Monday, May 2, 2011

Stranger's Cookbook: African Beef Turnovers

Time to get back to the project.  Posts are rare here for several reasons.  First, being poor, the first series of posts is out.  I don't eat out much anymore, and you can't get a good rip-roaring catastroipe going without takeout food.  Second, I still have the occasional sweaty toothed nightmare from the Can Game. Lastly, I'm both busy and lazy in equal measure.

Like this, but with more sweatpance and less cravats.

Let me tell you about my day.  I had a weekend that started crap, and then Got Awesome.  My standard bout of Sunday Night Insomnia hit, and it was suddenly 4:30 in the morning.  I decided that that was the best time to consider serious life decisions that aren't really relevant, and ended up feeling amazing.  Lo and behold, I woke up a mere 3.65 hours later and continued to feel amazing.  Today, I feel like a Big Damn Hero.  Today, I roll twenties.  Today, I learned that the combination of fatigue, Teenage Bottlerocket played at deafening levels, and near-lethal levels of caffeine are the perfect combination to make me experience honest-to-crazy levels of mania.

So, what to do?  Can I possibly handle such relentless positivity?  I know! I'll cook something that is capable of crushing the spirits of many, many men!  See, I've had this idea for a new blog-project for awhile.  I call it The Stranger's Cookbook.  Basically, it works like this:  I collect a bunch of old recipe cards from people I know.  These cards have old recipes on them written by, and this is important, people that I don't know and will never meet.  I'll cook them as written, with as much specificity as possible, and then write it up.  Will this be interesting or funny?  No fucking clue.  Battle on, Heroes!

Note:  My camera is sort of jacked right now, so all the pics for this week will be taken via my phone, and thus be shit.

African Beef Turnovers

This is a recipe cut from a newspaper, and pasted onto a card.  No clue as to its origins.  The paper is yellowed with age, mysteriously.  It's signed at the end with a sort of bold definitive 'S'.  In retrospect, I wouldn't put my actual human name on this either.


So, my 'rules' for this noble enterprise say that I can't change what's on the card.  So when it calls for bloody sirloin, it gets sirloin.  I dunno that I've ever even bought ground sirloin.  Also, I have no clue what makes this 'African'.  But then again, I know nothing about Africa, so we're good.  I did an image search for 'African food' and got this:

Is that beans or something?  No fucking beans here, guys.

First, the mise en place (it's French, fucking look it up).  Pretty simple this time, chop the onion, chop the tomato, soften the butter and cream cheese.  Oh, wait.  I'm supposed to peel the tomato.  How the hell do you peel a tomato?  I would have much rather used canned&crushed here, but it's Not in the Recipe.  I love self-imposed asinine arbitrary rules!

I'm not a fucking tomatologist, but the tomatoes I found at the shop look like trash.  Also, I don't have a peeler anymore (it is on the list of things what walked out of my apartment under mysterious circumstances).  Guess it's the old standby:

Hack at it with the knife.   

My phone makes these look sort of 'red-ish', but they aren't.  Inside, their color is best described as Ashes of Roses.  Which I'm sure is lovely for drapes and your ugly sister's prom dress...but not what I'm looking for in my vegfruit.  Maybe, I'm being too unkind to what is essentially a skin around a bag of acidic juice-filled crap with seeds.  After all, sometimes awful things can contain a wonderful surprise!

Not this time.  Also, they smelled a little like the compost from the garden in hell.

Next, I am to make the pastry.  According to Sssss, this is done by combining a little flour and salt with All The Fat in the World (8 oz. of cream cheese, and 2 whole sticks of butter).  Ok, I've made dough before.  Chuck it all in a bowl and mix it up.  I'll get out my pastry splicer and evenly distribute the fat throughout the flour!

Like some kind of Weapon X / Betty Crocker fusion.  Weapon Crocker.

No wait.  Actually, it says to mix it by hand.  S, I'm sorry that you're from the past and didn't have access to science, but this isn't a great start to our working relationship.

You know that feeling you get when you squeeze something with the exact consistency of poop?  It was like that.

Whatever.  Done.  Next, I'm to refrigerate it for 'a few hours'.  Shit.  It's already like 7pm.  Protip:  Read the damn recipe before you start trying to cook.

A Few Hours Later:

Picture a cool 'wipe' effect here.  Also, it was totally like 20 minutes.

Really though, why the wait?  I get it, S-hole, you're some kind of fucking society food writer and's a good idea when making Human Food to cool pastry dough.  It allows the fats to re-harden, so that they stay sort of localized in the finished product.  The whole Tender-Flaky Duality thing.  That's totally fine, I respect that.  Except you just had me handmush roughly 30 parts of fat with about 2 parts of flour.  You can tart around as much as you want here, Essie, it's still a fucking fat-slam.  Calling it 'pastry' is putting the proverbial lipstick on a pig.

Moving on.  Next step is to make the wholesome African filling....which consists of onion (kind of green), beef (sirloin, for fucks sake), tomatoes (Fruit of the Devil's Asshole), and peanut butter (yum!).  Brown the meat.  Protip:  When it says to brown meat in a recipe, it doesn't mean 'cook that meat all the way hard' means get some color on it.  I had a great picture for this, but it turns out that it was actually an awful picture.  Looked like a jogger blew in and snapped the photo while running in place (with palsy). Stupid phone.  Anyway, the point is that most of the time when you're browning something, the next step is going to be 'add more stuff and actually cook it'.  So when you cook the meet, and then cook it more, and then bake've done fucked up your meat.

Added the onion and tomaccos and cooked it down.  Swirled in the peanut butter.  Filling complete:

I get it now:  Somewhere in Africa circa 1989:
You got your dog food in my peanut butter sandwich!
 You got your peanut butter in my dog food!

The next step is to take out the dough, roll it out, and portion into forty-eight 3-inch discs.  4-8.  Really S(hitty fucking cook)?  This pile of crap is such a crowd pleaser that you need to have enough to serve your entire readership down at Learn to Hate Food Monthly?  Forget that.  I made 12 3-inch discs and put the rest of that crap down the in-sink-er-ator.  Maybe it was the Fumes of Fugue that were pouring out of that pan, but I had a hunch that 12 would be about 12 more than I really wanted to eat. The recipe next asked me to place one teaspoon of tasty filling slightly off-center, fold dough over, and crimp edges closed with a fork dipped in flour.  Maybe S is the kind of person that loves to spend Inordinate Amounts of Time Screwing Around with Food.  Maybe S breaks out the compass and fucking radiophone to calculate filling trajectories.  Maybe S has one of those Adhesive Forks that I've heard so much about....I don't know, and I couldn't care less.  I can't be having with this.

I sot of gommed some in and mashed it closed.

I baked it for 3 times as long as was suggested, and it never got anywhere near Golden, Brown, or Delicious. It was sort of close to being Flacid, Pale, and Malodorous.  I was going to broil it or something, but then I forgot that pans are hot and burned the shit out of my fingers.  So my 'finishing touch' was to snake them off the heating element with a tongs so as to avoid fire.  Bon Appetit.

I ate one-third pieces.

Verdict:  S isn't just some jackass food writer.  S is someone that was born only to hate me.  S is reaching across time and space to wrack terrible vengeance upon my inner portions.  You know though?  That's ok.  I completely understand.  I now feel filled with the unholy desire to put my fist through physics right in your direction too, Sbag.

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