Because pretzel crumbs can make anything taste better. We substituted pretzel crumbs for the masa in our latest version of fried chicken. We served this with a cherry pepper caramel (cherry peppers were pureed with their brine and then added to caramelized sugar) for dipping, and doughnut bread pudding.
I'm on a pickling kick and today I came across another bounty of organic cucumbers. I brought a bunch of them home and Alex immediately got excited about doing a classic dill pickle with vinegar, sugar, salt, jalapeno, garlic, and spices. Of course I had my heart set on traditional NYC style half-sours, which are fermented in a seasoned brine with garlic, dill seeds, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Both styles produce great pickles and the hardest part becomes deciding which ones to make. Sometimes great minds don't always think alike.
Today the path led back to bacon and mushrooms. We have wrapped cured meats around mushrooms before. When I saw a tight nest of pioppini mushrooms I immediately saw a filet mignon. And that led to me wanting to wrap the mushrooms in bacon, like the classic bacon wrapped filet.
I ended up cutting the mushroom cluster into quarters and wrapping the pieces in strips of bacon. I tied the bacon in place. As I was putting the bacon wrapped mushrooms into a roasting pan I came across some king trumpet mushrooms. I added them to the pan along with garlic cloves. The trumpets seemed blank. Looking at the combinations in the pan I reached for oil packed anchovies. I topped the trumpets with the anchovies and drizzled olive oil over them and the garlic.
I roasted the mushrooms for 45 minutes in a 350°F oven. The fat rendered and basted the mushrooms. The anchovies broke down and coated the mushrooms. The garlic cloves caramelized and softened. The bacon cooked but did not brown. Strangely bacon with this texture is really addictive. The meat and fat blend together. The meat itself is not overly salty. It has a rich tenderness, reminiscent of pork belly. Of course it is pork belly.
When the mushrooms were cooked I removed them from the pan and added Minus 8 vinegar to the fat and fond. I smashed the remaining and anchovies into the oil and vinegar. I spooned the warm vinaigrette over the mushrooms. It was delicious.
Occasionally an ingredient is so good it asks politely to be left alone. The difficulty is listening. We have the ability to do almost anything with and to an ingredient. Implementing restraint, doing absolutely nothing except enjoying the sun warmed berries feels like cheating. It is amazing, how as a cook, we feel guiltly by doing nothing. In the case of these strawberries if we did anything but eat them we would have done them a disservice. Tomorrow, if there are any left, we can explore possibilities about the next steps. For now I need a napkin.
We continue to search for delicious uses for doughnut spare parts. Today I took the trimmings from our marble doughnuts and made a marble loaf. Kinda ironic. I sprayed the inside of a large bundt pan with pan release and dusted it with sugar. I rolled the trimmings into a giant log, and then set it inside the pan. I covered the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for an hour while I preheated the oven to 350°F with convection. When the dough had roughly doubled in size, I dusted the top with granulated sugar, and baked the bundt for 1 hour, until the internal temperature was 195°F. I let the bundt cool for 15 minutes in the pan and then turned it out onto a cooling rack.
I left the house to run errands and remove myself from the temptation of cutting into the hot cake. When I returned home I sliced into the caramelized exterior. The inside was light, moist, and scented with butter, yeast, vanilla, and chocolate.
The cake-bread was amazing. It was one of the most delicious slices of anything I have ever tasted. I savored each tender, just sweet heavenly rich bite.
And then reality kicked in. I can make one of these a week in our world of doughnuts. What can I do with this weekly treasure? There is only so much I can eat. Is there a way to sell these bundts? Are other people going to be as excited as I am to get a hold of this special treat? I believe they will. Now how to connect with the lucky few?
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