Saturday, March 18, 2017

Veal and Porcini Mushroom Sliders with Dill Slaw

     Gourmet Italian Style Sliders! 
     Alternative meats and wild game are great choices for gourmet sliders.  People are sometimes shy about trying something new when dining out, but when three small sliders on a plate are served, it is an invitation for guests to share a few bites of something new.  Selling a plate of petite portion sliders to table makes it easier to get adventurous guests to try alternative meats, like Bison, Kangaroo, Iguana or just about any other legal animal meat in the proverbial zoo.
     Mainstream customers tend to prefer sliders made with gourmet grades of beef or veal when trying something new.  
     Specialty meats that have a gourmet reputation are a good choice for making sliders.  Kobe Beef, Wagyu, USDA Prime Grade Beef, Black Angus Beef and veal are good choices.  Consumers are familiar with these meats and they are willing to try these gourmet specialty meats if the price is reasonable.  A plate of three petite sliders made out of the highest priced specialty beef still sells for less than $25, so the price is just right for those who want to indulge on a petite portion.

     Dried Porcini Mushrooms Preparation:
     This recipe yields enough to garnish 3 sliders.
     Porcini mushrooms are not easy to find fresh outside of Italy.  Dried Porcini are good for this recipe. 
     Place 6 large dried porcini slices in a container.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Soak the porcini overnight in a refrigerator, so they fully reconstitute.

     Focaccia Dough Recipe:
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website.  The directions for making the Focaccia Dough are in the Garlic Knots recipe.  Instructions for shaping Focaccia Slider Rolls are in the next step on this slider recipe page.
     • Garlic Focaccia Knots
     Shaping the Focaccia Slider Rolls:
     Step 1:  To make focaccia slider buns with the focaccia dough, cut walnut size dough portions of the focaccia dough.
     Roll each dough portion into an even ball shape.
     Step 2:  Place the dough portions on a parchment paper lined baking pan and space them about 3" apart from each other.
     Brush the dough balls with olive oil, then lightly season with sea salt and coarse back pepper.
     Let the dough balls proof till they are 1 1/2 times their original size.
     Step 3:  Bake the Focaccia Slider rolls in a 425ºF oven till golden highlights appear.
     Let the slider rolls rest for 5 minutes before slicing them in half.
     Dill Slaw:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/2 cups.  (2 portions) 
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of very thin sliced cabbage in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of small chopped green bell pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced onion. 
     Add about 2 tablespoons of small thin match stick cut carrots for color.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Place 1/4 cup of mayonnaise in a second mixing bowl.
     Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of rice vinegar.
     Add 1 teaspoon of sugar.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped fresh dill weed.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Add the Dill Slaw Dressing to the cabbage mixture.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     *The cabbage should only be coated with just enough dressing to add flavor.
     Step 4:  Place the Dill Slaw in a container.
     Chill the slaw for 45 minutes before serving.  (The slaw will wilt after marinating.)
     Mix the ingredients together just before serving.

     Veal Slider Patties: 
     This recipe yields 3 slider patties.  (1 portion)
     Step 1:  Place 7 to 8 ounces of ground veal in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and white pepper.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Divide the ground veal mixture into 3 equal portions.
     Roll each portion into a ball shape.
     Press each portions into mini burger patty shape.
     Step 3:  Chill the Veal Slider Patties till they are needed.
     Sautéed Porcini Mushrooms:
     This recipe yields enough to garnish 3 sliders.
     Step 1:  Drain the liquid off of the reconstituted porcini.
     Cut the porcini mushroom into large bite size pieces, so they will will fit on top of small slider patties.
     Step 2:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add the porcini mushroom pieces.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper. 
     Sauté till a few golden brown highlights appear.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Keep the Sautéed Porcini Mushrooms warm on a stove top.
     Veal and Porcini Mushroom Sliders with Dill Slaw: 
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Veal Slider Patties cook quickly, so it is best to set the garnished slider bun plate before starting to cook the sliders.
     Step 1:  Split 3 Focaccia Slider Rolls in half.
     Spread a thin layer of Dijon Mustard (or aioli) on each roll.
     Garnish each slider roll with:
     - Romaine Lettuce
     - Slice Plum Tomato
     - Thin sliced Bermuda Onion
     Step 2:  Set the slider roll set-ups on the front half of a plate.
     Place a bed of romaine lettuce on the back half of the plate.
     Place a 3/4 cup portion of the Dill Slaw on the bed of romaine.
     Set the plate aside.
     Step 3:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of blended olive oil.
     Place the Veal Slider Patties in the pan.
     Sauté the patties till they are fully cooked and golden brown highlights appear on both sides.
     *The veal sliders should be flipped twice to prevent excess browning.
     Step 4:  Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
     Gentle shake the pan so the veal sliders are coated with lemon flavor as the lemon juice evaporates.
     Step 5:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place 1 Veal Slider Patty on each slider roll "set up" on the plate.
     Place equal amounts of the Sautéed Porcini Mushrooms on top of each slider.
     Lean the slider roll tops against the sliders.

     These are some tasty Gourmet Italian style veal sliders!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tijuana Dogs ... with Fajita Peppers & Onions

      South Of The Border Gourmet Hot Dogs!
      The gourmet hot dog trend has taken shape in a traditional sense and creativity has ended up playing a minor role in the game.  Most gourmet hot dog stands tend to feature traditional hot dog styles from cities across America.  Creating new gourmet hot dog ideas seems to be something that most gourmet hot dog chefs tend to avoid.  It is not really a matter of creativity, but it has something to do with what customers are willing to try.  Customers are willing to try traditional favorites, like the Chicago Dog, Texas Tommy, a Jersey Ripper or a Detroit Coney, rather than take a chance on something new.
     Fortunately for gourmet hot dog shops, there are plenty of regional hot dog favorites to choose from.  A gourmet regional hot dog that has climbed the ranks in recent years is the Tijuana Dog.  The Tijuana Dog goes by a few other names, but the toppings and buns tend to be more specific on a few similar hot dogs.  Basically, a Tijuana Dog is a bacon wrapped hot dog that is chargrilled, cooked on a griddle or pan fried till it is browned.  A Tijuana Dog is served on a standard hot dog bun, while its cousin, the Sonoran Dog is served on a split Bolillo Roll.    
     A wide variety of Mexican style toppings can be placed on a Tijuana Dog.  Tihuana Dog toppings include standard antojitos toppings, like crema, cheese, salsa, guacamole, avocado, salsa picante, pickled jalapeños, cilantro and onions.  Grilled onions, mayonnaise, tomato, Chile Lime Powder and pineapple are options too.  Refritos or pinto beans are a popular Tijuana Dog topping and they add a hearty flavor.  Fajitas style sautéed peppers and onions are also a nice choice.  Basically, the choice of Tijuana Dog toppings are up to what the vendor offers or what the customer requests.
     Today's Tijuana Dogs recipe is made street food style and the choice of topping is fajita style, peppers, onions and jalapeños.  Sprigs of cilantro add a classic flavor and pickled Chile Guero adds eye appeal.  A Tijuana Dog like this tastes so good, that two dogs are better than one! 

     Tijuana Dogs:
     This recipe yields 2 standard size hot dogs.
     Standard Bun Size Hot Dogs are most often used to make Tijuana Dogs, but Foot Long Hot Dogs are an option.  Standard Hot Dogs are made with beef, pork and chicken and they usually have no casing.  Ballpark brand markets Classic Bun Size Franks.
     Step 1:  Select 2 Classic Bun Size Hot Dogs.
     Wrap each hot dog with 1 thin slice of bacon.
     Use toothpicks to keep the ends of the bacon in place.
     Set the bacon wrapped hot dogs aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a chargrill or ribbed cast iron griddle over medium heat.
     Spit 2 standard hot dog buns open.
     Chargrill the buns till a few grill marks appear.
     Set the toasted hot dog buns aside.
     Step 3:  Place the 2 bacon wrapped hot dogs on the chargrill.
     Grill on all sides till the bacon is browned. 
     Step 4:  Place the Tijuana Dogs on the toasted hot dog buns.
     Place the Tijuana dogs on a plate and keep them warm on a stove top.
     *The Fajitas Peppers & Onions only take a few minutes to make!     

     Tijuana Dogs ... with Fajita Peppers & Onions:
     This recipe yields 2 garnished standard bun size Tijuana Dogs.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/4 cup of Bermuda Onion strips.  (1/4" wide)
     Add 1/4 cup of mixed green and red bell pepper strips.
     Add 2 sliced green jalapeño peppers.  (3/16" thick)
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped roasted red bell pepper.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped green onion.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of chopped garlic.
     Quickly sauté till the vegetables start to become tender.
     Step 3:  Add 1 pinch of cumin.
     Add 1 pinch of coriander.
     Add 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1 pinch of Mexican oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 4:  Add 1/4 cup of lager beer.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of soy sauce.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Rapidly simmer and reduce till most of the liquid evaporates.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Step 5:  Place a generous amount of the Fajitas Peppers & Onions topping on the 2 Tijuana Dogs.
     Garnish with cilantro sprigs and 2 Pickled Guero Chile Peppers.
     Garnish the plate with tomato slices and cilantro sprigs. 
     Viola!  Tasty fajita topped Tijuana Dogs!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Turkey Cornish Pasty with Mushroom Gravy

     A Savory Hot Cornish Pasty For A Chilly Day!      
     Today's Turkey Cornish Pasty is similar to an item on the menu at an English Pub that I worked for a few decades ago.  The pub owner was purchasing cheap manufactured frozen Chicken Cornish Pasties and they were not exactly good quality.  In fact, the filling was so skimpy and the amount of meat was so small that it was difficult to tell whether it was chicken or not.  
     After taking over the chef spot in the pub kitchen, I stopped purchasing the cheap Cornish Pasty frozen product.  We started making the menu item Cornish Pasties from scratch.  The fresh Cornish Pasties looked better and tasted better!  Only a Vegetable Cornish Pasty and Chicken Cornish Pasty were on the menu and these items were meant to appeal to health conscious customers.  
     Because chicken was touted as being a healthy meat option nationwide back in those days, food purveyors continually raised the price.  Soon the price of turkey was about half of the price of chicken, so turkey was the better choice from a profitability standpoint.  All it took was replacing chicken with turkey in the recipe, then changing the name of the Cornish Pasty on the menu.  To make the item more appealing, Mushroom Gravy was poured on the plate.  
     On a chilly day, a plated Turkey Cornish Pasty with Mushroom Gravy was simply irresistible and the customers ordered plenty.  Even though many of the British Isle customers never tried turkey before, they sure liked this bird when served in a familiar way.  Basically, it was the Mushroom Gravy that made the difference, because this combination created a level of comfort that can be compared to having an Open Face Turkey Sandwich at an American style diner restaurant.  In a traditional English pub, comfort is the name of the game!  

     Pâte Brisée:
     Admittedly, the pie crust dough in the photos above was actually a frozen product from a grocery store.  This was one of the first Cornish Pasty recipes that I published about 10 years ago and the original goal of my recipe writing back then was to keep things simple for the viewers.  As one can see, the quality of manufactured frozen pie dough from a grocery store was sub-par, so the goal of making things easy for readers went right out the window.  As a result, I no longer recommend frozen dough products.  Making pie dough from scratch is the way to go!  
     If you prefer a proper Cornish Pasty Crust Dough is preferred, then substitute lard for the unsalted butter in the pie dough recipe.  Keep the chilled lard pieces to the size of a pea or less.  Larger pieces of lard would turn the dough into a very flaky Irish Pastry Dough and the Cornish Pasty would then become fragile.  The crust on a Cornish pasty is supposed to be durable!
     Follow the link tothe Pâte Brisée recipe in this website.

     Turkey Filling For Cornish Pasty:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/3 cups.  (Enough for 1 Cornish Pasty.)  
     There are no tricky cooking techniques involved with most British Isle recipes.  This is a very easy filling to make!
     Step 1:  Place 1 quart of water in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Bring the water to a boil.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 cup of diced rutabaga.
     Add 1/4 cup of diced potato.
     Add 1 tablespoon of diced onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of diced celery.
     Add 1 tablespoon diced carrot.
     Boil till the hard root vegetables just start to become tender.
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Drain the water off of the vegetables.
     Set the vegetables aside.
     Step 4:  Place a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 4 ounces of ground turkey meat.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Sauté till the ground turkey is fully cooked and a few golden highlights appear.  Stir with a whisk and break up any clumps.
     Step 5:  Add the reserved blanched vegetables.
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Bring the liquid to a simmer.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce till most of the liquid evaporates and the mixture looks fairly dry.
     Step 7:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of fine plain bread crumbs.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Step 8:  Allow the stuffing to cool to room temperature.
     Place the Turkey Cornish Pasty Filling in a container.
     Chill in a refrigerator to 41ºF.

     Turkey Cornish Pasty:
     This recipe yields 1 Cornish Pasty.  (Average portion.)
     Step 1:  Roll out a sheet of pâte brisée that is about 3/16" thick.
     Cut a 9 1/2" diameter round sheet.
     Step 2:  Mound the chilled turkey filling on the center of the round pie dough sheet.  Leave about a 3/4" bare border on the edge of the dough sheet.
     Step 3:  Brush the bare border of the dough with egg wash.
     Fold the pastry dough over the stuffing, so it forms a half moon shape.
     Roll and press the edge of the dough, so it resembles a thick handle.
     Step 4:  Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking pan.
     Place the pasty on the parchment paper.
     Brush the pasty with egg wash.
     Poke 1 tiny steam vent hole in the dough where it will not be seen.
     Step 5:  Bake the pasty in a 375ºF oven, till it is a golden brown color.
     Allow the pasty to cool to a safe serving temperature.

     Mushroom Gravy:
     This recipe yields 1 cup.  (2 generous portions)
     The gravy should be started before the pasty goes in the oven.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while stirring constantly with a whisk.  (The roux should look shiny, not caky.)
     Stir till the roux is a light golden color.
     Step 2:  Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth.
     Add 1 cup of mushroom broth.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Stir with a whisk as the gravy comes to a gentle boil.
     *The consistency will be very thin at this time.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Gently simmer the gravy.
     Step 4:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 6 small Button Cave Mushrooms that are cut in half.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté and sweat the mushrooms till they are tender.
     Step 5:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Add the sautéed mushroom halves to the sauce pot of Mushroom Gravy.
     Step 6:  Gently simmer and reduce till the gravy is medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.  (The finished volume will be about 1 cup.)
     Keep the gravy warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Turkey Cornish Pasty with Mushroom Gravy:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Spoon 1 generous portion of the Mushroom Gravy on a plate.  (About 1/2 cup)
     Use a spoon to push the mushroom halves toward the border of the plate.
     Step 2:  Set the Turkey Cornish Pasty on the gravy.
     Place a vegetable of your choice on the plate.  (Wilted Garlic Spinach or Buttered Carrots are nice choices.)
     No garnish is necessary!

     Turkey Cornish Pasty with Mushroom Gravy is comfortable pub fare!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Garden Vegetable Cornish Pasty with Dill Crème Fraîche

     A Tasty Vegetable Pasty For A Chilly Day!
     The Pasty originated in the tin mining industry of Cornwall, England.  Cornish tin miners had to work deep underground in cold, wet, clammy surroundings and a hearty meal that provided plenty of energy was necessary for a long shift.
     The Cornish Pasty was not only specifically designed to nourish cold hungry tin miners, it was also designed with safety in mind.  Where there is tin ore, there is always naturally occurring arsenic.  Arsenic poisoning can occur just by eating food with dirty hands in a tin mine.  This is why a Cornish Pasty has a thick crust handle.  The handle can be grasped with dirty hands, then the clean portion of the Pasty could be eaten safely.
     The crust handle on a Cornish pasty actually was never wasted.  The crust handle was always thrown to the ground in the tin mine to appease the "Knockers."  Knockers are nasty little evil demons that cause mining disasters.  One simply has to keep the Knockers happy to avoid disaster!
     Food for tin miners had to be durable, as well as filling and nutritious.  Sealing ingredients in a pie crust helped to preserve the filling for an extended time.  This also means that a modern Cornish Pasty can be made well ahead of time and the filling will still be appealing.    
     The original Cornish Pasty filling was a combination of green pork meat (dry cure), salt pork, suet, marjoram, potatoes and swedes (rutabaga).  The high amount of lipids and carbohydrates provided plenty of energy to keep a miner warm in a cold clammy tin mine.  Modern Pasties usually do not contain as much fat and the amount of carbohydrates varies with the type of filling.  Even so, a modern Pasty should have just enough fat and carbohydrates in the filling to provide a warming effect on a chilly day, so the heritage of this unique food item is preserved.
     Wherever the Cornish miners went to mine tin around the world, the Pasty became a local tradition.  Some Mexican Empanadas were originally created by Cornish tin miners with local Mexican ingredients.  The difference is that Spanish style Empanadas usually do not have a crust handle, while a Cornish style Empanada does.  The same goes for Pasty's made by Cornish tin miners in Montana.  A local Turnover Pastry has no handle, while a Montana Pasty does.

     Pâte Brisée:
     If you prefer a proper Cornish Pasty Crust Dough is preferred, then substitute lard for the unsalted butter in the pie dough recipe.  Keep the chilled lard pieces to the size of a pea or less.  Larger pieces of lard would turn the dough into a very flaky Irish Pastry Dough and the Cornish Pasty would then become fragile.  The crust on a Cornish pasty is supposed to be durable!
     Follow the link tothe Pâte Brisée recipe in this website.

     Garden Vegetable Filling:
     This recipe yields enough filling for 1 large Cornish Pasty.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/4 cup of diced potato.
     Add 1/4 cup of diced rutabaga.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped cabbage.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped peeled aubergine.  (eggplant)
     Add 3 tablespoons of diced carrot.
     Add 3 tablespoons of diced celery.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped onion.
     Add 2 chopped small button cave mushrooms.
     Briefly sauté the vegetables till they become aromatic.  (Try not brown the vegetables at all!)
     Step 2:  Add 1 1/3 cups of water.
     Add 2 pinches of marjoram.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the liquid is almost completely evaporated and the vegetables are tender.
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of chopped Italian Parsley.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of plain fine breadcrumbs while stirring.
     Stir till the bread crumbs have absorbed the last bit of liquid in the pan.
     Step 5:  Place the vegetable filling in a container.
     Chill the pasty filling to 41ºF in a refrigerator.

     Dill Crème Fraîche:
     This recipe yields 1 condiment portion.  (about 2 ounces)
     Step 1:  Place 2 tablespoon of sour cream in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 2 tablespoon of cream.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of dill weed.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Place the Dill Crème Fraîche in a ramekin.
     Chill till it is needed.
     Garden Vegetable Cornish Pasty:
     This recipe yields 1 large Cornish Pasty.
     Step 1:  Roll out a sheet of pâte brisée that is about 3/16" thick.
     Cut a 10 1/2" diameter round sheet.
     Step 2:  Mound the chilled vegetable filling on the center of the round pâte brisée sheet.  Leave about a 1" bare border on the edge of the dough sheet.
     Step 3:  Brush the bare border of the dough with egg wash.
     Fold the pastry dough over the stuffing, so it forms a half moon shape.
     Roll and press the edge of the dough, so it resembles a thick handle.
     Step 4:  Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking pan.
     Place the pasty on the parchment paper.
     Brush the pasty with egg wash.
     Poke 1 tiny steam vent hole in the dough where it will not be seen.
     Step 5:  Bake the pasty in a 375ºF oven, till it is a golden brown color.
     Allow the pasty to cool to a safe serving temperature.

     Garden Vegetable Cornish Pasty with Dill Crème Fraîche:
     This recipe descrbes 1 entrée.
     Place the Garden Vegetable Cornish Pasty on a plate.
     Place the ramekin of Dill Crème Fraîche on the plate.
     Garnish with Italian Parsley sprigs.

     On a chilly day, this Garden Vegetable Cornish Pasty is warm, comfortable and delicious!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Greek Grilled Pork Sandwich

     A Hearty Tasty Greek Spiced Pork Sandwich!
     Today's Grecian style Grilled Pork Sandwich is easy to whip up and it cooks fast!  Many people around the world seem to think that the only meat that Greeks are famous for is lamb.  Far more pork and seafood is served in Greece than lamb.  In fact, most Gyro sandwiches in Greece are made with roasted pork and not Kafta style lamb or beef meatloaf donor kebab.  
     Northern Greece offers great pork recipes that are often overlooked by western world chefs.  Today's sandwich recipe is a good example of how traditional Greek spices can wake up the flavor of pork!

     Grecian Grilled Pork Sandwich:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty sandwich.
     The Pork Loin has to be partially frozen to be cut into paper thin slices.  A butcher shop can cut the pork loin paper thin on request.  Asian food market butcher shops usually have paper thin sliced pork loin in stock for Korean Bulgogi.
     Step 1:  Split an 8" Italian Sub Sandwich Roll in half.
     Brush the bread with olive oil.
     Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Grill the bread till it is toasted golden brown.
     Keep the bread warm on a stove top.
     Step 2:  Keep the sauté pan on medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Add 3 cloves of sliced garlic.
     Add 1/4 cup of large diced Bermuda Onion.
     Sauté till the onions start to turn clear in color.
     Step 3:  Add 7 ounces of paper thin sliced pork loin. 
     Add 1 pinch sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of fennel seed.
     Add 1 pinch of cinnamon.
     Add 1 small pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 small pinch of crushed dried red pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of cumin.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Sauté till the pork is fully cooked.  (This only takes a few minutes!)
     Step 4:  Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of finely grated Greek Kefalograviera Cheese.
     Add 1 tablespoon of water.  
     Toss the ingredients together, till the cheese coats the pork.
     Step 5:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Mound the Greek Grilled Pork mixture on the bottom half of the toasted sub roll and place it on a plate.  
     Lean the top half of the sub roll against the grilled pork.
     Garnish the plate with an Italian Parsley sprig, a lemon wedge and a pickle of your choice.

     This simple Greek Grilled Pork Sandwich tastes like no other quickly made street food style sandwich!  The lemon wedge is meant to be squeezed over the pork to add a crisp fresh flavor.  

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Cajun Chicken Cheesesteak

     Mardi Gras Food Philly Style!
     Philadelphia is not exactly the place to celebrate decadent food holidays like Mardi Gras.  This is because so many people in Philadelphia are well known for steadfast conservative ways and anything outside of the box is simply looked at as being an oddity.  Philly is the land of Soft Pretzels, Sticky Buns, Scrapple and Philly Cheesesteaks.  Diverse food ideas can be found in Philadelphia taverns, as long as it is adapted to traditional local favorite food items.  In other words, Philly tavern customers may not want to know what Étouffée or Jambalaya is, but they sure will be interested in a Cajun Chicken Cheesesteak!      

     Cajun Spice Mix: 
     This recipe yields about 1/4 cup.  
     This Cajun Spice Mixture is a bit different than the Blackening Spice Mixture Recipes that I have published in the past.  The level of spicy heat depends on the amount used.  About 1/2 teaspoon of this spice mixture added to a Cheesesteak yields a fairly mild flavor.  About 1 teaspoon will add a medium hot flavor.    
     Step 1:  Place 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of white pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Step 2:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of thyme.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of marjoram.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Add 1 pinch of tarragon.
     Add 1 small pinch of ground celery seed.
     Step 3:  Mix the ingredients together.
     Place the Cajun Spice Mixture in a container.        

     Cajun Chicken Cheesesteak:
     This recipe yields 1 foot long sandwich.
     Frozen Thin Shaved Chicken for Cheesesteaks is available at some grocery stores.  If none is available, then cut some semi frozen chicken breast filet meat into paper thin slices.
     The best bread for a cheesesteak is a foot-long Hoagie Roll that has a slightly chewy texture.  Soft Italian Sub Rolls are good too.  A crusty baguette is not a good choice.
     Step 1:  Heat a cast iron griddle or wide sauté pan over medium heat.
     Coat the griddle with 2 teaspoons of blended olive.
     Step 2:  Place about 1/5 cup of julienne sliced Bermuda Onion on the griddle.
     Add 3 tablespoons of diced red bell pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced seeded green jalapeño pepper.
     Briefly grill till the vegetables start to cook.
     Step 3:  Place 8 ounces of paper thin sliced chicken breast on top of the vegetables on the griddle.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon to 2 teaspoons of the Cajun Spice Mix.  (to taste)
     Step 4:  Use 2 large spatulas to tear and shred the chicken and vegetables into small pieces.
     Grill and toss the mixture till the chicken is fully cooked.
     Step 5:  Mound the shredded chicken and vegetable mixture across the center of the griddle.
     Place 4 slices of White American Cheese on the mound of beef and vegetables.  (About 2 ounces)
     Step 6:  Pour 1/4 cup of water over the cheesesteak mound.
     Allow the water to steam and completely evaporate.
     *The steam will melt the cheese.
     Briefly toss the ingredients together, so the melted cheese evenly coats the chicken mixture.
     Step 7:  Cut one side of a 12" long Hoagie Roll (or sub roll) and split the roll open.  (Do not cut all the way through the bread!)
     Use a large spatula to mound the Cajun Chicken Cheesesteak mixture on the open Hoagie Roll.
     Cut the sandwich in half and place it on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with curly leaf parsley sprigs and pickles of your choice.

     A Cajun Chicken Cheesesteak is the ultimate Mardi Gras munch!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Hillbilly Pâté Hoagie with Cilantro Roasted Pepper Spread and Neon Relish

     Hillbilly Pâté!
     Liverwurst can still be found on local tavern menus in Pennsylvania.  I once had a good Liverwurst Sub at an old neighborhood tavern in Norristown, just outside of Philadelphia back in the early 1980's.  Since Norristown used to be a famous Italian neighborhood, the sandwich was garnished with Minced Red Pepper Giardiniera.  
     A few years later in the 1980's, I was cook at a classy yacht club.  Many of the club members requested that their own favorite food items be stocked in the yacht club kitchen, for when they played cards in the afternoon.  Canned Sardines and Liverwurst were favorites of the wealthy old timers.  Since the yacht club was a prestigious place, any time that a customer requested a Liverwurst Sandwich, us cooks jokingly referred to it as "Hillbilly Pâté."
     The Hillbilly Pâté nickname for Liverwurst stuck.  Every time that Liverwurst is mentioned, I cannot not help but to think of Hillbilly Pâté.  Of course, the word Pâté should be pronounced "pāt" to make the nickname sound authentic.  
     After researching the Liverwurst nickname topic for some odd reason, I found out that the nickname Kentucky Pâté has been used to describe Liverwurst for nearly a century.  Using the Kentucky Pâté nickname may not please folks from Kentucky that are sensitive to the use of old derogatory stereotypes that may not necessarily be accurate in this modern age.  On the other hand, a Hillbilly never seems to mind being called a Hillbilly.  In fact, most Hillbillies are rather proud of their heritage.  For this reason alone, Hillbilly Pâté is the better choice for naming a trendy tavern style Liverwurst Hoagie Sandwich.  
     Hoagie Roll:
     Hoagie Rolls are shaped like an Italian Sub Roll, but the texture is softer.  Hoagie Rolls have a soft crust, just like any bread that is enriched with milk.  Follow the link to the recipe in this website if a fancy Hoagie is preferred.   

     Cilantro Roasted Red Pepper Spread:
     This recipe yields 1 cup.  (Enough for about 4 or 5 sandwiches.)
     Step 1:  Place 2/3 cup of mayonnaise in a food processor.
     Add 1 tablespoon of Dijon Mustard.
     Add 1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped roasted red bell pepper.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro.
     Add 1 teaspoon of Hungarian Paprika.  
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 2:  Pulse the food processor till the ingredients are pureed.
     Place the spread in a sealed container and chill for 1 hour.  (The spread will thicken after it is chilled.)   

     Hillbilly Pâté Hoagie with Cilantro Roasted Pepper Spread and Neon Relish:
     This recipe yields 1 Hoagie Sandwich (8" to 10"). 
     Chicago Style Neon Relish can be found in the Chicago area, Chicago Hot Dog Shops and at internet shopping websites.  This relish has a unique flavor and a bright aquamarine color.        
     Step 1:  Split an 8" to 10" White Whole Wheat Hoagie Roll in half.
     Spread a generous amount of the Cilantro Roasted Pepper Spread on the bread.  (2 to 3 tablespoons)
     Step 2:  Place a thin layer of romaine lettuce leaves on the bread.
     Place a few thin sliced Sweet Vidalia Onion rings on the lettuce.
     Step 3:  Overlap 3/8" thick slices of Liverwurst on top of the garnishes.  (About 6 to 8 ounces.)
     Spread a generous amount of Neon Relish over the Liverwurst.  (About 3 or 4 tablespoons.)
     Step 4:  Use fancy bamboo sandwich picks to attach the top of the sub roll.
     Cut the sandwich in half and place it on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with cilantro sprigs and pickles of your choice.  

     Viola!  A Hillbilly Pâté Hoagie! 

Desert Wildflower Honey White Whole Wheat Bread

     Bread Recipe Variables
     I rarely use a recipe when making any kind of bread.  After learning the techniques for various bread styles, a sense of proportion develops.  Once the proportion of ingredients becomes second nature, it becomes easy to make any kind of bread without relying on a recipe. 
     I bake bread at nearly one mile above seal level in a desert that has 4% humidity.  The amount of flour that I use in a bread recipe here in the high desert, will not be the same as if the bread was being made in a humid region that is close to sea level.  
     Yeast also reacts differently in certain environmental conditions.  In very arid climates, bread will almost always be more dense.  In warm humid climates the yeast explodes with life and the bread texture is much more airy.  Salt controls yeast activity in a bread recipe and too much salt added in a recipe that is made in dry conditions will cause a dense dough that can only be used to make flat bread items.
   A few years ago I was baking focaccia below sea level in zero humidity at a restaurant in Death Valley.  The outdoor temperatures averaged 125ºF that summer.  I had to adjust flour measurements by eye, in order to perfect the bread.
     On the opposite extreme, a couple decades ago, I was baking bread in 92% humidity at sea level by the Florida Everglades. The yeast exploded with life, so the salt content of the bread had to be adjusted.  The flour was saturated with moisture, so the flour measurement had to be adjusted by eye.
     As one can see, the amount of flour is a variable in most bread recipes.  Learning how to add just the right amount of flour takes practice, so making small batch recipes first is best way to learn.  
     As mentioned before, I currently bake in an arid high altitude desert environment.  Every time that I use somebody else's bread recipe, I have to adjust the amount of flour.  The final little addition of flour always ends up being done by eye.  
     The weight of flour is much heavier in humid conditions.  Here in the high desert where the humidity level is nearly zero, flour is extra dry and lighter than dust.  There is a scientific method for measuring the moisture content of flour.  Complicating baking recipes with mathematics is not what most home cooks want to do, so the scientific method is best forgotten about at this time.
     Flour measurements actually are a variable in all bread recipes.  It is best to write a recipe so 90% to 95% of the flour is added in the beginning of the mixing process, then the rest is added by eye late in the mixing process.  This allows bakers to fine tune a recipe.  No two kitchens have the same environmental conditions, so nearly every bread recipe needs to be fine tuned.  
     By measuring and recording the weight of the flour when the final addition of flour is done by eye, a baker can reproduce the same consistent bread product every time in their own kitchen.  Using a digital scale and writing down the exact weight is necessary for achieving consistency.        

     Physical Factors That Inhibit Consistency
     The there is a narrow temperature range for heating liquid for yeast blooming.  The total range is only about 6 degrees and each degree over 110ºF will make a difference in texture.  112ºF creates a consistent bread texture.  114ºF degrees creates a yeasty bubbly dough texture.  110ºF creates a dough texture that proofs dramatically after shaping.  
     Sourdough yeast is airborne yeast captured in onion water and a sourdough yeast bloom develops at room temperature (72ºF).  Sourdough is the most consistent yeast because the temperature for blooming is in a natural range.  Sourdough Starter Yeast Colonies do have to be fed like pets, so flour and water have to be added on a regular basis.    
     Water PH is another factor.  Yeast blooms best in acidic water or water that is close to a neutral 7.0PH.  Rain water is 6.5PH.  Limestone shelf tap water here in the high desert is 9.0PH to 9.3PH, which is on the alkaline side. 
     Chlorine can ruin bread every time.  Chorine is added to tap water to prevent bacterial growth.  Chlorine kills yeast.  In Florida, there is so much Chlorine in tap water, that the water smells like bleach.  In the high desert, the limestone water requires less Chlorine, because the natural water PH is high enough to inhibit bacterial growth.  
     It is easy to remove Chorine from tap water.  Just measure the water for a bread recipe, place it in an open container and set the water on a countertop for a few hours.  The Chlorine will evaporate.  Another method is to boil the water for a bread recipe.  The hot water has to be cooled, then measured.  Bringing water to a boil causes Chlorine to evaporate immediately.   
     Salt controls yeast and salt kills yeast.  Salt should never be added directly to yeast that is bloomed in lukewarm liquid.  The bulk of the flour should be added to the yeasty liquid first so the flour floats on the liquid like an island in the mixing bowl.  The salt should be placed on top of the flour island, then the mixing can started.  This way the salt is distributed evenly, without directly making contact with the yeast.
     These pointers shed light on physical factors that may cause bread making inconsistencies.  There is a bit of science involved with the bread making art.  The yeast bloom temperature, water PH, Chlorine, salt and environmental conditions all affect bread product quality.  Compensating for these factors will result in bread that is consistently good.             

     Today's Recipe
     White Whole Wheat Flour is a dense coarse flour with fewer glutens that are readily available because of the rustic grain grinding process.  White Whole Wheat Flour has to be blended with standard bread flour or all purpose flour, so the texture of the finished bread will not be too dense, especially when making sandwich bread.      
     Desert Wildflower Honey has a very strong honey flavor.  This honey is so dark, that it looks like sorghum molasses.  A little bit of Desert Wildflower Honey goes a long way in a bread recipe!  
     Honey is a natural preservative and honey naturally fights pathogens, molds and yeast.  Since honey inhibits yeast growth, it should not be added to the warm milk and yeast mixture or the yeast will not activate like it should.  Sugar has to be added to the lukewarm liquid, so the yeast fully activates.  
    After the yeast blooms, warm honey can be added to the liquid, just before the dry ingredients are added.  The honey has to be warmed up so it thins out and easily blends into the dough.  Cold honey will just sink to the bottom of liquid and the flavor will not be distributed evenly. 
     Desert Wildflower Honey White Whole Wheat Soft Crust Sandwich Bread:    
     This small batch recipe yields about 30 ounces.  (The exact weight varies with environmental conditions.  The bread examples in the photos were made with 1 batch of dough in arid high altitude conditions.)  
     Milk enriched bread is a dough made with milk or a mixture of milk and water.  The yeast is bloomed in the warm milk.  Milk creates a soft bread texture and a thin crust.   
     *This recipe is written for a steal gear drive mixer with a dough hook. 
     Step 1:  Heat 2 tablespoons of Desert Wildflower Honey with 1 tablespoon of water over very low heat, till the honey thins.  Keep the thinned honey warm on a stove top.
     Step 2:  Place 3/4 cup of water in a sauce pot.
     Add 3/4 cup of milk.
     Add 1 tablespoon of sugar.
     Gently heat the liquid to 112ºF.
     Step 4:  Place the lukewarm liquid in a mixer bowl.  
     Add 2 tablespoons of fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon of dry yeast.
     Place the mixing bowl in a lukewarm place like on a towel on top of a warm oven.
     Wait for the yeast to activate and bloom. 
     Step 5:  Add the thinned honey
     Add about 2 1/2 cups of White Whole Wheat Flour.
     Add 1 1/4 cups of standard white bread flour.  
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher Salt.  (I keep the level of sodium low in my bread recipes!  Up to 1 1/2 teaspoons can be added.)
     Add 1 tablespoon of melted unsalted butter.
     Step 6:  Place the mixer bowl on the mixer and attach a dough hook.
     At low speed, mix till a loose wet dough is formed.
     Step 7:  Start adding a little bit of Standard White Bread Flour at a time, till the dough just starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. 
     *You will be able to see when the dough is starting to get elastic.  It will stick to the hook and bowl.  Add just enough flour, so the dough looks like it can start to gather on the dough hook.  It might take just a few tablespoons or as much as 3/4 cup.  The amount depends on environmental conditions.
     Step 8:  Allow the dough to mix and knead at a low speed for about 5 minutes.  By now the dough should be gathering on the hook.
     Step 9:  Remove the mixer bowl from the mixer and remove the dough hook.
     Cover the dough in the mixer bowl with a dry towel. 
     Set the bowl on top of a warm oven, with a second towel underneath the bowl to protect the dough from too much heat. 
     Allow the dough to rise to 1.5 times the original size.
     Step 10:  Place the dough in a sealed container.
     Chill the dough in a refrigerator for 1 hour.  (Chilled dough is a lot easier to shape!)  

     Benching and Portioning:
     Place the dough on a lightly floured counter top.
     Roll the dough into a large ball shape. 
     Cut the dough into portions by eye or by weight.  Here are some dough portion examples:   
     • Large Hamburger Roll:  5 ounces to 6 ounces (baseball size portion)
     • Small Hamburger Rolls and Hot Dog Buns:  3 1/4 ounces to 4 ounces (tennis ball size portion)
     • 10" to 12" Sub Roll (or Hoagie Roll):  7 ounces to 8 ounces 
     • Baguette:  8 ounces to 12 ounces    
     • Rustic Boulle Loaf:  25 ounces to 35 ounces
     • Standard Pan Loaf (9" x 5" x 3" pan):  28 ounces to 30 ounces    
     • Mini Pan Loaf: 2 1/2 ounces to 3 ounces
     • Dinner Roll:  1 3/4 ounces to 2 ounces 
     • Slider Roll:  1 1/2 ounces to 1 3/4 ounces (golf ball size portion)
     • Thin Bread Sticks:  1 ounce to 2 ounces

     Shaping takes practice!  Only the baguette (or sub roll) shape is described in this recipe.  Making a burger bun is as simple as making a baseball shape.  
     Step 1:  Gently roll a baguette dough portion back and forth on the floured surface with your hands to make a long baguette shape that is about 3" wide.
     Step 2:  Use the fingertips on both hands to press the outside of the loaf, into the center, along a straight line from end to end.  Use pressure to force the dough toward center, so it slightly compacts.  
     Step 3:  Now there should be a seam from end to end on the loaf.  
     Pinch the seam with fingertips, so the seam is sealed.
     Step 4:  Gently roll the loaf back and forth to even the loaf and give it a finished look.  The width should be: 
     • 2" wide (thin baguette) 
     • 2 1/2" wide (sub roll or baguette) 
     • 3" wide (large sub roll or large baguette)    
     Step 5:  Place the shaped baguette on a parchment paper lined pan with the seam side facing down.
     Brush the shaped dough with thin egg wash.  (Optional.  No egg was used for the bread in the photos.)   
     Use a razor sharp knife to bias cut shallow steam slashes on top of the loaf.
     Place the pan with the shaped dough in a warm area.
     Allow the dough to rise to 1.5 times its original size.  (This only takes a few minutes.) 

     Place the bread pan on a baking stone slab in a 425ºF oven.
     Bake till the bread becomes a light golden brown color.  The center temperature should be 190ºF.
     Set the finished bread on a cooling rack.

     The bread can be browned a little bit more when reheating, before being served.
     Reheat in a 350ºF oven.
     Rich tasting desert wildflower honey white whole wheat bread!