Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cake Donut Holes

I was quite satisfied with my chocolate donut holes (previous post), and my frying oil was still hot and ready to make some more donut holes. So that's exactly what I did! These are just plain old vanilla ones, but they are still very delicious.

By the way, they are called cake donuts because baking powder is used to make them rise.

1 1/2 Cup Flour
2/3 Cup Sugar
1 tsp Baking powder
pinch of Salt
1 TBSP Melted Butter
2 TBSP Plain Yogurt
1 Egg
1 tsp Vanilla (vanilla paste will make it even tastier!)
Oil for deep frying

What to Do:

Start heating oil for frying to 375 degrees.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt

In a separate bowl, mix melted butter, plain yogurt, egg, and vanilla until blended.

Slowly stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Keep stirring until everything is good and mixed in. The dough is pretty thick, so you might want to use your hands near the end.

Either coat your hands in oil, or put some flour on them. Then rip little balls of doughs to form your donut holes.

Put the holes into the 375 degree oil. It takes about 3 minutes for them to cook. They will be medium brown when they finish.

Take them out of the oil and put them on something to help drain the excess oil.

Just like with the chocolate donuts, I feel these are delicious enough and sweet enough to enjoy without any sort of glaze or extra sugar. Plus they're just less messy that way. Although I think they would be great with some lemon or orange glaze.

So now the next time you go on a picnic, you can bring two delicious kinds of donut holes! But I also give you permission to enjoy them them in a more traditional donut eating spot.

Chocolate Donut Holes (cake type donut)

It's cherry blossom season here in Tokyo, and I was invited to a picnic tonight. I decided to make some Japanese fried chicken, and maybe some more American-like fried chicken. I wanted to make some cookies too since they are very portable and individually sized, but I don't have an oven! Since deep frying was on my mind, donuts were the logical second choice. It's not a traditional picnic food, but once you have donuts on your mind you really can't think about anything else. Besides, people are always impressed when you make homemade donuts. But I don't really have room to roll out the dough, so I made donut holes.

Makes about 18 large donut holes


1 Cup Flour
1/3 Cup Cocoa Powder
2/3 Cup Sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 TBSP melted Butter
2 TBSP Plain Yogurt
1 Egg
1 tsp vanilla
Oil for deep frying

And if you are messy like me, you should put your apron on.

What to Do:

Start heating your oil to 375 degrees.

Stir together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

In a separate container mix the butter, yogurt, egg, and vanilla until the egg is well blended.

Slowly stir the wet ingredients into the dry dry ingredients. If it happens to be a wet day, you might need to put in a little extra flour but the dough should be kind of sticky. It might be easier to mix with your hands at the end.

Put some oil or flour on your hands, and then pull off little balls of the dough. The finished donut will be about twice as big as the ball of dough you pull off.

Drop the dough balls into 375 degree oil. After about a minute and a half or 2 minutes, give them a little nudge to flip them over. They should be finished in about another minute or so. You can't really tell if they are done by color with chocolate donuts, but you can try pushing them against the side of your pan with a kitchen utensil to see if they feel like they are cooked all the way through. If they are still really squishy feeling, they need to cook a little more.

Take our of the oil and put on some paper towels or other oil absorbing paper.

You can dip them in glaze or roll them in sugar, but they are good as is. The outside is a little crunchy like an old fashioned donut. These are best to eat the day you make them.

Monday, March 22, 2010

German Potato Salad

Regular potato salad is gross and that amount of mayonnaise is known to the State of California to lower your IQ. No thanks! Intelligent people are forced to find an alternative path to potato salad glory and, luckily, the Germans have laid it all out for us. Instead of mayonnaise, you use bacon. Brilliant!

Here's what you need:

6-8 potatoes depending how hungry you are
1 large onion
3 stalks of celery
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup water

2 tbsp sugar
salt, pepper and dill

I used red potatoes for this guy. Usually you use some sort of waxy potato like red or Yukon gold but if you only have russets, go nuts and have fun. They work just fine. First step is to cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Just leave the skins on you will peel them of later.

You need to boil them about twenty or twenty-five minutes. When they are done they will be tender, slide of the fork a when you poke them and they will have split skins like this:

Drain the water and let them sit for a few minutes until they are cool enough to handle and peel off the skins. They should come right off if you cooked them long enough. Don't worry about a piece or two of skin on there. Builds character.
Then you chop 'em up into potato salad sized bits:

While they are boiling, you will have a chance to chop up the onions and celery. Good times.

You will also want to fry up six strips of bacon in a big pan. This is going to be the same pan you make the potato salad in ultimately so make sure it's got enough space to fit the potatoes in. Put the bacon in the pan, cold and put over medium high heat. Starting off gold helps keep the bacon from curling.

Cook it until it is browned to your liking and chop it into bits:

Oh yeah. That looks nice. Do your best not to eat the bacon. You will eat some but people will get mad at you if you eat it all. Really mad. People love bacon.

Leave the heat on medium and reserve two tablespoons of bacon grease. Drop the potato bits from earlier into the pan and add a quarter cup each water and vinegar, along w/ sugar and allow to simmer for about five minutes to reduce a bit. Salt and pepper to taste and add some dill. I'd imagine I don't use more than about a teaspoon or so of dill. I like it w/ just a hint. Some people add a bit of flower to thicken the dressing but I find it thickens just fine w/ the starch from the potatoes. Serve on plates w/ some sausage or roast pork and enjoy!

If you like mayonnaise or are otherwise unfit for public office, let us know about it in the comments!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Burrito Breakfast

Breakfast burritos are fun but that's not what this is. This is a breakfast, made out of leftover burritos. It is something like chilaquiles only w/ scrambled eggs mixed in.

All you need is some left over burrito, some eggs and a little bit of milk. Start w/ your burrito. It doesn't matter what's in the burrito or who made it. You just need some burrito. I had a pork one and some of a chicken one left over and that is what I used:

Chop that burrito up into little pieces.

And then throw it in frying pan on medium heat w/ some melted butter in it. While it heats, mix a couple eggs w/ a couple tablespoons of milk and season w/ salt and pepper and a little bit of hot sauce if you like. Once the burrito bits start getting a little warm, push them off to the side and scramble the eggs on the other half of the pan.

Once they are cooked through, mix 'em in w/ the burrito and serve on some plaints. If you have any left over (I didn't) dump some salsa over the top of this mess.

It's not pretty but it's a tasty hot breakfast done quick and if you do things like we do here at TFK a lot of times burritos are something of a late night snack and often the morning after you are not much in the mood for cooking anything too complex. If you have any better ways to reuse burritos, let us know about it in comments!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Whole Wheat Tortillas

In Tokyo if I want to eat tacos, I can order something called taco rice that tastes like ground pork mixed with ketchup put on top of rice. Or I can get on a train and go to a fancy, upscale grocery store to buy way over priced Ole El Paso hard taco shells. Or I can walk 3 minutes to a normal grocery store, buy flour, and then make flour tortillas. Flour tortillas are actually quite simple to make, and when I went to the store today they had whole wheat flour so I decided to make whole wheat tortillas.

This is a small recipe, so if you are feeding more than 2 people or have a particularly large appetite you will want to double it.

1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/3 Cup Water
¼ tsp Baking Powder
¼ tsp Salt
1 TBSP Oil

What to Do:

Mix flour and water. Whole wheat does not absorb water as easily as white flour, so it’s good to let the flour and water sit for by themselves for a while. This will help prevent your tortillas from having a cardboard texture.

Stir in baking powder, oil, and salt. The dough should form a ball.

Knead for a minute or two. This is a small recipe so it doesn’t take the dough long to get nice and stretchy. It’s also really easy to do because there’s so much oil in there.

Let the dough rest at least 15 minutes.

Divide the dough up into balls. I made 6, which were a little on the small side.

This picture does a pretty good job showing just how tiny my apartment is. Usually I'm a little more careful about it with my pictures.

Anyways, roll out the dough into as circular of a shape as you can. It should be pretty thin, but thick enough to withstand anything you might be filling it with later. If the dough keeps retracting as you roll, that means you should let the dough rest a little longer and then try again.

Heat an ungreased frying pan to medium high. Then put in a tortilla. It only needs to cook about 30 seconds on each side.

Wrap the fresh tortillas in a towel to preserve their softness.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Slow Cooker Corned Beef

Fake St. Patrick's day was celebrated this weekend across the United States by people drinking tons of cheap beer dyed green and shots of poor quality Irish Whiskey. Whether or not you chose to participate in such a debacle is your own business but for real St. Patrick's Day, which is celebrated March 17, you might want to consider celebrating by coming home to a hot pot of corned beef stew.

The great thing about corned beef is you can cook the bojangles out of it and it's still good.The meat just gets more and more tender as it goes on. This stew is prepared from a store-bought corned beef but I suppose you could corn your own if you got the time and salt. Here is what you will need for mine:

1 corned beef of whatever size
4-6 potatoes peeled and quartered
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into large chunks
1-2 onions peeled and halved
1 can beer

First thing you wanna do is open the bag of corned beef and drain off all the salty liquid in there. Some people rinse it too but I fear losing too much salty goodness. I chuck that in my slow cooker along w/ the seasoning packet of spices that comes w/ it. My quantities on the veggies is a little vague because I basically just peel and chop until I have the rest of the pot full.

Good times! But we're not done yet. There is one more critical ingredient:

It doesn't have to be Hamm's but it has to be beer. Some people use Guinness, operating under the erroneous assumption that it is good beer and that it is Irish. Well, some of it is Irish, the extra stout and that is a good beer but a bit too bitter to be used for cooking in my opinion. The stuff that comes in cans and bottles w/ the little widget to make that thick white head is made in Canada and tastes like Budweiser mixed w/ coffee and vomitus. Avoid! I think cheap, tasty beer like Hamm's, Stroh's or Pabst works well in this situation. Nice mild beer flavor to compliment the meat. So just let your corned beef chill w/ a can of brew.

So here is where we get to the extremely difficult part: you have to turn your slow cooker on low and let it sit for about six or so hours while you go ahead and do whatever else you do. Corned beef is kind of like pulled pork where you actually want to overcook it to make it tender and, like pulled pork, it should be shredable once finished. A lot of people say that it's more tender if you cook, let it sit overnight and reheat for the next day and, it's true that corned beef makes for some of the best left overs in the world, but the real reason it's better is that the process of reheating further overcooks the meat and let's it get super tender. The only thing you want to avoid is cooking the potatoes until they turn into complete mush.

Serve it up on a plate and reserve any left over juices to use as a base for another stew or another corned beef sometime. A lot of times the corned beef will just tear into pieces w/o even having to use a knife:

If you are a fan of black Budweiser that smells faintly of vomit and think such a thing is authentically Irish, let me know about it in the comments!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cheesesteak Pizza

Pizza + Cheesesteak = Fun! Now there's an equation you don't learn in school. I am posting this mostly as a illustration of using my semolina pizza crust  to make a giant sheet-style pizza. This has a pretty thick crust and features a good amount of sauce, steak and grilled peppers and onion. Good stuff and just a bit different from you standard pizza toppings.

Here's what you need:

Semolina Pizza Crust
1 lb steak
1 medium onion
1 small green bell pepper
8 oz pizza sauce
1 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (not the kind in a can)
salt, pepper, olive oil, cornmeal, butter to fry in

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Make up the crust only instead of splitting it into two sections once it's done rising, roll it out on a cookie sheet grease w/ olive oil. I like to lift up the edges and sprinkle some cornmeal underneath there too. Poke some holes in it when you're done.

Leave this to rise an additional twenty to thirty minutes or so. While it's rising, you are gonna wanna sprinkle both sides of of two thin steaks and fry them up in butter. Just give them like two or three minutes on a side. Don't worry if they are a little rare. It'll cook in the oven. Chop 'em up into bite sized pieces.

Once this is done, chop up an onion and a green pepper and fry those in what's left in the pan after you cooked the steaks. Add some salt and pepper here too. The salt, especially, helps the onions to caramelize a little.

Spread some pizza sauce over your crust and then sprinkle the steak, onions and peppers evenly over the top and cover w/ about a cup and a quarter of Parmesan cheese. I like Parmesan as it's got a strong enough flavor to compete w/ the steak and melts nicely. Sprinkle w/ some salt, pepper and basil.

Cook this at 500 degrees Fahrenheit or until the cheese is nice and brown. Cut into slices and serve. This is kind of a sloppy pizza w/ all the big chunks of stuff.

The olive oil really helps the crust to brown nicely too:

This stuff is really good cold the next day too. I am eating some right now as I type this. If you are eating pizza, cold or otherwise, let us know about it in the comments!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bacon Potato Soup

Potatoes and bacon are some of the most fun foods available to most unlicensed persons. Combine them and you always come up w/ a bowl full of wonderful. Or, at least you do when you make this fun potato soup.

Here's what you need:
8  potatoes
8 strips of bacon
1 large onion
~20 oz chicken stock
1 cup milk
salt and pepper

First thing you want to do is start frying up the bacon. I just chuck them right in the pot I'm making the soup and turn the heat up to high.


I don't worry about making sure they don't stick together or lay perfect flat or anything like that. You just cut them up into bits later. They are done when they look about like this:

While the bacon is cooking chop up eight potatoes and an onion. I chop the potatoes into inconsistently sized chunks. The small bits dissolve and make a rich, thick soup while the large bits remain intact and add variety and texture.

Remove the bacon and chop into wee bits. Try to eat less than 90% of it during this process. Drain all but about two tablespoons of the rendered bacon grease from the pot and save for later use. Throw the chunks of potato in the pot under high heat. You want to get them browned a little. Don't worry about cooking through.

Pour in your stock now, enough to just cover the potatoes. A little bit of water to top off doesn't hurt.

This is a recipe where I feel the quality of the stock matters. I used some (my last, sadly) I made from turkeys that I smoked and that really emphasized the bacon. Most people don't have that laying around but do at least try to use homemade.

Put this on high heat until it boils and reduce to a simmer. Cook about twenty to thirty minutes until all the potatoes are soft and the stock is nice and thick. I normally leave the lid off for part of to make sure the soup is nice and thick but leave it off too long and you'll end up w/ overcooked mashed potatoes. Add about a cup of milk. You can use cream too but I don't think that adds much too this already very rich soup.

Add salt and pepper to taste and there you have it, bacon potato soup. There are endless variations on this, I kept it simple for the sake of this recipes. Try substituting some other root vegetables in for the potatoes. Parsley root is an especially good one and adds a real nice spicy flavor. Beets give it a wonderful purple color. Let us know how your experiments turn out in the comments section.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sloppy Spaghetti Bread

Left over pasta sauce, especially if it is nice and chunky like TFK's super beefy pasta sauce, can be used to make a tremendous and powerful open faced sandwich:

All you need is:

1 cup pasta sauce
1 sub roll or bread of some sort
handful of shredded cheese
basil, garlic or whatever herbs and spices you might like.
salt (if using unsalted butter)

First, spread butter on the bread and toast in a toaster over. During this time you will want to heat the sauce in a small saucepan on the stove or in a microwave. Once the bread is hot and done toasting, sprinkle the basil and whatever seasonings you like over. Dump the sauce over the bread and then throw a handful of cheese on there. It is kind of like a meatball sub w/o the meatballs. Good times.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fun Roasted Brussels Sprouts

For some reason, my whole childhood, I was lead to believe I was supposed to hate Brussels sprouts. Possibly, they are considered too healthy to be good. They are totally fun though and make for an easy side dish which you can roast in your toaster oven while preparing the rest of dinner.

I am not even going to bother listing the ingredients on this one. Drizzle some Brussels sprouts w/ some olive oil, sprinkle w/ salt and cook in your toaster oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for twenty minutes. Simple! These Brussels come out a bit firm but that's how I like them. If you have a better amount of time to cook them, let us know in the comments.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fundon Broil

Steak is great but it can be expensive. For those who want greatness w/o the expense there is the London broil. Here is a blurry picture of it:

Blurry is delicious and don't your forget it!

Here's what you need:
2-3 lbs flank or round steak cut such that the muscle fibers run the length of the cut of meat
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup soy sauce
black pepper

The cut of meat is absolutely critical. It is a cheap cut. It is naturally tough and as such it needs to be cut correctly. You want the grain of the meat running the length of it. This allows you to cut diagonally across the grains when you serve it, which severs the fibers, and makes the meat come across as much more tender than it actually is. A lot of times grocery stores will label just any old round or flank steak as London broil or sometimes even flattish pot roasts. Don't go by the label, go by what you see.

First step for this guy is to marinade. Go for four hours at least of overnight. It use a simple mix of soy sauce and red wine. Lots of people would add herbs or maybe some garlic here but I think this marinade overrides just about everything but black pepper. It is plenty salty so don't worry about adding more. I do this in a shallow casserole.

I don't worry about covering the whole thing, just flip in the middle. I sprinkle the top w/ black pepper and after I sprinkle the other side, I sprinkle it. You will want to leave this out for an hour or two before you cook it to bring to room temperature. Starting w/ your meat at room temperature is extra important for a recipe like this that is a rather thick cut of meat being cooked over high heat. You don't want the outsides burning while the inside is still cold.

Cook this on a cast iron pan or otherwise the thickest pan you have. You want a pan that retains heat well. Let it heat up for a good five or ten minutes before starting. Take the meat out of the marinade and pat it dry. Once the pan is hot, throw some butter in there.

And once that's melted, you throw the meat in. Cook on both sides at super high heat for three minutes. After that, reduce heat to medium and cook and additional six to ten minutes, flipping halfway. It is kind of a judgment call at this point depending on the thickness of your London broil. You really, really only want it medium rare or it gets tough fast. You might think you like your steak well done but you are wrong. Alternatively, if it bothers you to pan fry something called a broil, you can throw it in your broiler for ten to fifteen minutes or however long it takes to get to medium rare.

Here's what it looks like when all is said and done:

This wasn't the best cut for this dish. I had to separate it into sections before carving and serving.

Still worked though. Goes great with duck fries or your favorite potato dish. Slice up for sandwiches or serve cold in a salad the next day. This stuff is no good to reheat. You will overcook the heck out of it.

If you like your steak well done or otherwise wish to let us know something about you, let us know in comments!