Upscale Pigs in the Blanket (Chicken Sausage-Cranberry Pigs-in-Blankets)

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I found this recipe in a mini appetizer book.  It is an upscale mini hot dog with a nice blend of sweet and tangy flavors.  It is always well received.  Kids can help make them in the kitchen.  This recipe can easily be doubled and leftovers can be frozen.  If I know I will be freezing portions to be reheated later I slightly undercook.   Often I need to make this recipe without the nuts because of nut allergies.  I personally think the recipe is more tasty with the almond slivers but it is certainly still good without nuts.  Exact measurements are not required.  Prep time for a double recipe is about 20 minutes using a Cuisinart.  Cleanup is very easy especially if you throw your Cuisinart pieces in the dishwasher.  Cooking time is 20 minutes.  Make sure you allow 30-40 to thaw your dough.  Do not prematurely pull out the dough from the freezer.  If the dough gets too soft, making the hot dogs will become difficult.

Ingredients for 1 batch:  Yields 25-30 mini dogs

1/3rd cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves – do not substitute dry

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1/4 cup grated Gruyere Cheese

1 teaspoon whole-grain or creamy dijon mustard (if I am doubling the recipe I use one heaping teaspoon of each)

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

2-3 links PRE-COOKED apple flavored (or other) chicken sausage.  The package I show requires just two links given the thickness of the links.

 

Directions:

Defrost Pastry Dough (allow 30-40 minutes).  Open box.  Set on counter.  Do not try to unroll dough until fully defrosted.

Combine cranberries, parsley, almonds, cheese, and mustard in a food processor fired with a metal blade and process to coarse paste.  It takes about 30-60 seconds.

Place pastry dough on work surface (cutting board works well).   Cut into 3 long strips (10 inches) and then 8-10 approximately 1 inch cuts across.

Cut sausage links in half lengthwise and then cut each link 5-7 slices the other direction depending on the brand.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare a small bowl of warm water and set aside.

Press about a half teaspoon cranberry mixture onto center of each pastry strip, leaving the sides empty of paste.

Top each with piece of sausage.

Slightly wet the sides of each strip (using your water bowl).

Bring the ends together up and over the sausage.  Press firmly to seal and place on a non-stick baking sheet (I usually lay some parchment down or spray some cooking spray but neither step is necessary).

Do not crowd dogs and bake for 20 minutes if serving right away or 18 minutes if freezing for later cooking.  The pastry at either time should be baked through but at 20 minutes the dough will be a slightly darker color.

Serve piping hot with additional mustard.

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Sausage – notice words at bottom fully cooked.  I did remove the small amount of casing.  Not not all precooked sausage has a casing film.

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Parsley, Cheese, Cranberry Paste

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Prepping Pastry

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Prepping Dogs

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Preparing the Dogs

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Precooked

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Cooked cooling on a baking rack

 

Fresh Homemade Cherry Pie From Scratch

I am sorry I don’t have a great photo but this pie is worth every bit of effort to make it.  Crust recipe is incredibly forgiving even for a novice.  I got it from a friend of mine and use it for all my pies.  The cherry filling piece of the recipe came from another friend.  Lastly I credit Mark Bittman for general baking instructions.

Double Crust 9-Inch Pie Crust

Will work with a deep dish 9 or low 10 inch

Make in Cuisinart with regular dough blade

Key is to keep all the ingredients cold. Even put the dry ingredients in the freezer for a few minutes before starting…but especially important that the butter and shortening are chilled.   (cut butter and then chill, measure Crisco).  For me keeping cold was about 20-30 minutes.

Crust Ingredients

–       2 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface

–       1 tsp salt

–       2 tbsp sugar  (will also need a little sugar to sprinkle on top pie crust)

–       1/2 cup vegetable shortening, chilled

–       12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter cut into 1/4 inch pieces

–       6-8 tbsp ice water

–       note need a little milk for top of second pie crust

Directions for Pie Crust

Mix dry ingredients in a food processor, then add shortening (about ten seconds). Then cut the butter into the flour mixture until pale yellow, coarse crumbs. Pulse the processor to do this. Then add ice water until dough sticks together. Add little bit of ice water as needed to make dough stick. Divide the dough into two even balls and flatten into 4 inch disks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least an hour (up to two days) before rolling. Roll out on well dusted surface to prepare the crusts.

Ingredients Cherry Filling

–       5 cups pitted cherries (slice the larger ones in half) – try to drain and keep as dry as possible.  William Sonoma sells a Cherrymat Cherry Pitter for $29.95.  I have a seen a similar one for slightly less.  This gadget works incredibly well and if you plan to make this pie a few times a year, suck it up and buy it.  It will save you oodles of time.  Freeze any unneeded cherries and consider making a fruit topping for waffles/pancakes.

–       little less than 3/4th cup sugar

–       1/3 cup flour

–       1 generous tablespoon of cornstarch

–       2 tablespoons of butter cut into small pieces

Directions for Filling

Toss lightly all but the butter

When ready to make pie – preheat oven to 450

1)   Roll out first dough (if from fridge, let sit for 10-15 minutes max) from center out

2)   When close to 10“ check diameter large enough with upset down pie plate

3)   Transfer first crust – fold in quarters, move, then unfold

4)   When dough is in place, press firmly in the bottom, sides and junction of bottom and sides

5)   Trim excess dough to about ½ inch all around, then tuck under edge of plate

6)   Fill the pie with the cherry mixture – little heavier in the center of pie

7)   Dot with the 2 tablespoons of butter throughout.

8)   Place second crust on top of pie dish (using quarter method above)

9)   Trim if necessary

10)  Decorate edges of pie crust with fork

11)  Place pie on a baking sheet and brush top lightly with milk.  This step saves your oven from becoming messy.

12)  Sprinkle with sugar throughout lightly

13)  Use sharp paring knife cut to to three 2 inch long vent holes in top crust for steam escape

14)  Place in oven 450 for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 for 40-50 minutes (mine was ready at 40 minutes exactly).  Pie should be golden brown.  Do not underbake

15)  Cool on rack before serving warm.

 Fresh Whip Cream Ingredients and Directions

–       Put  mixer bowl and whipping beater in freezer for 20-30 minutes

–       1 cup heavy whipping cream (do not pull out of fridge until ready to make)

–       1 tablespoon + of sugar to taste

–       Slowly bring heavy whipping cream (no sugar) up to high speed for a few minutes

–       Before starting to near the consistency of peaks you should add 1 tablespoon of sugar and keep beating

I serve the whip cream on the side versus placing directly on the pie.

Delicious!!!!!!!!!!

Barefoot Contessa’s Crab Strudel – Luxury Appetizer or Entree

When I saw this in Ina’s Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, I was attracted to the small number of ingredients, 20 minute prep time, and the ability to freeze the dish and bake-off at a later date.  I was secretly also hoping to get a wow factor from the crowd, and I had success.  The good news indeed the ingredients are easy to find in a store.  The bad news is that 20 minutes of prep is not realistic.  I would say if you are prepping this solo, count on 30-40 minutes unless you are proficient with pastry dough.  In addition you need to plan ahead before making the dish.  The dough needs to defrost for 8 hours or overnight in your fridge.  Then it needs to rest at room temperature for 30-40 minutes before using.  I suggest you gather all your ingredients, then take out the dough, and start your timer and complete your prep work.  The sheets needs to be soft but not too soft.  Yes you might have time to kill waiting for the dough to get just right, but you can always start cleaning up.  Once you start working with the sheets you need to cover the unused sheets with a damp dish cloth (non fluffy type that won’t stick to dough).    Finally my experiment freezing went well but I thought the dish tasted slightly better when baked immediately after prepping vs the frozen but not enough for your guests to likely care.  Her yield says 6-8.  If it is a main entree I think that sounds about right.  But I served a half a recipe for 6 people as an appetizer and it was a perfect quantity.

In terms of difficulty, I upped this to medium because pastry dough is tricky.  However in reality if you just read the box directions and the directions in the recipe, I think it is hard to mess this recipe up.  I used Wegmans Ready to Use Phyllo Pastry Sheets.   http://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?productId=713431&storeId=10052&langId=-1  Our store carried two sizes and I used the larger size but the smaller size would be fine.   My recipe yielded 4 meaty size loaves.  I got the crab at Wegmans too.  The brand was called Graham & Rollins Inc. Crabmeat, Jumbo Lump.  It came in a one pound container and I never saw one shell and the crab tasted great.  Downside is that the container costs close to $30.00.  At Wholefoods it would be significantly more.

Ingredients

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided   (2 tablespoons + 10 tablespoons)

3 scallions, chopped (use whole of scallion cut into small slices)

2 garlic cloves, minced (I hand diced small)

1 teaspoon curry powder (I think you could add a touch more (extra half teaspoon?) and have a more favorable result.  In the website many wrote in they used Old Bay.  I think that would be fine too but give a different flavor for sure)

1 pound lump crabmeat, drained and picked to remove shells

2 teaspoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 lime, juiced

Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

10 sheets phyllo dough (such as Pepperidge Farm) – I used Wegmans brand and 20 sheets (4 rolls, 5 sheets each)

1/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs – I used a half cup at least and would measure at least that amount out.  (I used Panko style)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saute pan, add the scallions and garlic and cook over medium-low heat until the scallions are soft, approximately 5 minutes. Add the curry powder (or old bay) and stir.

Shred the crabmeat into a bowl and mix with the parsley, lime juice, salt, to taste, and pepper.   She then says add the crabmeat to the scallion mixture.  I found it easier to add the scallion mixture to the crabmeat bowl.

Melt 10 tablespoons of butter in a small pan and set aside.

TIP:COVER YOUR DOUGH WITH WET CLOTH WHILE YOU PAINT WITH BUTTER AND SPRINKLE CRUMBS – CAREFULLY MOVE THE SHEETS TO YOUR WORKSPACE

Unfold 1 sheet of the phyllo dough. Brush the sheet with melted butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs.  (My sprinkles caused me to end up using 1/2 cup total).   Repeat the process by laying a second sheet of phyllo dough over the first sheet, brush it with melted butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs until 5 sheets have been used. Spoon a 1-inch wide row of the crab mixture along 1 edge of the phyllo dough. Roll it up. Brush the top with butter and set aside. Repeat the entire process using the all the phyllo dough and crab filling.

Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper. Score the crab strudel diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces and bake for 12 minutes, or until the top is lightly brown. Slice and serve.

If you are using a previously made batch from the freezer I had success pulling it out of the freezer 1 hour before cooking and resting at room temperature.  I remelted some butter and painted the tops again before baking.  Make sure your score marks are deep enough if you are using previously frozen dough so you get a good chance at the crab evenly warming.  At the same time, you don’t want to score all the way through or the dish will fall apart.   I had to bake closer to 18 minutes on the frozen logs.  The straight to the oven pieces needed 12 minutes max.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/crab-strudel-recipe.print.html?oc=linkback

Below are pictures just before going into the oven and as it came out as well as the crab mixture.

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