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!

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From the Kitchen – Cake, bread and bad tv

This weekend was another cooking weekend. Here in the US, we have a three day weekend this weekend for President’s Day, a holiday that was to cover both Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays.

In addition to beef stew (our recipe can be found here), I made a lemon chiffon cake and also tried a new bread recipe.

Chiffon cakes should get more attention. They are essentially a cake with a lot of eggs, similar to angel food cakes, but they have oil and egg yolks in them. They are richer than angelfood, and moister. For a comparison that seems like damning with faint praise, they have the texture of a fresh Twinkie (a snack cake here in the States), with a moist spongy texture. The recipe I used was from The Cake and Pie Bible Rose by Rose Beranbaum. I am generally loath to publish recipes in books, but if a friend asks me for it, I can share.

You’ll see that it was made in an angelfood cake pan, one with the center post and bottom that is separate. I hadn’t even known that those existed until my husband told me his mother had one. I found one at a flea market. The batter is a little looser than angelfood batter so you can see the cake stalagmites that formed on the bottom from the batter seeping out a bit.  This type of cake, like angelfood, has to be cooled inverted.  Of course a chunk stuck to the pan.  Oh well.

The bread was this, Tuscan Bread with Herbs. It is a fairly wet dough, and it took about ten minutes of mixing/kneading in my kitchenaid. The dough got a silky sheen to it once done. For some reason, it took forever to get any color to it on the crust. The crust was a little hard on the bottom, since I baked it on a pizza stone. But it went very well with the stew to soften the crust in the broth.

We watched Priest last night on the SYFY channel. Not a bad movie and I really like Paul Bettany (I first saw him in A Knight’s Tale, which I love) and Karl Urban ( I saw him first in the Xena series). Plot holes that one could drive a star destroyer through, but so many fantasy movies do that. Also watched a part of an episode of Riverdale, this bizarre Buffy like version of the old Archie comics. They had a role-playing game called “Griffins and Gargoyles” that was taking over people’s minds. It was like watching a Chick tract (a very dumb conservative Christian who wrote lies as religious tracts). Of course, this world has real demons so it makes a little more sense.

Two possums are now visiting our yard.  That’s what I get for making a box for feral kitties to sleep in.  🙂

Well, that’s it. Eat and drink well!

From the Kitchen: Mole, and a picture of a feline pieta

Hello my followers,

Thanks for following.  This is a quick post of our tasty meal from last weekend and me with one of our new boys.

We made chicken mole last weeked.  Very tasty and yep, it’s from a Martha Stewart recipe, but we like it. I have learned to make corn tortillas (with a press) and made some Yucatecan pickled onions to go with it from Rick Bayless recipe.  I like a bit of acid to spark up my meals.

This is our smaller new kitty, Agamemnon aka Aggie.  He is the smaller of the two.  Kitty pieta. I make a very ugly and work weary Madonna.  But I have the carpet ripped up and the floor finished!

I spent the new years holiday tearing apart a room in our house since I had some emotions to work out since we had to euthanize the last of our older kitties, Muffin, during the holiday break.  Nothing like grief and anger to give one some excess energy.  I’ll have pics of the new room at some time.

I also have been gifted a Insta-Pot (pressure cooker/other things) by relatives.  Any good recipes?  It seems that the Insta-Pot gift is some weird apology from relatives who voted for that idiot Trump.

 

 

From the kitchen and the bar – experiments in game meats and some new wines

the pale lumps are very large garlic cloves

A month or two ago, D’Artagnan (the company that sells fancy meats here in the US) had a really good flash sale and I got a selection of game meats: a duck, venison shanks and a wild boar roast.   We had the wild boar first (actually a hybrid of European wild boar and feral pig that are running amuck in the south of the US).  It was good, though dry and we did lard it with extra pig fat.  The meat is very lean and all the darker color that you see in some pork cuts from regular pork.  I wasn’t that impressed, but I will say that I cook a tasty pork shoulder and am somewhat spoiled about what good pork is.

This weekend we cooked the venison shanks.  They were about 4 inches thick, and were New Zealand venison.  My husband found a recipe for a very garlic heavy braise, and since I’ve been wanting to cook something with a *lot* of garlic (readers will know I consider it a vegetable), we went for it. 

The wine used was a Simply Naked pinot grigio and of course the 4 bulbs of garlic.  We have rosemary and thyme in our garden.  It’s so shady, I’m glad that anything edible grows there.   I also have quite a few really poisonous things, like monkshood, jimsonweed, foxglove, etc. 

The meat was pretty indistinguishable to me from good beef.  We cooked it until the cartilage melted, making the meat succulent.  Not much fat on these, so the sauce isn’t as greasy as a beef based sauce would be.  They do come with the bone in, so I scooped out the marrow.  It was a little strong flavored for me, though I can see how some people would love that.  We just had the rest of the pinot grigio with it and it went surprisingly well with such a dark meat.   It’s nice and light.  We also got a bottle of their unoaked chardonnay, and it was good too, though a little richer than we wanted for the recipe.

We also got a few new wines to try.  We’ve been looking at the less than $10 that the PA Fine Wines and Good Spirits stores have.  If you are of an age in PA, you’ll know these stores to be “state stores”.  One of the wines was Regio Cantina Donpa Aglianico del Vulture 2013.  We really got it because it had this as a description ““This initially shows funky aromas of stalky underbrush, wet soil and a whiff of damp fur that slowly blow off to reveal toast, leather and dried blackberry jam. The dense full-bodied palate evokes prune, chocolate and a hint of tobacco alongside firm tannins.”  Alas, it wasn’t nearly so odd, and I was a bit disappointed.  It is a good dark red wine though. 

That’s it.  Eat and drink well!   If you have a good roast duck recipe, let me know for my next experiment.

From the Kitchen – cake and some random musings

Back to some fun stuff.   I found a recipe for German buttercream frosting on Serious Eats, one of my favorite food sites.  This stuff is very good, not too sweet, and full of tasty tasty fat!  I recently made a spice buy at Penzey’s, my favorite socially concious spice merchant, and used my new vanilla beans.   I did end up using salted butter which was noticeable but fine on a chocolate cake, rather like the salted caramel craze.  I just used a boxed chocolate cake mix.

I honestly can’t frost a cake worth crap. but it tastes good.

This weekend we are going to return to an old recipe, the blue cheese tart.  This time we are going to grab a rotisserie chicken and add the shredded meat to the tart. Should be tasty!

I’ve been watching “The Terror” on AMC.  It’s a horror tale about the failed expedition to find the Northwest Passage back in the 1840s based on this book.  Generally I’m not big horror fan, still having nightmares from watching “Alien”.  But this show grabbed me somehow.  There’s lots of blood, cannibalized bodies, etc, but the characters are interesting.  I very much enjoyed it.  It’d make a great Cthulhu tale if one just added a few tentacles.

Short one today.  Eat and drink well!

 

 

From the Bar: a couple of new things to drink, vindaloo, and a movie

This weekend we made a chicken vindaloo.    This was from the Saveur magazine recipe and it just wasn’t quite what I had grown used to in most indian restaurants.  What the recipe produced was a chicken and potato curry stew but not much of the vinegar tang that I like in vindaloo.  So I ended up taking a can of tomato sauce (I didn’t have tomato paste) and cooking it down with a bit of balsamic vinegar to get the flavor profile I wanted.   Then it came pretty close to what I was wanting.  We had this with jasmine rice. 

We’ve also been trying some new alcohols lately.   With our Indian meal, we tried a new cream liqueur called Somrus.  This stuff is delicious!  It has a wonderful mix of cardamom, rose, and other exotics.  It’s built on a rum base.  We made a lassi and poured some in.   My spouse just poured some over a brownie, which  he has found very good.

We also tried a new wine, Macaw Tannat from Brazil.   This is a nice simple red wine.  The grape is supposedly notoriously tannic but this wasn’t bad at all.  It’s nothing complex or expensive but a decent table wine.  

We also tried a mixed six pack of beers from a local microbrewery, Howling Henry’s.   Pretty good beers, and one really odd but good one, Basil Onion Pale Ale.   This is one of the few beers I’ve had that I’d consider savory, the others being Shock Top’s Twisted Pretzel beer (alas, discontinued) and Dogfish Brewing’s Ta Henket, the Egyptian beer. This would be great in a beer bread.  

Lastly, I’ve been stressed out about work and have been hiding by watching a lot of TV.  We watched the first of the Mythica movies which was a lot of fun.  This is what D&D movies should be.   All the way around a perfectly decent sword and sorcery movie with amazingly decent CGI.  This was partly funded by a Kickstarter request.  Unfortunately, it has Kevin Sorbo in it, who has become a Christian twit in his “God is not dead” type movies, but he’s not bad looking.  In the first, he’s only on screen for about 10 minutes.

That’s all.  Eat and drink well!

 

From the Kitchen – finally that bread that I’ve been trying for a decade + to make and a dip

Well, I finally did it! (happy porcupine dance)

I made a loaf of bread that has all of the holes in it I wanted. It only took more than a decade since I’ve first started trying baking bread.

I started baking bread since I do love that smell through the house. I started baking the standard sandwich loaf that my grandmother made dozens of loaves of, being a farm wife with 5 kids and the usual helpers. She raised this family back when they were still using draft horses along with tractors.

But I wanted a holey, crispy/crunchy loaf like the French are so good at. And it took a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen (publishers of Cook’s Illustrated) to make it. I will admit, I’ve made fun of them for years, wondering why someone would need to cook 50 chickens to get something right. But the method of understand and analyze does work in cooking (as it does in the sciences). I’m guessing that someday that recipe will vanish from KCET’s website, so you may have to become a member of ATK or ask me nicely to get it. 🙂  In the photos, you’ll note that a 500 degree oven just about chars parchment paper.

Yes, it take a bit of time to do. It’s worth it. We ate it with warm triple crème brie, cherry preserves and a fig and olive relish mentioned in this post.

So, tah-dah!

I also made their sticky buns and they are amazing! The use of a cooked water and flour roux, a technique from Asia called tangzhong, makes all of the difference. I’m thinking of subscribing so I can have access to all of these all of the time.

We also made queso fundido. I’ve tried this before and just can’t get the liquid texture I like in restaurant versions. So we stumbled upon Herdez Queso dip and it’s perfect. We heated it in the oven until hot, and topped it with fried chorizo (the fresh kind, not the preserved Spanish kind).

That was dinner with Fritos. I love tortilla chips, especially Xochitl brand since they are so thin, but sometimes a girl has to have her Fritos.

 

That’s all.   Eat well!