Anger Burger

I’m Sorry, Is This Cookie Bothering You?

Posted by on Dec 10, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Until a month ago, Mike the Viking and I hadn’t had cable TV in over seven years.  Seven years.  Trust me, though, there was plenty to be distracted by.  We’re internet addicts, I mean, c’mon.  Anyway, with the invention of Netflix, we no longer needed to watch cable, since any TV we wanted to watch could come to us for a fraction of the price.  And all was right with the land.

And then we moved, and the cable internet people decided to give us basic cable as well.  I tried to argue against it, but the service guy simply did not comprehend that I didn’t want the TV to make sounds unless there was a DVD in it.  The conversation went like this:

service guy: “Okay, internet and basic TV will be $39.95 a month.”
me: “Oh, sorry, no TV.”
sg: “So you don’t want internet and TV?”
me: “I mean, no cable.  Please.”
sg: “We don’t offer DSL services at Time Warner.”
me: “NO TEEVEE PLEASE.”
sg: “You don’t have a television?”

Since we didn’t understand each other and he was determined to charge me nothing for the cable, I gave up, said okay, and thought it’d never be an issue.  That was before we discovered that a non-HD version of the Food Network came in crystal clear.  I swore to myself I couldn’t watch TV unless I was also knitting, to encourage productivity.  And I’ve since knitted 40 pairs of socks.

But then the Viking saw it.

It was Ina Garten, whom he calls “Lady Bob Ross,” and she was making rugelach.  Which I hate making.  And I saw the Viking’s giant, watery, sparkling eyes turn to me and knew it was too late.

Rugelach it is.  And since you’re wondering why I hate to make it, here’s an illustrated list.  The first is that a batch (which is halvable, but why bother halving it when you can freeze half instead?) requires a half a pound of butter and a half a pound of cream cheese.

Why do I hate that?  Well, it’s a lot of fat, but since I’m clearly not the poster girl for low-fat eating, it’s mostly that such a high-fat ratio makes for a sticky, pasty, sticky dough that’s going to fight you to the end.

Then there’s the filling.  Ina’s recipe (and traditionally) calls for raisins and walnuts, but since the filling is so sweet, I love unsweetened dried apricots for tartness.  So I’ve gotta chop all the nuts and apricots, another step.  And mix the sugar and cinnamon filling, a another step.  And set some jam out to warm, another step.

Though, an excuse to use my favorite jam in the whole world is really enough of a reason to make rugelach.  This is fig marmalade, and it’ll knock the hairs right off your lip.  Ladies.

Anyway, we make this fussy, bitchy “Wah, I’m getting warm and melting” dough-pizza thing, which is messy.

And then cut them into pizza-slices and roll the slices into croissants.  Which then have to be brushed with egg wash and refrigerated for a half an hour before you can even think about baking them.

And then the worst part of all: they taste awesome.  They’re obsession-causing.  You will eat them until they are gone.

The apricot is tart, the brown sugar and cinnamon has caramelized, the crust is soft and crumbly at the same time.  There’s no avoiding it.  You will realize with a sinking, dejected horror as you survey your now totally decimated kitchen that you will make these again.  And soon.   And you’ll look at the clock and realize that you’ve now spent over three hours making these cookies, which is absurd.  Because you’re going to spend another three hours tomorrow making them again, because you and the Viking have already eaten the dozen you made.

Better put the kettle on.  And by kettle I mean tequila.  And by on I mean in your mouth.

Ina Garten’s Rugelach, Adjusted
here’s the original, if you’re interested.  i added more salt, a little more flour and changed the filling.  you can change them too, and then put them on your own website.  information wants to be free molested.  also be advised that the filling listed here makes HALF.  i assume you’ll freeze half the dough, but if you don’t then you will need to double the filling.  if you only want to make a dozen cookies, or a quarter of the recipe, than reserve half the filling ingredients for later use.

dough:
8oz. cream cheese, room temperature
8 oz. (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour

filling:
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, finely chopped

1/2 cup jam – fig marmalade is my choice, though anything works

1 egg beaten for egg wash

  • First, mix dough: cream the butter and cream cheese together until soft, add sugar, salt and vanilla.  Add flour and mix until just combined.  Scrape the dough (which will be quite sticky) into a large sheet of plastic wrap, pat into a round patty and then refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or even overnight.
  • Prep the ingredients by chopping the nuts and fruit (they can be mixed together), mixing together the brown sugar and the cinnamon in a little bowl and setting aside, and setting the jam out in a dish to warm to room temperature.
  • Remove the dough from the fridge and cut into even quarters.  Wrap two (or three) of the quarters in more plastic wrap and put them in the freezer for another day.  With one quarter, lay out a square sheet of plastic wrap and give it a moderate coating of flour, about 1/4 cup.  Press the quarter of dough into the flour and flip it over a few times to coat both sides with flour, and then place another sheet of plastic wrap over the top.  Roll the dough between the sheets of plastic wrap, occasionally lifting back the plastic (on both sides!!!) and adding spoonfulls of flour.  The goal here is to keep the dough from getting too sticky and stuck to the wrap, but not to flour the dough so heavily that you can’t see it.  It’s a gentle balance, but you’ll see as you go.  Take care to roll into as circular a shape as possible.
  • When the dough is rolled out to nine inches across, stop.  Remove top plastic wrap and coat the dough in half the jam, about 1/4 cup.  You don’t need much, but try and spread it out all over as best you can.  Into the jam press half the chopped walnuts and apricots.  Over that, sprinkle half the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.  Replace the plastic over the dough and gently roll it one more time, not to actually roll the dough out, but just to press the fillings in gently.  GENTLY!  If you’re too heavy-handed you’ll push the walnuts right through the dough.
  • Cut the dough, like pizza slices, first into quarters (making four big slices) and then each slice into thirds, making 12 even, skinny slices of pizza.  Gently, slide these away from the rest and roll them into croissants by starting at the wide end and rolling towards the tips.  Make them tight!  Transfer to a cookie sheet as you go.
  • When done, put the whole sheet into the fridge at let sit for 30 minutes.
  • Turn oven on to 350°, and while it’s heating brush each of the cookies with eggwash.
  • Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until the tops are very lightly browned.  It’s okay if the filling has oozed some, it happens.  In fact, some jams ooze a lot more than others, and its something you have to determine by trial and error.  The fig marmalade, for example, does not ooze, which is part of why I use it.  One time I used a raspberry jam that completely ran out and left the cookies empty.  True!  It was weird.
  • Remove to rack to cool, though they won’t really make it to cool, will they?
8 Posted in Make It So

Dinner

Posted by on Dec 5, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Mike the Viking: “What do you have planned for the day?”

me: “I was thinking about making something labor-intensive for dinner.”

Mike the Viking: “Meatloaf and lasagna! With mashed potatoes! And Swedish meatballs! And pancakes with sausages and scrambled eggs! And a waffle!”

10 Posted in True Story

Brussels Sprouts, Classified

Posted by on Dec 4, 2010 at 10:54 pm

Guess how I fucked up this time?  I’ll tell you: I didn’t take a photograph of the final product.  If that isn’t the most amateur baloney then I don’t know what is.  You want to know something else?  I do this all the time. Weekly, at least.  There must be a hundred meals now that I didn’t write about because I forgot to take a photo of the finished meal.

Anyway, here’s some brussels sprouts, but without a photograph of the end.  The trick, see, is to never achieve too much at one time.  I learned that with my report cards.  Get mostly Bs and then occasionally get an A and your parents will tell you how proud they are.  And they’ll mean it.

I like brussels sprouts, mostly because they are tiny cabbages and I love cabbage.   Also: “brussels sprout” !  The third time you write that it starts to seem totally insane and you’ll have to Google it to make sure that you aren’t having a stroke.

Most grocery store brussels sprouts need to be peeled down a few layers, which is a shame, but they tend to get beat up quite a bit, and if we’re being honest here, they have bugs.  It’s an agricultural product.  They grow outside.  Bugs live outside.  You’ll live.  The bugs are usually like teeny tiny little gray gnats, dead or otherwise incapacitated.  Sometimes I get batches with tons of the critters, sometimes none at all.

I think steamed brussels spouts are offensive.  I want mine pan-fried to a dark carmelized crust, and then slow-cooked in lots of flavor.  Never forget that you’re dealing with a big hunk of vegetable, which means that the outside sauce needs to be saltier (and sweeter) than you think is safe.  Later, when each bite is perfectly balanced, you’ll thank me.

Brussel Sprouts with Orange, Maple and Hazelnuts
this is an easily adjustable recipe – replace the orange with lemon, replace the hazelnuts with pinenuts, add a tiny pinch of rosemary and you’ve got a much more savory version of the same dish.

1 lb. fresh brussels sprouts, cleaned and halved
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 orange, 1 tsp. of zest and all the juice
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 Tbsp. very high quality balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped fine
1/2 – 1 tsp salt
pepper to taste

  • Prepare the brussels sprouts by cutting a little off the stems and peeling back a few leaves to get down to perfectly fresh, clean leaves.  If there are harmless, tiny (and probably dead) bugs present, peel down another layer.  If they’re down in the next layer too, toss the whole thing.  Cut each sprout in half (or into quarters if it’s huge).
  • In a large saute pan, heat the butter and oil over medium / medium-high.  You want some good heat coming off the pan because we’re going for color first.  Quickly lay in the sprouts, cut sides down, into the hot fat, being careful of your little fingie-wingies.  HOT FAT!  ← What I’m going to call my dance group.
  • Keeping an eye on them, brown the cut sides to a deep milk-chocolate color, about 5 – 7 minutes.  When they’re brown, flip everything around and keep sauteing, putting some color on the other sides as well.  Stirring (or flipping – you daredevil!) occasionally, cook for another 5 minutes.
  • To the hot pan, add all the remaining ingredients.  There will be a lot of fluid, but it will cook down and absorb into the sprouts.  Over lower heat, just enough to barely bubble, cook down the sprouts for as many as 20 minutes, occasionally adding some fluid (leftover broth, more fruit juice, anything tasty and light) if needed – it probably won’t be needed.  If you do, you were probably cooking them at too high a heat.  Not a big deal.
  • When they are done, the nuts will be soft, the sprouts will be dark and almost mushy but with a small core of firmness, and everything will be thick and delicious.  Taste by eating an entire sprout half, and then adjust salt and pepper as needed.
  • Nom nom.
14 Posted in Make It So

Hay Gurl

Posted by on Dec 4, 2010 at 10:45 am

Greetings to visitors making their way here from Bust – I should check my stats more often, because I’m two days behind.   Mary S. wrote the most thoughtful recommendation for Anger Burger that I’ve ever seen.  I feel like I got nominated for Homecoming Queen.  I imagine.  I mean, instead of being chased and threatened like I actually was.  TUMWATER HIGH FOR THE WIN!

Still: welcome!  Look at me!  Me me me!

10 Posted in Drama!

Weekly Salmon

Posted by on Dec 2, 2010 at 11:27 pm

Without fail, I do not document the things that I cook with regularity.  It’s a mental block I have.  Among others.  But keeping on the subject of things I forget to tell you about, can I just say I have one complaint about being a house-dweller for the first time in like 7 years?  SOLICITORS.  Holy shit, our house must have a flashing neon “SUCKERS” sign hanging over it.  Seriously, once a day, and everything from a random old man trying to sell the Viking parts for his karve to a man wanting to install solar panels (we actually asked him to come back with printed information so we could talk to the landlords about it, but he never returned).  We even got the 9am Jehovah’s Witnesses — whom I have a years-honed stash of insults for, but they were old Asian ladies and I couldn’t bring myself to be an asshole.  What?!  I know, but I was sleepy.  I’m sure they count on that.

Okay, so salmon and broccoli.  I don’t even know what else to call this, I make it so often.  “Weekly salmon.”  I like the sound of that.

This week I also made some simple kabocha squash since I had a half a squash going dry and weird in the fridge.  I follow Biggie’s instructions over at Lunch in a Box, and I love the way it turns out.

Rustic chunks¹ are sliced and thrown into a pan with some dashi, soy sauce, sugar and sake.  The pieces cook in about a half an hour and come out toothsome and lightly flavored.

Kabocha is one of the few squashes I enjoy – I actually have a textural issue with squash, which is nutballs since I basically eat anything that has the misfortune to venture in front of my face.  I like oven-roasted squash and I adore tempura-fried squash, but mashed or pureed or otherwise mushy squash makes my stomach flip.  And I like that Biggie leaves the skin on the kabocha, which when cooked strongly reminds me of the firm and edible skin around the bottom of a steamed artichoke.

Okay, enough of that foolery.  The main show: salmon.  I cut the salmon into large bite-size pieces and marinate it in what I call “sweet soy” which is a bottle of basically teriyaki sauce I make in large batches and keep in peanut-butter jars in the fridge.  I go through the sweet soy with alarming speed.  It’s handy, what can I say.  In fact, in Biggie’s kabocha squash recipe, I just pour in a big dollop of the sauce instead of putting the components in individually.

While the salmon is marinating I cook rice and chop up some fresh broccoli.  The broccoli is quickly fried in a small non-stick pan (everything will be cooked in this pan), and fried hard.  They’re pushed aside into my bowl I’ll eat from later (lazy dish usage is my middle name) (wait, that’s not impressive) and then the salmon and its marinade are dumped into the same pot to cook quickly.

I can make this all mindlessly, which for me increases its deliciousness exponentially.  I’ve come some way since my days of my ideal mindless meal of microwaved frozen burritos topped with BBQ sauce and sour cream.  Some way.

Weekly Salmon
in the same way that i keep emergency butter, i keep emergency salmon in my freezer.  i buy fatty, perfect belly steaks from the asian market in bulk because when salmon is too lean it is nearly impossible to cook well, like any meat.

6 oz. of salmon per person
8oz. broccoli per person (only florets will be eaten)
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1/3 C. sweet soy (recipe to follow)

rice to serve

  • Cut salmon into large bite-size pieces (two-bite size, really) and in a small bowl, marinate with the 1/3 C. sweet soy sauce.  Set aside in the fridge while you do other stuff.
  • Start the rice cooking and then cut your broccoli into bite-size pieces.  In a non-stick saute pan, heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat and then throw the broccoli in.  Watch out!  I’ll spit and pop.  Every minute give the broccoli a thorough toss to keep from over-browning one spot.  You want to really scorch those pieces without cooking the broccoli through, so high heat is your friend here.
  • When you have some serious color, pour the marinade from the salmon over the broccoli and let it cook for about 1 or two minutes, just enough to saturate the broccoli and to finish cooking it through.  It should still be crisp in the thick parts of the florets, but soft and nicely flavored with the soy in the flower parts.  Dump the broccoli into a bowl and then place the pot back on the heat.
  • Immediately dump in the salmon pieces and gently shake the pan to evenly cook them.  DO NOT OVERCOOK.  When the flesh in mostly opaque but you can still see some small bits of red on the pieces, turn the heat off.  The salmon will continue to cook, but those little pieces cook in literally maybe two or three minutes at most.
  • Serve the salmon and broccoli over rice, spooning over some of the sweet soy to moisten the rice.

Sweet Soy

1 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup sugar (brown is nice)
1/2 cup sake

  • Dump it all in a small saucepan and over medium-low heat, bring to a simmer.  Cook down for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until the liquid has visibly thickened.  Don’t boil it, you’ll cook the sugar too much.  Decant into a jar, let cool for about 10 minutes at room temperature, then refrigerate.  Will last for weeks.

¹ These are also known as “I Can’t Be Bothered by Knifework” pieces. But “rustic” is easier to type.

3 Posted in Make It So