Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Classic Strawberry Shortcake – Thanks, Grandpa!

I was visiting my mom last summer, and overheard her and my aunt talking about making strawberry shortcake using “dad’s” recipe. They were obviously talking about my grandfather, which was surprising, since I had no idea he baked.

I remember he did a lot of cooking growing up, but it was things like frittata, meat sauce, or polenta. I never once saw him bake anything sweet. Nevertheless, he apparently gets credit for inventing our official family recipe for strawberry shortcake, which I’ve adapted here.

What he had done was taken the strawberry shortcake recipe off the box of a certain, very popular premade biscuit mix, and added extra “everything,” as my mother put it. So, that’s what I did here, except instead of using the stuff in the yellow box, I used self-rising flour, which I’m pretty sure is basically the same thing.

The only other major change is the original recipe calls for regular melted butter, but as you’ll see in the video, I like to toast mine just a little, to bring out those subtle, nutty flavors. I'm hoping Armand Cianfoni would approve. I really hope you give “our” strawberry shortcake a try soon. Enjoy!

Makes 6 Large or 8 Normal Strawberry Shortcakes:
2 cups self rising flour ((You can make you own by sifting together 2 cups of all-purpose flour with 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon fine salt)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
4 tbsp butter, melted, and lightly toasted to a golden-brown

4 pints fresh strawberries
1/2 cup white sugar
*add 1 tbsp water, if strawberries aren’t perfectly ripe
3/4 cup cold heavy cream, whipped with a tablespoon of sugar and a few drops of vanilla (watch demo here)

- Bake at 425F.  for 15-18 minutes or until browned.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Memorial Day Grilling Special: Hot Dog Sausage aka “Hot Dogage”

The idea of making actual hot dogs doesn’t really interest me that much. Like French fries, and sushi, I believe hot dogs are best enjoyed out­; preferably at a baseball game, with a cold beer. However, I didn’t say anything about hotdog-inspired sausage hybrids.

This meaty mash-up came about thanks to some lamb kebab experiments. The meat mixture is prepared in a similar fashion, and while the seasonings are totally different, the firm texture of the kebab reminded me of a hot dog’s “snap.”

I wondered what would happen if I did a skewer-less kebab using the same ingredients that would typically go into a hotdog. What happened was better than I could've expected. I ended up with a fresh, mostly beef sausage, that tasted pretty much exactly like a hot dog.

Technically, this ended up being a lot closer to a bratwurst, but I’m pretty sure hot dogs are a more popular search, so that’s what I went with. As always, be sure to season these “to taste.” Just like when making meatballs, you can cook a small piece of the mixture, and adjust from there.

Like I said in the video, if you’re looking for something a little different for your Memorial Day cookout, I hope you give these hot dog sausages a try. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 Giants Hot Dog Sausages:
1 1/4 pounds lean ground beef (10 to 15% fat is fine)
1/4 pound ground pork
4 tsp kosher salt (1/2 ounce by weight)
2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp granulated onion powder
1/3 cup ice water

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Baked Apple Roses by Any Other Name Are Something Completely Different

Every once in a while, I post a video solely based on something I saw online, and these baked apple roses are the latest example. I saw a photo of these somewhere on social media, and using that one image as my only guide, I whipped up a batch, which was a tremendous disaster.

I assumed that I could figure these out just by looking at the finished product, but that did not happen. I tried doing them free-form, and they completely unraveled as they cooked. I wish I'd taken some photos, but they basically look like they exploded.

So, I decided to find the source of the photo, and see how these are actually supposed to be done, which led me to the blog, Italian Chips. It’s written by a woman named Ana, who’s a Brazilian living in Italy, so I knew I was in good hands.Thank you, Ana!

Other than a couple ingredients, I pretty much followed her technique exactly, except I didn’t use puff pastry.  As I mentioned in the video, I used a new dough I’ve been working on, which is much faster version of puff pastry, that uses biscuit dough. Stay tuned for that, and in the meantime, really hope you give these gorgeous looking, and very delicious apple roses a try soon. Enjoy!

Microwave Note: if you don't have a microwave, just sauté your apple slices in a little bit of butter over medium heat, for about half a minute per side, or until flexible, but not soft. 

Muffin Pan Note: If you use a metal muffin pan instead of a ramekin, I would reduce the heat to 375F., and cook about 45, or until the pastry is well browned.

For 2 Apple Roses:
1 large red apple
2 pieces rectangular puff pastry, rolled less than 1/8-inch thick, about 3” wide by 12 to 14” long
melted butter as needed
cinnamon sugar as needed (1/4 cup sugar with 1 tsp cinnamon)
powdered sugar, optional
- Bake at 400F. for about 45 minutes, or until the pastry is well browned.
- If using metal muffin pan: Bake at 375F. for about 45, or until the pastry is well browned.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Beef Rouladen – German Engineering You Can Eat

For something that looks and tastes as impressive as this beef rouladen, it’s actually one of the simplest stuffed meat recipes I know. Everything happens right on the meat, and after a quick roll and tie, we simmer in the gravy until tender. The beef and fixings flavor the sauce, the sauce flavors the beef, and everybody wins.

Regarding the meat, one of the great things about this technique, is that you can pretty much use any cheap cut of beef they have on sale. I used some round steak, but rump, chuck, flap meat, and other similar cuts will work.

Tell your butcher you’re making rouladen, and they will hook you up with what you need. If they’ve never heard of rouladen, then you should probably find another butcher. As I mentioned in the video, this can be scaled up to any size group. Just use a bigger pot, and the recipe will work as shown. I really hope you give this Rouladen recipe a try soon. Genießen!

Ingredients for 2 Beef Rouladen:
2 (about 1/4-inch thick) slices of cheap beef, about 6 ounces per slice. I used round, but rump, chuck, flap meat, and any other long cooking cuts will work.
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
4 strips pancetta or bacon
paprika to taste
sliced onion, as needed
6 slices dill pickle
1 tbsp vegetable oil
For the gravy:
2 tbsp butter, added to the pan drippings
1/4 cup flour
3 cups beef broth, veal, or chicken stock
salt to taste