From the kitchen – tasty things to do with refrigerated pizza dough

It’s been a while since I posted about food. We usually cook for fun on weekends and things have come up on weekends since about mid-March, when we both got the flu and have continued until this weekend, when my folks visited.

The one thing that was cooked, and by my spouse, are a couple of things using refrigerated pizza dough in the can that you pop open (biscuits often come in them here in the US, the fluffy scone-ish ones, not hard crunchy ones that us Yanks call cookies).  He made the Stromboli version for me after I had a long day helping staff a conference with fellow staffers talking about their families which might as well be on a bad reality show.

The technique is the same and you can use any filling you’d like. The dough comes in a rectangular sheet. Cut in a third from each side in one inch (2.5 cm) strips (a rolling pizza cutter works best). Put the filling in the center, cross the strips and pinch together the short ends to keep the filling in place. Bake at 400 degrees F (roughly 200 degrees C) for twenty minutes.  We put them on baking parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

The first was our version of Stromboli (it’s the picture at the upper right of this post). After the dough is cut, spread around 2 tbsp of mustard (we like the whole seed stuff) on the raw dough. Then, put approximately 1/3 pound (0.15 kg) each (!) of thinly sliced provolone, ham, hard salami, and pepperoni down in that order on the non-cut dough. On top, put a good handful of shredded mozzarella and cross the dough strips over, sealing the ends. He had two extra strips left over so they became antennae on our rather trilobite-ish looking bundle. Just enough grease escapes to make a crisp bottom crust. Before baking, he brushed the top with flavored olive oil and dusted it with garlic powder and dried oregano.

uniced verson so you can see the prettiness

The second was a cherry cream cheese Danish-oid thing. The filling was half a can of cherry pie filling, and half a block of cream cheese. The cheese was on the outer long edges to corral the pie filling. He brushed the bottom of the crust with butter to get it nice and brown and brushed the top of the crust with butter, sanding it with sugar.   We also added a basic glaze of confectioner’s sugar (fine sugar with cornstarch) and milk.

with its icing carapace

Well, that’s it for now. Eat and drink well!

From the Bar and Kitchen – Strong drink, duck and a blue cheese tart

no flyIt’s always curious to see a “no fly” symbol on your newly purchased alcohol.  The alcohol in question is Stroh 80, a 160 proof (80%) rum from Austria, which is about as not Caribbean as you can get.  Having some Austrian ancestry, and an eternal curiosity about strange liquor, I had to get a bottle.  Happily, the Pennsylvania state owned liquor shops also have an online variation that has all sorts of cool and odd things to drink.  I’ve gotten crème de violette, Crème de Yvette, among other things from there.  It’s very nice to have a chance to do so and not be shackled to the mundane tastes of the average person, drowned in a sea of Captain Morgan, Jack Daniels and sicky sweet flavored vodkas.

The reason that you can’t take this stuff on airplanes is that it simply too flammable.  While somewhat dangerous, this is what you want when you make the classic flaming cocktails, including many of the tiki ones.  Bacardi 151 is something similar, though I find Stroh 80 to be much better tasting…. It still takes the top layer of your throat off when you drink it straight.  Stroh 80 has a slightly sweet taste with a strong vanilla taste plus sweet spices.

So far, I’ve made a classic Austrian cocktail called Jaegertee, which is basically hot strong black tea and various kinds of alcohol plus a little fruit juice.  The Austrian National Tourist board has what I’m assuming is an authentic recipe on their website here.   I did not have any plum brandy so I just added more spiced rum, e.g. Stroh.  The wine I used was Cabernet Sauvignon from a box.  The tea was Constant Comment from Bigelow, which had the added convenience of already being spiced.  A pour of orange juice, a squirt of fresh lemon and there you go.  And it will indeed make you feel warm and tipsy in short order. A spoonful of honey would also make a nice addition.

duckWhile sipping my jaegertee and since I had a couple of days off from work, I also decided to do a bit of cooking.  One of the small benefits of working in the meat department is that I can scoop up some more expensive meats when they are about to have their “sell by” date expire.  It’s not  much of a discount, but it does give us a chance to try a few new things.  Yesterday evening, I made a magret duck breast, which is a half duck breast taken off the bone.  You can order the same thing from D’Artagnan here.  They also have instructions on how to cook it.  Don’t be afraid to brown the skin well, until it is very dark brown.  This will render the copious fat from the duck; I got a half cup of duck fat from this one half breast.  We cooked it a little more than we probably should have but it was still delicious.  To us, it tastes like a very good beef steak with a lovely layer of crisp poultry skin on top,  the best of both worlds.  With this, I made a balsamic cherry reduction, recipe right here.  Most excellent!

the whole tart
the whole tart

We had this on its own, though we had planned on having asparagus with it.  Our appetite was curtailed by an appetizer of a baked tart of blue cheese in puff  pastry with hot pepper sauce drizzled over it.  We had come upon this on our vacation to the Finger Lakes, at The Snug Harbor in Hammondsport.  I recreated it with a sheet of frozen puff pastry and a slice of Danish blue cheese 5 inches on a side and a half inch thick (the original used gorgonzola dolce).  Fold the pastry sheet in half, placing the cheese on one side.  Moisten edges with milk and crimp with a fork to seal.  Brush with milk to get a golden brown crust. To bake, follow the directions on the puff pastry box, in this case 430 degrees until golden brown.  It took about cheese tart slice30 minutes.  The blue cheese melted very nicely to fill the entire tart. A drizzle of hot pepper sauce, Franks Hot Cayenne, make it a nice riff on the classic buffalo hot wings.

That’s it for now. Eat, and drink, well!