Skip Beat!

Episode: Together in the Minefield
Hamburger Steak with a Fried Egg

Are you aspiring to break into showbiz to get revenge on the man who wronged you? Are you missing the most important human emotion? Is your name Kyoko Mogami? Then do we have an opportunity for you! Here at LME’s Love Me section (Yes, that’s “Love Me” as in “Please love me!”) you’ll perform a variety of tasks as you work to get others to love you while developing your own ability to respect and think of others. There will even be opportunities to appear on TV! And this journey is based on a points system, so if you put your heart into it and your performance is excellent, a full debut backed by our very own agency is in your future! How can this get any better? A lovely uniform! It’s got the Love Me logo printed on the front left side and back making it both stylish and gorgeous. And don’t worry. This may be a new section, but you won’t be alone for long. There are other love-lacking talents who will be joining you in the future. What do you say?

Sounds pretty crazy right? But that’s Lory Takarada for you. He’s just about as eccentric as they come. No he never presented the Love Me Section to Kyoko as horribly as I just did, but he put a lot of effort into this section and came up with everything from the name to the shocking, pink eyesore of a uniform. Nothing is ever easy when it comes to showbiz, so making it into LME is just the beginning of Kyoko’s quest to defeat/kill Sho Fuwa. Yeah, revenge is an unusual motive to get into the entertainment industry and she does get in trouble for it. Ren Tsuruga quickly becomes her enemy because he holds acting to a high, practically sacred standard and finds her reason for studying acting disgusting. But things change as Kyoko gains more experience and finds that she really loves acting and wants to use it to realize her true self. One of her most memorable Love Me duties is when she takes on the role of Ren’s manager. When Yashiro gets sick, Kyoko is called on to substitute. Basically to make sure Ren eats properly. Ren never makes a big deal about food and thinks that quick snacks from convenience stores are good enough. (“I had some nourishing rice.”) Supervisor Matsushima figured Ren would never let a girl eat by herself, so he’d be forced to eat something real. During their busy day (It’s actually after 7pm and they’re still running.) Kyoko’s stomach starts growling and Ren asks her what she wants to eat. Kyoko says whatever Ren likes is fine, so of course, Ren suggests boiled frogs, forcing her to say what she really wants. (I’ve been in that situation tons of times.) So Kyoko immediately shouts that she wants a hamburger steak with a fried egg it. Not long afterwards, they find themselves at a family restaurant with a hamburger steak in front of each of them. And I find myself running to the kitchen to try and make one.

Recipe makes 3 hamburger steaks.

Ingredients

Hamburger Steaks:

1 pound ground beef and pork (I like using a ½ pound of each.)

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 large egg

1/3 cup panko

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

½ cup red wine

½ cup ketchup

½ cup beef broth

½ cup Worcestershire sauce

Fried Eggs:

2 tablespoons butter

3 large eggs

Salt

Directions

Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.

In a large bowl, combine the egg, panko, milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the onion and garlic and meat and mix until combined.

Divide the meat into 3 equal portions. Toss each portion from one hand to the other about 10 times. This will help prevent the steaks from breaking while cooking. Shape the portions into large, flat ovals about the size of your hand. Make the centers a little thinner or indent them with your fingers since the centers tend to swell while cooking. Refrigerate the hamburger steaks for at least 30 minutes. Allow them to come to room temperature before cooking.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan over medium heat. Place a hamburger steak in the pan and cook until well browned, about 4 minutes. Flip the hamburger steak and cook another 4-5 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 155-160 degrees. Remove the hamburger steak and repeat with the others.

Make the sauce by combining red wine, ketchup, beef broth, and Worcestershire sauce in a medium bowl. Melt butter in the same pan used to cook the hamburger steaks. Add the red wine mixture and simmer until the sauce begins to thicken. Skim off the fat. Add the hamburger steaks to the sauce and cook for about two minutes. Remove the hamburger steaks and skim off any leftover fat or chunks from the sauce. Pour into cups for dipping.

Fried Eggs:

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Once the butter starts bubbling, crack the eggs and add them to the pan, one at a time. Immediately reduce the heat to low and cook until the whites are completely set but the yolk is still soft, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and season.

Putting It All Together:

Plate your hamburger steaks and cover with fried eggs. Serve with vegetables of your choice and dipping sauce. Enjoy!

Variations:
There are many names for a Japanese hamburger steak and even more ways to make them. Whether it’s called a hamburger, hamburger steak, or hambāgu, it’s delicious. This is my take on a basic one, but you can always use a different meat mixture, shape them differently, or use a Teriyaki or other sauce.

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I can understand Kyoko’s obsession with hamburgers. You won’t find me picking up rocks that look like hamburgers or speaking to His Majesty, King Hamburger, (Okay, maybe you will.) but for sure you’ll find me requesting hamburger steaks whenever I get the chance. And even though being Ren’s manager doesn’t go the smoothest, at least Kyoko gets to have a yummy hamburger after many months without one. The girl needs it considering her role as manager just gets tougher as she deals with studying for her high school entrance exam and taking care of Ren when he catches a cold. But she makes it through and almost gets herself 100 points. (Ren’s 10 point deduction is too cruel.) You know what else is cruel? Skip Beat! is only 25 episodes long! There are new roles and new faces that just have to be animated. Not to mention food. (Maui Omurice, Okonomiyaki Anpan, Anything Kyoko/Kuon makes for Kuu.) Well, I’ll just keep sitting here hoping and praying for more episodes, but at least I’ve got a hamburger steak with a fried egg on it to keep me company.

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Jack Frost

Noodles

If you look at your calendars, you’ll notice that today is February 2 and that means it’s Groundhog Day. If you’ve been experiencing February 2nd for several days now, sorry but I can’t help you there. I’m not covering THAT movie. This may be Punxsutawney Phil’s day, but I’m giving some love to a different groundhog: Pardon-Me-Pete from Jack Frost. He’s the one that spilled the beans on the whole Groundhog-seeing-his-shadow bit. I knew there was something funny going on because how often do we really see an early Spring? Jack Frost is nipping at noses well into late March and even April. (So much for Father Winter’s sign from Nature.) But it’s hard to say no to Jack Frost. He’s just so cute and sweet and he breaks my little heart when he sings “It’s Lonely Being One of a Kind.” So because I love him so much, you can guess that I’ve got some issues with this special. After watching it again and again and it always ending the same, I practically banned it in my house for years. Of course, that never stopped my dad from going around saying, “Hello, Kubla,” every time he got the chance. (He actually does a pretty decent Dummy impression.) Well I couldn’t stay away from Jack Frost forever and it’s now my first stop when I’m looking for some Groundhog Day animated goodness. (Even if it is considered a Christmas special.)

Jack Frost is the special to check out for wintertime goodness in general. I love the idea of the Kingdom of the Winter Clouds and how Snip, the Snow Gypsies, the Sleet Sisters, and the Hail Fellow all create and provide the snow and ice that falls on us all year. And I can’t get enough of January Junction’s ice money. I could watch Papa cut coins all day. Ah, and now we’ve come to the part where you ask why the residents of January Junction need ice money. That’s because Kubla Kraus rules over them with an iron hand. He owns all the timber and the brick, the only horse, and all the gold. He’s got everything, except human and animal companions. I love how Kubla Kraus is such an awful guy, that no one could stand to live with him. He had to build himself a horse, a butler, ka-knights, and even a friend. And Dummy is still pretty harsh. (“How can you woo her? She doesn’t like you.”) Kubla Kraus is such a great character, I can’t help liking the guy. So when I saw him slurping up his noodles, (Well, noodle.) all sad and alone, I knew that I had to give a little love to the villain and make some.

Recipe makes about 4 cups of noodles, cooked.

Ingredients

1 ¼ cups flour

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly

2 tablespoons water

½ teaspoon salt

 

Directions

In a large bowl, combine eggs, butter, water, and salt. Add the flour and mix until the dough just comes together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.

Roll the dough out into a rectangle an 1/8 inch thick and let rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and roll into a cylinder. Cut into 1/8 inch thick strips. Spread out and let rest for 15 minutes.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and cook for 5-6 minutes and strain. Enjoy!

Variations:
Kubla Kraus seems to have just one continuous noodle, so you can cut out a ridiculously long noodle if you want. The noodles are perfectly fine on their own but you can also toss them in a bit of melted butter before serving.

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Kubla Kraus can build a machine that can serve noodles and he wants to be a cruel ruler? He totally missed his calling. Whether he was a pharaoh, a rajah, or a shogun, he’d still end up alone. Oh well. Villains will be villains. That’s why he loses because this is Jack’s story. (Although Jack kind of loses too.) I think the one who has it best in this special is Pardon-Me-Pete. The worst he gets is a kick in the butt and a little scare and then he’s rewarded with six more weeks of shut-eye. Speaking of the little forecasters, I just checked the news on Punxsutawney Phil and he saw his shadow. (I’m not too surprised.) And I wasn’t there so I don’t know, but some people are saying that it was too cloudy to cast a shadow. Hmm. I see what you did there, Jack Frost.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Rocko’s Modern Life

Episode: Fortune Cookie
Fortune Cookies

While trying to settle on what food to cover this week, I looked up to find my Spunky stuffed animal staring me in the face. (Talk about an “Aha!” moment.) So, I’m taking on Rocko’s Modern Life. I love this show! It’s totally whacked, but that’s part of the fun. I know that like, a million things went way over my head when I watched it as a kid, but I didn’t know or care. I just watched it for that cute, little wallaby. The stuff that I did pick up though, I added to my own modern life. On my worst days, I can become such a Filburt. (“I’m nauseous. I’m nauseous. I’m nauseous.”) And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve messed up my neck acting like Dr. Hutchison. (’Kay?) But one of the easiest ways to tell that I grew up with Rocko (Besides asking me to sing about recycling.) is to hand me a fortune cookie.

When thumbing through my favorite episodes of Rocko’s Modern Life, it doesn’t take me long to get to “Fortune Cookie.” Leave it to Filburt to get a fortune that reads, “Bad luck and extreme misfortune will infest your pathetic soul for all eternity.” (That “extreme” went missing for a while there and got me all sorts of confused.) Every time I break open a fortune cookie I half expect to find that very same fortune. I joke about it enough that one of these days it probably will happen. I just want the paper, not the bad luck that comes with it. (“It’s only a stupid fortune cookie. You can’t take these things seriously.” Right?) If I ended up with that fortune, I’m sure my life would play out just like the episode. (Minus Really Really Big Man.) I’d freak out. Then the townspeople would freak out. Then I’d freak out some more. So what does Filburt do? He returns to the Chinese restaurant for a fortune cookie redo and goes through a great big pile of fortune cookies, but every one he touches has the same fortune. It’s not a pretty situation to be in, but it’s happening to Filburt, not me. So I can sit here comfortably and focus more on the actual cookies than the paper inside them.

Recipe makes about 45 fortune cookies.

Ingredients

1 cup cake flour, sifted

½ cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 large egg whites

1/3 cup vegetable oil

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons water

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare fortunes. Line a cookie sheet with a silicone mat or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites and sugar until well combined. Add cake flour and salt and mix until just combined. Add vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and water and mix until smooth.

Drop teaspoons of batter on the cookie sheet and spread the batter into 3.5 inch circles. Bake until the cookies begin to brown, 6-8 minutes. Remove from oven and use an offset spatula to lift a cookie off the sheet. Place a fortune in the center of the cookie and loosely fold the cookie in half. Press the center of the cookie to the lip of a cup or edge of a pan and fold the ends down to shape. Place the cookie in a muffin tin to hold its shape while it cools. Repeat with the other cookies. The cookies will begin to harden immediately, so you’ll need to work quickly. If a cookie hardens before you are able to shape it, place it back in the oven for 1 minute. These cookies are coming out of a very hot oven, so wearing heat resistant gloves will save your poor fingers. Once the cookies have fully cooled, you can break them open!

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Whenever I get fortune cookies, I get just as excited as Heffer does about reading them. I haven’t attacked anyone, but I’ve come close. I just have to know what everyone’s fortunes are! Whether or not they come true is a different story. And even though Filburt got a not-so-nice fortune, everything worked out for “Mr. Lucky” in the end. (I can’t say the same for the rest of O-Town.) But I made my own cookies, so I know what I’ll find on the inside. Just for fun, I’ll break open one more fortune cookie for the road. *Crack.* Hmm. Let’s see. It reads, “Bad luck and extreme misfortune…” I didn’t write this. Uh-oh. I’m going to collect all of my good luck charms just in case. I can’t be too careful. After all, blog day is a very dangerous day.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Monsters, Inc.

Snow Cones

Yes, you read that right. Snow cones. In January. Hey, this is the time of year for snow and ice, so I’m just using what’s on hand. And if your brain works like mine, when you think of snow cones, your thoughts immediately go to Monsters, Inc. (Which is one of the best Pixar movies ever!) Who’d of thought that monsters scare children because their screams are used to power everything? They just go to work and scare like it’s no big deal. Okay, well there’s one big deal. Scaring is considered dangerous work because monsters are afraid of the toxic kids. They believe that just one touch by a human child could kill them. (Actually, I think there’s a hint of truth in there. Kids are scary.) But I like Boo. She’s cute and harmless. Just like most of the monsters in Monstropolis. There’s no way they could scare me. Except for Mr. Waternoose. (*Shivers.* That guy’s icky.) Well, forget Mr. Waternoose. He’s not important. (Actually he’s very important, but I much more prefer Mike and Sulley.)

The stress of finding and hiding a human child and trying to safely send her home without being caught or tangled in a secret plot can be quite taxing on a friendship. Throw banishment on top of all that and Mike and Sulley are splitsville. I hate seeing them mad and hurt and I would just fast-forward through this part of the movie if not for the Abominable Snowman. When I’m not running around shouting, “Mike Wazowski!” or saying something like Roz, I’m yelling, “Welcome to the Himalayas!” I love the poor, messed up Yeti. He’d rather be referred to as the Adorable Snowman or the Agreeable Snowman and for good reason. Does a yak milk drinking, snow cone making monster sound abominable? And it’s awfully hospitable of the Yeti to offer Mike and Sulley snow cones, but the yellow color would concern anyone. (“No, no, no, don’t worry. It’s lemon.”) I’m pretty sure the Yeti, of all monsters, knows not to eat the yellow snow.

Recipe makes 1 cup snow cone syrup.

Ingredients

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup fresh lemon juice

Zest of ½ a lemon

Yellow Food Coloring (Optional)

Ice or Fresh, Clean Snow

 

Directions

Combine sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Once the syrup begins to boil, remove from heat. Pour the syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl. Let syrup cool completely and add yellow food coloring.

Crush your desired amount of ice using a blender, snow cone machine, or other device. If using snow, just collect it from a clean area. Scoop ice or snow into a paper cup and drizzle with your desired amount syrup. Dig in!

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It seems like the Yeti’s not taking his banishment too badly. (At least he’s handling it better than Bigfoot, a.k.a. King Itchy.) Maybe the snow cones have something to do with it? He can’t escape the snow and ice, so it’s best just to have some fun with it. (He does think the snow is fabulous.) Hey, that’s not a bad idea. I think I just found my way to survive the winter. I’m going to need a lot more syrup.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

The Peanuts Movie

Cupcakes

When I first heard that The Peanuts Movie was in development, I was all full of mixed emotions. I so wanted to see “Good ol’ Charlie Brown” on the big screen, but I wasn’t completely sold on the idea either. I feared that someone was trying to make a quick buck off the Peanuts gang and the movie would be nothing short of obnoxious. When I finally got to see the movie, I was ecstatic to find that my fears were all for nothing. The Peanuts Movie is so soft and endearing and I can’t help but feel it’s a wonderful tribute to the late, great Charles M. Schulz and his beloved characters.

Charlie Brown is still the Charlie Browniest as he falls for The Little Red-Haired Girl and tries desperately to impress her. (The poor kid comes down with a serious case of inadequacy.) Lucky for him, his faithful friend Snoopy sticks close to his side and helps him along. But that doesn’t stop Snoopy from trying his darndest to steal the spotlight. Snoopy’s journey to the aerodrome has got to be my favorite part of the movie. (Sneaky, little, evil Snoopy on Peppermint Patty’s lights is too funny!) Oh, and I just love when Snoopy steals Charlie Brown’s cupcakes. Yeah, cupcakes. That Charlie Brown himself bakes. That’s quite a step up from toast! It’s not like Charlie Brown had a choice though when Peppermint Patty signs him up to make cupcakes for the Winter Dance. Okay, he sets out towards school with only 6 cupcakes, but judging from Snoopy’s actions they had to be good.

Recipe makes 24 cupcakes.

Ingredients

Cupcakes:

2/3 cup butter, room temperature

1 ¾ cups sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

3 cups sifted cake flour

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 ¼ cups milk, room temperature

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

 

Buttercream Icing

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 cups sifted powdered sugar

6 tablespoons heavy cream

Green food coloring

 

Sprinkles (Optional) They look like either gold or green jimmies, but any sprinkles are fine.

 

Directions

Cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line standard muffin tins with cupcake liners.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cake flour, baking powder, and salt. In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy (about 3 minutes). Beat in the eggs one at a time and add the vanilla extract. Add flour mixture in four additions, alternately with the milk. Begin and end with the flour mixture. Stir until just combined.

Divide cupcake batter amongst tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when the cupcakes are tested. Cool in tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from tins and cool on the rack completely.

Buttercream Icing:

In a stand mixer, beat butter until fluffy. Add vanilla extract. Beat powdered sugar in, a little at a time. Scrape down sides of the bowl and add heavy cream. Add a little green food coloring and beat until smooth.

Putting It All Together:

Top each cupcake with a large dollop of icing and smear/smooth with an offset spatula or tool of your choice. Top with a pinch of sprinkles. Now they’re ready for any winter dance or just for you.

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Can Charlie Brown really bake cupcakes and whip up icing all from scratch? I have no doubt in my mind that he can. If he can read War and Peace and write a superb 1000-word book report on it all in one weekend, he can make cupcakes no problem. (I know I can’t do that. Let me have a crack at Leo’s Toy Store instead.) Despite countless failures, Charlie Brown even manages to fly a kite. (Something else I can’t do.) I’m pretty sure that he can do anything, because every time he gets knocked down, he gets right back up. He’s also kind, compassionate, honest, brave, and funny. And I’m glad that he gets some recognition for it! So he’s not perfect. That doesn’t mean he’s an insecure, wishy-washy failure. He’s a good person and people like him. Why else would I still be watching him after all these years?

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Croissant

The Holiday Season is winding down, but we’re not out of it just yet. We still have the sixth of “Januervy” to consider. Of course it’s Epiphany, but did you know it’s also Topsy Turvy Day? (Yes, I’m talking about the one from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.) Hunchback has always been one of my top Disney movies, (Even as a kid, I liked how serious it is. The only thing I hate is Quasimodo getting his heart broken.) so every year I try to do something silly to celebrate Topsy Turvy Day. Unfortunately, every year I end up completely forgetting about it, waking up on the 7th, and immediately thinking, “Dang it! I missed it again.” Well it’s not happening this year! I came prepared. Sort of. I haven’t come up with actual topsy turvy, upsy daisy things to do yet. And it’s not like I can just stroll on down to the Feast of Fools and bob for snails or play “Dunk The Monk.” But I can at least watch Hunchback and eat yummy food. (Yeah, that’s as far as I’ve gotten, but what can you expect when I keep missing the holiday?) Ah, what food, pray tell? Here’s a hint. It’s from another wonderful song from this movie. (My Hunchback soundtrack has a lot of miles on it.)

In “A Guy Like You,” Hugo compares Quasimodo’s physical appearance to a croissant, which is a strange compliment but Hugo means well. (After all, he’s the fat, stupid one with the big mouth.) But everyone loves croissants, so since Quasimodo is shaped like one, there’s no question that everyone loves him. He’s my favorite character. I think that’s more because of things like his kindness, and courage, and the fact that “Out There” makes me cry, but I’m desperately trying to justify making croissants here. So croissants it is. And these babies are not for the faint of heart. They take days to make and can be a bit of a pain, but stick around ‘til the end and you won’t be disappointed.

Recipe makes about 1 dozen croissants.

Ingredients

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups, plus 2 tablespoons bread flour

½ cup, plus 1 tablespoons water, cold

½ cup, plus 1 tablespoon whole milk, cold

¼ cup sugar

1 tablespoon instant yeast

1 ½ teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 ½ sticks unsalted butter (with the highest butterfat content you can find), cold, for laminating

1 large egg, plus 1 teaspoon water for egg wash

 

Directions

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flours and salt. Add the sugar and instant yeast. Add the water, milk, and the 3 tablespoons of butter. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed for 3 minutes. You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl once. Turn out the dough onto a very lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth, about 3 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and flatten slightly. Place the dough on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

After making the dough, prepare the butter layer by cutting the 2 ½ sticks of butter in fourths, lengthwise. Arrange the butter sticks into a rectangle on top of a piece of parchment or waxed paper. Place another piece of paper on top and smash and roll the butter until it becomes an even 9 X 6 (L X W) inch rectangle. Wrap the butter slab and refrigerate overnight.

Begin the laminating process by unwrapping the dough and laying it out on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out into a rectangle with the width of it facing you. Ultimately, you’ll want the rectangle to be large enough to completely encase the butter slab without any overlap, so it’ll be about 14 X 9 inches. Place the butter slab in the center of the dough so its length is facing you. Fold the top and bottom sides of the dough so they meet in the middle without overlapping. Pinch the center and both ends together to completely seal in the butter. Turn the dough rectangle 90 degrees so it resembles a book. Completely cover the dough with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Unwrap the dough “book” and place on a lightly floured surface. Gently roll the dough out so it’s a rectangle 24 inches in length. We’re more worried about length than width, so the dough can get little wider but you don’t want more than a couple of inches. Gently run your hands under the dough to keep it from sticking. This is also where things start getting tough. If you notice the dough is fighting back or the butter is beginning to ooze, place the dough back into the fridge for 10-20 minutes. Once the dough has reached the desired length, fold one end (Top or bottom.) toward the center of the dough. Then fold the other end on top of that one. Now that it’s stacked, make sure all the edges line up perfectly. Turn the dough 90 degrees so it resembles a book again. Completely cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Unwrap the dough and repeat the rolling and folding process. Place the dough book in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Then unwrap the dough and repeat the rolling and folding process again. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Unwrap the laminated dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out into a 24 X 9 inch rectangle. If the dough begins fighting back, fold it into thirds and place in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes. Once the dough has reached the desired length, gently lift it up about an inch and allow it to shrink on both sides. Doing this now will keep the dough from shrinking after it’s been cut. If the edges of the dough rounded while being rolled, you can trim a bit off so they’re straight. Measure and mark the dough with a knife or pizza cutter, so you will be able to cut out triangles that are 3 inches wide and 9 inches long. Cut out the triangles and cut a ½ inch slit in the center of the flat end of each one. With the flat side toward you, place your hands on each side of the slit. Press your hands forward so the sides of the croissant, or the legs, get longer as you roll the dough all the way to the point. Press just enough so the layers will stick together, but be careful not to squish them. Bend the legs so the croissant forms a crescent shape and place on a baking sheet. Repeat the rolling and folding with each croissant. Leave room between the croissants on the baking sheets. Whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash and brush a thin layer on each croissant. Refrigerate the remaining egg wash. Let the croissants proof somewhere warm, but not too warm that the butter oozes out, until they have increased in size and the dough springs back when you gently press the surface, 1 ½-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with the racks in the top and lower thirds.

Brush the croissants with the remaining egg wash and bake for 10-15 minutes. Rotate the trays and bake another 10-15 minutes or until they are fully browned. Remove from the oven and let rest on their sheets for a couple minutes. Move the croissants to a wire rack and cool completely. Now you can finally eat them.

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My croissants aren’t perfect looking, but they’re not too shabby for my first try and they taste so good. Since I had a lot of down time while making these, I did quite a bit of thinking and I realized Quasimodo really is like a croissant. With their many layers, there’s a complexity to them that you don’t understand until you take a closer look and see them for who/what they truly are.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Mickey’s Christmas Carol

Cratchit Family Christmas Dinner

Another year, another Christmas Carol. There are just so many of them, I couldn’t resist. Last year, when I covered A Christmas Carol, I said it’s my very favorite animated version of the story. Well, so is Mickey’s Christmas Carol. (I have trouble picking favorites.) It was one of my first tastes of A Christmas Carol and, come on, it’s Disney. Everywhere you look, a beloved character shows up to take on a role from this classic. Among them you’ll see Mickey and Co., Mr. Toad, Willie the Giant, and Jiminy Cricket. And let’s not forget about Scrooge McDuck starring as his namesake! Ebenezer Scrooge is a cruel man, but his sense of humor and attitude make it tough to hate him. However, just because I like him doesn’t mean I’m happy with how he treats people like Fred (Donald), the Collectors for the poor (Ratty and Moley), and Isabelle (Daisy). And the poor Cratchits! Bob (Mickey) says he gets paid two shillings and a ha’penny and that’s only because he got a raise for doing Scrooge’s laundry. That’s not nearly enough to support his family. Did you see their Christmas dinner?

The Cratchit Family’s Christmas dinner consists of one very small bird, some brown stuff, and peas. I’m not saying it’s bad. I’m sure Mrs. Cratchit (Minnie) is a wonderful cook, but that’s supposed to feed a family of five? And it doesn’t help that the Ghost of Christmas Present (Willie) shows up with the food of generosity. After seeing mince pies, turkey, and suckling pig, you know that the Cratchit dinner isn’t going to be a pretty sight. Then Scrooge compares it to a canary! If I didn’t feel for the Cratchits already, I would after seeing Tiny Tim (Morty Fieldmouse) walk in and say, “Oh, my! Look at all the wonderful things to eat.” (My heart!) And then there’s my favorite scene where Bob slices his one little pea. That’ll stay with me forever because of how unbelievably silly/sad it is. Oh, and if that isn’t enough to break your heart, Tiny Tim tries to give his dad his drumstick. (Tiny Tim, you sweet, little angel.) It’s sad when this meal is made for an entire family, but for one person, it’d be quite the little feast.

Just what bird Mrs. Cratchit cooked up, I have no idea, but I’m going to use a Cornish game hen. As for the mysterious brown stuff, I’m guessing it’s stuffing. And the peas, well they’re peas.

Recipe makes Christmas dinner for one.

Ingredients

Cornish Game Hen:

1 Cornish game hen

Butter

Salt

Pepper

Stuffing

½ large onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon butter

½ tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped

2 ounces bread crumbs

1 large egg, beaten

Salt

Pepper

Peas

½ cup peas, fresh or frozen

¾ tablespoon butter, melted

Salt

Pepper

Directions

Cornish Game Hen:

Rinse the Cornish game hen and dry thoroughly. Place on a rack over a pan in the fridge, uncovered, for 1-24 hours, the longer the better.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Rub a liberal amount of butter, up to a tablespoon, on the Cornish game hen, inside and out and under the skin. Then season it, inside and out, with liberal amounts of salt and pepper. Truss the Cornish game hen and place on a small rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. You can also place it on a small rack inside the pan.

Stuffing:

Melt butter in a small pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Remove from heat and add the sage. Add the breadcrumbs and season with salt and pepper. Add enough egg until the mixture just comes together when pressed. Break up the stuffing into large chunks and place on the pan with the Cornish game hen.

Peas:

If you are using fresh peas, boil them for 2-3 minutes. Drain and dry thoroughly. If you are using frozen, thaw and dry thoroughly. In a bowl, combine peas, butter, salt, and pepper.

Putting It All Together:

Bake the Cornish game hen and stuffing until the thickest part of the thigh reads 160-165 degrees F and the juices run clear, about 1 hour. When you have about 20 minutes left of cooking time, add the peas to the pan. Remove from the oven and loosely tent with foil. Let rest 10 minutes. Untruss the Cornish game hen and serve it up with some stuffing and peas. Enjoy!

Variations:
Everyone seems to have their own way of cooking birds, so do what works best for you and your oven. I didn’t use a brine, but you can if you prefer. Also, you can rub the Cornish game hen with olive oil or nothing at all. And you can easily make more or less of anything.

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I feel so awful. I used the smallest Cornish game hen I could find and it’s still huge compared to Mrs. Cratchit’s “canary.” I couldn’t even eat the whole thing in one sitting. But despite not having a whole lot, the Cratchits are still a pretty happy family because they have each other. And thanks to Scrooge’s change of heart, they can afford to keep it that way. The toys and the turkey aren’t bad either, but it’s being with family and friends that makes it a merry Christmas Day.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

I’ll be taking a break for the next two weeks.
Tune in next year for more Cartoon Cravings!