Stuffed Crescent Rolls: The Best Way To Clean Out Your Fridge

doneplated

Usually this would be offered to you with a recipe for the most beautiful crescent roll dough, especially with my new Kitchenaid in tow. However, I recently ended up with a tube of one of those pre-made pop-open crescent roll tubes – and a fridge full of food.

We all know homemade is better, but we also sometimes have to admit – those pop-open canister crescent rolls are mighty tasty (and so fun to open!). Definitely good enough on their own, they’re also awesome with some chicken, dipped in soup, or like a friend made – as a topping for savory meat pie.  But with a fridge full of cheese, meat, veggies and the tiniest bit of left over fruit – I figured, “how about stuffing them?”

And so, after tearing through the fridge, pulling out most of what was in there and staring at it, I put together the following fillings and combinations: (in no particular order)

1. rasberries (with a pinch of sugar on the dough)

2. salami, fresh mozzarella, a tiny dose of the best horseradish mustard around

3. roasted red beets, black pepper, and Cypress Grove fresh goat cheese

4. roasted potatoes and the remnants of some red pepper and eggplant spread

5. roasted mushrooms and Taleggio cheese (with the tiniest brush of truffle butter on the crust)

6. roasted broccoli and Beemster mild cheddar

7. fresh mozzarella and last night’s anchovy pizza sauce

8. roasted jalapenos and smoked gouda

Roasting all the veggies before putting them in the rolls really makes a difference; because the crescent rolls don’t cook for more than 7-ish minutes, any vegetables inside will stay mostly raw. Raw potatoes, raw jalapenos, raw beets (certainly no good)– the mushrooms and broccoli could work raw, but I recommend making them better by roasting.

You will need:

  • 1 canister pre-made crescent rolls
  • a few veggies from your fridge (anything you have laying around)
  • fresh berries (anything you have laying around)
  • a few tablespoons of a few different cheeses
  • a few slices of tasty meat: salami, prosciutto, ham
  • one egg

To roast the vegetables:

  1. pre-heat your oven to 425
  2. clean and dice each 1/2 beet, 1/2 potato (or anything you are using) very small; clean any cauliflower or broccoli into 4-5 tiny florets; quarter 3-4 mushrooms; half 1 jalapeno down the middle and pull as many seeds out as possible
  3. leaving out red beets, toss and coat all veggies together with olive oil, salt and pepper; toss beets with olive oil, salt and pepper separately to keep from bleeding onto the others
  4. spread veggies evenly onto a sheet tray and roast until slightly browned and cooked through
  5. if some veggies cook first, take them off of the sheet tray and begin cooling

Once the jalapeno is done, try to peel it as best as possible, get the seeds out and very finely chop it:

jalapenoschopped

Once each of the veggies are done, turn the oven down to 375.

While the oven cools, make sure you have all your fillings (berries are cleaned and raw) out and ready and have laid out your little triangles of dough like so:

unrolledunfilled

Now, you can go ahead and start putting the filling on top of the triangles, taking care not to be too generous, as it will squish out the sides as it bakes.

unrolledfilledbetter

Next, roll them up gently and set them aside for a quick second.

Separate one egg, discard the white and use a fork to lightly scramble the yolk.

Finishing Touches

Use a pastry brush to put a thin coat of egg yolk on both sides of each roll (unless you are using any flavored butter, in which case see below).

If using any butter, melt it gently just enough to be able to brush it on, but not enough for it to be hot, and brush it on in place of the egg wash.

Sprinkle the top of the berry roll with a pinch of sugar, and the beets/goat cheese with a pinch of black pepper, the mozzarella and pizza sauce with a pinch of crushed red pepper.

rolleduncooked

Place the rolls gently on a baking sheet (I recommend using a Silpat or parchment paper beneath for easy clean up if the cheese or anything else melts out) and get them in the oven, baking until golden brown.

donerollsunplated

Let cool to the bite and dive in!

Search through your own fridge and see what you can find to fill a few rolls – I guarantee you’ll find plenty of treats and combinations to play with!

halfeaten

 Have fun and enjoy!

Meatballs 3 Ways

After the winning meatballs and guacamole incident, I’ve begun to look at meatballs in an entirely different way (my weekly Saturday trip to Lucca doesn’t hurt, either…). They don’t have to be with noodles; nor to do they have to be with tomato sauce. They make great crostini toppers and appetizers as well as a slightly less traditional pal to pasta. I mean really – think of all the options: a meat ball is basically a burger in a ball, so you could combine just about any concoction and it will probably be tasty, right? Well, probably wrong, but you get the idea.

Before the recipes, here’re a couple notes:

    For all of these recipes, except for the goat cheese, the cheese is a bit salty so you should be sure to go easy when salting the meat.

    If you plan on mixing and then storing the meat for a bit, make sure that the meat is completely covered with plastic wrap that is directly on the meat. Don’t cover a bowl that has the meat in it, make sure the cover is touching the meat and keeping air out of it. The exposure to air will oxidize the meat and turn it brown. (This is how to know what meat NOT to buy in the store: you want good bright red meat.

    I strongly recommend butter basting these.

And so, without further ado, here are three eclectic meatball ideas: two appetizers and one main.

The instructions/process for all is the same:

      Very thoroughly mix all ingredients by hand or with a fork.
      Roll into medium sized balls.
      Add olive oil and butter to a skillet and heat on medium heat until butter is melted but not browned.
      Add meatballs, one by one and turn until all sides are browned, adding bits of butter when it starts to brown, and basting as they brown.

Prosciutto and Reggiano Meatballs
prosciuttomeatballs2

    1 ½ lb ground meat, part beef and part turkey (of course veal would always be a substitute…)
    ¼ cup fresh reggiano
    ¼ cup prosciutto, cooked until almost crispy (I recommend smoked prosciutto)
    1T chopped fresh parsley
    2 egg yolk
    3t breadcrumbs
    Salt (easy) and fresh ground pepper

    Serve over fresh noodles with olive oil, shaved Reggiano and a sprinkling of coarse Fleur de Sel (or sea salt). Add app. 2 teaspoons cooked chopped prosciutto to every 2 cups pasta, if you wanna.


Blue Cheese Meatballs
bluecheesemeatballs

    Serving these with a small amount of blue on baguette will help bring out the mild blue cheese flavor in the meatballs. It depends on how much you like blue cheese though. Use the meat drippings to pour over the baguette.

    1 ½ lb ground meat, part beef and part turkey
    1 cup blue cheese (best are the milder, less salty and not too creamy ones because like the goat cheese, when it melts, it will have trouble holding together.)
    2 egg whites
    3t bread crumbs
    Salt (easy) and fresh ground pepper

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Meatball Sliders goatcheesemeatballs

    The creaminess of the goat cheese when it melts makes it hard for it to completely stick together, so this works really well as an appetizer slider on baguette.

    1 ½ lb ground meat, part beef and part turkey
    1/3 cup fresh goat cheese
    3t fresh rosemary, stemmed and finely chopped
    1t finely minced garlic
    2 eggs
    1 french baguette, sliced into ½ inch rounds, buttered and toasted

    *Reserve the juices in the pan and make a light pan sauce using 1 ½ T cream, 1T white wine and 1T finely minced garlic. Add to the still warm pan with meat drippings and scrape the pan. Cook over medium heat until wine is reduced and cream is browned. Pour over sliders. (Or keep it simple by a) pouring the as-is drippings over the meatballs and baguette, or b) just put the meatball on the bread and call it.)

    Serve meatball sliders on top of the toasted baguette.

Where can I get some ground duck?

Prosciutto and Provolone Stuffed Peppers: Holy Cow

When starting this blog, I made a decision that I wasn’t going to post ramblings on other peoples food – restaurants, markets, whatever. While it’s true that I spend a significant majority of my time thinking about other people’s restaurants, markets and food, there are already enough people doing a fine job writing about this and one more would just make it bla-zee as they say.

But.

I was at Lucca the other day – my most favorite Italian deli in San Francisco (and I know my Italian delis) and as I do each time I’m there, I picked up something that I haven’t yet tried: Cherry peppers stuffed with prosciutto and provolone.luccapeppers1Oh mama.

I can hardly talk about it, it makes my heart flutter. Instead, I will take a short moment to IMPLORE you to stop by your local Italian deli and get a few. You will die a happy person, I promise you this. See: luccapeppers21

They are a fairly common Italian snack and any place that offers fresh cured meats and cheeses should have them. If not, try this:

IBFoods

(or)
Pork Store Brooklyn
(or)
Mariano Foods

Next up from Lucca is marinated pig’s feet. What do you think it’ll be like?

Cured Pork

Somewhere in the development of commercial agriculture, the artisanship of food began to deteriorate…. but what remains can still be found holding strong in charcuterie. The best of the best within this category (save for head cheese) lies in all the varieties of cured porks. In this first installment of a series on cured pork and its uses, I will guide you through how its made, where its made, and when to use it and hopefully impart in you a little more of a love for these products, what goes into them and the glory they can create for your plate.

Guanciale

What:
Guanciale is an unsmoked cut of pork cheek or jowl, seasoned with salt and black or red pepper and marinated for 3 weeks to 40 days, then hung to dry.

Where:
Italy, traditionally in Umbria and Lazzo. Known aliases include

When:
Use to lard pork chops (link), spaghetti all’amatriciana, spaghetti alla carbonara. Just like you would bacon, save the fat from frying and use in sauces and other recipes to infuse them with the rich flavor. Fry like bacon or pancetta for pasta sauces, salad toppings etc.

*While it seems to be a popular consensus that you just can’t get Guanciale outside of Italy, its not true. The first Italian deli I asked (which also happens to be my favorite), Lucca Ravioli had it. I tried my next favorite Italian deli, Molinari’s in North Beach, also had it. So, that’s 2 out of 2. Not as rare in the states as it seems, I guess.

Bacon

What: There are several versions of what we all believe to be the true “definition” of bacon. Generally, it’s cut from the sides, belly, or back of a pig, then cured, smoked, or both. The USDA definition, however, is “the cured belly of a swine carcass”; other cuts and characteristics must be separately qualified (e.g., “smoked pork loin bacon”). I’m going to be honest and say that – while I admit it is, indeed, accurate – the use of the word “carcass” in a government approved definition of food is unsettling.

When: just about anytime, I can’t possibly list them all. Always save bacon fat to cook with. Great for pan sauces, cream sauces, wrap meat with it, use it to lard or bard (link) Replace for guanciale in carbonara,

*If you’re a fan of the fun that bacon brings, take a look at the Seattle-based bacon-loving block Iheartbacon.com, or baconunwrapped.com.

Prosciutto

What:
Though literally just the Italian word for “ham”, in English, prosciutto refers to an aged, dry-cured, spiced Italian ham, sliced very thin (the thinner the better) and served raw. In Italian, the equivalent of this would be prosciutto-crudo (raw ham).

Where: Regional varieties come from all over Italy, the most well known from Parma (Prosciutto di Parma), Tuscany and Emilia.

When: Perfect alone just as it is, or very traditionally with blue cheese or wrapped around quartered figs. Though when cooked, prosciutto is touchy, when used right, it can be amazing. It takes on a much stronger, almost gamey flavor when cooked, and so should be used in conjunction with equally rich or aggressive foods – heavy cream sauce, stuffed into pork chops with blue cheese, duck-fat mashed potatoes (link) etc.

Some Known Aliases: Jamon Serrano is the Spanish version, rolled in sea salt and dried for one year to 18 months, usually containing less fat. Culatello is always from Parma, Italy and is created using the best part of the meat from the prosciutto cut. It is salted, spiced and tucked into a pig’s bladder and dried for two to three months, then aged in an humid environment.

Pancetta

What:
Pancetta is similar to American “streaky bacon” (the most common cut in the United States). The belly of a pork is salt cured and spiced (nutmeg, pepper, fennel, dried ground hot peppers and garlic are most commonly used), and dried for three-or-so months and usually not smoked. There are many varieties, and in Italy each region produces its own type.

Where:
Varieties are specific to regions in Italy, Croatia and Spain.

When:
A good replacement for guanciale when unavailable, especially in Spaghetti al Carbonara. Fry with brussel sprouts or creamy polenta on toast, or with goat cheese on a baguette, wrap around leaks and poach, diced in spinach salad with shaved pecorino.

You can look forward to more cured meats, such as coppa, soppressata, lardo and mortadella in the upcoming “Guide to Cured Pork: Part Two”.