Friday, March 25, 2016

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

Scrumptious treats blended with fresh chopped apple and warm fragrant spices.
Doughnuts-- the tasty sweet pastry that one can try to live without and have no real success.
Thankfully, Dottie's Donuts is an eleven minute trek from home.
On grey days, where the sun decides to hide splendid beauty showcased just warmly yesterday, one takes matters into their own grubby hands to save a little time and money. My first attempt at vegan doughnuts, two years ago, were Sour Cream Doughnut Holes in fact. They were crisp on the outside due to the generous sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar and pliantly moist on the inside.
Weeks ago, I purchased a doughnut pan at Michael's (they were having a 30% off baking supplies sale) and put off ideas, knowing that my favorite place would be opening soon. Now that I have tried and fallen deeper in love, was there room left to make one's own?
Of course.
Why not have the best of both worlds?
I wanted to try crafting a baked version and loved My Darling Vegan's Apple Cider Doughnuts. With her recipe as an inspirational guide, I added cloves, ginger, and chopped Gala apple and omitted the canola oil to add extra applesauce. 
These don't taste like authentic traditional style doughnuts of yore. Maybe due to my using whole wheat flour instead of all purpose-- which I will use next time. It has a muffin flavor profile, not exactly doughnut, but its delicious taste has autumn bells ringing early. Plus the sweetness might be too strong. I liked gaining the simple lessons learned from creating this introductory doughnut bath and plan to invent other recipes down the road.
And still go to Dottie's along journeying way. 

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts Ingredients and Preparation

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking poweder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup apple cider
2 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Gala apple, chopped


1/4 cup apple cider

Cinnamon-Sugar Topping

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Counter full of pleasing ingredients.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease doughnut pan. 
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice together.
Mix apple cider, apple sauce, maple syrup, and vanilla.
Combine wet and dry ingredients together.

Add chopped apple. Stir evenly well.
Spoon batter into the doughnut pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let doughnuts cool.
Brush each doughnut in apple cider and coat with cinnamon-sugar.
Serve and eat.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Asparagus With Butternut Squash Puree and Gardein's Crabless Cakes

Lady Persephone has sprung a pretty plated meal.
Happy Spring Equinox. Philadelphia weather isn't feeling spirit of the warm sun and blooming flowers concept yet. With gray sky and slight chill this afternoon, it's muted autumn territory. 
Originally asparagus, being a dark, intense shade of grass green and all, was conceived for St. Patrick's Day. Life has been busily chaotic with grad school at its near bittersweet end. Thesis paper, painting preparation, and obsessive search for summer plans have taken bulk of my mind and body activity.
Still, an asparagus meal, perfect fit for special occasion, especially with a dollop of butternut squash puree and crispy gardein Crabless Cakes, evokes spring promise.
For added color, perhaps a vibrant pop of red and sweetness, I would suggest plump cherry tomatoes atop of the butternut squash puree.

An A+ effort for gardein's Mini Crispy Crabless Cakes. Pan seared in a bit of olive oil, these delicate crunchy patties were a superb complement to steamed asparagus and butternut puree. I have never had a real crab cake and can only vouch for the flavor and texture of this particular creation-- that of which I immensely feel in love. To let fork pierce into crisply succulent cake is a heavenly experience second to devouring its savory taste. It's a plus that there requires no pre-microwave. Just heat up olive oil and sear each side for 6 minutes.
Asparagus With Butternut Squash Puree Ingredients and Preparation

1/2 cup butternut squash, cut and cubed
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon salt

Bring butternut squash to a boil.
Drain some not all of water.
In a blender or food processor, combine butternut squash with nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Pulse well.

After boiling asparagus (or steaming), drain and plate.
Pour butternut squash puree over top. Serve with hot gardein's Crabless cakes.

Golden yellow butternut squash puree layering dark green asparagus.
Simple fancy feast.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

(Louise) Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun: A Post Without the Visual

Tenacious crafted skill is a soft feminine breath inhaling sharply etched presence among elaborate situation. With background walls painted in warm matte tones such as Venetian red and cinnamon brown to give mesmerizing paintings a valid space to occupy, revolutionary Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, one of France's finest earlier female artists, has a time-honored retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Hung until May 15th, on lower level behind white marble sculpture land, neoclassical lovers, traditionalist academia buffs, and painting enthusiasts have been granted an astounding opportunity. For this special exhibition photography is prohibited-- both unfortunate and fortuitous. This humbling request asks viewers to grasp at memory, to keep luminous beauty stored so close that belted glory cannot come unbuckled upon fateful exit.
Therefore, to truly comprehend utmost significance of this talented woman's tremendous art canon contribution, to fully appreciate her important legacy, is to choose proper words regarding work left behind, including private collected pieces never before seen on the east side of Atlantic Ocean. Vigée Le Brun's sophisticated oeuvre features over one hundred masterfully detailed paintings and pastel drawings. Ubiquitous lines cross evocative boundaries between Rococo and Baroque elements, showing frank interest in both portraiture and environmental surrounding with excessive attention to technical accuracy. From rosy cherub pink to dreamy turquoise concoction, vibrant candy flavored color schemes unearth undeniable yearning to further study formulaic properties of such richly-engaging-guarantee-to-rotten-teeth palette. Luscious high hued fabrics appearing silken, ruffled, and velvety to touch are realistic shifts playing deceptive games in light and shadow.
First part of Vigée Le Brun's chronological timeline shares her defiant pursuit to be treated with respect and honor, eventually receiving a license to paint and become a member of the prestigious Academie. Esteemed nobility are her earliest clientele until Marie Antoinette, notoriously described as a frivolous narcissistic queen of perfidy, obtains Vigée Le Brun as official portraitist. This is considered powerful position to become court painter, rarely a woman on top of that, which elevates status and influence quite remarkably. She becomes her patron's confidante, entrusted to royal secrets, interweaving extravagant tales via paintbrush. For example, Salon rejected French queen in a modest chemise portrait, deemed scandalous at the time, appears next to acceptably clothed successor. Both share Antoinette's quarter view gaze with a carefree hand holding vivaciously plump flowers.
After fleeing Paris prior to Antoinette's gulliotine, Vigée Le Brun finds other wealthy benefactors due to impressive widespread reputation. She remains capturing distinguished, educated young women in rather compelling believability. These spry, lovely women, with their long hair, moist parted mouths and penchant for roses, are not lustful objects meant for male desire. Although Antoinette likely craved that position in her isolated portraits, these later subjects relish in the world of delicious books and picturesque landscape. Motherhood is important also, bearing a strong foundation in certain works whereas solitude in intelligence opens up another kind of dialogue altogether. Colors are still vivid and wonderful, making it near impossible for eyes to look away from quixotic verisimilitude. To have known that a woman could authenticate creamy faces dipped in the blushing vibrance of life is enough reason to become utterly obsessed, besotted in fact.
At finale, forced to retain knowledge beheld, listening ears weren't surprised to hear awestruck gasps. These frequent audible intervals are a minor distraction bursting out like little nocturnal flies attracted to bright incandescent street lamps. That only defines gratifying depth Vigée Le Brun's brushstrokes have on rapt audience.
It brings notion to return and perhaps coerce memory to carry a little more of the beautiful loaded burden.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Dottie's Donuts: The Sweetly Launched Storefront

It was such a treat that Dottie's Donuts, one of the staple desserts for local sweet-tooth addictive vegans, has finally opened their West Philadelphia location this bright, beautiful morning.
Over the past few months, Dottie's Donuts has been a wonderful, necessary fix.
They sell their animal free rounded deliciousness at various area locations. Center City's Govinda's is usually my place of choice, being near school and all. 
Now Dottie's has cemented a stake in the neighborhood-- aka great walking distance and a reason for the euphoric pep step. Although missing the free cookies and other goodies, I was pleasantly surprised by the spectacle, reminding me a bit of Dun-Well Doughnuts-- the donuts on a stack on silver racks, purchased donuts removed from mentioned racks, and even how donuts were displayed. Yet while Dun-Well Doughnuts has that rustic, bicycle aesthetic, Dottie's Donuts has an irresistibly unique presence offering good harmless fun. Plus both doughtnut-teries spell "donut" rather differently.
Still, I love both places. I'm especially thrilled for Dottie's-- it's been a long time coming.
Happy heart, satisfied belly, and sugar high taste buds would love to thank the hardworking, very creative peeps behind Dottie's Donuts and wish them all the best of luck in the world. So many of us, vegans and non-vegans, are hyper-enthusiastic and proud to guzzle up mouthwatering donuts!

The confectionery painted decor is a charming bold pink and white with heavy black accents which suits purpose quite well. Joyous singing and skipping around groups of animated donuts added humored spunk and mischievous spirit. Makes it a friendly, approachable location to gobble away. The place is also small and intimate, so whatever the donut rush hour may be, just giving a heads up that things might get tight.
Donuts, outside of their traditional four flavor a day variety, there were about ten choices (some sold out like the Boston Cream Pie). The clean clear display case showed off chocolate, chocolate peanut butter pretzel, stuffed peanut and butter and jelly, lemon poppyseed, Rooibos tea, and others. There was also iced cinnamon rolls, cellophane wrapped muffins, bagels with choice cream cheeses, coffee drinks and tea. Overall, a perfect menu with a reasonable price.
Donuts en route home. Only one did not survive entirety of journey....
In radiant sunshine and to the hip classic beat of Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive," I hold no shame in revealing that minutely warm blueberry maple met a rather gluttonous end. Pliant, moist and tender donut tasted like heaven's sugared brilliance, almost causing some traffic stopping dancing in the streets. Sugar twinged insides chirped with delightful pleasure at the knowledge that this is perhaps the freshest donut I have ever personally consumed by beloved Dottie. And I am even more pleased to state that walking down to a vegan favorite will be the most cherished event of my mornings now. One could get used to yummy specialty.