Monday, April 9, 2012

Secret Recipe Club: French Dip Sandwiches

My most exciting time of the month - Secret Recipe Club reveal day!

I had the pleasure to be assigned the blog Mom's Fridge.  I've been to Barb's blog before and everything on there is a hodge-podge of comfort food and foods that make you think of home (if you're not already there, of course).  You can find things like Ranch-Style Macaroni Salad to Caramel Filled Snickerdoodles.  She's got it all!

One thing that stuck out in my head were these French Dip Sandwiches, though.  I've just been so busy at work and school that I hardly ever have time to cook anything.  So what better way to feel like I slaved over a meal than to throw it all in the crockpot!  It's my favorite time-saving kitchen device.  So without further delay, let's get to it!

Adapted from Mom's Fridge

3 lb. bottom-round roast
2 cups beef stock
1 small onion, diced
salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 baguettes, toasted

Heat a large skillet under medium high heat and add olive oil.  Season meat on both sides with salt and pepper.  Sear the meat in the skillet on all sides until you get a nice golden brown.

Place the seared meat into the crockpot and add beef stock, onion, and garlic powder.

Place on HIGH for 1 hour and then reduce heat to LOW for at least 6 hours.

Shred the meat and place on toasted baguettes.  Serve with strained broth from crockpot.  Dip to your heart's content!

This was a wonderful meal!  I just loved dipping the sandwiches into the flavorful broth.  This was definitely an easy winner for us!

Want to join the SRC?  Check out the site now!  And don't forget to check out Mom's Fridge too!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Blitz Puff Pastry

Hey guys!  Those of you who follow me on Facebook probably already know that I'm in a Baking lab this quarter so there's gonna be baking-related posts for a bit!  Are you excited?!  Alright!

Now this also means that we're going to be using scaled measurements here - I gotta do it in school, so might as well make it a habit of doing in real life!  So bust out your digital scales!

Hope you guys are doing well, we're just finalizing all the little details for the wedding (22 days!!) and staying busy - as always.

So puff pastry.  Tons of layers, tons of butter.  But who has time to fold and turn, fold and turn, fold and turn?! That's where blitz puff pastry comes in.  It doesn't quite rise as much as regular puff pastry, but it rises enough for presentation, and it's a whole lot quicker!  Let's get to it!


8 oz. bread flour
8 oz. pastry flour
1 lb. unsalted butter, softened
1/4 oz. salt
8 oz. cold water

My digital's batteries went out when I started the recipe so I had to bust out my spring scale.  Definitely not nearly as accurate as a digital or a balance scale - but you have to be resourceful with what you have!

So now we sift our flours and salt together.  You could definitely use a mesh strainer or an actual drum sifter, but our chef said in a pinch, a whisk works just fine too.

Just for fun, let's discuss the 3 purposes of sifting (because let's be honest, when a recipe tells me to sift, I rarely do, based on the shear fact that I'm lazy and don't want to go through all the trouble.  Guess this Baking class is going to change my evil ways!)

#1 - to remove lumps - makes sense
#2 - to incorporate air - this is the big one, ever notice that after you sift dry ingredients they seem to amount to more mass?  It's the air!
#3 - to create a homogenous mass - another big point.  You want your individual ingredients to lose their sole identities to become one happy family.

And now we're gonna cut in our butter.  You want to "crush" the fat into the flour, not "squeeze" it in there.  Picture yourself making the "I want money" gesture, not the "I want to choke the chicken".  You know what I mean?

The whisk doesn't belong in there (can you tell I'm rusty?  Or rushed.)

Once you have the majority of the big chunks of butter incorporated into the flour, make a well in the center and pour in your cold water.

Use a bowl scraper or wooden spoon to incorporate the dough into the center until it forms a unified mass.  Gentle now... we don't want to over work the dough.  On a lightly floured surface, form the dough into a rectangle loaf.

Roll dough into a rectangle that is about 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick.

Fold the left and right sides toward the center, leaving a finger-width gap in between.

Then fold the sides together.

Then roll out into a rectangle about 1/4 to 1/8 thick again, and repeat entire process 2 more times.

Wrap up your finished pastry and place in the freezer for at least 8 hours or overnight.

And bam, you'll have puff pastry to use at your own discretion!  Next couple of posts, I'll show you what I did with mine!

Hope you all have a great Easter holiday, if you're celebrating.  Otherwise, just have a good rest of the weekend =)


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