Saturday, July 4, 2020

Cuban Sandwich

Sue and I eat a lot of sandwiches. Sandwiches are awesome. 
What is weird is that we haven't shared a lot of sandwiches on our blog. 
We definitely need to fix that. I'm going to start right now by sharing one of our favorites. A Cuban sandwich. You can make this on normal bread but if you want it to taste like a super de duper delicious Cuban sandwich then you need to make it on Cuban bread (pan cubano). Homemade bread is a little consuming but always worthwhile in the end! FYI - This is a great way to use up leftover pork roast. 

Cuban Sandwich

Pan Cubano
1 1/4 cup hot water
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
4 tsp sugar
3 cups flour
2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp lard (can use butter), melted

yellow mustard
Swiss cheese
deli ham
pork roast 

Prepare bread - In a small bowl, whisk together water, yeast, and sugar. Let bloom for 5 minutes. 
In another bowl, put in flour, salt, and melted lard (or butter). Stir in the active yeast. 
Knead dough for 5 minutes, until smooth. Add in a little more flour if dough is too sticky. 
Place in an oiled bowl, cover, and place somewhere warm to rise for an hour. 
After dough has risen: punch down and divide into 6 logs. Let rest for 15 minutes. Then shape the pieces of dough into 8 inch logs with tapered ends. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a clean tea towel, and let rise somewhere warm for another hour. 
After buns have risen: preheat oven to 375. Lightly spray the buns with water (or very gently brush water on with a basting brush) With a very sharp blade, place a slash down the center of each bun, leaving about an inch on each end not cut. 
Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes, until buns are golden brown on top. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Prepare sandwiches - Cut Cuban buns in half and place on work surface. 
Spread one half of each bun with butter. Then spread both halves generously with yellow mustard. 
Top both sides with a slice or two of Swiss cheese. Then layer on the ham, pork roast, and pickle.

Close sandwich and admire how beautiful it is. 

Now slather the top with a generous amount of butter. 

Place sandwich in tinfoil. I like to put a smear of butter under the sandwich as well. 

Wrap the sandwich in the tinfoil (see photo for clarification).

To cook the Cuban sandwich - heat BBQ grill to medium/low heat. Place wrapped sandwich on the grill and top with something heavy, like a cast iron skillet. Grill for 5 minutes. Flip sandwich over and repeat on other side for 5 minutes.
Unwrap the sandwich and grill for 2 - 3 more minutes on each side. 
If you do not have a grill - You can cook the sandwiches in a frying pan on the stove top. You do not need to wrap them in foil to do this. Simply get the stage where you cover the top and and bottom with butter, then place in a frying pan over medium/low heat. Place something heavy, like a cast iron skillet, on top and cook for about 5 minutes on each side. You want the cheese to be melted and the sandwich to be heated through. 

You can add more cheese if you want things gooier, of course. 

I didn't have a lot of pork roast leftover so I diced mine so it would go further. If you want to leave it in thin slices then that works great too. Even shredded pork roast is fabulous on a Cuban sandwich. 
Like a grilled cheese but a magic, otherworldly grilled cheese. 
I recommend making the bread up before you need it and freezing it. 
You can easily double the recipe for 12 buns instead of 6. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Big Batch Rhubarb Raspberry Streusel Cake

Did you know that rhubarb and raspberry are an amazing combo? I thought they'd be too tart together but when you mix them in a cake and throw on some streusel they are juuuuuuuust right. 
I didn't add nuts to the topping but, believe me, they're a great addition as well. I developed this recipe to be a big batch because I needed a LOT of cake to gift to several families. This makes 4 - 8 inch pans, or 2 - 9 X 13 pans. You could probably stretch it out to 5 - 8 inch pans if you wanted it more like a square than a cake. I prefer the thickness of a cake myself. If you do try 5 then be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly. 

Big Batch Rhubarb Raspberry Streusel Cake

1 cup butter, softened
3 3/4 cups sugar
4 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
8 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 cups buttermilk
8 cups rhubarb, finely chopped
2 cups raspberries

1 cup butter, melted
2 cups flour
2 cups brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350. 
In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until creamy, scraping bowl as needed. Beat in eggs. In another bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and soda, and salt. In another bowl, measure out the buttermilk. Lastly, in a separate bowl, measure out the rhubarb and raspberries. 

Combine the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients alternating with the buttermilk until just combined. It's okay if a few streaks of flour remain. 
Stir in the rhubarb. Batter will be very thick. 

Spread the batter evenly among the 4 - 8 inch pans. Top each cake with 1/4 of the raspberries. (Note - you can also stir the raspberries into the cake batter with the rhubarb but they will get smushed. The cake will still taste delicious but will be streaked with color.) 

Prepare streusel - in a mixing bowl, stir together the melted butter, flour, and brown sugar. (If you'd like to add any nuts, do so now) Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the 4 cakes. 

Bake at 350 for 40 - 50 minutes. Depending on how your oven cooks, it may take a bit longer. The cakes are done when they are golden brown on top and toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. 
FYI - place a cookie sheet or oven liner at the bottom of the oven to catch any spills, these do bubble up and over a bit.

Remove from oven and let cool completely on wire racks. 

You can serve the cake warm or room temp. They are delicious either way. This is a very dense cake and is very moist so no frosting is required. Although, it does go fabulously with a scoop of ice cream or dollop of whipped cream!

The perfect tea time snack. It is a very large batch of cake so it's great for larger gatherings or potlucks. It also freezes very well so you can have cake whenever you like in the future too! Just cover the cooled cakes very well with plastic wrap and then a layer of tinfoil before placing in the freezer. 
Tangy and sweet, just the way I like it!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Is there anything better than ice cream sandwiches? Seriously... 
I mean you take two delicious things and sandwich a third delicious thing in the middle.... basically heaven, am I right? 
These bad boys only take about an hour to whip up, if your using store bought ice cream, and are sure to be a big hit with friends and family! Use any flavor ice cream you like - I went with vanilla and chocolate, but I imagine salted caramel, maple walnut, mint chocolate chip or pretty much anything would be delicious as well. 

Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Brownie Cookies
8 oz chocolate chips (about 1 1/3 cup)
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Ice Cream

Make cookies - In a microwave safe bowl (or on the stove top), melt the chocolate chips and butter, whisking until smooth. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat eggs for 2 minutes. Beat in sugars, vanilla, baking powder, and salt. Beat in the melted chocolate until combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed. 
Add in flour, cocoa powder, and walnuts, stirring until just combined. Chill batter for 30 minutes. (Do not skip this step!) 

When batter is chilled, preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper. Using a large cookie scoop, scoop batter about 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheet. They will spread. 

Bake at 350 for 10 - 15 minutes, until tops are crackled. Don't over bake or cookies will be crispy not chewy. If you make the cookies smaller then your cooking time will vary. 

Cool completely on wire racks before filling with ice cream. 
Let ice cream soften on the counter for about 10 - 15 minutes before scooping onto the flat side of one cookie. Flatten gently with a spoon before topping with another cookie. You need to work fairly quickly as the ice cream will start to melt and get very messy!

Store in freezer. 

You can wrap them individually to make storage easier. 

FYI - these go great at bake sales if you have a cooler with ice to keep them in! 
I made some with brownie cookies, some with chocolate chip cookies, some with vanilla ice cream and some with chocolate ice cream and they all sold in about 5 seconds! 
These are, as the little one Sue babysits would say, deeeeeeeeelicious. 

Friday, June 12, 2020

Shredded Apple Tarts

This is a little twist on a classic apple pie. 
I want to start off by saying if you make something in a muffin tin which has a pie crust THEY ARE NOT CALLED MINI PIES. Okay? They are called tarts. I will fight you on this. I'd like to also mention that these tarts are a delicious alternative to regular apple pie. Same apple cinnamon-y taste but the texture is completely different - in a wonderful way. 
If you'd prefer a pie, this makes one 8 inch pie. Otherwise you should get 12 tarts. Delicious, apple-y tarts. (Not mini pies... just to make sure we're on the same page...) 

Shredded Apple Tarts

Or enough dough for an 8 inch pie

1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 Tbsp flour
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
2 eggs
3 medium apples, grated

Preheat oven to 350. Roll out pie crust and, using a cookie cutter or large glass, cut out 12 circles of dough a little larger than the size of the muffin tins (you may need to re roll scraps to get enough). Press the circles into the muffin tins. 
In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, butter, flour, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and eggs until well combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add in shredded apples and stir in. (Note - apples don't have to be peeled)

Scoop the apple filling into the pie dough in the muffin tins. Fill to the top. 

Bake at 350 until golden brown and set, about 30 - 40 minutes. (If you make a pie it will be about one hour)

Let cool in pans for about 10 minutes. Then run a knife around the edge of each tart and remove to wire rack to cool. 

You can serve them warm, if you prefer, or chilled. Up to you!

My favorite? Warm with a big ol' scoop of ice cream on top. 

If you want to change up the texture even more.... add in a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chopped pecans/walnuts for a bit of crunch. Homemade pie crust is definitely the way to go with these BUT we totally get it if you want to save yourself that step and just buy it. 
Tip: Our Never Fail Pie Crust (HERE) can be made up ahead of time and frozen so there is always a few pie crusts in the freezer. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Chicken Mole Fries

In the spring Sue and I were running a Chopped-style food competition on Facebook for our friends and family as something to do while self isolating. One week we had chocolate and peanut butter as our mystery ingredients. I knew a lot of entries would be sweet ones so I decided to go savory! 
There are not too many chocolate and peanut butter recipes that are savory. It took me a long time to come up with this recipe. I spent many hours scouring Pinterest and Instagram looking for inspiration. 
I think this has the right amount of spice with definite hints of both the peanut butter and chocolate. 
No... I didn't win the challenge that week. But I did get a delicious new recipe to make and that's never a loss. 

Chicken Mole Fries

Mole Sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 chipotle pepper
2 tsp adobo sauce
398 ml (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
4 Tbsp peanut butter
2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp chili powder
pinch cinnamon
2 oz (~scant 1/3 cup)  sugar free dark chocolate

chicken thighs, cubed
salt & pepper

Frozen fries

lime wedges

Prepare mole sauce - In a large frying pan over medium heat, cook olive oil, onion, and garlic for about 5 minutes, stirring often. 
Add in chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, and tomatoes. Cook an additional 15 minutes.
Carefully transfer to a blender. Add in the peanut butter, chicken broth, salt & pepper, chili powder, and cinnamon. Blend until smooth. 
Pour back into the frying pan, place back over medium/low heat and simmer to reduce for about 15 minutes. Shut off heat and add in chocolate. Stir to melt. 

Mole sauce can be made up to a week ahead of time and kept, covered in fridge. 
Reheat when ready to use. If you are using it right away, simply keep warm while chicken and fries cook. 

Prepare chicken and fries - There are several ways to prepare the chicken thighs. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper first. Then you can BBQ it on the grill, you can fry it in a pan, or you can place it under the broiler. I skewered mine on skewers but you don't have to do this. (Be sure to soak the skewers if you use wooden ones). 
Cook the frozen fries as per package directions. (Of course you can always make your own if you prefer!) Make sure they get nice and crispy! 
Plate em up!
Place fries on a serving platter. Top with the cooked chicken. 

Top with a generous amount of hot mole sauce. 

Sprinkle on some chives to fancy it up and add a slice of lime on the side. 

Feel free to use lots of mole sauce. It's delicious. 

This recipe has just the right amount of spice. If you like things really spicy, add another chipotle pepper. I've never tried this so it might take away from the subtle hints of chocolate and peanut butter. Let me know if you try it! 

Looking for another way to jazz up your fries that isn't poutine? Give chicken mole fries a chance. Make up the sauce ahead of time and it's literally about 5 minutes worth of work when you are ready to eat. Impress your guests at your next BBQ with this spicy recipe. 
Note - I didn't put quantities for the chicken or fries because you can make as much or as little as you like. You get a lot of sauce, about 2 cups or so depending on how much you reduce it. 
You can also use chicken breast or shredded rotisserie chicken from the store. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Butterhorns (Smitty's Bakery Recreation)

Sue and I have been making butterhorns for years and years. Our family recipe (which can be found HERE) is one we make every year at Christmas time. So, when my friend, Len, came to me with a recipe to try that was named "Butterhorns" but was a completely different recipe than ours, I knew I had to give it a try. 
Len grew up going to "Smitty's Bakery" and they made these giant treats that he loved. His sister had found the recipe on a Facebook sharing site and told him about it. Len asked if I would be willing to try and recreate the recipe to see if it was like what he remembered from his youth. How could I say no? Baking challenges are always exciting! 
I have to say.... these GINORMOUS butterhorns are completely different from our recipe but they are amazing! Soft and fluffy and don't even get me started on that magic frosting. It makes the whole treat what it is. You really, really, really need to try them!

Butterhorns (Smitty's Bakery Recreation)

1/4 cup hot tap water
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
3/4 cup scalded milk, cooled to warm
1/2 cup margarine, melted
1/4 cup shortening, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
3 - 5 cups flour

2 Tbsp water
4 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 egg
1 2/3 cup icing sugar
2/3 cup shortening, room temp
1 tsp vanilla

 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Prepare dough - mix hot water and yeast in a small bowl and let bloom for 5 minutes. 
In a separate bowl, stir together milk, margarine, shortening, sugar, salt, and eggs. Stir in the bloomed yeast. Gradually add in flour until solid dough forms. Place on floured work surface and knead 2 - 3 minutes. Place into an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel, place somewhere warm to rise. 

After 1 to 1 1/2 hours dough should be doubled in size. 

Place dough on work surface and divide into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 12 inch rope (about 1 inch thick). 

Spiral each log into a circle. (So it looks like a snail shell.) Place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

Cover with a tea towel and let rise somewhere warm again for another hour. (Until doubled in size)

Preheat oven to 350. Bake butterhorns for 12 - 15 minutes, until light golden brown. 
Set on wire rack to cool. 

Prepare icing - Beat the egg and icing sugar until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Set aside. Measure out the shortening and vanilla and have it ready to go. 
Boil the water and the sugar in a small saucepan for exactly 2 minutes. Do not stir it. 
After 2 minutes, remove the boiling syrup from the heat and slowly drizzle it into the egg and icing sugar mixture while you are beating on low with beaters. Continue to beat until all the syrup has been added. Do not scrape the sides of the syrup pan - they will make your icing grainy. Beat in the shortening and vanilla until smooth. 
Spread frosting generously onto the buns and then sprinkle with the chopped walnuts. 

Let sit for a few minutes so icing can set a bit. Don't skimp on the frosting and walnuts!

You can spread the icing on the buns if they are a little bit warm, but it will melt off if the buns are too hot. 

These are ginormous, by the way. Like.... spread your hand out as wide as you can. From the top of your thumb to the top of your baby finger - that's how big these are. You could make them smaller but then they wouldn't be Smitty's Bakery Butterhorns.... Making them smaller will also change the texture when they bake. Bigger = fluffier so keep that in mind. 

Look how light and airy these are...

Slathering a little butter on there can't hurt either... our mother can't have a bun without butter. I find the icing and walnuts to be plenty but... if you want to add a little butter.... I won't judge! 

Have you ever seen anything so purdy?

Let us know if you give these a try! FYI - I am usually a "use butter in all the things" type of baker but don't do it in this recipe. You need to use margarine and shortening. Butter will noticeably change the taste. Not that it's a bad thing... it just means they won't be the authentic Smitty's recipe.