23 December 12 by

[This is in response to a post on Cooking with Dee.]

I’m not sure what you mean by a ‘gun enthusiast’. So let’s take different views and see if we can get there.

You say you like cooking – so do I. I also like good cooking tools. I have mostly Kitchenaid appliances – I like using them because they are fine – well made, pleasing to the touch – and they do the job I want. I also have very fine knives – Sabatier carbon steel. I don’t know that I’m a knife enthusiast – but I want the tools to do the job properly. These knives feel good to the hand, take a razor sharp edge, are comfortable when chopping, etc. In the case of kitchen tools, I not only like them for what they can do, but also for what they are. However, if I did not cook, I would not have pleasure in the tools.

Same for woodworking – I have a whole shop full of tools – most very fine. And I love them for what they are and what they do.

Now then, guns. There are people who collect them simply for what they are as machines. Many are quite beautiful as machines. I feel some of that but I don’t have the money to collect things that are that expensive for no other reason.

You say that you have an emotional fear/rejection of weapons. OK – but that is emotional, not rational. Much like a fear of spiders or snakes or airplanes. Shall we then ban spiders, snakes, and airplanes? Terms like ‘assault weapon’ are purely emotional terms used to evoke a negative response. So let’s look at some other arguments and see if we can get rational.

Hunting – this is a no-brainer. We have been hunters since our beginning. We still are. It might be noted that if we ban hunting then game wardens have to kill excess herds since we have eliminated natural predators. Animals breed to fill all available food supply and then a bit. When the food supply naturally has a bad year, animals die slowly and painfully. We then have to thin them. It might be pointed out that hunters do and have done more for conservation (they invented it) than all the enviro-nuts out there. Restricting hunting to only black powder or bow is the most rank of hypocrisy and will result in a rise in painfully wounded animals dying slowly. By the way, I remember that back in the 1950s there were herd thinnings and I remember film of rangers in choppers mowing down herds with machine guns. As usual, not all were killed, some were wounded and crawled off to die.

Target shooting – there is a whole lot of pleasure in putting holes in a piece of paper. It is not up to you or anyone else to dictate which hobbies someone might like. I despise football, basketball, and all the rest of the violent sports. Since I don’t like them should I impose my will on everyone else? Even if it is for their own good? This has been the favorite argument of totalitarians imposing restrictive laws. You can’t have a drink – for your own good – created the Mafia and organized crime as it is known and loved today. The restrictive attitude of the early 20th century is still with us.

Self-defense – Also a no-brainer, but let’s look at it. A gun is the ONLY way that an old, crippled, arthritic, weak, small person (or any combination) has of defending against physical violence from a younger, stronger, fitter, etc. attacker. All other forms of defense have limitations. Physical defense – like martial arts. OK – I have to have a fit body, I have to learn and practice for many years. And – contrary to Hollyweird – a larger, stronger adversary will win unless there is a fairly large difference in fighting ability. And so on. All other forms of defense, from rocks to cutting to stabbing to bows all require strength, agility, ability, and skill.

But let us get down to what the Founding Fathers really meant (read the writings of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, the Anti-Federalist papers, etc.). The main purpose of an armed citizenry is to keep the powers of oppression by the government in check. We are supposed to be armed, nasty, and free. The first act of Hitler, Mussolini, and many others has been removal of the guns from the hands of honest citizens. Government cannot, will not, and does not remove guns from the hands of criminals and the insane.



The difference between the Jews in Warsaw and everywhere else is that the Warsaw Jews were successful in taking an honor guard of dead Nazis with them because they had guns and used them. This did several things: They died with honor instead of like sheep in a gas chamber – heroes in my book. They also tied up many German troops that the Nazis could not use elsewhere, which saved many Allied lives since the troops that were shooting at the Jews were not shooting at the Allies.

All governments are magnets for those who seek power and wealth. The main difference that I see is that the crooked Republicans want to take your money, but the Democrats want to take your freedom. Remember that in liberal New York you can no longer super-size a meal because someone else has determined that it for your own good. I am a rational adult human. I will determine what is for my own good and anyone else does not have my permission to make life decisions for me. I don’t understand the logic of people who want to treat children as adults while treating adults as children. Anyone who thinks that government can be trusted to make decisions for them is living in a fantasy land. The reason that you are being scared to death with horror stories about guns is that this government (and the lapdog news media) wants to take away your ability to defend yourself.

As far as ‘assault weapons’, whatever they are: if the government limits my ability to protect myself from it – then that it a good reason to rebel, for each limitation is only another step to dictatorship where I have no say in my life. I should like to point out what the news media has NOT in this country. The same day that the kook broke into the school and killed 20 people in this country the news media was full of it. The Chinese government tsk, tsked and said that we should ban guns. No one has bothered to report that the same day a kook broke into a Chinese school and killed 23 people and children with a knife. Are you ready to ban knives? My 12” kitchen knife would make a nice ‘assault weapon’. People have been killed with rocks. Are we now ready to outlaw ‘assault rocks’?

England and Australia have banned guns. Domestic violence is up. Chicago has banned guns. Murder by guns runs about 20 a week. The only people that gun bans benefit are criminals and dictators. When the sheep ban slings the wolves have a field day.

Switzerland has never been conquered. Even the Nazis ignored it – because, by Swiss law, every household is armed. Isoroku Yamamoto, Japanese commander in chief in WWII, opposed war with America, and wanted nothing to do with invasion plans for the US mainland. He had studied at Harvard and told the Japanese high command that every house in America was armed and there was no possible way to conquer the US by force.

The European model: it is of interest that if you really study the European Union, that goal of socialism that every liberal wants to rule America, you will eventually see that what Germany could not win by arms in WWI or WWII, they have finally achieved today. Total domination of the EU council and that major power of legislation equals Germany now rules Europe. Incidentally, one of the fun provisos is that if you commit an action in your own home [in your country] that is a crime elsewhere in the EU, but not in your country you can be extradited to the other country for prosecution.

Oh yeah, I should mention that if some of those teachers had been armed, the kook would have been dead before he killed all the kids. Actually, since kooks are cowards, he probably would have passed by any place that had people who could defend themselves.

Big guy kicking little guy – how long does it take the cops to get there if no one calls them? If someone does call them? Little guy has a gun – kicking does not even start.

Braised Kale With Pork And Onions

11 December 12 by
Kale salad

Kale salad (Photo credit: Salim Virji)

[For the Orthodox Christians among us, this is obviously NOT a fasting recipe!]

Most of us old Southerners had kale when we were growing up. Mostly it was just boiled forever with some fatback. Then you poured some white vinegar over it and chowed down. If you were good you might get some cornbread to sop up the pot likker. Not bad.

However – there are better ways to do this stuff. This is one of the latest health food crazes. But this version will NOT make a “food-Nazi” very happy.

 1  bag  kale, or 2 bunches, or a little over a pound
 6  1/4” thick hog jowl  slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces  
 2  chopped onions
 1/4  cup  red wine vinegar
 6  drops  Tabasco sauce

Simple ingredients to get a superb result.

Chop up the kale, removing the big stems and cook in a big pot of salted water for 10 minutes. Don’t be shy with the salt. Drain and set aside. Wipe out the pot and use for the next step.

Cook the hog jowl down until it is getting crisp – about 5 minutes. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon. Don’t burn it. Don’t be concerned that there will be some sticky residue in the pot – it will get used. There are those who use bacon for this step. Well, you can. Not as good as the curing medium would obscure some very nice flavors.

While the hog jowl is cooking down chop up a couple of decent sized onions. The sweets are the best. Vidalias when you can get them. Some other sweet if you can’t. Dump the onions in with the pork and continue at a good sauté for 5 to 10 minutes, or until they start getting tender. Add the kale and sauté about 10 minutes and the greens start getting tender. If you stir a lot with the wooden spoon all of the nice brown stuff in the bottom of the pot should be cleared up and incorporated.

Original Tabasco red pepper sauce

Original Tabasco red pepper sauce (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cover and cook for about 15 minutes on low heat. Stir often. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the red wine vinegar. Do not use the cheapest junk in the store. Use a good grade of red wine vinegar and the flavor will be much better for it. Stir in about 6 drop of good Tabasco sauce. Don’t overdo the hot sauce or the flavor will be wrong.

This can be a side dish for four or a main dish for two. Yes, it is that good. Not your mama’s kale.

A Quick Note From Herself

11 December 12 by

I’ve been quite remiss – there is a backlog of recipes Himself has given me, and I haven’t been posting them. Procrastination! My great downfall! I’ll do it in a minute – later – tomorrow – next week – etc. Well, y’all will be in for a treat! Over the next few days to weeks I WILL be posting them! Himself will be checking up on me!

Dolled-Up Fish

7 December 12 by

Here are three different ways to treat any fish – but it works better with stronger fish like cod than it does with more delicate species.

All start with seared or sautéed fish – depending on your preference. 


Thyme+Thyme (Photo credit: jimforest)

 1  Tbs  extra-virgin olive oil or unsalted butter or both
 4  (6-ounce) center-cut fish fillets, skin left on
 Salt and freshly ground black pepper
 4  cloves garlic, lightly crushed
 4  sprigs thyme or 1 tsp. dried
 1  Tbs  unsalted butter

—– Fish —–

Lube a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper and put them into the pan, skin side down, along with the garlic and thyme. Sear the fillets for 3 minutes, turn them over and sear for 3 minutes more. Lower the heat, add the butter and cook another 3 minutes. Adjust time and temperature as necessary for the thickness and species you have. For searing cook hot and fast – you don’t want it burned but rather seared and dark looking. Sauté – use a lower heat and cook more gently as long as needs be to get the fish done and a nice golden surface.

—– Garnishes —–

You actually want to start the garnish ahead or at the same time as the fish so that the fish does not sit around waiting (and deteriorating!).

Make one of the following:

     —–Bordelaise Garnish—–
 2  Tbs  unsalted butter
 1/2  cup  finely chopped shallots
 12  oz  sliced mushrooms
 2  sprigs  thyme or ½ tsp. dried
 1/2  bottle  dry red wine
 6  sprigs  parsley finely chopped or dried to taste

—–Bordelaise Garnish—–

Lube a large skillet over medium-high heat with the butter. Add the shallots and gently sauté about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and thyme and cook 5 more minutes. Add the wine and boil rapidly until the liquid is reduced by half. Discard the thyme if you used fresh sprigs. One of the small individual serving size bottles they sell in the local groceries works quite well for a half recipe, or two for the full. You don’t want to spill this stuff on your clothes or the tablecloth. You will notice that the wine reduces to a wonderful purple thick sauce that would stain any fabric rather fiercely.


Pour the garnish over plates and top with the fish. Sprinkle parsley to taste.


     —–Dijonnaise Garnish—–
 1-1/2  lbs  carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
 1-1/2  lbs  spinach, washed and stemmed
 1  Tbs  unsalted butter
 Salt and freshly ground white pepper
 —–Coating for Fish—–
 2  Tbs  Dijon mustard
 1  cup  fresh bread crumbs
 2  Tbs  minced chives
 1  Tbs  extra-virgin olive oil
 6  sprigs  parsley finely chopped or dried to taste

—–Dijonnaise Garnish—–

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for 1 minute more; drain well and squeeze the excess water from the spinach. It is ok to use a package of frozen spinach – just thaw and dump it in for a minute (do squeeze the excess water first). Lube a heavy skillet with the butter, heat about medium.  Add the carrots and spinach and season with salt and pepper. Cook until well coated with the butter. Stir fairly often. Keep warm. Frozen spinach is much easier – fresh is prettier and more of a hassle. Take your choice.

A 1-liter glass bottle and bowl Bertolli brand...

A 1-liter glass bottle and bowl Bertolli brand Riserva Premium extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil from Italy, Greece, Spain, and Tunisia, and bottled and packed in Italy. Olive oil purchased in a Stow, Ohio store. Photographed in Kent, Ohio, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Preheat the broiler so it is ready when the fish is ready. Coat the fish with the mustard. Mix the bread crumbs, chives and EVOO and spread or pat to cover the fish. Broil until the bread crumbs are pretty and golden brown. It doesn’t take much – you must remember that the fish is already cooked.


Pour the garnish over plates and top with the fish. Sprinkle parsley to taste.


     —–Lyonnaise Garnish—–
 3  Tbs  extra-virgin olive oil
 1-1/2  lbs  potatoes, peeled and cubed about  1/2”
 1-1/2  lbs  sweet onions, cubed about 1/2”
 Salt and freshly ground pepper
 2  Tbs  red wine vinegar
 6  sprigs  parsley finely chopped or dried to taste

—–Lyonnaise Garnish—–

Lube a heavy skillet with the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and cook, turning frequently, for 10 minutes. Watch the heat – you don’t want to scorch them. Lower the heat, add the onions, salt and pepper, and cook until the onions are translucent and the potatoes are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes more. Add the vinegar and boil until it has reduced to a thick syrup. Yukon Gold potatoes are good. You can really use any kind you like. You can leave the skins on if that suits your taste – try it both ways and see which you like best.


Pour the garnish over plates and top with the fish. Sprinkle parsley to taste.

Alternate suggestions for plating:

Try warming the plates before serving – it adds a nice touch. (That’s warm – not hot.)

If you are doing a buffet or serving at the table you can pour the garnish over a serving platter and top with all the fillets. Then sprinkle with parsley until it looks nice.

Squash Casserole with Mushrooms

7 December 12 by
Butter and a butter knife

Butter and a butter knife (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that spring is here veggie casseroles are worth thinking about. This is just another of the 15 billion ways of serving squash. The main thing is that this one is especially good and easy. You can vary just about any part of this to suit your own taste-buds. This will serve two as a main dish or four as a side dish – just vary the amounts to suit your own needs.

2  fair-sized crook-neck squash
1  large onion
mushrooms, sliced
unsalted butter (about 1 stick)
light wine
kosher salt
coarse crushed saltine crackers

Preheat the oven to 400F. Butter an appropriate-sized casserole dish. Put in a layer of sliced squash.  Put a layer of sliced onion on top of the squash. Put a layer of sliced mushrooms. You can use fresh mushrooms if you’ve got them or canned (usually in a jar) if not. Dot generously with butter. Lightly salt and pepper. Repeat as necessary. When you get to the top layer, then drizzle with a good light wine. A white or rose or so that tastes good to you. Sprinkle tarragon to taste. I like it just enough wine and tarragon to lend taste, but not enough to overpower.

Bake 400F for about 50 minutes to 1 hour. The veggies should be tender but not dried or burned.  Sprinkle a heavy layer of crushed saltines. Dot generously with butter. Back in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes. You want the butter melted and bubbling but the saltines should not be burned. Broil for a few minutes until crackers are lightly browned. Serve while still hot.


Zucchini (Photo credit: Farmanac)

As a variation you could use panko or bread crumbs – but if you do you may have to adjust the salt a bit. The saltines lend just the right amount for the finishing touch. Another variation is to use one yellow and one zucchini, or both zucchini, or whatever. (Kinda’ nice with one yellow and one zucchini).

Marinara Gravy

7 December 12 by

2012-09-06 - Spicy Marinara Sauce - 0002

2012-09-06 – Spicy Marinara Sauce [Gravy] – 0002 (Photo credit: smiteme)

Kind of a funny name. You have heard of marinara sauce forever. OK – let’s clear up that little bit of linguistic mystery. To the Italians, sauce has no meat in it. If it has meat or meat juice it is gravy. So – this is a marinara with meat. You can make it without the meat, of course, and then it would be marinara sauce. You will find this to be totally superior to the heavy tomato paste based Americanized stuff.

 olive oil
 1  small onion, finely chopped
 1  large garlic clove, finely chopped
 1  stalk celery, finely chopped
 1  carrot, finely chopped
 1  small handful mushrooms, rough chopped
 1/4  tsp  sea salt
 1/4  tsp  freshly ground black pepper
 1  28-oz. can diced tomatoes
 several fresh basil leaves chiffonade
 1  sweet Italian sausage, casing removed, crumbled

Chop up the veggies, heat up the oil in a pot large enough to hold all the stuff. Add the onions, mushrooms, and garlic and sweat until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes. If you want to increase the garlic to a maximum of 5 cloves and gag your neighbors feel free. The Italians range from reasonable garlic use to totally ridiculous. Too much garlic and you can’t possibly taste anything else.

Oh yeah, chiffonade, just a French word for shredding or making rag-like. Easiest way is to take some sharp scissors and snip the basil up. Traditional chiffonade method is to stack the leaves, roll them into a tight tube, then cut into narrow strips. Either way is OK. The traditional method does produce prettier, more uniform strips. There are some good videos on YouTube and other places to learn good chiffonade technique.

Add the celery, carrots, sausage, salt, and pepper. Sweat until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and basil. Simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Don’t let it dry out, add a bit more water as needed. Serve over spaghetti or as a side dish.

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, the true "par...

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, the true “parmesan” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste only if needed.

You could shred a bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano, but don’t use the powdered crap in the can. I advise tasting before adding anything.

Banana Bread

27 September 12 by
300 g bananas – large and ripe, mashed (1cup) – (about 2 large bananas)
450 g all-purpose flour (2 cups)
5 g baking soda (1 tsp)
3 g salt (1/2 tsp)
1 stick unsalted butter
220 g sugar (1 cup)
2 large eggs
100 g milk (1/3 cup)
4 g lemon juice (1 tsp)
75 g chopped nuts (1/4 cup)

The simple way is to put the bananas in the mixer bowl first, then the rest except the nuts. Mix with a paddle on low speed until smooth. This only takes a minute or two with a good mixer.

Now the old (and harder) way is to cream the wet ingredients together, then sift and mix all the dry ingredients together, and add about a cup at a time to the wet mix, blending well, until all the dry stuff has been added and blended. You can use a mixer or go by hand for this method.


bananas (Photo credit: Fernando Stankuns)

Add the nuts and blend them in. Herself is a big fan of pecans, but suit yourself. Pour into a well-buttered 9x5x3 standard pan.

Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes to an hour or until center springs back when pressed lightly.

I think everyone knows that this is what you can do with over-ripe (blackened) bananas. Fortunately, this is also pretty good dessert. Goes well heated with some butter, or room temp with whipped cream.

Easy Spaghetti Sauce

27 September 12 by
July's Tomato Haul

July’s Tomato Haul (Photo credit: statelyenglishmanor)

Herself has threatened bodily harm if I didn’t write this down and forgot it. She wants it again, you see.

olive oil
mushrooms, button & chanterelle work well. Rough chop.
red wine or red vermouth
meat – spicy sausage works well
fresh tomato – chunked
Clamato Juice

If the chanterelles are dried then soak them in just enough red vermouth or red wine to soften.

Sauté the mushrooms and onions in the olive oil until softened – about 5 minutes covered. If the sausage is link remove it from the skin. If patties this is not necessary. Cut the sausage into chunks, add to the pan and brown lightly.

Add minced garlic. When the fragrance of garlic diffuses add the tomatoes. Reduce the liquid on high heat to about half volume.

Add the clamato juice and reduce to about half volume. Serve over pasta.

Oh yeah, add spices as you like. The Clamato and the sausage that I use have enough spices that I don’t need any more. Taste and embellish to your heart’s content.

A little discussion of ingredients: You can use any sausage that you have on hand. I use the homade Southern breakfast sausage patties that I wrote up elsewhere. A good sweet Italian would also go well, I think. Notice the Clamato juice. You should be able to find it at your local grocery. It is kind of like V-8 or other tomato juice with clam juice mixed in. Totally superior to any other tomato juice you have tasted. As a nice side bonus also makes the best Bloody Mary you ever got near. Be sure to use Stolichnaya vodka.

A Simple Salad

29 April 12 by

Salads (Photo credit: Anil Wadghule)

Herself liked this pretty much and said I had to write it up. (Sound of shoulders shrugging.) I just threw this together tonight and there’s really not too much to it. Actually pretty easy.

Lay out a bed of stemmed, washed, and dried spinach. I don’t make a big bowl and try to serve; I just make salads right in the individual bowls. Chop up some of whatever you like. Let’s see, this one had celery and carrots. There should be some mushrooms in there: cleaned and sliced would be good. Oh yeah, some scallion, sliced thin, just the white and light green parts – about 1 per two salads.

A handful of walnut pieces and some raisins if you like. Sprinkle with either feta or blue cheese, crumbled fine (be generous).

{Herself sez: Try Clemson University Bluecheese. It is mild and very flavorful.}

Add in the kitchen sink or the refrigerator or whatever else you like.

Sauté some nice shrimp in butter and olive oil. Get them a little brownish so that there is that nice crust – but not so much that they are tough or rubbery. Medium shrimp work better than jumbos for this sort of thing. Anything smaller than medium is just too much trouble to peel with stiff fingers. Unless you chop the jumbo type they are too bit for a civilized mouthful.

Make the dressing fresh. This is the key to a great taste. For two this is about right. Scale up as necessary.

1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs honey
1 clove garlic, minced (small clove)
pinch Thyme (easy – don’t overpower)
salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste

Dump everything into something that you can run a whisk in. I’ve got a couple of smaller whisks so I usually just mix in the measuring cup. Whisk completely and serve. Be prepared for yummy sounds.

Variation: use blue cheese instead of feta. Blue cheese goes nicely with balsamic. Or you could use apple vinegar instead of balsamic, or a mix.

Salt. Simple stuff. The best way to go is to get a good salt grinder and then some good coarse salt. We are using an Atlantic salt mostly. We sometimes use a French Mediterranean gray that is very nice. {Herself sez: Then there is the Himalayan Pink Salt or the Bolivian Rose. They are delicious. There are a number of Japanese salts, too.} Mostly Americans don’t know how to salt because just about everything in a box already has too much salt to start with. Therefore most Americans have become shy about adding salt to anything and under-salt. Unless your doc has put you on a restricted diet you will do well to taste and add salt as needed. While cooking regard the salt measurement as a suggestion (except baking). Sneak up on the salt: add less than the recipe calls for (except Julia or equal) – taste. Repeat as necessary, you will get the right taste eventually. As you gain experience you will get closer and closer on the first try. The table salt we grew up with has iodine added. Necessary to prevent some thyroid and mental health problems when they started it way back when – about 1924. We usually get enough iodine in our diet to not have to worry about it so much anymore. If it concerns you use iodized table salt a couple of times a week. Unless your doc tells you different that should be plenty. And if you need iodine that much your doc should have you on a supplement anyway. Mostly it is kids that need the iodized salt while growing. We’re sorta past all that here. Cook for taste and let the chips fall where they will.

Danish Pastry

30 March 12 by

Danish pastry is just another laminated dough which can be made from any laminated type recipe, such as this. Or you can use the croissant dough of your choice, it’s all the same. I’ve given a recipe for croissants before. This is not quite as rich and is more suited to stuffing in my opinion, but follow your own taste buds.

Pecan and Maple Danish

Pecan and Maple Danish (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Note that you will work this dough cold at all times. Keep the kitchen cool. If your hands get warm cool them off with a bit of ice or rinse with cool water. It is not necessary to have a metal or stone counter to work this stuff. My countertop is wood and works just fine.

To make the basic dough:

—–Butter Center—–
unsalted butter, slightly softened (1-1/2 cup)
38 g bread flour (1/4 cup)

—–Dough Outer—–
525 g flour (3-1/2 cups)
110 g water (1/2 cup)
2 pkgs. yeast
1 egg
180 g cold milk (3/4 cup)
80 g sugar (1/3 cup)
3 g salt (1/2 tsp)

With a decent mixer making the dough is not hard. Without, you will need lots of elbow grease.

—– Butter Center —–
Get the butter just warm enough to be plastic, but not really soft. Cream the butter until it is soft and silky then add the 38 g (1/4 cup) of flour and blend completely. Put down a sheet of waxed paper on the counter and plop the butter into the center. Cover with another sheet of waxed paper and press it out with your hands to make a very neat and precise 9” x 11” rectangle. Be very fussy about getting it accurate and really square. No – I’m not just being obsessive – it does matter. Slide onto a sheet pan and put into the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

—– Dough Outer —–
Mix together the 525g (3-1/2 cups) flour, water, yeast, egg, milk, sugar, and salt. Mix 3 minutes 1st speed, and 3 minutes 2nd speed. You may use either bread flour or all-purpose flour. I think that bread flour makes a nicer crust. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 10 minutes or so.

Sprinkle your work surface with a generous amount of flour. When you turn the dough out it will be soft, but somewhat stiff with the cold. Roll out to a 10” x 14” rectangle. Once again be somewhat fussy about the size and squareness. Place the butter on top of the dough offset such that 3 of the sides have a 1/2” border of dough. Roughly 1/3 of the dough will be exposed at one end. Starting with the exposed dough end make a 2 part book fold. In other words fold the exposed end over the butter, which should be about 1/3 of the length, fold again so that the finished piece is 1/3 the length of the original. Be fussy and make sure all is aligned and square. Put the dough on a jelly roll sheet or cookie sheet, cover, and put in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes take the dough back out and roll out to a 10” x 14” rectangle, do the double book fold, and put it back in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Repeat twice more – a total of 4 times folded. Kinda’ like Japanese or Damascus steel. A whole bunch of thin layers of dough and butter alternated. This is why this kind of thing is called laminated dough.

Egg Wash:
Beaten egg yolk with a teaspoon of cold water.

Now you can make croissants if you like, roll out into a rectangle 15” wide by 1/8” thick and as long as it winds up. Cut in half so that you have 2 strips 7-1/2” wide. Cut triangles with a base of 4-1/2” and a length of 7-1/2”. Roll the croissants from the base toward the point and then form into the crescent shape that gives them their name. Brush them with an egg wash if you want them shiny. Bake at 425°F for 20 minutes until golden.

Some other shapes are cockscombs, pinwheels, envelopes and braids – well, false braids work nicely.

Roll pastry into 16” x 18” rectangle. Cut longwise into 4 strips. Spread about 2 tablespoons down the center of each strip. Fold the dough over and seal. Cut into 3 pieces. Notch the folded side of each piece 7 times. Bow the pieces on the sealed side so that the notches open up. You can refrigerate overnight. Heat the oven to 400°F. Brush with egg and bake 5 minutes, drop the oven to 350°F and bake for another 15 minutes.

Roll dough into 18” square, cut in half both ways so that you have 4 9” squares. Re-roll the squares if necessary. Make a 4” slit from each corner toward the center. Put whatever filling you like, about 1 tablespoon between each 2 slits, 4 tablespoons per pinwheel. Fold over every other point of the corners into the center. This will partly cover the filling and form the pinwheel shape. It may help to wet the tips to make them stick better. Cover with plastic, refrigerate overnight. Brush with egg, cook 5 minutes in 400°F oven. Reduce to 350°F and cook another 30 minutes.

Roll dough into 18” square, cut in half both ways so that you have 4 9” squares. Re-roll the squares if necessary. Put 2 tablespoons of filling in opposite corners and fold like an envelope. Cover with plastic, refrigerate overnight. Brush with egg, cook 5 minutes in 400°F oven. Reduce to 350°F and cook another 30 minutes.

False Braid:
One of the niftiest ways of doing things. Cut the dough book in half and roll the half into an 8” by 16” rectangle. You will need about 1 cup of filling. Lightly mark the strip into thirds lengthways. With a pastry knife start at one end and cut off a triangle about 1” wide at the side and to the top at the other end. Should be about 30° or so. Cut the remainder of the pastry into 1” strips on each side.

The little drawing should make things a bit clearer. Lightly mark the dotted lines so you can keep things even. Cut off and discard areas ‘X’. Or make them into mini croissants. Cut the strips in the areas marked ‘Y’. Cover the area ‘Z’ with filling. Starting at the end that you cut the ‘X’s from alternately fold the strips over to the opposing side, which will cover the filling nicely. Roll each end over, moisten and pinch closed neatly. Cover with plastic, refrigerate overnight. Brush with egg, cook 5 minutes in 400°F oven. Reduce to 350°F and cook another 30 minutes.

1-1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar. ½ stick melted unsalted butter. A few drops of lemon juice. 1 tsp vanilla. Add water as necessary to make a smooth glaze to drizzle over the pastry. Can be used over any of the pastries.

Fillings are multitudinous. A few are as follows:

Almond Filling:
1 egg white
1/2 cup almond paste
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

Cardamom Filling:
6 Tbs soft butter
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup currants
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Macaroon Filling:
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup finely crushed almond macaroons
1/2 tsp almond extract

Pecan Filling:
1/4 cup soft butter
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp rum extract

Your favorite jam, jelly or marmalade if they are good and thick can be used for filling.

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