pain au thanksgiving

11.14 turkey pain 2

I know that by now we have seen every possible use of Thanksgiving leftovers under the sun. We’ve seen them in pies, in soups, in sandwiches, and in salads, but one I had not seen was this masterpiece.

Imagine, if you will, your Thanksgiving leftovers tightly wrapped in a croissant dough and baked to perfection.  I think my knees just went weak…

May I present to you Pain au Thanksgiving! It’s very similar to its cousin pain au chocolate but instead of being filled with chocolate, it is filled with an entire Thanksgiving dinner … all rolled up into flaky buttery croissant dough… which is where it has apparently always belonged.

As soon as I got this idea I couldn’t wait to make it. I knew that I had to do it before Thanksgiving, so that you could use it for your leftovers. Of course, the added bonus of me getting to eat TWO Thanksgiving dinners this month may have weighed on my decision as well.

11.14 turkey pain 2.2

For these, I used a standard croissant dough (you can use your own favorite recipe, I used this one only because I had successfully used it before). If you’re short on time (or motivation) you could even use store-bought puff pastry or some of those refrigerated “crescent” rolls in a pinch. Just keep in mind that a different dough may yield a different amount of pastries. My recipe yielded 24 pastries each one about 4 by 2 inches when baked.

For the filling, I used turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. I toyed with the idea of putting the gravy inside, but decided it would a> be too messy and b> be much better alongside the sandwich. Because, if there’s one thing I love more than a sandwich, it’s a sandwich with a jus for dipping.

I also opted to leave out the cranberry sauce since Mr. Eats turned his nose up at it. You’re welcome to include it if your guests are more cranberry-friendly – I personally think it would have been delicious stuffed inside or even drizzled on top as a glaze.

If you’re wondering what on earth you are going to do with 24 thanksgiving pastries, fear not! You can freeze the pains (baked or raw) and keep enjoying that turkey dinner for up to three months.

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Pain au Thanksgiving

Yield: 24 Pain au Thanksgivings                                                                  [  Printable Recipe ]

Time: 1 hour (prep), 8 – 18 hours (refrigeration), 15 – 20 minutes (baking)

For the croissant dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups milk, warm (105°F–110°F)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter

For the filling:

  • Thanksgiving leftovers: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, whatever you want!

Baking & Serving: 

  • 1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water
  • Gravy, for serving

Directions

Making the dough:
1. In the stand of an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment, mix the milk, sugar, and yeast. Let sit until foamy (appx 5 min). In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt, set aside until yeast has foamed.
2. Add flour/salt mixture to yeast, while mixing on low. (I usually add half, then once incorporated add the rest)
3. Once it comes together into a smooth, slightly sticky mass, shape it into a rectangle about 1 ½ inches thick, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and set in the fridge for about an hour until chilled

Laminating the dough:

1. Once dough is chilled, line up sticks of butter and smash with a rolling pin between two sheets of parchment paper until they are roughly the shape of an 8 x 5 inch rectangle. Wrap and chill, swapping butter for dough in the fridge.croissant 1
2. Unwrap dough and roll out onto a lightly floured surface, dusting with flour as necessary* into a 16 x 10 in rectangle. Arrange dough w shortest side nearest you, put butter rectangle in the center, and fold like a letter—cover the butter with the bottom 1/3rd of dough first, then with the top. Brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush.

3. Turn dough 90 degrees so new shortest side is near you, then pound with a rolling pin at even intervals, making uniform impressions (this will help the butter to spread). Roll dough again into a 15 x 10 inch rectangle. Brush off any excess flour, and fold in thirds again, stretching the dough as needed to square off the ends—thus forming a 3 layer 10 x 5 inch rectangle.

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4. Give yourself a congratulatory pat on the back for doing your (presumably) first ever “fold”, rewrap the dough in plastic wrap, and stick it back in the fridge at least another hour. (I’m not going to lie, I got a little impatient and may not have waited the whole hour… on that same note, I also left the house a while between another fold and it was in for over an hour, and alas the world has not come to an end)

5. Repeat 5 & 6 three more times, creating a total of 4 “folds”. Once you have completed your last fold, rewrap the dough and place in refrigerator for 8 – 18 hours.

When you’re ready to shape the Pain au Thanksgiving

1. Remove dough from refrigerator, unwrap and cut in half cross-wise. Re-wrap half of dough and place back in the fridge. Just look at all those buttery layers…

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2. Roll on lightly floured surface into a 16 x 12 inch rectangle, stretching as needed to maintain rectangular shape

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3. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Stretch each square so that it is slightly elongated and place a small amount of filling of your choice into the center. If you go over 2 tablespoons of filling you will probably have a hard time rolling it into shape.

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4. Fold one side over the filling and wet it slightly with some water. Fold the other side over and press down firmly to seal.*

5. Place onto a parchment-lined half sheet pan, seam side down. Continue with remaining squares, I was able to fit 8 onto each pan. Once the pan is filled cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set in a warm spot to proof until doubled in size 1 to 2 hours.

6. Remove other half from fridge and repeat the steps again.

 

 

Baking: 

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375F and make an egg wash by whisking one egg with 1 tablespoon water.
Right before you put the dough into the oven, brush with egg wash. If you feel so inclined, you can sprinkle some shredded cheese on top for added flavor. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until well-browned.

Notes:

To freeze raw:

Once you have filled and sealed the dough, you can place them seam-side down on a small baking sheet (that will fit in the freezer) and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Freeze for 1 hour until firm, then transfer to a freezer-safe Ziploc bag and return to freezer until ready to bake.

To freeze cooked:
Wrap cooled pains tightly in foil and place into a freezer-proof Ziploc bag.

To bake from frozen (un-baked):
Place frozen dough on parchment-lined sheet and cover with plastic wrap.Place on counter to rise overnight about 8 to 10 hours. Once doubled in size paint with egg wash prior to baking.

If you freeze croissants pre-baked:
Frozen croissants can be thawed overnight prior to reheating or taken from the freezer directly to the oven, in which case they will need a few minutes more to reheat.  Bake for 10 minutes at 375F from thawed, add a few extra minutes if baking from frozen.

 

 

 

ice cream sammies (for people who hate the word ‘sammies’)

ice cream cookies

Having recently purchased Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream – I was trying to think of a way to empty my ice cream container of the milkiest chocolate ice cream (post pending approval from Jeni’s publisher) so that I had an excuse to make a new flavor. Now I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a better way to store ice cream than between two chocolatey cookies. Can you? Didn’t think so.

bf took this picture – he’s quite the photographer, no?

I was tempted to call these “Wicked Witch Ice Cream Sandwiches” because they were so melty! So I learned a valuable lesson, that I will now pass on to you – make these cookies a day (or at least several hours) ahead of time. Because even though you might put them in the fridge to chill faster, and even though you were very patient, and even though they may feel cool to the touch – they’re not. Not really. There is still some warmth lurking inside them.

The first batch resulted in a pile of cookies in a puddle of melted ice cream – delicious cookies in a delicious puddle of ice cream, but a puddle no less. You want a picture, don’t you? BF was really excited to show everyone my failure, so here it is…

I did what I could to salvage them, I even separated the top cookie from the bottom to try to get them to stop melting, but there was no hope. No sense in crying over spilt milk (or melted ice cream) so … I ate some anyway… (I know, I should be ashamed of myself… but they were SO GOOD). I also saved a couple in with the ice cream that I re-scooped back into the container, so that I could crumble it into a new flavor… what sounds better? “Wicked Witch Ice Cream” or “Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwich” … hmmm both sound like great flavors, don’t they? hahaha

The cookie dough comes together very quickly. I could tell mixing them up that they were gonna be great, they just smelled like ice cream sandwich cookies. It’s a smell I’m quite familiar with, as I usually eat only the cookies and throw the ice cream away (don’t judge me).

As you let the “dough” set it will become a consistency somewhere between a brownie batter and a ganache. I used a scoop to put them onto the tray, and then smooshed them down a bit with my fingers to make sure they’d be more flat than rounded. As they sit on the counter they will solidify a bit, no worries. Both the soft “batter” and harder “ganache” batches baked the into the same tasty cookie treats in 11 minutes flat. You’ll know they’re done when they get crackly on top. They’re super fudgy and soft, make sure you make an odd number of cookies so you can test one for “quality control”….

Fudgy Ice Cream Cookies for Ice Cream Sandwiches – Adapted from Serious Eats

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  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 12 oz extra dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 C AP flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F and line 2 sheet pans with parchment

1. Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water. Stir until smooth, then set aside to cool.

2. Sift pr stir together flour and baking powder, then add salt.

3. Whip the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract together until thick. Then gently stir in the cooled chocolate mixture. Stir in the flour mixture and let the batter rest until it thickens slightly. (It will go from brownie batter-y to ganache-y. I scooped mine slightly before it hit the ganache phase, see picture.) This could take anywhere from 5 -15 minutes, depending on the temperature of your chocolate when you added it to the eggs.

4. Scoop by large tablespoonfuls onto parchment and flatten slightly with your finger or the back of your scoop. You should end up with about 20 cookies.

5. Bake for about 10 minutes until they’re no longer shiny and they begin to crack. Cool FOR A LONG TIME VERY PATIENTLY on a cooling rack.

6. When you’re ready to assemble your ice cream cookies, set your ice cream out for about 10 minutes to soften, then put a scoop on each of 10 cookies, and top each scoop with another cookie. Freeze in a single layer for about 20 minutes, then wrap in plastic wrap and store in a ziploc bag for future enjoyment.

Meet my new friend, Beef

beef main

Once upon a time ago, I was a vegetarian. Even after I started eating meat, I was never a big fan of beef. Not even a little bit. Once in a while I might get a craving for it and make a hamburger or something, but that was about it. On the off chance that I would eat a steak, I’d order it extra dead – well done.

I don’t know what I was thinking, because beef is flippin’ delicious. No joke. And this sandwich, well this sandwich has an awesome flavor-to-work ratio. While I prefer to sear my meat and sauté my onions, you absolutely have the option of just throwing all of the ingredients into a pot or slow-cooker and just letting it do it’s own thing from there. Doesn’t get much easier than that…

be sure not to overcook the meat – you want to still have it nice and pink inside – top with italian cheese BF adds pepperoncini to his


Of course, doing the extra work is well worth it. Searing the meat and caramelizing the onions gives the end product a richness and depth that it would otherwise lack, and deglazing the pan afterwards is a must. Why would you do all that work just to leave all that extra flavor in the pan? So, if you’re in a hurry, just throw it all in a pot and be done. But if you have the time, do it my way. You won’t be sorry.

PS – This requires advance planning. You need to start at least 8 hours before you want to eat it. I recommend making it over the weekend and saving it for a weeknight when you know you’ll be short on time. As always, feel free to freeze your leftovers to reheat for dinner another night.

Beef Sammies

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  • 1 whole 2.5 To 4 Pound Chuck Roast
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Olive oil (or any neutral oil)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 whole onion, sliced
  • 2-4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • ½ cup Soy Sauce
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 4 cups low sodium beef stock or broth
  • A few sprigs each: Rosemary, Thyme (optional – but strongly recommended)
  • Baguette or other hearty bread of your choice
  • Italian cheese, for serving

1. About 20-30 minutes before you’re ready to start, take the roast out of the fridge. Cut off any extra-fatty chunks you see on the outside. Salt & pepper both sides of the beef while it’s warming to room temperature, and cover lightly with plastic wrap.

2. When you’re ready to begin, heat a large sauté pan over medium/med-high heat. Add a couple of teaspoons of oil (enough to lightly coat the bottom) to the pan, and then add the meat. Cook it just until it has a nice caramelized brown color (should only take about 3 – 5 minutes per side). Remember, we aren’t really cooking the meat, we’re just searing it for extra flavor. If it sticks to the pan when you try to lift it, that means it’s not ready yet, just give it an extra minute. If you’re motivated, you can sear the sides as well. Most of the time I decide that it’s too heavy to bother and just place it into my crock pot as-is.

step one – sear!

3. Add another teaspoon or two of oil to the pan (if needed) and add your onion slices. Cook, stirring about a minute or two until onion begins to get a golden-brown color, add minced garlic, stirring until fragrant (about 30 seconds) then add them on top of your roast.

4. Carefully add the soy sauce, red wine, and 1 cup of beef stock to your hot pan (it might splatter). Scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom, and once the liquid begins to simmer and reduce a bit, dump that into the crock pot as well. Add additional beef stock until the roast is at least half, but not completely, covered. If you run out of stock, just add water. Should look something like…

My sissy gave me this crockpot, isnt she sweet?

5. Add herbs* (if using), cover, and set to low for 8-12 hours. When it’s done, it should fall apart very easily. If it does not, re-cover and continue to cook longer.

6. When it’s done, remove the sprigs of rosemary and thyme, and shred the meat using two forks. Discard any overly fatty pieces. You can either serve it now or refrigerate it and serve later. I strongly recommend refrigerating for use another day* (see tips!).

7. If refrigerating—allow to cool and then place in the fridge. When ready to warm, remove hardened fat from the top and discard. Place back into slow-cooker (or saucepan) on low heat until warm (the speed will depend on the quantity you are warming up – it can take up to a couple of hours in your slow cooker). If you’re in a hurry, you can warm it over medium/high heat as well, just keep an eye on it so it doesn’t start boiling. Boiled meat is gross.

8. Serve on a baguette or french roll, toasted if desired. I usually stick mine under the broiler a few seconds with some italian cheese to get toasty and warm. Serve with some of the juices reserved on the side for dipping. Yum!

Tips:

*Somewhere along the line I got hooked on ‘Kitchen Basics’ stock. It’s a little more expensive, but comes in a resealable container and has a great, rich flavor. Once I made the switch I never looked back.

*Tying your herbs in a cheesecloth pouch allows the beef to get all the flavor from the herbs, but none of the leaves/twigs. You should be able to find some in the ‘cooking tools’ section of your grocery store.

*Refrigerating the meat allows the flavors to mingle, and also allows the fat to congeal so that you can remove a good amount of it before serving. I definitely recommend refrigerating the shredded meat in broth before eating. Not only does it allow the shredded beef to marinate in the flavorful juices, but once you see all the fat that hardens on the surface, you’ll understand.

*You can also reheat a smaller portion in a covered saucepan over medium-low on the stovetop over medium-low heat

*Put some of the warmed liquid in a separate ramekin or small bowl and use it dip your sandwich in it while eating. (This is in bold on purpose- because it’s important!) :)

*If you don’t have a slow-cooker, bring to a simmer on the stovetop and reduce to low, check after 6 hours; or PW cooks hers in a 275F oven for 5-6 hours.

 

Move over, Manwich. There’s a new Joe in town!

joe

Sloppy Joe’s have had a tough life. Like an old toy that’s been forgotten in the attic, no one wants to play with him. I don’t even think the grocery store carries an off-brand version of sloppy Joe seasoning. When you think of sloppy joes, you invariably think of Manwich, then you think: “YUM, YES PLEASE” or “GROSS GET IT OUT OF MY FACE!” Poor sloppy joes are so neglected. As though Manwich has the recipe so perfected that there is no need to create any variation.

Joe’s not generally found on a restaurant menu and your mother probably doesn’t have her own “secret recipe”, but why not?? What did Joe do to make everyone so mad at him? No one wants to experiment. No one wants to make him their own. It’s just brown meat, open can of Manwich, warm and serve. What did poor joe do to make him so disrespected that no one even thinks of giving him a second chance? There are as many salad dressings, barbeque sauces, and sandwich spreads as there are crayola crayon colors, but just one lonely Joe… poor guy. Don’t worry, Joe. I still love you. I will make you my own, and give you my very own (not) secret recipe…

People don’t generally think of sloppy joes as being customizable, but I beg to differ. Ever since I first discovered the smoky, spicy, little guy, chipotle has been my latin lover. Boyfriend loves chili-garlic, that spicy pepper sauce you see sitting in jars at the asian restaurant. Both of those are welcome additions to sloppy joes, trust me- I know.

So here is a basic sloppy joe recipe that is really easy to whip up, and then you can customize it to your liking. If you want it a little smoky- throw in chipotle. Spicy? Hit it with some cayenne or chili-garlic paste. You love manwich? Omit the brown sugar and add some BBQ sauce instead and you’ll be surprised at just how closely it matches Manwich- it could be his evil twin… and if you want to stretch it out to feed a large family or make it healthier- double up on the veggies. Just experiment, have fun, and find what works for you. This is a good jumping-off point, though.

*Tip: The finer you chop your veggies, the better texture they’ll have. Also, you don’t need to saute them all the way to tender, they’ll soften up a lot as it simmers.

Sloppy Joes

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  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 small carrot, finely minced
  • 1 small onion, finely minced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • ½ c ketcup
  • 3 – 4 tsp brown sugar (to taste) or 1 Tbsp BBQ sauce
  • 3 dashes worcestshire sauce (or soy sauce would probably do the trick)
  • Dash each (about 1/4-1/2 tsp) of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika
  1. In a saute pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add meat. Cook, breaking into small pieces, until well-browned. Add chopped veggies, a dash of salt and pepper, and cook until veggies are slightly softened (but not brown).

sauté away

  1. Once meat and veggies are cooked, turn heat down to simmer and add a bit of water to de-glaze the pan. Add the rest of the ingredients, mixing well. Cover with lid and turn heat all the way down to simmer.
  2. Simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes—checking every so often to make sure it’s not drying out—add water or a bit of stock if it starts to look dry.

lookin good!

  1. After 20 minutes, adjust seasonings to taste & serve!

*I believe almost everything sauce-related tastes better the 2nd day, once the flavors have had time to mingle. After simmering, I transfer the joes to a heat-safe container and refrigerate overnight. Reheat on the stovetop in a covered saucepan over low heat, adjust seasonings to taste and serve then! (I like mine with a little bit of cheese and potato chips on top)