Wake Up to Beignets & Café au Lait

Beignets Cafe

My friend Morgan taught me how to make these puffy fried pastries when I was interviewing her for our Mardi Gras blog post several years ago. These light fritters are a traditional New Orleans-style dessert that can be enjoyed as a morning treat, mid-afternoon snack or as a sweet ending to dinner.

  • 3/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Nonstick spray
  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners  sugar for sprinkling

How to Make Beignets

Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, beat the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Add the egg mixture to the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, measure out the flour. Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the butter and continue to stir while adding the remaining flour. Remove dough from the bowl, place onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm place for about an hour. Add oil to a large, heavy pan and heat on medium (make sure to cover the entire bottom of pan with oil, about 1/2 inch.) Roll the dough out and cut into 1-inch squares. Add dough to oil and fry for about 2 – 3 minutes or until golden brown and flip. Cook for another 1 – 2 minutes. After beignets are fried, drain them for a few seconds on paper towels, and then sift confectioners’ sugar over beignets. Makes 1 1/2 dozen.

Enjoy beignets with cafe au lait: steam milk and add to coffee.

Cheers – Crystal

Meatless Monday | Summer Salad with Grilled Corn & Black Beans

Grilled Corn Salad | Aprons & Stilettos

Today I headed over to the local produce stand to pick up some fresh vegetables for the week. I just spent six days in North Carolina enjoying southern food at its finest and after indulging in North Carolina BBQ, fried chicken and waffles, biscuits (with every meal) and grandma’s lemon chess pie, I decided I should probably load up on fresh veggies this week. As I was driving towards Mike’s Truck Garden produce stand I noticed they were advertising fresh corn for sale so I decided to pick up a bag. Taking into account that today is Meatless Monday, I decided to make one of my favorite summer salads: grilled corn & black bean salad with radishes, cilantro, lime juice and queso fresco.

Veggies

4 ears of fresh corn, shucked
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
Queso fresco, crumbled
1 avocado, thinly sliced
Salt

Preheat your grill. Cook the corn on the grill until slightly charred, about 10 minutes. Let cool before cutting off the corn kernels.

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, chili powder and salt. Once the corn has cooled, cut the corn kernels from the cob and transfer to the bowl. Add the rinsed black beans, radishes, scallions and cilantro. Mix together. Top salad with queso fresco and avocado.

Cheers ~ Crystal

Grilled Summer Squash & Prosciutto Ribbons with Mint-Lime Dressing

Squash Ribbon Skewers
The arrival of summer means getting outdoors, enjoying time on the patio and firing up the barbeque. One of my favorite things to do during the warmer month (besides hiking or heading to the coast) is throwing local ingredients on the ‘que and enjoying dinner “al fresco style” with friends and family.

Each week, I head down to my favorite local produce stand (Mike’s Truck Garden) in Santa Rosa, California. This past week, I picked up some beautiful summer squash, prosciutto, a bag of Bing cherries along with other vegetables to get me through the week. As I was searching for inspiration for a new “summer squash” recipe, I came across this simple grilled squash kebab recipe from Food & Wine magazine. This recipe was so easy to make and delicious that I thought I should share it with all of you. It’s perfect as a light main dish, appetizer or side dish and it taste great straight from the grill or tossed with whole wheat pasta.

Squash Ribbon Kebabs

2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise on a mandoline
2 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced lengthwise on a mandoline
6 slices of prosciutto, cut in half
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup chopped mint (feel free to add more mint as desired)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
Salt and ground pepper, to taste

Light the grill or preheat a grill pan. In a small bowl, mix together the lime zest, lime juice, mint, garlic and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Alternately thread the zucchini, yellow squash and prosciutto on kebab skewers. Lightly brush the remaining olive oil over the vegetables and prosciutto. Lightly season with salt and pepper (try to avoid seasoning too much salt on the prosciutto pieces). Grill the skewers over high heat until the vegetables are lightly charred, about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes each side. Serve with the mint-lime dressing on the side.

Cheers and have a safe Fourth of July holiday! ~Crystal