Archive | September, 2012

Toddler’s First Taste: Doughnuts (Sfinge)

13 Sep

As mentioned previously on For Antonina, my niece Gia has an exceptional appetite.  And she generally eats very healthfully– lots of fruits and vegetables, and she especially loves cheese and milk.  Lately, as a toddler, her tastes have shifted over to the sweeter side, and while she doesn’t get a lot of opportunities to eat junk food, her parents give her the occasional sugary snack.  She’d never tasted a doughnut until a few weeks ago.  In fact, when asked to identify them, she simply said, “Cake?”  The excitement only built from there.

After Gia’s newborn baby sister Claire was put to bed (for her customary post-feeding nap), my brother and I decided to break in his never-been-used “Dough-Nu-Matic” doughnut maker… his awesome birthday gift from yours truly.  While the limitations of the machine required us to slightly alter the recipe and doughnut shape from the one in T’s book, they’re essentially based on the same ingredients.  And after using the monstrous machine, I realize that simply pan frying (as instructed below) is probably a LOT easier.

SFINGE (makes two dozen)
2C all-purpose flour
1/4t salt
3t baking powder
1/4t nutmeg
2 eggs
1/3C sugar
1/2C milk
Vegetable oil for frying

Combine flour, salt, baking powder and nutmeg.  Beat eggs with sugar; stir in milk.  Add to the flour mixture and beat until smooth.  Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.

Heat oil in heavy pan.  Using a scant tablespoon of dough, deep fry until golden.  Drain on absorbent paper and add toppings.

We put together a bunch of different toppings: a glaze made of equal parts milk and powdered sugar (with a splash of vanilla extract), melted chocolate chips, plain powdered sugar and a mix of granulated sugar and cinnamon.  We even added sprinkles!

These doughnuts are best right out of the hopper– they do NOT hold up the morning after (who does… ha!), so have a hungry crowd ready to chow down.  We ate these as an evening dessert and my brother paired them with a Rogue ale, based on a famous Portland, OR doughnut (the bacon maple at Voodoo).  Deelish.

Jammies on, Gia is disturbed that it’s bedtime and doughnut time is over.

As for Gia, her reaction to the sweet treats was nothing short of psychotic.  A normally sweet girl, she repeatedly screamed, “DOUGHNUTS!  DOOOOOOOUUUUUGHNUUUUTTSSSSS!” even when explicitly told it was time to go to sleep.  She continued to request them for the next three days straight.  Trust me, Baby G, you’ll have plenty of time to stuff your face when you’re older.  Mangia!

Pasta Party: Fresh Tomato Sauce with Beef and Lamb

7 Sep

I recently went to visit my family and welcome my newborn niece Claire into the world.  In my estimation, all newborns can do is eat and sleep, so our activities were kept pretty close to the house.  Luckily, my two-year old niece Gia puts on quite the show; singing original songs, dancing on the back porch, etc.  She especially loves helping in the kitchen.

So my brother and I had a homemade pasta-making competition; he would probably disagree, but I was the clear winner.  But he did whip up a delicious meat sauce to cover the strands of fettucine, so he got major points for that.  While the photos I took are mostly of the homemade pasta, the sauce at the end is the money shot.

Prepping the pasta

Someone loves to knead

This recipe is pretty simple and fun to make when you’re just hanging out in the kitchen all day.  If you’re having an ethical dilemma or entertaining vegetarians, you can omit the veal or meat altogether.  But we like it this way.

4lbs. ripe fresh tomatoes
1/4C olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
2 sprigs fresh basil, chopped (or more to taste)
1t sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Mix of ground beef, veal and lamb, equaling 1lb.

Cut tomatoes into small pieces and cook in a large pot for 10 minutes over medium heat until tomatoes are soft.  Cool and put through food mill, or blend with immersion blender.  Saute garlic and onion in olive oil until onion is translucent, being careful not to burn the garlic.  Add tomatoes, basil, sugar, salt and pepper.  Cook in a covered pot over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If sauce is too thick, add a little water.  If it’s too thin, cook a little longer uncovered (or add a tablespoon of tomato paste if you have it).  Once sauce is cooked to your liking, saute meat in a pan until it is mostly cooked, then add to sauce.  Simmer for 45 minutes.

Working the machine

“I want pasta!!!”

As the sauce cooks, prepare the pasta (homemade or otherwise).  You can also do what my mother does, and sneakily dip a piece of bread into the sauce and snack all day long.  She thinks we don’t know about this habit.  But we do.  Mangia!

Ta da!