Hot Dog Buns

IMG_2376So…I shared my hot dog sauce with you the other day…and now it’s time for the most important part. At least it’s the most important part for me… The part that can make or break the hot dog experience.

The bread…
The bun.

I love bread.
Especially when it’s hot out of the oven.

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I admit to eating one of them as soon as I pulled them out of the oven, and, of course, it was gobbed with butter! I’ll tell you, I could have made a meal on these rolls alone. But I stayed strong, I stopped at one.

Ok… One and a half.
Ok… Two.
I stopped at two.
And then I was too full to eat the hot dog!

Anyway…I spent a lot of time looking for the perfect hot dog bun recipe…trying different recipes from different blogs.. and finally happened upon Joy the Baker’s blog, who got the recipe from King Arthur Flour.

I’m so impressed with them, the rolls are so soft and fluffy, and yet they don’t fall apart…they’re perfect for hot dogs!

And…while they’re very easy to make, I’m not going to lie, there’s some prep work to them… rolls are basically a bread dough… and bread takes time to prepare…

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So, while I want to say that I’m never buying store bought hot dog rolls again, and only make them homemade from now on…

We all know that would be a little white lie…
Ok, a big white lie.
A big fat lie.

There is no doubt that I’ll buy store bought again. Sometimes I just don’t have the time to make them homemade… ok, a lot of the time I don’t have the time….

But I do plan to make these again… and again. Seriously, they’re just that good…and I know would be so delicious with burgers…and easy enough to shape into hamburger buns!

The important thing that Joy mentions in her post, is that you shouldn’t let the dough over proof, and don’t handle the dough too much. This is a squishy dough, it’s not the dough you’re used to when making bread.

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Handle it lightly, and you’ll be rewarded with those light and fluffy rolls!Once you have the rolls shaped, let them be! They don’t have to be perfect! They will form a perfect bun as they rise.
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If anything, everyone needs to experience a homemade bun with their hot dog! Impress your friends at your next cookout when you come walking out with a basket of freshly baked (and still warm) hot dog buns. You’ll be the life of the party!

Life is good, it’s a “You’re probably happy that this is the very last hot dog post, but I really had to share this recipe with you because it’s awesome” kind of good..
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Homemade Hot Dog Buns

Prudy’s note: This recipe called for 6 to 7 1/2 cups all purpose flour. Trust me, don’t go as high as 7-1/2 cups flour. Stop at 6 cups, or even 5-1/2. You’ll be kneading it, so it will form a dough that you’ll be able to work with.  I also used sesame seeds instead of poppy seeds.  I love poppy seeds, but  fussy Mike doesn’t (I know..surprise, surprise).

This recipe is copied from Joy the Baker’s blog.

recipe from King Arthur Flour

makes 18 buns

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 packets or 2 scant tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
2 cups warm milk (105°F to 115°F)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
6 to 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour*
egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
poppy seeds, coarse black pepper, and sea salt for topping (optional)

*King Arthur Flour gives a fairly wide flour measurement variation for a couple of reasons. First, you’ll find in the summer that you’ll need a bit more flour to absorb a given amount of liquid than you will in the winter. This is because it’s humid and flour acts somewhat like a slightly dampened sponge as a result. I used 6 1/2 cups flour for my hot dog buns.

King Arthur Flour also notes that this particular dough should be quite slack, i.e., very relaxed in order to make soft and tender buns. So you want to add only enough more flour, past the 6-cup point, to make the dough just kneadable; sprinkling only enough more to keep it from sticking to you or the board.

To mix the dough: In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar and then the yeast in the warm water. Add the milk, oil, salt and 3 cups of flour to the yeast mixture. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes.

Gradually add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.

To Knead the dough: Knead until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Because this dough is so slack, you may find that a bowl scraper or bench knife can be helpful in scooping up the dough and folding it over on itself.

To rest and rise the dough: Put the dough into an oiled bowl. Turn once to coat the entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a tightly-woven dampened towel and let rise until doubled, about one hour.

To shape the buns: Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface. Divide into 18 equal pieces. This is done most easily by dividing the dough first into thirds, then those thirds into halves, then the halves into thirds.

Roll the dough into cylinders, 4 1/2-inches in length. Flatten the cylinders slightly; dough rises more in the center so this will give a gently rounded top versus a high top.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly grease the parchment paper.

For soft-sided buns, place them on prepared baking sheets a half inch apart so they’ll grow together when they rise. For crisper buns, place them three inches apart.

Second Rising: Cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes. Just drape a towel over the buns for the second rose, a piece of plastic wrap may stick and deflate the buns when the plastic is removed.

To Bake: Fifteen minutes before you want to bake your buns, preheat your oven to 400°F. Just before baking, lightly brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash and sprinkle with whatever seeds strike your fancy.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 190°F. (A dough thermometer takes the guesswork out of this.)

When the buns are done, remove them from the baking sheet to cool on a wire rack. This will prevent the crust from becoming soggy.

Enjoy!

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Hot Dog Sauce

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I’ve spent most of my life in a love / hate relationship with hot dogs.
Ok, that’s not entirely true.
I can’t say that I hate them.

I mean, I love them. I really do… But then I go through spurts in which I have no desire to eat them. I bet that I went a good five years at one point without eating one. I don’t know… they just didn’t tickle my fancy. It wasn’t that I hated them…I just didn’t feel like eating them. I have a feeling it was because at that point, we had a gas grill, and they didn’t have that delicious charcoal taste to them. But even more so, I’ve yet to find a hot dog that I can say has the perfect taste, the perfect spiciness, or the perfect ‘snap’ when you bite into one.

Honestly? I think eating a hot dog today is all about your surroundings. I’ve eaten the best hot dogs in my life with my co-workers friends… sitting around a table at a little hot dog stand that sits on a little creek in Niagara Falls…it has a charming little deck that sits out over the water.

Let me take that back…maybe it wasn’t my surroundings that made them delicious… Because the hot dog stand is in the vicinity of Love Canal (Long sad story…you can Google it and find one of the lowest points in the history of Niagara Falls)..

We lovingly and half-jokingly call the hot dog stand “Dysentery Ditch”, so you get the idea. I described that little deck to you as charming, when in reality… it’s on a dirty little creek….there’s an overpass that’s practically above our heads as we’re eating… and there’s baskets with plastic flowers hanging here and there. But it’s clean, the food is good, it’s about five minutes from work, and most of all…I love it there.

So let me start over…. I’ve eaten hot dogs with some of the best people in my life…We’ve spent some really happy times on our lunch at Dysentery Ditch… filled with laughter, some very strong discussions, or just a quiet lunch, the quiet comfort that we’re in the company of people I’ve come to call my family… the people I’ve come to love. So for me, that’s when I can say I’ve eaten the most delicious hot dogs.

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And while I do still eat hot dogs at home, the couple of brands that seem to be the best in my simple little world…the ones that I buy, are just “eh”..

I don’t know…maybe you’re thinking… “Prudy, maybe you just don’t like hot dogs”.

That’s truly not the case. I love them. I crave them at times. I just can’t find one that really satisfies….at least one that I don’t have to load up with gobbilty gook.

Maybe I need to create my own version of hot dog.

So, when I eat a hot dog, it always has to be spiced up. Loaded with ketchup, mustard, relish, hot sauce, and onions…. Or LeFrois sauce, which I believe is a Western New York thing..and the it’s the best sauce ever!

….Or I’ll make this hamburger sauce, which is kind of like a Coney Island sauce…a great sauce that definitely makes any hot dog “hot dog worthy” in my book.

While I love the sloppiness that the sauce brings to the hot dog (because I like everything sloppy), it’s the combination of flavors that really get me. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about taking a bite of something savory, but getting that hint of cinnamon in the end. It just works for me every time. Add a line of prepared mustard and some chopped onions, and you’ve got a winner!    …And while I’m talking about it for hot dogs, this sauce is really delicious on hamburgers too! Throw some green pepper in while you’re sautéing the onions, serve it kind of like sloppy joes! I honestly love this sauce. It’s a perfect year round condiment!

Update to this post:   My friend Mr Fitz, from Cooking with Mr Fitz just shared one of his posts with me…and I’d like to share it with you… he seems to sum the hot dog dilemma all up!   I hope you stop by and visit his blog… He’s a great guy, he’s hilarious, and always has awesome recipes up his sleeve!

IMG_2400I’m taking my hot dog sauce to Angie’s Fiesta Friday over at The Novice Gardener, where Saucy from Saucy Gander, and Margot from Gather and Graze are hosting.  It should be a great time! Thanks to Saucy and Margot for hosting this week, I know that they’ll make this party an event to remember! And … Angie… thank you for hosting this party for the 27th week in a row! Time flies…

I hope you stop by the party to see what all of the talented people have shared this week! If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, it’s a great way to meet other bloggers, and to gain exposure. You will love this wonderful blogging community…everyone is so friendly, you’ll feel like you’ve known us all for years!

Life is good, it’s a “I really wish I could find the perfect hot dog, but even if I did, I’d probably still slop the condiments on, so in the end it doesn’t really matter” kind of good…

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Hot Dog Sauce

Just a quick note… I wanted to mention that this sauce freezes really well.  I’ll usually make a double batch, and then put it in freezer containers to use for the next few months.  It will keep up to six months in the freezer, and about a week in the refrigerator.

This recipe came from my great Aunt Tish, so I’ve posted her recipe exactly how she had it written.  The beauty of this sauce is that you can make it to suit your taste.  If you like it hot, then add some hot peppers, or hot sauce…  if you like it vinegary, then add more vinegar. I like to add a few extra splashes of worcestershire!

1 cup cold water
1 pound ground beef
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 large onion, diced
1 – 10.75 oz can tomato soup
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp sugar

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan, and bring to a simmer, stirring and breaking the ground beef up. Simmer for at least 1/2 hour to 1 hour.

Serve hot.

Enjoy!
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It’s Fiesta Friday #19, and I’m Co-Hosting and Bringing My Smoked Baby Back Ribs!

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I’ve been looking forward to this Fiesta Friday #19, because I have the honor of co-hosting this week with the lovely Sue O’Bryan from Birgerbird! I’m thrilled to be co-hosting with Sue… she’s such a sweet, sweet girl, and the recipes and stories that she shares are always delightful!

A special thank you to Angie for hosting Fiesta Friday; and I cannot believe that we are at week number 19 already!! How time flies when we’re having fun, and Angie certainly knows how to put on a fabulously fun party! I hope that you’ll stop by and see all of the delicious recipes that everyone has brought to the table this week!

….AND….If you are a blogger and haven’t had the chance to link up, now is the time! If you are new to this party, or even new to blogging…we welcome you to join us! It is a wonderful way to meet other blogger friends, and gain exposure and views! Please feel free to contact me, Sue, or Angie if you have any questions! We are here to help, and look forward to meeting you!!

Please be sure to link your posts to Angie’s blog, as well as my blog so that we know that you have arrived! It’s as simple as clicking on the “Click to Join” button right here…

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So, I have been working on mastering the art of smoking. Like I mentioned the other day….not the nicotine or cannabis type… but the art of taking a beautiful cut of meat, and rubbing glorious spices all over it, and placing it in a box in which wood burns and smokes to create a most delectable and juicy inside, but yet that crispy black bark on the outside that we all adore.

I am by no means a certified professional smoker. When it comes to the art of charcuterie…well…let’s just say I’m no Picasso. Far from it. But I’m learning.

It has taken a good year to figure out how to properly smoke baby back ribs. Ok, I use the word “properly”, but maybe I should just say that I figured out what works the best for me when it comes to smoking ribs.

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I have spent so much time researching and reading up on rubs and smoking, you’d think that I’d know what I was doing by now, but there is no doubt that it takes patience and a little bit of experience to get it perfect.

Low and slow.
Nope.
That just cooks shoe leather.

185° for “x” amount of hours… That’s what everybody says. And that truly did not work for me. I don’t know if it’s the smoker that I use, but every piece of meat that I tried that method on, dried out. Maybe I kept it in too long. I tried the method of smoking it for 6 hours, and then wrapping it in plastic wrap, and then again in foil, and throwing it in the oven for another 2 hours. It burned.

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And then finally, I stumbled upon this 3-2-1 method. If you Google 3-2-1, a ton of links will pop up. It works, it really, really works!! Rub the piece of meat with spices, and smoke it at 225° for three hours. Wrap it in foil; throw it back in the smoker at 225° for two more hours. Remove the foil, slather it with barbecue sauce and place it back in the smoker at 225° for one last hour. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve become really comfortable with this method or what, but it seems to me that this is the easiest method that I’ve ever tried (aside from leaving it in the smoker for hours and hours, only for it to become shoe leather!).

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As for the rub, I’m sharing mine with you, but you’ll find that you probably change it up to suit your taste. I tend to like mine sweet, and a little on the spicy side. It’s a simple rub, but does the trick.

If you are thinking about buying a smoker, I highly recommend it. I went back and forth for the longest time, unsure if I’d really use it….would it be one of those things that I buy, but ends up sitting in the back of the garage filled with junk? I can promise you, I use mine all the time. It’s right at the front of the garage, ready to go whenever I’m ready! ..And clean up isn’t as bad as I thought it would be… it isn’t instant clean up, but I soak the racks overnight, and by the next morning, everything just washes right off! Trust me, I think everyone who owns a smoker, will attest that it’s one of the best things that they ever bought.

While I finally feel confident in smoking baby backs, and sharing them with you… there is still so much that I have to learn… brisket being my next challenge! So, stay tuned!!

I’m taking these ribs to Angie’s Fiesta Friday to meet up with Sue, and welcome everyone who has brought something to our table. I hope to see you there!

Life is good…it’s a “Friends getting together, sharing and laughing, and meeting new friends… just a happy and fun time” kind of good..

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Smoked Baby Back Ribs
Six Really Generous Portions

Just a quick Note: The recipe for the rub is just the right amount for three racks of baby backs. Adjust it accordingly to the amount of ribs you will be making.

Plan on preparing the ribs the night before you’re going to smoke them. You will need jumbo zipper disposable plastic bags to brine them in.

The Night Before:
3 racks baby back ribs
3 cans Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, or Root Beer
Your favorite flavor wood chips. I tend to use Apple, Jack Daniels, Cherry, or Maple

Remove the ribs from their packaging. On the back of each rack, you’ll find a silver membrane that you’ll want to remove. You don’t have to, but you’ll find it more of a yucky inconvenience if you don’t. Been there. Done that.

Take a sharp knife, and beginning at one end of the rack, slice just beneath the membrane so that you can get your fingers underneath it. Once you do that, you’ll be able to peel it away from the ribs with your fingers. Just continue to work it up until you’ve removed the whole thing. It’s pretty easy to do.

Once you have the membranes removed, cut the ribs in half, by finding the middle, and cutting in between the bone. Place the rib halves into the jumbo plastic bag, and place the bag in a very large bowl (just in case it decides to leak, you won’t have a huge mess all over your fridge!). Pour the three cans of pop or soda, (Yes, I say pop, I’m a Western NY girl) over the ribs. Seal the bag, and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, prepare your smoker per manufacturer instructions and heat it to 225°. Remove the ribs from the brine. Discard the brine. Generously rub the spices all over the rib halves, and place on the racks of the smoker. Add the wood chips to the smoker per the manufacturer instructions. Close the smoker, and leave it for 3 hours. Continue to add wood chips as often as the instructions indicate.

After 3 hours, remove the ribs from the smoker and wrap each one in foil. Place the foil wrapped ribs back into the smoker, and leave for 2 hours.

After the 2 hours, remove the foil wrapped ribs from the smoker, and remove the foil. Generously slather your favorite barbecue sauce all over the ribs, and place the ribs back into the smoker for one last hour. Continue to add the wood chips as the instructions indicate.

After that last hour, the ribs will be absolutely juicy, fall off the bone perfect!!

Serve immediately with your favorite picnic sides, such as this German Potato Salad, these potato chips, and these Buffalo Chicken Deviled Eggs!

The Rub:
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp salt
3 tsp ground mustard
¼ tsp cayenne

Blend the brown sugar, and all of the spices together until combined. Generously rub all over ribs. This is delicious for any type of meat that you plan to smoke!

Enjoy!!

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German Potato Salad

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The Potato:
Potatoes have been around for at least 7000 years. I find it kind of funny how much we love them, especially since they weren’t held in high regard up until about 200 years ago. Because the potato is considered a member of the Nightshade family, the leaves of the plant are highly poisonous, so they weren’t really considered a food for the dinner table. They were usually reserved for feeding prison inmates and pigs….and…. if people were eating them at home for meals, it meant that they were of the “lower class”, consumed for sustenance only….which is kind of smart, because potatoes are loaded with potassium, vitamins B&C, iron, zinc, and copper.

IMG_1776I can only imagine what people from 6,800 years ago would think about the variety of potato dishes that we eat today…

They’d be like “But Damn..”
That’s right, you people from 6,800 years ago..
You totally missed the boat on that one..

But seriously? Let’s think about that for a minute… It only took us 6,800 years to figure out what the inmates, pigs, and the “lower class” people already knew….

Potatoes are freaking delicious.

IMG_1807I’m always trying to come up with something original for potatoes, and honestly, there isn’t anything original anymore…but that’s ok, because some of the classic potato recipes are timeless. They’ll never go out of style. The recipes might get revamped here and there…but the classics will always be there to fall back on.

Like potato salad. I mean, how many versions of potato salad are out there…and how many versions do you really rely on?

My guess is that you rely on the classics.
That’s ok.
We all do.

IMG_1778Yeah, it’s fun to try the different variations, but in the end, we stick with the classics. Why? Well, because they’re foolproof, they’re dependable; and reliable at times when we need them the most.

While I love a good Americanized potato salad, I also love German potato salad, and not talking about the kind you can buy in the can! You can have a delicious German potato salad thrown together in the amount of time it takes you to find your can opener, open the can of fake stuff, and heat it up.

It’s a matter of frying a few slices of bacon, frying some potatoes and onions right in that same pan, and then mixing it with a lovely sweet vinegary dressing. Simple, delicious, and the perfect accompaniment with a hot dog on a summer’s day…

Life is good…it’s a “I would have gladly gone to prison, or schlepped with the pigs, just to eat potatoes 500 years ago…” kind of good…

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German Potato Salad
Six Side Dish Servings

8 slices bacon, fried crisp, save the bacon grease
6 medium potatoes, sliced thick
1 lg onion, sliced thick
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp sugar (if you like it sweeter, add another tablespoon)
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour

Fresh parsley for garnish

Fry the bacon until it’s crisp, remove from pan, saving the grease in the pan. Drain the bacon on paper towel lined plate. When cool, break into smaller pieces, and set aside. You’ll want to reserve a couple tablespoons of bacon for garnish later.

Add the thick cut potatoes to the frying pan with the hot bacon grease, and fry until tender and browned. Don’t over load the pan, do it in a couple of batches if necessary. Remove the potatoes from the pan to a plate, taking care not to break the potatoes up. Reserve the bacon grease to fry the onion.

Add the onion to the pan, and sauté for about 15 minutes, until softened and golden brown. The onions need to be removed from the pan, I usually throw them on the same dish with the potatoes.

You’ll notice that there is hardly any grease left in the pan, and that’s ok. To that pan, add the vinegar, water, sugar, ground mustard, and black pepper. Bring to a simmer.

Mix the butter and flour together to make a paste. Add to the vinegar mixture in the pan, and whisk until thickened, about three minutes.

Add the potatoes, onion, and bacon (remember to reserve a little bit of bacon for garnish) to the pan, and carefully stir until they are fully coated with the vinegar mixture.

Add to a serving dish, garnish with bacon and fresh parsley. Serve hot, or cold (your preference).

Enjoy!

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