Reuben Dip in a Bread Bowl

I am adjusting this recipe to fit with the things that work with the “Best Reuben Sandwich” from America’s Test Kitchen. Like making your own “dressing” which includes the mayo, sour cream, and chili sauce. Also using Boar’s Head sauerkraut and draining some sweet relish – though I will not go so far as to chop up my own sweet gerkins. Makes no sense. D&D_1861

I had to order the bread bowl from the Publix a day ahead of time, so consider that in your planning. I think a Rye boule would work equally well if you are so inclined.

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup chili sauce
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup drained sauerkraut -Boar’s Head
3 tablespoons sweet relish, drained very well
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup diced cooked corned beef – Boar’s Head from the deli @ the Publix
salt and pepper
1 large (1#) pumpernickel boule, top sliced off and center hollowed out

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, chili sauce, cream cheese, sauerkraut, and relish into a large mixing bowl and stir together until completely combined. Fold in cheeses and corned beef until fully combined. Season with salt and pepper and stir together. Scoop mixture and place into the hollowed bread bowl and place onto a baking sheet.

Place dip in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until dip is hot and baked through. Serve immediately with bread bowl by making slices of the bread into the dip – really good. Yep.

Source: Spoon Fork Bacon with some America’s Test Kitchen influence.

15 April 2017 – For Easter this year. Used my super amazing tomato knife* to slice through the bread to make bites and it worked really well.

* Victorinox 125th anniversary limited edition 4 1/2″ tomato knife. Sharpest damn thing ever – mind your fingers. So not kidding.

Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie – America’s Test Kitchen 

America’s Test Kitchen made the comment referring to this as pecan pie in their notes, “often called Karo pie in the south.”  Nope. No one calls it karo pie in the South.  No one. Ever. Guess that’s what people in New England think, but they could not be more wrong. Though, I do admit, this is an amazing pecan pie recipe – for all their yankee-ness – the maple syrup makes it. Indeed. And no need for corn syrup. dd_1664

I have been making this version of pecan pie for several years now and it really is pretty stupidly amazing. I have a soft spot for pecan pie. When I was a kid, you could have your favorite dinner and cake for your birthday. Well, my favorite cake, was pecan pie. That was what I wanted and that was what I got – along with tacos – my favorite meal at the time. Lord, what a small child can do with food, but damn skippy, it made me happy. Really really happy. Even typing that I have dumb grin on my face right now. Life can sometimes just be simple. And really good.

1 cup maple syrup, grade A or B, I prefer B, it is a bit richer
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs molasses
4 Tbs unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1/2 tsp salt
6 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted – Renfroes
1 – 9 inch unbaked pie shell, chilled in the pie plate for 30 minutes (see: No Roll Butter Pie Crust – I am trying it this year.)

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees.

In a sauce pan, heat syrup, brown sugar, cream, and molasses oven medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in butter and salt and then whisk in egg yolks until incorporated.

Take pie pan out of the fridge and put the pecans in the pie shell. Pour in the filling and place in oven, but immediately reduce heat to 325 degrees. Bake until filling is set and center is slightly jiggly, somewhere between 45 and 60 minutes. Cool pie on a cooling rack for at least and hour and then set in the fridge for at least 3 hours more, but a day would be better. Bring to room temperature before slicing and serving.

Yes, for all my snark about Yankees, this is an amazing pecan pie. Sometimes you just have to try something new and then you love it and it becomes a new tradition.

The Boy always wants this for Thanksgiving and I understand why. It is the real deal.

 

 


Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Bars

So when I buy buttermilk to bake something I try to find other things to make with what is left. I know, I know, you can freeze leftover buttermilk, but I never seem to do it.

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Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

 

It is funny I do not remember my mom making anything with buttermilk – really nothing. Not even biscuits and that is strange for a Southern woman. I do not have it on hand all the time, but most of the time.

Most recently, I have used buttermilk in Savory Herb Muffins and in Basil Sun-Dried Tomato Mozzarella Bread, and of course, Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze which was the original intent of the buttermilk purchase. And now another recipe with just a bit of buttermilk in it.

In the grand scheme of things, it is kind of a test. What can you do with it, and make it different. Not just cake or biscuits or whatever – try to make a variety of things. I am sure the next time I have buttermilk (like now) homemade ranch dressing will be in my future as is often the case in the spring. And that always means spinach and mushroom quiche. One of my favorite things ever and a recipe I have had since before the boy was born – way before.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
8 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs canola oil
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup roughly chopped pecans (Renfroe’s, of course)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9 x 13 inch baking pan*, spray with baking spray and line with parchment and spray again.

Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. In a bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and both sugars. In a small bowl, crack egg, add canola oil, vanilla, and buttermilk. Add flour a little at a time. Stir in chocolate and pecans.

Spread dough, it will be thick, into pan making sure to get dough all the way into the corners. Bake 30 – 35 minutes until center is set and the edges are golden. Cool bars in pan and the cut into bite-sized pieces with a plastic knife because you do not want to jack up the pan with a metal knife.

Source: Baking Bites – one of my favorite baking sites. Must, at some point, figure out how many recipes that I have used from this site. I think there will be several.

* Love William-Sonoma Gold Touch Pans – they really are the best. Thank you America’s Test Kitchen for showing me how amazing these pans are. They really live up to all the hype.

Banana Bread Challenge

So me and my friend Shelly had a banana bread challenge this weekend.  Zach was supposed to compete, but said all the bananas were too green. Seem suspicious to me since I went to one of the same stores. Ask the produce guy – they are always happy to get rid of what is perceived as “over ripe” fruit. And spotty brown bananas are required for banana bread – according to my mom and she is, without a doubt, an authority on the subject.

My mom made so many loafs of banana nut bread for Christmas it was ridiculous. I feel like I spent most of my Christmas breaks from DD_0206school chopping individual pecans into four pieces each. Yes. I did that. These days, as the baker myself, I’m more relaxed in my attitude. Rough chop – totally works.  Three bananas are needed for 1 1/2 cups of mashed bananas, and you need the full-sized loaf pan. a 1.5 pound, 10 x 5″ pan. My go-to one is a William-Sonoma Goldtouch. I’m a huge fan of the Goldtouch brand – the browning is pretty amazing –  not too much or too little. Thanks, once again, to America’s Test Kitchen.

I always say that this recipe is such a tradition that I don’t change, but that is not quite true. I add more pecans. Local pecans from Renfroe’s. 1 1/2 cups chopped, but everything else remains the same. It is so funny. I remember my mom sifting the dry ingredients together and putting them in bags for her assembly line baking between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We had to (and I still have to) have this for Christmas morning. Run it under the broiler until the edges are crunchy and smear with butter. When I was a kid it margarine – better living through weird stuff – ugh. But I have done my food snob thing for years and have never used margarine. It’s salted European butter. Yes, excellent. But any salted butter will do.

One of the best things about this bread is that it keeps really well in the fridge and also in the freezer. So I usually cut the loaf in half and double wrap one half in foil and put in the freezer. It can keep there for several months. Then over a couple of weeks, I eat the half thats’s in the fridge. Works really well.

Now’s here the thing that I thought was so cool. Shelly, for our competition, made banana nut muffins. How have I never thought about it? But in discussing with another friend, she had the best idea I heard this weekend. Make little mini-muffin banana nut muffins. Holy hell! Excellent idea! I will have to work on the temperature / timing to do this, but it sounds, to use an over-used word, awesome. And I just purchased a Goldtouch mini-muffin pan. Do I sound like a commercial for William-Sonoma? I don’t mean to, but I really like this brand. It makes baking so easy.

 

T-fal 12-inch nonstick, oven safe, saute pan (name long enough?)

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t-fal saute pan – 12″ – yeah!

T-fal E93808 Professional Total Nonstick Oven Safe Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Fry Pan / Saute Pan Dishwasher-Safe Cookware (thing), 12-Inch, Black – longest name ever – just saying.

  • Prometal Pro nonstick interior is exceptionally durable and scratch resistant, safe for use with metal utensil – will never do that – thanks to Get it Right spatulas.
  • The unique T-fal Thermo-spot heat indicator shows when T-fal pan is perfectly preheated for cooking.
  • Riveted Silicone Handles for comfort grip. Isn’t that just so cute? Not really sure what it means. I’m blonde. No, really.
  • Dishwasher safe; Oven safe to 350 degrees F.
  • Safe for all cooking methods including induction – cool!*

On Amazon, this is usually about $40, which isn’t bad for a saute pan, especially one with praise of American’s Test Kitchen. In fact, if you watch that show, or its companion, Cook’s Country, you’ll see this pan used a lot.
I had it on my wishlist on Amazon and the MotH went to purchase some water filters for the refrigerator, and receive a notice that the price had dropped – to $26 – really? Super cool! So he asked and said yes (yep, this happened 13 years ago too) – no brainer there (either time). He bought it for me. And I love it. I’ve been hand washing it – that’s how much I love it. Crazy, right?

*stole all the bullet points from Amazon. But snarky comments are my own – surprised? I hope not.

Thing of the month – Chef’s Choice Professional Sharpening Station 130

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Pretty fancy knife sharpening thing – It has a real name, but …

I base many of my purchases on Cook’s Illustrated Magazine recommendations and their accompanying PBS television programs. I love this knife sharpener because there is nothing worse, or more dangerous, than a dull knife. One of my favorite restaurants has someone come in weekly to sharpen knives. It’s a true skill. One that I do not possess.

The reason I like this sharpening station (I just won’t be typing out its slightly ridiculously long name again) is because it’s idiot proof. And in this, I am an idiot. It’s quick to sharpen and I do sharpen my knives about once a week – just to keep them in good shape – sometimes longer if I haven’t used a particular knife very much. It does take up some room on the counter, but I keep it in a drawer just below the part of the counter where I do my prep.

One caveat  – the noise is almost unbearable. Imagine the dentist, but worse. Not kidding.  I just put my headphones in and get all zen like about it. But it does not seem to work. I’ve never read the instructions, but the notes on the machine are all you really need.

It steels a blade too and that sounds so cool, but I’m not quite sure what that means. This is not cheap, but I paid about $150 for mine and I think it is well worth it. Dull blades are bad things.

Thing of the Month – J K Adams – America’s Roll Pin

I am pretty sure that I found about this amazing rolling pin through America’s Test Kitchen. It is made in D&D-9184America, which has become important to me in the last couple of years. I have lovely ideas of Vermont in the fall because we (nw fla) don’t really have a fall. Sigh. And not much of a winter either.

I purchased this to replace my older rolling pin that was heavy and a bit cumbersome. It has big handles and they are fine except when they are in the way. This new French-style rolling pin is lighter, but still can get the work accomplished and it’s not awkward or cumbersome at all.

It’s from the Dorset Vermont company J K Adams. To steal their description from their website: “American manufacturer of cutting board, rolling pins, and other serving items. All hand made in Vermont using sustainable harvested North American hardwood. Modern heirlooms that are functional and also beautiful in their simplicity.”

Part of their mission statement really got me:
“We will continually work to prove that well run companies with committed and customer focused employees (who) can grow and prosper by producing high quality products in an environmentally and socially responsible manner in the United States.”

That’s a damn cool idea, somehow I think more American companies should try this approach. I know many people purchase at the lowest cost no matter what, but I would rather buy a quality American-made product even if I had to pay a little more. But in this case you really don’t have to pay that much more..

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French Rolling Pin

2014 is now 70 years. How cool is that.