Butter / Egg Usage – December 2016

December started out for me on the 16th. This does not a good month of cooking/baking make. I mean it is December after all, but sometimes after Thanksgiving, you just do the best that you can do. Sad, but true. That and my dishwasher died – serious impediment to doing anything in the kitchen. It is surprising how much so.

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Southern Toffee

16 December 2016 – 12 Tbs / 2 eggs – Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars

18 December 2016 – 24 Tbs – Southern Toffee 

22 December 2016 – 2 eggs – M&M Cookies

26 December 2016 – 8 Tbs unsalted butter- Chex Mix

26 December 2016 – 16 Tbs / 2 eggs – Sugar Cookies

26 December 2016 – 4 Tbs – Real Macaroni and Cheese

27 December 2016 – 2 Tbs – Sautéed Apples

30 December 2016 – 12 Tbs – Pecan Chocolate Toffee Shortbread Cook’s Country

30 December 2016 – 5 1/3 Tbs – Sausage Cheddar Scallion Biscuit Bread
Eggs = 6

Butter = 83.3 Tbs = 10.4125 sticks – 41.65 ozs – 2.603 pounds.

Eggs = 2 +2 +2 +6 – math is involved. = 12 large eggs.

 

 




Sausage Balls – Cook’s Country

It just would not be Christmas morning without the ubiquitous sausage balls. I love these and eat them from Christmas through January. And then I’m done. I feel like if I made them any other time of year they just would not be special. That may be stupid, but it is how I feel.

My mom made the bisquick version and I did the same for a long time. But honestly, that was the only time I used bisquick and I would end up throwing it out at a certain point between the holidays. Seemed wasteful so when I came upon this Cook’s Country recipe, I knew I had what I needed. This is no more complicated than the bisquick version either. Dead simple.

So once again, one of my favorite Christmas treats, for breakfast, of course. With grape jelly, that goes without saying. Fred always liked mustard with his, but I eat sausage balls like I eat sausage biscuits with grape jelly. I find that I am not the only person to do that and that makes me less like a strange one. I get that mustard works, but I love the sweet with the hot sausage. Then again, I also like maple syrup with hot sausage and that does not make a lot of sense, unless you are me.dd_1705

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
8 ozs hot breakfast sausage
4 ozs sharp cheddar, shredded on the large holes of a box grater
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper an cayenne until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal about 12 pulses. Add sausage and cheddar and pulse until combined, about 8 more times. Place mixture in a nice sized bowl and stir in buttermilk until just combined.

Wet your hands and roll dough into 1 1/4 inch ball (about 1 Tbs each). Space evenly on baking sheet and bake until golden brown between 20 – 22 minutes, rotating baking pan halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm. With grape jelly. Yum.

You can make these ahead and bake, cool, and then freeze and just reheat in the oven at 200 degree for 15 or so minutes. Just test one and see if it where you want it to be for reheating.

24 December 2014

24 December 2016 – for Christmas Day brunch/lunch

 

 

 

Sausage, Cheddar, & Scallion Biscuit Bread

I do love a breakfast bread that includes … um, sausage. I think that I just love anything that includes sausage. That is pretty much me. And you know cooking bacon or sausage will just make everyone in the house hungry. Even if think you are not hungry, you get that way with the smell of sausage. It is kind of like smelling rosemary in the garden – you don’t think you are hungry but then you smell rosemary (or basil) and everything changes.dd_1759

10 ozs breakfast sausage, hot*
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar, grated
two diced scallions, green and most of the white
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp fine salt
1/4 tsp black powder
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup milk**

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown sausage in a skillet over medium heat until cooked through and crumble as you go along. Transfer to paper towel lined plate to drain well. Try not to eat too much.

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper over a piece of waxed paper. Cut the butter in with a pastry cutter or your fingers until the butter is the size of peas.

Stir in buttermilk until well mixed in, the add the cream and milk. The dough will be shaggy. Fold in sausage, cheese, and scallions. Do not overmix. Transfer to loaf pan coated with baking spray,  lined with parchment, and coated again.

Bake for 40 minutes until top is brown and toothpick comes out clean.

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* I can totally find something else to do with the other 6 ozs of sausage – so just cook the pound of it. This is called breakfast for me with lots of real maple syrup – yes, the very expensive stuff – but that is the real deal. Most times that is just enough to be a great breakfast.

** or you could use 1/2 cup half and half – just depends on what you have on hand because they are the same thing really when you mix milk and cream together.

2015 – Two Years Ago – Apple Turnover

 

Sausage, Cheddar, and Corn Muffins

I have a thing for breakfast muffins, especially when a pork product is involved. I just had to try these, although I did mess about with the recipe a bit. We are little bit past fresh corn season, even for us.* So I purchased frozen white shoepeg corn – one of my favorite things in the entire frozen world. I think I prefer the shoepeg because it is slightly less sweet. I have modifications to the originally recipe and know I will be making more adjustments to this recipe the next time I make it.**dd_1590

2 teaspoons olive oil
16 ounces hot breakfast sausage
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup corn meal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup frozen sweet white corn kernels, let thaw while you make batter
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese, plus more for sprinkling on muffins
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 12 muffin tin cups with foil liners.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add sausage. Break the sausage into small pieces with a spatula as it cooks. Cook until the sausage is crumbly and cooked through. Remove skillet from heat. Blot up some of the fat with  paper towels leaving about 1 tablespoon. Let mixture cool.

Place flour, corn meal, and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Whisk until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and buttermilk together. Add egg/buttermilk mixture slowly to flour/cornmeal mixture. Add corn kernels, Cheddar cheese, and reserved sausage mixture. Stir in melted butter; mix just until flour is mixed in.***

Divide batter among muffin cups. Top with some extra Cheddar cheese.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool to warm before serving.

Adapted from Allrecipies … once again.dd_1591

* We have a huge rural farming community around us, but it is October and I’ll just go with frozen corn and pass on the farming left-overs.

** I was missing a little salt in these muffins. I think next time I’ll add a 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan. I could add salt, but why not make it Parmesan. More cheese and some salty flavor to the mix.

*** I mixed everything up one night and put it in the fridge. Came home the next day and let it sit until room temperature and then baked the muffins and they were great. I am a huge fan of making a recipe to a certain point and then continuing on the next night.  I have to do that since I bake/cook after I get off work.

The original recipe had scallions in it. They might be nice, but I am thinking chives next time would be a great deal better, or maybe even a shallot. Now there’s a thought.

Can you tell I will be making these again pretty soon. One of our students had one and said anytime you add sausage to something, that was a good thing. I completely agree. Any pork is a good thing.

My thoughts on the Cracker Challenge – yep, that sounds slightly weird. Geh.

After the 2012 cracker challenge, I decided to make the ultimate cheese cracker – my own version. I took the following things into consideration: ingredients on hand, time to mix, log or flat, dough handling, time to chill, spice. nuts. flavor, crispiness, cost to make, and it all culminated in an all around winner which was – Parmesan Rosemary Walnut Shortbread.Will make that again, because I really love them. Because growing fresh Rosemary is simply easy – just put it in the garden in a place  that gets lots of sun, but not too much water – read: no sprinkler system.

D&D_1476That said, I took the best qualities from the 5 recipes I used and developed this. I think this just might be my first real recipe on my own – although with a little help. I do freelance in cooking, but baking is a completely different animal.

The cracker challenge sat for a while (until 2016), but now we are going to make my ultimate cracker and see if/how it measures up. I am not growing Rosemary – damn it. But we shall manage. Will soldier on. That is what I do. It is June 2016 and I cannot sleep, so this is what I decided to do. I’ll wear it proudly. It is June 2016 and I cannot sleep, so this is what I decided to do. I’ll wear it proudly.

6 ozs all-purpose flour – yes, we are measuring by weight – why else do I have the damn scale? Thank you Ruhlman.
2 ozs grated cheddar – plus just a bit because that is what I do.
2 ozs finely grated Parmesan – it really seems like a lot but in reality it is not, mostly.
1/2 tsp cayenne – I think next time – more, yes, please – more.
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped, but not too finely
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 ozs (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2” pieces
1 egg yolk, with just a smidge of cold water

First thing, I chop the walnuts in the food processor and since everything else is going to be mixed in there, it is no big deal. Remove the walnuts.

To the food processor, add the flour, and cheeses, cayenne, walnuts, pepper and whir around a bit. Then add butter. Once that is combined, add the egg and water to the top of the dough and just pulse until it comes together. Then add the walnuts back in. Will not be long to come together.

Dump out on waxed paper and press together and then shape into a couple of logs. Chill overnight or up to three days.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Cut the logs in 3/4 inch slices or there abouts. Just try to make the slices very similar to each other. That way they bake the same way. It takes about 12 minutes to bake them, but you need turn them half way through. You want the edges slightly gold and the same with the bottom. That really is as far as you want to go in the baking these cheese crackers.

Hood got a bit of cheese, but the cracker rolls are in the fridge and ready to be baked and in my head, they will be good because the dough was not damn bad.

Nota bene:That is something I have learned – if the dough does not taste good, neither will the cookies or crackers.

 

 

Butter usage – by month – April 2016

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars – yep

2 April –  8 Tbs – Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars (for Heather)

9 April – 8 Tbs – Salted Crispy Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

11 April – 2 Tbs – Everyday Orzo (once again amazing!)

13 April – 8 Tbs – Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

16 April – 12 Tbs – Buttermilk Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze – don’t do this

17 April – 7 Tbs – Italian Cream Cake

21 April – 8 Tbs – Lemon Ricotta Cookies – don’t do that either, do this

28 April – 12 Tbs – Brown Sugar White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

30 April – 5 Tbs – Mac and Cheese My Mom’s recipe, as such which I will say again – just do it. Really. Not kidding.

30 April – 8 Tbs – Brown Sugar Pecan Scones

78 Tbs = 9.75 sticks = 39 ozs = 2.4375 pounds

Not great, but not a ringing endorsement either. And from what I can gather my May does not start out any better. Crap.

 

Mac n Cheese – the best ever

This is another no recipe thing – but in the tradition of Michael Ruhlman – it is a ratio –
though I am not good at math. There it is. My mom made the best mac n cheese ever. We never had anything out of a Kraft box (ugh — so gross). I do think I picked this up my osmosis (cannot believed I spelled that correctly on the first go – woo hoo!). I really don’t remember paying that much attention to how my mom made it, but I knew how to do this by instinct  – again, in my head it was osmosis.

So this is a total ratio thing, but to me the easiest way to tell someone how to make it is to show them how to make it. It can be a little vague otherwise. This was the subject of one of the early Wednesday Cooking School nights for the Boy. It is one of his favorite things, not surprising, since it also one of my favorite things. It is also vegetarian, which means I had it in the freezer while waiting for him to be born and I remember distinctly that I had some the night I came home from the hospital with him.D&D_1397

I have this lovely ceramic dish from Portugal (I did not go there to get it, but did buy it from a store in Durham, NC) and it is a pretty dish and I bought two because of that. But here is where the ratios come into play. No matter what dish you have, to make mac n cheese for whatever sized dish you have measure out dry pasta* in the dish to about the half way full. Once you cook the pasta, then it will fill the dish — see, a ratio – who knew from math? But I knew that before Ruhlman (still love you guy).

Now here is the next ratio – fat to flour – also knew this before Ruhlman. I always prefer to have more cheese sauce than I need, so for my pan (need to measure and figure out how big that dang this is). I start with 4 Tbs of unsalted butter, which I melt over low heat and then add basically the same amount of all-purpose flour and a bit of salt and pepper. Then cook the flour for a minute or two, stirring the whole time. It  would be a good thing if you had taken your whole milk out prior to starting this and I probably should have said that before now. But as long as you add the milk a little at a time, it will be okay. Some people warm the milk in a sauce pan, but my mom never did, so I don’t either.

Here’s the thing – when you first start adding the milk it will look like a clumpy mess with the butter mixture. You really are making a light roux and then you are going on to make a bechamel sauce sort of. Anyway. Use that whisk to eliminate lumps, but pretty soon you need to switch to a good spatula (Get it Right spatulassee this link, and this one, then there is this one, and .. well you get it.)  because you don’t want the milk to scorch on the bottom of the sauce pan – that would be a disaster (i.e. start over – no other choice, nope none).

So again, this is where it is where it is so much easier to show than explain, but the ratio, is about the same amount of cups of milk as butter – in this case 3 1/2 to four, but add a bit at a time. Let simmer over low heat and let thicken over time.

Then the cheese comes into play. In my case, always extra sharp cheddar, white or yellow, your choice, but once the bechamel thickens it is time to take it off the heat and add the grated cheese, setting aside a bit to put on the top. Add the cooked pasta (you did that already, right? Dumped the pasta you measured in the pan into a nicely salted pot of boiling water and cooked until al dente) to the sauce and tip into the baking dish, top with a little extra shredded cheese and cover with foil. But in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 5 – 10 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

You need to let it cool a bit before diving in, but that is a necessary thing.

So to you from me – My Mom’s not-recipe for the best homemade mac n cheese.

*I typically use penne or rotini, but elbow is good too. Some pasta that will hold the cheesy goodness of the sauce.