Monday, June 29, 2015

Sweet Potato Buns – Great for Burgers, and Learning How to Bake Without Fear

Not only does adding sweet potatoes to a burger bun make it more nutritious, delicious, and significantly more beautiful, but it also presents the perfect opportunity to get pass your flour amount phobia, and finally be able to make dough by feel.

Every once in a while, I’ll get an email from someone whose dough was way too wet, or dry, and I always think the same thing; why would you stop? Some actually tell me they had to throw out the whole batch, which is insane. Your dough’s too wet? Add some flour. Too dry? Add some water.

No matter how exact a recipe is written, you simply can’t go by measurements, volume or weight, and expect perfection. There are too many variables that effect how much flour is needed – like a cup of mashed sweet potatoes, for example.

The best strategy is to not add all the flour at once, and only add enough to achieve the soft, slightly tacky dough seen herein. One of the great advantages of video is being able to see what the dough should look and feel like.

Once you get comfortable with not worrying about exact amounts, but rather exact results, the world of bread opens up to you and your new-found powers. Now, you just need to practice, so with that in mind, I really hope you give these amazing sweet potato buns a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 large, 16 medium, or 32 slider-sized rolls:

For sponge:
1 package (2 1/2 tsp) dry active yeast (I used Fleischmann's “RapidRise” Yeast)
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup AP flour

Then add:
1 cup mashed orange sweet potato (also sold as yams)
2 tsp honey
1 1/4 teaspoons fine salt
1 large egg
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour AP flour, as needed to form the right texture dough (see blog post)

- Bake at 400 F. for 15 minutes, or until browned. Large buns may take an extra few minutes, and the sliders-sized may take a minute or two less.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Teriyaki Burgers and a Sweet Potato Bun Tease

Your classic teriyaki burger is usually nothing more than a plain patty, which has been glazed in teriyaki sauce; and by “teriyaki sauce,” I mean a thick, one-dimensional syrup made from sugar, soy, and MSG. If you’re enjoying your third pint at a sports bar, these work out just fine, but good luck adapting them for your next cookout.

Here we’re using a different, drier approach, and adding the key teriyaki flavorings to the ground meat. This gives us a burger or slider with the taste of teriyaki, without having to deal with a sauce. This recipe should work no matter the cooking method, although a medium-hot charcoal grill would be my preference, weather permitting.

No matter how you grill these, I highly recommend they end up on a homemade sweet potato slider bun. Besides another way to tweak the humble hamburger, this clip was intended to be a sneak preview for some rather amazing buns. We’ll post that sometime Monday, just in case you want to add it to your 4th of July menu. So stay tuned, and as always, enjoy!


Ingredients for four (4-oz) burgers:
1 pound ground beef (85/15 lean to fat ratio)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sake
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tsp sriracha, or other hot sauce to taste
2 tsp brown sugar

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Butter Puff Biscuit Dough – Faster, Easier, and Not Great for Shortcake

As promised, this is the puff pastry-like dough I used in the apple roses video, and while not exactly “ quick and easy,” this was definitely quicker and easier. Just don’t try and make strawberry shortcake with this stuff.

I wanted to use this dough as the centerpiece of our strawberry shortcake video, but unfortunately the cold pastry was way too hard to cut with a spoon, and so I ended up using a much more traditional, and user-friendly biscuit.   

That aside, as a puff pastry substitute, I think this was a huge success. Hopefully, you saw this in action in the apple roses video, which, by the way, was done with scraps. Besides fruit tarts, I’d love to try this for things like ham and cheese turnovers, and chocolate croissants.

With that in mind, I hope any and all successful experiments with this dough will be shared on social media; mostly so I can copy your ideas. By the way, there seems to a little controversy on YouTube as to the exact number of layers we got, so what say you? I hope you give this butter puff biscuit dough a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients:
2 cups self-rising flour (You can make you own by sifting together 2 cups of all-purpose flour with 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon fine salt)
3/4 cup cold water (add enough water to make a soft, but not sticky dough)
*7 tablespoons frozen unsalted butter (a stick is 8 tablespoons)

*I grated on about 4 tablespoons for the first application, and about 3 tablespoons for the second.
- I generally bake this stuff at 400 F.  Time will depend on what it’s being used for.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Chef John’s "Sunset" Michelada – I Only Refer to Myself in the 3rd Person When I Drink

About halfway through this video production for how to make a Michelada, I realized I was getting paid to drink beer, which made the experience that much more enjoyable, and that’s saying a lot.

This spicy, savory, tangy, amazingly refreshing beer-based cocktail is considered one of the best hot-weather, adult beverages ever. I’ve heard it described as “Bloody Mary meets Mimosa,” which makes me never want to go to brunch again, but it’s also kind of accurate.

While that may not sound like something you would enjoy, most people do, and very much so. And the hotter it is, the more they enjoy, both literally and figuratively.  There’s something about how that slightly bitter, effervescent beer works with the sweet-sour-spicy profile of the other ingredients.

Even though they may seem like odd additions, things like the soy and Worcestershire are very important here, since they bring savoriness, or “umami” as the foodies would call it, to the drink.

I would never wish a horrendous heat wave on anybody, but, if one were to come your way, I hope you give this delicious, and restorative, Michelada “beertail” a try soon. Enjoy!


For Each Michelada:
lots of ice
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp hot sauce or to taste
1/8 tsp soy sauce
juice from half a lime (use other half to rim glasses with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and chili pepper)
1/4 to 1/3 cup tomato juice or homemade vegetable juice (see below)
1/2 bottle ice-cold Mexican lager (6 oz)
lime slices to garnish

For the vegetable juice (makes about 3 cups):
2 pints sweet cherry tomatoes, washed, drained
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
salt and pepper to taste (unless you use a ton on the rim like I did)