Monday, July 19, 2010
Sometimes I wonder why I let anyone else pick food but me. When other people take their turns, they say things like, “Oh, I don’t know, surprise me.” or “I didn’t have time to look for anything.” or “Whatever you want...” Whatever I want? Look, the reason I decided to take turns here was so I wouldn’t HAVE to decide every week! So then I push them. “Come on... just one ingredient. Just tell me ONE thing you really feel like...” And then my mom says, “Do something unique with hot dogs.”
Yes, she actually said that. I think she was trying to make up for the crazy wild goose chase I went on for lamb chops and the two meat dinner I made for dad. Hot dogs are pretty easy to find, after all.
So I went on a search. And that, as usual, meant spending some time on this site, which was formerly recipezaar but is now called food(dot)com. It got a pretty facelift. And, I am now, officially, a member - so you may see me put some yummy recipes up there too! (If I can come up with anything original...) Ok, enough of the tangent. Back to the hot dogs.
I found this recipe for Gourmet Harissa-Onion Hot Dogs with Preserved Lemon Relish. Wow. I had NO IDEA someone could make hot dogs sound impressive. It was either this, or red neck casserole, and while the casserole sounded pretty yummy, mr confirmed my suspicion that it would be playing it just a little too safe to go that route. So we collectively decided on the harissa onion dogs.
I found a good looking salad online for the side dish - I switched it up a bit, so I’ll call my version “Sweet and Sour Salad” because the taste reminds me of that sweet and tangy zip you get with sweet and sour sauce. There isn’t really any sweet and sour sauce in this salad, just in case you were getting confused...
I had asked my mom if she would rather have a chocolatey or fruity dessert and she picked chocolate. I then gave her the cake pie cookie bar option (mr said that sounded good, but I have no idea how to make one of those...) and mom picked cake. I found Upside Down Ooey Gooey Chocolate Cupcakes, and they looked PERFECT.
I went to three stores today to find the necessary ingredients. Yeesh. The first store was out of hummus. So I went to the second. They had some seriously steep prices, so I had to go to the third store for the rest of my stuff. It was one of those days.
I mixed the salad up first so I could put it in the fridge and let it chill out for a while before serving. Here’s the recipe:
Sweet and Sour Salad
2 Tblsp Ground Mustard
2 Tblsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp dill weed
4 Tblsp olive oil
2 apples (tart is best)
2 pear (I used bosc)
1 small cucumber
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl and whisk together well.
Core the apples and pears and slice very thin lengthwise. Cut the cucumber into thin rounds. Leave all the peels on.
Put this in the bowl and toss gently to coat with dressing.
Chill and serve
I’ll make this salad again - it’s a nice change to the fruit salad standby. It was tangy and sweet and had a great crispy crunch. We all liked it quite a bit.
The hot dogs? Well, I think it’s safe to say none of us will EVER, EVER eat these hot dogs again. This dinner tops my list of WORST DINNERS EVER. EVER. It seems very straight forward. Caramelized onions with chili paste for some bite? Hmmm... could be fun. Relish? I love relish.
I can’t say I know for sure where it all went wrong. I really believe there was a typo in the recipe for the relish. Does it seem odd to you that it called for 2 1/2 TABLESPOONS of sea salt?? Because as I was measuring it out I thought to myself how ridiculously much salt there was in this. Most things call for a teaspoon or two, right? Well, I went with it anyway, and mr told me I should stick with my gut from now on. Considering I used fully half of the salt grinder, this should have been obvious to me. It ruined the taste of EVERYTHING else having anything to do with the hot dogs. I couldn’t even taste the chili paste in the onions, and I usually have NO tolerance for spice at all. Let alone the hummus I searched high and low for earlier today. The best part of the hot dogs were the toasted buns I did on the skillet. (which, you know, is cool and all, but for this to be the BEST part, you know the rest had to be pretty bad...)
So it looked good. But if you’re going to try it (and I think I’d just skip it if I were you. Go for the red neck casserole instead...) dial the salt back a notch or ten. Remember when I told you my parents lie to me? Today my dad said, “This is awful. We are speaking frankly at these dinners, right?”
I’ve never respected my dad more. The honesty didn’t even sting. After all, I was just following directions... (and it made up for the fact that my parents lie about dinner sometimes...)
Ready for the piece de resistance?
It didn’t take me very long to get really excited about these. The third step in the recipe had me on the edge of my seat.
It looks scrumptious doesn’t it?
Then I got to the part where you’re supposed to invert the cupcakes onto the cooling rake so the ooey gooey bottom turns into the ooey gooey top. And they came out like this:
So either I baked them too long, I made the caramel topping wrong, I didn’t grease the pans enough or the cupcakes were introduced to the universal law of “Kimberly fails.” I have my suspicions now, after eating them, that I cooked them a little too long. So, when you make these (and you should) start with less time - say 18 minutes or so. You can always cook it longer, but you can’t uncook it. Darn.
Anyway, I scraped the caramel-y stuff out of the pans and spooned it onto the cupcakes.
Then I decided to put the chocolate sauce all over the cupcakes instead of just on the sides, which hid the imperfections. They looked great, and tasted super yummy - I just wish they had been a little gooier. We all agreed this was the best part of the meal - it wasn’t just me this time.
So tonight I learned that hot dogs are meant to be eaten with ketchup and mustard - maybe a little mayo if you’re feeling exotic - OR cut up in mac and cheese. These are the only acceptable variations on the hot dog theme. Anything claiming “gourmet” dogs? Well, it’s either a lie or delusional.