French Quarter Beignets
& Scalded Milk with Espresso and Cinnamon

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!

The Inspired Plate May 2012 Challenge
"Inspired By A Magazine Cover"

Welcome to the May 2012 Edition of "The Inspired Plate's" Food Photography and Photo Challenges. I am so excited to introduce you to The Inspired Plate. This is the first time I am posting my challenge here on DMC. I usually post all of my photo challenges on my photography blog, A Favored Life, but I am so thrilled about these challenges and the woman I share in them with, that I really thought it would be wonderful for you to meet them and see what we are all about. To read more about our challenges and to meet some of our gals, click on the link here where you can view April's Pasta Challenge.

Once a month we post on our blogs the Food Photo and Styling challenge. Each month we are given a photo assignment related to food and styling. We are all photographers with a passion for food who really want to hone in on our styling abilities. It has been an amazing ride and we have all learned SO much from each other, from our challenges, our successes and yes.. even our failures.

This months challenge has been by far my favorite! We were asked to use a food magazine as inspiration to design our own cover. Is it any wonder that my favorite magazine is La Cucina Italiana! :) As I was looking through my magazines, I came to find out that I have issues that date back all the way to 2004.. That's 8 years worth of La Cucina Italian Magazines!!

I thought this challenge was going to be easier than it was.. I intended to style and shoot a cover as close as possible to the original, but I liked elements from two particular covers. I liked the whole roasted bird from the cover on the right.. but I wasn't ready for turkey quite yet.  I also liked the braising of the vegetables from the cover on the right. Do you see the fennel? LOVE braising fennel in a rich chicken broth with a dash of color from radicchio.  I also loved the placement of the roasted garlic on the tray. I had a tray!! But it is an antique toile painted tray that has the most beautiful colors.. so I wanted to add more of a color scheme to the design than the original cover has. I had my innards in a pan ready to make a wonderful gravy.. but time got away from me and I had to start my styling set up to be ready to shoot as soon as the food was all ready, so, I didn't place the gravy in the photo but opted instead to add a dish with roasted garlic and baked bread, as well as salt and pepper sides.

When you are done here.. please visit my amazing and talented friend Jennifer Olson | Central Coast, CA Food Photographer.  I just met Jen in December through a friend on the Bloom Forum. (Where most of us photographers met) She has so much creativity and talent. Gorgeous to boot and the sweetest gal in the whole world! I love you Jen and your support here on The Inspired Plate always keeps me focused as a photographer growing in my art. xoxo 

La Cucina Italiana inspiration cover's. 
Braised Radicchio and Fennel Bulb

I first sautéed my soffrito of onions, carrots and celery in olive oil. As it became tender and translucent I added the radicchio seasoning it with fresh cracked black pepper and coarse sea salt and zest of lemon rind. Let brown just till golden and then remove it. I browned the fennel bulb lightly on all sides seasoning the same way as the radicchio and then added the chicken broth. I let the fennel become tender (aldente) and then added the radicchio back to the pan and let braise for another 3-5 minutes. The radicchio doesn't take long to cook and it loses it's color rather quickly. Less is more in this case! :)

Simply scrumptious with fresh herbs, olive oil and lemon zest. In a bowl mix olive oil, coarse sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper, fresh oregano leaves and lemon zest together. Pour over cleaned fingerling potatoes and prepared garlic heads. Stuffing some of the oregano leaves into the garlic. Roast in 365 degree oven for 45 minutes.. till tender. Oven
times vary. 

This simple bird was stuffed with lemon slices, a garlic bulb and fresh oregano. I doused the outside of the bird with olive oil, dry white wine, salt, pepper, cayenne, more chopped oregano and fresh lemon juice. I also roast my chickens at 365 degrees for approximately 1 to 1-1/2 hours compared to the normal 350 that so many recipes call for. I find that I get a much more juicy bird on the inside and a crisp exterior with a nice crunch to the skin.  This bird may look a little dry, that's only because of the length of time it took me to get all the photo's taken. But even after re-heating it when my husband came home, it was moist and DELICIOUS! 

Orange Cranberry Scones

Yummy Scones for your weekend.. or for any day of the week for that matter. My kids 
love having something quick to grab in the mornings before they head out to school. And 
this recipe, with very little sugar, and some naturally added Vitamin C from the cranberries 
and orange zest makes me feel comfortable that I'm not feeding into a junk food addiction. 
You can glaze them, or do what I did here and just sprinkle with a small amount of sugar. 
I really like the larger sugar crystals for breakfast breads like this. You can also substitute 
coarse sanding sugar with Turbinado sugar or raw sugar. 

Here is a link to check out the sugars at SWEET.. a candy and bakery supply company.
And if your interested in some more scone recipes.. here you can check out my DMC Blueberry Scones.