Thursday, March 30, 2017

Another Appetizer for the Renaissance Festival

As I wrote in my previous blog, this year the fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club of Aberdeen is called Renaissance Festival. I find the title odd, to say the least, but it was necessary to change it, and so it is. . .

I have been continuing to work on things that can be done from this remove. The event itself is on April 8th, at the Ward Hotel, from 6:30 to 10 PM. I wrote about making the little tamales, and they are mightily good, but I had yet to finish making the amount needed. That was finally done 2 days ago. They are all safely frozen, needing only to be reheated before the event.

Lamb Burgers with Feta and Tapenade
Lamb Burgers with Feta and Tapenade

Another of the items I wanted to make were a version of my lamb burgers, on tiny buns. Due to the fact that these burgers are so divinely flavorful, each time I have made them, they have been totally devoured before I ever think to get a photo. In making the mini versions last week, while I didn't eat them all, they were made and frozen. Since I didn't have the buns made yet, I really couldn't assemble one to shoot photos. So, once again, I am talking about these heavenly burgers with no true photos to speak of. I did take a few photos at table. I had just enough of the mixture left after making the amount of tiny slider patties, and I made two normal sized burgers for my husband and me for supper, shown above.  

Simulated Mini Greek Lamb Slider on bun
Simulated Mini Greek Lamb Slider on bun
The recipe (made as the regular recipe size) makes enormous burgers, far larger than my usual, and no one ever leaves a single bite behind. The one thing I did differently this time was instead of grilling the Feta cheese, which I would never have time for just before the fundraising event, was to grate the cheese and add it to the burger mixture. I fried all the tiny mini slider patties, each one just between 21 to 23 grams apiece. Each one was measured and weighed. I wanted these little sliders to stay together, making it easier for people to grasp the little sandwich without having it slip and slide and fall apart in their hand. Trying to have a slice of Feta on the little slider would make these way to hazardous to walk around and eat, so grating the cheese into the meat seemed ideal. And it was.

While the cheese is not immediately noticeable, you can detect a few bits in the photo above. And it all tastes just the same. I made the same Greek olive tapenade as I have made for these Greek Lamb Burgers before, and I plan to put a dab on each of the little sliders at the event. In case you, like me, are leery of making tapenade, I have to say this: I love Greek olives, yet avoided going the extra step for the tapenade. Finally I did give it a try and I have to say, the tapenade really and truly makes that ultimate OMG moment even better. That first bite into these heavenly burgers is amazing anyway, but the tapenade just takes them totally over the top. MAKE it! You won't regret it!

I started with just a bit over 6 pounds of ground lamb, and with all the additions, including the Feta, I got 162 little slider patties, at 21 to 23 grams each. I tried frying up one patty at the very start, to see how they looked size-wise, and as it fried, the patty shrunk up to a very teensy diameter, but very high. This was not what I had in mind, so I stood there in the kitchen looking around, trying to come up with a "press" of some sort. As it happens, I have some plastic water glasses with a totally flat bottom, about 3-inches in diameter. I used this to press down each round ball of the meat mixture, making the initial patty very thin. As they fried, they shrunk to about 2-inches diameter, which was just perfect. This took me all afternoon, but they are now done and frozen, so one more item off my to-do list. 

The next thing was to make the little slider buns. I wanted a very simply flavored bun, something that would not interfere or detract from the slider flavor, which is plentiful. I had a recipe for Potato Rolls or Buns, but if you click that link you will see that they have both honey and egg in them. I wanted something even simpler. I played with the recipe, keeping the potato flour and switching to a much smaller amount of sugar in the recipe, and no honey at all. Potato flour, even in a small amount, makes for a very tender dough, making these buns soft and pillowy. This should suit the Greek Lamb Sliders perfectly. This is my updated recipe for the little buns, which could also make the same larger sized buns or rolls as my previous recipe.

Potato Mini Buns

Makes 20 regular sized buns or about 80 tiny slider buns
Potato Mini Buns, just baked
Potato Mini Buns, just baked

3½ cups (28 fl. oz.) lukewarm water
1 tablespoon (13 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons (11 grams) salt
½ cup (4 fl. oz.) olive oil
6½ cups (904 grams) bread flour, divided
1 packet instant rise yeast (about 7 - 8 grams)
1 cup (164 grams) potato flour (NOT potato starch) 
¼ cup (32 grams) dry milk powder

In a mixing bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients. Add in about half of the bread flour, the yeast, potato flour and milk powder. Using a dough hook (or stir with a wooden spoon) on low speed, mix to incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet. Add in the remaining bread flour, a bit at a time, kneading until it is all incorporated. Knead the dough for 10 minutes, 12 if by hand. If it remains too sticky, add up to 2 tablespoons more flour. 

The mixing process when using potato flour (or even fresh baked potato) in a recipe is a bit different. The potato makes a more tender crumb to the bread, but also seems like the dough is way too dry at first. Have faith and keep beating or kneading. Soon it will begin to puddle back into the bowl, leaving a far more wet and "difficult" dough, if a little more flour is not added. I did use the extra 2 tablespoons of flour, which left the dough manageable; not too sticky.

Once kneaded, cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise to about double is size. Once risen, if making regular buns, turn the entire mass out and divide the dough into 20 to 24 buns or rolls. If making tiny slider buns, I used 20 gram sized balls (0.65 ounce), yielding about 80. These are very tiny. Once baked they are just about 2-inches in diameter. Flatten each ball as much as possible and set them about an inch apart on a greased baking sheet. Allow them to rise to almost doubled in size and then bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 7 to 8 minutes. Mine did not even color on top, but were above 85 degrees internal temp, so they were perfectly baked. 

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest at AHOFpin. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.