Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New Orleans Roast Beef Po’Boy

I’ve been slowly trying to recreate recipes that I can only really get at home.. my Maw Maw’s spaghetti and king cake for example. Last week I decided to try a roast beef po’boy. This recipe is doubly difficult because you need perfect roast beef with debris and perfect bread. New Orleans style french bread is very specific - it’s not like a normal french baguette. It has a thin, crispy crust that is chewy, but not as chewy as a traditional baguette and a crumb that’s super soft and light and fluffy. THE icon of New Orleans french bread is Leidenheimer’s. Nothing beats their bread. I knew there was no way I was going to get something that epic, but I found a recipe on a bread forum that I thought would create at least something good.

I tested it 2 weekends ago and had 2 issues… 1) I felt 3 loaves were too many for the recipe - they were too small; 2) it’s SO delicate and airy, that you cannot touch it after the final rise - it needs to rise on the pan it will cook on. In my previous bread baking excursions, I heated the stone up with the oven, so I did that with my bread pan and that was no good. When I moved the loaf to the pan, it completely collapsed. However, the bread was still pretty tasty and we could tell that, with some adjustments, it just might work.

Then, for the roast beef - I had looked around a bit for recipes but wasn’t seeing anything that truly appealed to me. It needed to be buttery and shredded, with a good dark gravy with debris. So I checked in with a friend from high school who I know loves to cook to see if he had a recipe. He shared with me another friend’s recipe and it sounded pretty perfect.

So, last weekend I decided to put everything together. I cut the dough into only 2 loaves and allowed the final rise to be done in the pan. They came out pretty damn good. The crust is thin and flaky and the crumb is so soft and fluffy. And the flavor is just perfect! I would love to get a slightly crisper crust, but even the person who created the bread recipe had trouble with that. I used the lower, longer method of cooking. Maybe next time I’ll try the higher, shorter method and see what happens.

For the meat, I used the basic recipe I was given, but I added diced onions (because they make everything better), a bay leaf (because I love the flavor and we have 2 bay laurels in our back yard), and mixed beef and mushroom broth (because I like the flavors of those when mixed). I cooked it for about 3 ½ hours and it just disintegrated. It was awesome! :D  The flavor was amazing and the texture was melt in your mouth. Plus, when mixed with the gravy, it made the perfect roast beef with debris - where the gravy mixes with the mayo and soaks into the bread and you need about 1000 napkins.

Next time I need to season it more (I find that as much as I love salt, I never salt recipes enough). I also may add a few more flavors… garlic salt, maybe some beef bouillon, and possible paprika?? And although I skimmed the fat off a little bit this time, I think I need to take the time to separate the fat. A little fat is a must, but our cut of meat was pretty fatty and we found it just a teensy bit too oily.

Overall we were super happy with it and are very excited to be able to have po’boys whenever we want. Now I need to make a fried shrimp one!

New Orleans Roast Beef Po'Boy
Makes 4 po'boys (with maybe some roast beef left over)

340g unbleached bread flour
227g water (cool; 50-60°F)
8g sugar
5g instant yeast
5g unsalted butter (room temp)
10g canola oil
5g kosher salt

Roast Beef:
3lb boneless beef chuck roast
8 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup mushroom broth
1 bay leaf

Dressings: (below are all optional depending on your taste, but I highly recommend at least the lettuce and mayo)
Shredded iceberg lettuce

Special equipment:
Baguette pan
Spray bottle of water

Night before - Start the bread
Add all ingredients to stand mixer, stir briefly with spatula to combine and then mix with a kneading attachment for 15-20 minutes on 3
Form into ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight

In the morning, punch down and put in warm, dark place on counter and let rise until doubled in size again (I actually put mine in a slightly warm oven to speed this up)
Cut into 2 pieces, form into batards of about 8" long and let rest 20 minutes

Start the roast
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
In a dutch oven just large enough to hold the roast, heat the butter and oil over high heat. Sear the meat until very well browned on all sides, about 4 to 6 minutes per side. This is where a lot of the flavor comes from, so really get a good sear on there. When the roast is evenly browned on all sides, carefully add the onions, bay leaf, and both broths. Cover the pot, transfer the roast to the oven and cook, turning once or twice during the cooking time, until it is falling apart-tender, 3 to 3 ½ hours. Check occasionally to make sure that there is always at least 1-inch of liquid on the bottom of the pan. Add more broth (or water), as necessary, to keep this level during the entire cooking process.

By the time you get the meat in the oven, you can move on to the next bread step…
Roll out into baguettes, 16" long, about 2" wide and place in baguette pan, or whatever pan/stone they will be baked on.
Let rise until 2-3x larger, may take 1 to 3 hours

After about 3 ½ hours, when the roast is very tender, remove it from the oven and let rest briefly. After a brief rest, and before shredding, skim off any excess fat from the top of the gravy. Then, using 2 forks, pull the meat apart into thin shreds, mixing the meat with the accumulated drippings left in the bottom of the pan. Allow meat to cool slightly before making po’boy.

After taking out the meat, turn your oven up to 425 and lightly mist loaves with cold water before placing in oven
As soon as you put the loaves into the oven, spritz the inside of the oven with water from the water bottle. This creates steam so you don’t need to do a steam pan. Do this spritz every 2 mins for the first 6 mins of baking (a total of 3 times). After the last spritz, rotate the pan a bake for another 6 minutes until crust is very light golden brown.

Remove loaves and allow to cool completely.

Assemble po’boy
Cut loaves in half, then take one half and slice lengthwise. Spread with mayo and top with dressings - lettuce, tomato, pickle. Spread generous amount of roast beef on bread and top with gravy. Enjoy with lots and lots and lots of napkins handy!

- Obviously you can make either of these recipes separately and on different days. Although I do recommend making the bread fresh on the day you will be enjoying it.
- As I mentioned, next time I may try baking the bread at 500 for 8 minutes to see if I get a crispier crust.
- Also - have fun with seasonings! I’m going to try some different flavors next time I make this and I would love to know if you find anything that’s super delicious!

Monday, May 19, 2014

“Award Winning” Briney Olive and Pickle Dip

Recently we had a “Chip and Dip” team event at work. Our organization supplied the dippers (various chips and veggies) and several team members brought dips and salsa to enjoy. Everything was super yummy! We also had a very informal contest on the best dip and mine won! I was super excited about this because I had made up the recipe myself.

I knew I wanted to bring something and I started thinking about what I had in my fridge. I love pickles and anything in brine, so I got the idea to really go with the briney flavor. Also, I’ve been a bit obsessed with Worcestershire sauce recently, so I threw some of that in there. And then all the salts, herbs and spices I thought would work with the pickles and olives.

I was a little nervous the night I made it because it seemed like no matter how much flavor I added, I only tasted cream cheese. Finally I decided to stop and just see what happened to it in the fridge overnight. That was the key - all the flavors melded together and I ended up with exactly my kind of dip - briney, pickly, salty, with a nice depth from the Worcestershire. This will be a go to dip for summer parties for sometime to come!

A Briney Olive and Pickle Dip
Prep time: 10 min
Inactive Cook time: Overnight
Makes about 2 ½ cups dip

16 oz cream cheese, softened
4 green onions, white and light green only, sliced
½ cup chopped green olives
2 - 3 dill pickles diced
3 tbsp olive brine
4-5 tbsp dill pickle brine
6 oz sour cream (I used the light version)
¼ cup mayo (I used Vegenaise)
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp celery salt
2 tsp dill
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper (or more or less depending on the spice level you want)

Place cream cheese in large bowl and cream with fork or hand beater, just to get things started. Add the green onions, olives, pickles, and brines and mix thoroughly. Add the sour cream and mayo (I discovered that if you add these in the beginning, the cream cheese may get a little clumpy). Add remaining ingredients and mix till everything is combined.

Let dip sit in fridge at least overnight. Longer for more intense flavors.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Traditional New Orleans King Cake

As I’ve mentioned before, my husband and I are from New Orleans, LA. And around this time of year, we start thinking about when to order our annual king cake from Randazzo’s Bakery. If you’ve never had a New Orleans’ style king cake, I highly recommend ordering one from Randazzo’s. They are amazing!

This year though, given my endeavors into bread making over the last year, I decided to try to make one myself. In my mind, I knew what I wanted - I wanted Randazzo’s, both the cake and the icing (the icing is just as important as the cake). So, I set to searching for recipes. I found lots of recipes, but the photos associated with those recipes did not portray the cake texture I was looking for. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted a cake texture similar to these Honey Oat Rolls that I’ve been making recently.

I’m going to segue here to talk about these rolls really quick. These things are CRAZY good!! And super easy! I’ve made 2 batches in the last month and my husband uses them, essentially, as slider rolls for dinner. The first batch I made as suggested, with honey and oats brushed on top. They were great like that, but just a bit too sweet for sandwiches. So the second batch I just brushed with butter and those were perfect. Try them out the next time you want some rolls.

Ok - back to the king cake. As I said, I wanted to the texture to be like these rolls. So I decided to remove the oats, add cinnamon, and then roll the dough out like a cinnamon roll as opposed to individual rolls. I originally thought I would do 2 tsp of cinnamon in the dough, but after adding 1, that looked like enough, so I left it. And then just grated a little nutmeg in there as well.* The rest of the dough is made just like the original recipe. Also - the dough was slightly stickier than the original recipe (since I left out the oats), but I left it because I knew I would need flour to roll it out and form the braid.

After the first rise, I turned out the dough and rolled it out into a rectangle that was about 10x12. I brushed the dough with melted butter and sprinkled it liberally with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. I rolled up the dough, starting with the long side opposite me and pinched the bottom closed.

In order to get the most even braid, I used a rolling pin to flatten the roll a bit. Then I cut the narrow rectangle into 3 long strips. I took each strip and stretched and twirled it so that the cinnamon and sugar mixture was swirled throughout. After that I lined the strips next to each other and braided one over the other until I got to the end.

Once braided, I transferred it to a Silpat lined baking sheet and made an oval shape with the braid. Finally, I pinched all of the ends together, covered with plastic wrap and let rest another hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (200 C). Bake for 18-20 minutes, or it reaches about 180 degrees inside. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.

While cake is cooling, make frosting. I’m typically not a fan of using corn syrup, however the icing is very important and I searched a lot to find a recipe that made the exact glaze we wanted. This one was really perfect. In 2 cup, microwavable measuring cup with spout, melt the butter. Add rest of ingredients and mix until creamy. Pour over cake and sprinkle with your choice of nonpareils or purple, green and gold decorations.

Of course you can always stick a plastic baby in there too.  :)

In the end, the cake came out perfect. We couldn’t believe it. It was exactly what we wanted. Neither one of us expected to get it right on the first try, but we loved it. This will be our tradition from now on. It was fun to make and delicious to eat!

*Just a note - be careful with the nutmeg. The first cake I made was perfect - with grating about 1/4 of a nutmeg into the mix, but there was a nutmeg "accident" with the second cake and it ended up tasting more like nutmeg than cinnamon. :)

Traditional New Orleans King Cake
Serves: 16-18
Cake adapted from Bakingdom.com
Frosting from Homemade Frosting

Cake 5 cups (635 grams) bread flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1 tsp cinnamon a little grated nutmeg

2 teaspoons instant yeast

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup (250 ml) milk

1/2 cup (125 ml) lukewarm water

1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 57 grams) unsalted butter or margarine, cut into 4 pieces

1/4 cup honey Filling 1/2 stick butter, melted 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar 1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon Frosting 2 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar 3 3/4 tablespoons milk, room temperature 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 1/2 tablespoon butter 1 1/2 tablespoon corn syrup

Combine the flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, or two cup (450 ml) measuring cup, warm the milk so that it’s hot enough to melt the butter, but not boiling. Add the butter, stirring until melted, then stir in the water and honey. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg, then add it to the butter mixture and whisk slightly.

Add the yeast to the dry mixture.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with paddle attachment until a dough just forms. Switch to dough hook and knead on medium speed until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. The dough will be a little sticky, but a little more flour will be added later when rolling.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise for about 1 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

In the meantime, make the filling: In a small bowl, mix sugars and cinnamon. In a microwavable bowl, place 1/2 stick of butter (it will melt better if diced), and pop in microwave for about 30-45 seconds until melted. Set everything aside for now.

Once the dough has risen, place dough onto lightly floured surface and roll into a rough rectangle, about 10" x 12". Brush with melted butter and cover with cinnamon and sugar mixture. Pat mixture down to make sure it sticks.

Starting with the long side opposite you, roll into log, pinching the dough closed when finished. Seam should be on bottom. Take rolling pin and roll over log to flatten. Split dough into three, long, even strips with a pasty cutter. Twist each strip so that the cinnamon mixture swirls around the strip of dough.

Next, braid the 3 strips together. Line the three strips next to each other - starting with the left, cross over middle strip. Next take the right strip and cross over the middle strip (which was originally the left strip). Continue until you get to the end. When you get to the end, transfer to Silpat lined baking sheet and form braid into an oval. Pinch all ends together - I tried to follow the braid so that the oval is one solid braid.

Cover with a clean, dry towel and allow to rise for an hour, or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (200 C). Bake for 18-20 minutes, or it reaches about 180 degrees inside. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.

To make frosting: In 2 cup, microwavable measuring cup with spout, melt the butter. Add rest of ingredients and mix until creamy.

Pour over cake and sprinkle with your choice of nonpareils or purple, green and gold decorations.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Chocolate cake with brown sugar caramel pastry cream, whipped cream, and toffee

The main focus of this post is to capture my cake recipe, but I thought I would also share my menu.  This year I wanted to do a mainly “dark” menu.  It started with the Sinister Spread from Martha Stewart.  I’ve used this before at a Halloween party, but I like it so much - it’s just a perfect “halloween” cheese spread, plus it uses (mostly) in season fruits which makes me happy.  Most of the recipes were made straight from the original source (links below).  But I created the beet bruschetta, combined 2 recipes to make the pumpkin donuts and created the cake combination.


Beet caprese bruschetta
For the beet bruschetta, I just roasted some beets and diced them. Then combined them with diced parmesan and purple basil and tossed them in some really good balsamic vinegar.  We toasted some yummy dark, Russian rye bread and topped it with the beet mixture and a good drizzle of olive oil.  It was good, but I made way too much!  I will be eating beets all week.  :)

This was the the flop of the night.  The radicchio was just WAY too bitter.  It was nice and creepy looking though.  I didn’t take a stand alone photo of it, but you can see it in the overall shot below.

This came out super yummy!  I was nervous because wild rice can be tricky - too chewy or too nutty - but it thankfully cooked perfectly and all the flavor married well together.  Also, I replaced the chicken stock with mushroom to keep it vegetarian - I highly recommend doing that, I think the added mushroom flavor was part of why it tasted so good.  And the whole dish was a great base for the short ribs.

This recipe is fantastic!  The ribs are cooked slowly and they get so tender.  And with all the veggies and the wine, the sauce it very flavorful.  Plus, it’s better if you cook it a day before so that saves some time on party day.


Chocolate cake with brown sugar caramel pastry cream, whipped cream, and toffee
For the cake… I had something in my head that I wanted and I wasn’t finding it.  I thought about this recipe, but I was afraid the molasses would be too strong.  Then I saw this cake and this cake and I liked the look of them, but I still wanted a darker cake.  And I still wanted a little of the molasses flavor.  So, I used this chocolate cake recipe - which really is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had.  It’s a pretty easy cake to make, despite it’s numerous ingredients.  It is SO moist and SO flavorful!  I then decided on a brown sugar. molasses caramel pastry cream for the center and a little on top.  And I wanted the “piled high” look, so I did just a basic, stabilized, vanilla whipped cream.  I also added toffee pieces and drizzled chocolate on top, which gave it a nice crunch.  I was really pleased with how it came out.  The flavors were exactly what I wanted.

Chocolate cake with brown sugar caramel pastry cream, whipped cream, and toffee

Serves: 8-12

- Brown Sugar Molasses Caramel Pastry Cream
-- 1 1/2 cups Half And Half
-- 1/2 cup Sugar
-- 1/4 cup Flour
-- 1/4 tsp Salt
-- 4 large Egg Yolks, room temp
-- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract, or vanilla paste or almond paste
-- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
-- 1/4 cup half-and-half
-- 2 tablespoons butter
-- Pinch salt
-- 1 1/2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
-- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Stabilized whipped cream
-- 16 oz heavy cream
-- ¼ cup powdered sugar
-- 2 teaspoons gelatin or vegetarian gelatin
--8 teaspoons water
-- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Other Ingredients
-- Toffee pieces
-- ½ cup dark chocolate chips

Make cake according to cake recipe
Make pastry cream:
- Make caramel by mixing the brown sugar, half-and-half, butter and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook while whisking gently for 5 to 7 minutes, until it gets thicker. Add the molasses and vanilla and cook another couple of minutes to dissolve molasses and thicken further.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Warm the half and half in the saucepan until you start to see wisps of steam. It should not actually be boiling.
- Make the Egg-Sugar Base: In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt. Add the egg yolks and whisk them into the dry ingredients.
- Once combined, pour a little of the hot half and half into the eggs and whisk to combine. Continue pouring the half and half  slowly into the eggs, whisking continuously.  NOTE: be sure not to let the egg/sugar mix sit too long before pouring in the half and half.
- When all the half and half has been added to the eggs, pour everything back into the saucepan.
- Set the pan back over medium heat. Whisk constantly. At first, the pastry cream will look very thin and frothy, but it will start to thicken after a few minutes. When it has thickened to a pudding-like consistency, pause whisking every few seconds to see if the cream has come to a boil. If you see large bubbles popping on the surface, whisk for a few more seconds and then remove the pan from heat.
- Stir the vanilla and caramel into the pastry cream.  Make sure the caramel is cooled first.
- Refrigerate until ready to use.  NOTE: cover with plastic wrap that is touching the top of the pastry cream to avoid a skin forming.
Make whipped cream:
- Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of plain gelatin into 8 teaspoons of cold water. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes to allow the gelatin to absorb the water.
- Microwave 5-10 seconds and allow to cool.
- Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, but not get completely cold. The gelatin mixture should still be in liquid form.
- In a bowl, whip 2 cups heavy cream until it is barely stiff. Add the powdered sugar and whisk a little more to combine.  Add cooled gelatin to the cream in a steady stream, while continuously stirring.
- Whip the gelatin into the cream until soft peaks are formed
Assemble Cake:
- Take one cake layer and spread ¾ of the pastry cream on top
- Spread over cake layer but leave about an inch around outside because top layer will squish pastry cream out
- Sprinkle with toffee pieces
- Top with second cake layer
- Spread the remaining ¼ of pastry cream in a thin layer over top
- Pile on whipped cream and swirl to make a nice, peaked whipped cream mound
- Top with more toffee pieces
- Melt chocolate chips in microwave in 30 second intervals until melted.  Be careful not to heat too much - I did 30 seconds and then 15 and that was enough.  I had a few chunky pieces left and just stirring it melted them.
- Drizzle chocolate over whole cake and allow to run down side

Halloween Food Spread