make a pumpkin version instead. There’s only 15 days left until Thanksgiving and I have a lot more pumpkin, sweet potato, persimmon and other fall recipes to try out.  So I made a pumpkin version, but I dipped them in a cinnamon sugar mixture.

I haven’t had much time for baking since I spent the weekend in San Francisco. I’ll have to catch up these next two weeks. These muffins are quite tasty. The pumpkin puree makes them so moist and I love the bright yellow hue of the donut muffins.

Mini pumpkin donut muffins (adapted from The Craving Chronicles)

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup fat free milk

Topping:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions
1. Preheat oven 350°F. Spray  mini muffin tin with baking spray that contains flour.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and spices .

3. In a large bowl whisk together oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk until smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined!

4. Spoon batter into muffin cups about 2/3 full.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

5. Let donuts cool completely. Then melt 1/4 cup butter in a small glass bowl. In another small bowl, combine 2/3 cup white sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon.  Dip top of donuts in melted butter and then dip in the sugar mixture.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Foodbuzz Festival Gala Dinner

This is my final post on the Second Annual Foodbuzz Festival I attended this weekend in San Francisco.  After this, I’ll be getting back to blogging about the other places I’ve been eating at. You can read my previous posts on the Street Food Fare event and the Taste Pavilion event.

The gala dinner was held at the Ferry Building, a popular attraction in SF, especially for foodies. It is home to the famous Farmer’s market, and houses a plethora of shops and restaurants. I had hoped to explore the Farmer’s market and the shops inside the Ferry Building, but the busy schedule the Foodbuzz Festival committee had planned didn’t leave me much time.

I was able to arrive about an hour before the gala to explore the stores inside the Ferry Building, though most of them were already closed for the night. I did manage to do some shopping at Sur La Table. I will have to come back at another point to try the food at the shops inside the Ferry Building.

The gala started with a cocktail hour outside with passed hors d’oeuvres.  Afterward, we made our way inside to be seated for a four course dinner sponsored by the Cooking Channel.  The dining room was beautifully decorated with sparkling little lights.


The tables were full of wineglasses, four glasses for each setting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many wine glasses on a table before.

Going in to the dinner, I have to admit, my expectations were not high for the quality of food we would be served. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The dinner courses were wonderfully prepared and on par to many of the fine dining places I’ve eaten at.

Our first course was a Roasted Golden Beet tart. The tart was made of polenta and was accompanied by chopped red beets. I’m not a huge fan of polenta, so this was my least favorite course.

The next course was Seared Scallops with Fennel. I love scallops, but usually the scallop dishes I eat are overcooked or too raw. The scallops on my plate were cooked a perfect medium rare. They were some of the best scallops I’ve had.

Our third course was a Rosemary and Garlic Infused Rack of Lamb, served with local wild mushrooms and butternut squash puree.  Each person was served a generous portion of lamb. Mine was still slightly pink in the middle, which is how I like my meat cooked.  The chops were tender, though they lacked a little in the flavor department. I really enjoyed the butternut squash puree. It was a great twist on the classic mashed potatoes side usually served.

Our final course was a butter almond cake with oranges and a sherry sauce. The cake wasn’t too sweet and was pretty light as far as desserts go.

With each course, we were also served a different wine. I liked that we were given different wine glasses for each wine so that we didn’t feel the need to finish the previous course’s wine. The dinner was a long event, but a perfect way to get to really bond with the people at your table.

There was one more event the next day: a farewell brunch.  I chose not to attend the final event. The rainy forecast, exhaustion from the previous days, and the long commute factored into my decision. Had I been staying in SF, I definitely would have attended the final day. All in all, the Foodbuzz Festival was a fun experience full of food, wine, and meeting great people.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Garlic Knots

After my successful attempt with pumpkin garlic knots, I thought I should try making regular garlic knots.  I probably should have started out with regular garlic knots before attempting pumpkin ones, but I tend to do things backwards.

My garlic knots came out a little over baked. I was attempting to bake a few different things at once and got the baking time wrong on these knots. They still tasted good, but the crust was a little hard.

There have been many garlic knot recipes floating on food blogs lately. After reviewing a few, I chose one from My Kitchen Snippets, but made a few modifications.

The garlic knots were easy to make. They do take patience though,  like most yeast recipes.

Garlic knots (slightly adapted from My Kitchen Snippets, who adapted it from King Arthur Flour)

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. dried yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/8 cup fat free milk
1/2 cup warm water (around 75 degrees)

Garlic coating
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tbsp fresh, chopped parsley

Directions
1. For the dough: Pour the warm water (about 75 degrees) into a medium bowl and whisk in the yeast. Let it sit for about 10 minutes.  It should bubble.  Then whisk in  the olive oil, milk and water.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients..

3. Using a large spoon, mix the ingredients together. Then use your hands to knead the dough until it comes together.  The dough should be elastic but it should not stick to your fingers and hand. Add additional bread flour if needed until the dough no longer sticks.

4. Lightly oil another large bowl and put your dough ball inside it and flip over once to coat both sides lightly with oil.  Cover with a damp towel and let rise for about 1 hour; or until nearly doubled in size.
5. Tear off sections of the dough, and roll them into a ball. My dough balls were about the size of a small peach. Then roll out the balls into a long, thin rope, trying to make the rope even in width. Tie the rope into a knot. Take the ends of the knot, and tuck them into the middle. One should go on top and the other will go on the bottom. Set aside and continue with the rest of the dough.

6. Put the finished knots on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set it aside to rise for about 30 minutes.
7. Baked in a pre-heated 400 degree F oven for about 15 minutes or until a light golden brown.

8. While the knots are baking, cook the olive oil, chopped garlic and chopped parsley on the stove until garlic turns a light brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. When the knots are done, toss them in the olive oil mixture to coat. Serve warm.