I love creating recipes, I have to tell you.. I very rarely purchase cookbooks. I do have a grand selection of cooking magazines, but that is mainly because I love reading the articles and finding out "what's current" in the food industry for the season and year. And for the photo's.. I LOVE the photo's! But cookbooks.. I probably have 4-5 that are mainstay's. My regional Italian that I've had for close to 30 years, A French cookbook with beautiful egg, herb, cheese and local meat and fish dishes that are simple but infused with flavor, a Spanish Tapa cookbook, My English Tea cookbook and a wedding gift cookbook by Better Homes and Gardens Cooking that I love. It has classic cooking recipes that can be changed around so easily to suit my cooking style, and the foundational techniques were wonderful to hone my cooking skills as a young bridem 25 years ago.
But recently I came across a website of Cajun and New Orleans style cooking. A new LOVE! I am so excited to try out these recipes and get my hands on a really good New Orleans Cuisine cookbook. If you happen to know of a really good one.. please let me know!! I remember as a young woman going to an evening New Orleans Jazz Concert at a restaurant in the heart of Anaheim, Cal. where I was first introduced to Blackened Catfish. I haven't had it since but it left such a remarkable mark in my memory banks. Blackened fish will definitely be one of the first Cajun recipes I make.
This recipe for French Quarter Beignets, pronounced ben-YAYS comes from the web site, New Orleans Cuisine by Danno. Please, thumb through his many AMAZING recipes and take a look at his other web sites too. I know I will be returning many times!
These beignets were so light and delicious with my DMC style Cafe au Lait. Hot out of the frying pan straight into the powdered sugar and right onto a plate ready to eat and enjoy with a morning cup of coffee. For the coffee.. my kids love the way my mother in law makes hers. So when they are involved in our morning coffee time, they're treated to this sweet treat and drink just the way they like them. We scald the milk and then add it to a cup ready with a teaspoon of espresso powder and a teaspoon of turbinado sugar. Sprinkle a dusting of cinnamon on top. It's so creamy and yummy.. perfect to go with your hot beignets!
French Quarter Beignet Recipe
1 Envelope Active Dry Yeast
3/4 Cup Water (110 degrees F)
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Beaten Egg
1/2 Cup Evaporated Milk
3 1/2 - 3 3/4 Cups A.P. Flour
1/8 Cup Shortening
Vegetable Oil for Frying
Powdered Sugar in a shaker or sifter
Combine the Yeast, Water, and Sugar in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (You could also make this in a food processor, or the old fashioned way, by hand). Let this sit until frothy, about 5 minutes, then add the Salt, Egg, and Evaporated Milk. Mix on low speed, then add half of the flour until it starts to come together, then add the shortening. When the shortening is incorporated start adding the remaining flour, a little at a time until most of it is incorporated. At this time I always turn the dough onto a floured bench to finish by hand, just like when I make bread; it's a touch thing. Knead the dough adding just enough flour as necessary to make a non-sticky, smooth dough. Place the dough into a large oiled bowl, loosely cover and let rise (I made mine last night and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator).
After the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down and turn it onto a floured surface and roll out into a rectangle that is about 1/2" thick. With a very sharp knife working at a diagonal to the rectangle, cut into 2" wide strips. Now cut into diamond shapes by making diagonal cuts in the opposite direction. Place the Beignets on a floured baking sheet to let rise about 40 minutes in a warm place (I place them in a barely warm oven).
When the Beignets have risen, heat 2-3 inches of vegetable oil in a large saucepan to 350-360 degrees. Place 2-3 Beignets into the hot oil at a time, being careful not to smash or deflate them. When they are golden brown, flip them over until golden brown on the other side (They go pretty quickly so start checking them right after they go into the oil). Remove to paper towel lined plates to drain. Serve hot topped with plenty of powdered sugar (because the dough doesn't contain much sugar, you will want a lot!). Best served with Cafe au Lait. Enjoy!
Makes about 2 dozen.
I cut my dough into rectangles.. but as you read the recipe you will see he cuts his into diamond shapes. I think that must look so pretty and I'm going to try that next time.
I fried mine in my cast iron skillet. It worked out wonderfully! Make sure the heat is hot enough so that the dough starts cooking and turning golden pretty quickly. You also want to make sure you continue turning them over. Have a wire basket type spoon ready to remove them and put them on a double paper lined plate.
So golden and beautiful!!
The powdering stage was the funniest stage for me the day I made these. It happened to be a beautiful breezy day and I had the window open enjoying the wind coming in. I mean, it was REALLY blowing to the point were the flame under the pan was fluttering all over the place. Don't ask me why.. but I had the tray of beignets right out of the pan near an open window.. dusting them with the powdered sugar. Definitely a site I, as well as my kitchen was. I read another recipe that instructs you too have a paper bag filled with powdered sugar and then to toss the hot beignets into the bag. That would have been the ideal route to take! So much quicker and cleaner!