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.

The Honey Search

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A.A. Milne’s Christopher Robin and my son had a few similarities. First of all, William had an entourage of stuffed animal friends that came to life every night before bed time. He especially loved the stories of the bossy, but often ignorant cat named “Kitty”, the sweet, loving and naive dalmatian dog, “Goodley” and the brilliant voice of reason, “Mack” the dolphin. I cannot help but laugh as I recall the banter of Kitty and Goodley referring to Mack as a fish and Mack feeling so insulted. And then a time when the tooth fairy left a note requesting that “the mean cat be crated” on the nights of her visits.

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Will’s Room

The similarities don’t stop there. For those who knew Will doesn’t this passage from the book describing Pooh and Christopher Robin’s search for honey remind you of him?

“Well, you both went out with the blue balloon, and you took your gun with you, just in case, as you always did, and Winnie-the-Pooh went to a very muddy place that he knew of, and rolled and rolled until he was black all over; and then, when the balloon was blown up as big as big, and you and Pooh were both holding on to the string, you let go suddenly, and Poor Bear floated gracefully up into the sky”

A change washed over me this week. Call it a divine intervention and a lifting up of my heart. It started with me waking up in the middle of the night laughing out loud. This kind of dream has never ever happened to me before. In the dream, I was simply recalling a very funny story from years ago. The kind that makes you laugh so hard it takes your breath away and the tears begin to trickle down your cheeks. I haven’t laughed like that in…well you know. For the record it felt good to wake feeling so light-hearted. It was indeed bittersweet as I felt that bear hug coming around my shoulders, but this time I was being held by more than him.

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William on his 4th birthday with his new friend, Kitty

Bitter and sweet is a great combination when it comes to cooking. I do believe I promised you a recipe using honey, so here we go. Combined with the bitterness of espresso this crispy baklava drenched in a honey syrup is just right for sharing and making sweet memories with someone you love.

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Don’t be afraid of the fillo dough. It’s easier to use than you think as long as you follow the box instructions for thawing and keeping it covered as you prepare the recipe.

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Chocolate Espresso Baklava

8 ounces roasted & salted pistachio nuts

8 ounces chopped almonds

1 (12 oz.) bag semisweet chocolate chips

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

grated zest of 1 lemon

1 roll (20 sheets) Athens Fillo Dough, thawed

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted

1 ¾ cups water

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

juice of ½ lemon

¾ cup honey

Heat the oven to 350°. Place pistachio nuts in food processor; pulse until chopped. Add almonds, chocolate chips, ½ cup of sugar, cinnamon and lemon zest; pulse until nuts and chocolate are finely chopped and same size. Unwrap fillo dough and cover with a damp paper towel. Butter a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan. Butter and stack 10 sheets of fillo into the pan. Sprinkle about 2 cups of the filling over the fillo. Gently shake the pan to even the layer of filling. Butter and stack 4 more fillo sheets and place over the filling. Sprinkle on another 2 cups of the filling. Top with 4 more buttered and stacked sheets of fillo and 2 more cups of filling. Butter and stack remaining sheets of fillo dough and place over the filling. Brush top generously with butter. Cut through all layers into about 3-inch squares and then cut each square into 2 triangles.

Bake for 25 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 300° and bake for 50 minutes longer or until until golden brown.

Meanwhile, in medium saucepan, bring the water, espresso powder, lemon juice, honey and remaining 1 1/2 cups of sugar to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Carefully pour the hot syrup evenly over the hot baklava and let stand for several hours or as long as overnight until completely cool. Makes 36 pieces.

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Joy To Daughters, Carrot Cake Pancakes & Buttermilk Syrup

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Last weekend I enjoyed the pleasure of my daughter’s company. Selfishly, I love having her all to myself as we roam around Chester County (fabulous mani-pedis at Polished) and search for treasures at some of the local antique shops. The girl has an impressive decorator’s eye which most likely came from her Grandma Keys. Back home, in my kitchen, we cook a fabulous crab cake salad with a buttermilk ranch dressing using recipes from the latest edition of Cooking Light. She likes cooking healthy and has creative mad skills in the kitchen, too. It brings me back to younger days when the two of us would enter our art and baking projects at the Bethlehem Fair. It’s actually how we were first introduced to King Arthur Flour who sponsored the state level competitions.What I love about these fairs is NOT everybody gets a ribbon. The win actually means something. It signifies learning and hard work pays off. It’s a joyful and proud moment to see the blue on your kid’s entry.

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1992 we each take a grand state blue rosette me for sewing and Caitlin for muffins

As we discuss the merits of buttermilk and value of USA wild-caught seafood, Caitlin mentions that lately she has been craving pancakes, but not enjoying them as she has cut back on carbs. Hmmmm,  I tuck that thought into the back of my brain only to pull it out this week with the caveat…life’s too short not to enjoy a delicious pancake.

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Easter Sunday brunch is on its way and I thought I could come up with a holiday inspired menu that included healthy pancakes. I won’t lie…I was looking for a way to use up the rest of the buttermilk, too. I love you, dear daughter, thanks for ever inspiring me and very proud of the woman you have become. Joy to you always.

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So, I never order pancakes unless the restaurant is offering real maple syrup to go on top. I am a syrup snob and refuse to eat the maple “flavored” stuff. However, this brown butter buttermilk syrup is a fabulous something different to pour over pancakes and French toast as well as ice cream or a cake. It’s like a luscious buttery light caramel.

Brown Butter Buttermilk Syrup

½ stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

½ cup buttermilk

½ cup sugar

1-tablespoon corn syrup

1/8-teaspoon fine sea salt

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon baking soda

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook butter, swirling pan occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until it begins to brown. Whisk in buttermilk, sugar, corn syrup and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 8 to 9 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until mixture is a golden brown. Whisk in vanilla and baking soda (it will foam up). Remove from heat and keep warm while making pancakes. Can be made ahead and re-warmed. Also delicious over pound cake and ice cream.

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Lightly spiced whole grain pancakes are a great way to get your little bunnies to eat and enjoy their carrots.

Whole Grain Silver Dollar Carrot Cake Pancakes

¾ cups white whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur)

1-tablespoon ground flax seed meal (Bob’s Red Mill)

½ tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

½ cup grated carrots (use medium hole on box grater)

¾ cups buttermilk

1 egg

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In medium bowl, whisk flour, flax, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; set aside. Spread carrots over a paper towel. Top with a second towel and gently press together. Microwave carrots on HIGH for 2 minutes to remove moisture and soften. In another bowl, combine carrots, buttermilk, egg, butter, brown sugar and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry; mix just until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not over mix. Spoon batter (about a heaping tablespoonful for silver dollar style pancakes) onto a lightly greased non-stick skillet or griddle over medium-low heat. Cook about 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Makes 12 to 14 pancakes. Serve with buttermilk syrup.

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