February 22, 2011

the best thing …………….. in the world

First, this post is dedicated to my good friend Miykaelah because without her (and her obsession with a tiny cafe called Baked & Wired in Washington, D.C.) I would have never consumed the life-changing pastry I’m about to tell you all about.

What is this magical pastry, you ask. It is the donut-muffin!

Donut + muffin = Life-changing, cinammon-sugar-coated deliciousness.

Like I mentioned previously, my first and only (up until this weekend) donut-muffin was from Baked & Wired. Jordan and I had to wake up early and trudge down to the cafe in order to get our hands on two of their famed donut-muffins. So delicious are these donut-muffins, they sell out before 10 am! But boy am I glad we did! These pastries are beyond good. The perfect crumb, a crunchy-donuty exterior, 360 degrees and 3 dimensions of cinnamon sugar heaven. WOW was pretty much all I could think at the time. And then I moved 3,000 miles away from the delicious donut-muffin bakers, doomed to never eat a hybrid pastry so perfect again.

Flash forward to last Thursday. I was walking home from work and listening to the Spilled Milk Podcast. The theme of the episode was muffins. I was causally listening and laughing along with Matthew and Molly when I heard the words donut and muffin in quick succession. My recipe brain was on high alert! And, in a matter of seconds, I learned the secret key to making the donut- muffin!!! My baking life was changed! I stormed into the apartment happier than I had been all week and shared my discovery with Jordan. His life was also changed! Donut-muffins have special powers. You’ll see once you eat one.

Without further adieu …

Nutmeg Donut-Muffins with Cinnamon Sugar Crust, borrowed from Molly Wizenburg of Orangette with tremendous gratitude

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 ½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

Scant 1 tsp salt

½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg

¾ cup plus 1 Tbs whole milk

2 Tbs buttermilk

1 ½ sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

¾ cup plus 2 Tbs granulated sugar

2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and set a rack to the middle position. Butter a standard-size muffin tin.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg, and whisk to mix them thoroughly. Set aside. (I followed her recipe here, but Jordan and I both think that next time we’ll also throw a little cinnamon in the batter).

Combine the milk and the buttermilk in a cup or little dish, and set aside.

Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for a few seconds, until the butter is soft and creamy. With the motor running, add the sugar in a steady stream. Continue beating, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice, until the mixture increases in volume and lightens. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until they are just combined.

With a wooden spoon, mix 1/4 of the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Add 1/3 of the milk mixture. Continue to add the dry and wet ingredients alternately. Mix until the dough is smooth and well combined, but do not overmix. This batter has more flour than typical muffins – it is a muffin/scone/biscuit batter hybrid. So many converging pastries!

Divide the batter between the cups of the muffin tin. My muffin tins were overflowing, but it all turned out just fine. Bake until the muffins are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.

AND NOW FOR THE SUPER SECRET TRICK THAT TURNS AN EVERYDAY MUFFIN INTO A MAGICAL DONUT-MUFFIN …

Melt 4 T butter. In another bow, mix 1 t cinnamon with 4 T sugar. Using a pastry brush, one by one brush the still warm muffins all over with butter. Toss in the cinnamon sugar. TAH DAH! You have a fresh and delicious donut-muffin!!!! That easy!!!  I’m not a science whiz or anything, but there is some perfect chemical reaction going on between warm muffin, warm butter and cinnamon sugar that cannot be missed. WOW.

Make this recipe. They are so good, it is *almost* beyond words.

-Emily

P.S. I had one for dessert, and then breakfast, and then dessert again. Rarely do I eat that many portions of my baked goods. THEY ARE THAT GOOD.

fideos with mussels and shrimp

The first time I had fideos was at Jaleo in Washington D.C over 3 years ago. Those little worm-sized noodles were incredible – just like pretty  much everything else on the menu – and I’ve been wanting to enjoy them again ever since. Sadly, San Francisco lacks a Jaleo. You can imagine how stoked I was when I found dry fideos at the Middle Eastern market just down the block from us for $1.49! I figured they were one of those specialty import products that sell for $13 at Williams Sonoma, but no. Hurray! I poked around on the internet for recipes and combined two (one from Jose Andres and one from Mario Batali) for this meal.

Fideos with Mussels and Shrimp

1 lb fideos

1/4 c olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

4 cloves garlic, diced

1-16 oz can of crushed tomatoes

1 quart vegetable stock

1 t spanish paprika

1 bottle clam juice

1 cup white wine

1 pinch saffron,

1 bay leaf

salt, pepper

1 lb mussels, rinsed and debearded

1/2 lb shrimp

In a dutch oven, heat olive oil until it shimmers. Add dry fideos and brown over medium heat until golden. Remove fideos from pot and set aside.

In the same pot, heat a bit more olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrot and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes. Add can of crushed tomatoes and the paprika and turn the heat up to high. Cook for another 20 minutes to reduce the mixture, stirring often. I’m pretty sure this is called a sofrito.

In a large stockpot heat stock, clam juice, wine, bay leaf and saffron. Add shellfish and cook until the mussels open and shrimp are opaque, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or strainer, pick out seafood and set aside. Add this seafood broth to the sofrito. Add the fideos. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes until the noodles are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add the seafood back into the mix. Top with parsley and a squirt of lemon to serve.

When I had this dish at Jaleo, the noodles had a delightfully crispy top crust. I’m pretty certain you could attain this under the broiler for a few minutes, but we were starving after a long day at the office and so we just dug in!

-Emily