|I had the good fortune of visiting New Orleans prior to Hurricane Katrina - it really is an incredible city with an extraordinary history that's been home to some of the world’s best talent, culinary and beyond, including Louis Armstrong, Harry Connick Jr., Anne Rice, Lillian Hellman, Tennessee Williams, Paul Prudhomme, Emeril Lagasse, and John Besh just to name a few. New Orleans is also a fantastic food town and I’m sure they’ve had more than a few good meals in their fair city.
Photo by Ellen Silverman
Like any good foodie, when I visit a new place it's all about the food. During my brief stay in New Orleans I tried my best to experience everything New Orleans had to offer food wise. I had crawfish every which way to Sunday, Gumbo, Jambalalya, Po’ Boys, Okra Stew, Ettouffee, and the cocktail of choice The Hurricane. But out of all that great food nothing says New Orleans to me like the classic Beignet which I've never dared to try and recreate - until now.
In DamGoodSweet, Washington, DC based culinary consultant and former pastry chef David Guas, along with food writer Raquel Pelzel, celebrate the best of what New Orleans has to offer, for your sweet tooth that is. With over 40 recipes, this book is a real love letter to a city that has embraced so many different cultures and cuisines and somehow made them their own.
These desserts are decadent, yet not over the top. Still they are definitely something special like New Orleans herself. What's not to like about Bananas Foster, or Double Chocolate Bread Pudding with Salted Bourbon Caramel Sauce (Hello!)? And of course the Buttermilk Beignets. I love them still warm with a dusting of powdered sugar. With each bite I'm transported back to Bourbon Street on that hot summer day in 2002.
What a phenomenal city! If you want to experience just a little of the sweet spirit that makes New Orleans a place like no other then whip-up a little something from DamGoodSweet and be prepared to be satisfied New Orleans Style.
From DamGoodSweet by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel, Taunton 2009.
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour plus extra for flouring work surface
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Peanut oil for frying
- Confectioners' sugar for serving, as much as you think you'll need-then double that!
Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until small bubbles form at the surface. Remove from the heat, add the buttermilk, and then pour into a stand mixer bowl. Whisk in the yeast and the sugar and set aside for 5 minutes. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, and mix on low speed, using a dough hook, until the dry ingredients are moistened, 3 to 4 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium and continue mixing until the dough forms a loose ball and is still quite wet and tacky, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set the dough aside in a draft-free spot for 1 hour.
Pour enough peanut oil into a large pot to fill it to a depth of 3 inches and bring to a temperature of 375°F over medium heat (this will take about 20 minutes). Line a plate with paper towels and set aside.
Lightly flour your work surface and turn the dough out on it. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour, gently press to flatten, fold it in half, and gently tuck the ends under to create a rough-shaped round. Dust again and roll the dough out into a
½-inch- to ¹/³ -inch-thick circle. Let the dough rest for 1 minute before using a chef's knife, a bench knife, or a pizza wheel to cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares (you should get about 48).
Gently stretch a beignet lengthwise and carefully drop it into the oil. Add a few beignets (don't overcrowd them, otherwise the oil will cool down and the beignets will soak up oil and be greasy) and fry until puffed and golden brown, turning them often with a slotted spoon, for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to the prepared plate to drain while you cook the rest. Serve while still warm, buried under a mound of confectioners' sugar, with hot coffee on the side.
Makes about 4 dozen beignets
Make Ahead: The beignet dough can be made up to 8 hours in advance of frying. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. After cutting the dough, place the beignets on the paper and place another greased sheet of parchment paper, sprayed-side down, on top. Wrap the entire baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The beignets can be fried straight from the refrigerator.
A city rich in food diversity, New Orleans is as much a city of banana cream pie as it is crawfish boil. In DamGoodSweet, pastry chef David Guas and food writer Raquel Pelzel delve into the rich fabric of the home-style sweets of New Orleans and its surrounding area. Through 50 amazing desserts, from traditional beignets, red velvet cake, and pralines to the lesser-known Roman chewing candy and calas fried rice cakes, Guas and Pelzel transport cooks from their home kitchens into the giant dessert gumbo that is New Orleans. Through instructional and anecdotal headnotes, plenty of great tips, and fun stories, DamGoodSweet is completely dedicated to the pastries and desserts of a unique American city.
Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.
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