Breakfasts, Desserts

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Brown Butter Blueberry Doughnuts w/ Bourbon Basil Glaze 

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I don’t know about you guys, but there are some days when I really just need to have a doughnut. Or two. Especially when they’re dunked in a bourbon glaze. You get it. My life changed last year when I got my first doughnut pan. I’d never fried my own doughnuts, so this pan was a great way to dip my toe into the doughnut game. I made these, insisting upon calling them “doughnuts”, as I felt they didn’t deserve the title without sarcasm unless the dessert was deep fried until golden brown. But now I think I’m ready to take that back. Baked doughnuts are people too! They’re less messy, and less filling (so you can have five of these bad boys before hitting a wall, unlike their fried friends which always seem to leave me feeling stuffed three bites in. Not that I call it quits there, just saying.) Not to mention it’s a much easier clean-up, and in my opinion when one has doughnuts to glaze, the last thing one needs is to deal with wiping oil off every surface in the kitchen. This recipe came out very sweet, what with fresh blueberries mixed right into the batter, so I’m really glad I picked a glaze that included basil. You may not think so, but basil works incredibly well with sweets. The herb mellows the sugar in desserts (and cocktails) perfectly, while also adding new flavor profiles to what might otherwise be a mundane sweet!

Doughnuts (makes 10-12; altered slightly from Joy the Baker)

2 c. flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 pinches ground cinnamon

2/3 c. granulated sugar

4 tbsp. butter

2 eggs

1 c. buttermilk

2 tsp. vanilla extract

blueberries (at least 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a doughnut pan with cooking spray or butter and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and sugar.  Place butter in small saucepan over medium low heat. It will crackle as it browns- don’t be afraid, but keep your eye on the pan! As soon as it looks golden brown and smells nutty, remove pan from heat and transfer to a bowl (even the very brown bits).

In a small bowl whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Add the browned butter and combine. Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry. Combine well but try not to overmix the batter!

Spoon batter into the prepared pan.  Smooth out and fill each doughnut three-quarters full with batter. Sprinkle blueberries over the top. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely. Sample one doughnut to make sure they’re not poisonous. While the doughnuts cool, make the glaze!

Glaze (from the Candid Appetite)

1 cup blueberries

1 tbsp fresh basil, torn

3 tbsp bourbon

3 cups powdered sugar

In a food processor blend the berries until smooth, then add the basil and bourbon and blend. Transfer mixture to a bowl and add powdered sugar. Whisk until combined. If it’s too thin, add more sugar; if too thick, add more bourbon or water (1 teaspoon at a time!) Dunk the doughnuts and then decorate with sprinkles or torn basil leaves!

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Outside Eats

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Outside Eats: Chicago

Go get yourself a snack, ’cause this post is long and full of deliciousness. I recently traveled to Chicago to visit some of my favorite relatives, and I kid you not, I think we spent 80% of our time eating and the other 20% talking about where we were going to eat next. In short: a perfect vacation. I just have to talk about a few of the places we hit.

1. Glazed and Infused Doughnuts (there are several locations, but I went to the one in Lincoln Park on my first day and the one in Wicker Park on my last day. Yes, it was that good.)

I literally walked off the plane, checked into the hotel, and went to Glazed and Infused. It was the first place I’d ever been in Chicago, and it was easily my favorite. You walk in and immediately smell doughnuts; you just get happy. There’s nothing else to say, you have to smile. There’s fresh coffee and warm samples and friendly employees wearing bandanas (a sure sign you’re in for a too cute/hip experience) and comfy benches and oh my gosh I did not want to leave. Even though it was 10 am on a Friday, I loved seeing people clearly “working from home” as they sipped from cartons of milk and pulled apart a doughnut while on a conference call. If you have to work, this is the way to do it, guys. Luckily, I was with four other people so I could order six doughnuts (yeah, one didn’t make it to the pictures) without getting weird stares from other customers or having to loudly say that I was taking them to a party and not in fact sampling them all for myself. This happens to me a lot. In places like this I tend to order multiples when I can’t decide on what to get. (I can’t decide the majority of the time, if you couldn’t tell.)

In case you’re curious, I’ll tell you which ones I got. And if you’re ever in Chicago, you have to promise that you’ll bring a bag of them back for me.

Terry’s Toffee: A yeast raised ring doughnut with caramel glaze, toffee bits, and chocolate drizzle. Pure candy deliciousness, even if I’m not the biggest fan of toffee on doughnuts.

Maple Bacon Long John: A yeast raised long john doughnut with a maple syrup glaze and a fat strip of real bacon. Not for the faint of heart. Or stomach. (Neither of these apply to me).

Chocolate Old Fashioned: A chocolate buttermilk cake doughnut rolled in a dark chocolate ganache. Without a doubt the best cake doughnut I’ve ever had. Tied with the crème brûlée for my favorite of the day.

Crème Brûlée: A vanilla pastry cream-filled Bismark doughnut with a torched sugar topping. This doughnut. Oh man. I honestly can’t tell you how good this doughnut was. To request one for my last meal would be an understatement. It was incredible. The end.

Mixed Berry Fruit Fritter: They offer a different special fruit fritter every day, which is super cool, but I’m so glad I was there for berry day. Berries are one of my favorite things to put in dessert. Not because fruit in pastries means they’re healthy and you can have them for breakfast (it doesn’t, but that doesn’t stop me), but I really feel like the natural tartness in berries lends itself perfectly to rich treats. And nothing is more rich than fried dough covered in glaze. MMmmmmMMmmm.

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2. Waffles Chicago in South Loop.

Who doesn’t love waffles?? If you don’t, I don’t think we can be friends any more. Sorry not sorry. I’m so glad this place exists. I think waffles are a really incredible and unique food. Although they’re almost exclusively classified as a dessert-y breakfast food, I almost prefer them paired with savory components, be they literally within the waffle or served on top. The food at this place was delicious, but moreover it gave me so many great inspirations for my own cooking. I thank Waffles for that. Unless you’re splitting one dish with a group, I recommend coming HUNGRY. I don’t think this is a venue that specializes in a lack of butter. Or cream. Or bacon.

In addition to the dense and chewy Liege waffle, which came with blackberry topping and lavender butter (Y U M) and the sampler platter, which involved mini versions of the Mexican Chocolate waffle with orange Anglaise; the Red Velvet waffle with whipped cream cheese, strawberry compote, and candied walnuts; the Brussels waffle with blueberry sauce; and the Green Tea waffle made with Matcha powder, lemon ginger cream, shaved pistachios and candied ginger, all of which can be seen below in the pictures, we also sampled the more traditional savory waffle dish of Fried Chicken on top of a bacon waffle with spicy maple syrup. There were already too many things on my plate, but if I could go back I’ll be getting the parmesan and lemon tilapia over a garlic butter waffle and the mini waffle bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches.

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And now for some of my favorite specific dishes at more restaurants…

3. Brussels sprouts with marcona almonds and manchego cheese at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba (incidentally, I think my grandfather once called me this -babareeba, not cafe-..weird nicknames for Rebecca ftw?) in Lincoln Park. I actually never like brussels sprouts, but this fantastic tapas bar changed my mind. They also served up some ridiculous fried goat cheese balls, chicken and chorizo and veggie skewers, red pepper aioli, handmade empanadas, and some magical white peach sangria. Was I drunk off three sips at lunchtime? Yes. Was it stupidly awesome? YES.

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4. Homemade pop tarts at 2 Sparrows in Lincoln Park. A raspberry jam and basil (yes, basil) filled pastry with a vanilla bean sauce. The basil made this pastry one of my favorites of the whole trip. I’ll definitely be trying out something like this myself. They also make a mean Eggs in Purgatory (shirred egg in spicy tomato sauce served in a mini cast iron skillet). Yes plz.

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5. Baby back ribs, coleslaw, mac & cheese, and cornbread at Smoque in Irving Park. Wow. This was some rockin’ barbeque. It’s incredible what good food does to a simple menu. Tender pulled pork, unbelievable baked beans, tangy coleslaw, and my first ever taste of brisket! This made me happy I was taking a break from pescetarianism. Sometimes it’s worth it to have a little meat-day once and a while! Also, Guy Fieri has eaten here, and he is a majestic creature.

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And just in case you don’t think that’s enough food, there was more incredible coffee and pastries at Buzz Killer Espresso and the Wormhole Coffee in Wicker Park (yeah, if you didn’t notice, Wicker Park is essentially Chicago’s Brooklyn. I was wondering where all the cute hipsters were hiding in this town, and they were literally all in Wicker Park. I felt underdressed the moment I stepped on the trendy graffiti-tagged sidewalk.) Also, the best Chai latte of my life at Dollop Coffeeshop in Lakeview. It’s gotta be really good for me to not order coffee somewhere, and this is one of those places. Last but not least, ice cream and ferris wheels at Navy Pier. Chicago, I think it’s safe to say I’m pretty into you.

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Outside Eats

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Outside Eats: Sunday Doughnuts at Montclair Bread Company

In addition to DIY’s, I thought I’d add another section to the blog: delicious looking food I find when I’m out and about. There’s honestly so much wonderful food out there, but this summer’s mission really has been all about the doughnuts. My lovely friend Emily and I have been scouring the area for who makes the best ones (check the insta pics from Doughnut Plant by clicking here and here or make your own from my brunch post) and our latest endeavor has been at the Montclair Bread Co., a great little shop that’s been a staple in town for years. They make real bread out of fresh, natural ingredients. I dare you to walk past without walking in. Seriously. I’ll give you five bucks if you can do it. Relatively recently a new group of bakers have taken over the shop and with them came a tradition that makes me grin: Sunday doughnuts. Not unlike the Cronut that’s been attacking the NYC area of late, there’s only a finite amount of doughnuts made every Sunday (ONLY Sunday), but you’ll be glad to know you don’t have to get in line at 4 am to get a taste; you can stroll in at 8 am and get your pick of the litter. It’s worth it. As I was leaving they were bringing out yet another flavor, so you know I’ll be going back next weekend.

These were unlike any doughnuts I’ve had before. Unlike the farmer’s market fresh doughnuts I’m used to, these were light and fluffy and not too sweet. They tasted like you could eat six full ones and go back for more. Or maybe after a trip to the gym. My winner for taste was the Boston Cream one because pastry cream is one of my favorite foods, but I usually find it overwhelming in a doughnut. Not the case here. It was just the right amount of richness paired with the very lightly sweetened dough and mild chocolate ganache. MMmmMMMmMmmMMMm. I recommend you go right this minute, next Sunday at the very latest. I’ll see you there!

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Breakfasts, Desserts, Snacks

thirty four

Baked Cinnamon Sugar “Doughnuts”

Ooooh, quotes in a recipe title! Are they sarcastic/ironic doughnuts? Sort of. Maybe? IDK GUYS, I JUST WENT FOR IT, ALRIGHT? (??!?!)*

But in all seriousness, these are kind of fake doughnuts because I baked them (as opposed to the deep fried magic of a real one) and used a “cake” doughnut recipe instead of the more typical “yeast” doughnut. Confused? Think: those apple cider doughnuts you always got when you went apple/pumpkin picking in elementary school = cake doughnutus; the pink-frosted-half-sprinkled ones from Dunkin’ Donuts that you were never allowed to get except on road trips/special occasions/when you snuck in after school without your mother (oh wait, that was just growing up in my house) = yeast. Got it? Good. Also, if you’re making these make sure you have a doughnut pan like this one. Bam. Link’d.

*Clearly working in a cafe is making me jumpier even while typing. Is it the sense of power that comes from directly handling people’s food? (maybe) Is it the extra six cups of coffee a day? (more likely)

Doughnuts (adapted from health.com; makes 12-15)

– 2 cups flour

– 1 1/2 cups sugar

– 2 tsp. baking powder

– 1/2 tsp cinnamon

– 1/4 tsp ground cloves

– 1/2 tsp kosher salt

– 2 lightly beaten eggs

– 1/2 cup buttermilk (or you know my drill with the dry buttermilk because SERIOUSLY WHO HAS BUTTERMILK JUST LYING AROUND CALL ME I WANT TO MEET YOU)

– 2 tbsp melted butter

– 2 tsp vanilla extract

For the topping (make the whole thing if you’re planning to coat both sides of your doughnut, cut it in half if you just want to make the tops fancy)

– 1 stick (8 tbsp) melted butter

– 1 cup sugar

– 2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and coat the doughnut pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl sift your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and salt). In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs, butter, buttermilk, and vanilla together and pour into the dry ingredient bowl. Stir until combined. Fill the pan about 3/4 of the way full and bake 15-17 minutes until they’re puffy and delicious looking. Let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then dump them out onto a cooling rack and make the topping. Topping: combine the cinnamon and sugar. Melt the butter and using a pastry brush, brush the doughnuts with butter and then dunk them in the cinnamon sugar. Devour immediately.

Now you get to see some pictures of the doughnuts (and more!!!!!!!!) in their starring role as the centerpiece of a birthday brunch I threw for my friend! I know you’re excited! There’s some black and white in there! #art

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