Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Quickfire Challenge: Chocolate Donut Holes

On the way back from dinner we decided to pick up a few donut holes and have ourselves a little quickfire challenge. If you're not familiar with the concept, participants are given a culinary challenge to complete in a relatively short amount of time. We gave ourselves 30 minutes to create a unique dish using the chocolate donut holes.

After checking the contents of our kitchen, we were each allowed 10 minutes to come up with a menu. Once the challenge commenced, the atmosphere made us feel like we were in the Top Chef kitchen - pots banged into one another, we scrambled back and forth checking cabinets, and pans started heating on the stove. Time was up before we knew it, but we were both able to finish plating our chocolate donut hole dishes.

I felt like our choices were somewhat limited to only creating sweet dishes, being that our main ingredient was a donut, but we both created some pretty creative plates. My concept was to make chocolate munchkin lollipops 3 ways. I started by making my own chocolate sauce as a base, and then created different flavors for each donut hole to be dipped in. I had a chocolate peanut butter pop, which was pretty tasty, followed by a chocolate mint coffee dipped pop, which was then rolled in a little raw sugar to sweeten it. As if the whole thing wasn't sweet enough already. My favorite of the pops was dipped in the plain chocolate sauce and was coated in cinnamon sugar pecans that I toasted on the stove. I arranged them all on a circle of the sauce on a small white plate and had just enough time to create a hazelnut drink to wash it all down with...with a little bit of the chocolate sauce drizzled in of course. -E

I'm a sucker for three-way presentations, so I decided to do chocolate donut holes three different ways. First, I cut the donut holes in half and placed three of them on the plate, all lined up. I drizzled them with a little maple syrup and topped that all off with some freshly roasted almonds to add a little earthy, nutty flavor to all that sweetness. The second portion of my dish was filet of donut hole, served over a blueberry-ginger preserve for a bit of tartness. And finally, I served the halved donut holes along side some halved peanut butter cups. I melted down some chocolate and peanut butter and drizzled the sauce over top, which ended up looking pretty cool. -B

Bill definitely took the cake, or donut, for plating. He used a lot of creative ingredients to create 3 separate donut creations all on one plate. My favorite plating of his was the peanut-butter cups that were drizzled in a peanut butter chocolate sauce. The best tasting part was definitely his toasted almonds that accompanied the donut hole halves. The drizzling of the maple syrup overtop was a really nice touch as well, although I think it would have done better had it been warmer. I also really liked his choice of using blueberry-ginger jelly alongside his donut hole filets, as he called them. A surprisingly good flavor with chocolate. -E

I really liked Elizabeth's concept - simple, yet cute and creative at the same time. Her presentation was definitely a bit more focused than mine, although I would have liked a splash of color or something else interesting. The lollypops were tasty - especially the one with the toasted pecans. Apparently toasting nuts is our speciality. It had a nice balance of textures with the soft donut and the crunchy pecans. The peanut butter pop was really good too...I mean, can you really go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter? I ended up hitting a coffee-heavy spot in her mint coffee and raw sugar pop, and it was a little bit too strong, but the idea was definitely something neat and I think the flavors could work really well together if they were a bit more balanced. The drink was yummy too and it was certainly a clever way to tie everything together. -B

Really fun idea, great date night if you like to cook and compete...definitely going to go with something savory next time. I had quite a sugar rush when we were done. Oh and allow for plenty of cleanup time! -E

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Antipasto & updates!

So we're not exactly Italian (with names like Lynch and Shaughnessy who would have guessed?), but every so often we find it fun to have antipasto as a meal. The main attraction for us is usually the fresh roasted garlic, which we apply lavishly to whatever bread we've purchased for the evening. This time it was a nice, fresh loaf of Italian bread.

Most of the other items we picked up during our recent trip to Trader Joe's. The peppered salami was really delicious with a great kick from the black pepper rub. For the most part the meal turned into miniature sandwiches consisting of one of the meats, one of the cheeses, and fresh garlic. Mix around the ingredients and repeat. And of course some of the bread gets soaked in extra virgin olive oil and herbs de provence. (Elizabeth was kind enough to separate her anchovies from the rest of the plate. Blech. -B)

We're both going to be extremely busy for the next few weeks dealing with graduate school stuff, but we promise we've got a TON of cool places coming up in the early parts of 2010. Bryan Voltaggio's VOLT in Maryland is already a definite, and we're thinking about a few other neat culinary journeys to take. One option is a burger tour, stopping at places like White Manna, Elevation Burger, and Smashburger. Hoboken might also be on our list so we can stop at Miami Rice Pudding on our way to the Taco Truck.

Stay tuned!