Monday, March 25, 2013

Brunch: Pork-filled Muffins

This past Friday, a coworker asked the familiar Friday afternoon question: have any weekend plans? I replied that we were going for brunch in a small town in the area. This created interest. Where? What are their specialties? An implied "why have I never heard of this place before?" We were at the home of a former coworker of the Workaholic. We didn't really know what to bring. Bloody Marys? Rolls? Cheese? We knew that omelets would be provided, as well as Bellinis. Neither of us has a sweet tooth, but my Friday afternoon mind recalled a baked good she had read about a while back: bbq pulled pork stuffed cheddar-scallion cupcakes. This was the kind of baked good I could deal with.

There are no recipes for bbq pulled pork stuffed cheddar-scallion cupcakes on the web. In fact, the original appears to be a closely guarded secret.  All I knew was: bbq pulled pork in a Red Lobster-esque casing. Not knowing the least about baking, I started.

Saturday night, I made pulled pork with a store-bought rib rub, to which I added cumin (there was none included, and I like cumin). I made my own BBQ sauce with as much smoke as I could add without going outside: smoked garlic and smoked paprika. I drew the line at adding liquid smoke. I added warm beer, mainly because it was warm. Had the beer been cold, I may have consumed it on my own.

The "muffin mix" was easy:
1 3/4 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
ca 2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp cooled bacon fat (if you don't keep this in your fridge like I do, I guess you could leave it out)
1 c grated cheddar + 1/2 c
1 c thinly sliced green onions (scallions)
1 1/2 c buttermilk

Add baking powder and salt to flour. Crumble in butter and bacon fat until the mixture feels like sand. Add 1 cup cheddar and scallions. Add milk.

Place 1/2 Tbsp in the bottom of a muffin tin. Add pulled pork. Cover with 1 Tbsp of "muffin" mixture. Bake at 200 C for 15 minutes. Top with the remaining cheddar and continue to bake for a further 5 minutes.

These went over well at brunch, with the advice from a restauranteur that I leave off the paper liners & just grease the cupcake tins (and maybe add a hint of chopped jalapenos - but the restauranteur is from Arizona, so I'm not surprised with this advice). There's a lot more experimenting to be done.

The odd thing with experimenting is, sometimes it is well received, other times it is not. I'm taking my chances and publishing my incomplete results.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentines Bouquet

For all those in North America, I understand you may be tired of bacon. Bacon has been everywhere - not only on burgers and in cheesecakes but it snuck its way into an envelope filled with lip balm. Germany is a little different. While the country is far from underdeveloped in the porcine-products, bacon is only one of many ways to eat a pig.

Hot on the heels of the 6th Bacon Festival, I made the Workaholic a bacon-themed Valentine. I got the instructions from Instructables and made a few adjustments. German bacon is something of a joke. There are no thick slabs, the uncooked slices are maybe 15 cm (6"), the thin raw meat threatens to dissolve in your fingers as you lift it out of its plastic cocoon. There was no way I would fill 24 mini muffin tins with this bacon. Furthermore, there was no way I was going to drill holes in my muffin tins; I'd have to justify destroying pans by having weekly bouquets. There's only so many bouquets the Workaholic can handle before he has a heart attack.*

Wrapped around themselves, theses slices of bacon went in the oven and out came a bouquet of... well... roses on tulip bodies? Mutant flowers? One of the more ridiculous Valentine's presents? Yes, we'll call it one of the more ridiculous Valentine's presents. Now the challenge is: how to make something more ridiculous and delicious next year.

*the original plan to make a meal out of the bouquet and cheese fondue got nixed for fear of the need to call an ambulance.
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