Friday, March 29, 2013

Croissants Rich Buttery Delicious and a new method

** This is a METHOD update

I've determined a new method to make these croissants. I've tested and retested and my international tester has tested and retested. I've nailed it.

You prepare the dough, let it rise. You punch it down and let it chill for a couple of hours. THEN you have to butter the dough. I grate my butter, from frozen and put it on a plate in the freezer, uncovered, in two separate piles.

The method is NOT to roll, fold and turn, mark, chill etc. It's to roll out the chilled dough to a gigantic circle (17" round), pull the corners out to square them a bit and spread 1/2 the amount of shaved, frozen, butter on the dough then ROLL IT, jelly roll style from top to bottom (toward you) and press it down with your hands to a rectangle shape. THEN you roll the dough into a very long, narrow, rectangle and cover with the other half of the frozen butter and roll it, jelly roll style, from left to right. You end up with 18 layers x 18 layers which is more than the classic fold, turn, chill method which, frankly, is a colossal pain. Press it down with your hands and put it back in a container, in the fridge, overnight. THEN roll it, slice it and bake it in the morning.

The recipe, below, is for 8 croissants but I have tested cutting the dough in half, in the morning, and you can get 8 from each half, if you like small croissants, or 12 total if you still want big ones.

I am so happy to share this method, I'm just lazy I guess and couldn't face another roll, fold, turn, mark, chill of puff pastry.

Try my method, it WORKS and it's a million times easier and faster and you get ridiculously flaky results. I will never go back to the old method... This is the Tracy Croissant Roll ;)

I will be updating the blog post with play by play pictures when I make these again in a few days but I had to get it out there.  In the mean time, here's pictures of the new, smaller, ones I made today, each tray is half the dough: 

here's an idea of the size of them:


OK, here's the post:




I'm a pretty confident cook.  There aren't many things that make me cringe.  There's two.  Pastry and Croissants.  Both pastry and croissants hate me.  I know, scientifically, how to make them.  I can't.  I rarely do and I think pastry and croissants like the fact I'm afraid of them. 

Not any more buttery light flaky breakfast pastry treat! You don't have dominion over me, NOT ANY MORE! 

I will acquiesce to the fact this might be slightly over dramatic but really, pastry and croissants have kicked my behind for a substantial period of time and over the course of two days, I nailed both.  

I need the kudos, I'm still feeling a little sad about other things.  I am not, however, feeling sad about my croissants.  

I didn't start taking pictures until the dough had risen overnight but really, there's nothing to it.  The beauty shots are what will get you where you need to be. 

C'mon... let's make croissants and you will love me afterward.  You BET I added a million pictures, these are crazy good and crazy easy and you will be making them regularly.  I know you will.

TRACY'S OVERNIGHT CROISSANTS (kind of cheating kind of not) 

2-3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp yeast
1 Tablespoon shortening or lard
1 cup water

1 cup cold butter (grated: more about this below)
egg wash to brush croissants when you bake them

In the bowl of a kitchen aid mixer combine the 2 1/2 cups of the flour, sugar, salt, yeast and shortening.  Mix it around a bit, you're sort of coating the flour with the lard, no lumps, we don't want lumps.  When it looks like sand, dump in all the water and beat with the dough hook until it cleans the side (add a little flour it if needs help clearing the side of the bowl) and beat until it's a smooth, soft (VERY SOFT) dough.  Take out of bowl and knead for a minute to feel as though you're involved and form it into a smooth ball.
*can you make this without a kitchen aid mixer?  of course you can, just mix and knead by hand ;)

Rub a little soft butter on top of the dough ball and put it in a covered container to rise, about 40 minutes.  
*I used the multi mix bucket from home depot.  here's the link:  
they are WAY cheaper than the other proofing boxes I have and is perfect for a little dough like this one.  

Take 1 cup of cold butter and GRATE it, on your cheese grater.  Separate it into 4 loose piles on one plate and put it in the freezer.  That is the chef-y moment of this whole recipe.

When it's doubled, take it out, give it a quick fold to deflate it, put it back in the container, with the lid and pop it into the fridge for 1-2 hours.  Mine MORE than doubled in an hour so I dealt with it then, if yours isn't then leave it the full 2 hours. 

THIS is the usually scary part but in MY version, it's not scary at all. *SEE NEW METHOD ABOVE*

Take the cold dough and roll it into a rectangle, no measurements just into a big rectangle.  Mine was about 14 long by 6 wide.  

Take one pile of the shredded butter and sprinkle it over the dough sort of evenly.  Fold the top third of the dough down, over the butter and the bottom third up over the butter and the folded down side.  

Spin the dough 90 degrees and do it again, roll it into a big rectangle, sprinkle another pile of the butter, fold in thirds, like a letter.

Spin the dough 90 degrees, do it again.  Roll a big rectangle, sprinkle another pile of the dough, fold in thirds, like a letter. 

LAST time but this one is DIFFERENT!  so pay attention.  

Roll the dough out in a rectangle.  Sprinkle the butter over it and ROLL it, jellyroll style.  Flatten it slightly, roll it the other way, sprinkle with frozen shredded butter and jelly roll it side to side.   wrap it in plastic and plunk it in the fridge overnight. 

NOW then, mine exploded out of the plastic so I had to take it out, re flatten and re wrap it.  SO either allow for that by putting it in a covered container with room to grow or wrap it very very loosely.  I think next time I will either (a) put it in a covered (tightly) container or (b) put it in a giant ziploc bag to allow it to grow and not dry out. 


One VERY puffy packet of dough.  As I said, mine exploded so this is double wrapped. So, on a lightly floured board, start rolling.  You can spin as you go if you want.  I did.
Roll, roll, spin, spin.  Start with a little flour but feel free to dust lightly to prevent it from sticking.  Flip it over if you need.  This dough is VERY easy to work with, it didn't take long at all to roll it to about a 15 inch square?  My board is 15 inches and the dough is about square, that's how I figured that out :)
Find a knife, OR a pizza cutter and divide the dough into 4 then into 8.  Sure, you could make these smaller but WHY?  Start at the outside edge, stretch the piece just a little and roll it up.
Like the croissant on a parchment covered or silpat covered baking sheet.  I like straight croissants, if you have to hook them into the 'c' shape then go for it, I think these are cooler though.
Cover them and leave them to rest about 15 minutes.  
Enough time to heat up your oven to 425.  
Brush the croissants with egg before you pop them into the oven for 15-19 minutes.  
I DID NOT OPEN THE DOOR until the 15 minute mark then I did open it to spin the tray then cooked them another 4 minutes.

You'll see they didn't rise too much before they go into the oven but LOOK when they come OUT!
Transfer them to a rack and wait as long as you possible can to dive into these shatteringly flaky gifts from the culinary gods..... just look...  I'll wait.....
Here's the other batch:
I like to pull the ends off and slather it with cold butter and some of my homemade jam.  Yeah I do.....

Already, someone has noticed that from the original 8, there are only 6 being cooked!  BRAVO!  At the last moment, I snatched 2 rolled/risen croissant and wrapped them and threw them into the freezer as part of a grand experiment (and because my international tester would want me to).  I will cook one from frozen and one from thawed tomorrow to see how they do as true make ahead item.  See how I love you.  

Here's Alice... having stolen my slipper to use as a pillow, she chose not to move as I called her name....apparently this is how she pretends to be unseen.

But I digress...  back to the issue at hand.... look!  Seriously, I'm just delighted and keep gazing at them!

Now then, you have absolutely no reason whatsoever not to make croissants.  Whoever says you have to spend hours making puff pastry and turning and putting back in the fridge and wasting an entire day with popping dough into the fridge and freezer...  I don't THINK so!

Look what we can do now!  So, in reality it takes a couple of hours of time the day before but it's not time you're DOING anything, the rolling/butter/fold/flip takes about 15 minutes.  I would gladly spend more than that to get THESE! 

They are crisp, tender, chewy, flaky, buttery, sweet, rich and all things that a croissant should be...  Make these...  let me know how they turn out... well, after you wipe crumbs from your hands ;)  
oh and you're welcome 


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Alchemy day even though I feel sad

I'm feeling sad.  I've felt sad for a few days now.  I am trying not to feel sad.  I went into the kitchen hell bent on not spending a day cooking mindlessly then I realized it's what I do to try to not feel sad.

Today is steak pie (my kidneys didn't look fabulous) so I added loads of onions so it's steak and onion pie.  I pressure cooked it, details later, and it's cooling.  I went out on a limb and made my own pastry, pastry hates me as we all remember, but I made my vodka dough in the cuisinart so hopefully it will be kind to me, knowing I feel sad.  It's cooling too.  I wanted something lovely for dessert, so I made lemon curd.  It's cooling.

While everything is cooling, I decided to play with a croissant recipe and it's chilling too..  I guess there's nothing to do but sit here, have a glass of wine and wait until everything comes together when it's finished chilling.

I'll post the play by play after I play by play it.

I hope you're not feeling sad.  I hope you're feeling happy and cooking happy food that you can sit and enjoy with people who love you without making you feel small or unimportant.  You're a child of the universe, and you cook, that makes you cool! :)


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pork, Pulled Pork, Carnitas in the pressure cooker

Shove it in a taco with lettuce and aioli *weep*
Well, are we surprised? We all know I'm a pressure cooker fan, so anything I pull out to cook for dinner my first thought is [lately] can I pressure cook this? I made pork carnitas with black beans and steamed rice the other day my usual pressure cooker way. When I took it's picture, I wondered if the picture on the blog was as good as the new one I took and realized, to my horror, that I hadn't blogged the pulled pork, pork shoulder, pork carnitas!! Watch me remedy that fact immediately: 

it's such a beautiful thing... so tender and delicious


4 lb pork shoulder cut into 3 inch chunks (or as much as you can get!)

spices (I use a combination of cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, smoked paprika)

Season the pork heavily, fry in hot fat to brown, drop into pressure cooker.  Use water to cover pan by 1 inch to remove the tasty fried up bits that stuck to the pan. Pour over pork. 
LOCK AND LOAD, pressure cooker for 35 minutes, leave to release naturally (because I'm never ready when it is!)
Transfer to a foil lined tray, mop the pork with the cooking water and broil until dark and crispy around the edges, 5 minutes?.  Flip the pork, mop and broil the other side.  Toss around with more cooking liquid and serve in tacos, on rice, with a fork, on bread, on or in or with ANY thing. 

Here's the play by play: 

Mmmm, hunks of pork shoulder and an empty pressure cooker...  I take the best pictures.  Ok, there's a little bacon fat in the cooker to fry off the meat that I seasoned with all the spices.  
Here's the spice blend, plus salt and pepper
Fry until brown,
I got impatient and fried the rest in a fry pan which is how I usually do it but was trying to use the cooker only... my bad.  When all the meat is brown, shush it all around in the pressure cooker. 
Scrape up any bits with water to about an inch deep and pour it onto the pork.
LOCK AND LOAD 35 minutes on high pressure.  When the pressure comes down, LOOK!!!  Oh it's so tender and yummy and look at that delicious fat!  all seasoned and dying to be dunked into with a hunk of bread, freshly made of course... you know I did!

When we want to eat, spread the sad looking (but crazy tender!) meat on a foil liked sheet pan.  Boil down the liquid if you want, I generally do for a few minutes but it's not necessary.  Transfer some to your Pyrex measuring cup.  I have NO idea why I always use this for my liquid but I do... I'm a funny duck.  IF you are so inclined, feel free to add a little barbeque sauce to the liquid if you want a thicker sauce or that sort of flavor.  I am a purist most times but have been known to squirt a little Heinz BBQ sauce in there. Cover your meat rather generously
Shove it under the broiler, flip it a couple of times, mop it a couple of times.  OH LOOK!!  *weep*  I love this!

on a complete and total aside... as only I do it...  THIS is a picture of my puppy, Alice, she'd just come home from being spayed and was stoned and very sad and would only sit and stare at me, it was unnerving ..


OK, back to the pork... just look...
We eat this one of two ways...  on the side with steamed rice and tarted up black beans 

or in a taco, corn preferably, with lettuce, cheese and aioli (homemade!) yeah, I only took one picture, we ate it too fast

here you go, just one more look...

Off to the store with you to get some pork and a pressure cooker...I will put this up against any slow smoked pork.  This is so tender and flavorful and the little crispy bits on the corners the broil gives it.  C'mon, you know you wanna.