Sometimes it's fun to play with your toppings. Here we've got shards of several different fruit flavored glazes, broken and scattered over vanilla doughnuts. Every bite is different and every doughnut makes us smile. That's a good day's work.
Last month when the Kitchen Aid repair guy was fixing our ice maker, he was giving me some tips for things to look out for. He eyeballed our stove and said "Keep an eye on that thing. The computer boards tend to go out after five years and it costs a couple hundred dollars to replace it. You can't avoid doing it, because the oven won't work without it."
Flash forward to the present. I was baking chocolate chip cookies. The oven said it was at 375°F, but when I went to rotate the pan after eight minutes, the dough was barely starting to melt. After closing the oven door, I turned the oven off and on again. It showed the temperature to be at 238°F and it never even made it back up to 325°F before the cookies were finally cooked, round about 20 minutes later. Clearly I'm going to be calling that repair guy again. On the bright side, the cookies were delicious--thin and crispy with a shiny crust. They may not have been made in our usual thick and chewy style, still, it's good to know that good dough can overcome a slow oven.
February 26, 2009
February 26, 2005
I've always been a savory kind of breakfast person. I'll happily eat noodles, tacos, leftover cold steak, pizza or breakfast sandwiches first thing in the morning. I prefer sweet things a little bit later in the day. So I often prepare dinner with half a mind to breakfast the next morning. When I'm wandering around the kitchen in the early hours, I want something delicious that does not require too much work. Nachos are easily some of my favorite leftovers. They're meant to be used for breakfast in Chilaquiles. Okay, well, maybe technically you're supposed to use freshly fried tortilla chips, but trust me here, leftover nachos are awesome. Layer them in a baking dish with whatever useful garnishes you find in the fridge. In this case I used leftover Brussels sprouts and salsa. Crack in a few eggs, and bake in a hot oven for about 20 minutes. Some of the chips crisp up while other soften and absorb the cheese and sauce. The eggs bind everything together and, here, the brussels sprouts added some texture and a sweet, earthy flavor to the dish. It took about five minutes to put together before sliding the pan into the oven and it was the perfect weekend breakfast.
February 25, 2010
February 25, 2007
February 25, 2005
The question is do we make a shirt, a sign, a hoodie, a billboard or more crullers?
Cacio e pepe is a simple dish in appearance. It has taken years of tweaking, paying attention and appreciating our own taste to make it something truly crush-worthy. Cacio e pepe is our go to pasta sauce when showing off the tremendous qualities of freshly extruded noodles. I am a huge fan of the teflon insert in a bronze chitarra die because it keeps the square edges sharp, and mimics the structure of a ramen noodle. It allows me to travel two different paths with the same die, classic Italian and neo-Japanese. I start our sauce by slowly toasting black pepper in a blend of olive oil and butter. I then build the sauce around the noodles, adding them to the pan with a generous amount of pasta water and freshly grated Pecorino Romano to create a creamy, fluid emulsion of fat, starch and cheese. The result is a slurp-able nest of spicy, decadent noodles.
February 23, 2007
February 23, 2006
February 23, 2005
We made strawberry shards. We planned on using them to top our doughnuts in place of sprinkles. That did not happen. It has taken 2ish years for us to come back around to the idea and be able to put the idea into action. We take our flavorful glazes and spread them thinly on parchment paper. Acetate would work better. We let the glaze air dry for several days, remove the paper and let the glaze finish drying. When we break it up, the glaze becomes tangy shards of flavor that can be put to good use. What has changed? Now that we are producing several different flavors every weekend, leftover glazes can be converted immediately into a secondary product, maximizing our ingredients, flavors and time.
Craig LaBan wrote a great article on pasta and extruders that you can check out over at Philly.com. Use the search bar on the side of our website and look up noodles and pasta to travel back in our creative timeline.
February 21, 2005
I am all for brushing bread and buns with melted butter and griddling them for fried chicken sandwiches, lobster rolls, burgers, really anyplace and time toasted bread is needed. Over the years I wondered why we only used butter. I wondered about using mayonnaise as griddling medium. Once I started using the very spreadable mayo, I became reluctant to go back to butter. But as I was using the mayonnaise I wondered why I wasn't flavoring it. For our recent pop up at Inferno Pizzeria and now at Curiosity Doughnuts we are spreading our buns with a blend of mayonnaise lightly seasoned with mustard for our fried chicken sandwich. The blend adds a bright sharpness to the rich, creamy condiment and enhances the browning of the buns. For our current fried chicken sandwich the mayonnaise-mustard blend is right. But when the sandwich evolves or we create another, the bread spread is easily tweaked and tailored to our whims.
February 20, 2011
February 20, 2005
A tray of chocolate doughnuts looks like a tray of chocolate doughnuts. A tray of vanilla doughnuts looks like a tray of vanilla doughnuts. A tray of half chocolate and half vanilla doughnuts looks, yes, like a tray of half and half doughnuts. Unless we move the doughnuts around. The arrangement allows the commonplace to take on a striking and engaging look. By moving a few elements around the ordinary becomes extraordinary.
February 18, 2005
A chicken sandwich is relatively simple, right? It is. A great chicken sandwich is the epitome of simple, not easy. That's because each of it's components must be delicious on it's own and still come together in a harmonious whole. We start by spreading potato rolls with a mixture of mustard and mayo and griddling them to a crisp interior crust. We add a generous layer of cole slaw dressed with smoked thousand island dressing. We top the slaw with our pretzel crusted smoked fried chicken drizzled with our sweet and spicy cherry pepper caramel. The combination is the chicken sandwich of our dreams. It's seriously good because we believe that every step matters as we are building delicious.
February 17, 2005
The new shirts with the new logo are in! We're so excited. After much debate we went with the tri-blend, even though it was more expensive, because it was soft and came in the best colors. We got them in purple, black, indigo and cranberry. They'll be on sale starting this weekend for $25/shirt. It's the first time we've redone them since we opened the shop. Sometimes it's the little things that really rejuvenate us and bring new life to things.
My mom was in town visiting and we were in the supermarket. There was sale on my favorite frozen pizza (Newman's Own, in case you were wondering) and I slowed down to take a look.
"Are you going to buy frozen pizza?!!!"
"What happened? Don't you make pizza anymore?"
"Of course we do. But sometimes I like frozen pizza."
Full disclosure here, Alex won't touch the stuff. He thinks it's an abomination. I take a different view. Back when I lived in Boston I had pizza for breakfast almost every day. Some days it was a slice that I picked up from a pizzeria that opened at 10:00am on Comm. Ave as I walked to Clio from the South End, where Alex lived. But if I was coming from my apartment, I was probably eating a Celentano's frozen cheese pizza for one. I loved those pizzas with their sweet sauce, questionable cheese, and cardboard crust goodness. I could buy them a local superette less than a block from my apartment without having to trek to an actual supermarket. Since I was hardly ever home there was very little food in my apartment. I would throw one in the oven before I got into the shower and have a hot breakfast ready by the time I was dressed. It was perfect.
Frozen pizzas have come a long way since them. There a million different variations in the supermarket. I'm still partial to the ones with that thin, cardboard crust. Amaya and I will happily eat a frozen cheese pizza for lunch on occasion. It has the aura of forbidden food because we know Dad doesn't approve of them. Today we discovered that adding a layer of homemade meat sauce to the top of the pie is the perfect hack. It made that cheese pizza into something that could justify my intermittent addiction to anyone, except my husband.
February 15, 2005
One of our favorite P!nk songs that is perfect for celebrating Valentine's Day.
February 14, 2009
February 14, 2005
70 Fried Chicken Sandwiches
5 Bread Puddings
A big Thank You! to Tony and his staff at Inferno PIzzeria Napoletana for hosting us and
to everyone who came out to see us. We only wish we could have made more, but there's only so many hours in our day.
February 13, 2007
I gave up coffee a couple of years ago. I thought it would be difficult and there was definitely some caffeine withdrawal during the first few days. But mostly, I was surprised by how little I missed it. There's something alluring about the idea of coffee. Your hands curved around a warm mug, that rich deep aroma, that bitter edge of flavor balanced by a variety of fruity and nutty elements, and in my case, the richness of milk. It's the idea of coffee that I miss. There have been occasions when I ordered a latte or a French press just to see if I could recapture the magic but I have no desire to drink it. The first sip is always a let down and I end up pushing the cup away without another. It's a little sad because for many years coffee was a big part of my diet. I drank it every day, sometimes several times a day, and it was, by turns, comforting and energizing, indulgent and everyday. It served different purposes at different times and it was a drink I could always rely on.
Now I've taken to drinking herbal teas. This was long, rocky road. Tea making is often fiddly and precise. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that I prefer bags. It felt like copping out but I just don't have the dedication required for steeping and cleaning pots. Especially since the difference in the drinking experience did not live up to the added effort required. Then I had to find the right tea. I dabbled with several different brands before finally settling on Pukka teas. They are not inexpensive, although I find that if I buy them in bulk online I can save a significant amount of money. They are flavorful and indulgent and I I can tailor my choices to the time of day, as I once did with my coffees. In fact, compared with my old coffee habit, Pukka teas are a bargain. Happily they taste just as good at cold or at room temperature, after I've gotten distracted and forgotten about my cup. It's been a pleasure to find another drink that I can rely on and I thought I would share, so that anyone else looking for a good cup of tea can benefit from my experience.
February 12, 2006
February 12, 2005
Land and sea is one of our favorite themes when it comes to making pasta. The almost black noodles are made with squid ink and the green cascarecce is made with pureed jalapenos. We cut our cascarecce longer than the ones you see in packages of dried pasta in supermarket. It's one of the perks of making our own. We enjoy the way sauces cling to the noodles and the way they curl together in the bowl. You get a richer flavor from these bigger bites and it allows you to embrace the experience of eating them just a bit more. The squid ink pasta has the deep, briny flavor of the sea while the jalapeno noodles have the bright, fresh flavor of the raw peppers. Together they create an experience that is more than the sum of its parts.
I love baked brie. Unfortunately, due to a variety of allergies, I don't love the rind on the brie. Frankly many people who come to visit us and do not have allergies also dislike the rind on the brie, so it was a no-brainer to remove it. This works best when you have very cold cheese and a very sharp knife.
I rolled out my puff pastry (yes, you can use store bought) and used it to line a deep dish pie pan. I laid the brie on top of the pastry and coated the top with a mixed berry jelly. Okay, it was the end of a jar of cherry preserves blended with a some of a new jar of strawberry. I hate to waste it and both fruits go well with the brie.
Then I added a layer of chopped crispy bacon.
And a layer of chopped jalapeno peppers. I was making this kid-friendly so I left out the seeds and membranes but for those who like a little heat, I would definitely leave some of them in there.
A few folds and it was ready to go. I didn't mess around with making it beautiful because I knew that it wouldn't stay untouched for long.
A quick egg wash and about 45 minutes in a 425°F oven and it was done. The key point is letting it rest, hidden from your guests (and husband) for at least 15 minutes before letting anyone cut into it. That gives the cheese time to cool and thicken and let all the flavors come together. There are no pictures of the cut brie because it was decimated at an alarming speed, before I could get my camera out. You'll just have to imagine the rest...it was delicious. We used it as an appetizer for the big game but I would also pair it with a salad and call it dinner. Indulgent and so good.
Japanese milk bread was a previous obsession of mine. I began this year enamored with shokupan, an easily mixed together Japanese white bread, that we enjoy for sandwiches. Now I've moved on to another style of Asian white bread made with a glutinous rice flour roux that is changing my world. I'm almost done with the recipe, you should see it up here sometime next week. As I tweak the measurements, I decided to play around with the style of loaves I was making. Bread for toast and school lunches is important but I had a hankering for something slightly sweet as well. The front loaf is braided and brushed with cream before baking. At the end of the cooking time it is brushed with a coarse sugar syrup, leaving plenty of granules scattered across the crust, and baked for a final ten minutes to set. This bread gives me something a little more sweet and playful to enjoy out of hand. Next time I may play with dinner rolls and a loaf of chocolate or cinnamon swirl. Why limit yourself to what's expected? A great dough can do many different things.
February 9, 2005
We may eat with our eyes first, but if there is no substance behind the scene the experience falls flat. There are plenty of colorful pastas. Creating noodles with a clear flavor impact is more difficult. When seasoning the pasta dough, you must account for 3 layers of dilution. First, extruded noodles are made with the addition of 29-31% liquid. That liquid must be extremely intense to be able to carry the flavor throughout the pasta. The second dilution of flavor is in the boiling of pasta. Flavor is pulled from the noodles into the pasta water, similar to when vegetables are blanched in water. The final impact on the flavor comes with the pasta sauce. The noodle must stand up to the sauce and still have an impact. Go big or go home.
February 8, 2005
The pitcher on the left contains pureed jalapenos and water. The pitcher on the right contains water and squid ink. (Next time we should use dashi.) The plan is to make two pastas of the same shape and combine them into a blended bowl of noodles. As I looked at the two pitchers I began to wonder, what if the green was the flavor of the sea and the black had the spice. Alternatively we could make one noodle with spice and sea. We ended up pursuing the original idea. But the after thoughts provided great sparks for future combinations.
We have a new logo and we are happy to announce that we are opening a second location of Curiosity Doughnuts. The new logo changes the doughnut icon into one that actually resembles one of our doughnuts. The next Curiosity Doughnuts will be inside the new Whole Foods Market Spring House, in Spring House, PA. It is opening March 14, 2018. Doughnuts will be available starting at 7:00am, 7 days a week, until we sell out for the day. This is a big step for us. Our little passion project is growing into something substantially bigger and we are very excited to see what happens next.
We started with an ad libbed and impromotu workshop. In it we brought two of our old ideas together to see if we could make a more intense truffle oil. The truffles were first frozen and thawed, cryo-blanched. We pureed the truffles with sunflower seed oil, vacuum sealed them and put the bag into an isi canister to apply an intense amount of pressure, an idea we explored to expedite brining years ago in the pressure chamber.
The initial results produced an intense and elevated truffle infusion in the oil. While the aroma does not come close to the synthetic enhancements of most truffle oil, the idea lends itself to further pursuit in the truffle arena as well as other flavored oils.
Our smoked honey has been idling in the pantry. I had been yearning to make a smoked honey glaze but had been blocked on what to pair with it. The breakthrough came with the onset of the Super Bowl and the requests for Eagles-inspired doughnuts. As I thought through green foods I stopped on green tea. It clicked, tea and honey. The evolution to green tea and smoked honey was my next step. The glaze is made with our smoked honey bolstered with a dash--really a dash--of liquid smoke, buttermilk, vanilla powdered sugar, lactic acid, and salt. We dip the fried doughnuts in the glaze and dust the tea over the top. The doughnut is bright, rich, sweet, savory and heady green. I am willing to explore inspiration from everywhere as long as we get to delicious.
February 4, 2005
It's Superbowl weekend and our local team is in the big game. At Curiosity Doughnuts that means embracing Eagles green. This particular doughnut is called Philly Grit. It's a chocolate doughnut covered in candy rubble made with mint M&M's and white chocolate Kit Kats. To me, it looks like football. For non-football fans, it's a great doughnut.
February 3, 2005
When I was growing up, sauerkraut was very meal specific. We had it roasted with potatoes and pork chops at home. We had it on hot dogs from street carts with onions, ketchup and mustard. Or we had it when we went out to eat at German restaurants. Those were the only times we ate sauerkraut and it was not something that I thought about very often. Nowadays I find that I get a craving for it when the weather gets cold. Unfortunately Alex is not a huge fan of sauerkraut. He says that it tends to take over a dish and while he likes it on a hot dog, he actively discourages me cooking with it at home. So it was somewhat puzzling when he purchased a container of Wild Brine sauerkraut because it "looked interesting."
Once it was in the refrigerator, he shot down every idea I suggested for using it. Apparently interesting wasn't enough of a draw to make it into dinner. One night when he wasn't home for dinner prep, I mixed it was some broccoli and baked it under some fresh kielbasa. This went over quite well. The blending of fresh and fermented vegetables was able to soften the edge of the sauerkraut, while simultaneously brightening up the broccoli. The rich sausage was the perfect counterpoint to the flavorful vegetables and everyone was happy, even Alex.
February 2, 2005
Shimpei Takahashi is a toy developer with some great ways to help you generate ideas about whatever you are passionate about. His favorite game is Shiritori, a game where each player must speak a word that begins with the last letter of the the last word spoken. This brief and entertaining Ted Talk is in Japanese with English subtitles, but you should have no trouble following along. It's a great tool for generating new ideas and his stories about why he uses it will ring a bell for any of us who have tried to be creative in a market driven atmosphere.