Grandma’s Old Fashioned Donuts!

You’ve met my grandfather on my dad’s side when he showed you how to make his delicious cornbread.  Now, you’re going to meet my grandma on my mom’s side who has a recipe for donuts passed down through her family for generations since the 1800s!

Funny story, my grandfather is KNOWN for his cornbread.  When you think, “What does Pop cook?”  The first thing that would come to any of our minds would be cornbread.  Grandma?  The first thing I would think is cookies.  She is the best at making various types of Greek cookies and classic sugar cookies.  We were decided on making Kaloudia for the video, an amazing Greek cookie, when at the last minute, she decided she didn’t want her Greek friends to find out her tricks.  Ach!  Don’t worry, I’ll convince her to do it eventually.

I was skeptical about making the donuts because she hasn’t made them in so long.  I haven’t had them since I was little and I only vaguely remember that.  She convinced me that it was easy and I liked the fact that it’s been in her family for so long.  I like tradition.  We are estimating it’s from the early 1800s, if not earlier!  How cool is that?

So we did it and it worked out great!  AND – they were delicious!  Plain and simple, not too sweet, perfect for dipping in coffee, tea or just good old cold milk!

Wondering about the gag with the Bailey’s?  Well, she’s not a wine drinker, so we decided since she was the guest, we should drink what she likes!  She loves her Bailey’s!  And usually I don’t drink my wine during a shoot, (if you notice, the glass always stays the same level) but she kept sippin’ on hers AND mine!  She can’t be trusted!

*By the way, 10 points to the first person who knows what the sound effect is when my wine magically turns into Bailey’s!*

Here’s what you need to run to the grocery store and get right now so you can make these awesome donuts:

2 eggs

1 cup + 1 tbl of sugar

1 cup buttermilk (you can easily find it at the grocery.  I saw 3 different brands where you buy regular milk.)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp nutmeg

4 tbl butter, melted

1/2 tsp salt

Approx 4-5 cups of flour

3 lbs crisco

1. You’ll want to use a large saucepan, not too deep, because if it’s too deep, you’re essentially just melting all that extra crisco for no reason.  If you have one that is wider than what we used, go for it.  But grandma likes that size that way she only puts in a few at a time so she can really keep track of them.  Me with my young eyes, would probably rather use a wider, larger sauce pan to get them done faster.  But, of course, this is up to your own discretion.  Fill your pot with crisco, as it melts, add more, but you’ll only need about 3 pounds in total.  Keep it on a low flame while you are preparing your donuts.  You’ll need a thermometer to test the temperature.  It needs to be between 350 and 375.  If you don’t have a thermometer, I have another solution for you when we get there!

2. In a large mixing bowl, add your eggs and sugar.  Mix together with a blender.  Now add your nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, salt and buttermilk.  Mix again.

3. Add the melted butter and 1 cup of flour.  Mix.  Continuously add a cup of flour, then mix.  Stop after 4 and evaluate.  Is your dough still sticky?  Would you be able to take it out and roll it like dough as if you were going to make cookies?  If not, add another half of a cup.  We ended up using 5 total cups.  We may have been okay with just 4 and a 1/2.   At 3:00 minutes, you can see what the dough should look like when there is enough flour in it.

If you don’t own a donut cutter, you can easily find one in a grocery store or any type of cooking/baking store.  Maybe even a Bed Bath and Beyond.  If you don’t have one and don’t feel like finding one, use a can.  Using a can opener, take the top off and poke holes on the bottom to let the air release.  You’ll just be making donuts without the hole in the middle, and really, they taste just as awesome!  If you do have a donut cutter though, save some of the round insides and fry up munchkins like I did in the video!

4. Flour the surface you’ll be rolling and cutting on.  Take your dough out of your bowl and flour your rolling pin.  Roll out the dough to about 1/4″ thick.  Cut one donut out.  Make sure the crisco is at the right temperature and place it (gently!) in your pot.  Do NOT throw in, avoid splashing!  Hot oil with burn you!  If by chance, you do get a small splash, stick whatever body part it hit in the flour!! Roll on the countertop if you have to 😉

If your test donut sinks to the bottom, rises within a minute and begins turning a light brown, then your oil is ready!  If it turns a terrible dark color and looks burned, your flame is too high.  Wait til it cools off for a minute and try again.  This is why it’s easier with a thermometer, but you can always do it by testing donuts to find the right temperature!

5. Cut out the rest of your donuts and fry!  When one side is brown, flip over and brown the other side.  Take out and place on a brown paper bag or a paper towel.  We used a brown paper grocery bag.  It worked just as well as the paper towels.

6.  While they are still warm you can coat with powdered sugar, cinnamon and sugar, or whatever tickles your fancy!  You can probably melt chocolate and dip them in that, too! Yum.  Now I’m getting hungry.

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That’s it!  Let me know if you try them and love them!! Also, let me know if you run into any difficulties and I will happily pass along the question to grandma! Or, you can just leave a comment for grandma to let her know you think she’s pretty awesome for 84 years old! 🙂 Every day she calls and asks if anyone left a new comment on her video!

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This is the recipe card my great grandmother typed up sometime between the 1920s and 30s!  I highly recommend preserving family members recipes on a video tape!  Do it.

Keep it classy folks,

Chef Stef

 

 

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Simple Tomato Bruschetta!

How classic does it get for an appetizer?  Classic AND simple?  Amazing!

Chef Stef’s first field trip!  WOO HOOOO!  Chef Stef is officially taking this gig on the road.

Mary and I met at a Food and Wine event through Habitat for Humanity.  We clicked right away and kept in touch.  She had the idea to collaborate on a video and I thought it was brilliant!  We had such a blast making this video.  What a voice she has!  She’s amazing.  I loved that we could bond through music.

That house really was something!  Beautiful Victorian with the radiator and door handles still in tact from the 1800s.  Super cool.  The kitchen was recently fixed up and was beautiful!  So much light coming in the windows.  Unfortunately, the only time we could meet was dusk so the lighting doesn’t look as incredible as it is in person.

On to bruschetta.  Who on this planet doesn’t like bruschetta?  With all of its oily, garlicky, basily, tomatoey goodness?  It’s like an Italian heaven.  Well, now you can learn to make it for REAL!  The stuff you buy at the store pre-made is “eh”.  Nothing like the real thing!

You need:

1 loaf of Italian bread

1 pound of tomatoes

3 cloves of garlic

3 tablespoons fresh basil

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt and pepper

1. Put your broiler on high.

2. In a large mixing bowl, crush your garlic.  (If you don’t have a garlic press, just chop in small pieces.)  Dice the tomatoes and add to the bowl with your garlic.  Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add salt and pepper, about a teaspoon each.   Chop your basil and throw into the mixture.  Mix!

3. Using a serrated knife, cut your bread into 1/2″ slices.  Place on a baking sheet.  They can be as close together as possible.  After 2-3 minutes, they should be brown on top.  Take out, flip over and brown again for another 2-3 minutes.

4. Use that last tablespoon of olive oil to drizzle on your toasted bread. (That’s what Italian bruschetta is, after all!  Toasted bread with olive oil!  Didja know that?!)  If you feel you need more oil, go for it!  Spoon your tomato mixture on top of your bread while it’s still hot and SERVE!

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Doesn’t get much easier than that, folks!

Have leftovers?  Perfect!  Put it on some chicken or in a salad!  There isn’t much that tomatoes, basil and garlic doesn’t go with, so get creative and use your imagination!

And hey, if you live in CT and are looking for a new home, Mary is AWESOME and you should contact her!!!

marypetroctrealestate@gmail.com
203.380.6279

Thanks for watching… always!!

Keep it classy,

Chef Stef

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Tilapia Fillets with Tomato, Celery & Lemon

Fish?  Not your thing?  You only eat it if it’s breaded and smothered in tartar sauce?  TRY THIS RECIPE! It’s healthy and ACTUALLY tastes good!  Takes less than 20 minutes from prep to table!

About 3 years ago, I wouldn’t go NEAR fish unless it was cocktail shrimp.  Then I was told I was eating too much red meat and that I needed more fish in my diet.  I slowly introduced salmon, (which I now L-O-V-E) and then tilapia.  Tilapia is the most mild white fish you can possibly try if you’re a first timer.  (I tried cod a few nights ago… didn’t go over well.  So I’ll stick to my shrimp, salmon and tilapia for the time being!)

At first glance, fish can seem pricey, but I’ll share my secret with you…  Buy in bulk!  Of course it will be more expensive if you buy fish fresh from the seafood counter in your supermarket.  I don’t taste much of a difference between fresh and frozen shrimp/salmon/tilapia.  I think it depends on how you cook it.  Make sure you thaw before you cook.  You can get a whole package of frozen fillets that are individually wrapped for about $1.50 a fillet. (Here in Connecticut, that is. But I’m sure it can’t be THAT much different in other places.)  Okay, now, if you went and ordered a tilapia dish in a restaurant, it would be around… $25.00!   …You do the math…

I actually came up with this recipe when my family and I were doing an insane diet.  So it’s healthy and it really is delicious!  The funny thing… I’m not much of a celery fan.  But cooked with the tomato and lemon, I loved it.  The fish takes on the flavor of everything in the pan!  There’s no chance of you ruining this one.  You’ll do great!  Try it out.  I promise this is a no fail dish!

(serves 2) You can easily double or triple the recipe!!

2 tilapia fillets

4 celery stalks

1 yellow onion

2 tomatoes

1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice

1 tsp of salt/pepper

3 tablespoons of olive oil

1. Wash all of your produce.  Dice your onion, celery and tomatoes.

2. In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the onions.  Once they begin sizzling, add the celery.  Sprinkle with half of the salt and pepper and half of the lemon juice.  Stir.  Cover with a lid, or if it’s broken, use the next size lid you have!  Or you can always use tin foil.

3. Pat your tilapia dry with a paper towel.  Then drizzle olive oil, and season with some salt, pepper and lemon juice.  Rub all over the fillet.  Repeat the same steps on the other side of the fillet.

4. The celery should have now been cooking for 3-5 minutes while you were preparing your tilapia.  Add the tomatoes to your pan.  Stir.  Use the handle to shake the pan to make all of the ingredients sit in the pan in an even layer.  Put your lid on and cook for 2 minutes.

5. Now, add your fish.  The tilapia should be nicely resting on top of your bed of celery and tomatoes. Cover with the lid again.  Depending on the size of your fillet, let it cook for about 3-5 minutes.  When you see the outside edges turning white, then you can flip over.  Flip and repeat! The thinner side may break on you.  Not a big deal.  It’s difficult to keep them together.  Sometimes, to make my life easier, before cooking, I cut the fillet in half so I have the thicker and thinner sides separated.  Which, in turn makes it easier to take out the thinner pieces earlier than the thicker pieces since they will be done first!  Get it?

6. When every part of the fish looks white, stick a fork in the thickest part.  If you can break it apart easily, it’s ready!  Or, if you waited tooooo long, like cooked for more than 10 minutes in total, and you can’t pick it up at all without it breaking apart, here’s what you do!  You break the fillets apart with your spatula, and turn it into a mixture of tilapia, celery and tomato!  You can throw that in a taco!  YUM!  That’s why I’m saying… it’s a no fail dish!

If you did manage to keep them whole… congrats!  Proud of youuu 🙂 Add pasta or rice to this dish and you shall be fully satisfied!

Cooking is all about no fear.  What’s the worst that can happen?  Something will burn?  It may happen the first few times.  Just make sure your pan is greased… and that you have an extinguisher nearby….

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Keep it classy!

Chef Stef

 

 

 

 

Peppermint Bark is DELICIOUS!

I have no idea if one would call this “bark” or “toffee”.  It’s almost a mix of both!

My grandma told me about some recipe she had from our cousins in Florida.  She was explaining it to me and I was so uninterested. I furrowed my eyebrows as she’s telling me about matzah and butter with sugar and chocolate. I was, foolishly, completely “eh” about it.

The next day, I went to work to find my boss telling me about this great recipe she makes every Christmas and that I have to go try it, “it’s in the fridge”!  Lo and behold, there’s the exact thing my grandma was just trying to explain to me, except it’s not matzah, it’s saltine crackers! (Give her a break, she’s 82! It’s basically the same thing…)

One small bite and I thought I was in heaven.  I couldn’t believe how simple it was and yet, it tasted so exquisite.  Delicate, yet distinct flavors.  I called grandma, and she relished the opportunity to repeatedly say, “I told you so!”  She’s still such a kid. And what a brat she was about it! (said lovingly, of course. We are very close.)

So we attempted to make it at her house, following the recipe from our cousins in Florida.  (You know Italians, we just have cousins everywhere)  We were able to make it very quickly and it came out not only delicious, but addicting.  Ya gotta try it!

Here’s what you need:

40 saltine crackers

1 cup of butter

1 cup of brown sugar

12 oz of chocolate or white (or both!) chips (You really don’t have to measure out the chocolate, I’ll explain why later)

For a topping, you can choose candy canes to make it nice and peppermintylicious, or you can use walnuts which is just as awesome and easier to find when it is not the holiday season.

Put your oven on 400°.

Step 1: Line your baking sheet with tin foil. Fold the edges up on the sides. Line the sheet with your crackers.  Since I’m already doing it, sometimes I’ll make 2 batches at the same time, one white chocolate and one milk.

Step 2:  In a small saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together.  Cook until boiling.  It should turn into a smooth paste.  This is the part that tastes like toffee.  It’s magical.

Step 3:  Pour all over the crackers. Spread around. Place in oven for 6 minutes.

Step 4: Crush the candy canes or chop the nuts.

Step 5: Take tray out of your oven and throw the chocolate chips on top. Cover. This is why you don’t really need to measure them out, just put them on top and make sure everywhere is mostly covered with chips.  After letting them sit for a minute or two, the chips will soften from the heat enough for you to spread them around!

Step 6: Sprinkle the candy canes or the nuts all over the top.  Place in freezer.  Let it get hard, about 30-60 minutes, or a day or two… then peel off the tin foil and break apart!

It’s THAT simple! The entire preparation and cooking process will take you ten minutes.  No joke.  And they will be flying off the plate!  Maybe that’s why my cousins call it “magical toffee”…

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Anyway, to conclude the Grama part of the story… after I released the video, I find out my great aunt is not pleased with me because I did not mention her name.  I was so confused.  I asked grama and she said, well, it’s from the cousins, but I got it from Aunt Mimi… Oops!!  So… thanks Aunt Mimi for sharing the awesome recipe with Grama from our cousins!

AND!  I have some awesome news!  I will be on my first TV segment on “Better Connecticut” on the local WSFW channel 3!  I’ll be making a chicken dish, but the bark will be on the table for the interviewers to try!  I will definitely post the video when it’s available online so all can see from out of state 🙂

Thanks for your continuous support always,

Chef Stef

 

 

 

Simple Roast Chicken (Warning: Graphic Content)

Seriously, I know the thought of touching a raw chicken is gross, but it is so essential that learn how to roast a chicken! And I promise, it’s not that bad. Watch!

 

My mom makes this about once a week.  She makes it with sweet potatoes.  Yum.  I’ll make a video of those in the near future, because the two really do go hand in hand. We use it for leftovers to make salads with chicken, sandwiches, chicken salad, chicken soup, or if you just need a protein pick me up, it’s easily accessible!  A chicken is pretty cheap, so if you think about it, you’re getting a lot of meals out of a $10 chicken! Perfect for someone cooking for one, or someone cooking for 4 or more!

I’m not sure where Mom learned about the cheese cloth, but it does make a huge difference in the tenderness of the chicken! It’s a simple extra step, that I would hardly even consider a “step”, as you’re literally just putting a piece of cloth on the chicken before you throw it in the oven!

Here’s what you need to buy:

1 Chicken

Olive oil

Salt/Pepper

Fresh Rosemary

Italian Seasoning (3-4 tbl, use freely to coat chicken)

Parsley Flakes (3-4 tbl, use freely to coat chicken)

A foot of string/twine

Cheese Cloth (You can find in grocery stores or kitchen stores)

There are so many options here.  You can season with ANYTHING!  Whatever you like best or… whatever you have in your kitchen! Lemon, lime, thyme, oregano, cilantro… be creative and just go for it.  It’s not like you’re going to ruin it…

First things first, take everything out of your sink, or any jewelry you’re wearing. Sponges, mats, drain stoppers, etc. Put your chicken in there and cut off the packaging.  Take out the baggie that you’ll find in the cavity.  I highly suggest throwing it away asap.  It will totally gross you out. It’s all of the chicken parts like the insides, heart, liver, kidneys, the neck… oh em gee. Don’t think about it, just throw it away!  Rinse off your chicken and run water through the cavity, making sure there is nothing in there leftover from when they cleaned it out.

WARNING: I’m not going to lie to you.  The first time you do it, you may have a bit of a heart attack because it feels like you’re holding a puppy or a baby.  Just avoid holding it under the wings, the way you would hold a baby, that way you’ll have more of a chance of not wanting to vom.  Word to the wise.

Sometimes there are some extra giant chunks of fat by the butt.  You can just pull those off.    Make sure you don’t take out the white pop up timer! (If you’ve never made one before, when that thing pops up, that’s how you know it’s done in the oven!)

You also need to check the skin for any leftovers from the feathers.  The ends of the quills are sometimes still there so you need to pull or squeeze them out. It’s usually not too many.  Again, just stop thinking that it’s a chicken, think of something else!  Put on music!  Anything to distract yourself.  And once you do it the first time, you’ll get over it, it will become easier and you’ll need less of a distraction!

Set your oven to 350°. If your oven has the button for “roast”, then put it on roast.  If not, “bake” is fine.

Coat the bottom of your pan with olive oil.  Use freely.  Pat your chicken dry with some paper towels.  Place in your pan breast side up.

Now use the twine to tie a double knot on one leg.  Pull over to the other leg and tie the two together.  The reason is so that the sides of the legs will be better exposed to the heat and cooked evenly.  Now you are going to use your thumb to press down on the joint of the wing and folds backwards and under the chicken.  If you do this correctly, when you flip the chicken over, they will stay in place.  (Watch at 2:56 to see)

Flip over.  Coat with olive oil.  Season with whatever you’re using.  In this case, the parsley, salt, pepper and Italian seasonings.  Try to sprinkle some everywhere.  Then rub gently.

Now flip it back over so the breast is right side up again.  Repeat the same steps of seasoning, starting with the olive oil.  Don’t forget to cover the wings and legs as well! Now, cut your rosemary into shorter sticks and place under the legs and a few on top of the breast.  You can even put some in the cavity.  (If you want to use lemon, I would squeeze some when you’re seasoning and also put the actual lemon in the cavity with the rosemary!)

Cut your cheese cloth to the approximate size of the chicken and place on top.  Every chicken will cook at different lengths because of the different weight.  In our oven, they usually take 1.5-2 hours. We usually just rely on the white pop up magical button, which hasn’t failed us yet, but if you want, you can use a thermometer, stick it deep in the breast and measure it to 180°.

Within 10 minutes of putting it in the oven, your whole house will smell edible!  The rosemary permeates every inch of your home.

While it’s cooking, don’t forget to clean up!  There isn’t much to clean, which is another awesome thing about this meal, but there is stuff to disinfect!  Wash your sink, faucet, countertops, cupboard knobs, olive oil container, oven door handle, etc. The chance of you getting ill is probably slim, but why risk it?! And your kitchen can probably use a cleaning anyway… 😉

You can let it sit on your stove for a few minutes before carving.  Sometimes we make it a few hours before dinner because we have more time during the day than afternoon.  It’s delicious even when it’s just warm!

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Keep it classy this week guys. Oh, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Chef Stef