writing

Eat This While You Read That: Peter Grant

doughnuts
Koeksister: perfect with strong tea, or coffee.

I came up with a wild idea for my Sunday food blogs. What if I combined three of my favorite things into one place? Cooking, photography, and reading? It started with an inkling of an idea when a fellow author posted an exuberant review of a dish he’d made. It grew into a wild hare when I emailed a handful of friends to ask if they were up to sending me either a recipe, or a dish. And it’s coming to fruition with this, the first of a series of posts about food, books, and authors. Look for more Eat This While you Read That on upcoming Sundays, we have some very interesting recipes coming. And many thanks to Stephen Simmons for the title suggestion on the series.

One of the brave volunteers to send me a dish to try was Peter Grant. I have happily been reading his books since I met him and his lovely wife at LibertyCon 26. Peter’s space operas are light, feature a true-blue hero (to my delight) and have been getting better with each release. I’m really looking forward to his next book, the 4th in the Steve Maxwell series, which will come out later this month. stand against the storm cover - blog size

While you wait for that book, if you are already a fan, you might want to try this South African treat. I know we had a lot of fun making them, and the First Reader’s verdict was “make them again SOON.”

Koeksister, or koeksusters, are a syrup-dipped African treat, whose name derives from either cake, or cookie. I was a bit worried at first they would be too sweet, but the syrup dries on the hot doughnut after dipping and draining, and comes out beautifully glazed. Also, there is no sweetener in the batter, so this could easily be manipulated to less-sweet. Although never low-carb, but that’s ok. They were decadently good, chewy, and yes, I will make them again.

ingredients
Assembly for the dough: I use my tablet for internet recipes. 

I used the recipe from Fleur Hupston that Peter sent me, with some slight alterations.

Begin with the syrup:

  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

Place all ingredients in a pan on the stovetop and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, until it starts to thicken into a syrup. Remove from heat and refrigerate until cool, preferably overnight (note: I cooled mine for about 3 hours, it was cool at that point).

  • 1 beaten egg
  • 6 tablespoons of yogurt
  • 6 tablespoons of butter
  • pinch of salt (as I was using unsalted butter)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 cups white flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
dough
Soft dough ball stage.

In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients. With a pastry blender, cut in the butter until it is pea-sized. Add the egg and yougurt, mix until dough forms a soft ball. Add a couple tablespoons of milk if dough does not want to ball up and avoid overworking it. Once dough is in a ball, wrap it with saran wrap and refrigerate at least a couple of hours, and overnight if you want breakfast doughnuts (we had ours for dessert).

While dough is cooling, read some of Peter’s excellent War to the Knife.

dough rolled
Cutting the dough into braidable strips
braided dough
a doughy braid.

When dough is chilled, remove, and roll out on a floured surface until it is about 1/4″ thick. Cut into strips that are about 4″long. I figured out that making them about 1/2″ wide worked, but narrower might be better, even. Take three strips, and press the ends together, then braid. Press the bottom ends together to seal. Place carefully into a dutch oven (or fryer) with about 2-3″ of hot oil in it. I don’t have a fry thermometer right now, so I tested when it looked right with a strip of dough. I don’t recommend this if you aren’t comfortable with deep-frying, but I’ve been cooking this way for a long time, and sometimes I can get away with stuff. I do recommend a probe thermometer, they are a great multi-use tool. If your oil is too low, the dough will get greasy, if too hot, the outside will burn while the inside is raw.

Frying station
Fry station: Dutch oven, spider, and draining rack.

As soon as you pull the golden-brown on both sides Koeksister from the fat, plunge it into the syrup pan you pulled out of the fridge a minute ago. I used a large spoon to cover both sides of the doughnut, and then put it on a rack over a jellyroll pan to drain.

This recipe makes about 6-8 Koeksisters, depending on how big your braids are!

south african doughnut
Koeksuster, or Koeksister. Yum.
Koeksister
Nice structure internally after frying, the braid facilitates fast, even cooking.

 

0 thoughts on “Eat This While You Read That: Peter Grant

      1. Actually, one of the first things I tried when I got it was Doughnuts. Although the recipe was for really cake-like doughnuts, not those impossible melt-in-your-mouth wonders that are Krispy Kreme. Still, a very good thing to do when the oil is fresh.

        1. Fresh oil is essential when frying something like this. I reserved the oil for the recipe I’m making for Schlock Mercenary later today. 🙂

          Oh, and fried rice? Yes, very quick, easy, and good. One of my favorite ways to use up leftover bits and pieces. I have a cast-iron wok, which is fun for fried rice and stir-fries.

          1. Tonight (It’s still tonight for me) I made another batch, this time doing it “properly” by scrambling some eggs first. I think Martin Yan suggested WAY too much oil for the Wok during scrambling, but it worked out okay. I was annoyed when it turned out the bags of peas and carrots were 12 ounces, not a pound.

            (What IS it with skimping on quantities these days? A bag of Doritos went from a pound, to 14 oz, to 13 oz, to 11.5 oz to 11 oz now. same price. But they’ve introduced a “Party Size” that’s a Pound again.)

            Anyway, another nice thing to do with about 2 cups of rice is here in my LJ: http://mauser.livejournal.com/570781.html

            1. *Very* annoying. Package sizes these days are almost always between 2/3 and 3/4 of what my time-tested (three generations) recipes call for.

              I empathize with you, sir – my family gets more meatloaf and baked beans than they probably want (my go-to dishes for using up dribs and drabs). But somehow I don’t think peas and carrots would work in those…

            2. I know some consider it sacrilege, but I have a special bacon microwaving tray that makes it particularly easy to save the oil (It holds the bacon upright on edge, so it drains very well as it cooks.), I pour it off into a pickle jar, so I happen to have a LOT of bacon grease at my disposal. Although the disposal part will be necessary at some point, I’m not sure how long it will keep like that.

              Oh, and I discovered a trick with the eggs too. It’s kinda hard to chop up the scrambled eggs in the bottom of the Wok with a spatula (And certainly not with the bamboo spoon) but you can dice them up VERY nicely with an ordinary pizza cutter.

            3. So, based on your suggestion, I just made some Bacon Fried Rice. I took pictures. If there’s enough interest, I may add it to my cooking posts on my LJ (Which are publicly readable)

  1. Thank you, Cedar! I’m glad you and First Reader enjoyed them, and I hope you didn’t get syrupy fingerprints all over your Kindle. 🙂

    I just finished the fifth draft of the fourth Maxwell novel tonight. It’s taken me over a year and all sorts of revisions and restarts to get it right (I hope). Now for some very intensive editing to make sure I’ve tied up all the loose ends, dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s. Look for the e-book in about two weeks’ time, and the print edition one to two weeks after that, God willing.

    Thanks again!

    1. Very excited you got it done. I’m looking forward to reading it.

      I get sticky on my tablet all the time, fortunately it washes off pretty well. They were delicious, and we will make them again sometime.

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