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    Entries in decision impaired (4)

    Thursday
    May142015

    Mayhem: Now math-free!

    NO. MORE. MATH.

    Well, at least, no more calculus. Well, no more calculus that I have to do by hand with no reference material, and sometimes not even a calculator. From now on, it’s just the everyday calculus we all do in our heads without even realizing it. No, really, you do! Every time you…

    For fuck’s sake.

    NO.

    MORE.

    MATH.

    What there will be more of though is every starving student’s favourite meal (and the only reason we join clubs that meet after class around dinner time):

    PIZZA!

    But, of course, since this is Mayhem, we’re not doing the usual. Well, not yet. We just have to start off weird here because, well, that’s what we are.

    Biscuits and Gravy, Pizza Style

    Yup, I’m serious. Biscuits and gravy in a pizza.

    I had no plans to do this wacky (and omfg tasty) mashup, but then I saw Taneasha’s first post and dude, it was on. It was mother fucking on. (ha! I made it 160 words before a fuck. Go me!)

    The crust is basically just half a biscuit recipe, with only 1 tsp of baking powder.

    The Crust

    • 1 c flour
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 2 tbsp butter, cold
    • 6 tbsp milk (give or take)

    Stir the flour, salt and baking powder together in a bowl.

    Cut the butter into the flour (otherwise known as ‘mash it in with a fork’) until there are no more big chunks.

    Gradually add the milk one tablespoon at a time, stirring as you go, until the crumbly mass starts to come together into something dough-like. If you need more than 6, keep going, but if 6 is too much, you can make it less sticky by adding a tablespoon of flour.

    Dump it out onto the counter and press it into a ball, disc, thing.

    Roll that out into an amoebic shape that is nothing at all like Taneasha’s fucking perfect, round circle of crust. Holy shit woman.

    Poke it a bunch of times with a fork – really, it’s only fun for the first few times, but you’ll manage – then … dammit, oven’s not hot. Preheat the oven now while you cook the sausage. Totally planned it that way.

    Sausage Gravy

    • 2 big sausages, of whatever kind you like (mine are Andouille, made in store, and a bit spicy, but whatever kind you want or have will work)
    • 1 tbsp bacon fat
    • 2 tbsp flour
    • Salt and pepper
    • ½ tsp garlic powder
    • 1.5 to 2 cups milk
    • Fresh thyme leaves

    Remove the sausage from the casings, crumble it, and fry it up over medium heat until it’s got yummy crispy little golden bits in it. I recommend doing this in a pan that is not non-stick. You want the stuff that’s stuck to the pan. It’s tasty, and it will come up off the bottom after a couple more steps.

    Your oven should be hot by now, so pop in the biscuit crust and bake it at 425 F for exactly 4 minutes. Hey man, she did it first.

    Once it’s done, take it out and let it hang out for a bit while you finish the gravy. Also, turn up the heat on the oven as high as it will go: mine went up to 525 F.

    Remove the sausage from the pan, leaving as many of the drippings behind as possible. Reduce the heat to medium low, and since sausage never leaves enough drippings, add the bacon fat. Once it’s melted, stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Whisk this around in the pan for a minute or so.

    With a whisk in one hand and the milk in the other, slowly pour milk into the pan while you’re whisking. The brown bits from the bottom of the pan will be whisked in, and the gravy will immediately thicken. Just keep stirring. And keep slowly adding milk until you have a very thick gravy, almost custard or pudding consistency; this should take about 1 cup.  And then add the thyme leaves.

    Blob a few tablespoons of gravy onto the crust, spread them around, all the way out to the edges. You should still have lots of gravy left in the pan. This is a good thing.

    Toppings

    • Crumbled sausage
    • Crumbled bacon
    • 1 to 1 ½ cups shredded cheese: cheddar or a cheddar – jack mixture
    • Green onion
    • Thyme leaves

    Spread your sausage and bacon on top of the gravied crust, then top with cheese.

    You can put the green onions and thyme on now if you’d like, but I left mine off so I’d have a bit of sharp fresh flavour on top of the creamy cheesey sausagey biscuitness.

    Bake in the hottest oven possible until the cheese is melty and bubbly, and the edge of the crust is golden.

    While it’s baking, pour the rest of the sausage into the gravy and gradually add the rest of the milk until you have a nice gravy consistency. This gravy, you can use for dipping your pizza into, or for spreading on top of the pizza.

    Once it’s out, decorate it with the onion and thyme (if you haven’t already) and serve with gravy!

    Holy crap.

    Why didn’t I think of this sooner??

    Oh, right. FUCKING MATH.

     

    Saturday
    Jul192014

    Chocolate Biscotti

    I don’t usually like really crunchy cookies. Why did I make biscotti then?

    Well, I’ve also been looking for cookie recipes that start with something other than “cream the butter and sugar then beat in the eggs and vanilla”.

    Plus, apparently the rock hard biscotti that we typically find at coffee shops (that I find too hard to bother with) are a lot harder than they should be. One of the managers at work is an old world Italian dude and he said that these cookies, which are crunchy but still bite-able, are what biscotti are supposed to be. When you dip them in coffee they don’t fall apart, but you can also bite them without first having to soften them in espresso, or amaretto. Or espresso with amaretto in it.

     

    What you need

    **I made a double batch and used twice the amount of everything so the pics look a little different**

    • ½ cup pine nuts or slivered almonds or hazlenuts or maybe pistachios?
    • 1 ½  cups flour  (you can substitute up to 1 cup of flour with almond flour)
    • ¾ cups sugar
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • ¼  teaspoon salt
    • ¼  cup cocoa
    • 2 tbsp cold butter, cut into little pieces (don’t bother with butter if you use almond flour)
    • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon Amaretto
    • 1 teaspoon Amaretto
    • ¾ cups chocolate chips

    What you gotta do

    I like toasty nuts. So, first thing I’m going to do is put the pine nuts in a dry pan over medium low.

    While those get toasty, start measuring the dry stuff into a big bowl. Don’t forget to shake the pan from time to time so that the nuts get toasty on all sides.

    Flour. Shake the pan. Sugar. Shake the pan. Baking powder and salt. Shake the pan.

    Sift the cocoa into the bowl to make sure all the little cocoa lumps get busted up.

    Shake the pan. Once the pine nuts are nice and golden toasty, set them aside to cool.

    Mix all the dry stuff together and then cut in the butter. Biscotti are traditionally made with ground almonds in there along with the flour, and no fat (butter, sweet, creamery butter), but since I’m not using the almonds, I need fat (butter, sweet, creamery butter).

    Cutting in the butter can be done with a pastry cutter, or forks, or knives. It’s the same thing you do when you’re making biscuits.

    In another bowl crack the eggs and add the Amaretto and the vanilla. And the Amaretto.

    Beat the eggs and Amaretto and vanilla and Amaretto together.

    Okay, so you know how when you make muffins, you toss the blueberries in a bit of flour to make sure they stick to the muffin batter? Along those lines… dump the chocolate chips and the cooled pine nuts into the egg mixture, and then pour it into the dry stuff.

    Wait. Preheat the oven now to 350.

    Since what we’re doing here is making a pastry type dough, we don’t want to mix it too much, since that makes gluten form and toughens the cookies. No one likes tough cookies. Mix just until things are starting to hold together and then dump it onto the counter in a big mess that’s half wet and sticky and half dry and crumbly. This is the same thing we did with the Welsh Cakes and you trusted me then, right? Right? Amaretto.

    Gently press the dry stuff into the sticky parts, and fold them over. Keep folding and pressing (while avoiding the urge to “knead” the dough) until it all comes together.

    Sorry about the perspective on those pics, but my hands were kinda messy.

    **I made a double recipe and cut my dough into 6. If you're just making a single, cut into 3.**

    Once the dough has come together, cut it into 6 wedges.

    Roll each wedge into a log about 8 or 9 inches long and press it into an oval that’s about 2 inches wide.

    If your dough is still really sticky (Amaretto), use cocoa, not flour on the counter.

    My dough was really sticky and I ended up with a lot of cocoa on the logs, so I brushed them with a bit of Amaretto. You could also brush them with beaten egg if you want a glossy look on the top.

    Bake the logs for 25 minutes, then set them on a rack to cool. My tiny one-room-sized air conditioner is in the bedroom. So I had the fan help them along with the whole cooling thing.

    Slice the logs into ½ to 1 inch thick slices on the diagonal. You should get a dozen or so from each log. And yes, you could stop here and just call these things cookies, but you couldn't call them "biscotti". Biscotti get their name from being twice baked (bi = two, cotte = cooked, that is your Latin lesson for the day).

    Now, you could evenly spread them out nicely so that air circulates around them, but fuck air space. I just got 6 dozen cookies on one baking sheet.

    I saw one site that suggested standing the slices up on edge but whoever wrote that obviously did not use Amaretto. Or bake them that way because seriously, wtf? Stand ½ inch thick slices of cookie on edge? Try it. Tell me if it works. Pics or it didn’t happen.

    Amaretto.

    Oh, and you know all of those little crumbly bits left on the cutting board?

    Whatever you do, don’t put them in a bowl, pour Amaretto over top and eat them like cereal. No pics. Didn’t happen.