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Request Line

Are they subs, hoagies, or heroes where you live?  Grinders, maybe?  Apparently there are thirteen or so names for this style of sandwich, but those are the only four I’ve ever personally encountered.  To Lane they are heroes.  You can take the boy out of Queens, but you can’t take Queens out of the boy.  Being a New Englander (with family hailing from Eastern Massachusetts), I used to call the cold sandwiches subs and the hot or toasted subs were grinders.  Now I’ve noticed I use them almost interchangeably, so when O requested meatball subs for dinner (the same kid who wouldn’t eat pasta sauce less than a year ago!) I set to work instead of stopping to ponder the difference any further.

The perfect meatball sub starts with a great sub roll.  The roll should be soft enough that you don’t send meatballs flying everywhere while you try to bite through the crusty bread.  The roll also needs to be dense enough that the sauce doesn’t seep all the way through, making a soggy mess.  The latter is my preference, I know plenty of people who happily devour a meatball sub even if the bread is completely soaked through.  Ever since I started making our bread at home, I’ve attempted the perfect sub roll a few times.  Some were too crusty, some were not crusty enough.  Some were too soft to hold up to much filling, and others were too dry.  These have solved my sandwich roll problems.  They are soft and just crusty enough, and they held up really well to a generous filling of sauce and meatballs.  I can stop my search for the perfect roll and go back to convincing Lane that around these parts, he’s eating a sub (or maybe a grinder).

best sub rolls

Sub (or Grinder, or Hero, or Hoagie) Rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 C. warm (105-115 degrees) water, divided
  • 2 tsp. sugar, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 C. bread flour (see notes on flour in the directions below)
  • 2 C. all-purpose flour

Directions:

Combine yeast and 1/4 C. of the warm water  in a small bowl.

Sprinkle 1 tsp. of the sugar over the yeast mixture and let sit for about 5 minutes, or until foamy.

Add the remaining 1 1/4 C. of warm water and remaining 1 tsp. of sugar to the yeast mixture.

Add the oil and stir to combine.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the salt and both flours.

Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until smooth.

Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook attachment and knead for 5-6 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Note on flour: I have made these rolls when it is very humid outside (and thus humid in the house), making for an incredibly sticky dough.  If you find it necessary, add more flour 2 Tbsp. at a time during the kneading process.  The final dough should be smooth and elastic and only very slightly if at all sticky.  I don’t find it necessary to add more flour every time I make these, it just seems to depend on the level of humidity.

When the dough is finished, lightly grease a large bowl and place the dough in the bottom.

Turn the dough once to coat it evenly with oil.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise for 1 hour, until dough has doubled in size.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, punch down, and divide it into 8 equal-sized balls.

Shape each ball of dough into a long oval, close to how large you want the finished rolls to be.  The rolls will get larger, my ovals were 5-6 inches long and the finished sub rolls are 7-8 inches long.

Place the shaped rolls on the lined baking sheet and make a 1/4 inch deep slash across the top of each roll using a razor blade or sharp knife.

Cover the baking sheet with greased plastic wrap and place in a warm place.  Allow the rolls to rise for 30 minutes.

Bake the rolls for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Remove to a wire rack to cool before slicing.

Makes 8 rolls.

Source: adapted from Rakish Eats

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No Excuses

I still get funny looks when I tell people I make all of our bread.  Then the assumption arises that I make sandwich bread once a week and that’s it.  That’s how it started, that I wasn’t going to buy and waste store-bought sandwich bread anymore when we owned a perfectly good stand mixer (oh, how I love the dough hook for kneading!), and a perfectly good bread machine.  The oven is in working order (though I’d love for it not to be so we can have a gas oven but that’s another post), and I have enough baking pans to open a Bed, Bath & Beyond.  A five-pound bag of bread flour costs less than a “good” loaf of store-bought bread.  The hands-on time involved in making homemade bread even without a mixer or bread machine is really minimal.  One by one, the excuses to keep buying bread disappeared.  When store-bought bread is packed full of preservatives that are supposed to keep it fresh and yet we were tossing bread into the garbage despite the minimum of four sandwiches a week that go to school, there were really no more excuses for that kind of waste.  It may have started as sandwich bread, but it clearly didn’t end there.  I found that once I was comfortable with the basics of bread making, there was no reason to buy flour tortillas, or English muffins, or pizza crust dough anymore.  So now spring is here, and we want to grill some hot dogs (please don’t jump on me about hating preservatives in bread but eating hot dogs.  I’m very careful about the brands we buy and what ingredients they contain), and we want those hot dogs in a bun, please.

Challenge accepted.  More often than not, the bun is viewed as the vehicle by which you lift the hot dog to your mouth without getting hot dog toppings all over your hands.  Not anymore.  These potato hot dog rolls are substantial enough to hold a hot dog loaded with all of your favorite toppings and not crumble or get soggy under that kind of pressure.  I haven’t met a store-bought bun yet that really holds up to a great chili sauce on a hot dog.  My worries are over.  O has a habit of eating the hot dog out of the bun and leaving the bun behind like an optional side dish.  That didn’t happen with these buns- there was not a crumb left on anyone’s plate.  They’re buttery and soft, and worth every bit of effort that goes into making them yourself.  Goodbye, store-bought hot dog buns!

hot dog buns

Potato Hot Dog Rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ C. lukewarm milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 4 C. bread flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. potato flour (or 3 Tbsp. instant mashed potato flakes)
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. instant yeast
  • ½ C. cultured buttermilk

Directions:

Mix the dough using a bread machine, stand mixer, or by hand and then proceed to forming the rolls:

To mix the dough using a bread machine, put all of the ingredients except for the buttermilk into the pan of the bread machine.  Choose the dough cycle and start.

To mix the dough using a stand mixer, put all ingredients except for the buttermilk into the bowl of the mixer fitted with a dough hook.

Mix on low speed for 10 minutes, until a smooth, elastic dough forms.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and cover loosely with a clean dish towel and allow it to rise 1-2 hours in a warm place, until doubled.

To mix the dough by hand, put all ingredients except the buttermilk in a large mixing bowl.

Use a wooden spoon or your clean hands to stir until a rough dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 15 minutes until a smooth, elastic dough forms.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean dish towel, and allow it to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, until doubled.

To form the rolls:

Line an 11×13 inch baking sheet with parchment paper, a silicone baking mat, or lightly grease it and set aside.

Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces (I like to weigh them with a kitchen scale to make sure they’re even), and form each of the 3 pieces into logs.

Divide each log into 5 equal pieces (for standard hot dog rolls) or 4 equal pieces (for larger sandwich or sausage rolls).

One piece of dough at a time, pat each piece into an oval shape.

Use your hand like a blade and press the side of your hand the long way into the dough, forming an indentation down the length of the center of each oval.
Roll the dough up around the indentation you made and pinch the seam together tightly.
Transfer the dough pieces to the prepared baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.
Let the rolls rise in a warm place for 30 minutes, until they’re puffy.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Brush the rolls generously with the buttermilk.
Bake for 18-22 minutes, until deep golden brown.
Cool the rolls on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
Rolls can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for 2 days, or wrapped tightly and frozen for up to 1 month.
Makes 15 hot dog rolls (or 12 larger rolls).
Source: slightly adapted from Foodie with Family
hot dog rolls

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Marble Mouth

No matter how small of a ham I’m able to find, if I’m serving just the four (or sometimes just the two) of us there is going to be leftover ham.  It’s nice to cook once and eat twice (or more), so if I’m planning ham for one night, I plan what to do with the leftovers for the next night.  With the leftover ham from Sunday’s dinner, I made my favorite pea soup in the crock pot and decided to serve that with ham sandwiches.  The best way to serve ham sandwiches if you ask me is on fresh rye bread.  I haven’t found better rye bread locally than the marble rye from a bakery in my hometown but I couldn’t justify a forty minute drive for a loaf of bread.  I also wasn’t going to resort to grocery store rye bread because I always find that to be sub-par and I’d rather not have the preservatives and high fructose corn syrup that comes in every loaf.  With this recipe, I’ve managed to avoid the forty minute drive and nasty grocery store rye bread.

I was contemplating making half of the recipe because this recipe makes two full loaves of bread and I’m never sure exactly how well new things will go over with the kiddos.  Four grilled ham and Swiss sandwiches later, I don’t see any of this bread going to waste.  This doesn’t have the overwhelming rye flavor or a ton of seeds like rye bread I’ve purchased at the grocery store.  The best marble rye I’ve ever had is from a bakery in my hometown, and my days of contemplating a forty minute drive to get a loaf of bread are over now that I’ve made this.  At first it seemed a little intimidating because there are two separate dough recipes and more than a few steps, but really this is as easy as making any other bread.  The dough came together quickly and beautifully and was really easy to work with during the entire process.  Because there are multiple rises, I suggest allowing for a good length of time if you plan on making this.  The work and the waiting are well worth the results though!  The hardest part of this was finding rye flour locally, which I found easily at the second supermarket I tried (Hodgson Mills and Bob’s Red Mill both had offerings there).  You do not taste the molasses or the cocoa powder in this, so if you aren’t fans of either of those items have no fear.  As with many recipes, I strongly recommend weighing the ingredients for the most accuracy. I baked the loaves in loaf pans, but you can skip that step and free-form them into loaves or rounds on a baking sheet.  Whichever you choose, be sure that the seam is sealed well and that you bake the bread with the seam side down.

marble rye bread

Marble Rye Bread

Ingredients:

for the light rye:

  • 6 oz. (1 1/2 C.) white rye flour (if you can’t find white rye flour, use regular- not dark- rye flour and sift it twice)
  • 13 1/2 oz. (3 C.) unbleached bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 1/4 C. plus 2 Tbsp. water, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. molasses
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

For dark rye:

  • 6 oz. (1 1/2 C.) white rye flour (or regular as explained above)
  • 13 1/2 oz. (3 C.) unbleached bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 1/4 C. plus 2 Tbsp. water, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. molasses
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, dissolved in 2 Tbsp. water

Directions:

To make the light rye dough, whisk together the rye and bread flours, salt, yeast, and caraway seeds in the bowl of a stand mixer*.

Add the water, molasses, and olive oil and mix at low speed, using the dough hook, until a rough dough forms. If needed, scrape down the mixing bowl and turn the dough in the bowl with a spatula if needed to make sure the dry ingredients incorporate.

Once the wet ingredients are fully incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and knead for 6-8 minutes until the dough forms an elastic ball that clears the sides of the mixing bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times, shaping the dough into a round ball.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, smooth side up.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside while you make the dark rye dough.

To make the dark rye dough, repeat the same process as above, and add the dissolved cocoa powder to the mixture with the other wet ingredients.

Place the dark rye dough into a separate lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.

Let both doughs rise at room temperature for 90 minutes, until doubled in size.

Line a large baking sheet with waxed or parchment paper.

Turn out both the light and dark doughs onto a lightly floured work surface.

Gently press down to deflate the dough, then divide each dough into 4 equal pieces.

Shape each piece of dough (8 pieces in total) into a round ball, then slightly flatten the ball and place all 8 pieces onto the prepared baking sheet.

Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes.

Working with one piece of dough at a time and keeping all of the others covered, roll out each piece of dough with a rolling pin into a flat oval measuring roughly 5×8 inches.

Layer the ovals of dough, alternating light dough with dark dough, into 2 stacks of 4 pieces of dough each.

Roll each stack up, starting from the long side, like a jelly roll, into a cylinder.  Press the dough together to seal it as you roll it up.

Seal the final seam well.

Place the two loaves onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, seam down, or into greased loaf pans, seam down and cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap.

Let the dough rise 60-90 minutes, until doubled in size.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and place a rack in the center of the oven.

Remove the plastic wrap and bake the bread for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown and baked through (internal temperature of 190 degrees).

Remove the bread and place it on a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Makes 2 loaves of marble rye bread.

Source: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart

* To make this without a stand mixer, you can either mix each dough separately in a bread machine on the dough cycle or by hand.  To mix by hand, combine the ingredients using the directions above in a large mixing bowl and knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it becomes elastic, then proceed.

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Pushed & Pulled

Home improvement projects manage to occur in groups for me.  It started on Friday when I decided I would finally deal with the vent cover in the living room that’s loose only to end up removing the first floor vent covers and scrubbing them.  Over the weekend we decided we’d finally get around to hanging stuff on the walls.  It was high time we got around to doing that, seeing as how we just finished discussing where we wanted to hang these items.  Just finished discussing it in October, that is.  Then, Lane replaced the toilet flapper and well, I couldn’t be outdone.  Around Thanksgiving, we acquired four chairs that we figured would work well with the dining room chairs we already have.  After giving them a scrubbing and replacing the hideous vinyl that was covering the chair pads, anyway.  So through the entire holiday season I kept saying that I’d get to these chairs.  Then I waited almost three more months, for good measure.  Armed with an Exacto knife and a scrubbie sponge (and various other implements that said “I mean business”), I managed to remove the aforementioned hideous vinyl (both layers), staples of assorted sizes, and a quantity of upholstery nails that could keep a Home Depot stocked for ten years.  So to recap, I now have sparkly clean vent covers, stuff on the walls, flappy flappers in the toilets (they’re supposed to flap, right? I don’t fix toilets . . .), and a total of eight dining room chairs that I love.

There is a limit, however, to my productivity.  When I’m fussing around the house and making sure the cat isn’t crawling into the vent where I’ve just removed the cover so that I can scrub it (who does this?!), I can’t be hovering over the stove at the same time.  Well, unless it needs to be taken apart and cleaned as well, but in that case I probably shouldn’t be making dinner on it at the same time.  So on days when big or little home improvements take over, it’s nice to throw a few things in the crock pot and have dinner ready when I’m done with all of the insanity home improvement.  Enter crock pot pulled pork.  Pork chops, onions, barbecue sauce.  Throw those three things into the crock pot, shred, and serve on hamburger buns or in tortillas or taco shells.  I could go on and on with serving suggestions but those are my favorites.

crock pot pulled pork

Crock Pot Barbecue “Pulled” Pork

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. boneless center cut pork chops
  • 1 C. your favorite barbecue sauce 
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced

Directions:

Spray the inside of a crock pot with non-stick cooking spray or line with a crock pot liner.

Spread the onion slices evenly across the bottom of the crock pot.

Place the pork chops onto the onion slices.

Pour the barbecue sauce over the pork chops.

Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

Remove the pork chops and shred using two forks.

Return the shredded pork to the crock pot and stir it in with the onions and sauce.

If needed, add more barbecue sauce.

Serve as desired (but I strongly suggest serving this on sandwich buns).

Makes 6-8 servings.

Source: Diana Dishes original

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Bun It

Even though there is still plenty of snow on the ground and there may be more on the way, I know spring is coming.  In case no one knew, after spring comes summer (I know, I’m a fountain of useful information).  When the weather gets warm, I run out to the grill and when I’m done telling it how much I missed it all winter, I use it to make cheeseburgers.  I know there are people who brave the elements and grill year-round but considering that our back deck still has a foot of snow on it, we are not those people this year.  I applaud anyone who will run outside in thirty degree weather to flip a steak.  From inside the warm house, I applaud them.  Marking Ostara (the spring equinox) on the calendar led me to thinking about how grilling time is coming, whether or not there’s snow here right now.  To make sure we’re ready, I wanted to try my hand at making hamburger buns so that I had plenty of time for trial and error before we flip the first burgers on the grill this year.

It turns out, I didn’t need much trial at all.  Even though it’s my nature to try out what feels like a hundred ways of making something, if I didn’t make hamburger buns any other way, I could be happy with that.  These are great and like the other bread items I now make at home, they’re way better than store-bought.  The dough mixes up easily and the buns get brushed with butter to give them a nice golden color (and let’s be honest- a little butter never makes anything taste bad).  They can be topped with sesame seeds or poppy seeds or anything you love on your hamburger buns.  I left these plain and while such additions wouldn’t hurt them any, they definitely aren’t necessary.  These buns are going to be great for our burgers, but they’re great sandwich buns as well.  I made twelve buns by dividing the dough into 12 equal pieces and they were the perfect hamburger size.  For larger buns, the dough can be divided into eight pieces, or you could make slider buns by dividing the dough into twenty-four pieces.

hamburger or sandwich buns

Hamburger or Sandwich Buns

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 to 1 C. lukewarm water
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 C. sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. instant yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter, for finishing

Directions:

Mix the water, softened butter, egg, flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a bread machine or by hand in a large mixing bowl) until you have a soft, smooth dough.

Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm place until it has nearly doubled, 1-2 hours.

Gently push down the dough and divide it into 12 equal portions (or 8 for larger buns, 24 for slider buns, a food scale helps to keep the portions equal).

Shape each portion into a round ball and then flatten the top so each portion is a thick disc.

Place the discs onto a parchment paper lined (or lightly greased) baking sheet.

Cover the baking sheet and let the dough rise in a warm place until the discs have noticeably puffed up, about 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly brush the buns with 1 Tbsp. of the melted butter.

Bake the buns for 15-18 minutes, until golden.

Remove the buns from the oven and lightly brush them with the remaining melted butter.

Place the buns on a wire rack to cool completely before slicing with a sharp, serrated knife.

Makes 12 hamburger or sandwich buns (or 8 larger buns, or 24 slider buns).

Source: King Arthur Flour

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Tortilla Flats

More and more, when I make a meal plan, I find myself making a grocery list and thinking “I don’t need to buy this, I could make this.”  We’ve already peeled ourselves away from store-bought bread and I fully admit that when I started that project, I figured I’d be making sandwich bread and pizza crusts and that should cover most of our bread needs.  Then I remembered that we like bagels for breakfast and sometimes English muffins, so I started making those at home as well with great results.  While making the meal plan for this week, I decided on a dish that called for tortillas.  I added them to the grocery list.  Then I crossed them off and decided that I would try making them at home along with the other bread items I’ve tackled.

I’m so happy that I did.  These are better than any tortilla I’ve ever had out of a plastic bag from the grocery store.  These actually have flavor to them- a buttery, wheaty, fresh flavor.  The dough comes together in a flash in the food processor, and after a short rest rolling them out and cooking them takes no time at all.  It doesn’t look like tortillas will be on my grocery list again any time soon.  I substituted some whole wheat flour for some of the all-purpose in the original recipe and it worked out really well.  To cook these, roll out and cook one tortilla at a time.  Because they cook quickly and over-cooking them will result in a harder dry tortilla, this isn’t the place to multi-task.  By rolling out one tortilla, cooking it, and then starting the next one, you give the pan a chance to heat up again and don’t run the risk of drying these out or burning them.

diy flour tortillas

Flour Tortillas

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C. whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 heaping tsp. salt
  • 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾-1 C. water

Directions:

In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and butter.  (If you are not using a food processor, combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl and cut the butter in using forks or a pastry blender until crumbly.)

Pulse for about 5 seconds, until the mixture is crumbly.

With the food processor running, slowly stream in the water just until the dough forms a consistent, dense ball that travels with the blade around the bowl of the food processor (or pour the water in slowly, stirring constantly if not using a food processor.

Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 30 seconds or so just until the dough is tacky.  If the dough is too sticky, knead in a small amount of flour at a time until the dough is smooth but tacky.

Separate the dough into 12 equal portions (using a food scale helps to make sure the pieces are the same size) and roll each portion into a small ball.

Set the 12 dough balls on a lightly floured surface, cover with a clean towel and let them rest for 10 minutes.

Heat a large skillet (preferably a non-stick or cast iron skillet) over medium heat.

Working one dough ball at a time, flatten each dough ball into a disc, then use a floured rolling pin on a floured surface to roll each ball into a circle 8″ in diameter.  Keep other dough balls covered while you do this.

Put the tortilla into the heated skillet and cook for 12-20 seconds (this is going to depend on how hot your pan is so watch carefully), just until bubbles form and the tortilla is lightly browned,  then flip and cook for an additional 10-12 seconds, until lightly browned.

Continue the same way with the remaining dough balls until all have been cooked into tortillas, reducing the heat as needed.

Store tortillas for up to one week in an airtight bag in the refrigerator.

Makes 12 tortillas.

Source:  adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

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