Monday, October 22, 2012

Beignets


Dear Lauren,

When Dad and I were dating, we went to New Orleans many times. I really don't know how many times. Probably more than three. Maybe eleven. Maybe seventeen. But definitely not over eighteen. 


I'd been to New Orleans before I met Dad. The first time was for my 18th birthday. My parents took me. I fell in love with the city that first visit. Cafe du Monde, Bourbon Street, Pat O'Briens.  

And I was in love with Dad the first time we went to New Orleans. But I fell more in love with him than ever that first trip. He asked me to marry him in the airport in Houston before we boarded our Southwest Airlines flight to New Orleans. He couldn't wait. Isn't that just the sweetest?

He had no ring. He did not get down on one knee. He just took my hands in his and looked deeply into my eyes and said, will you please marry me, I adore you. I never want us to be apart. I said yes. It wasn't the words he said. It was the look in his eyes. It was amazing. He still looks at me that way.

He'd arranged for a limousine to meet us at the airport in New Orleans. It took us to Hotel Maison de Ville and when we arrived, the front door and street area of the hotel was part of the set of the movie, A Streetcar Named Desire. People asked if they could take their picture with us! They thought we were actors! So fun. One of the most memorable trips of my life.

I'm still so glad he asked. And that I said yes.

One of my cooking clubs, Cook My Book, is coming to a close. At least this year's cooking is coming to a close. We'll take a break until January. I have my last cookbook, from my friend Rebbekkah Fisher, and when I saw the beignet recipe, all of the memories I just shared with you flooded every part of my mind. 

Now, I can't tell you these beignets will transport you to Cafe du Monde. And I haven't tried to make their delicious cafĂ© au lait. But I can tell you that this recipe will produce beignets every bit as delicious as the originals. 

Beignets
adapted from The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook

equipment needed:
cooking thermometer, I used my candy thermometer

rolling pin
a heavy pot or Dutch oven

1 packet yeast
3 tablespoons water (between 100-110 degrees)
3/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup Crisco
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups flour + 1 cup flour for kneading, etc.
peanut oil or vegetable oil
powdered sugar

Pour the yeast packet into a large bowl. You can use tap water but measure it and make sure you get it in the right temperature range. Add the water to the yeast and stir. Let it sit for 5 minutes.

Put milk in a saucepan and heat it over medium-low to low heat until it is steaming but not boiling. Add the sugar, Crisco, and salt. Turn off the heat and stir until the Crisco is dissolved. Then let the mixture cool until it's between 100-110 degrees. 

Add the egg, saucepan contents, and two cups flour to the yeast and stir it until it's combined. Take some of the additional cup of flour and put it on your counter or Silpat and spread it around. Put the dough on the floured surface and knead with all or most of the additional flour for about eight minutes (I set my timer.)

Get a clean bowl and put a little vegetable oil in it. Place the dough in the bowl and then turn it over until the dough is oiled on all sides. Cover the bowl with a towel and place it in a draft-free, warm area, around 85 degrees, for one hour. In the summer, this is not a problem. The rest of the year, I preheat my oven to 200 and then I turn the oven off and leave the oven door open slightly while I make the dough. When it's time for me to put my dough aside to rise, the oven if the perfect temperature.

After the dough rises for an hour, punch it down and place on a floured surface. With your rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangular shape of about 10 inches by 12 inches. Now, it doesn't have to be perfect. Beignets that aren't a perfect shape, taste just as great! Cut the dough into squares of about 2 inches, or close to it. Leave the squares on your floured surface and cover them with a towel in a draft-free place for about 30 minutes, maybe a little more, until they have doubled in size.

Pour two to three inches of peanut or vegetable oil in your Dutch oven and heat the oil to about 370 degrees. Gentle and quickly put four pieces of dough in the oil with a spatula. Don't drop the dough in! You could cause a splatter! Cook the dough on each side until golden brown, between 30 seconds and 1 minute. Take the beignets out of the hot oil when done and place them on paper towels to drain and then sift powdered sugar over them. As much as you like.

These are so delicious. And surprisingly simple to make!


Love,

2 comments:

  1. I'm so glad she said yes....New Orleans, limo, cool hotel, great food, Neville Brothers concert....I didn't have a plan B.

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