From the opening scene, Chef is a sensual experience. The sound of a knife slicing through vegetables, the sizzle of meat hitting a hot pan, the sheer focus on getting prep done for tonight's meal, the excitement of a whole pig being brought into the kitchen—it's scenes like these that make me miss working in a restaurant kitchen. But that's only the first few minutes.
The story of a successful restaurant chef who finds himself going in a direction he never imagined, both professionally and personally, Chef is a feast for the the senses. This isn't a review (though I obviously enjoyed the movie), so I don't really want to go into the story. You can find synopses of the movie all over the web if you look, I'm just here to talk about the food today.
The food really runs the gamut in the film, from precisely crafted and plated upscale restaurant fare to farmers market fresh produce, meat and seafood to rustic home-cooked comfort food to artistically crafted food truck offerings (aka simple food, real food). One minute you'll be craving carne asada, then next you'll be dying for a plate of spaghetti alla olio.
Sandwiches will definitely be on your mind. I don't see how you can sit through the film without craving a Medianoche, or Cuban sandwich. I'm still craving one. Or maybe it'll be a shrimp po'boy that sticks in your head. Oh, and don't forget the side of yuca fries. And please don't tell me that a visit to the French Quarter has you thinking about anything but warm beignets buried in a mountain of powdered sugar and some strong coffee to wash it down. Obviously, that's the direction I took.
Basically, you cannot go wrong with fried dough. I decided to put what might be "my" signature on a beignet, were I to have my own food truck. Aside from a slight tang from the use of buttermilk, I added a hint of cardamom; a whisper in your ear to tickle your memory months later.
Buttermilk Cardamom Beignets
This recipe for the traditional New Orleans-style fried dough (beignets) gets an unexpected twist with the addition of buttermilk and cardamom.
Prep Time: 105 mins. (largely unattended)
Cook Time: 10 mins.
Keywords: fry dessert snack doughnut
Ingredients (2 dozen)
- 1 cup lukewarm buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 390 grams (~3 cups) bread flour + more for work surface
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- oil, for frying (vegetable, corn, peanut)
- powdered sugar - LOTS OF IT
Combine all of the ingredients for the dough in the pan of a bread machine in the order listed (or according to manufacturer's instructions). Select dough cycle (mixing, kneading, rising) and let it do its thing.
Turn risen dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough, then gently pat and flatten it out into a rectangle that is about 1/4-inch thick. Using a metal bench scraper, pizza cutter, or large knife, cut dough into 2-inch rag-like squares (about 2 dozen). Let rest while you heat the oil for frying.
Fill a heavy pot with 3 inches of oil, clip on a thermometer, set over medium heat; bring oil to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with a couple layers of paper towels and set aside.
When the oil has reached the proper temperature lift each piece of dough and gently stretch it a bit before carefully sliding it into the hot oil. Add a few more pieces of dough to the pot, taking care not to crowd them. Fry until golden and puffy, turning often with a metal spatula or slotted spoon, ~2 minutes total.
And if you'd like to join us next month, I will be hosting right here on All Roads Lead to the Kitchen with a super fun pick that I'm so excited to take in to the kitchen...one of my favorite movies since I was a kid...The Goonies!