Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Festive Doughnut Holes as Acorns

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Baking is generally not my thing.  Competitions, however, are my thing.  So when my work posted signs that they were holding a 'Top Chef' challenge for Thanksgiving/Fall desserts, I decided to accept the challenge.  Since desserts aren't my thing though, I of course immediately began to stress. All of my co-workers know that I am obsessed with all things food, so I really wanted to show up. After Google-ing 'award winning desserts', I came across a really cute image of a doughnut hole converted into an acorn.  I was sold!

For this recipe you will need:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp melted butter
Vegetable oil
Cinnamon sugar

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  Mix completely.  In another small bowl, whisk together the milk, buttermilk, sugar, and melted butter. 

Preheat a large, deep non-stick frying pan with about 2 inches of vegetable oil to 350 degrees.  I actually went out and purchased a deep fry thermometer for this step.  If you don't want to do that, leave the oil heating up on medium-high for 10 minutes.  Turn down to medium right before you put the doughnuts in.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredient and mix together.  I would suggest using a spoon for this step.  I started with the whisk and everything immediately clumped inside of it.  Once all of the dry ingredients have been incorporate to the wet ingredients you are ready to make the doughnut holes!

Set up a piece of parchment paper to set the doughnut holes on prior to cooking.  Each doughnut hole should be about 1/2 a tablespoon.  My first batch I made them too big, so err on the side of smaller -- they do expand when cooking.  Use a spoon to scoop the dough out and form into a ball using your hands.  Try to make sure there aren't any cracks in the dough so it doesn't break apart when frying.

Once you've made all the doughnut holes (I probably got 2-3 dozen out of a batch), place them gently in the oil.  I used the spoon to guide them into the oil so I wouldn't burn myself.  Let them cook for about 2 minutes, then flip to the other side and cook for another two minutes. 

When the doughnuts are browned evenly on both side, remove from the oil and return to the parchment paper.  Line them with paper towel to remove the excess grease.

Mix sugar and cinnamon in a bowl, and roll the doughnuts in the mixture when they have cooled. 

Heat Nutella in a bowl for about 1 minute in the microwave. Set toffee on a small plate and break pretzel sticks in half and set them on another plate. Basically, you want to have a little assembly line ready to create the doughnuts.

Dip the top portion of the doughnut in the nutella to create a thick layer.  Then, roll in the toffee.  Finally, stick a pretzel in the top to complete!  Acorn completed. 

I ended up winning first place in my office competition.  Based on my co-workers' feedback, I think that these would be great for both kids and adults!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

2 Birds 1 Stone

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When we heard that an underground bar was opening beneath the new Asian restaurant Doi Moi, it became a priority to get there ASAP.  One Wednesday night after hopping from Bareclona wine bar (we could barely get in the door, but were given free drink tokens for our next visit!) to Doi Moi (over an hour wait at 8:30 pm), I suggested that we try 2 Birds 1 Stone.  We feared it might be closed, but were pleasantly surprised to find it open and with some room to spare!

2 Birds 1 Stone is directly beneath Doi Moi and is accessible from S Street.  Follow the small sign down the ramp to the white door.  The long narrow space has nooks for seating parties of about 4, along with some tables at the back wall.  The bar space probably fits 15 or so.  If you come when all spots are full, chances are you'll be turned away at the door and asked to leave your phone number so you can be texted when a spot opens up.  

The drink menu is designed weekly by Adam Bernbach, and when I say designed, I mean hand drawn.  Check it out.  The contents of the menu itself change as well on a weekly basis.  

To start out, I asked the bartender to craft me a drink based on my love of St. Germain and bubbles.  I told her nothing too sweet.  She came up with a fantastic concoction that was bubbly and delicious.  I loved that the bartender followed up with me to ensure that I liked the drink.  She assured me that if I didn't it would be no problem to make me another one.  A+ for service.

Liz started out with the Pegu Club.  We initially thought this drink was named after after one her favorite cocktail bars in Manhattan, but some quick research shows it is actually named after a famed nightclub in Burma.  The Pegu Club is a gin-based cocktail. This one was made with cointreau, lime, and angostura bitters. She loved that the drink was tart and refreshing and not overly sweet.  

Another thing we appreciated about 2 Birds was that it featured a small bites menu.  The food is cooked in the Doi Moi kitchen, but isn't from their menu. Since I had already eaten, Liz decided to give the Garlic Chive & Mushroom dumplings a go.  They were fried perfectly a served with a sweet soy vinegar dipping sauce.  

The star of the meal was the Thai Wok Tossed Marinated Beef. This beef was perfectly tender and so flavorful that I was sad I hadn't saved more room for it.  Liz let me sample a piece and I was immediately in carnivore heaven.  The portion was also huge and along with the dumplings was more than enough for a full meal.  The beef was served with a spicy sriracha sauce which tasted as if it had been mixed with some sort of ketchup. I loved it (surprise, surprise), but Liz wasn't as a big of a fan.

We rounded out the night with two more cocktails.  Liz went with the house made punch.  It featured bourbon and apple cider. It was sweet and seasonal and perfect for a cool October night. They serve a different house punch each night, so it will be fun to keep going back to try their different concoctions.   

I decided to go rogue once again and simply ask the bartender to come up with something for me.  I told her that my liquor of choice was vodka and she quickly asked if I liked ginger.  I knew where this was going...Moscow Mule anyone?  After quickly letting her know that I love ginger and Moscow Mules are probably my favorite drink right now, she let me know that 2 Birds makes its own ginger soda in house and warned me that that it is extremely ginger-y.  I took the risk and was not disappointed.  The ginger in this soda was very potent (not for the faint of heart), but it was a refreshing way to end the night.

Do yourself a favor and get to 2 Birds 1 Stone!  If you're worried it might be crowded, we'd definitely suggest going on a week night.