BRIOCHE BURGER BUNS

I think I have had more fails than successes baking. But, this is one that turns out just right every time. Brioche burger buns can’t be beat…especially when you make them at home!

This recipe comes from Joshua Weissman and is really a brioche/Japanese milk bread hybrid. It starts with a kind of “water roux” called a Tangzhong. This step only takes a couple of minutes. Don’t Worry, it’s not some kind of starter that takes days and days of babysitting. You mix together flour, milk, and water and heat it in a small saucepan for about 2 minutes, whisking until it becomes a thick paste. Done. Just add it to the dough during the mixing process as described below.

Ingredients:

For the tangzhong:

  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp bread flour

For the dough:

  • 1/2 cup whole milk @ 95 degrees F
  • 1 tbsp Instant dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 3 tbsp softened unsalted butter
  • 1 egg with splash of milk
  • Melted unsalted butter

Directions:

  • Whisk together the 4 tbsp whole milk, 2 tbsp water, and 2 tbsp bread flour in a small saucepan. Place over medium ow heat and cook, whisking, until it thickens into a paste. Remove from the pan to a bowl and set aside.
  • Add 1 tbsp instant dry yeast to 1/2 cup whole milk @ 95 degrees F. Give a quick stir then let sit for about 8 minutes.
  • To the bowl of a stand mixer, add 2 1/2 cups bread four, 2 1/2 tbsp sugar, and 1 tsp fine sea salt. Mix with a dough hook until combined.
  • Add the warm milk and yeast and run for a few seconds just to get started. Then add the tangzhong paste. Then add 3 tbsp of softened unsalted butter 1 tbsp at a time. Run the mixer on medium low for 5-8 minutes, scraping down the sides if needed.
  • Remove the dough from the dough hook, it will be a little sticky. Fold it over itself a few times then form into a ball. Place in a large greased bowl. Cover with a wet tea towel and place in a warm spot for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until doubled in size.
  • Punch down the dough. Remove to a lightly floured surface and divided into about 6 (100g) balls. Fold each ball over onto itself a few times then smooth into a uniform ball making sure the bottom is sealed.
  • Place the balls seam side down on a greased parchment paper on a sheet pan. Cover the pan with another sheet pan or a sprayed piece of plastic wrap and let rise 1-2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Brush the dough balls with a mixture of egg with a splash of milk. Bake for 16-18 minutes until deep golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven a brush with melted butter. Let cool on a wire rack.

APPLE CRISP

So easy, so simple, and so good! Apple Crisp is a quick trip to apple pie tastes without messing with a crust.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, 1 inch dice
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold, 1/4 inch cubes
  • Pinch of Kosher salt

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Butter an 8×8 baking dish or spray with cooking spray.
  • In a mixing bowl, add the chopped apples, granulated sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and the lemon juice. Mix well. Place into the baking dish and spread out evenly.
  • In a separate bowl, add the brown sugar, oats, flour, 1 tsp cinnamon, salt, and cold butter cubes. Using a pastry cutter or 2 forks, cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles pea size crumbs. Spread topping over the apple mixture. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Let cool before serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

NEW YORK CHEESECAKE

I will get arguments and heated discussions here, but…a New York style cheesecake has more cream cheese than sour cream or cream and comes out denser than so-called “regular” cheesecake…that’s the difference. This has mostly cream cheese and just a little sour cream and a graham cracker crust. The famous Junior’s Cheesecake (which I have made on numerous occasions) has a thin sponge cake “crust” and typically no topping. I will give that a try again at a later date on this blog.

The topping I used is strawberry (recipe below), but any of your favorite toppings will do like blueberry or caramel.

Note: This is not light, fluffy, creamy little cheesecake…it’s got body…it’s a New York style cheesecake!

Ingredients:

For the graham cracker crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham crackers (1 sleeve)
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the cheesecake:

  • 4 (8 ounces) packages of full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs

For the strawberry topping:

  • 8 ounces of strawberries, fresh or frozen, stemmed and halved
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Using a food processor, pulse the graham crackers into crumbs, then add the sugar and melted butter and pulse again a few times. Press this mixture firmly into the bottom of a 9 or 10 inch spring form pan. Use the bottom of a 1/2 cup measuring cup to press the crumbs into the corners and up the side a bit. Try to make it as level and even as possible. Prebake for 8 minutes then remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
  • Place the pan on enough aluminum foil to wrap around the pan. Set aside.
  • Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer) fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the softened cream cheese and sugar at medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract, and lemon juice and beat until combined. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time and mix just until well combined. Avoid over mixing or the cheesecake may crack as it bakes.
  • Pour the batter into the springform pan a smooth with a rubber spatula until even.
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil. Place the foil wrapped springform pan in a roasting pan. Place the pan in the preheated oven on the middle rack and carefully pour the hot water into the roasting pan to a depth of about 1 inch up the side of the pan. Place in the oven and bake about 55-60 minutes until just beginning to brown on top. The cheesecake should still be a little wobbly when you shake the pan. Turn off the oven, open the door slightly, and let sit in the oven for 1 hour.
  • Remove from the oven. Remove from the pan and water bath, place on a wire rack and let the cheesecake cool to room temperature. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • Using a sharp, skinny paring knife, loosen the edges from the rim, then remove the rim.
  • Place the strawberries, reserving a few halves for garnish, in a small saucepan. Mix the cornstarch with 3 tbsp of water, add to the pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes while it thickens. Place in the refrigerator to cool. Using an immersion blender or regular blender, blend the strawberries until smooth. Store covered in the refrigerator.
  • Slice with the same skinny knife, wiping clean and dipping into warm water between cuts, and use a pie pointed pie server to remove slices.
  • Top with your favorite topping and serve. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

SAUSAGE GRAVY, BISCUITS, AND EGGS

Of course, the star of this is the sausage gravy. Recipes abound for this, traditionally Southern, breakfast…although, it’s not exclusive to the south at all anymore.

I really like to keep the gravy pretty basic: ground breakfast sausage (I use Jimmy Dean), butter, flour, and milk. I don’t add a lot of much else except a little salt, pepper, and a pinch of a couple spices (recipe below). There is also a tiny bit of my secret ingredient for my sausage gravy…and that’s a half teaspoon of chicken base (or bullion cube).

Admittedly, I cheated by using Pillsbury Grande Biscuits. But, when I want everything perfect, I make the biscuits from scratch. Maybe next time!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound ground pork breakfast sausage, like Jimmy Dean
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 chicken base or half a bullion cube
  • 1/4 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/4 tsp granulated onion
  • Pinch paprika
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1/4 or more of black pepper
  • Chopped chives or green onions

Directions:

  • Place a medium saucepan over medium low heat and add the ground sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Let it get browned and cooked until no longer pink. Remove from saucepan to a small bowl.
  • To the saucepan, add the butter then the flour and stir to cook for about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in 2 cups of the milk, hold back 1/2 cup in case it gets too thick, and bring to a simmer. Cook and let it thicken for about 2 minutes, whisking. Add the chicken base, granulated garlic, granulated onion, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt to taste, and black pepper. Lower the heat and let it cook another 3 minutes or so. Add more milk if it is too thick. Some people like it real thick, I prefer it to be a little loose. Taste and reseason if necessary, especially the pepper. Cover and keep warm until ready to use.
  • Slice the biscuits in half, lightly butter then brown on a griddle. Place the two halves on a plate, spoon on the gravy, then top with the egg(s). Garnish with chopped chives or green onions.

MINI AIRFRYER FRITTATAS

We love Frittatas. They are so open to customization with any omelet ingredients you like. These were made with salsa, grated sharp white cheddar, chopped deli ham, and chives. Even though this recipe utilizes the little frittata tins provided with the Power XL Pro air fryer, you can just as well make this recipe using small ramekins and a regular oven. If baking in an oven, cooking times with need to bee increased a bit since the airfryer required less cooking time with most recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp of your favorite salsa (we use Pace Chunky)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped deli ham
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives or green onions

Directions:

  • Note: we made these in our airfryer using a non-stick mini-frittata pan provided with the Power XL Pro. You can just as well use small ramekins in the airfryer or in the oven, just adjust cooking time for the regular oven, ie, increase to 8-10 minutes.
  • Preheat airfryer to 350 degrees. Spray the mini-frittata pan or ramekins with cooking spray.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper, add the salsa, and whisk again. Divide the egg mix evenly between 4 of the frittata tins or ramekins.
  • Sprinkle in the chopped ham, shredded cheddar, and chopped chives evenly over the frittatas. Add any other desired ingredients now as well.
  • When the airfryer has preheated, place the frittata pan or the ramekins on the center tack. Cook for 5-6 minutes making sure the eggs are set.
  • Remove from the tins and serve immediately and garnish with chives and cheese if desired.

SNICKERDOODLES

Snickerdoodles, or Cinnamon Sugar Cookies, are a year ’round favorite in this house. I just tend to only make them near the holidays. The addition of 2 tsp of Cream of Tartar make them a little little different than straight Sugar Cookies. They really spread when baking, so keep the portions small…I used a 1 tbsp scoop.

Historically, they have been around since the 1800’s. This recipe makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, softened (I used Crisco)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar plus 2 tbsp
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup pecans or walnuts, ground

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • To the bowl of your stand mixer, add the softened butter, softened shortening, sugar, and eggs. With the paddle, mix on low for about 2-3 minutes until it is nice and creamy.
  • In another bowl, combine the flour, Cream of Tartar, baking soda, and sea salt. Mix together well then add to the stand mixer ingredients. Mix until well combined, scraping down the sides once in a while, for 3-4 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon, 2 tbsp sugar, and ground nuts. Set aside.
  • Using a 1 tbsp scoop, scoop out the cookie dough and roll in the sugar, cinnamon, and nut mixture. Place on an ungreased baking sheet leaving at least 2 inches apart. Using a fork, press on the surface lightly to make ridges. Bake for about 8 – 9 minutes until just beginning to brown around the edges. Remove from the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool.
  • Serve slightly warm with a cold glass of milk.
  • When cool, store in a sealed container.

CARAMEL SALTED BROWNIES

These…are…thee…best…brownies…I’ve ever made!

I have tried countless recipes over the years. Countless scratch brownies recipes that ranged from pretty good to barely acceptable. And, this included the Betty Crocker and Duncan Hinds box mixes…which, by the way, we better than my scratch recipes!

This recipe topped them all. Not only does the mix use unsweetened baking chocolate AND 90% Cocoa Dark chocolate, it has a salted caramel topping that seals the deal. Butter instead of vegetable oil makes them nice and moist.

This is a “cake” brownie versus a heavy fudge brownie. But make no mistake, it is very decadent and rich.

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces of unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 2 ounces of dark chocolate
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
  • 1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 cups flour

For the salted caramel:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • Maldon sea salt for garnish

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8×8 baking dish then line the dish with parchment paper letting the paper hang over the sides.
  • Using a stainless steel bowl over a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring to combine. Remove from the heat and let cool about 10 minutes.
  • Whisk the sugar and eggs in a mixer bowl until pale in color, about `1 minutes. Add the vanilla, salt, and melted chocolate/butter mix and whisk until combined. Add the flour, whisking until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread out smooth.
  • bake about 35 minutes until the brownies are set and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack.
  • For the salted caramel, stir together the sugar, 1/2 cup water, and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Cook without stirring until it begins to boil and turns amber in color, about 10 minutes, Remove from the heat and immediately add the cream slowly, stirring constantly. Stir in the butter and salt and return to the medium heat. Simmer for 1 minute, allowing the caramel to thicken. Transfer to a bowl.
  • When the brownies are cool, lift them out of the the pan and place on a serving plate. Spoon some salted caramel on top. Cut into squares and garnish with flaking Maldon sea salt.

THE BEST BANANA BREAD

Loretta made the absolute best banana bread ever the other day!

After years of struggling to find the best combination of ingredients, she finally popped one out of the oven that had everything…most importantly, it was moist!

My wife hates to cook. We have a little sign in the kitchen that says, “I can cook…I just don’t” I do all the cooking in our little household, although recently I have cajoled her into doing one dinner per week, and, so far, she’s done a great job…with a little guidance from yours truly.

This Banana Bread recipe is lacking one thing that most others have, and that’s nuts. We just prefer to leave them out. I will included nuts as an option below.

Ingredients:

The bread:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas, about 2 large bananas
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup crushed walnuts or more to taste
  • Pinch of salt

For the Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 1 large egg
  • 4 ounces our cream, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp flour

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper cut large enough to hang over the sides. Spray with cooking spray.
  • For the bread part: In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer), add the egg, sugars, oil, sour cream, vanilla and mix with the paddle to combine for about 1 minutes scraping down the sides. Add the bananas to incorporate.
  • Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, crushed nuts if using), and salt and mix on low for 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides and mixing a bit more. Add about half of the mixture to the loaf pan.
  • For the filling: In a large bowl, add all the filling ingredients and whisk to combine or use a hand mixer.
  • Carefully pour the filling into the loaf pan down the middle of the batter, leaving a 1 inch border around the edge. Pour in the remainder of the batter and smooth with a rubber spatula.
  • Bake for about 40-50 minutes, checking with a tooth pick at 40 minutes, it should come out dry.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Lift out of the pan using the excess parchment paper and place on the rack to finish cooling.
  • Slice and serve with butter.

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE

There are a million recipes for shortcake. This is just the one that works well for me. It’s not really an Angel Food, but close. The cake comes out relatively dense, but that’s the way we like it. Buy the little, round sponge cake things if you don’t want to bake, I do that half the time…you know, the Twinkie sponge cake?

Be aware that the cooking times on this cake, depending on your oven and baking dish, can vary wildly. So, start checking with a toothpick at 30 minutes. And, it should finish golden brown on top.

The strawberries are simply macerated with a little sugar and lemon juice for at least 1 hour. If I had Cool Whip, I would have used that, but…since I didn’t, we broke out a little food processor that did the trick. A cup of cream, some sugar vanilla, and lemon zest works well.

Ingredients:

For the shortcake:

  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) softened butter
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup cream

For the strawberries:

  • 1 lb fresh strawberries, cored, 1/4 inch slice
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

For the whipped cream:

  • 1 1/2 cups cream
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon zest

Directions:

  • Slice the strawberries and place in a medium bowl with the sugar and the lemon juice. Mix well, place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the sugar and the softened butter. With the paddle, mix on a medium setting for abut 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to mix for another 3 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  • With the mixer running on low, add 1/2 cup of flour mixture, then 1/2 cup cream, then 1/2 cup flour mixture, then 1/2 cup milk, then the rest of the flour mixture. Let it mix for about 3 minutes.
  • Butter a 9×9 baking dish. Place the batter in the bowl and smooth the top. Bake for about 30 minutes then start checking with a toothpick. Bake until the toothpick comes out clean and the top of the cake is golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for 30 minutes.
  • Place the stand mixer bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes. Remove from freezer and add the cream, sugar, and lemon zest. Wish the whip attached, whip the cream to a desired consistency. Look for soft peaks. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Cut the cake into 9 equal portions. To serve, slice each portion across the middle then layer with whipped cream and strawberries as desired.