Pigs in Blankets

31May/1010

Memorial Day: The Ultimate Burger

To celebrate memorial day, we made these mini-burgers, perfect for a day out in the park! They are made from scratch: the buns, caramelised onion, crispy bacon, and a whole new way to make the patty.

Homemade Buns from Craving Comfort

1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup milk, slightly warmed
3/4 cups bread flour
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg

Instructions

Mix all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the hook attachment. Knead until the dough is smooth. Cover and let rise until doubled in size. Make small balls of dough and bake at 180 ºC (356 F) for ten minutes. Paint with one beaten egg with a pinch of salt and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Continue baking until golden brown.

Nice Buns!

Nice buns!

Caramelized Onions

1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
Olive oil
2 onions

Instructions

Thinly slice the onions. Place in a saucepan over medium heat and drizzle with olive oil. Cook until translucent. Add the sugar and vinegar and cook over low heat until caramelized.

Crispy Bacon from David Lebovitz

1/4 cup brown sugar
5 bacon strips

Instructions

Place bacon strips on a wire rack and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake in the oven at 180 ºC (356 F) until crispy.

Burgers adapted from BBQ addicts

8 bacon strips
Ground meat

Instructions

Weave bacon strips to form a tight mesh.Place ground meat on top of the weave and press. Roll the mat and secure with toothpicks. Place in the oven at 180 ºC (356 F) until the bacon crisps and the roll feels firm to the touch. Let rest for five minutes.

Assembly

Slice buns open and toast them. Slice the meat roll and place a slice on the bun. Place cheese, caramelised onions and crispy bacon on top. Grill in the oven at 200 ºC (392 F) until the cheese melts. Remove from the oven, add lettuce and tomato, place the top of the bun. Enjoy the awesomeness of the massive mini-burger and eat!

27May/1026

Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Croquembouche

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

The croquembouche has three main ingredients: pâte à choux, pastry cream and caramel.

Pâte à Choux

Pâte à Choux is a very versatile dough. It can be used to make profiteroles, éclairs or buñuelos (a typical Spanish dessert during Holy Week). The dough is always made the same way but is shaped or baked in different ways. For example, buñuelos are fried whereas profiteroles are baked in the oven. You can find the recipe I use here. The procedure is the same, but instead of frying the dough, we will bake it.

Once you have the finished dough, transfer into a piping bag fitted with a number 10 tip. Butter two or three baking pans. When the dough is baked directly over a greased tray, it turns out equally golden on the top and on the bottom. This method leaves no room for error, though. If you would like to practice, you can pipe it on an unbuttered silpat or parchment paper. Since there is no butter, if you mess up you can always scrape the dough and reuse it. Pipe small balls of dough over your chosen surface as follows:

1. Place the tip of the piping bag perpendicularly over the baking sheet. Use your right hand to press the bag and your left hand to guide the tip (the other way around if you are a leftie).

2. Press on the bag without moving the tip upwards until the desired size is acquired. If you move the bag upwards, you will get a rough surface instead of the smooth one we are after.

3. Stop pressing on the bag without moving it. With a swiping motion and making sure you are not pressing the bag, move the tip away from the ball of dough.

4. The surface of the dough should be smooth and shiny. Pipe the rest of the dough on the baking sheets and bake in the oven at 180 ºC (356 F).

5. Once baked, the dough should be smooth and without cracks. This is achieved with ovens with a vapour reduction function. If your oven doesn't have this function, bake the dough for ten minutes, crack the door open for the humidity to escape and continue baking until golden brown.

Pastry Cream

1/2 vanilla bean
20 g cornstarch
250 ml milk
3 egg yolks
40 g sugar

Instructions

Slice vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape the seeds and place in the milk, together with the scraped bean. Whisk together the yolks, sugar and cornstarch. Meanwhile boil milk with vanilla. When the milk starts to boil, pour one third of it on top of the cornstarch mixture. Whisk together and pour on the two thirds of milk that remain in the pan. Whisk gently for about a minute over medium heat, until thickened. If you whisk vigorously, the cream will come out too elastic and with an undesired texture. Once cooked, transfer to a tray and spread it to cool. Remove bean, cover with film and reserve.

Caramel

600 g granulated sugar
200 g liquid glucose
200 g water

Instructions

Put water, glucose and sugar (in that order) in a pan and place over medium heat. Heat without stirring until the sugar dissolves and starts to bubble. Keep heating until a temperature of 170 ºC (338 F) is reached. Remove from heat.

Assembly

Fill baked dough with pastry cream with a piping bag and reserve. Dip top part of the buns in the hot caramel and let cool. If the caramel hardens, reheat it until the desired consistency is acquired. Be careful, caramel is extremely hot and sticks to your skin while scalding you (caramel is nice that way).

Use the caramel to stick the balls together and create the shape you want. I used a balloon to make my dome. Once the croquembouche has is final shape, make the spun sugar. It's fun and messy (my floor was sticky for two days after making it).

Place three saucepans on the counter top with the handles hanging out. Cover the floor with newspaper. Grease the handles with butter. Dip a fork in the melted caramel ans with a swishing motion, move it over de handles. The sugar threads will fall over the handles. Keep dipping the fork and creating threads until you have enough spun sugar.

Place sugar gently on top of your croquembouche, and take pictures quickly! In humid weather, spun sugar doesn't last long.

Filed under: Daring Bakers 26 Comments
23May/1027

Lost Finale: Black Smoke Salad & Black Cosmopolitan

Keeping on with the Lost themed dinner, I present you with a black smoke salad and a black cosmopolitan. Now lets get fancy. Today's dinner will consist of a tepid lobster salad with mango, vanilla oil dressing, assorted greens and dwarf pansies.

Black Smoke Salad

Assorted cherry tomatoes
1 pouch cuttlefish ink
Juice of one lemon
Assorted greens
4 1/2 Tbsp. salt
2 lobsters
1 mango
Pansies

Instructions

Boil water over high heat and add salt. When the water starts to bubble violently, add the lobsters. Cook for ten minutes and let cool in the boiling water. Once cooled, remove meat from the shells and reserve.

Soak assorted greens in very cold water and reserve. Peel and dice mango, drizzle with lemon juice, cover and reserve. Collect the mango scraps and place in a bowl and reserve (don't eat them just yet!)

Vanilla Oil

1 vanilla bean
1 cup olive oil

Instructions

Open vanilla bean, scrape it and place it in the oil. Heat it over medium heat for five minutes. Place in a glass jar and reserve for a couple days in a dark place.

Dressing

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons vanilla oil
1 tablespoon honey
Mango scraps

Instructions

Place all ingredients in a container and puree with an immersion blender. Cover with film and reserve.

Presentation

Place assorted greens on a plate and decorate with pansies. Drizzle with dressing. Place diced mango and cherry tomatoes. With a brush decorate the plate with cuttlefish the ink to create the black smoke.

Black Cosmopolitan

1/3 cupcranberry juice
2/3 cup black vodka
1 splash lime juice
1 dash Cointreau

Instructions

Mix cranberry juice, cointreau and lime juice in a shaker with ice. Strain and pour into a martini glass. Slowly pour the black vodka on top to create two different phases. Make some extra cosmos in case you need them to get though life without Lost, or to drown your pain if your favorite character dies. I'm making a couple more just in case they decide to kill Sawyer (God forbid).

23May/1023

Lost Finale: Dharma Initiative Cheesecake

To celebrate the Lost finale, we have decided to make a themed dinner. For dessert we have made a Dharma Initiative black smoke cheesecake. The black smoke and the Dharma logo are made using just chocolate; keep reading to find out how!

Cheesecake Crust Makes 2 cakes

150 g softened butter
200 g crackers
100 g sugar
30 g water
50 g flour

Instructions

Crush crackers with a blender until a fine powder is obtained. Add the rest of ingredients, making sure the butter is softened, not melted. Mix with your hands until the mix just holds together when pressed into a ball.

The technique to line your mold with the cracker mixture will depend on the type of mold being used:

For a bottomless ring, place parchment paper on an oven tray, place cracker mix on top and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Spread with a rolling pin until a thickness of 3 mm is acquired. Remove wrap and place your molds on top, pressing down as if cutting cookie dough. Remove the dough on the outside of the molds, leaving them with their base. You can make walls if you want, pressing the dough on the inside of the mold with your hands.

For a regular pan, grease it and place dough on the bottom and press down with the bottom of a glass to smooth the surface. You can make walls if you want, pressing the dough on the inside of the mold with your hands.

Bake in the oven at 180 ºC until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool on the oven tray. Don't remove from the mold yet!

Cheesecake filling Makes one cake

50 g melted butter
250 g philadelphia
Orange zest
Lemon zest
80 g sugar
30 g flour
2 g salt
1 egg

Instructions

Separate the egg white from the yolk and reserve both. Combine cheese wit melted butter, half the sugar, egg yolk, flour, salt and zests. Mix well until combined. Meanwhile, whip the egg white until soft peaks form. Add the remaining half of the sugar and keep beating until stiff peaks form. Add the egg white to the cheese mixture and fold the mixture until fully blended.

Add spoonfuls of the filling into the molds and level the surface with a spatula.

Marble

125 g chocolate

Instructions

Drizzle chocolate over the cheese mixture. With a swirling motion and the help of a toothpick, marble the surface of the cake.

Bake in the oven at 150 ºC for 15 minutes or until the top of the cake loses its shine. The top of the cake should be firm to the touch.

Dharma Initiative Logo

1 sheet tracing paper
White Chocolate
Dark Chocolate
1 cardboard
Toothpicks

Instructions

Print the design on a sheet of paper. Tape the cardboard on a clean table. Tape design on the cardboard and tape the tracing paper on top. Melt dark chocolate and with a toothpick, fill in the dark parts of the design. Place in the fridge for the chocolate to set.

Notice how the design must me a mirrored image of the final desired design. We almost made the mistake of doing it with the final design, but we realized on time!

Meanwhile melt white chocolate. When the dark chocolate is set, pipe the white chocolate on top, covering the whole design. Be careful not to heat the white chocolate too much, because it will melt your previous design, and you will probably cry if this happens :'(

Chill the design in the freezer or the bottom part of your fridge until it sets. Turn the design over carefully and peel off the tracing paper. Removing the paper should be easy; if you have trouble, leave it in the freezer for a couple more minutes.

Handle your design with gloves, to prevent it from melting. Place your chocolate design on top of the cheesecake, et voilà!

Source:
Cheesecake recipe from the Hofmann Cooking School
Simple chocolate painting technique from Yurin's Obentou Diary via Eye Candy

Filed under: Dessert 23 Comments
16May/1011

Daring Cooks’ Challenge: Enchiladas

Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna-Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found on Fine Cooking and written by Robb Walsh.

At home we decided to turn this weekend into a mexican culinary experience so in addition to the enchiladas, we made fajitas, guacamole, pico de gallo and frozen strawberry margaritas. You can find the recipes for guacamole and margaritas here. Below are the recipes for enchiladas (including grilled chicken and green chile sauce), pico de gallo and homemade nachos.

Grilled Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Juice of one lemon
1/2 chopped onion
1 cup olive oil
Salt, pepper

Instructions

In a large bowl, place the chicken breasts with all the ingredients listed above. Cover with film and marinate overnight in the fridge. Remove from maceration liquid and grill in the oven at 300 ºC (572 F) until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Once cooled, shred it with your hands.

Green Chile Sauce

8 medium Poblano Chiles (canned)
5 medium Tomatillos (canned)
4 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons yellow onion
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. Cornstarch (dissolved in 2 tbsp. water)

Instructions

I had trouble finding fresh tomatillos and chiles poblanos, so I bought them canned. The chiles come already grilled an pealed and the tomatillos come boiled and soft. They make a great substitute for the fresh stuff and yield a great sauce.

Remove the seeds from the poblano chiles and chop coarsley. Heat a sauce pan and place tomatillos. Burst them with a spoon and let simmer over medium heat for a couple minutes. Remove from pan, puree with an immersion blender and return to pan. Add poblano chiles, chicken broth, minced onion, oregano, salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cornstarch-water mixture and stir well. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and reduced. Adjust seasonings and reserve.

Enchiladas

170 g (6 oz.) grated Monterey Jack
Green Chile Sauce
12 corn tortillas
Grilled chicken

Instructions

Reserve 1/4 cup sauce and mix the rest with the shredded chicken. Fry the tortillas in very hot oil, until lightly golden but still tender. Drain on paper towels.

In a baking dish, ladle a thin layer of sauce. Lay one tortilla and add the mixture of chicken and sauce until the tortilla is covered. Sprinkle some grated cheese, top with another tortilla and repeat procedure. The top tortilla should be covered just with salsa and a generous amount of cheese.

Bake in the oven at 300 ºC (572 F) until the cheese melts and golds. Let rest for 5 minutes and serve.

Pico de Gallo

3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of one lemon
1 small onion
2 tomatoes

Instructions

Finely dice the tomatoes and onion. Add lemon juice and chopped cilantro. Mix well and store in the fridge. Serve cold with nachos.

Homemade Nachos

1/2 cup olive oil
Corn tortillas

Instructions

Heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the tortillas cut in quarters and fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and reserve.

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