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Archive for February 7, 2014

VALENTINE’S DAY: Red Velvet Donuts ~ Baked, Not Fried

For all your Valentine—the recipe makes two
dozen donuts! Photo courtesy Farmgirl


This recipe is courtesy of Farmgirl Gourmet, one of our favorite blogs. Author Heather Scholten, the author, is a recipe developer, food blogger and photographer. She writes: “I love whipping up deliciousness in my 100 year old kitchen. My emphasis is on family friendly recipes with a gourmet twist. I grow it, I cook it, I snap it, I eat it.”

What better way to start off Valentine’s Day than with Heather’s red velvet donuts? They’re dipped in cream cheese frosting and decorated with sprinkles to add even more festivity.

The donuts are easy to make—baked, not fried. Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes. The full recipe was originally published on


Ingredients For 24 Donuts

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red gel food coloring (see section below on food coloring types)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
    For The Icing

  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk
  • Garnish: red sprinkles or candy hearts

  • Donut baking pans


    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Spray a donut baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

    2. COMBINE the flours, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk until fluff.

    3. ADD the milk, eggs, food coloring and olive oil and mix until just combined. Carefully pour into prepared baking pan. Bake for 9-12 minutes, or until the tops are no longer tacky. Turn out onto a wire rack and cool.

    4. PREPARE the icing: Combine all ingredients for icing in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high at 30 second intervals, stirring in-between until cream cheese melts and frosting is a runny consistency. Add additional milk if frosting becomes too thick.

    5. DIP the cooled donuts in the icing and sprinkle with candy sprinkles of your choice. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.


    The red velvet donuts have cream cheese frosting. Photo courtesy Farmgirl Gourmet.



    The typical food colors available in supermarkets are water-based liquids that work well for most purposes. In many recipes, you use so little of it that the teaspoon or so of water isn’t going to impact the outcome of the recipe.

    But if you are looking for intense color—such as in red velvet cake—you need to use a lot of liquid to get the vibrant color. Too much liquid will alter the consistency of cake, candies, donuts and deep-colored frostings.

  • Soft gel food coloring (sometimes called liquid gel, not to be confused with the conventional liquid coloring) delivers a deep, rich color without thinning the batter or frosting.
  • Gel paste food coloring is very concentrated and provides even deeper, more vivid colors than gel. It should be used in very small quantities.
  • Powdered food coloring is another very concentrated option that is often used to decorate cookies.
  • You can often find gel food colors in craft stores, as well as in baking supplies stores and online, where you can buy red only or the four basic food colors. Wilton sells a set of eight gel colors, as well as neon and pastel sets.
    Don’t substitute one for another, unless you have time to test the results.

  • If exact color is important, mix the color in daylight so you can see the true hue. Start with less color and adjust as you go.
  • Note that the longer the icing sits, the stronger the color will be. Proceed accordingly.

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    RECIPE: Brie & Beet Bruschetta

    More purple passion: beets with Brie on
    bruschetta. Photo and recipe courtesy


    This appetizer or first course pairs with your favorite wine: red, white or sparkling. And beer, too, of course.

    Or, serve the bruschetta with the salad course. Prep time is 5 minutes, cooking time is 10 minutes.


    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 4 slices thick cut rustic bread
  • 2 cloves garlic, flattened and cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 16 ounces pickled whole beets*, cut into thick wedges
  • 7 ounces Brie, cut into slices
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    *Love Beets beets uses two packages of its Beets Dipped In Vinegar. If you can’t find them, use pickled beets or plain beets that you can marinate lightly in vinegar.



    1. PREHEAT the broiler and toast the bread on one side.

    2. RUB the untoasted side with the garlic and brush with olive oil.

    3. ARRANGE the beet wedges on the untoasted side of the bread and lay the slices of Brie on top. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper to taste and place back under the broiler.

    4. BROIL until the cheese is hot and bubbling. Serve immediately.

    Here’s the difference.


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    FOOD FUN: Valentine Pizza

    You can use a giant heart-shape cookie pan, pressing into the dough like a cookie cutter, to cut a heart-shaped crust (which also works for anniversaries, bridal showers, birthdays, Mother’s Day and other festivities).

    Or you can freehand it.

    Use your Valentine’s favorite toppings or stick to a red theme:


  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Diced San Marzano tomatoes (canned)
  • Grilled red pepper (pimiento)
  • Mini red jacket potatoes, cooked and halved
  • Pepperoni
  • Pimento-stuffed olives
  • Red bell peppers
  • Red chiles (Anaheim, Fresno or jalapeño, e.g.)
  • Sliced plum tomatoes
  • Sundried tomatoes


    We [heart] pizza. Photo courtesy Due Forni | Las Vegas.



  • Pepperoni
  • Prosciutto/Serrano ham
  • Salmon caviar
  • Shrimp
  • Smoked salmon
    One of our favorite pizzas: sliced boiled potatoes, smoked salmon strips, salmon caviar and fresh dill with white sauce.

    It’s perfect for Valentine’s Day or any day!


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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Éclat Chocolate


    Chocolates to fall in love with. Photo courtesy Éclat Chocolate.


    Oh, how lucky the people of West Chester, Pennsylvania are. Seven days a week they can stroll into Éclat Chocolate at 24 South High Street and select tempting confections.

    Everyone else can order the chocolates online or by phone (1.610.692.5206). Some items are available at Dean and Deluca (New York and California) and DiBruno Bros. in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square.

    But the temple to the marriage of great chocolate and art is located 25 miles west of Philadelphia, close to Valley Forge; and 17 miles north of Wilmington, Delaware. And it is close to our hearts.

    For Valentine’s Day we want:

  • The beautiful bonbons, both hearts and classic shapes
  • The exquisite caramels, round domes of chocolate filled with buttery liquid caramel)
  • The glamorous, modern mendiants—disks of beauty
  • The melt-in-your-mouth chocolate truffles
    There’s more, but Easter is coming.

    Chocolatier Christopher Curtin is the first American to be awarded the honor of German Master Pastry Chef and Chocolatier in Cologne, Germany.

    He honed his skills in the finest chocolate houses of Belgium, France, Germany, Japan and Switzerland, and the results will please the fussiest connoisseur.

    In French, éclat (pronounce ay-CLAH) can mean:

  • Great brilliance, as of performance or achievement.
  • Conspicuous success.
  • Great acclamation or applause.
    We applaud all three.
    Head to Just looking at the beautiful photos is a most satisfying experience.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Technicolor Salad

    Salads don’t have to be boring. The more varied the ingredients, the more interesting they are. Colors, textures are as important as flavors.

    While winter might seem to be a tough season for salad, there’s actually a lot you can do to liven things up. Take this “Technicolor Salad.”

    While green ingredients are a given, look for ingredients from the other produce “color groups.”

  • Green vegetables: edamame (soybean), herbs (basil, cilantro, dill, parsley), Granny Smith apples, grapes, green beans, green peas (frozen are fine), mesclun or other salad greens, olives, snow peas, sugar snap peas
  • Orange vegetables: bell pepper strips, carrots (baby carrots, sliced or shaved carrots), kumquats, grape tomatoes, mandarin wedges, mango, sweet potatoes (cubed or sliced)
  • Purple vegetables: cauliflower, grapes, kalamata olives, kale, Peruvian potatoes, red cabbage, red raisins (plumped in cider)
  • Red vegetables: beets, bell pepper strips, cherry tomatoes, dried cherries or cranberries, grape tomatoes, lady apples, mini red jacket potatoes, pomegranate arils, radicchio, radishes, red grapes/champagne grapes, red onion
  • Yellow vegetables: bell pepper strips, golden raisins (plumped in cider), lemon peel, miniature pattypan squash, star fruit (carambola)



    “A technicolor salad.” Photo courtesy California Pizza Kitchen.

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Any other ingredients you like (cheese, dinner salad proteins, e.g.)
  • Dressing of choice
    A complex salad should be paired with a light dressing, like a vinaigrette. If you like a creamy dressing, try the yogurt vinaigrette recipe below.


    1. COMBINE ingredients in a serving bowl.

    2. DRESS and serve. Professionals toss the salad ingredients with clean hands or plastic gloves. We use the clean hands technique. If you don’t want to do either, use two large spoons to lift and flip the salad. But you’ll get much more even coverage with the hand-toss technique.



    Yogurt vinaigrette. Photo courtesy Betty



    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: minced herbs (we used dill)

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a bowl or jar; whisk or shake until thoroughly blended.



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