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Home Made Doughnuts

The dog ate our homework. And our set food.

Actually, we have a very good excuse for having left C&S to gather dust, mold, and hairballs: we were working on a BOOK! Our very first, and we are oh-so-thrilled and in that pinch-us-till-we-bruise-because-we-can’t-believe-it phase.

Due out this fall, our first collaboration in print will feature original recipes perfect for the chilly months, so get ready to cozy up with us because we will make it very much worth your while. Guaranteed, or your money back.

For the past few months we’ve been meeting and talking and researching (the research is still classified, but the nature of it will be vodka-clear come fall) and plotting and stressing and sprouting more grays etc. etc. etc. But, finally, in recent weeks, everything came together: I handed in a manuscript with recipes I’m sure will make you giddy, and we got to shooting.

Our shoots began in a Brooklyn brownstone that prop stylist and all-around fabulous girl Emily Rickard has outfitted with her incredible taste and unique style. You must visit her site and blog AppleKetchup for inspiration on how to live.  In the brownstone we shot several of our chapter openers: light, airy, and inviting, Emily’s hand helped us add a touch of welcome and celebration to our images.

Next, we packed, unpacked, packed again, and shot our tabletop images at Good Light Studio in Midtown. We’ve both shot at numerous studios around town, but this is one of our favorites: generous daylight, a too-comfortable kitchen (I was in the depths of despair when I got home to my Lilliputian-sized one), and incredible studio managers. An average of 14 shots a day—in photo speak, that is almost twice as many as are normally accomplished on a normal shoot day—made possible by having two sets going at the same time, as well as the invaluable help of digitech Geraldine Pierson and friend and chef Dean Sheremet—if you haven’t already, do check out his site for recipes and food tips that you shouldn’t be carrying on without.

We realize that this post has turned into an acknowledgments page of sorts, but we really couldn’t have made the shoots and book happen without our crew. Speaking of which, Penelope Bouklas, prop styling goddess, brought us countless surfaces, linens, glasses, plates, and an array of dreamy utensils (one of which I pocketed) that made our lovely book that much lovelier.

Phew. OK, here are some outtakes from the shoot. I’m a ham, so I’m the nerd with the glasses behind the quince branches willing to be photographed. The shot with the grape tomatoes is a peek at one of our juicy double-page spreads, and the doughnuts… Well, you’ve suffered through our Oscar-winner-ish thank you’s so you get a sneak peek recipe. You’ll love it and it will make you the most popular gal or dude at the party. Srsly.

Behind the Scenes

Bloody Mary

CHEATER DOUGHNUTS

Toss the doughnuts in simple cinnamon sugar, or add some extra zing with citrus or vanilla bean sugar, dip them in warm maple syrup (give your guests a small bowl), make them savory with sugar, pinch of salt, pinch of cayenne pepper, fried sage crumbled

1 tin store-bough biscuits
8 cups vegetable oil

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet with high sides over medium-high heat until temperature registers 350°F. (Oil should be 1- to 1 1/2 inches deep). Add half of the doughnuts and half of the doughnut holes and fry until the bottoms turn golden brown, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes small doughnuts and 2 to 2 1/2 minutes for large doughnuts. Using chopsticks or the handles of 2 wooden cooking spoons, turn the doughnuts and holes and fry for until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Transfer doughnuts to a paper towel-lined plate and allow to cool slightly, 1 to 2 minutes before dipping in glaze or coating in sugar. Serve warm.

SPICY SAGE SUGAR
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup sage leaves
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes

Melt butter over medium heat in small skillet. Add sage leaves and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate.

Crumble sage with fingertips and combine with sugar, salt, and Aleppo pepper in large plate. Toss warm doughnuts in sugar and serve immediately.

PLAIN JANE GLAZE
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place confectioners’ sugar and salt in medium bowl. Whisk in melted butter, milk, and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth. Dip doughnuts and serve immediately.

CHOCOLATE GLAZE
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
¾ cup milk

Place confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in medium bowl. Whisk in milk and whisk until smooth. Dip doughnuts and serve immediately.

BROWN BUTTER GLAZE
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4  teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk

Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a small stainless steel saucepan. Cook the butter until browned, 5 to 8 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally. The butter will begin to foam; the subsiding foam is an indicator that the butter is almost done.   Once the solids are caramel brown the remove the pan from the heat and immediately pour it into a medium bowl, scraping in all the solids. Add the confectioners’ sugar, salt, vanilla extract and whisk until smooth. Dip doughnuts and serve immediately.

Makes 8 to 10 doughnuts, depending on biscuit tin contents

Time to make the doughnuts: I use Pillsbury® biscuits for this recipe. One roll of “Buttermilk” biscuits yields ten small (about 2 1/2-inch inches in diameter) doughnuts and ten tiny doughnut holes. You’ll need a 1/2-inch round cutter to punch out the holes. One roll of “Grands Homestyle Buttermilk” biscuits yields 8 large (about 3 1/2 inches in diameter) doughnuts and eight doughnut holes. You’ll need a 1-inch round cutter to punch out the holes.

I woke up early and headed to the 68th and Lex to wait for the Jitney to the North Fork. Within two hours, concrete buildings and city sidewalks melted into quaint peak-roofed steeples and clumsily hand-painted signs that said “Fresh Pie” and “CORN.”

I sat on a bench after the bus had deposited me and Tara zoomed up in her car. I hopped in, getaway-car-style, and we took a whirlwind tour of the farm stands and markets in town, ignoring the picturesque scenes and focusing instead on the violent rolling of the clouds, bellies about to burst with rain. In a matter of minutes we’d picked up hot and sweet Italian sausages at Love Lane Market in Mattituck, duck eggs at Wells Homestead Market on the main road in Aquebogue, vegetables at Schmitt’s Farmstand on Sound Avenue in Riverhead, and cider doughnuts and a loaf of shiny-skinned brioche at Junta’s Pastry in Jamesport.

The storm still threatening, we started up the grill and threw everything on— sausages, bread, Brussels sprouts, whole heads of garlic, zucchini—without fussing over much. We were on warp speed because of the weather, but it was very apropos: the whole point of our shoot and cookout had been to shop locally and pile food on the grill; easy prep that required nothing but olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh herb-flecked butter,  so we could enjoy the last official weekend of summer—and all the wine from Croteoaux Vineyard in Southold.

The recipes below are more of a guideline than a strict how-to; keeping it simple so you have time to kick back and relax is the most important thing.

NO-FUSS COOKOUT

Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Assorted sausages, poked all over with a fork
Crusty bread, sliced about 1-inch thick
Assorted vegetables, sliced about ¾-inch thick
Whole heads of garlic

Heat grill according to manufacturer’s instructions. Brush all ingredients with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange all ingredients in single layer on grill and cook until sausages are plump, charred, and cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes, and vegetables are tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve.

RUSTIC CAPRESE SALAD    

Grilled garlic (see recipe above)
Heirloom tomatoes, sliced ¼-inch thick
Fresh mozzarella, pulled into bite-size pieces
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh basil leaves

Once cooled, peel garlic and squeeze out with fingertips. Arrange tomatoes, mozzarella, and garlic on plate or cutting board and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Scatter basil leaves over; serve.

FRESH HERB BUTTER

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup mixed fresh herbs (such as thyme, oregano, and marjoram), finely chopped
Salt and pepper

Combine butter and herbs in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Serve alongside grilled proteins, vegetables, and bread; spread lavishly.

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