Saturday, June 16, 2018

Cowboy Bone-In Ribeye Steaks

Also called 'tomahawk' steaks because of their shape and long handle, these big boys have a great flavor and can feed a crowd (or one really hungry hard-working man!) They typically come in sizes from 24-30 ounces each, which includes the bone.

Julian's Cowboy Bone-In Ribeye Steak
Those I've purchased usually also require some trimming, as shown below. I like to clean up the bone (handle) and also take off any large, thick portions of fat around the edge. While a little fat is good and provides flavor, large amounts of fat won't have time to cook off and as they do begin to melt, they cause flaring on the grill.

Trimmed of Thick Fat
As these are large pieces of meat, I prefer to cook them sous vide first, so the meat only finishes on the grill, but you can simply grill them as well. If you are going to do this, keep an instant read thermometer handy so you can check the internal temperature quickly and get them to your preferred level of doneness.

Vacuum Packed and Ready to Sous Vide
Sous Vide Version: If you are going to do them sous vide, then set your water temperature to about 5 degrees lower than your desired level of doneness, per the chart below. I also like to add some fresh rosemary from my garden to add some additional flavor. Save any other flavorings like salt, pepper, etc. for the grill finish. You can pre-sear the steak in a super hot heavy pan if you prefer.

My preferred level of doneness for a steak like this is 137F-142 degrees, so I'll set the sous vide for 132F. Based on the weight and thickness of the meat, cooking time in the water bath will be based on your machines instructions, somewhere between 1-3 hours. While the meat will hold at that temperature and never over-cook, you don't want to keep cooking it in the water bath longer than 4 hours as the classic steak 'chew' will begin to degrade.


Salt your steak(s) and add any other steak seasonings you prefer. Simply finish the steaks on the grill over very high heat, 2-3 minutes, turning once during cooking. Remove from the grill to a platter and let rest for 10-15 minutes.

Classic Grilling: Salt your steak(s) liberally and let rest 40 minutes before grilling. Your goal is to grill the steaks evenly from edge-to-edge (ideally a little pink, while still getting a nicely charred crust.) This is easier to do with a cowboy steak as it is fairly thick and flat. Despite what some people say, it's best to first grill the steak at a low heat before finishing it over a very high heat to sear its surface. A pre-warmed steak will sear much faster and minimize your chance for over/under cooking.

Flip regularly during grilling. This'll help the steak come to temperature faster and more evenly. Since a steak this size can take up to half an hour to cook through, I flip it at least every five minutes. As always, I recommend you use an instant read thermometer (ideally digital and good quality) for perfectly cooked steaks. No other method is as reliable.

Remove from the grill to a platter and let rest for 10-15 minutes. For a thick cowboy steak, you can expect your final temperature to rise by about five degrees as it rests. So plan accordingly for your desired doneness.

As these steaks are large, I'm carving mine and serving it on a platter. But if you have hearty eaters they may each want their own. Even Kevin insisted on getting the bone to chew off that most delicious meat.

Julian Carving

Cowboy Steak Carved with Fresh Mushroom Sauce

Carved and Served


Saturday, June 9, 2018

Garlic Confit

Garlic confit may be the most important condiment to have in your refrigerator. Yet many have never heard of it. What's not to love about cloves of garlic cooked in olive oil?

Julian's Garlic Confit
While you may not have heard of it, it's actually very popular in modern foodie publications like
Epicurious, Food and Wine, Bon Appetit and The Kitchn.  Garlic confit is one of my all-time favorite ingredients to give any vegetable dish a flavor boost. It takes its name from the French dish, duck confit which is duck leg slowly cooked with garlic, seasonings and rendered duck fat. The purpose of confit (which means candied in French) is food preservation, while providing a tender, moist, and extremely flavorful meat  Slow cooking a batch of garlic in fat, like olive, produces tender and sweet cloves, along with a  fragrant and delicious oil. Hence the name Garlic Confit.

Ready to Cook
Uses:  Use garlic confit to add flavor to a dish of steamed or grilled vegetables by smashing a few cloves and mixing them with the infused oil and pouring them over the vegetables. Do the same thing for a salad dressing but add some vinegar and honey as well. Spread some goat cheese on a crisp toast and add a clove of garlic confit. What a special appetizer or snack that is. Slice it and place it on a sandwich or your homemade pizza. The bite of raw garlic is gone and only the delicious flavor remains. Mash it into a paste with a fork and stir it into your favorite soft cheese or even Greek yogurt and you have a great cheese dip. The possibilities are endless.

Ingredients

Fresh Garlic Heads
Olive Oil
Fresh Rosemary Stems (optional)
Fresh Thyme Stems  (optional

Instructions

Cut just the bottom and top ends off of each clove of garlic. (This will make peeling easier.) Peel the dry skins from the cloves (2 heads or more) of garlic. Place the cloves in a small saucepan and pour in enough olive oil to cover them. Cut the optional herbs so they will fit in your storage container and add to the pot if using. Over medium heat bring the oil to just a simmer, then reduce the heat as low as it can go. Use your low output / precise simmer burner if you have one turned all the way down. Even this may be too much. If so, use a diffuser Your goal is to gently poach the garlic, not simmer it. Cook for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is soft and tender, but not falling apart. Transfer the garlic (and optional herbs) with a slotted spoon to a jar or glass storage container with a tight fitting lid and pour the oil in to cover the cloves.

Cool the mixture to room temperature. Cover the container tightly and keep refrigerated for several weeks, or freeze for several months. (Keep the cloves covered in oil and use a clean spoon to remove them from the container each time so as not to contaminate the batch.)

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Fresh English Peas with Ham and Cream

Fresh English sweet peas are in peak season spring through early summer. English peas (Pisum sativum), also known as shell peas, green peas and garden peas are a legume and rich in vitamins and full of flavor.

Julian's Fresh English Peas with Ham and Cream
Most commercially sold peas are of the English pea variety. Today, of all the green peas grown, only five per cent come to the market fresh, and the bulk of them are canned, frozen or dried. So if you see fresh English peas at your local market, do get them.  Select pods that are full and plump by picking through the bin one by one to get the only the best pods. Remember, that for every pound of peas in the pod, they will yield about one cup of peas. While they are typically pricey, they are worth it during their short growing season.


Today I'm making peas as a side dish. If you are looking for my related soup recipe, you can find it here.  I'm adding some ham, onion and just a touch of cream. These make an excellent side dish and are not soft and mushy the way canned or even frozen peas can be. At first the texture may seem odd if you haven't enjoyed these before. Like all fresh vegetables, even when cooked they should retain a little 'bite' or crush when you chew into them.

Cut the onions and ham about pea size.
Ingredients
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup ham, cut to small cubes
1 cup fresh English peas (raw)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream

Instructions
In a medium saute pan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring regularly for 2 minutes. Add the ham and cook stirring regularly for another 2-3 minutes, until the ham starts to brown. Stir in the fresh peas and add a little water to the skillet to cream steam. Add salt and pepper. Cover and let cook 5-10 minutes, until the peas start to become tender. Stir occasionally. Taste for doneness and seasoning. Correct as necessary. When the peas are nearly tender and ready to serve, stir in the heavy cream. Cook until it thickens and coats the peas, 2-3 minutes. Serve warm.

Ready for the Cream

Ready to Serve






Saturday, May 26, 2018

Mixed Berry Pie

Nothing says spring and summer like a fresh berry dessert and today I'm making a classic mixed berry pie. You can use any combination of berries in this pie, but if you are using strawberries limit them to two cups of the mixture, as their juices will make it difficult to thicken the pie. This is also a great pie to bake the day before you are serving. It holds very well in the refrigerator.

Julian's Mixed Berry Pie
If you are making a single berry pie you can follow my blackberry pie recipe here. Of course you could make a mixed berry pie using the same technique, but it's often difficult to know how juicy the berries will be and thus how much thickening to use.

Before the Streusel Topping is Added
This recipe cooks some of the berries into a sauce, removes the seeds (as blackberries and strawberries can have rather large seeds) and thickens them with tapioca. I find this method gives you a more sure result when mixing various types of berries together.

The Graham Cracker Crust
I'm also using a graham cracker crumb crust and a streusel topping here, but you could use a traditional pie crust if you prefer. For a graham cracker crust make sure you use a porcelain pie plate, as others will tend to stick making it difficult to remove the pie. My porcelain pie plate shown here is somewhat deeper than a traditional metal or glass pie plate. As you can see, the recipe fills it to level when the topping is applied.

Ingredients
Cooking the Berry Sauce-Ready to Strain

GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST AND STREUSEL
3 cups graham graham crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

BERRY FILLING
6-7 cups mixed fresh berries (see note)
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
3 tablespoons Minute Tapioca

Instructions

Spray a 9-inch ceramic pie plate lightly with food release or canola oil. In a food processor bowl, add the graham crackers, flour, sugar and salt and process until finely ground. Add butter and pulse until the mixture is evenly moist. Remove 2 cups of the mixture from food processor (leaving remaining in bowl of food processor) and pour into prepared pie plate. Press mixture evenly into pie plate and up the sides. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to pack down the bottom and to flatten the sides where the bottom of the pie plate meets the sides. Refrigerate 1 hour or up to overnight.

Add oats and cinnamon to food processor with remaining graham cracker mixture and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add in the walnuts if using and pulse again until they are moderately chopped. Set aside the streusel topping.

With a rimmed baking sheet set on the oven rack in the lowest position, preheat the heat oven to 350F degrees.

Cook 2 cups berries in saucepan over medium-high heat about 3-4 minutes. Stir in sugar and lemon zest and simmer until berries have mostly broken down, about 7-10 minutes. Stir frequently while cooking to reduce liquid volume by approximately half. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes. Place a sieve (strainer) over a bowl and pour in the berry mixture. Using a spatula or back of a spoon, work the mixture through the sieve until it is mostly dry and only the seeds and pulp remain. Scrape the outside of the sieve into the accumulated sauce. Stir to combine.

Gently toss cooked berry mixture, remaining berries, and tapioca in large bowl until combined.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer berry mixture to chilled crust, leaving behind any excess juices. Scatter streusel topping evenly over pie. Bake pie on the rimmed baking sheet until fruit is bubbling around edges and streusel is starting to brown, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool on rack 60 minutes, then refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Serve. Goes well with vanilla ice cream.

Pie Does Not Weep and Holds its Shape

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Ropa Veija - Slow Cooker Flank Steak with Peppers

Ropa vieja in refers to a classic Spanish dish of beans and shredded meat. The original preparation used mostly leftovers, and as I wanted to make it fresh today I'm making a slow cooker (Crockpot) version.

Julian's Ropa Veija
 The words ropa vieja mean "old clothes" in Spanish and no one seems quite sure why this dish has the name, but as it was often made with leftover cuts of meat that may be the reason. I'm making it with the flank steak but you could also use brisket. Both were once relatively inexpensive cuts of meat but it seems lately at least the flank steak costs have risen considerably. As this is a long, slow cook to tenderize a relatively tough piece of meat, go with whatever is least expensive.

Ropa veija in the slow cooker ready to serve.

Shredded Flank Steak
The original recipe is made with garbanzo beans, which were inexpensive and part of the daily diet in Spain a number of years ago. Using plenty of beans meant you didn't need that much meat in the dish for protein, which was added mostly for flavor. The meat and beans were generally leftover from another meal in any case. It was therefore tossed together in a large skillet and cooked on the stove top to combine the flavors. Since garbanzo beans are not eaten widely by Americans, today I'm making the dish without them. If you like them, add canned (not dried) garbanzo beans to the slow cooker during the last hour of cooking.

Ready for the long cook.
As with all traditional dishes, there are many variations and some of these are regional. However, ropa vieja is still one of the classic, comfort foods that Spaniards fondly remember eating as children. As as the Spanish traveled the world and settled in other regions like South America and the Caribbean, the recipe was taken with them and is now popular in those places today as well.

Flank steak cut into four pieces.
As it is classically a 'leftover' dish, if you have some chunks of previously cooked potatoes or other vegetables, feel free to add those in just before serving, cooking only long enough to warm them through. This slow cooker version can be made several days ahead and simply reheated for serving when desired.

Ingredients (Serves 4 adults)
1 1/2 to 2 pounds flank steak or beef brisket
Salt and freshly ground pepper
 28-ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4-6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1 cup pitted green olives, halved
2 tablespoons capers drained
5 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro

Steamed white rice for serving.

Instructions
Season the flank steak with salt and pepper.  Cut the steak in half lengthwise and cut crosswise in half so you have four pieces that will fit into your slow cooker.

In the slow cooker, combine the tomatoes (and their juices) with the water, bell peppers, onion, garlic, jalapeño, oregano, cumin and bay leaf. Add the beef, cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours, until the meat is very tender.

Transfer the meat to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Stir the olives, capers and 2 tablespoons of the cilantro into the sauce.

Using forks, shred the meat and return to the sauce to warm through. Season the sauce with salt and pepper if needed. Using a slotted spoon, serve the meat and vegetables on top of white rice. Spoon on some of the sauce. Sprinkle each serving with the remaining chopped cilantro


Saturday, May 12, 2018

American Scones - Add Your Favorite Ingredients

Scones have become a favorite breakfast food in America, largely thanks to Starbucks. Before then, you really saw mostly muffins as the baked good of choice at breakfast. Sometimes if you were lucky you could get coffee cake or a sweet bread. But scones really were not our thing on this side of the pond.

Julian's Cranberry Walnut Scones
For those that never go to the famous coffee shop and have not visited our cousins in the United Kingdom, a scone is a single-serving cake usually made of wheat flour or sometimes barley or oatmeal. Here in the U.S., they are sweetened, sometimes a little and other times a lot. In Britain they became popular in the 1800's and are often the central component of the cream tea or Devonshire tea served in the afternoons all over the country.

Julian's Cinnamon Scones
The original scones are made round and look more like a cut or drop biscuit than what many Americans are now accustomed to and they usually pronounce the word scon (rhymes with gone).  In Britain I've also found the scones are not sweetened, or at least not much. The classic British scone is also more like an American baking-powder dinner biscuit in flavor. Sometimes you find them with a few currants in them, but they are not the sugared and glazed breakfast foods we eat that come in a wide-variety of flavors. The British serve their tea scones with clotted cream or butter and jam. The American version needs no accompaniment except for a good cup of coffee and can be eaten on the go which is often the American way.

Scones Ready to Bake, Pie Shapes
So today I'm making the American scone. It took me a while to find a good, basic recipe that I could use as the base scone recipe and for which I could then add different flavors and related ingredients. This recipe comes from King Arthur Flour originally, although I've made some minor modifications. You can make them as a vanilla scone with no additions, but I will give you some options for various versions as well.

Pre-Cut the Butter into Small Cubes
These tender scones will have a dark-gold outer crust, and a light-gold, slightly moist inner crumb. They will also hold well in an air-tight container for several days after making.

Ingredients
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Cut in the Butter with a Pastry Knife
1/3 cup sugar (or increase to 1/2 cup if you like sweet)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter, very cold
optional add-in ingredients as noted below
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or the flavoring of your choice
1/2 cup to 2/3 cup cream or half-and-half
Sanding or large crystallized sugar (optional)

Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. (Note: the 1/3 cup of sugar gives you a pleasant scone that isn't too sweet, which is what I prefer. The 1/2 cup of sugar is more like Starbucks.)
  2. Cut the stick of butter with a sharp knife in half length-wise then turn it over onto its side and cut it in half again lengthwise. Now slice the butter across its width from end to end making small slices which will yield 4 pieces from each slice. Separate the butter pieces. Alternatively you can grate the butter on a standard box grater. Refrigerate 20 minutes or freeze for 10  minutes. Keeping the butter cold creates flaky scones.
  3. Add the small butter pieces to the flour mixture and using a pastry knife, cut in the cold butter until the mixture is crumbly. (Note: Alternatively, you can place the flour mixture and butter into a food processor and quickly pulse it 10-15 times to cut in the butter. Then return the dry mixture to your mixing bowl.)
  4. Stir in the optional add-in ingredients (fruit, chips, and/or nuts) if you're using them as per the instructions below.
  5. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla or another flavor (see below), and cream or half-and-half. (Note: In the winter when the air is dry, I use more cream and in the summer when there is more humidity, I use the lesser amount. Start with the 1/2 cup and add more to the dough as needed until all of the dough holds together.)
  6.  Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir in with a wooden spoon until all is moistened and holds together.
  7. Prepare a work surface (marble/granite slab, silicon mat or wood board) by dusting with flour. Line a baking sheet with parchment and sprinkle with a little flour. Make sure the selected baking sheet is large enough to hold at least one 8-inch round set of scones, or ideally two (this recipe makes two). However this sheet must also fit into your freezer, so choose accordingly.
  8. Dump the dough onto the work surface and using your hands push it together gently but quickly, folding it over on itself 2-3 times. Do not overhandle the dough as your warm hands will melt the butter. 
  9. Divide the dough in half and form into two round flat-topped disks. Each round will be between 5-7 inches in diameter and approximately 3/4 inches thick. Brush each dough disk with milk or alternatively egg wash (one egg scrambled with a teaspoon of water), and sprinkle with coarse sparkling sanding sugar (optional).
  10. Using a knife or dough scraper that you've run under cold water, slice each circle into 6 wedges for large scones, or 8 wedges for smaller scones. Carefully pull the wedges away from the center to separate them with approximately 1/2-inch space between them.
  11. Place the baking sheet(s) of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered. Chilling the scones makes the scones more tender and allows them to rise higher. It also chills the fat, which will make the scones flakier.
  12. While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F.
  13. Bake the scones for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they're golden brown. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the way through; the edge shouldn't look wet or unbaked.
  14. Remove the scones from the oven and cool 10 minutes on the baking sheet and then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  15. Can be served warm or stored in an airtight container after they are completely cooled. To reheat room-temperature scones, place on a baking sheet, tent lightly with foil, and warm in a preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes.

Optional Add-in Ingredients

Adding 1 to 2 cups of chopped dried fruit, nuts, chocolate or other flavored chips in any combination can be added to the dry ingredients where noted. Liquid flavors, like vanilla or orange, can be added to the wet ingredients in place of the vanilla. Some of my favorites listed below.

Cinnamon: Add 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon and 1 cup cinnamon chips or bits (King Arthur Flour sells these and are used in my photo above) to the dry ingredients. Sprinkle the tops with cinnamon bits before baking if using.

Cranberry Nut: Add 1 cup chopped walnuts and 1 cup whole dried, sweetened cranberries to the dry ingredients.

White Chocolate, Cherry, and Pecan: Add 1/2 cup dried cherries, 1/2 cup white chocolate chips, and 1/2 cup pecans (toasted if desired) to the dry ingredients.

Tropical:  Coconut lime scones make for a great breakfast in the tropics. Add 3/4 cup toasted unsweetened shredded coconut to the dry ingredients. Add 1-2 tablespoon lime zest to the wet ingredients in place of the vanilla. For extra coconut flavor, use coconut milk in place of the dairy.

Blueberry Lemon: Add 1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh, frozen) or 2 cups dried blueberries to the dry ingredients. Add 1-2 tablespoons lemon zest or 1/2 teaspoon lemon flavoring to the wet ingredients in place of the vanilla. For blueberry scones, just omit the lemon zest/flavoring and use the vanilla.

Cranberry Orange: Add 2 cups whole dried, sweetened cranberries to the dry ingredients. Add 1-2 tablespoon orange zest or 1/2 teaspoon orange flavoring to the wet ingredients in place of the vanilla.

Pumpkin with Maple Glaze: Pumpkin has significant moisture and this must be reduced before adding it to the base recipe above. Place the contents of a large (29 ounce) can of Libby brand pumpkin puree in a pan and cook over medium heat, stirring regularly until the pumpkin is reduced by about half (to 1 1/2 cups). Cool and then stir this in with the wet ingredients in Step 5 above. See below for maple glaze. 

Make Ahead and Freeze

Place the unbaked scones in the freezer as noted in the main recipe. When they are frozen solid, about 1 hour, remove from the baking sheet and place them in a zip-top plastic bag, remove as much air as possible and return to the freezer. They can be stored up to a month and baked as needed, even just a couple at a time. Bake from frozen at 425F degrees for 25-35 minutes or until done.

Change the Shape

To make round cut scones, form the dough into round disks as instructed. Cut with a biscuit cutter or drinking glass as closely together as possible. Push the scraps together into a biscuit shape the same size as the those that were cut with the biscuit cutter. Cut for a clean edge and discard scraps.

To make free-form or drop scones, increase the cream or half-and-half to 3/4 cup. Using a large scoop or spoon, dollop the scones onto the lightly floured parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze as instructed, but bake the scones in a preheated 375°F oven for about 25-30 minutes, until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.

To make the Isosceles Right Triangle shape made popular by Starbucks, in Step 9 do not divide the dough. Instead shape it into one large rectangle as shown below. Cut the dough into the classic tic-tac-toe board making two cuts equally spaced in both directions. Then cut each resulting square in half. When baking maintain the 1/2-inch distance between the scones and also the sides of the baking sheet. This shape is often produced by professional bakers because of the efficiency it introduces into the cutting and baking process. It more fully fills a sheet pan. 

My Sister Cutting Pumpkin Scones

Vanilla Icing Drizzle Topping

Ingredients
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk, plus a bit more if needed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or clear vanilla (or another flavor of your choice)

Instructions
Whisk together powdered sugar, milk, and flavor (vanilla or other) until smooth, adding up to 2 teaspoons additional milk if needed. Drizzle should be very thick and just barely pour. Using a fork or your fingers, drizzle in a back and forth motion over tops of scones.

Vanilla, Orange or Lemon Flavored Glaze Topping

Ingredients
3 tablespoons unsalted butter; melted
1 cup confectioners’ sugar; sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange or lemon juice or vanilla

Instructions
In a medium bowl, prepare the glaze by mixing together the melted butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and/or juice. Whisk until smooth. Dip the top of the scones into the glaze and allow the glaze to harden. At this point, you can leave them as is dip a second time, as I usually do.

Maple Glaze or Drizzle Topping

3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

In a small bowl whisk maple syrup and confectioners' sugar until combined; drizzle glaze over scones with a fork or your fingers. To make a solid glaze instead of a drizzle, double the recipe and dip the scones.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Pepperoni Rolls

The original pepperoni roll seems to hark from West Virginia, but it has been adapted throughout the region. My sister makes pepperoni rolls for the family and they are popular with everyone, young and old.

Julian's Pepperoni Rolls
Typically she makes a batch when family will be at the house and just sets this on the counter. A batch of 20 good-sized rolls are consumed before they've grown cold. With that said, they are equally good at room temperature and should not be refrigerated.

In their classic form, they are made with pepperoni sticks, not slices as used here. To make the stick version you simply purchase a full stick of pepperoni, cut it into matchstick sized pieces.. The classic version does not have cheese, which is perhaps good because if the rolls are baked just slightly too long some of the cheese melts out. Today we are making them with cheese.

I've tried several types of cheese and it really doesn't seem to matter which variety you use. From string cheese (as shown here) to the various shredded varieties, they all add flavor but also tend to melt out some if cooked until well browned.

Baked and cooled rolls can be wrapped in plastic, placed in a zipper-lock bag, and frozen for up to 1 month. To reheat, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove plastic and wrap each roll in foil. Bake directly on oven rack until heated through, 35 to 45 minutes. You can also had a pizza sauce for dipping, which is popular.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups water
Optional Topping
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
6 2/3 cups (33 1/3 ounces) all-purpose flour,
    plus extra as needed
1 tablespoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 teaspoons salt
24 ounces pepperoni
    Sliced or stick* 
12 ounces cheese (optional)
   Sargento String Cheese 12 count
egg and 1 tablespoon milk for brushing

*Prepare the Pepperoni:  Whether you are are using the slices or the sticks, you will want to remove some of the oil from the pepperoni. To do this, place the cut sticks or slices in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 1-2 minute, stirring halfway through for sliced pepperoni; 3 minutes for sticks. Remove the pepperoni to a double thick paper towel using tongs and blot the top with more paper towels to absorb the oil. Let cool. Reserve the pepperoni oil. When cool, toss with a tablespoon of flour.

If using the pepperoni sticks for the classic rendition, purchase 4 (7- to 8-ounce) sticks pepperoni, 8 inches long each. Cut pepperoni sticks in half crosswise, then cut each half in half lengthwise. Slice each quarter lengthwise into four 4-inch wedges. (You should have 64 match-stick sized pieces.) Roll one stick of the pepperoni into the dough, then add another, roll again and add the third, so all three match-stick sized pepperoni pieces are wrapped in dough. Omit the cheese. Without cheese there is no need to close the ends.

Instructions

Make the Dough: Combine water, milk, and sugar in 4-cup liquid measuring cup. Microwave until temperature registers 110 degrees, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in reserved pepperoni oil.

Using stand mixer fitted with dough hook, mix flour, yeast, and salt on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. With mixer running, slowly add water mixture until incorporated. Increase speed to medium and mix until dough is shiny and smooth and pulls away from sides of bowl, about 8 minutes. (If dough appears wet, add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time.) Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and knead briefly to form cohesive ball. Transfer dough to reserved bowl and turn to coat with residual pepperoni oil in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until doubled in size, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface.

My sister dividing and  rolling out the dough.

Assemble: Divide the dough ball in half. Form each half into a rectangle with your hands. Cut each rectangle into half again horizontally, then cut each into five roughly equal sized pieces as shown. You will have 20 pieces in all (4 x 5). Cover with a clean towel. If pieces are not quite equal, then pinch a piece of the dough from a large portion and add to a small portion.




Roll one piece of dough into a square. Add 4 slices of pepperoni plus 4 more on top of that for a double layer. (*see pepperoni note if using sticks.)  Cut a a piece of string cheese in half, and then in half lengthwise or sprinkle shredded cheese to cover the pepperoni. Fold in the ends and turn the bottom flap of dough up and over the pepperoni and roll over. Using your finger dipped in water, coat the edge of the seam and press together to seal. Place a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with a clean towel. Make the 19 remaining rolls using this same technique. Remove towel and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 50 to 60 minutes. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.

Ready for Baking

Bake: Brush rolls with egg mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds or kosher salt and Italian seasonings. Bake until golden brown, 25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes. Serve.

Warm from the Oven