Fluffy Chocolate Baked Doughnuts and Lesson from Top Chef

Since I went to culinary school about two and a half years ago, I’ve been rather indifferent to cooking competition programs. But, I still have loyalty to Bravo’s Top Chef. Maybe, its because I have a crush on Anthony Bourdain (a frequent judge) or maybe its because I owe Bravo a favor for casting me on Millionaire Matchmaker. Regardless, I have learned some lessons from the show I thought I’d share (and they dont involve cooking!).

Lesson #1: Stick with the two “B’s”: Bacon & Booze: Have you ever noticed how much Padma, (when not with child) Gail, and Tom – love alcohol? And bacon? If it makes sense, use these ingredients! Don’t make a beverage virgin if it can be alcoholic (somebody did this once…and I swear Padma seemed sad).

Lesson #2: Don’t make dessert: I’ll write it again: don’t make dessert! Seriously, unless you are a pastry chef or are forced to, never willingly make dessert. With few exceptions, it never goes well, and while the judges might complain about being served meat as a final course, meat as a final course is always better than a bad dessert!

Lesson #3: Toby Young can suck it:Ok, so he  is obviously more interested in being a personality than in instigating a thoguhtful conversation. But here’s an example of his ass holery. On one episode, he refused to prounounce “paella” in the standard, Spanish-inflected way. Instead, he sounded out both els so that “pie-AY-uh” became “pie-ELL-uh.” And when Tom Colicchio ribbed him about it, Young scolded everyone in the world who prounounces the word like a Latino. “People don’t say ‘Meh-HI-coe’ or ‘Bar-THUH-low-nuh,’” he snarled. To be fair, Young’s right about the last bit. Most Westerners puth the “ex” in “Mexico” and the “ess” in “Barcelona,” and we snicker when Alex Trebek says the word like a fur’ner. But the word “paella”  has entered the Western vocabulary with its original pronunciation intact, much like “tortilla” and “quesadilla.” By insisting on Anglicizing the word, and belittling those who don’t, Young demonstrated an ugly, colonialist attitude that the “ethnic” way is not the “right” way… that the British/Western method is inherently superior. For all I know, the entire United Kingdom says “paella” like Young does, but I’ll wager that if someone corrected them, the bulk of them wouldn’t act like pricks about it. Ok, rant over.

. Lesson #4: If your hot, you will “pack your knives”: Sorry, but it’s true. There’s always one obligatory hot chick/season (who always finds it necessary to sun bathe in a bikini) – and while they sometimes go far (Casey, Jen.), they never win. There is also an obligatory gay guy/girl, the token asian, the token red neck, the token black guy, and of course, a “stud”.

Lesson #5: Keep it Simple! In cooking (and in life) sometimes the best route is the simplest. You don’t need to prepare an extravagant dish that goes over the top. A dish with minimal ingredients and prepared with a simple garnish can be delicious. Simple isn’t boring, but it has to be GOOD. Do one thing and do it extremely well, and this can take you far.

Have you learned something from cooking shows? Maybe stuff beyond cooking?

So at my newish job, I’ve been trying to ween the kids off packaged snacks by making homemade, slightly “lighter” versions of their favorites. I scored a doughnut pan (which I hear Deb just got!) and made these light as air doughnuts!

  • 2 cups flour (I used half whole wheat, half all purpose, for a gluten free version that is semi decent, I would sub 1 cup peanut flour with 1 cup brown rice flour)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar (or stevia, splenda, or all those other sugar fakes)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon shortening

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a doughnut pan. In a large bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Stir in milk, eggs, vanilla and canola oil. Beat together until well blended. Fill each doughnut cup approximately 3/4 full. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until doughnuts spring back when touched. Allow to cool slightly before removing from pan.


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24 thoughts on “Fluffy Chocolate Baked Doughnuts and Lesson from Top Chef

  1. Heh, I’ll have to disagree with you about Toby Young. I quite like him. I like his snark. He can be a prick, but at least he knows it, he makes fun of himself, and he’s goddamn funny. He pronounces “paella” as “pa-eh-la” because that’s how everyone in the UK pronounces it, apparently. When he stated the barcelona and mexico thing, I didn’t see him as snarling or being a wise-ass, I think he was just stating a fact and opinion…which is what Bravo hires him to do. But then that guest judge had to snarl and be all huffy and stuff, which I thought was a bit out of line.

    So…Toby fan here! 🙂

    • I like snark, I just feel he’s doing it for show. Plus, who knows how bravo edited it! I looked like a gothic bitch when I was on Millionaire Matchmaker. For all we know, Toby could be harmless vegan. I just thought that whole paella debate with tom was hilarious. I’d love it when the judges fight!

    • hey, can i just defend some of us brits over here and say not everyone says it like they were still part of the empire! at least there are five of us in our family who can say it correctly, even going so far to pronounce chorizo too!!!! by they way 100% agree about toby Wrong as being a complete tool. glad to know he is not over here!!

      • I have been been to london soooo many times, I consider it my second home and for the record, I know there are indeed brits that say it like that. Brits (well, MOST brits) are awesome. My parents learned english the “british way” (my dad’s from belgium and my mom’s from israel) so I’m used to saying things like “lift” and “flat”. Anyhow, most brits have high marks in my book.

  2. Wow – a doughnut pan! I need one 🙂
    But about Top Chef… I don’t watch it too regularly, but I do agree with you. I never stopped to think about it, but pretty women/men never win. And the judges really compliment the contestants when they use bacon… or well-done simple dishes.
    Hahaha, so much lessons to take from a TV show… Who would’ve known.

  3. I love Top Chef! Which is weird because, like you, other competition shows don’t appeal to me. But Bravo’s shows seem to have that ‘je ne sais quois’. I think I just butchered some French. Also, is it just me or is Tre way sexy?

    Top Chef has definitely taught me the addictive power of browned butter and pork belly, but it has also taught me that some people take food veryyyy personally. To these guys, their food is their art! I used to think it would be fun to date a chef, but in a way I think it would be like dating a musician maybe? What do you think as a culinary student. Obviously there is a spectrum for every group of people and these guys fall on the extreme end but that’s just my observation.

  4. “By insisting on Anglicizing the word, and belittling those who don’t, Young demonstrated an ugly, colonialist attitude that the “ethnic” way is not the “right” way… that the British/Western method is inherently superior.”

    YES. I love/thank you for this.

  5. I want a doughnut pan. Where’d you get that? I don’t have cable so I don’t get to watch much of anything any more, unless it’s on NBC…And even then, I only have 2 shows I watch each week!

  6. wow those doughnuts look amazingly light! oh. dear god. i love bacon so much. i would eat it for the smell alone! thankfully, the taste/texture of crisp farmer’s bacon is just as great 🙂 sometimes i saute mushrooms/onions in cognac. sounds weird but it’s so good! i am addicted to top chef and mr. bourdain. maybe, it’s his cynical attitude or constant quest to taste great food but i’m in love.

  7. I think I’ve seen every episode of Top Chef.

    More than once.

    Maybe even three times.

    And you speak the truth.

    Although it should also be noted that if you cut yourself and don’t just slap a band-aid on it and keep cooking, you will look like a wimp and everyone will secretly hate you.

  8. “Keep it simple” is among the big wisdoms of life. 😀

    I didn’t know there were doughnut pans, but it makes sense. (I always wondered how the hole got into them.) Your cup and plate are lovely, I have a weakness for blue-and-white dishes and floral design. 🙂

  9. This has nothing to do with Top Chef or doughnut pans, but I just thought I would share. I’m working on my own pretzel post at the moment, and when I had yours up so I could link back to you, the bambino comes running up for help assembling his Iron Man action figure, looks up at the screen and says, “Mama, that’s Eden!” We (and I use that term loosely) had been reading the doughnut post together this morning, and he remembered you!

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