Thursday, September 7, 2017

What To Do With The Stuff In *That* Drawer

Standard American refrigerators have many shelves and compartments and drawers.  Because we like keeping our milk separate from our apples and our soy sauce separate from our blue cheese crumbles.

Fair enough.

My refrigerator has this small drawer positioned just underneath the top shelf (where I keep the milks, the Gatorades, and the wines/beers).  This little tucked-away compartment is labeled "Fresh-Lok Meat Keeper".

Two things. I don't like how they spelled Lock.  You're insulting my intelligence, Frigidaire.
And, I keep everything BUT meat in that drawer.  At present, there's a bunch of string cheese, a huge knob of fresh ginger, a bag of shredded mozzarella, a wrapped stack of Havarti cheese, a tub of blue cheese crumbles...

It would appear we adore cheese more than meat in this household.  Excellent.

All right, all right, there was a package of Black Forest ham in that drawer as well.  But, tonight was the night to clean out the Fresh-Lok...and here's how it went down.

Had some of these sitting around.  You know, for nights like tonight.  No sweat if you don't have King's.  Any rolls that are packaged in a bready rectangle like this will work.

With your very bestest serrated bread knife, slice the entire rectangle of rolls in half...lengthwise.

Like this.

Don't pull or cut the rolls apart.  Don't do it.  They don't want to be separated from each other right now.

This is where I used some of that leftover Havarti cheese.  Layer #1.  Cheese.  You got Kraft singles, use those.  You got blue cheese crumbles, use those.  Your leftovers, your rules.

That Black Forest Ham?  Right here.  Layer #2.  Condiments of my choice: stone-ground mustard and mayo.  Layer #3.  The rest of the Havarti. Layer #4.  The top of the rolls (still together in one, great, satisfying, family-like rectangle).  Layer #5.

Hopefully, you're beginning to see the brilliance of this dish.  You can put whatever you want in for these layers.  What. Ever. You. Want.

Pulled pork and ranch dressing? Do it.  Roasted tomatoes and spinach?  Knock yourself out.  Shredded chicken and apple butter and blue cheese crumbles?  Invite me over right now.

If I had to create boundaries for you on this, you have got to have cheese and a condiment at the very least.  Otherwise, the only one in your way is you (well, and maybe your kids, spouse, and/or dog, if they're picky eaters and don't like weird combinations).

At this point, there is nothing to stop you from cutting into this mega-sandwich right now.  After all,  you're looking at a ginormous ham and cheese sandwich.  And there are no judgments here if you decide: this is it, kids - get your faces to the table - dinner is ready.

But...stay with me here for another moment.  Say you lift this entire rectangle of meaty, cheesy goodness into a baking pan.  Then, you brush some melted butter (or, spray some Pam, it's cool) on the top of the rolls, cover it with aluminum foil, and slide it into a preheated 350℉ oven for 30 or so minutes?

Way better.  Way, waaaaay better.  Throw some chips or salad or fruit or blue cheese crumbles at the fam to round out the meal, and you will practically be considered a hero.

Trust.  That Fresh-Lok drawer is about to become a Fresh-Rok drawer, folks!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Not-Really-Random French Things In The Freezer

I am going to say it right now.

I have a terrible memory.  Really.  My dad, on the other hand, says he can remember things happening around him when he was a toddler.  He's the one we always ask stuff like: Remember that time we went to Yellowstone?  What year was that?  And who was it that puked and had diarrhea all the way home (answer: That was your brother.)?

Good old Dad.  Remembers everything.  Mostly.

I don't need or 23AndMe to know that I didn't inherit that gene from him.

Recently, I found a wrapped circle of dough in my freezer that I'd labeled "Pâte Sucrée".  Okay, cool, right?  Because it's Labor Day weekend and I actually have time to do something with it.  The funny thing, though?  I'd dated the dough disk August 12, 2017.  Roughly three weeks ago, then, I'd made two batches of the sweet dough, used one for something, and froze the other half (unearthed today).

But I could NOT remember what I had used that other dough for.  What pie or tart or pastry had I created recently?  This was discouraging, seeing as I don't often do sweets like this, that I couldn't remember.  And I should have been able to.

Asking my Dad, the human elephant, would obviously NOT going to do any good in this case.  Because, a.) I'd never informed him of my first paté sucrée adventure and b.) he wouldn't know what paté sucrée was anyhow.

That, my friends, is the real point of today's blog post.  PÂTE.

If you see that word I just wrote, and it looks like this: pâté (with the carat over the a and the accent mark over the e), then that's the meaty, liver-y spread uber-rich people like to put on their toast points (or, at least they did in the 80s TV series Dynasty).  But - if you see it like this: pâte (without the accent mark over the e), then we're talking about a tart-friendly dough.

Pâte Sucrée - a sugar-heavy dough.  Would be good for fruit pizza or other desserts where a dense, cookie-like pastry base is desirable.

Pâte Brisée - the same kind of dough as PS, but with less sugar.  Would be good for savory tarts, meat dishes, etc.

Because these doughs (esp. Pâte Sucrée) are higher in sugar and fat than a regular pie crust, they're delicate.  We're talking about chill times between handlings here, because they'll tear easily.  Which will make you tear easily. 

So I find this random pâte sucrée in my freezer (although, is it random if I put it in the freezer in the first place?), and I'm wondering how can I celebrate Labor Day with it?

By making a hot mess like this.  A Chocolate-Peanut Butter Tart.  Why not?  End of summer, y'all.

I made changes.  I always do.  I have some things called for in the recipe, and others, I don't.  This is what chefs do.  We modify.

That bottom layer is the pâte sucrée, rolled out and prebaked.  On top of that, a cream cheese-peanut butter-whipped cream layer, followed by a rich chocolate ganache, and a lame attempt at a peanut butter drizzle that ends up looking like a damned Rorschach test (I see a giraffe, how about you?).

Super-rich, it is.

Pâte Sucrée.  Pa - tay soo - cray.

Those French and their odd pronunciation marks and such.

I doubt they worry about forgetting desserts.  They worry about what wine they'll drink with it.

Happy Labor Day, Americans, and welcome to September!