Mother’s Day Hot Wing Donuts

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Mother’s Day usually means brunch or better, yet, breakfast in bed. When I wondered what recipe to share with you today I thought I could celebrate my own mom by pulling out one of her old cookbooks for inspiration. She loved this pamphlet from the 60’s and the recipes and brand behind it. I can still hear her voice saying, “Polly-O is the best. Buy the best”. Good advice, mom.

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Flipping through I came across a spattered, well loved page that included ricotta pancakes, cheese blintzes and a peach torte. However, it is the ricotta puffs or fritters that grab my attention and bring me back to an Italian street fair where fried donuts called zeppole were the treat of the day. Crispy fried puffs smothered in cinnamon-sugar and purchased by the dozen still warm in a brown bag. A deliciously good and inspiring memory.

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hands-free frying these donuts flip themselves

But you know me. I can’t just follow a recipe. It’s time to change it up and honor another mom or two I love very much. Like mother like daughter….Caitlin and I like deep frying and donuts on occasion. We also like it spicy.

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Can a mother thank a daughter for becoming a mother? What fun it has been for me to be “Kiki”, aka, Annabelle’s grandmother. Annabelle is such a joy, but more incredible than that joy is watching your own daughter being an amazing mom. My Caitlin loves with her whole heart. Her mothering instincts are spot on. Being a new mom is an exhausting, self-less experience that she is doing with such grace. It makes me feel so proud to be HER mom. Caitlin continues to lift me up and remind me life is good. I’m ever so grateful for her and for that reminder.

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Another mom I love and appreciate is a lady named Suzy. You know her best as the creator of the spectacular  Saucy Mama brand. Suzy not only pours her whole heart into creating amazing sauces, mustards and marinades, but also into investing and empowering women like me. Being a part of Team Saucy Mama is a dream and a privilege. All the women on the team inspire me to be a better cook, a better person and a better mom. I am ever so grateful for their kindness, generosity and friendship.

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Here comes today’s recipe inspired by my mom, Caitlin and Suzy.  I tweaked the original recipe from the Polly-O pamphlet substituting vanilla bean paste for brandy and eliminating dusting the donuts in powdered sugar. Instead the donuts are coated with a mixture of granulated sugar, cinnamon and salt creating a bit of a crispy/crunchy contrast to the soft, almost pudding like ricotta interior. For the perfect spicy heat they are finished with a drizzle of Saucy Mama’s Total Domination Wing Sauce No. 2. The combination of scotch bonnet peppers and blackberry lift this simple donut to another level of goodness. Yes, mom..it’s the best.

Ricotta Puffs or Fritters

  • Servings: 2 to 3 dozen
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10 ounces ricotta cheese

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon fine salt

oil for deep frying

¼ cup sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Saucy Mama Total Domination Wing Sauce No. 2

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, eggs, 1-tablespoon of sugar and vanilla bean paste; blend well with a spoon. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and fine salt; pour into ricotta mixture and stir until mixture is moth and well mixed. Let batter stand for 30 minutes to thicken up slightly. Heat oil to 350F. Drop batter by small, round scoopfuls (depends on size you like) and brown on all sides. Don’t crowd the pan as the puffs need room to flip themselves. Drain on paper towels. With a fork mix remaining sugar, cinnamon a salt in a small bowl. While still warm toss donuts in sugar mixture. Serve with hot wing sauce either drizzled on top or as a dip on the side. Makes 2 to 3 dozen puffs.

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Feel free to dip instead of drizzle. And I hope someone serves you breakfast in bed next Sunday. Happy Mother’s Day in advance. I will be taking next Sunday and a few others off from here in the coming weeks as life is getting a bit busier than usual.

Kindness & Cheesecake Blondies

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Caring for a kitten in Afghanistan ~William Keys

Along this grief journey there have been quite a few moms who have touched my heart and inspired me to do better. Doreen is one of those moms. This poem is a gift from her.

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Choose kindness. It could make all the difference in your day or someone else’s day or a pet’s day or even the world.

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trying to follow in your kind light

This recipe was born from kindness. Inspired by my friend Laurie’s homemade salted caramel this dessert is salty, sweet, creamy and crunchy…need I say more? How kind of a dear friend to share her culinary sweetness with me. Thank you again, Laurie.

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Salted Caramel Cheesecake Blondies

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened

¼ cup sugar

3 eggs, divided

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla, divided

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1-teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

1½ cups packed light brown sugar

1 cup toasted chopped pecans

5 tablespoons high quality caramel topping, warm

½ teaspoon fleur de sel

Heat oven 325F. Spray a 9-inch square pan with non-stick cooking spray. Line pan with parchment paper leaving a 1-inch overhang over sides. Spray parchment with non-stick cooking spray. In small bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Add 1 egg and ½ teaspoon vanilla; blend well and set aside. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In large bowl, whisk melted butter and brown sugar until blended. Add remaining eggs and vanilla; blend well. Add flour mixture and mix with a spatula just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in ¾ cups pecans. Spread half the blondie batter over bottom of prepared pan. Drop half the cream cheese mixture by spoonfuls on top. Reserve 2 tablespoons of caramel. Drop the remaining caramel by teaspoonfuls in between the spoonfuls of cream cheese mixture. Repeat layering with remaining blondie batter and cream cheese mixture. Using the tip of a butter knife gently swirl the blondie batter, cream cheese mixture and caramel together creating a marbled effect. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Using the parchment edges, lift the blondies from the pan to a cooling rack. Drizzle with remaining caramel and sprinkle with pecans and fleur de sel. Chill in refrigerator until completely cool. Cut into bars or squares. 

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Garden Tour & Cream of the Crop

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thank you slateplate for this beautiful serving tray

Good morning dear followers. Not exactly sure what the weather is like in your neck of the woods, but the mid-Atlantic feels like spring this winter. Bulbs are pushing their bright green shoots through the dirt already with temperatures climbing into the 70’s. Warm and loud thunderstorms are replacing snow. Will it stay this way? Doubtful, but hopeful.

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speckled trout lettuce in a cold frame

The fear of winter’s return hasn’t stopped me from getting into the garden and finishing  some clean-up. The north wind has a nasty habit of burying the landscape in leaves and riddling the yard with sticks. Being in the garden is as much therapy as cooking, so I don’t mind the dirty work. It’s the best distraction thinking March winds and April showers are just around the corner.

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hoping for some fresh asparagus in a month or two

Good Grief Cook thought throughout the gardening/growing season it might be interesting to take you on a good, the bad and the ugly of the garden. It’s February. All looks dark and dead right now, or maybe it’s just asleep. Anyway, this will be your first glance of the winter garden. Should be fun to watch it transform month to month. Let the tour begin.

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protecting the fig trees-unveiling come May

Hope you have enjoyed these few photos today. In addition to the garden I am working on improving my photography and food styling. Isn’t that black slate tray beneath the creme brûlée a natural beauty? It’s made in the USA. You will be seeing a lot of it. Thank you, Garmon for this gift.

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sleeping raised bed

Let’s make some creme brûlée. It seems to be the cream of the dessert crop. I posted this photo on instagram and was surprised to learn how many people consider creme brûlée their favorite dessert. A simple, but rich and creamy vanilla custard topped with crispy caramelized sugar….okay I get why people love it so much. Plus it involves fire.This recipe is adapted from Christopher Kimball’s Dessert Bible.

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Crème Brûlée

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup light cream

3 eggs

½ cup sugar, divided

1/8 teaspoon fine salt

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

Heat oven 300F. Place a cloth napkin over the bottom of a roasting pan. Place 4 (5-inch) brulee dishes or 6 ( 6 oz) ramekins in the roasting pan leaving space between each dish. Boil water in a tea kettle or a pan with a spout. In a saucepan, bring the heavy cream and light cream just to a simmer. (you should see whisps of steam). In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, ¼ cup sugar, salt and vanilla. While gently whisking, very slowly pour hot cream mixture into the egg mixture until combined. Strain mixture into a large measuring up or bowl with a spout. Divide mixture evenly among brulee dishes or ramekins. Pour hot water into roasting pan until it comes up half way the sides of the dishes. Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until custards are set but still quiver in center. Remove from water bath and cool. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Can be made 2 or 3 days in advance at this point. Just before serving sprinkle tops evenly with remaining sugar. Using a kitchen torch melt the sugar. Serves 4 to 6

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my little jelly bean dressed for some garden work