Saturday, March 21, 2015

Pumpkin Donuts with Cream Cheese Frosting and Toasted Hazelnuts

I don't care that it's March and spring is officially here: I could eat pumpkin anything at any time of year.
Besides, it's been a little chilly the past couple days- thus all the more reason to work on this cozy flavor.

Besides, I'm trying to only eat "fun" things that I make myself instead of purchasing them. Buying everything can just be way too easy, and this way I can also have more control over everything in the finished product.

These little devils are surprisingly light and very flavorful.
(They're also, sadly, easy to eat.)

The donuts can easily be turned into cupcakes if you haven't got donut pans. However, the baking time may need to be adjusted.

I will say that pumpkin donuts don't technically need the frosting, and in fact they're great plain.
Warm donuts could also be tossed in cinnamon sugar or confectioner's sugar if you'd prefer.
Your prerogative.

If you don't have, don't like, or can't find hazelnuts, pecans also work well.

Pumpkin Donuts with Cream Cheese Frosting and Toasted Hazelnuts
makes 12

8 T (114 g) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 c (200 g) sugar
3/4 c (75 g) brown rice flour
1/3 c (42 g) quinoa flour
1 t (6 g) baking powder
1/2 t (3 g) baking soda
1/4 t (2 g) salt
1 generous t (3 g) cinnamon
1/2 t freshly ground nutmeg (too small a measurement for a regular scale- just estimate)
pinch ground cloves
3/4 c (160 g) pumpkin puree
1/2 t (small splash) vanilla extract

Toasted Hazelnuts:
1/2 c (70 g) whole hazelnuts
Cream cheese frosting:
4 oz (114 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 c (60 ml) whipping (heavy) cream
3/4 c (84 g) confectioner's sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F/ 175 C.

Grease 2, 6-hole donut pans well with baking spray (I prefer coconut spray here).
Cream the butter, eggs, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixture fitted with the paddle attachment a few minutes until lightened in color and texture. 
In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown rice flour, quinoa flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. 
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat together until incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the pumpkin and vanilla. Beat the mixture again for a minute until fully blended. Once again, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything has been distributed throughout. Pipe the donut batter evenly into the prepared pans (or carefully spoon it in).
Bake the donuts at 15-20 minutes, or until set, lightly browned, and the donuts spring back when lightly touched.
Remove the pans from the oven and let the donuts cool/set a couple minutes in the pan before carefully running a small spatula or a dull knife around the outside circle of the donuts. Turn the pans over and tap the pans onto a rack to release the donuts. Let cool completely before frosting.

To toast hazelnuts, place the hazelnuts on a pan in the already hot oven (350 F). Toast the nuts 8-15 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to help the nuts toast more evenly. Remove the pan from the heat and place the warm hazelnuts on a towel. Rub the hazelnuts between two sides of the towel to remove most of the skins. Transfer the skinned nuts to a cutting board and chop when cool. 

To make the cream cheese frosting, slightly cream the cream cheese over low speed in the bowl of and electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the whipping cream and confectioner's sugar. Cream and whip the mixture on a low speed until creamy and combined. 

Spread the frosting on the cooled donuts and sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Lentil Soup, Plain and Simple

When I say this is plain and simple lentil soup, I mean that it's not flashy. However, that does not mean it isn't good.
Lentil soup may not be the most gorgeous potage of all time, but it can really be nice and comforting when it's cold outside.
This version of lentil soup is thick, not too brothy, as some lentil soups can be. I suppose in a way it's like split pea soup, but the lentils won't break down very much as those peas tend to do. 
And not being a puree, there's just a bit of tooth to it.

The other thing about this soup is that it contains what I consider staples. The carrots, onions, garlic, celery and olive oil, plus broths are things that should be present in a well-stocked kitchen. Maybe not everyone has lentils laying around, but they're not a bad thing to have in the pantry. Dried and easy to store, they're just waiting to be used.  If they're not already present in your cabinet, perhaps they should be considered as you can easily create a meal without having to run out to the store.

Besides being low in fat and high in fiber, a thick and hearty lentil soup is filling and fabulous in winter. It has a way of really hitting the spot on a frigid day.

Possible soup accompaniments:
olive oil
plain yogurt or sour cream
minced fresh parsley, cilantro, or sliced green onions

Lentil Soup 
serves 6-10

3 cups (620 g)  French lentils
3 T (75 ml) olive oil
1 large carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 T (40 g) tomato paste
6 large cloves garlic, minced
9 cups (2. 12 liters) vegetable broth
1 T (17 g) kosher salt
3/4 t (less than 1 g, so to taste) freshly ground black pepper
1 t (1 g) dried thyme
1 t (1 g) dried oregano

Rinse the lentils well and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, and onions and saute several minutes until the onion is translucent and just begins to color. Add the tomato paste and continue to stir about 2 more minutes. Add the garlic and saute about 30 seconds, until it warms through and begins to smell garlicky.

Pour in the vegetable broth as well as the rinsed lentils. Add salt, pepper, the thyme and oregano, and stir everything through the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Place a cocked lid on top of pot and simmer about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding extra broth or water if the soup becomes too thick.
Season to taste and serve as desired.