Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cook Something: Kolaches

Seriously Tasty Kolaches

On Texas I-35 somewhere between Hillsboro and Waco (or Dallas and Austin for those unfamiliar with Texas geography) lies the seemingly nondescript town of West.  However, West, Texas is home to the famous Czech Stop Bakery and Gas Station, where you can stock up to your heart's content on all sorts of delicious delicious pastries.  Kolaches, in general, are very common to the Central Texas region, which is likely a result of the Czech and German immigrants who settled in the area long ago.  I grew up eating kolaches and they've always been one of my favorite breakfast foods.

Fast forward to now.  There are no. decent. kolaches. anywhere. in. Dallas.  I have searched and searched and searched and simply cannot find any.  And because necessity is the mother of invention, I decided to make a batch one Sunday.

Sausage Kolaches
Adapted from here and here.

For the Dough

  • 1 packet of yeast
  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed (110-115 degrees)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, plus more for brushing on the pastries.
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

For the Filling

  • 1 package smoked sausage, cut in half lengthwise (I recommend Opa's Smoked Meats, if you can find it.  It's made in Fredricksburg, in Central Texas, so I'm not sure of its distribution area, but it's by far the most delicious sausage you can buy.  I always buy the Jalapeno and Cheese sausage.  It's so tasty.)
  • Grated cheese and/or jalapeno, optional


  • In a large bowl, combine the yeast, warm milk, sugar, and 1 cup of the flour.  Cover and let rise until doubled in size, which should take between 10-15 minutes.
  • Melt the butter.  Beat the butter with the eggs and salt.  Add the eggs to the flour/milk mixture and blend.  Slowly add the remaining 2 cups of flour.  The dough should be soft, moist, and somewhat sticky.  Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. At this point you may need to add extra flour if your dough is extremely sticky.  I probably added an extra 1/4 a cup of flour.  BUT be very judicious in how much flour you add, because the more flour, the more dense your pastries will be and the goal is soft and light pastries, not hard and dense ones.
  • Put the dough in a greased bowl and allow to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
  • After the dough has risen, punch the dough down and allow to rise again in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 8.  If pressed for time you could skip this step, but I really recommend allowing the dough to do the second slow rise.  This rise will allow the dough to develop a more complex flavor and be tastier overall.  It's why those "no-knead" recipes work.
  • After the second rising divide your dough into 8-12 even pieces, depending on how big your sausage is.  Roll the pieces into ovals and then flatten.  Place these on a greased cooking sheet and allow to rise for another 30 minutes, until slightly puffed up.
  • Place the sausage (and/or additional toppings) on one side of the dough and roll the dough around the sausage.  Try to be gentle during the step, because you do not want to flatten the dough out too much.  If end up getting a little aggressive, you may want to allow the dough to rise for another 30 minutes before baking.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes until golden brown and delicious.  Brush with some melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven.  Serve warm.

Most of the time involved in this recipe is just waiting for the dough to rise.  I highly recommend starting the dough in the evening and just letting the second rise happen over night.  Then you'll be able to get those babies on the breakfast table in no time.

And although these are not bona fide Czech Stop kolaches, they'll at least keep the cravings at bay until I take another trip down I-35.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cook Something: Everything and the Kitchen Sink Chili


  • This chili is pretty involved; the active prep time took me right around an hour. But the results are 100% worth the effort.  I'd be surprised if you've had better chili with less work.
  • The ingredient list is bonkers, so much so that I refrained from telling Jason what all was in it until after he gave me the "this is the best chili you've ever made" seal of approval.  There are around 5 things that will make you say huh and about 3 that will make you say what the hell.  Trust me, you want the weird ingredients.  They'll provide a complexity and depth that you probably didn't think was possible in chili and you can have fun contests to see if anyone can pick out the ingredients.  My prediction? They won't.

So on to the chili.  Fall (or winter for us Texans) rolled in this weekend.  The high on Saturday and Sunday barely made it to the mid-50's, which is pretty cold for early October.  It was also drizzly and just overall kind of gross outside.  I'm an admitted seasonal eater so naturally the only thing I wanted to do was snuggle under the blankets and eat a giant bowl of chili.

Everything and the Kitchen Sink Chili
Adapted from here.  Note: I made very few changes to the original recipe.  And if your interested in why the weird ingredients are in there, check out the explanation here.


  • 2 cans red kidney beans, drained not rinsed.
  • Dried Chiles (look for them in the produce section) either
    • 3 whole Ancho/ Pasilla OR 2 New Mexico red, California, Costeno, or Choricero, seeded and torn into 1 inch pieces; and
    • 1 while Cascabel, Arbol, or Pequin chile, seeded and torn in half.
  • 5 lbs bone-in beef short ribs
  • 2 tbl vegetable oil
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 whole anchovy filets
  • 1 tsp Worchestersire sauce
  • 2 tbl soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbl whole cumin seeds, toasted, then ground
  • 1 1/2 tsp whole coriander seeds, toasted, then ground
  • 2 whole cloves, toasted, then ground
  • 1 star anise, toasted, then ground
  • 1 tbl extra fine ground coffee beans
  • 1 tbl unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 serano, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbl dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 28 oz diced tomatoes, keep the juices
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tbl buffalo style hot sauce (like Frank's)
  • 2 tbl dark brown sugar
  • Garnishes, some I recommend:
    • Cheese
    • Green Onions
    • Sour Cream
    • Corn Bread
  • Add dried chiles to a Dutch oven or large stock pot and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the chiles slightly darken.  Make sure they do not smoke/burn.  Remove and set aside.
  • Season short ribs generously with salt and pepper.  Add oil to the Dutch over and heat over high heat until smoking.  Seriously, you want it hotter than you think.  You want the meat to immediately sizzle when put into the pot.  Working in batches, brown all sides of the meat.  Do not overcrowd the pan!  It took me three batches.  Once browned, transfer to a baking sheet.  Pour the fat out of the Dutch oven and reserve.  Allow ribs to cool.
  • Turn the heat to medium-high and add 1 cup of chicken broth to deglaze the pan.  Use a wood spoon to scrape the brown bits of the bottom off the pan.  Bring the stock to a simmer and add the chiles.  Simmer the chiles until softened, around 5-8 minutes.  Add the chiles and stock to a blender.  Add the Worchestershire sauce, soy sauce, ground spices, coffee, and chocolate.  Blend on high until the mixture is pureed.  I just left it on high for a couple minutes and chopped the onion.  Set aside.
  • Heat 4 tbl of the rendered beef fat in the Dutch oven over medium heat (if you don't have enough, just use extra vegetable oil to make up the difference).  Add the onion and cook for several minutes until translucent and soft, but not browning, approximately 6-8 minutes.  Add the serrano, garlic, and oregano and cook for one minute, until fragrant.
  • Add the chili mixture to the Dutch oven and cook until mixture sticks to the bottom of the pan, approximately 2-4 minutes.  Add the chicken stock, beef bones, and bay leaves.  Bring to a simmer and scrape the bottom off the pan to loosen the browned bits.  Reduce heat to the lowest setting and cook, covered, with the lid slight ajar for 1 hour.
  • After the hour, add the cider vinegar, tomatoes and beans.  Cook with the lid slight ajar, until the meat has fallen off the bones, which should take between 2 to 3 1/2 hours.  Don't rush this part. You want the meat to cook low and slow so that it is tender.  Once tender, use tongs to remove the bay leaves the bones.  I also rough chopped any large pieces of meat.  Add the hot sauce and brown sugar and stir.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, although I didn't feel the need to add any.

Top with the garnishes and enjoy!  I know it's a long and complicated recipe, but I really suggest giving it a try.  You will not be disappointed!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cook Something: 5 Minute Lunch

This is a perfect lunch for when you're rushed and hungry but do not want to eat something greasy/overly filling/time consuming.  This lunch literally took 5 minutes to get to my plate.  I cooked the egg on low over some olive oil and covered the pan with a lid.  This helps the top of the whites to cook through without overing cooking the yolk.  Simultaneously I chopped several thick slices of tomatoes and a couple slices of fresh mozzarella.  I layered this on top of a bed of arugula, added the egg and lunch was served!

One quick thing, I recommend liberally salting both your tomatoes and your finished egg.  Egg yolk is very rich and find that salt really helps to balance out the richness.  I also added some fresh pepper and a sprinkle of paprika for color and flavor.

The best thing about serving an egg on top of a salad is that it provides an instant dressing.  It may sound like an odd mixture but it truly is divine.