Sunday, April 24, 2011

Just got back from NOLA; beignets

Got back from NOLA yesterday, what an incredible 4-day splurge of eating. So many good restaurants we ate at:
  • Day/Night 1: Cochon for huge dinner feast
  • Day/Night 2: Cafe du Monde for breakfast, Central Grocery for muffaletta, Luke for oysters and other happy hour eats, Tracey's on Magazine for catfish poboy and fried pickles dinner, Coquette for drinks, Napoleon House for Pimms Cups, Yo Mama for late-nite peanut butter and bacon hamburgers (insanely good)
  • Day/Night 3: swamp tour in morning, August for lunch, Luke for oyster happy hour, Le Foret for dinner
  • Day 4: Commander's Palace for excellent jazz brunch, and a pretty good roast-beef po-boy for dinner
I have never eaten so well for so many consecutive days and meals, Got home not too long ago from easter lunch with family, and downloading photos from the to thinking about beignets!

The Cafe Du Monde box lists the following ingredients in this order, so it's probably an indication by weight
  1. enriched wheat flour
  2. milk (powder)
  3. buttermilk (powder)
  4. salt
  5. sugar
  6. leavening (baking powder, baking soda, and/or yeast)
  7. natural and artificial flavoring.
Some thoughts about them:
  1. They were not very sweet by themselves, sweetness all came from insane amounts of powdered sugar
  2. Almost a little custardy inside, very big holes, like highly hydrated dough. Reminded me of churro interior in terms of dampness and texture
  3. Of course very tender!
Some things I observed in person, and confirmed from a YouTube video, the CDM web site, and other online sources:
  1. They use Big Chief hotel and restaurant (H&R) flour for the dough (I saw big bags on pallets right outside the restaurant, and I took a photo). This is a bleached, bromated, unenriched white all-purpose flour, between 11.6-12.4% protein, according to the specs, and is milled in Texas for Koerner Co.
  2. The dough is sheeted and cut into squares by machine, then thrown right into oil to fry, for about 4 minutes. Unknown temp, although the CDM dry mix instructions say 370F.
  3. They use cottonseed oil to fry their dough.
  4. The dough should be soft, almost biscuity soft, and should be only very lightly mixed, so as not to form gluten.
I found a few recipes, this beignet recipe looks the most promising, because it doesn't use yeast. I don't think the CDM recipe (nor their model) require rise time, so use of yeast for rising is out of the question.

Anyway, the trip left me inspired, and wanting to cook more N'Awlins food, and go back to visit soon for sure!

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