Monday, November 30, 2009

Pumpkin Pasta

I know what you're thinking. Pumpkin Pasta? That's weird! Yes... I agree. Very weird. So weird, I had to give it a go to see what it was like. Result? Eh... so so. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. Feeling adventurous? Give it a go and see for yourself!

Adapted from Dulcis in Furno's Blog

1/2 box of pasta (I used shells)
1 small pumpkin, cubed
1 small onion, chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
parmesan cheese

It's a basic recipe for a basic cream sauce. Flavor wise? Turned out, well... basic.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente.

While waiting for the pasta, get a large skillet and heat up the oil under medium heat. Add in onion and cook until translucent and soft, about 3-5 minutes.

Add the cubed pumpkin and cook until softened, about 20 minutes. Periodically, throughout, try pressing down on the pumpkin to sort of mush it down. Season with salt and pepper.

This is as far as the original recipe goes. Me, I wasn't satisfied with that. It just tasted kind of blah. So I had to spruce it up.

To the softened pumpkin and onion, add 1/2 cup cream and about 1/4-1/2 cup parmesan cheese
(depending on how thick or cheesy you want it). Let simmer until slightly thickened, shouldn't be too long, no longer than 5 minutes.

Drain the pasta and stir in with cream sauce. Salt and pepper to taste and serve!

Like I said... this wasn't anything spectacular. It was just weird. I don't know if pumpkin is meant for pasta. Not for me anyway. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chicken Piccata

I remember watching an episode of Top Chef one time and one of their challenges was to recreate a "classic dish". Chicken Piccata happened to be one of those "classic" dishes. Maybe it's because I grew up in a half-Asian household or maybe I was just sheltered, but I didn't know what the heck Chicken Piccata was. Well... now I do. And it's delicious. And it's classically simple, and worth getting to know.


Adapted from Playing House's blog

1/2 cup flour

4 chicken breasts, cut in half and flattened

salt and pepper to taste

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 shallot, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup chicken broth

1 lemon, cut in half

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

1/4 cup dry white wine

Preheat your oven to 200 F and place baking sheet on middle rack.

Put flour in shallow bowl. Pat the chicken down with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Coat each piece lightly in the flour and shake off any excess.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Working in batches (I did 2 batches of 4 pieces), add chicken to skillet and brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. They'll cook pretty quick because they're somewhat thin. After each piece is done, place on baking sheet in the oven to keep warm. Repeat until all chicken is complete.

Add the shallot and garlic to the skillet and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Thinly slice one half of the lemon and cut into half moons. Add the lemon slices, along with the chicken broth to the pan and scrape up any sucs (brown bits). Simmer this mixture until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the white wine and squeeze juice from leftover lemon half into the skillet. Turn the heat down to low and stir in butter pats, one at a time. Turn off the heat and stir in the parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with sauce on top of chicken. I also braised some spinach really quick in some chicken stock. Andy kept raving how it went exceptionally well with the chicken piccata itself.

This was a quick meal. This was a delicious meal. I think both of those components qualify it as a winner and a keeper. What "classic" dishes do you keep in your memory banks? What "classic" dishes have you heard of but never tried? Enjoy!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cornish Hens w/ Plum & Leek Stuffing and Braised Parsnips

This was my first experience cooking with cornish hens. I've definitely pined to work with these babies for quite a while. So when I saw this recipe in Food & Wine's November 2009 issue, I knew I had to go for the gold. And gold is what it turned out to be! This was extremely an amazing experience for my mouth.

Adapted from Food & Wine's November 2009 issue

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
6 oz. sliced pancetta, finely chopped
1 large leek, chopped (light green and white parts only)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chardonnay or dry white wine
1 15 oz. can of plums, drained, pitted, and chopped
2 cups day-old baguette, diced
1/2 tablespoon thyme, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
4 cornish hens
6 parsnips, peeled and diced
2 cups chicken stock

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Cook pancetta until crispy, about 6 minutes. Add in leeks and garlic and cook until soft and starting to brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the wine and reduce by about 1/3, about 5 minutes. Add in plums, cover, and cook for about 5 more minutes. Stir it once or twice in between.

Then place mixture in large bowl and let cool to room temperature. Stir in the bread cubes, thyme, and 1/4 cup of parsley. Season with salt and pepper. This will yield way more stuffing than is required for the 4 birds. It was pretty tasty so you could even cook it in a separate pan alongside the birds if you wanted extra stuffing.

Fill the cavities of the hens with the stuffing. Tie the legs together with some kitchen string. Spread the parsnips in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Use the remaining 1/4 cup of oil to coat the parsnips. Season with salt and pepper. Place hens, breast side up, on top of parsnips, drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Then turn hens over, breast side down.

Pour chicken stock into baking sheet. Cover everything with foil and roast in oven for 45 minutes. Be careful, this is kinda heavy, and if you wanted to, you could even split it into 2 baking sheets, but I managed to put all 4 hens and everything in 1.

After the 45 minutes, remove foil, turn over hens (breast side up) and roast for another 30 minutes. The hens will be a nice golden brown to let you know they're done.

Let the hens rest on a work surface for 10 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop up the parsnips and place them in a platter. Garnish with remaining 1/4 cup of parsley.

Transfer the pan juices from the baking sheet into a small bowl. Skim off any excess fat and season with salt and pepper.

Transfer hens to a plate and serve with parsnips, stuffing, and pan juices. I also made an acorn squash puree that went well with the birds also (roast 2 halves of an acorn squash for 1 hour, scoop out filling, season with parmesan cheese, butter, salt and pepper, and puree with immersion blender, voila... acorn squash puree).

This was an exceptional meal. It was like pre-Thanksgiving. Definitely felt like I had some cooking chops after making this. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Vietnamese Banh Mi Burgers

I love a good burger. Big burgers, small burgers, thin, thick, whatever... as long as it's good, I'm down for it. I like this recipe because it takes a tradition Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich (here's the Wikipedia article here) and converts it into a burger. Definitely makes the house smell pretty awesome too.

Adapted from Food & Wine Nov 2009 Issue - "Vietnamese-Style Banh Mi Burgers"

2 carrots, shredded
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Frank's Red Hot Sauce
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper
1 & 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 & 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 ciabatta rolls
10 jalapeno slices (more or less depending on your like/hatred of spiciness)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine the carrots, jalapenos, rice vinegar, and sugar. Toss to combine and let sit for about 10 minutes. Drain, then set aside.

In another small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, tomato paste, hot sauce, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Patty up the beef into 4 large burgers. You could go as thick or thin as you want, but I just quartered my ground beef and made a patty out of each one. It made for a decent size patty. Season each patty with curry powder, salt, and pepper. It's pretty simple seasoning here, but I think the curry powder really adds a depth of flavor.

In a large skillet, heat the oil under medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook until nicely browned on each side. Flip only once, took about 15 minutes or so, depending on how thick your patties are.

While the patties are cooking, you can start crisping up your ciabatta rolls. Cut each roll in half and spread butter on cut sides of bread. Set bread, cut side up, and bake for about 5 minutes so get a nice lightly toasted roll.

Spread spicy mayo on on side of roll, then place patty on roll, and top with pickled carrots and jalapenos.

These were definitely different, but still had a good flavor for a burger. The bread was crunchy. The burger was juicy. The toppings and condiments worked well with everything. Definitely a must try burger. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bowties w/ Ham & Peas

This was an extremely easy recipe. I'm not usually a big ham person, but Andy is, so sometimes I have to be unselfish and please him. I know, I'm a saint. But it actually turned out quite scrumptious and we both cleaned our plates in a matter of minutes, Andy of course, going to seconds. If you're looking for something quick and tasty... search no more.

adapted from Time in the Kitchen's blog

1 box bowtie pasta
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 lemon, juiced
1 package pre-diced ham
1 package frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste

Set a pot of water to boil. Drop in pasta and cook until al dente, about 8-10 minutes.

While you're waiting for the water and pasta, heat a large saute pan and melt butter. Add flour and stir until beginning to slightly brown. You want to cook out the "flour-y" taste and get it somewhat nutty.

Add cream and stir until starting to boil and slightly thicken.

Turn the heat down just a tad, and add in lemon juice and parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a microwave safe bowl, cook the peas for about 1-2 minutes. Just to warm them through. Then add to pan with sauce, along with ham.

Drain the pasta and add to cream sauce. Mix until everything is well-combined and serve hot! Top with fresh parmesan cheese, if desired!

This was great because it's such a simple, comforting meal. The cream sauce was light and the peas and ham compliment eachother so well. I like this also because it's very versatile. You could definitely switch up the vegetables and protein, as well as just having the pasta and cream sauce by itself. Enjoy!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Links 11-20-09

I'm gonna make the links short and sweet. Today is Andy's birthday and we're going to Lilly's Bistro. I'm pretty excited. I've always wanted to check it out and I've only been there for dessert, but it was phenomenal. So here's to hoping Andy has a great birthday dinner!

On to the links...

Ultimate Thai Resource - I love Thai food. Wanna know how to make anything Thai? This is the website for you.

Sluggish Economy, Good Eats - Sometime we have to pinch those pennies. This is the resource that shows you how, and still lets you eat pretty decent.

Chocolate Goo
- Eat it by the spoonfuls. Ball it up, pop it in. Who cares what you do with it, it's chocolate-y, and goo-ey, so eat it!

Restaurant Coupons
- I don't eat at many chain restaurants, but if I did, I'd use these coupons. Then the meals would actually be worth what I'm getting. (can you tell I'm cynical about these kind of places?)

20 Healthy Food For Under $1 - Can you tell there's kind of a theme with this week's links? While the things on this list aren't necessarily under $1, cost per serving when used is under $1. Kind of misleading, but at the same time, it's a good list of stuff!

I guess I kind of had to make up for spending a whole bunch of money tonight on dinner with links that would remind me how to be frugal in the next week or so! =) Enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Crockpot Ginger Chicken w/ Brown Rice & Mushrooms

I was really excited to try this recipe out. I love ginger chicken. I love letting my crockpot do the cooking for me. But I didn't quite love this recipe. I don't know if it was the mushrooms that overpowered the ginger. I don't know if it was maybe not enough ginger. I don't know if it was the brown rice. It was just something that was a little off. I think next time I try this, I may not use an earthy vegetable like mushrooms. Maybe something lighter and brighter, like carrots, or even onions. I guess that's half the battle with perfecting a dish... you can't always get it right the first time. But it's not giving up that makes it so worth it in the end.

Adapted from Piggy's Cooking Journal's recipe

1 lb. chicken thighs, deboned
1 cup button mushrooms, chopped
1 tablespoon shallot, sliced and fried
1 cup brown rice
1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
2 teaspoons coriander
1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon shallot oil (from the frying)
1/2 tablespoon sake
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
3/4 cup chicken stock, more if needed
salt and pepper to taste

Clean your chicken and mushrooms with a paper towel. Just pat the chicken dry and carefully wipe the mushrooms of any grit or dirt.

Place chicken and mushrooms in large freezer bag and mix with ginger, coriander, oyster sauce, soy sauce, shallot oil, sake, sesame oil, salt, and pepper. Let marinate for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, turn your crockpot/slow cooker on high so that it gets warmed up.

Rinse your rice, place in crockpot, and cover with about 3/4 cup chicken stock. It's okay if you start the rice before the chicken, as long as you're using brown rice because it takes FOREVER to cook sometimes. But if you're gonna use a short process rice, like basmati or something, I'd wait until the chicken is done marinating.

Place chicken, mushrooms, and rest of marinade in crockpot. Cover and cook until chicken is cooked through and tender, and rice is done, about 45 minutes.

I really think the mushrooms stole the show from the chicken here. Kind of disappointing, but I will not give up. I will prevail. I will conquer this recipe... just not today.

Have you ever had a side ingredient steal the show from the main ingredient? Have you ever tried something multiple times just to see it still flop? Do you give up? Have you conquered?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Italian Wedding Soup

It was somewhat chilly last week. This week, somewhat different. Kind of like t-shirt and sweatpants weather. Nonetheless, I made this soup last week, when it was chilly and I wanted a warm up. It's a pretty straight forward soup, and the flavors are just spot on. And by the way, sorry for the lack of updating lately. It's getting to be the end of the semester and seems like professors want to jam pack everything all at the end, so I've been super busy... but yet I've still been cooking up a storm! Just not posting them as frequently. Thanksgiving Break will come as a relief and I'm sure many many posts.

adapted from Rachel Ray's recipe

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg, beaten
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 & 1/2 cups mixture of bowtie and elbow macaroni pasta
2 cups fresh spinach, washed and drained

This is a pretty simple recipe and can be done in a flash when you have that craving for the perfect soup.

Heat the oil under medium heat in a deep pot. Add the carrots, celery, onions, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper and cover pot. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring about once or twice in between.

While you're waiting for the veggies, you can make your mini-meatballs. Combine the ground beef, egg, garlic, cheese, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Uncover your pot of vegetables and add in broth and water. Increase heat to high and bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat to low once mixture comes to a boil.

Form mini meatballs with the meat mixture and as each one is done, drop into liquid. When all of meat mixture is used up add in pasta and stir. Cover the pot, increase heat just a tad, and cook for about 10 minutes, when your pasta is al dente or to your liking. Once your pasta is tender, add in the spinach. Stir until spinach is wilted. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.

This is great with a nice piece of crunchy bread or all by itself! The flavors "marry" so well together, and that's why it's called Italian WEDDING Soup. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Shrimp Curry

I love Indian food. I've never successfully made a curry of any kind. It's either too bland, not spicy enough, not authentic enough, something is always just... missing. When I came across this Shrimp Curry recipe over at An Edible Symphony, I had to give it one more go. And I'm sure glad I did. I finally mastered the art of an Indian style curry. The smells permeated the whole house and during out whole meal Andy kept saying "I'd order this in a restaurant"... and I felt good. I felt accomplished. I felt I could take on the world... well, maybe now I'm exaggerating... but needless to say, this was simply delicious.

slightly adapted from Edible Symphony's recipe

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1-2 teaspoons ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 teaspoons white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons canola oil
8 dried red chilies (yeah, I said 8... we like it spicy)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons curry powder
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 lb frozen shrimp
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter

Put first 7 ingredients into food processor and pulse until resembles a nice paste. Set aside.

Heat canola oil in large pan under medium-high heat and heat dried chilies until they turn dark. Be careful not to burn them though. This should be fairly quick, no more than 1 minute.

Then add in onion and cook until they are translucent and starting to brown. Add sugar and spice paste and let cook for about another minute.

Add in tomatoes and curry powder. The original recipe called for curry leaves and I was kind of hesitant to use the curry powder. I had just got done watching an episode of "The Next Iron Chef" on Food Network and they're challenge was to cook Indian food. One of the contestants used curry powder in his dish and was completely mauled by the Indian chef judge, so I was kind of scared of the result. But needless to say, curry leaves aren't very prevalent here in Louisville (although there is an Indian grocery down the road from us and I failed to look there), I opted for the curry powder and it was still delicious. Cook the tomatoes until they lose some of their moisture and then add in coconut milk. Simmer mixture for about 5 minutes. This is when the house starts smelling REALLY good.

In a medium bowl, sprinkle the shrimp generously with salt and pepper.

In a separate pan, melt the butter and add shrimp. The frozen shrimp are already cooked so you're pretty much just heating them through.

When shrimp are hot and cooked through, add them to curry. Taste curry for salt and serve over basmati rice.

This was incredibly easy and quick. I've always thought of curry as being somewhat tedious, but this recipe is not at all. The result was some spicy, authentic-tasting, mouth watering curry. I loved every bite. A pharmacist I work with even ate the cold leftovers the next day and said it was the best curry he had ever tasted. Now if you can eat something cold and say it's the best you've ever had... that says something. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

BBC Dark Star Porter Braised Brisket

Andy just jumped on this recipe. It gave me an excuse to buy him some beer, since I needed to get some porter from the liquor store. BBC (Bluegrass Brewing Company) is a local brewery here in Louisville. They have pretty good beer. The food is a different story (personally I find it kind of bland), but the beer is where it's at. Anyway, this recipe was the first meal that I have actually "slaved" over. It's not a short recipe by far. It's definitely a two day project. So if you've got the time, or are just going through some sleepless nights... then maybe you should try making this amazing brisket. And I know it was well worth it because I gave my mother the leftovers and she called it "awesome." And for my very Filipino mother to call something "awesome"... that is something special.

Adapted from Bon Appetit's October 2009 issue

1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 & 1/2 lb. flat-cut beef brisket
2 tablespoon rendered bacon fat (I used 2 slices of thick cut bacon for this)
4 cups chicken broth, divided
1 12 oz. bottle of porter or stout beer
6 whole pitted prunes
4 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
8 whole garlic cloves
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
5 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon malt vinegar

The original recipe requires an ovenproof pot and to have the brisket cook in the oven, but you guys know how much I love my slow cooker, so I opted for that. It made the recipe a tad bit longer, but I think the results are just as good, if not better.

First, turn your slow cooker on high. This way, when you're done with the next couple of steps, it'll be hot and ready.

Mix the salt, pepper, dry mustard, sage, and thyme in a small bowl. Rub the mixture all over the brisket and set aside.

Chop up the bacon slices and heat them under medium heat until fat is rendered. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon and leave as much of the fat in the pan as possible. I let my bacon bits cool and then fed them to the dogs as a special treat, of course, stealing a couple for myself as well. Add brisket to the pan with the bacon fat and brown brisket on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. After both sides are decently browned, transfer brisket to a sheet pan.

In the same pan used to brown brisket, add 2 cups of the chicken stock, scraping up as many of the brown bits as possible. They're PACKED full of flavor. Bring the stock to a boil. Add in beer, prunes, bay leaves, and brown sugar. Return mixture to a boil. Turn off heat and add mixture to your slow cooker. Place brisket in slow cooker as well, fat side down. Place the sliced onions over top of the brisket and scatter out the garlic cloves.

Cover the pot and braise in the liquid for about 1 hour. Uncover the brisket and turn over, allowing onion slices to fall below brisket. Recover and braise for another 30 minutes.

Add 1 more cup of chicken stock and braise for another 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Take the brisket out of the liquid and place on sheet pan. Add final cup of chicken stock, mushrooms, and carrots to liquid mixture. Place brisket over the vegetables and cover. Braise the mixture until the carrots are tender (you can add more stock if needed, but I didn't have to), about 45 minutes longer. Turn slow cooker off and let cool. I took my bowl out of the shell so it would cool faster (considering it was about 3 am at this point, I was ready to hit my bed and be out like a light). Then place in the refrigerator, uncovered, overnight. Like I said, it was probably in there from 3 am to about 3 pm the next day.

It was pretty awesome waking up the following morning because as I opened the fridge to get some juice, you could just smell the sweet smell of brisket just hit you in the face. I pretty much opened my fridge every chance I could, just to smell that smell. Andy said I should market a "brisket air freshener"... I'm sure it's already out there somewhere... after all, they do have "bacon air fresheners". But I digress...

When you're ready to start preparing for dinner, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take the brisket pot out of the fridge and spoon off any fat from the surface and discard. Take brisket out of pot and place on cutting board. Thinly slice the brisket against the grain and place in a large roasting pan.

Bring the juices and vegetables in pot to a boil in separate pan. Whisk in mustard and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then pour juices and vegetables over brisket slices in roasting pan.

Cover roasting pan tightly with foil and cook in oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, when brisket and vegetables are heated through.

Serve with vegetables and juices.

I'm telling you, this was amazing. I got that feeling you get when you study really really hard for a test and something and end up getting an A+ in return. I worked really hard, stayed up really late, but the result was well worth the long prep time. The meat was tender, the vegetables were juicy, and my only regret is that I didn't have any fresh bread lying around to dip in the delicious juices! Enjoy!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Links 11-6-09

What a week. I've been a pretty cynical person all week, and I must say, I'm so glad it's Friday. I need to just chill out for a couple days and find an outlet to relieve all this stress! I know... cook! I'm happy that it's about to be my week to cook because it always seems to be the only true moment when I can't complain about ANYTHING. Anybody feel the same way???

Here's this week's set of links:

Lumpia - What's Lumpia? Well... it's the Filipino version of eggrolls, which in my opinion are the only way eggrolls should be made. This is pretty much to the tee how my mother makes these and am so surprised and glad I stumble upon this blog!

Food Time Line - Ever wonder when some of our favorite foods came into existence? Well this food time line is a loose basis for that! I still can't believe ice cream was invented before fried chicken.

Dexter Slides
- Ever watch the show Dexter? Well he's this serial killer who likes to keep these slides of a drop of each of his victim's blood. Cool idea for a halloween treat right? Right.

Bill Cosby Portrait - not only is this a portrait of Bill Cosby... but it's entirely made up of jell-o shots. How humorous is that. I thought so.

Tiramisu - this has got to be one of my favorite desserts and Pioneer Woman just goes into such in-depth detail on it that I had to share. I want some now!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bratwurst Sliders

I love bratwursts. I love mini-cheeseburgers. So why not combine the two to make a bratwurst patty slider? Seems like a good idea in hind-sight, but I don't necessarily think I executed it very well. Andy still ate them, but I think it was just missing something. Recipe was adapted from the Bon Appetit Oct 2009 issue recipe for Homemade Bratwurst Bites.


1 & 1/4 lbs country style pork spareribs, cut into small cubes
1 package bacon, cut into thin slices
1 & 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
1 & 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup lager beer, divided

I think my first wrong turn in this recipe was using the bacon to replace pork fat in the original recipe. I think the bacon really overpowered the pork and made it taste like breakfast. Now breakfast isn't a bad taste, but it's not really the taste I personally wanted in a burger/slider. And I know that bacon IS pork fat, but I think using an uncured pork fat was what this recipe needed.

Freeze the bacon and the pork cubes in the freezer for about 30 minutes. It should be partially frozen. Then, in batches, place half the bacon and half the pork in your food processor and pulse until you get a good ground consistency. If you have a meat grinder, it would work as well, but I know most people have food processors that could do the same job.

When all done, place mixture in bowl and mix in sage, salt, mace, pepper, coriander, and sugar. Stir in about 1/4 cup of the beer. Cover mixture and refrigerate overnight.

Next day, form mixture into slider sized patties. Heat patties (I did about 6 at a time in a large frypan) under medium heat for about 5 minutes, until browned on the bottom. Then add remaining 1/2 cup of beer (you may need more beer than above if you want to continue this step, because there was enough of the mixture to make TONS of patties, or you could just brown both sides and still be fine). Cover with lid slightly ajar and cook until beer is almost all evaporated, maybe 10 minutes or so. Flip patties over and cook until brown on other side and cooked through, about 5 more minutes.

I used Hawaiian Sweet Bread Rolls for my buns (which I absolutely LOVE), and topped my burgers with swiss cheese, spicy brown mustard, and carmelized onions. Andy didn't want swiss, so he put Velveeta on his. Dress your sliders accordingly and enjoy!

Like I said, these weren't BAD, it just seemed like something was missing. Maybe you guys could play around with the recipe and find a way that works for you! Or who knows, maybe THIS way works. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ham & Cheese Stuffed Pretzel Rolls

It seems that whenever I decide to stuff something, I use ham and cheese. I don't know what it is, but I think it's just a neutral flavor that almost everyone can tolerate I guess. Now, these pretzel rolls didn't photograph very well, and trust me, I tried to make them into pretzel shapes, but with the stuffing inside them, they were kinda fragile, so I just stuck with the log shape. But the taste was there. Tasted like a pretzel/ham and cheese sandwich. So, I think all in all it was a success. Recipe was inspired by these little mini guys over at Ezra Pound Cake's blog.


1 packet active dry yeast
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
2 & 1/2 cups flour
1 pack of ham (use as much as you like in each roll, but I found about 2-3 slices in each worked well)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 cups water
4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
kosher salt to top

In a fairly large bowl, combine yeast, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, and warm water. Stir together and let sit until started to become foamy, about 5 to 8 minutes. If you don't see any foam by 10 minutes, then start over. It means your yeast is bunk, and nobody likes bunk yeast.

Then in a small bowl, stir together remaining brown sugar and milk. Mix until sugar is dissolved.

Add flour and milk mixture to yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until a dough starts to form.

Gently knead dough into a smooth ball on a floured surface, Then place in clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours. I actually let this sit for about 6 to 8 hours, and it kinda resembled the starter of a sourdough or something (although I'm not for certain because I've never made sourdough, but I've seen pictures, so close enough), but either way, I think it should be fine. Mine turned out fine, so it's fine, right? Right.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut the dough into 4 separate pieces, then divide those pieces in half. Roll out each piece to desired length and flatten with rolling pin. Place desired amount of ham and cheese on each rolled out piece of dough. Then, using warm water to seal the edges, press each roll closed. When done with each roll, let sit for about 30 minutes at room temperature. And don't worry, the dough will rise ever so slightly during this process, but it's okay.

Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add baking soda and stir. This was kind of a cool effect because it sizzled as I put it in. I know, kinda dorky that I'm fascinated with that, but it's science in action. I could get into the reaction of it all, but I'm sure I would just bore you all, so you can just Google it if you're interested.

Add each pretzel roll in, 1 at a time, and soak until slightly puffed up, about 20 seconds. Make sure you turn them at least once during that time. Then place on baking sheet with parchment paper.

Bake the rolls until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them, everybody's oven is a little different.

When done, brush on melted butter and sprinkle with kosher salt. Serve with beer cheese (Andy's concoction wasn't too bad, but it's nothing like beer cheese from Sportstime) or your favorite pretzel dipping sauces.

These were pretty scrumptious. Definitely authentically tasted like pretzels. I'm not much of a baker, so I didn't expect much out of these, but it was different, genuine, and pretty tasty. Job well done, I'd say. Enjoy!


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