Friday, June 29, 2012

Getting Ready for the Fourth

“Nothing can equal the Rejoicings in the Cities, Towns, and Villages thro’out the States on the late fourth of July in Celebration of the Declaration of Independence and the Birth of the new Constitution.”
-Francis Hopkinson in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, July 17, 1788

Getting Ready for the 4th

The Fourth of July is approaching which for most people means cookouts. (Nowadays the rejoicings are for having a day off). Here are a group of recipes to consider for your 4th.

Brioche Buns
“Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”

Consider for a moment, France’s support of our revolution. Then consider that perhaps a small way to remember this is to make a batch of brioche rolls for your hamburgers. Marie Antoinette, you will recall, reportedly said about the poor, “Let them eat cake,” but what she really said was “Let them eat brioche.” This was an “in” joke among the aristocracy who, it seemed, laughed their heads off in amusement at their clever bon mot until they actually did lose their heads; it was “funny” because brioche is enriched with plenty of butter and eggs, something that the poor could never afford.
This isn’t really a “true” brioche because it doesn’t have as many eggs or as much butter as you would encounter in a traditional brioche recipe. This is a  yeast dough enriched with egg and butter. It’s easy to put together if you have a stand mixer. Like all brioche, it must be refrigerated overnight before it’s formed into rolls.
While we’re on the subject of yeast dough, let’s put to rest once and for all a couple of incorrect facts that have followed bread making for a long time. You will see that I use “rapid rise” or “quick rise” yeast. This type of yeast has 25% more living yeast cells than “active dry” yeast. (There are 300 times more living yeast cells than in an equal amount of compressed yeast, too). So make the switch to this type of yeast. (Even though it’s called “rapid rise” or “quick rise,” you want a good slow, preferably cold, rise when you make bread. Faster is not better in this case).  A “rapid rise” type yeast dissolves faster and will proof in cold (even ice cold) water, which explains why the recipe doesn’t call for ‘warm” water. While this recipe includes sugar, it is not to feed the yeast, but to slightly sweetens the dough. Yeast cannot process sucrose, so the idea that you need sugar to help the yeast “proof” is a misnomer. Besides, there is plenty of food for the yeast in the flour.

For a whole wheat variation, substitute 3 cups whole wheat flour for the high gluten flour.

Light Brioche Buns
Makes eight 4 ounce rolls

1 cup water
3 Tablespoons milk
½ Tablespoon “rapid rise” yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar

3 cups high-gluten (bread) flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 Tablespoon (1 ½ teaspoons) salt
1 egg
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Egg wash- one egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water

1. Pour the water and the milk into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the yeast and sugar and mix to combine. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Add the flours and salt to the bowl and begin mixing the dough. After about a minute of mixing, add the egg and mix until a ball of dough forms. Add the butter and mix until the butter is combined into the dough. This will take about five minutes. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl (no kneading is necessary) and place it into a greased bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight.
3. The next day, remove the bowl from the refrigerator and empty the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into eight portions; if you have a scale, weigh each portion to 4 ounces. Roll each piece into a small ball. Place all of the balls onto a pan that has been greased and dusted with cornmeal. Cover with a clean towel and let the dough balls rise until doubled in size, about one hour.
4. After the rolls have doubled in size, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Press each dough ball flat with your hand so that each roll is about 4” across. The buns will rise in the oven but they won’t spread out. This flattening will help make them wide enough for your burgers. Brush each roll with the egg glaze.
5. Place the rolls into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, rotate the tray and continue baking for another 8 minutes, until the buns are golden brown. Remove the buns from the oven and let cool completely. The brioche buns can be made in advance and frozen until needed. If you are freezing them, place the buns into a freezer bag. Defrost as needed.

Hot Dog Chili

For our Memorial Day celebration, one of my brothers brought some German wieners from Deitrich’s Meats in Krumsville.  He knows many places to find unique foods in the outflung reaches near to where he lives.   I decided to make some hot dog chili. (He put together a mustard-based hot dog relish). I decided to ditch the ground beef and use chorizo sausage instead. It made a great, if not un-traditional, hot dog chili.

Hot Dog Chili

1 pound chorizo sausage (the raw variety)
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
½ cup diced red bell pepper
diced jalapeno pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon chile New Mexico powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika (pimenton)
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup crushed tomatoes
½ cup water
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
salt and ground black pepper
olive oil for cooking

1. Remove the casings from the chorizo sausages; discard the casings and set the sausage meat aside. Place a medium-sized sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, swirl in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the chorizo and break it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon as it cooks. When the chorizo is browned, remove it from the pan and set it aside. Drain all but two tablespoons of the oil from the pan.
2. Return the pan to the heat. Add the chopped onion and both types of pepper; sweat the vegetables for 4 to 5 minutes, until the vegetables are softened. Add all of the spices; stir and let the spices toast until fragrant. Add the tomato paste, stir it into the vegetables and let it toast for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, water and brown sugar and stir to combine. Simmer the chili over low heat until thickened, about 20 to 30 minutes. Store the completed chili in a container and reheat when needed.

“Baked” Beans
The day I made this it was far too hot to turn on the oven so I made this on the stove. I cheated and used canned beans. If you want to go the route of using dried beans, that’s fine. Baked beans often have bacon but there’s none in here. That’s not for any high moral reason. We had eaten the bacon for breakfast. You can add it to yours; sauté two or three strips of diced bacon with the vegetables until crisp. For the smoky flavor of baked beans that you usually get from bacon, I used Spanish (sweet) smoked paprika, or pimenton. The beans can be made in advance and reheated when needed. Like many things, the flavor improves as it sits in the fridge.

“Not Baked” Beans

Two 15 ounce cans black beans
½ cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ cup ketchup
1 Tablespoon molasses
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
salt and ground black pepper
2 cups water
olive oil, for cooking

1.  Drain the black beans in a colander and rinse them. Set aside. Place a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, swirl in two tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion and sweat them for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until the onion softens. Add the black beans to the pot along with the remaining ingredients. Stir together and bring the beans to a simmer. Reduce heat and gently simmer the beans until thickened, about 30  minutes. Stir from time to time during cooking to prevent the beans from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Remove the beans from the heat and let cool. Store the beans in the refrigerator until needed and reheat before serving.

1 comment:

  1. Informative as ever. The info on yeast was helpful. The use of black beans in the baked beans did not seem traditional