February 3, 2014
Well. As is so often the case, the Super Bowl was much ado about not very much. The Seahawks put a significant ass-whippin’ on the Broncos, for whom I was cheering by virtue of the fact they are quarterbacked by one Peyton Manning, who did some of his finest passing while wearing the orange of a Tennessee Volunteer.
Sigh. It was fun while it lasted. Congrats, Seattle. You people play better football than you make coffee. Just sayin’.
If the game was mediocre, the munchies certainly were not. Didn’t have a big crowd, just three of us, so I stayed simple, with some standards. A rye calzone, with a filling of pastrami and cheese; beer candied bacon; potatoes with sour cream and caviar. And Hello Dolly bars.
I have made the rye calzone before, and gone to some lengths to pretty it up. That involves spreading all the goodies down the middle of the dough, cutting the two side portions in strips, and doing a basket weave thing. This time, as the dough was ready to work about the time I was ready to eat brunch, I just flipped the sides over the center and let ’em meet in the middle. Thus it was more like a calzone, and for what it’s worth, I’d do it with two separate pieces of dough and a distinct top and bottom next time, like a classic calzone.
The bread was a riff on a recipe from the Breadmaker’s Apprentice, for Jewish onion rye. I made a sponge of a cup of all-purpose flour, a tablespoon of sugar, a cup of warm water, and a packet of yeast. Let that work away for about an hour, and added:
- 2 cups of rye flour
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp caraway seed
- 1 egg
Dumped all that in the mixing bowl, and turns Ms. Scarlett loose on it. After some significant mixing and kneading, I transferred it over to an oiled bowl to rise on the back of the stove.
Once it doubled, I lined a big cookie sheet with parchment paper, and used my hands to press the dough into a rectangle, probably something like 12 x 15. It was something less than an inch thick when I got through. Then I painted a broad strip of spicy brown mustard down the center of it.
Atop the mustard, I layered the better part of a pound of pastrami, and topped that with alternating slices of butterkase and provolone cheese. Lapped the sides up over the center, pinched the seam shut, and put it back to rise again. Put in a 350-degree oven for 40 minutes, and it was a marvelous sandwich waiting to be hacked up into pieces.
In these proportions, the calzone will serve six, if they’re hungry, 12 if you’ve got a ton more food. Like beer-candied bacon and potatoes with sour cream and caviar.
Beer candied bacon is a marvelous thing. A simple thing. Mildly time/labor intensive, but not bad. Mix a cup of brown sugar and a cup of beer. Line a baking sheet with foil — do NOT skip this step — and put a rack on top of it. Cover the rack with bacon, and put it in the oven for 10 minutes at 375.
Take it out, paint it with the beer/sugar glaze, and put it back for another 10. Flip it, paint that side (be generous with your glaze, here) and stick it back for another 10. Flip and paint it one more time, and check it after five minutes; it may want to go 10, and it may not.Let it cool a bit, then move it around to a different spot on the rack so it won’t stick.
This is pork crack, right here. It’ll hurt you, it’s so good.
Potatoes — cut tiny fingerling or new potatoes in half. Boil them in salted water until they’re tender, and drain them. Top with a schmear of sour cream or creme fraiche or Greek yogurt, and top that with caviar. Hard to beat.
The Hello Dolly bars are a serious throwback to the 80s, and I updated to make them gluten free. The original version is built on a bottom layer of graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter; I used Rice Chex crumbs, sugar and butter.
Mix together 2 cups Rice Chex crumbs, a cup of brown sugar, and a stick of butter, melted. Press that into the bottom of a 9 x 13 greased baking dish. Over that, sprinkle 6 ounces of chocolate chips and 6 ounces of butterscotch chips. Or white chocolate, or peanut butter, or whatever chip trips your trigger. Add some pecans on top of the chips, and drizzle a can of condensed milk over the whole thing. Sprinkle some flaked coconut over the top, and you’re ready to go. Bake it at 325 for about 30 minutes.
Do not forget to grease the pan. I had an issue with this.
The Rice Chex crust doesn’t bind together as well as the graham cracker crust does, for whatever reason. So bear that in mind.
This is a really simple, what’s-not-to-like dessert, one in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s gooey and sweet and crunchy and rich and you can feel it adding pounds to your weight and inches to your butt. It’s everything a dessert should be — as long as it’s not very often.
It was, all in all, a most excellent Super Bowl munchy spread, much better than the game deserved. And now it’s snowing, so we’ll see whether we’re back on the road or whether we’re home eating leftovers on Monday.
Hope you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em were at least pulling for the Seahawks.
UPDATE: It is now Monday. It appears things are thawing up to the extent I can leave by noon, which means I will miss my 1 p.m. meeting but hopefully make my 4 p.m. one. You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em say a prayer for safe travels, ok?