Friday, December 31, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Spiced Pumpkin Doughnut Holes

Sorry for the lack of recent posts - I had set up a few things to post while we were vacationing with the family in Cancun, and haven't had a chance to cook since I got back, although I plane to resume that this weekend. In the meantime, here's wishing everyone a happy new years. I know we all have our new years wishes and dreams that have eluded us in 2010, so here's hoping that all of our wishes come true in 2011. In the meantime, I will share a recipe for pumpkin spice doughnuts for some new years indulgence. I made these about a month ago, after trying another recipe that didn't work out very well. These were delicious, although I recommend cutting the recipe in half, unless you are making them for a party (it definitely made more than 12!). It's not fall anymore, but pumpkin is still good in the winter and these are a great variation on traditional doughnut holes or beignets. I got the recipe from Daily Candy, and it is a winner.

Spiced Pumpkin Doughnut Holes
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tsp butter, room temperature
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup pumpkin puree (unsweetened and unspiced)
Canola oil for frying

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a bowl. With your stand mixer, beat the sugar and butter until smooth, at medium speed. Stream in the buttermilk and beat in the pumpkin puree. Fold in the dry ingredients, blending gently. Chill the dough for three hours. Lightly flour your countertop and cut dough into 1 inch discs - you can knead into doughnut hole shapes, which is what i did. Line two baking sheets with paper towels. Pour the oil into your deep fryer, or tall pot to a depth of about 1 1/2 to 2 inches, or high enough to cover the doughnut holes. Attach a thermometer and heat oil to 365 to 370. Fry the doughnuts until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to the paper towels to drain, using a slotted spoon. Roll in a mixture of confectioner's sugar and cinnamon, and serve warm. Happy New Years!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Spagetti & Meatballs (Variation No. 1)

I love making spaghetti & meatballs. Each time, I like trying out different twists with my tomato sauce, with different results, most of which are pretty delicious.  The sauce I made the other night was definitely a winner thanks to the incorporation of Italian San Marzano tomatoes - the very best kind of canned tomatoes to use in any pasta sauce. I received a can of ShopRite's San Marzano tomatoes and they worked beautifully in my sauce. I hadn't tried making tomato sauce with San Marzano's before, but they are certainly the best - and you definitely want to use genuine imported Italian ones like these. The meatballs are also delicious. I usually don't put artichoke hearts in my sauce, but I did this time since I had received a can of delicious ones from ShopRite as a member of the Potluck Blog Panel.  Eataly in Manhattan is also a great place to buy different imported varieties of San Marzano tomatoes and other Italian foods. I am sure I will share different variations of my pasta sauces in future posts as well. In this sauce, I incorporated carrots, which I love in my homemade marinara sauces - they sweeten up the sauce just a tiny bit and add some delicious texture and flavor.

Sasha's Meatballs
1 lb lean ground beef
one small onion, diced
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
2 eggs
garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste

Sasha's Marinara Sauce
1 large 24 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
1 14 oz can tomato puree
1 small can of tomato paste
2 cans of water, using the can from the tomato paste to measure
1 T butter or canola oil
1 onion diced
3 cloves of garlic, diced
two handfuls of carrots, diced
4 sprigs of thyme
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste

To make the meatballs, combine the ingredients above with the meat and form medium sized balls. I hate touching cold raw meat, but these are so good, so I make them anyhow.

For the sauce, saute the onion and garlic in a saute pan with a bit of canola oil for about five minutes over medium heat. Combine with the other ingredients and bring to a boil. Then simmer for about a half an hour until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. In the meantime, bake the meatballs until they are cooked through - about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Then add to the pot of sauce and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes so that they can absorb the sauce. Serve with a bit of grated parmesan cheese.
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