Thursday, July 12, 2012

Recipes - Kolbasniky (Real Pigs-In-A-Blanket)

Author's Note: My mother's entire family is from Minnesota (pronounced "Min-eh-Soda" and always with strong sing-song accent).  With its large population of East-German, not the former country-that's spelled with a "y," and Polish immigrants, the Minnesotan baking scene is an explosion of rich yeast breads, subtly flavored pastries, and of course "filled doughs."  Although we may not have been living in the "moderland," growing up Mom always made sure that we plenty of homemade pastries and coffee cakes on the weekend. 

Now most people have encountered kolaches at the local supermarket, you probably called them "danishes."   A close, savory cousin to the kolache, the kolbasniky has unfortunately been relegated to specialty food shoppes in areas with a large Polish population.  It's basically a dinner roll stuffed with meat, cheese, or both.  Of course like most American's, mom always called her kolbasniky "pigs-in-a-blanket."

This version takes the idea of a sausage stuffed roll to entirely different level; replacing the smoked sausage with a rich filling of sausage, bacon, chevre, and fig preserves.  On a rainy Sunday morning, they are the ideal accompaniment to warm cinnamon scones.

Kolbasniky, a savory cousin to the kolach
For the Dough:
-1 cup stout beer
-3 Tbs. granulated sugar
-0.75 ounces bread machine/ active dry yeast
-1 cup whole milk
-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-1 Tbs. kosher salt
-1/2 cup clover honey
-8-9 cups all-purpose flour (more if necessary)
-1 egg white lightly beaten

For the Filling:
-1 large white onion, finely diced
-3 cloves garlic, finely diced
-1 lb. Italian sausage, not in casings
-1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
-4 oz. Chevre
-4 oz. Parmesan cheese
-1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
-6 oz. fig preserves
-4 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
-salt and pepper to taste

Egg Wash:
-2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
-1 Tbs. water

For the Dough:
Heat the stout beer in the microwave on high for 45 seconds.  Add the four tablespoons of sugar, and stir until it has fully dissolved into the beer.  Add the yeast and stir vigorously.  Allow the yeast mixture to stand for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  *if the yeast is fresh, it should rapidly produce thick foam on top of the beer

In a small pan, heat the milk over medium heat.  Add the oil, honey, salt; stirring frequently until the butter has melted.  Carefully, pour the milk mixture into small bowl; allow to rest until the temperature reaches luke-warm. *place the mixture in the fridge hasten the cooling process

In a large bowl, combine the flour with the beer and yeast mixture; lightly with your hands.  Add the eggs and continue mixing until everything is well incorporated and well mixed.  Add the milk mixture to the flour mass and knead until the dough is springy, smooth, and elastic.  If the dough is “crumbly,” add water a tablespoon at a time.  If the dough is sticky and won’t form a ball, add some flour.  Don’t worry about these additions; the final product is a result of the natural gluten proteins found in the flour.  This variable can fluctuate from brand to brand (I always King Arthur brand for my breads).

Grease a non-reactive (glass or ceramic) bowl with non-stick cooking spray, and place the dough ball inside.  Heat the oven to 400 degrees for 2 minutes; no more, no less.  Place the dough into the oven, and allow it rise until it has doubled in bulk (approximately 90 minutes).

The dough, pre-rise
The dough, post-rise
Once the dough has risen, lightly flour a bread board (not a cutting board used for things like meat, onions, or garlic) or your kitchen counter, roll out the to make a large rectangle approximately 1/4 inch thick.

Once rolled, use a 2 inch diameter biscuit/ circular cookie cutter to cut rounds out of the dough.  Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.

After the dough has rested, take a round of the dough and stretch it until almost doubled in diameter.  Place a large tablespoon sized portion of the filling (see following instructions) into the center of each round.  Fold one half of the round over to make semi-circle.  Crimp the exposed edges of the round together.  The "roll" should not resemble an empanada.  Carefully, tuck the corners of the semi-circle under the crimped seams.  The dough should now resemble a dinner roll, with a smooth top and the seam secured underneath. 

Place the finished roll on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Repeat process until the filling, dough, or both are gone.

Brush the roles with ice water and allow to rise in the oven, approximately 60-90 minutes.

Heat the oven to 425.

Bake the rolls in the preheated oven at 425 for 10 minutes. 

At 10 minutes, immediately cut off the oven and remove the rolls from the oven.  Brush with the egg wash, and return to the oven.  Bake at 375 for 10-12 more minutes until golden brown.

Serve warm.

For the Filling:
Using 2-3 Tbs. olive oil, saute the onion for approximately 5-6 minutes over medium high heat.  Add the garlic and continue to saute for 2 more minutes.  Add the sausage, and continue to cook until thoroughly browned.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  Add the bacon, bread crumbs, cheese, fig preserves, vinegar, and the red pepper flakes. Taste.  Adjust salt and pepper.

Use as a filling for the Kolbasniky or smear it on crusty bread for an interesting take on tapas.   

Eat good food.  Drink good beer.  And above all, stay classy!

Recipe - Cinnamon and Honey Scones

The perfect complement for a Sunday brunch.  Light, flaky, and "cinnamon-y;" it's just good.  When preparing these, keep in mind they are essentially biscuits.  So to achieve a light flaky texture make sure everything is as cold as possible.  I even roll/ shape mine on a frozen sheet pan.

This batch was prepared last week for an amazing Independence Day brunch hosted by good friends B&R.  Thanks again guys, I had a blast!

Cinnamon and Honey Scones

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups + 4 Tbs. cake flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
2 Tbs. cinnamon (plus extra for topping)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup + 1 Tbs. butter (diced and ice-cold)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup honey
1 egg yolk
1 Tbs. water
Turbinado sugar


Preheat the oven to 425.

Combine the AP flour, cake flour, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Whisk the mixture several times to ensure everything is evenly distributed.

Break up the diced and "ice-cold" butter (I leave mine in the freezer for five minutes before I incorporate it) into the flour mixture.  Working quickly,  push the butter lumps between your thumb and forefinger in a "snapping" motion, while remaining submerged in the flour mixture.  Continue this procedure until the mixture resembles uniform, small gravel.

In a separate bowl combine the eggs, buttermilk, and honey.

Combine the egg-mixture with the flour and butter.  Lightly knead the dough just until everything is uniform.

Sprinkle a small amount of flour onto a frozen sheet pan, and gently push the dough by hand until it resembles at rectangle approximately 1/3 inch thick.  Either cut the traditional triangles into your dough, or (as in my case) use a circular biscuit cutter to cut the dough into individual portions.

Note-if using the biscuit cutter, you will have leftover dough after the initial cutting operation.  Simply reshape the scraps into a similarly uniform rectangle and re-cut.

Place the cut scones onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Combine the egg yolk and water.  Brush the surface of the scones with the egg mixture, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar and additional cinnamon.

Bake for approximately 14-15 minutes or until the scones are lightly brown and set (there should not be too much jiggling, but they will harden as they cool)

Eat good food.  Drink good beer.  And above all, stay classy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Random Food Photo - Bacon, Chevre, Fig, and White Truffle Oil Pizza

Bacon, Chevre, Fig, and White Truffle Oil Pizza
In the past, I've written about what has to be one of the most unique, yet addictive, pizza combos on the planet--the Pancetta, Fig Compote, Chevre, and White Truffle Oil pie from Osteria Marco in Denver, CO (see the posting titled "You got your fig on my pizza! You got your pizza on my fig" for details). 

It's so addictive, I turned it into an appetizer and a panini, but until now the pizza has alluded me. My crust was always too soggy, burnt, or lacking any depth of flavor; and it simply wasn't a suitable vehicle for anything except maybe the frozen mass produced toppings adorning the pizzas from the big carry out chains.  But after purchasing my first bread/ pizza stone a few weeks ago, I have now conquered the pie. 

The above image is from the specialty pie that I made last week for patrons of the Saturday Beer Dinners at the Nook Tavern in Huntsville, AL.  Featured here is my "signature" beer bread dough, with applewood smoked bacon, aged chevre, Jack Daniels turkey fig compote, and drizzled with white truffle oil. 

Of the four pies I made, I probably ate an entire one. 

Eat good food.  Drink good beer.  And above all, stay classy!

New Food Wednesday - July 11, 2012

Photo courtesy of

No these aren't some funky ravioli or thinly sliced exotic fruits...

Find out what these could be after the jump!