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! 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

White Pizza ~ Sausage, Spinach, Mushrooms, Shallot & Asparagus

     National Pizza Day!
     I have published several gourmet pizza recipes through the years.  I try to demonstrate that there is more than one definition of pizza perfection.  Basically, the perfect pizza is a matter of personal preference.  The pizza crust in my recipes varies and this is intentional.  Some are thick crust, thin crust, stuffed crust, light color crust, golden brown crust, deep dish crust, soft crust or crispy crust pizzas.  The idea is to show as many crust styles as possible and demonstrate a wide variety of gourmet pizza topping combinations.    
     While attending chef school at Le Cordon Bleu in Las Vegas, we had a substitute teacher on the last day of Baking & Pastry Arts Class.  All the school work was done for the entire class session already, so it was a day with no assignments, other than filling out questionnaire forms.  The substitute teacher had no instructions from the other instructor for the last day of class, so he decided to just make it a free form pizza day, with the goal of using up the last of the food items left in the walk-in cooler.  That was a good idea and the students went right to work making small individual size gourmet pizzas with whatever toppings they could find in the cooler.  
     Today's Gourmet Pizza recipe was one I made in the Le Cordon Bleu classroom that day.  I used no printed recipes for the dough or anything else.  I just made the pizza the same way that I did a few decades before while working at a French café, when Gourmet Mini Pizzas were a hot selling item.
     The ingredients that I chose for the classroom pizza were all fresh.  A basic focaccia dough was used for the pizza dough, but the dough was not allowed to rise more than once and the dough was not chilled overnight.  The oven temperature was not extremely hot either.  The result of using freshly made Focaccia Dough is a soft airy pizza crust that remains a light color.  In fact, the light texture was rather angelic.  
     I also decided on a White Pizza.  A White Pizza is made with no tomato sauce and olive oil saturates the crust.  Vegetable toppings and good quality cheese are best for a white pizza.  Sausage is good on a white pizza too, so it was added as a topping in this recipe.
     February 9th, 2017, is National Pizza Day.  This is the day to celebrate the almighty pizza in all of its glory.  Buying a pizza at a restaurant is what most folks do on any given day, but making a good Gourmet Pizza at home always wins top honors!      

     Pizza Dough:
     Follow this link to the pizza dough recipe in this website.
     • Pizza Dough
     *Use the Focaccia option in the Pizza Dough Recipe.  To make a soft airy light crust like the one in the photos, only allow the dough to rise once, then make the pizza crust with the fresh dough as soon as possible.   

     Rosemary Olive Oil:  
     This recipe yields enough for 1 small 12" pizza.
     Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a sauce pot over low heat .
     Add 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves.
     Gently simmer till the olive oil is infused with the rosemary flavor.
     Pour the rosemary olive oil through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl and set it aside.
     This recipe yields enough for 1 small 12" pizza.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
     Add 4 ounces of uncased Italian Sausage.
     Break the clumps of sausage up as the sausage cooks.
     Sauté till the sausage is fully cooked and it is a light brown color.
     Step 2:  Remove the pan from the heat,
     Place the sausage in a strainer to drain off any excess grease.
     Set the cooked crumbled sausage aside in a container.
     Wilted Garlic Spinach:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 small 12" pizza.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 4 thin sliced garlic cloves.
     Sauté till the garlic turns a golden color.
     Step 2:  Add 3 cups of baby spinach leaves.
     Lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté and stir till the spinach wilts.
     Step 3:  Spread the wilted garlic spinach on a platter, so it cools quickly.
     *The same sauté pan can be used to make the rest of the pizza toppings.  Just wipe the pan clean.

     Sautéed Asparagus Spears:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Place the sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
     Add 5 peeled asparagus spears that are about 4" long.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Sauté till the asparagus are halfway cooked and still crisp.
     Set the asparagus spears aside. 

     Sautéed Mushrooms and Shallot:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Step 1:  Place the sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil.
     Add 2 tablespoons of thin sliced shallot.
     Sauté till the shallot slices start to turn clear in color.
     Step 2:  Add 3/4 cup of thin sliced mushrooms.
     Lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté till the mushrooms become tender.
     Set the sautéed mushrooms and shallot aside in a container. 

     White Pizza ~ Sausage, Spinach, Mushrooms, Shallot & Asparagus: 
     This recipe yields 1 small 12" pizza.
     Step 1:  Coat a smooth countertop with a thin film of olive oil.  (Just a few drops of olive oil wiped on the counter is plenty!)
     Place a mini pizza size portion of the focaccia dough on the counter top.  (About 12 ounces of dough.)
     Press and stretch the dough into a flat round shape.
     Use your finger tips to gently press the dough outward from the center to the edge, to make a flat round pizza dough shape that is less than 1/2" thick.
     Step 2:  Place the flat pizza dough on a pizza pan that is lightly brushed with olive oil.  (Re-stretch the dough if necessary.) 
     Brush the dough with a generous amount of the rosemary olive oil.
     Lightly season with sea salt.
     Step 3:  *When applying the cheese and toppings, try to leave a 1/2" wide bare crust edge.
     Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of fine grated Parmigiana Cheese on the pizza.
     Sprinkle the crumbled cooked Italian Sausage on the pizza.
     Place the sautéed mushrooms and shallots on the pizza.
     Step 4:  Place 5 small mounds of the wilted garlic spinach around the center of the pizza.
     Place the asparagus spears on the pizza, so they point outward from the center and drape over the small mounds of spinach.
     Step 5:  Sprinkle 3 or 4 tablespoons of fine grated Parmigiana Cheese on the pizza.
     Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of grated mozzarella cheese over the pizza.
     Drizzle a little bit of the remaining rosemary olive oil over the pizza.
     Step 6:  Place the pizza pan on a stone slab in a 425ºF oven.
     Bake till the crust is fully cooked and golden brown highlights appear on the cheese.
     Step 7:  Slide the pizza onto a serving platter or just serve it on the pizza pan.
     Cut the pizza into pie shaped slices.  (5 slices is best for this pizza.)

     Another tasty Gourmet Pizza!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Swede!

     A Kielbasa Grinder with Swedes, Potato, Onion, Mushroom and Hovmästarsås! 
     In old spaghetti westerns and classic western movies, there often was a character named Swede.  The Swede character in a western movie was usually either a loner, blacksmith, gold prospector, brewer or gunsmith.  Sometimes the Swede was a good guy and in some westerns the Swede character was on the wrong side of the law.  Western movie characters like the Swede added a mysterious dimension to old western films.  The audience in the theater sat in the edge of their seats, when the marshal in the western movie said something like, "Round up a posse.  We are goin' to get the Swede, dead or alive!"
     The Swede was not just a fictitious character added to the script of a western movie to make the film more entertaining.  During the late 1800's, many Swedish immigrants settled in the American west and Mexico.  There were tales and real stories about Swedish immigrants in the wild west that Hollywood script writers modeled their Swede characters after.  
     The most popular silent movies in the late 1800's and early 1900's were westerns.  Those who lived the wild west in the 1800's wasted no opportunity to let their stories be known to Hollywood film makers.  Back in the turn of the 20th century, Hollywood film makers actively sought out real life western people that had stories to tell.  Writing a western movie that was based on legends that many people knew, ensured that a western movie would become a popular success.  People liked to see the events of the old west on film, that they previously only heard about second hand. 
     In modern times, the days of the old west are still alive in some places.  While working in Death Valley a few years ago, driving back and forth from Nevada to California made it easy to identify the kind of people that would stick around in these desolate areas of the west, if the modern age of technology suddenly came to an end.  Most of these people had generations of family that have been in this region since the days of the old west.  Those who were down to earth seemed like the least likely to leave this region for an easier life if the world came to an end.  
     Oddly enough, many down to earth folk in remote small communities between Nevada and California are of Swedish descent.  It looks like the marshall and his posse in the old western movie never caught the Swede, because there are plenty of Swedish names in these parts.  Maybe this was where the tale of a bad guy named the Swede was told by veterans of the old west to Hollywood western film makers way back when.  The Swede actually may have been more than just a Hollywood western legend! 
     Street food sandwich makers depend on some hype to make sales.  The imagery of Swedish heritage in the old west and the Swede character in Hollywood westerns was the only thing that I could think of for creating some hype for today's sandwich creation.  Oddly enough, the Swede Sandwich has a flavor that would be right at home in a big city tavern or a saloon out in the middle of the Desert Southwest.  
     Of course today's sandwich creation was named after rutabaga and not the Swede in old western movies.  Rutabaga are called Swedes in British countries and many parts of Europe.  Every ingredient on this sandwich is popular in Sweden too.  Hovmästarsås is a Swedish sweet mustard sauce that is usually served with gravlax.  Hovmästarsås also tastes great with the potatoes, mushrooms, onions, kielbasa and rutabaga on today's Swede Sandwich.   
     When watching westerns on a Saturday afternoon and a craving for a sub sandwich strikes, put on a ten gallon hat and say, "Round up the posse.  We're goin' to the kitchen to get the Swede!"

     This recipe yields about 1 1/2 cups.  (Enough for about 6 large sandwiches.)
     Swedish Sweet Mustard or Smooth German Mustard can be substituted for Dijon Mustard.
     Step 1:  Place 1/3 cup of Dijon Mustard in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar.
     Add 1/3 cup of granulated sugar.
     Whisk the ingredients together.  
     Step 2:  Measure 1/2 cup of vegetable oil.
     Add a few drops of vegetable oil at a time while whisking, till an emulsion starts.
     Add a thin stream the rest of the oil while whisking to make a translucent sweet mustard sauce.
     Step 3:  Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.  (About 2 to 3 pinches)
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped fresh dill weed.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Place the Hovmästarsås in a container and refrigerate the sauce till it is needed.   

     Grilled Potatoes:
     This recipe yields 1 sandwich garnish portion.  
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 4 to 5 ounces of peeled russet potato slices that are about 3/16" thick.
     Lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 2:  Sauté the potatoes till they are fully cooked and golden brown highlights appear.
     Keep the grilled potatoes warm on a stove top.
     Roasted Kielbasa:
     The Kielbasa in the photos was a Large Smoked Kielbasa Link that was made with no sausage casing.  This kind of Kielbasa has become popular at street vendor sandwich stands.  The same technique used to make hot dogs with no casing is used to make this sausage.  These Smoked Kielbasa Links resemble a large hot dog, but they have a good flavor.
     Step 1:  Select an 8" long Smoked Kielbasa Sausage Link.  (A Smoked Kielbasa that was made with no sausage casing.)  
     Place the Kielbasa on a roasting pan.
     Lightly brush the Kielbasa with vegetable oil.
     Step 2:  Place the pan in a 300ºF oven.
     Roast till the Smoked Kielbasa Link is hot and lightly browned.
     Keep the Smoked Kielbasa Link warm on a stove top.

     This recipe yields 1 sandwich garnish portion.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot of salted water over high heat.
     Bring the water to a boil.
     Add 1/2 cup of thin rutabaga strips. 
     Blanch the rutabaga strips till they are halfway cooked.  (About 1 minute.)
     Step 2:  Drain the water off of the rutabaga.
     Return the rutabaga to the sauce pot.
     Step 3:  Place the sauce pot over low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Gentle sauté till the rutabaga is tender, but not too soft.
     Keep the rutabaga warm on a stove top.
     Sautéed Mushrooms and Onions:
     This recipe yields 1 sandwich garnish portion.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 cup of thin sliced onion.
     Sauté till the onions turn clear in color.
     Step 2:  Add 1/3 cup of sliced button cave mushrooms.
     Sauté till the mushrooms are tender and the onions start to caramelize.
     Lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Keep the mushrooms and onions warm on a stove top.

     The Swede!:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty sandwich.
     Step 1:  Split an 8" sub roll open.
     Warm the sub roll in a 300ºF oven.
     Step 2:  Place the sub roll on a cutting board.
     Spread a thin layer of the Hovmästarsås Sauce on the sub roll.  (About 2 tablespoons.) 
     Step 3:  Place a layer of the warm grilled potatoes on the sub roll.
     Place a layer of the onions and mushrooms on the potatoes.
     Place the Smoked Kielbasa Link on the sub.
     Drape the thin rutabaga strips over the Kielbasa.
     Drizzle about 1 or 2 teaspoons of the Hovmästarsås sauce over the ingredients on the sub.
     Step 4:  Place The Swede on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with baby sweet gherkin pickles and an Italian Parsley sprig.

     The Swede is big, bad, tough and hearty, just like in the old western movies!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Italian Fontal Stuffed Angus Beef Sliders with Peperoni

     Gourmet Sliders!
     Chefs in Las Vegas offer a wider variety of gourmet sliders than the rest of the world combined.  That is because Las Vegas is rated as the burger capitol of the world.  Burgers and sliders are top class munchies in Las Vegas!
     Cheese Stuffed Burgers have been a trendy item for a few decades now.  I have published a few cheese stuffed gourmet burger recipes in the past and stuffing a big burger patty with cheese is relatively easy to do.  Cheese stuffed sliders are also not difficult to make, but working with the tiny burger patties takes a little bit of patience.  
     Fontal and Fontina are the same cheese.  The word "Fontina" is usually used to describe Fontal Cheese that is made in America.  When this cheese comes from Italy, Fontal is what this cheese is called.  I selected an imported Italian Fontal Cheese for today's recipe.  The difference in quality is easily noticed!  Italian Fontal Cheese easily melts, so it is perfect for stuffing small slider patties.  
     Sweet Peppers (peperoni) are a classic Italian accompaniment for grilled meats and beef.  Sautéed Sweet Peppers also go well with fine cheese.  A Sandwich Spread is not needed for today's slider recipe, because the flavor of the Imported Italian Fontal Cheese and sautéed sweet peppers is perfect as it is!

     Shiny Hamburger and Slider Rolls:
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website.

     Fontal Stuffed Angus Beef Slider Patties:
     This recipe yields 3 stuffed slider patties.  (1 portion)
     Step 1:  Place 8 ounces of Black Angus Ground Beef in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of ground sage.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic paste.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1 tablespoon of plain Italian breadcrumbs.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Divide the ground beef mixture into 3 equal size portions.
     Roll each portion into a ball shape.
     Press each ball shape into a thick slider patty shape.
     Step 3:  Cut 3 disc shaped pieces of imported Italian Fontal Cheese that are 3/16" thick and about 1" wide.
     Set the fontal cheese discs on top of each thick slider patty portion.
     Press each fontal cheese disc halfway down into each patty portion.
     Step 4:  Spread the displaced ground beef back over the top of each patty.
     Uniformly seal the cheese discs in the middle of each patty. 
     Press each slider patty, so they are a uniform shape that will fit on the slider rolls.  
     Chill the Fontal Cheese Stuffed Slider Patties till they are needed.  

     Sautéed Sweet Peppers (Peperoni): 
     This recipe yields enough for 3 sliders.
     Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Add 1/2 cup of thin sweet red bell pepper strips.
     Add 1/2 cup of thin sweet orange bell pepper strips.
     Add 1/2 cup of thin sweet yellow bell pepper strips.
     Constantly toss and sauté, till the peperoni is cooked al dente, with no browning at all.
     Season with sea salt and white pepper.
     Keep the Peperoni warm on a stove top.

     Italian Fontal Stuffed Angus Beef Sliders with Peperoni:
     This recipe yield 1 entrée.  (3 sliders)
     Cheese stuff burger or slider patties must be cooked to at least a medium finish temperature or the cheese stuffing will not melt!
     Step 1:  Warm 3 Shiny Slider Rolls in a 250ºF to 300ºF oven.
     Keep the rolls warm on a stove top.
     Step 2:  Heat a seasoned cast iron griddle over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of blended olive oil.
     Place the Fontal Cheese Stuffed Black Angus Slider Patties on the griddle.
     Grill both sides of each stuffed slider patty till they are browned and they are cooked to at least a medium finish temperature.  (A probe thermometer should read about 145ºF.)
     Step 3:  Split the warm shiny slider rolls in half and place the bottom halves on a plate.
     Place the Fontal Stuffed Angus Beef Sliders on the slider rolls.
     Place a tall mound of the sautéed sweet peppers on each slider.
     Use fancy bamboo skewers to spear the shiny slider roll tops in place.
     Step 4:  Garnish the plate with Italian Giardiniera and an Italian Parsley sprig.

     These are some great tasting gourmet Italian style cheese stuffed sliders!