Sunday Supper, and Savory Monkey Bread

Posted: September 14, 2010 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Johanna, Sunday Suppers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Since my life has gotten hectic, and my Saturdays are currently swallowed by the dual demons of Getting Up Early and Logging Lots of Miles, followed by the spare visit from Post-Run Disco Nap, Sundays are where I look when I look forward to the weekend.

Part of the wonder of Sunday is that generally, especially as Summer fades through Indian Summer into Fall, there’s nothing to do except watch football and cook. Two of my favorite things to do. So this past Sunday, I decided to implement a process, whereby I make a big meal for Sunday Supper. It serves as a fuel-up for the week, and as a reminder that the weekend ain’t over yet. It gives leftovers for lunch on Monday, and the reminder that Saturday and Sunday aren’t that far away.

This inaugural week, Sunday Supper also gave me the chance to fire up my oven, which was repaired on Saturday, after not working since June 17. (No… I did not break it by kicking it when the Celtics choked away banner number 18 to the Lakers that night. As far as you know.)

The menu was straightforward, delicious food. On Sunday morning, I browned a brisket in my roasting pan on the stove, seasoned with salt and pepper, and then dropped it into my slow-cooker with 2 small chopped onions, 4 chopped stalks of celery, 4 chopped carrots, a can of low-sodium beef broth (yes, I know, canned. But sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do) and a can of no-salt-added chopped tomatoes. I set the slow cooker on low, and sat back to wait until the delicious smells got overwhelming.
Roughly 8 hours later, I shredded and chopped the meat, and pureed the rest of the items in the slow cooker into a gravy of sorts, and put everything back in the slow-cooker, this time on WARM, instead of LOW.

To go with the excellent brisket (I love Crock-Potting cheap, tough cuts of meat into delicious oblivion. It warms my soul), I made mashed cauliflower. Our CSA had given us a head of it, and while I’m not the HUGEST fan of cauliflower and broccoli, I figured that I shouldn’t let this veggie go to waste. So, I simmered it in milk, and once it was tender, mashed it with butter, salt, pepper, and some of the reserved milk. In all, it turned out delicious, and I was able to trick myself into believing that it was mashed potatoes. Well played, Cauli. Well played indeed.

The real star of the show, confirmed by the response the photo got on Facebook, was the Savory Monkey Bread I made based on Serious Eats‘ recipe.

Savory Monkey Bread

adapted (lightly) from Serious Eats

1. Scald 1 cup of milk. Scalding refers to heating milk up to 180 degrees, no more, no less. Let the milk cool to lukewarm. I judged lukewarm to be about finger temperature, when I stuck my finger in the pot of milk and it felt neither hot nor cold. I don’t know anybody named Luke, so I had to wing it.

2. Combine the milk, 1 packet of rapid-rise yeast, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and 2 cups of flour in a mixer. With the dough hook or paddle, beat until everything is well-combined. Cover with aluminum foil and let rise until doubled, about an hour.

3. Add another half-cup of flour,  half a stick of room temperature butter and a teaspoon of salt to the bowl, and knead with the dough hook (or by hand) until the butter is incorporated, and the dough is springy and a little bit sticky. I didn’t want to over-beat mine, and the original recipe doesn’t give a time guideline, but it’s nearly impossible to OVER knead your dough. I checked by touching it. When I could poke it, and it felt sticky, but it didn’t stick to my hand, I decided it was ready.
Form into a ball, cover, and let rise again for about 40 minutes.

4. While the dough is rising the second time, make the butter dip. I think next time, I will melt my butter, because it seems easier to manipulate than soft smushy butter with soft smushy dough.
Combine 1 garlic clove (or more, to taste) with a teaspoon of Italian Seasoning, a half-teaspoon each of dried rosemary and dried thyme, half a teaspoon (ish) of smoked hot paprika, a pinch of salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a whole bunch of grated asiago cheese (I probably used a quarter of a cup) in a food processor.
When the garlic is finely chopped up and the dried herbs start looking like little bits, drop in the other half-stick of butter and combine. This is a compound butter. Leave it on the counter at room temp.
I think that next time, I’ll melt the butter. Then, add the chopped up garlic and herbs TO the melted butter with the spices, and reserve the cheese for sprinkling.

5. Preheat your oven to 325. Grease your pan. I used a 7″ springform bundt pan, but you can use anything you’ve got.
Take the doubled dough out of the bowl, and cut it in half. Cut each half into 16 pieces (more if you feel like it), for a total of 32 (or more). I used my bench scraper, but you can also tear, use kitchen shears, or a knife.
Roll each blob into a ball, and smear with the compound butter (or dip the balls in the melted herb butter) and sprinkle with shredded parmesan, asiago, romano, or all three.
Put the blobs into the greased pan, stacking them on top of each other and trying to fit them into the little crevices so that they’re somewhat evenly layered. (Deb’s post on traditional Monkey Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze has great photos, as always, of the process)
If you’re like me, this is the moment to give the whole shebang another coating of grated cheese. Be like me. It’s fun.
Cover the pan, and let it rise for 30-40 minutes, until the little blobs of dough are filling up the pan.

6. Grate on a little more cheese right before you stick the pan in the oven. I won’t tell anybody.

7. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the dough is golden brown, and smells like you’re going to faint. Remove from the pan if you can (a springform was REALLY helpful for this) and let cool a little bit, until you aren’t burning your fingers trying to eat it.

This was a great way to kick off what I hope will become a Sunday tradition. Stay tuned to find out what happens next Sunday!

Beer Meat

Posted: February 18, 2010 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa | Tags: , , | 5 Comments »

Brisket Plate

I have to apologise for my post slacking recently.  I had to travel to Boston this past weekend, and then work has just gotten out of hand.  Living in a dorm with 30 girls ages 14-16, in the dead of winter, with the nearest vacation a month away is getting sort of dramatic.  Unfortunately its very hard to cook with girls screaming about plants, and lunch tables, and god help us all the Sadie Hawkins  ”Sadies”  dance is coming up.  Just in case you think I’m exaggerating, let me give you a glimpse into my tragic life:

“Ms. Mac, SHE came into my room when NO ONE was here and put a plant on my desk.  What kind of b*tch just goes into someones room with out permission.  OMG I mean we used to be besties, but this is just a ridiculous invasion.  SO I threw the plant out the window. ”  (of the fourth floor, by the way)

I kid you not, this is just a small excerpt of the hour and a half long conversation I had last night.  Between this fantastic part of my job, and the THREE exes that came back to haunt me for Valentines day, I have felt the need to drink heavily on a fairly regular basis, just to get through.  Sadly, I can not go to the bar every night and can not go about my job reeking of booze, so I have to be sneaky about my “drinking”.  I have gotten pretty good at figuring booze into most of my recipes, so I thought I would just try to do that again.  I know, cooked alcohol isn’t the same, but its the flavor that counts, not the warm buzzy feeling right?  (Whatever, just let me delude myself. )  So despite all of  this ridiculous tom foolery in my life, ladies and gentlemen, I give you:  Guinness Braised Brisket….Ta Da!!!  (also known in my head as BEER MEAT :) )

Ok so this is wicked easy:

Cut up one large yellow onion into wedges and put them into the bottom of a deep roasting pan and nestle your 3-4ish lb brisket into its new vegetable home. * You can also add other veggies if you like, I actually threw in a couple of wedges of tomatoes and a few kalamata olives that I had left over from a recipe. *  Pour about 2 and a half bottles of Guinness Draught over it then float in a bay leaf.   Sprinkle the meat with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, then place about 5-6 fresh basil leaves on top of the meat.  Cover completely with tin foil and put in a 285 degree over for about eight hours.  I did it over night so that I woke up salivating.  Once its done, take it out of the over and let it cool.  Put it in the fridge for a few hours to let the fat rise to the top and harden.   Once its cold, remove the foil and spoon off the majority of the fat.  At this point you can either shred the meat or slice it and then re-heat it in the liquid and serve as you choose.  I greatly suggest serving it with mashed potatoes or polenta or something that will absorb some of the liquid.  I didn’t have potatoes the first night I ate this, but I just used crusty bread, and it was freaking sweet :) .

The beer gives it that smoky flavor with just the hint of sweetness that I love about Guinness, but there is also the great meat flavor with the onions and whatever other veggies you put in.   I have eaten this two nights in a row, and tonight I’m taking the rest of the meat out of the liquid and shredding it with a Guinness  stout BBQ sauce, and I’m pretty much banking on it becoming the best BBQ sandwich I’ve ever made.  It might even be good enough to get me through the ridiculous drama of teen age girls and 20 something boys (not together)  that I have been dealing with.  Wish me luck!!Brisket

Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.