Archive for the ‘In the News’ Category

The Next Iron Chef, Week 2; Innovation ~ Coffee and Donuts

Monday, October 11th, 2010

I was very excited to watch the Food Network’s second episode of The Next Iron Chef and see the first challenge of the evening involve coffee and doughnuts! What could be closer to a Fried Dough Ho’s heart after all? And I admit up front that I am rooting for Chef Mary Dumont as I had the distinct pleasure of dining on her scrumptious cuisine many years ago when she was the chef in foie gras-centric Sonoma Saveurs (now closed). Wishing I could taste the offerings, here is my thoughts based solely on what I witnessed.

But you must know that what was offered to the chefs to cook with were obviously sub-standard doughnuts. Considering this was being filmed in Los Angeles, I would have hoped the producers of the show might have sourced this ingredient from Randy’s Doughnuts but I could tell from the images of the doughnuts that these were mediocre at best. Given that, I am sure what the chefs did was to create the best possible dishes considering the mediocrity of their core ingredient.

Chef Pagan: Donut Tapa with ricotta, coffee-infused cream (the cream had come from a doughnut), bacon and pine nuts  as well a deep-fried doughnut with banana. There were some great comments about the fact that that Chef Pagan re-fried and already fried dough with Chef Estes alluring stating, “it was naughty!”   But Chef Caswell commented that he could not taste the coffee in either dish. The extra crunch on the outside of the double-fried doughnut looked like a bit of overkill, but apparently it tasted better than it looked.

Chef Tio – Her Old Fashioned Griddled with butter and Bacon and Egg Donut and served with red-eye gravy looked pretty disgusting; flat and lifeless. But the second offering of a buttermilk fried powdered doughnut topped with fried chicken livers with hearts – her version of chicken and waffles – was well-received by Estes and seemed quite appetizing to me. It was Chef Canora who said that chicken liver was not a breakfast meat and I wanted to bitch-slap him right there for that. Oh, so wrong, my friend! Her dish was favored by Chef Tsai.

Chef Dumont – Duo of bananas; Bananas which had been caramelized and served with a sauce made from the scrapings of a glazed doughnut and croutons from French doughnuts with a coffee crunch. The second was also bananas, this time deep-fried and served with a sauce made from the chocolate from a doughnut glaze.  She admitted that she wanted to have a lemon cream but a sliced finger prevented her from other additions. Chef Forgione expressed empathy over the injury, but pragmatic that it was a competition. Chef Dumont was quite possibly the least traditional of the evening’s offerings by going off on the banana junket, and not showcasing more doughnut and coffee flavor and it definitely hurt her in the long run, as Chef Tsai noted.

Chef  Chauhan – Doughnut Grilled with Cheddar and Fontina Cheeses as well as Doughnut Frittata made with glazed and chocolate doughnuts. It seems she used coffee and basil in the flavorings which elicited a wink from Chef Pagan. I would be curious which flavor doughnut she used for the grilled cheese; it looked like a standard cake doughnut and while that might work, I am more intrigued with the basil-scented frittata. Chefs Tio, Pagan and Dumont picked these dishes as their favorite.

Chef Tsai – The only one to make a beverage this evening; an iced, frozen espresso topped with a thinly sliced section from a chocolate chip-studded doughnut. To complement the beverage, he sliced a glazed doughnut to make a panini with sliced green tomatoes, eggs, and ham. Chef Canora commented that he couldn’t get any coffee flavor and I wonder if the objective was to assure there was coffee flavor in both dishes. More surprisingly was Chef Caswell’s objection that “he’s seen it before.” Like Chef Tsai, I would be curious where one would find such a dish. It seemed innovative and oddly tasty.

Chef Estes – Tried to create baked shirred eggs but had to fry them up at the last minute with doughnut serve. Coffee yogurt with doughnut granola and coffee’d apricots. Like Chef Tsai’s beverage, the idea of a granola seemed more innovative and daring than what some of the other chefs were doing in the classic sandwich sense. Although the eggs seemed like they were not going to work, the presentation looked appetizing. Chef Canora picked Estes as the winner based on the granola.

Chef Forgione –  Coffee Sabayon served in eggshells served alongside a doughnut grilled in brown butter. His other dish was a deeply gorgeous browned French toast served with caramlized bananas and a coffee and bacon syrup. Chef Caswell thought the sabayon was perfect and Chef Chauhan chose Forgione’s dishes as her pick of the evening. Chef Pagan thought the French toast was innovative but did not like it because of texture. Honestly, if you are going to serve a dish in eggshells, make the eggshells presentable! I know they are on a time limit but having bits of broken and hanging shell bits dangling around what you are about to eat is less than appetizing.

Chef Caswell – Cake doughnut Pain Perdue and here I *do* see another glass with a beverage.  The pain perdue was made with a cake doughnut and served with a roasted peach, bacon bits, and coffee syrup. His version of a Vietnamese coffee was shockingly created a BLENDED monstrosity of buttermilk doughnuts with buttermilk, coffee and heavy cream. Excuse me? You blend fried dough with liquid and expect people to drink it? Well, obviously not well because no one could taste the doughnut in the dish. Some bickering occurred with Chef Forgione thinking Caswell’s French toast was undercooked (it did look a bit pale and pathetic!) as “it was squishy.”

Chef Canora – Breakfast sandwich which depicted a sliced, grilled doughnut was the base under an egg with fontina cheese, some spinach, and this slice of coffee-crusted Canadian bacon. The coffee crust made the dish look burned and unappealing. His second dish was cinnamon doughnut French Toast with sliced banana and a bunch of other toppings which were hard to distinguish. With comments from his fellow chefs that they were tasting bitter, Chef Canora tried to justify it with a comment that “Bitter is a great flavor that does not get enough recognition.” Oh really? Well, he did acknowledge later that he might have over-griddled his toast. This was favored by Chefs Caswell, Forgione.

THE WINNER: Chef Chuauan

THE LOSER: Chef Dumont

Doughnuts are Dangerous

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Doughnuts in the News – this is a report from The Chicago Tribune:



A Linn County judge has sentenced a 25-year-old Cedar Rapids man to 15 years in prison for a shooting that started over a powdered sugar doughnut.

Prosecutors say Derrick Roberts shot and seriously injuring Delores Smith as she sat in a parked van in April of last year. They say Roberts had a confrontation with the owners of the van earlier in the day because one of them had accidentally tossed the doughnut on his pants leg.

Roberts was found guilty by a jury in May of assault with intent to inflict serious injury, intimidation with a dangerous weapon, assault causing serious injury, going armed with intent and going armed with a concealed weapon.

Now in no way am I condoning a violent action, but that last paragraph made me laugh; “intimidation with a dangerous weapon” could be misconstrued as the DOUGHNUT being the dangerous weapon. This is more of a commentary on poorly written journalism with a doughnut bent to it.

Or it is a commentary on how seriously we doughnut fans take our powdered morsels… I’ll let you decide.

A little rant – The New York Times riding my coattails?

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Over a month ago, I waxed poetic about the discovery of Polish Pączki (May 3rd, to be exact). I was so enthusiastic about these morsels of fried goodness that I decide to make them myself. It was part of my birthday celebration to create the most exceptional form of fried dough for my friends that are humanly possible.

And yet here they show up in the New York Times. And I take Edward Schneider to task on describing their construction with a brioche dough. A BRIOCHE dough? You have got to be kidding! Sorry, Ed. You are so very, very wrong. Maybe that shop in New York is cutting corners by creating a Pączki with brioche dough, but the real recipe calls for alcohol. And a fondant? No, no, no. A bit of a dusting with sugar or possibly honey. Even the site you linked to shows a version that is glazed, not covered with fondant. Oh, you crazy New Yorkers…

Coincidence or conspiracy theory? Is it that the Fried Dough Ho is predicting a trend? Yep – forget cupcakes. Who cares about frozen yogurt? Organic and sustainable is yesterday’s news.

It is all about doughnuts. Or donuts. Whatever.

The crystal ball is out and the tarot cards have been cast. I predict the rise of the popularity of the doughnut and for me, it happened the day that the New York Times road my coattails through a vat of hot oil to be drained and glazed and consumed.

Welcome, brethren, to the Secret Brotherhood. Secret decoders rings will be made and available for sale shortly. Order yours early; supplies are limited.

Don’t Fuck with Top Pot Doughnuts – NFL Rookie Golden Tate caught Trespassing

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

I love it when doughnuts make the news. It is even more juicy when it involves a celebrity. There is something so ironic as the all-American wholesomeness of doughnuts with the sordid controversy of someone famous. In this case it is sports celebrity, Golden Tate, Seahawks draft pick and former Notre Dame wide receiver. Gee, an all-American sports star! According to the hometown newspaper, Tate was picked up at 3:00 a.m. for trespassing in Bellevue’s Top Pot Doughnut shop.

I have to admit some shame in that I visited Top Pot during a trip in the Pacific Northwest in February and I haven’t yet written up my account of Top Pot, but based on the Raspberry Chocolate Cake doughnut that I tasted, I can’t blame Tate one bit.

According to TMZ, Tate “was not arrested — but they wouldn’t expand on why the 21-year-old was inside the store while it was closed. [They] spoke to the manager of the Top Pot shop who said he would not be commenting on the matter.  On a related note, Top Pot recently inked a deal to become the official coffee and donut partner of Qwest Field — home of the Seattle Seahawks.”

Now based on the guy’s youth — heck, a mere 21-year old kid? — and how fabulous these doughnuts are, I say he was perfectly justified and to give him a break. I know that if *I* get a serious doughnut jonesing at 3:00 a.m. and Top Pot were in my neighborhood, I’d probably break in there as well.

National Doughnut Day – Don’t Forget the Salvation Army

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Stella Young, the Salvation Army Doughnut Girl

The first Friday in June is a very important day. It is National Donut Day. Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts establishments all over the country are giving away free donuts (if you like that sort of mass-produced, overly-sugared sort of thing and with Dunkin, the donut is only free with a purchase). Here in the Bay Area, I would suggest the likes of Dynamo, Pepples, or Psycho Donuts. I have no idea if any of these establishments are doing anything special to mark the day

Those who are more concerned with their gratuitous hunk of calories probably don’t care WHY it is National Donut Day. But I do and I think it is a pretty cool story. Well, my friends, it all goes back to the Salvation Army and World War I. In April of 1917, when America joined the war, the Salvation Army was right there to support the troops. National Commander Evangeline Booth, working with Lt. Colonel William Barker, responded to a request from the troops to “bring over some Lassies” and Evangeline imported a total of eleven Army volunteers to Europe, including four single women. More Salvation Army volunteers followed and small hostels were established very near the American troops, often right at the front line. Many stories still exist where the women as well as men were in danger from gunfire and mustard gas.

Vintage postcard showing a Salvation Army Doughnut Girl

It was October of 1917 when Ensigns Helen Purviance and Margaret Sheldon were assigned to the First Division at Montiers-sur-Saulx. After more than a solid month of demoralizing, deluging rain, the girls wanted to do something to lift the spirits of the downtrodden soldiers. Supplies had run out and were difficult to buy locally. The only things they could purchase were flour, sugar, lard, baking powder, cinnamon, and canned milk. “What about pancakes?” the girls debated. “No good cold, or without syrup.” “Doughnuts?” Originally, the dough was all hand-made, patted flat and fried in a shallow pan, seven at a time. The story goes that on their first attempt, the two girls, working late into the night, drew the troops with the aroma of fried goodness and served 150 handmade wonders. The requests overwhelmed them and more than double the amount of doughnuts was requested by the second day, with soldiers reminded of the flavors of home, lining up in the pouring rain for a single morsel.

Ansauville c.1918

The soldiers cheered the doughnuts and soon referred to the Salvation Army lassies as “Doughnut Girls” even when they baked apple pies or other treats. The simple doughnut became an iconographic symbol of all the good that the Salvation Army was doing to ease the hardships of the frontline fighting men.  The American Expeditionary Force was nicknamed “The Doughboys” and from being viewed with an attitude of skepticism the Salvation Army soon became the most popular organisation among the troops in France.

The importance of the Doughnut Girls and what they did for our troops grew. War correspondents and the letters home from the soldiers told stories of many of the girls who, besides frying doughnuts, became field nurses who suffered the inflictions of the gas and were often killed alongside those boys they were there to assist.  While the organization is more known today for its Santa Claus-clad volunteers ringing handbells outside of department stores during the holidays, in so many ways we have the Salvation Army to thank for American’s obsession and love of doughnuts — and the fact that they memorialized all of this in 1938 by announcing that the first Friday of June would be National Doughnut Day (or, National Donut Day, depending on how you spell it).

And the best treat of all – I invite you to listen to one of the original songs compliments of the technological marvel of an MP3. Written by Arthur Fields, the song Don’t Forget the Salvation Army was recorded on an Edison Blue Amberol 3796 in 1919. The sheet music cover is obviously designed after the photograph above of miss Stella Young, one of the original Doughnut Girls, clad in her Salvation Army uniform complete with helmet, with a ray of patriotic colors behind her. Here’s to you, Salvation Army and to all the Doughnut Girls everywhere.

Arthur Fields – Don’t forget the Salvation Army .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

Pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters, hear them ring
Oh what joy and what oh what bliss those coins can bring
For now our boys are landing at our shores everyday
This is what you’re bound to hear them say,

“Don’t forget the Salvation Army
Always remember my doughnut girl!
She brought them doughnuts and coffee
Just like an angel she was their best pal
As brave as a lion, but meek as a lamb,
She carried on beside the sons of Uncle Sam
So don’t forget the Salvation Army,
Remember my doughnut girl!”

Glory Hallelujah you will hear them shout
Helping any stranger who is down and out
Humanity uplifting in their most cheerful way
Is it any wonder that we say,