Saturday, March 23, 2013

Hipster Grilled Cheese [Zack]

Grilled cheese: white bread + American cheese? How predictable.

You should know about real grilled cheese. You should source the best local ingredients possible. Not some big hoyty-toyty supermarket garbage. That's why you need to use ingredients most people haven't heard of.

Real grilled cheese should be constructed with:
  • multigrain wheat bread (from the best bakery in town)
  • Chimay cheese (made by the Trappist Beer monks in Belgium)
  • 2 types of bacon (2 different types of smoked bacon from the Ardennese mountains)
  • local honey (found near Brussels on a bike ride - unfortunately I wasn't on my fixed gear)
You'll fry up the bread in some French butter (not local, but it's FRANCE), and then cut the sandwich into ironic mustaches. Serve with a heirloom tomato soup with a spoonful of homemade pesto in it.

You're welcome,
Hipster Zack


Organize your ingredients.

Fry up the bacon on low heat by starting it in a cold pan.  Cook, turning when the fat starts rendering to brown and crisp it evenly.

Slice your Chimay cheese into circles about 1/4 an inch thick.  Put one layer of cheese down on the bread, add the 2 types of bacon on top.

Add one more layer of cheese (because we're making grilled cheese!), and then drizzle 1T of honey on top.  

Press the top layer of bread down, and start a pad of butter in a pan over medium heat.  Brown both sides of the sandwich in the pan.

Remove the grilled cheese from the pan and grab your Crustache Sandwich Cutter and press it down firmly to cut your bread into fancy mustaches (Thanks Megan!!!)

Serve the hipster sandwich with some heirloom tomato soup and a large spoonful of homemade pesto.

  • multigrain wheat bread (from the best bakery in town)
  • Chimay cheese (made by the Trappist Beer monks in Belgium)
  • 2 types of bacon (2 different types of smoked bacon from the Ardennese mountains)
  • local honey (found near Brussels on a bike ride - unfortunately I wasn't on my fixed gear)
Creativity Options:
  • Goat cheese, chives, and bacon
  • Gorgonzola, caramelized onions, and steak
  • Roasted eggplant, mozzarella, pesto
  • Buffalo mozzarella, fried chicken, and hot sauce
There could be a follow-up post with me beer-battering the whole shebang in PBR..... THAT would be hipster.

Song to grill some cheese:  Jamiroquai - Slippin' & Slidin'
Slippin' & Slidin' by Jamiroquai on Grooveshark

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cinnamon Toast [Zack]

We had a snow day and I therefore wasn’t able to drive into work. I had no intention of going out in the elements to get ingredients to make myself a breakfast. I looked around my kitchen and found the ingredients to make a nostalgic breakfast treat that my mom used to make for us as kids: cinnamon toast and cheese toast!

My mom would make this a as a treat on weekends. She’d give us 2 pieces of toast with melted cheddar (for protein, but probably more importantly to clear her conscience) along with the cinnamon toast. And always some type of fruit too. The butter melts together with the sugar to create a crispy and delicious salty-sweet combination on the toast. Cinnamon adds a nice dimension to the whole thing.

This is definitely the most simple recipe that I’ve posted so far on the website. All you have to do is make sure that you don’t burn the toast in the oven.


Set your oven to broil, and get a baking tray out. Slice off a few pads of butter and put them on the toast. Sprinkle your sugar to lightly coat the whole piece of toast, then hit it with the cinnamon. If you’re in the mood for some cheese toast, put some sliced cheese on bread and add it to your baking tray.

Broil the toast until the corners are lightly browned, the cheese has melted, and the sugar has melded with the butter to make a crispy light-brown crust. Serve with some semblance of fruit so your parents don’t give you the stink-eye.

  • Whole wheat or white bread
  • A few thin pads of butter per piece
  • ~2 tsp of white or brown sugar per piece
  • A sprinkle of cinnamon on top
  • Cheddar or Emmental cheese (optional)

Song:  Kanye West - Heard em say
Heard 'Em Say by Kanye West on Grooveshark

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cinnamon Braided Monkey Bread [Zack]

We had guests staying with us this past weekend (the mountain climbers/beef jerky friends). While they were still asleep, I got the crazy idea to try to bake a monkey bread. I had seen the name pop up multiple times in the last few weeks and I guess it was stuck in my head.

I googled how to make Monkey Bread, but I didn’t have the requisite bundt pan. I therefore deviated from the normal recipe of tearing dough into balls, coating them in sugar, and packing them into the bundt pan. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make a braided bread, so this was my first attempt.

Our guests were beckoned awake by the yeasty, cinnamon-y, and sugary smells coming from our oven. I was very proud of my bread creation because I had minimal help from Lauren (I am still a novice at baking).  Funny enough, Martina exclaimed, “Oh, this bread looks just like the bread they have all over my hometown Prauge!” So, instead of impressing our guests with something new, I guess I was able to remind her of  home!

It reminds me of a Mitch Hedberg Joke:
"I wish they made a cinnamon roll incense because I don't always have time to make a pan. Perhaps I'd rather light a stick and then have my roommates wake up with false hopes. "


The first step is to get your yeast going.  Put 1 cup of warm water (warm to the touch) into a glass with the brown sugar and honey.  Give it a mix and leave it alone for 10 mins.  It should look like this:

While your yeast is activating, mix together your AP flour and 1.5 tsp salt in a large bowl.  Add your yeast mixture plus the rest of the water, and the olive oil into the bowl.

Knead the dough until it is smooth and doesn't stick to your hand.  If it is too sticky, add more flour, if it's too try, wet your hands slightly and keep mixing.

Once it's a smooth ball, wash out your big bowl, dry it, and coat it lightly with olive oil.  Put the dough back in, spin it around in the oil, cover it with a dish towel, and let it rise until doubled.  It should take about an hour.

When it has risen, it should look like this:

Punch the dough back down, form it into a ball again, and quarter it.

Roll each quarter into a ball, then roll out long snakes with your hands until they are 1 inch wide.

Your 4 snakes should be roughly the same length.

Now comes the girly part:  you need to learn to braid the strands together.  I can handle braiding 3 strings, but the 4th threw me for a loop.  Luckily Google had my back.  I'll explain it simply.  Lay the strands next to each other and pinch the far-away ends of each of the strands together.  Start by crossing the outside 2 pairs over each other.  Cross the right strands over the left ones:

Then, cross the two middle strands over each other, but this time, do left over right.

Tighten up the strands, but don't pull so hard that you over-stretch them.  Repeat the process: cross the two outer strands, right over left.  Then the middle two, left over right.  Keep going until you run out of runway.

It's really not that difficult folks.  Mine somehow came out presentable.

When you get to the end, cut the strands so they are even, pinch the ends together, and tuck the end slightly  under.

Now comes the fun part.  Melt 1T of butter in a sauce pan.  Put a sheet of aluminum foil on a baking tray and paint the foil with the melted butter where the bread will rest.  Carefully transfer the bread to the baking tray.

Generously paint the bread with the butter so you can get your brown sugar and cinnamon topping to stick.

Don't be scared, really paint that sucker.  Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and sprinkle it on top of the bread.  Don't be dainty!

Let the bread rest and rise for 30 minutes while you heat up your oven to 350F / 175C.  Pop it in the oven and bake until it's golden-brown and the sugar has caramelized on top.  It will take about 20-25 minutes.

Let the bread rest for 10 minutes, then slice it with a serrated bread knife so you don't lose the shape.

Serve warm with a pad of butter and dip it in your morning coffee like Mike Koulermos.

2 packets of yeast
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups warm water
5 to 6 cups AP flour (or 00 flour is even better)
1/4 cup olive oil
1.5 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon
2T brown sugar
1T butter (melted)

Since baking is more of a Lauren activity, here is a Euro Laurie jam:  Disclosure - Latch
Latch by Disclosure feat. Sam Smith on Grooveshark