Dough Archives | Parsley, Sage, and Sweet

Homemade Chevre, Cheeseballs, and Cheese filled Turkish Flatbread for Cheesepalooza, plus Part 17

September 30, 2012 at 7:04 am | Posted in Appetizers, Breads, Middle Eastern, Twelve Loaves, Vegetarian, Yeastspotting | 46 Comments
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So..I’m making cheese, goat cheese – chevre to be exact.  Valerie from A Canadian Foodie has challenged a bunch of us to start making cheese from scratch with her Cheesepalooza challenge.  I was extremely excited when she announced this challenge because I’ve always wanted to dabble a little in artisan cheese making.

No, the Red Hot Chili Peppers will not be performing, but they will be making an appearance in my cheese!

Continue Reading Homemade Chevre, Cheeseballs, and Cheese filled Turkish Flatbread for Cheesepalooza, plus Part 17…

SRC-Three Cheese Broccoli Rabe, Prosciutto and Roasted Red Pepper Stromboli plus Part 16

September 3, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Posted in BBD, Breads, Dinner, Lunch, Pork, SRC, Twelve Loaves, Vegetables, Yeastspotting | 72 Comments
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One of my favorite sandwiches in the world is prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and roasted red peppers or in Jersey Italian – prah-joot, mootz-ar-ell and peppuhs.  When I was perusing through my assigned blog, Paulchen’s Blog?!, for this month’s Secret Recipe Club..I struckstromboli, and the first thing I thought of was how perfect one of my favorite sandwiches in the world would be wrapped up and baked as a stromboli.  I kept wavering back and forth between the stromboli and these butterscotch brownies...because next to being a peanut butter freak..I’m a pretty heavy butterscotch user too.


In the end, I couldn’t stop thinking how melty and gooey would work well for this sandwich combination in a stromboli – so that was it, decision made.  BUT, as I thought it over, I wanted more cheese, another cheese, like provolone and definitely something green and garlicky to cut into all that rich, gooey cheese.  Oh, and why not top it with yet another cheese ?  Asiago, perhaps?  OK, now we’ve got three cheeses, roasted red peppers and prosciutto.  What about the green stuff?

Yes, I’m taking you through my actual thought process at the time.

I pondered it for a bit and then it came to me..broccoli rabe aka rapini!  The slightly bitter and earthy undertones would be ideal and cut the richness of the cheese..especially sauteed in a little garlic and oil.  I added some hot chili flakes to give it a kick..but that’s optional, since some don’t like food that makes their tongue burn and nose sweat.

Now..I don’t want you to confuse broccoli rabe with broccoli, because they are nothing alike. Broccoli is related to the cabbage family.  Broccoli rabe is related to the turnip family, and it’s a leafy green with buds that resemble tiny heads of broccoli..hence the name broccoli rabe. BUT, plain old garlicky broccoli also works well and is fantastic in this stromboli.  So if you’d rather not charter unfamiliar green territory, substitute broccoli for the broccoli rabe.

If you get a chance, pop on over to Paulchen’s Blog?! and check out all of her delicious goodies!  To see what my fellow Group A SRC members chose from their assigned blogs, click on the blue frog below to see the gallery of links.


I’m also submitting this stromboli to this month’s  #TwelveLoaves theme – cheese, hosted by Lora of Cake Duchessand Yeastspotting hosted by Susan of Wild Yeast.  I’m also going to submit this to Shelley’s BBD #53 -Swirly breads.

One more thing.  I couldn’t get a melty, drippy, gooey cheesy photo because it was way too hot to handle (the encapsulated heat burned my fingers when I tried)  and I was by myself when I made and photographed it.  BUT, you should have seen all the cheesy goo dripping with each slice when I first cut it open gently, on the cutting board (It was so hot, it hurt!).  It was almost seductive, especially when it started to drip/stretch to the floor!  Man, If I could have gotten a photo of that…..

Three Cheese Prosciutto, Roasted Red Pepper, Broccoli Rabe Stromboli 
Dough from Ultimate Bread by Eric Treuille & Ursula Ferrigno via Paulchen’s Blog

Dough

1 packet active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups water
3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

Filling
* 1 bunch of broccoli rabe washed and woody stems removed (If you don’t like broccoli rabe, use broccoli instead, blanching it first))
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
hot chili flakes (optional)
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 or 3 large red bell peppers, roasted seeded, peeled -  each one sliced flat, into 3 or 4 pieces, blotted dry
12 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
8 oz thinly sliced prosciutto
8 oz thinly sliced provolone cheese
Olive oil
Asiago or any Italian hard grating cheese

* If you don’t like broccoli rabe, use broccolini or just broccoli.

DIRECTIONS:
1.  Make the dough.  Sprinkle yeast into 1 cup of tepid water in a bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes until foamy.

2. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in center and pour in dissolved yeast and the oil. Mix in flour from sides of well. Stir in reserved water, as needed, to form a soft, sticky dough.

3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth, silky, and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl and cover with clean kitchen towel. Let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

4.  While dough is resting..roast your peppers and prepare the broccoli rabe.  Cut the cleaned and trimmed bunch of broccoli rabe in half, then boil in two inches of salted water for about 3 to 4 minutes.  Strain and drop into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.  Strain again and blot dry.  Heat the tablespoon of olive in a saute pan.  Add the minced garlic and saute until soft but not browned.  Add broccoli rabe a little at a time until wilted.  Saute for 2 to 3 minutes, salt and pepper to taste and add your desired amount of hot chili flakes, if using.  Remove the rabe from the pan to a plate to cool.

5. Punch down the risen dough and place it on a floured board.  Cover and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes, to relax the gluten.

6. Roll the rested dough into a 14″ x 8″ rectangle. Cover with clean towel and let rest another 10 minutes.

7. Spread the mozzarella cheese, prosciutto, roasted red peppers, provolone cheese, and broccoli rabe evenly over dough, layer by layer in the order listed.

8. Roll up the dough, starting at one of the shorter sides, but without rolling too tightly.  Seal well.

9. Place on oiled baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Use a skewer or knife to pierce several holes through the dough all the way down to the baking sheet. Brush loaf with olive oil, them top with peels of asiago cheese (or any hard Italian grating cheese you prefer).

10.  Bake at 400 degrees F for about an hour until golden brown.  Let rest a few minutes before slicing.

Now to Part 16 of Bad Boy First Love. If you’re just tuning in, Part One is HERE, Part Two is HERE , Part Three is HERE, Part Four is HERE, Part Five is HERE, Part Six is HERE, Part Seven is HERE, Part 8 is HERE, Part 9 is HERE, Part Ten is HERE, Part 11 is HERE, Part 12 is HERE, Part 13A is HERE, Part 13B is HERE, Part 14A is HERE,  Part 14B is HERE and Part 15 is HERE.

Nothing says I spent the night with my boyfriend more than walking through the door at 7:30 am, disheveled, when your parent’s know your flight landed on time the night before.  Even though I was now considered an adult – the way they looked at me as they sat at the breakfast table with their coffee and the paper, still made me cringe like a 10-year old getting caught with one hand in the cookie jar before dinner.

I managed to spit out some blatant BS before darting up to my room.

“We stopped at Dreamboat’s house so I could say hi to his family.  I fell asleep on the couch.” I said breathlessly, as I rushed up the stairs, avoiding all eye contact.

I heard their disbelieving “Uh Huh’s” when I hit the top step.  Welcome home!

We were inseparable for the 4 days I had before I had to leave again, but it would only be one month until winter break, so I decided to break off the undefined ‘thing’ I had with hockey guy when I got back to school. I’d have a little over two weeks with Dreamboat in 4 weeks..and my love for him was stronger than ever..I didn’t want anyone else – ever again.

Easier said than done.  As I looked into hockey guy’s sweet face and warm brown eyes the night I got back, after he welcomed me with a bear hug and kiss..I felt kind of sad and still wildly and disturbingly attracted to him.  I really liked him, but I was now absolutely sure I going to marry Dreamboat, so this fire had to be put out, pronto.  When I told him this,  he looked a tad pissed, but also slightly amused;

“You’ve only been here three months,…and you’re a kid.  Making a life decision like that now, with years of college to go, is a little premature, don’t ya think?” He said, his eyes  embers of coal, flickering wildly, his brow furrowed in frustration.

Yeah, he was pissed.

It was then I realized I was slowly splitting into two people.  When home with Dreamboat, I was a starry-eyed teenager.  At college, I had already cracked the teenage eggshell and was chipping away at adulthood – one eye and a foot peeking through the jagged edges. With hockey guy there were no intense butterflies, no walking on air, but there was a more mature kind of excitement – the kind of excitement where you get lost in a conversation and then turn a little gooey.

BUT..I stood my ground.  Within two weeks, I sort of regretted it.  I was back to ‘college Lisa’, where I had the uncanny ability to put Dreamboat on hold because he did not exist in my college world.  I couldn’t even imagine him visiting because he didn’t fit into this other part of my life. I  likened it to a lone palm tree thriving on Commonwealth Avenue in January.

I couldn’t completely get a grip on these feelings, but somehow they made sense somewhere in my naive and somewhat cockeyed view of life at the time.

The pull between me and hockey guy wasn’t going away anytime soon, and there were a few moments and stolen kisses when we ran into each other at various places, but I tried hard to keep those to a minimum.

I spent the rest of my freshman year studying, partying, hanging with my new friends, and packing on another 7 lbs – finally surrendering to new clothes that would fit since I busted most of my zippers.

“Survival of the Fittest”  What do you call the jeans in your closet without broken zippers, Alex? (I submitted that to Parade Magazine in high school, and it was published!)

It was the first time in my life clothes shopping was not fun.

When I arrived home for summer vacation, I was determined to whittle off the weight and spend as much time with Dreamboat as possible.  He was no longer going to work on the pier because the job in North Jersey paid well, plus, at 21, he felt he had outgrown it. Naturally, I was happy about that.

I got a part-time job at a makeup boutique on the second floor of an upscale mall and I was floored when I was hired.  A young woman, not much older than me, who was apparently given the authority to hire people, asked if I knew how to do makeup and if I had ‘done’ makeup before.  Sure!!  On myself and my friends! But, a simple ‘Yes’ nabbed me the job.

I was alone all the time..closing the boutique since I worked from 4 to 9 pm.  It was the best job ever, especially since I had the whole day before work to spend at my friend’s pool.  Barely anyone ever came up to the second floor because it was even more pricey than the first floor, so I talked on the phone to friends, lived on diet soda, and avoided the escalator at all costs, taking the stairs constantly in my quest to drop that freshman weight.  My own little mall gym.

The whole time I worked there, only two people asked for makeovers.  Since I had no experience doing it professionally, I ended up doing their makeup like I did my own. Thank god it was only two women because anyone who came in was going to look like me if they wanted a makeover.  One of them asked for eyeshadow, which I didn’t wear. Umm..ok.

I grabbed some pink, blue, brown and green eyeshadow – glopping large amounts of all four on each lid, then blended them all together with a brush, emulating what I’d seen real makeup artists do.  There – eyeshadow.  She really liked it.  I think she looked like a clown. I refused to let her leave until I fixed it.

Those were the exciting nights.


After closing up..I’d  push open the wide glass doors to the upper deck parking lot and there he was most nights..waiting in his car.  We did a lot of fun things that summer, including a Springsteen concert..well sort of.a Springsteen concert

By that time, I’d dropped some of the weight, so I went shopping on a break and chose a pretty, pale pink, cotton sleeveless dress.  Not the norm for a rock concert, but I was feeling great and was in the mood to dress up a little.  Dreamboat told me I looked amazing …I blushed.   The blush again.  He could still make me blush and remained the only person who could do so.

Well, well, well.. much to my dismay, it turned out that Dreamboat and his friends didn’t have tickets to the concert.  They planned to buy from scalpers.  Springsteen playing in NJ? To many NJ natives, it’s almost a religious experience.  Your chances of buying a ticket, even a seat way up in the heavens, for less than the price of a small island, were about as great as wrestling an alligator and winning with nary a scratch.

So..we hung out in the parking lot, listening to the music blasting from the arena.

Another night in a damn parking lot.

The girl I was a year before would have been fine with that simply because I was with him.  The girl blossoming into adulthood, not so much.

I saw a door on the side of the arena open.  I started walking toward it with a strange boost of confidence, not knowing where it led to, but knowing I had to walk through it.  Dreamboat tried to stop me, but I ignored him, walking faster.  He started following me, repeatedly asking where I was going, but I kept walking without a response, only reaching back to grab his hand and pull him along with me.

To this day I can’t explain the feeling, but it was like I was being led by something not of this earth.

I walked right through the door, past security, past a lot of VIP suits.  Nobody inside that door said a word as I kept walking, the music now deafening.  Dreamboat was uttering all kinds of shit, like “You’re crazy, baby!”, but his eyes proved otherwise when we walked through a large, dark entrance with neon lights and screaming people. right into one of the aisles of the floor seats.  Soon we were in the 4th row, standing in front of exactly two empty seats and Bruce.


Dreamboat couldn’t stop hugging and kissing me, beaming, yelling in my ear that he could not believe I did that and how he was shocked that no one stopped us.  At that moment, the roles were reversed – he was the starry-eyed kid and I was the confident adult.  We got to enjoy the last hour of the show, eradicating the disappointment I felt when we first arrived, and he told me neither he nor his friends had tickets.

I could have tried walking through that door 20 more times after that and I probably would have been stopped, but there was something magical and symbolic about that particular night  The door was more than a pathway to Bruce Springsteen, it was a pathway to independence, leading for once, not following, and doing something I normally wouldn’t even think of doing.

When we got back to the parking lot, his friends were frantic, but not frantic enough to drop the amusing barbs..

“Where did youse two go?  We thought Bruce kidnapped you!”

I loved listening to Dreamboat tell them what I did, his eye sparkling.  He was proud of me.  I couldn’t help thinking – wow, he’s proud of me, but what I did was sorta criminal, wasn’t it?  I stole an hour of Bruce Springsteen.  Then again, the security guards didn’t do their job, right?

That was the excuse I used to dilute any feelings of wrongdoing…not that I really cared.

Although I was still completely enamored with Dreamboat, I started to notice something that bugged me just a bit.  I wanted conversation, conversation outside of lovey-dovey talk and trivial stuff, like..

“Sal bought me lunch today..nice guy.  I had a hero with the works, it was awesome.”

So, I’d start stretching out the conversation just to have a conversation.

“Was there mortadella on it?  Ham?  Salami? What kind of cheese?  Oil and vinegar or garlic aioli?”  TELL ME ABOUT EVERY COLD CUT ON THAT DAMN SANDWICH!.  Okay, I never requested the latter, but it’s what I was thinking.

After too many moments where I would start chattering excitedly about something I saw on the news, a book I was reading, or something relating to a class I took in college, being cut short with a response from him along the lines of..

“Really?  Wow, that’s great, baby.”

“Sounds pretty cool”

“Oh, that’s too bad”

..I realized as much as I loved him, he just wasn’t a deep conversationalist.  He wasn’t dumb by any stretch and in fact was extremely street smart, much more than many people I knew and know to this day, but the stuff I wanted to talk about just didn’t interest him.

To me, our relationship had always been a  deep red, flawless, shiny apple, but now there was slight nick in it., almost invisible to the naked eye, but it was there if you looked closely. When he’d brush my hair back, caress my cheek and start kissing me, that nick would disappear…for the time being.

No relationship is perfect and without nicks, they’d seem almost artificial, so I let it go and just accepted the fact that I’d never be discussing the congressional hearings on White Water or composers/books I loved, with him, like I could with most of my friends at school and….hockey guy.

Hockey guy.  Hmmm.  I wondered how his summer was going?

My luxurious job ended unceremoniously one Monday in early August, and this is where I digress a little.

I came to work and the place was already gutted.  Since there were just three of us who worked separate shifts by ourselves and barely knew each other…the word that they were closing shop hadn’t been passed on to me.  “What the….”, I thought as I surveyed the almost empty store.  The owner’s daughter – dressed to the nine’s with too much makeup, her light brown hair perfectly coiffed, and her husband a kind of nondescript looking guy, were there packing up the merchandise.  She had a colossal amount of chutzpah and a major attitude.

“Oh, you must be one of three who works for us.  Do me a favor and go down to the Chinese place in the food court and get us two orders of chicken lo mein..NO MSG, and two large cokes.” She said, waving a 10 dollar bill at me in a talon like grip.

Umm..no intro?  No please?  Did she even know my name?  Well, I guess I was still her employee so I did what she asked, hating myself for kowtowing to her obnoxious demand.

They sat at what was once was the makeup counter..now just a section of the formerly U-shaped block of glass and steel, and ate while she continued to bark demands at me.

“Go in back and bring out the boxes I left by the bathroom.” She demanded, while shiving long, skinny worms of lo mein between her fuschia painted lips. “Oh,  and sweep the floor while you’re back there.”

Yes, your highness…rude bitch, rather

Her husband didn’t say a word.  He seemed a little afraid of her.   I figured he was castrated on their wedding day.

When I finished, I came back up front.  She waved me over “Hey, I have your commission”  HEY?? I couldn’t ignore that one.

“MY name is LISA” I said, trying not to raise my voice, or growl.

“OK, Lisa..whatever..here’s your commission.” She muttered dismissively.

She stuck the tip of a perfectly mauve lacquered nail on the edge of a five dollar bill, as if it was something repulsive, not worthy of touching her skin, and slid it toward me.  It was wet.  The bitch had spilled her soda on it.

Five bucks commission?  Well, if they didn’t overcharge for their crap makeup, maybe some would have actually bought some of it, I thought as I took the bill and turned to leave.  She didn’t deserve a thank you.  She called me back with a condescending edge to her voice, as if to say “Hey, we’re not finished with you yet..we’re going to milk every drop of you as our employee, dry!”


“Help us carry some of this stuff out to the U-Haul we rented” she said, as she smoothed her overly sprayed hair with one hand to make sure there was not a strand out-of-place.  I grabbed two bags and a box, walked to the U-Haul and threw them in.  I was fuming.  I heard her screechy voice as I walked to my car..

“If you want to use me as a reference for another job, call me!”

I didn’t have her number, she didn’t offer it, and I didn’t care.

That night Dreamboat was treated to a huge serving of rage and potty mouth as I told him the story, still angry and completely disgusted with myself for not telling her where to shove her wet 5 dollar bill.  He stroked my hair as I rambled on, his head against the seat facing me, taking in all of my ire with a cute smile.  He always enjoyed my feisty side.  Suddenly his smile faded a bit and his eyes softened.  I asked him what was wrong.

“My girl is all grown up.” he said softly.

I didn’t get it.  I looked at him quizzically.

“I dunno..you talk different, you say what’s on your mind a lot..I guess college changed you a little.” He uttered softly, dots of sadness flickering in his eyes.

“Is that a bad thing?” I asked timidly

“Not at all, sweetheart..everyone has to grow up sometime.” He responded, brushing my hair back tenderly.

He pulled me to him and started kissing me to signal the end of that conversation.  As usual, I was putty in his arms and my horrid day evaporated into thin air.

Now that I was no longer part of the work force and he had a week vacation coming up, he asked if I wanted to go down the shore.  Of course I did, especially now that I’d lost the freshman 15 and then some.  I was feeling pretty good and he knew it, since I allowed him to touch my stomach again.

We had his parent’s shore house to ourselves because his younger brother was staying with his girlfriend house a few blocks away since her parents were gone for a few weeks, and P also had a job back home and could only come down on weekends.  His parents were visiting relatives in Maryland.  No..it wasn’t perfect timing, he chose this particular week to take off because he knew the house would be empty.

Staying alone together at the house was thrilling at first, but within a few days it sort of felt like we were a little old married couple.  We did a lot of ‘couple’ things with his friend Andy and his girlfriend, now his fiancé.

“I could get used to this” He said one evening as we snuggled in front of the TV after they left.

It was weird being able to spend all day and night with him down the shore.  I’d never spent prime time hours walking the boardwalk or lazing on the beach for hours during the day with him.  I found myself watching groups of girls a few years or less younger than me doing what I used to do with my friends – chattering away on a big beach blanket, or hurrying down the boardwalk at night, again chattering away, heading somewhere and extremely excited to get there.

I missed my friends being there with me.  I wanted it to be like it used to be – as recently as one year earlier.   I wanted that excitement of going to meet him or him coming to get me after work.  I wanted to feel young again.  I look back and laugh now – I was just about 19, but that week..I felt old.

We went to our special beach one night, instinctively reaching for each other’s hand as we walked toward and along the shoreline in the moonlight.  We talked about the night we reconnected and my almost face plant that ripped up my knee.  He pulled me into the water, knee deep, recreating that first passionate kiss after being apart a year.  My whole body melted as it did on that very special night, but this time tears started running down my face mid kiss.  I was going back to school in two weeks, and I was going to miss him terribly, but there was a very unfamiliar feeling pulsing against the heartbreak.

I was kind of excited to get back to school.

“It’s going to harder letting you go this time, baby” He whispered in between kisses, wiping my tears

“I know” I whispered back..and left it at that.

How could I love him so deeply but want to leave him? Even though this new feeling was small change compared to the sad range of emotions of leaving him again..it bothered me.

His brother, P, came down the following Friday.  Saturday morning a car pulled up in front of Dreamboat’s shore house…beeping.  I ran to the couch to peer out the window.

“Geeez,you’re like the freakin’ dogs, running to the window when someone’s outside.”  I heard Dreamboat say as I kept my eye on the car..the car with a girl behind the wheel.  There was an eerie silence behind me, so I looked back at them.

Dreamboat remained calm, but was looking at P – not taking his eyes off of him for even a second..a glare that screamed ‘do something..now!’.  P didn’t say a word – they had brain waves going on, like me and my best friend had in all the years we were close.  P jumped up and ran outside, almost in a panic.  I watched him lean down to the window and say something to the girl, then watch her drive away, making sure she was gone before making his way back into the house.

“Who was that?” I asked Dreamboat while still watching P walk toward the house.

“Just a friend of P’s” he answered nonchalantly

“Oh..ok” I answered, not believing him completely.  I saw ‘the look’ he gave P. I knew him too well.  The truth is..I didn’t want to know, just like he wouldn’t want to know about hockey guy.

Ignorance was bliss in this case, and ‘knowing’ would make me sick to my stomach.

One night back in North Jersey, two days before I was leaving for school, we sat in his car silently, gazing at the Manhattan skyline.  His eyes were glistening a little in the darkness.  I reached over and rubbed my fingers around the side of one and felt wetness, most definitely tears.  I hugged him, trying to love away those tears..but he pulled back a little.

Three Cheese Broccoli Rabe, Prosciutto and Roasted Red Pepper Stromboli

“There’s something I need to tell you” he said “I wasn’t honest with you about something.”.  His voice sounded weird, almost quivery, and it was the first time I’d ever heard him like that..and the first time he didn’t try to mask his tears.

NO NO NO, I thought..I don’t want to know!!  I knew what he was going to say and I desperately wanted to plug my ears with cement.

“Don’t” I said, shooting warning daggers at him with my eyes although my voice belied that anger via choking up.

It was like he didn’t hear me..”That girl..the one that came by the shore house that day…”

NO!  I tried to say it..but it wasn’t coming out.  I guess I was going to have to hear it..it was too late.

“…when we worked on Tom’s house (his boss’s house down the shore) in early November..I took her out a few times..I knew her from the neighborhood, she lives there year round.”

I heard myself shouting..but everything was spilling out uncontrollably….”WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME??  I DON’T WANT TO KNOW..WE PROMISED EACH OTHER WE WOULDN’T TELL!!!”

The tears were now running down his face.  He hugged me and pressed his cheek against mine – a half-assed or desperate plea for forgiveness, neither of which I could ascertain. His tears began soaking my cheek, rolling to my jawline. Hmmm..a change of pace for once.  I guess I owed him a soak or ten.

“Baby..I hated lying to you when you asked. If you hadn’t asked, I never would have said anything.”

Now I was crying.  I hated that he had given me this cross to bear.  I had to think of him with another woman, and now I had to know more – I wanted details.

“Did you sleep with her? Did you see her more before I came home for the summer? Are you going to see her again? And then the most important question of  all;

“DO YOU LOVE HER?”

Part 17 – the final part..coming soon.

Three Cheese Broccoli, Prosciutto and Roasted Red Pepper Stromboli

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Char Siu Bao (BBQ Pork Buns) with Meaning – and ‘The Tale of a Painting’.

December 15, 2011 at 12:48 am | Posted in Appetizers, Asian, Breads, Daring Cooks, Dinner, Lunch, Pork, Yeastspotting | 37 Comments
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I’m in love with pork buns especially the baked kind.  I’ve been known to go out of my way just to stop at Asian bakeries to pick up varieties of their soft lovely buns..and there’s always at least two pork buns in the bag when I leave.  There’s one in my town now, and I have to steer clear or else I’ll be buying bags of buns several times a week.

Well..whaddya know…

Our Daring Cooks’ December 2011 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles ! Sara chose awesome Cha Sui Bao as our challenge, where we made the buns, Cha Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious!

Hmmm..Cha Sui?  I suppose that’s just another term for it?  I always thought it was Char Siu, and Char Siu pork and I go way back – well. way back two years ago.  I was actually going to recycle that photo of my Char Siu pork into this post, but once I made it again, I decided to  get at least one shot to show I actually did make it again.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Ever pick the pieces of it out of your fried rice to eat individually?

I do.

So, I’ve made Char Siu pork before, and Char Siu Bao before – steamed and baked – with great success.  I knew this was a challenge I couldn’t miss, not only because I’ve had great success with it, but because pork buns have gone up $1.25 since I last walked out of the local Asian bakery mentioned above.

On a whim, I decided to do something a little different with them this time.  I gussied them up a bit with some Chinese characters for Love, Strength, Peace and Harmony.  I mixed matcha powder with a little egg yolk, painted on the characters, let them dry, then egg washed and baked after rising.  After one bun, I nixed LOVE.

The Chinese character for LOVE has too many lines and details for such a small area.  It looked like scribble scrabble, so I let it fly solo.  The LOVE is in the buns, baby.

As I painted each character on top of the buns…a memory was tip-toeing  - with high-heels –  through my brain.

A few years ago, I decided to completely redo the breakfast nook at my parent’s house.  Every time I was over there, I could hear the strains of 80′s synthesizers when we sat in that room.  It was far past out-of-date – it was Boy George in long braided, mu mu drag, Go Go’s chic, George Michael doing the jitterbug in day-glo, fingerless gloves, out-of-date.

I pulled up every tile of the black and white checkerboard floor, stripped as much of the bright blue paint off the walls (I know, sounds tacky, doesn’t it?  But it wasn’t tacky in the 80′s), then sanded off the rest,  – sealing cracks and holes with compounds and puttys,  (add more sanding) and finally rolling and brushing on two coats of an Arabian sand color I thought was perfect.

I took down two doors, sanding off the burnished, worn stain, then sanding again, staining and a shellac - finishing them off with shiny, bright new doorknobs.  It was tough work for one girl , umm..person..and I still have no idea how I managed it, but within a month, it was completed.  I bought a pot rack, hung their pots and pans between the nook and the kitchen, then stood back and admired what I’d done.  Trading Spaces? Pffft.  Eat your heart out.

Hmmm…it needed art, a few paintings.  Maybe one by me to sort of ‘sign’ my work on the room, if you know what I mean.

I found a bunch of old acrylic paints and brushes in their basement (Yes, I used to draw and paint a bit – well, a lot), but no canvas, and it was too late to go out and get one.  I walked around the house looking for something – anything..I needed to paint at that moment.  I needed to put my final seal on the room before reveal day.

Out of the corner of my eye, there it sat, one of those vertical, ‘three in a row’ mallard prints that nobody, outside of He-Man hunter living in a log cabin, puts up on display (or so I thought).  I pried open the wires holding everything together since I planned on using the back of this canvas for my painting.  I was confused as to why there were so many layers to get to the canvas, and why was this cheap print numbered and signed?  Is someone proud of painted mallards on a canvas set in ugly dark green cardboard frames?

Baked BBQ Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao)

I finally got to the back of the canvas, pulled it out, and started painting a kaleidoscope of colors to fit in, but ‘pop’ in the room.  I had already decided I was going to paint the black chinese characters for Love, Health and Happiness on top of these colors, because they’re so beautiful.  After hiding it to dry for several hours, I came back and painstakingly painted on each character – using some computer print-outs as a reference.  It turned out beautiful, and once it was fully dry, I put it back into the frame, minus the dark green cardboard cut-outs.

I hung it in the perfect place and beamed at my resourcefulness.  Turning a cheap, factory made mallard painting into something beautiful!  I couldn’t wait for them to see!

They loved it – I was thrilled.   They also loved my painting.  After several compliments, my father asked..

“Where did you get the frame for it?  I was given a numbered, signed painting by (insert name of famous mallard artist who’s name escapes me at this moment – Update: I know who it is now but absolutely refuse to name him in fear he will see this post via Google and read how I completely annihilated his work thinking it was cheap, worthless and ugly) a few weeks ago as a gift for the holidays, in a frame very similar to that..it’s very expensive.”

GULP.

GULP.

I felt faint.

He saw my eyes, his face changed.

“You didn’t take that painting out of the frame, did you?  If you did, show me where everything is so we can put it all back together, we’ll get another nice frame for your painting, ok?”

Now I’m going to throw up.

He saw my face turn a light shade of green.  He knew.

I’m not going to get into details outside of some yelling and “Do you have any idea how much that painting is worth now and will be worth in several years??” “Do you have any idea how rare it is?  Only 5 exist!” type of stuff.

To this day, my painting sits in a box in my parent’s basement, never hung again.  He didn’t need to be reminded of it during his morning coffee, for the rest of his life.  I totally agree.

OK..back to the pork buns!  This was a good recipe, the dough was wonderful to work with.  However, I made a few small changes.  When I saw the recipe for the pork filling, I didn’t think there would be enough sauce to really moisten the pork, so I doubled it.  Turns out I was right, as some mentioned the pork filling being dry after it was baked and/or steamed.

Second change..I wanted a lot of filling per bun, like the ones I get at my local bakery, so I made 9 buns instead of 12..no 1 teaspoon or 1 tablespoon amount here..just what I call a ‘heap’ aka whatever I can fit onto the dough round and seal without leaking or tearing.

Third change – I let the buns rise for an hour before baking.  This recipe eliminated a rise, for a thinner shell of bread.  I like a little bready fluff around my pork filling.  I also baked them at 350 F for 15 minutes, instead of 200 F for 15 minutes.

Finally, I sprinkled the top of the buns without the characters with a little bit of Maldon flake sea salt.

If you get a chance, please have a look at my fellow Daring Cook’s ‘sexy buns’, by clicking HEREFor the recipes for Char Siu Pork, and baked or steamed Char Siu Bao, Click HERE.

I’m submitting my Char Siu Bao to Yeastspotting, a weekly bread baking showcase hosted by the incredibly talented Susan of Wild Yeast.

I’m also submitting these to Bread Baking Day #45, hosted by Cindy of Cindystar.

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