Friday, February 24, 2012

Bacon and Gruyere Bun, A Follow-up Bun Session

I thought about yesterday's bun, and how delicious the flavor of the bun was, if only I had taken the time to rise them a second time before baking.  I had to make another go of it.  It's the last ski bus of the season for the girls, and I thought some fresh from the oven bacon and gruyere buns might make a good snack on the way up to the ski hill.  I put them in the oven right before I made my way up to school to drop off their skis.  The smell of the baking buns in my kitchen was dreamy.

I halved the recipe from yesterday and made 12 buns.
6 oz applewood smoked bacon, diced and fried until crispy
3 oz grated gruyere cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top
egg wash of 1 egg yolk, 1 tbsp water, 1/2 tsp sugar
I rolled out the dough and filled it with the bacon and cheese, then rolled it up and cut it into 12 equal pieces.  I rolled the pieces in my hand just to gather them a bit, then placed them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper sprayed with Pam.  Then I covered them with a towel and let them rise for 45 minutes in a warm spot.
Brush each roll with the egg wash and sprinkle with a bit of gruyere cheese.
Bake at 350F for 15-18 minutes.
Soft and fluffy this time.  Bun love.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Chinese Barbecue Pork Buns

Stella has been asking about barbecue pork buns since my recent foray into bun, boa, and bing making.  I was in the International District today and decided to pick up some barbecue pork from my favorite spot, Kings Barbecue.  They have two locations, one on 6th and one on 12th Ave.  I go to the one on 6th.  If you go down, also check out Green Village next door for a quick lunch or take out.  If you go to the one on 12th, stop in at Seattle Deli for a good banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich). 

 With barbecue pork in hand, I started my research on a bun recipe.  The ones Stella likes are baked, not steamed.  After reading a dozen or so recipes on the internet, I settled on one that had the best reviews.  However, all of the measurements were in grams, so I went ahead and converted to my familiar cups, tablespoons, etc.  I went with the ole 'close enough' route.. hopefully that plays out to be true.

For the dough:

Make a roux using 2 Tbsp bread flour and 1/2 cup water
Heat the water and flour in a  shallow pan over medium heat, whisking constantly until thickened.  Once thick, cook for another minute over low heat.  Set aside until ready to use.

For the remainder of the dough:
4 cups bread flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup warm milk
1.5 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup cream
2 eggs
4 tbsp softened butter
I used my standing mixer with the hook attachment.  If you don't have one, using your hands works just as well, or perhaps even better.  In the bowl of the mixer, stir together the flour, sugar and salt.  In a small bowl, stir together the milk and yeast.  Let sit for about 8 minutes until it becomes a bit foamy.  Then with the mixer on low, or stirring using a wooden spoon or spatula, add the milk and yeast mixture, the cream and the eggs.  Stir to mix well, then add in the softened butter and the roux.  Continue to stir until the dough comes together.  If it feels a little dry, add a little bit more milk.  Continue to knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes until it is very smooth.  It should be soft, and slightly sticky to the touch.  With my standing mixer, I like to turn the dough out onto a large work surface and knead it with my hands for a minute or so to finish.  
Lightly oil a large bowl, put the dough inside, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let sit in a warm room for about 2 to 2.5 hours until it doubles in size.  

Meanwhile, make the filling (this made 14 buns)
1 lb barbecue pork, diced
1 small sweet onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 tbsp rice wine
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp light soy
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp corn starch, mixed with 2 tsp water
In a large saute pan or wok, heat 1 tbsp oil and sauté the onion and garlic until they are almost caramelized.  Add the pork to the mixture and the wine, sesame oil, oyster sauce, soy, sugar and water.  Toss to combine and continue to sauté for a few more minutes.  Thicken with the corn starch and water mixture.  Place into a bowl and let cool before using.

Prepare one large or two small baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper and spraying with Pam.
When dough is ready, pour it out onto a large work surface.  I use a large wood block.  Knead the dough with your hands for a minute and then separate into two pieces.  Pull the dough into two long tubes.  This will make it easier to cut into smaller pieces.  Using a pastry scraper or knife, cut the dough into 22 smaller pieces.  You may choose to go with larger buns.  
Roll out each piece of dough.  I work from the outside in, rolling the edges first thereby leaving the center with a thicker dough.  This way, when you pinch the edges together, it does not form a super thick top.  Place a good spoonful of filling onto the center, then bring the edges to join and enclose.  Place the bun sealed side down on the baking sheet.  
After a few, I realized my dough to filling ratio was off.  So, I would have 8 rolls, no filling.
Let the buns / rolls rest for about 45 minutes to rise a bit again.  I was pressed for time and did not do this, but I think it needs to be done.

To bake, heat oven to 350f.  
Prepare a glaze for the top by combing 1 egg yolk, 1 tbsp water, and 1 tsp sugar.
Brush each bun / roll with the glaze.
Bake for 18-25 minutes, until they are golden brown.
The buns were delicious, but not as light and fluffy as they should have been.  They needed to rise the second time.  But still, very tasty and I will definitely make them again!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Radiatore with Veal, Pork and Mushroom Ragu

After a good break from cooking, I would expect to be ready with some good ideas, but it was not the case today.  I wandered the store with no great revelation coming to mind.  Having eaten out for several days in a row, we are all ready for a home-cooked meal.  I settled on a meaty pasta, something I figured the girls and Chris would find homey.

Instead of combining the ingredients as I cooked them, I decided to mix it all together first to make a sausage of sorts.
1 lb ground veal
1 lb ground pork
1/2 Sweet onion, very finely chopped (about 1 cup)
3 Garlic cloves, finely minced
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
1 Tbsp sherry
2 tsp honey
3/4 Cup beef broth
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp paprika
1 3/4 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours.  This made much more than we needed for tonight, so I froze half of it.  You may want to just cut the recipe in half.  I started out with pre-packaged quantities of both the pork and veal, so just decided to mix up the whole bunch.  The remainder of this recipe calls for just 1 lb of the above mixture.

For the rest of the ragu ingredients:
1/2 lb Crimini mushrooms, chopped into approx 1/2" pieces
1/3 cup cream
1/3 cup milk (I used 2%)
salt and pepper (if needed)

In a large skillet, brown the sausage over medium high heat.  Add the mushrooms and sauté until softened.  Then add the cream and milk, then cover and let simmer lightly for 5-10 minutes.
Cook your favorite pasta, ours tonight was a radiatore.  Cook the pasta to al dente and then add to the ragu and cook for just another minute together.  This made enough for our dinner and lunches tomorrow.  Yum.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hangar Steak with Port Demi-Glace and Heart Risotto

Happy Valentines Day!  Stella requested pink pasta, but she was vetoed.  I thought momentarily about pink sauce for pasta, but didn't find that too appealing either.  So, we went with let's have a freezer item and pull out that hangar steak I bought last week but never got to cooking it.  Romantic, right?  

The sauce I'm making is fairly easy, especially since I am using store bought demi-glace, and can be used with any cut of steak.  

1 Tbsp butter
1/4 Cup finely chopped shallots
1/2 Cup tawny port
1/3 Cup demi-glace (I used "Savory Choice" brand which was a 2.6oz pouch and added 1/4 cup of water to it per directions on the package)
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

Melt the 1 tbsp butter in a small sauce pan or skillet.  Saute the shallots over medium heat until they are soft and translucent.  Add the port bring to a boil.  Turn heat down to simmer and reduce by 3/4.  Then add the demi-glace to it.  Bring back to a boil, and let simmer for a couple of minutes more.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Turn heat down to low and incorporate the butter to the sauce one piece at a time, making sure the sauce does not boil again or the fat will separate from the sauce.  

I served the steak with broiled asparagus and shiitake mushroom risotto.  The sauce was velvety and oh so good.  I had never used that pre-made demi-glace before, but now that I have, I'm thinking I may not go back.  So easy and worth the trade off of not having to make my own.  

A few catch up items to include...

Being a proud mom and all, Maggie made this fabulous Chocolate Chip Cake with Passion Fruit Puree from the Milk Bar cook book.  She amazes me with her patience and dedication.  Thank God I have a baker in the family!

And there is much chicken love still happening.  Today, I made banana muffins and I waited for the girls to lay their eggs.  I pulled them warm out of the nesting box and the muffins were fabulous.
And while we are on the subject of chickens, I had to share these fabulous desserts my friend brought over.  Now that is chicken love!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Best Pea Vines I've Eaten

After a day of manual labor, I was not cooking.  Maggie at volleyball, Chris working late, Stella and I went to Monsoon on Capitol Hill for dinner.  Best pea vines I've ever eaten.  And I've eaten a lot of pea vines.  If there's pea vines on the menu, I order them.  If I had more time, I would have eaten them all.  This was my leftover portion.  Had I known, I would have only ordered the pea vines.  Caramelized shallots, softened garlic, just wilted pea vines, and salty goodness.  Go get some.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pork Chop with Cognac Sage Cream Sauce and Apple Gorgonzola Slaw

A little Saturday night pork chop here.  I like a rib chop, myself.  There's a little more marbling and I like to cook it bone in as I think it adds a little extra flavor.  It's not as important in this application, as a good cream sauce will pretty much take care of anything.  

Chris and I are unexpectedly flying solo tonight.  The kids have their own social engagements so it's dinner for two tonight.

2 Pork Rib Chops, thick cut, about 3/4 lb each
1/4 Cup cognac
1/2 Cup heavy cream
12-18 or so Fresh Sage leaves
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Salt and pepper the pork chops.  Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add a couple of tablespoons of grape seed oil.  Fry the pork chops to about medium, 5-6 minutes per side.  
Remove the pork chops to a heated plate to let rest and keep warm.  
Add the sage leaves to the skillet and fry for about 30-45 seconds.  Deglaze the skillet with the cognac.  Being very careful, ignite the cognac and let the alcohol burn off.  Then add the cream and bring to a boil and let boil until thickened slightly.  Add in any juices that have collected from the pork chops.  Adjust seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.  

For the apple gorgonzola slaw:
1/2 Small Fuji apple, julienned
2 Tbsp shelled chopped pistachios
1/4 Cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Dressing, made of 1 part champagne vinegar, 1 part honey, 2 parts grape seed oil
Toss apples and pistachios with just enough of the dressing to lightly coat.  Then add the gorgonzola and pepper stir gently to combine.
That's one good pork chop!  Plenty of leftovers for a lucky dog.