SFC: The Ripe Pastry

And yet more leftover overripe bananas festoon our freezer. I got a bit tired of just turning it to bread, so I queried at350Degrees (again, thank you for the help) on some ratio advice and set about to making a major fusion Cookie project: “Brown Butter Banana Chocolate Chip.”

Been wanting to make a Banana cookie for a while, and a recent post on a brown butter chocolate chip was just too endearing to not want to combine the two. Though I’ll admit the final result wasn’t what my mind desired, I know EXACTLY what adjustments need to be made to capitalize on these delicious flavors.

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Brown Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Cookie (after adjustments)
1 Cup (2 Sticks) Butter
½ Cup Sugar
¾ Cup Brown Butter
1-2 Eggs
1 Tb Vanilla
¼-3/8 Cup Mashed Super-Duper-Over-Ripened Banana (1 SMALL fruit)
¾ tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
2-2¼ Cup Flour
1 ½ Cup Smaller/Mini Chocolate Chips

Brown Butter is an amazing thing. If you have yet to experience this rich, toasty, nutty version of its original form, then I suggest you make some, right now. No I don’t care if you’re planning on cooking anything else or not, you just need to make the butter. Cook it, eat a spoonful of it and reserve the rest for other things later on.

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And really simple too, start by turning your relevant saucepan (for the sake of the Cookies, it should be large enough to take in all ingredients later on) to Med/Med-Low and start melting that milk-fatty goodness. Now just let it go…

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The plan for now is waiting, watching, and prepping your other ingredients as it goes along, making sure one stirs and swirls the pot every now and then (we want to thoroughly brown the butter, not let the bottom burn). At first it’ll start foaming and “simmering,” the water content in the butter slowly cooking out of the hot fat. As it goes along, the proteins and other “milk solids” start to unravel and tighten under the attacking heat, separating from the emulsion of the butter stick, and soon you’ll be able to stare clear through the fat to the bottom of the pan as if it was colored water, watching as the white solid flakes settle and move around the bottom.

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The butter will stop simmering around this point, which would be the signal point of completion if one had set about to make Clarified Butter. Just strain out through a fine cloth/strainer and use for all your butter needs. Or, of course, we can keep going on until it gets all tinted and nutty… which will start quickly but take a while to get to the desired point.

Just keep at it, I adjust the temperature a little lower to ensure it doesn’t go over on me (if making Clarified butter, I might suggest a lower temp to start with, mine was already a bit brown at the finishing state). It’ll start smelling like peanut skins, but as it goes that faint hint will deepen and bloom, giving toast and bread and spices, with a raw chestnutty color. For everyday uses, we take this off and carefully, slowly strain through cheesecloth or other fine apparatus.

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For the cookies, we keep it there and just dump in the Sugars. No straining or nothing, just keep all those milk solids in to better flavor our impending cookies. Though it’s not as simple as it sounds, we’ll be going through a little “process” with this sugar addition.

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Whisking the sugar mixture in vigorously, turning the butter into a smooth consistency. Take it off the heat to cool for about 9 minutes, going back every 3 minutes to stir vigorously once more. Besides helping to actually cool down faster, I believe this action is mainly to ensure the sugar and butter don’t separate too much, as it is very prone to do when hot (believe me). This’ll better ensure they emulsify easier when cool and we start adding in other ingredients, as opposed to the sludge-like state while still hot. I myself actually let it sit an extra couple minutes and whisked one more time just to ensure the success.

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Add your Egg and Vanilla to the now somewhat warm mixture and prepare to incorporate the Banana.

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So, here’s what should have been happening to your banana by now. Not only is this not a “fresh” fruit, this also isn’t one that’s been sitting “a few days and has a little line of brown spots.” This banana, now, THIS banana has been on your counter for a week, MINIMUM, perhaps 2. It’s skin has looked the same mud-brown mottled for some days, with no motion to continue its threat to cover the whole fruit. It’s sugars have ripened just about as much as they can on their own…

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And then you throw it in the freezer for a couple days, for both “storage” purposes and to push the fruit one final step, concentrating the sugars and flavors even further. As it thaws on the counter, which only takes about an hour, the fruit is left as a softened jelly of pure sweet banana flavor, just barely holding together. Do not be afraid of its blackened demeanor, there is no such thing as going too far with this fruit when cooking is concerned.

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With that gotten out of my system, we can start adding the banana, mashed, alongside the Dry Mix; I start with a bit of the latter to firm it up before mixing in the wet fruit. After, add in the rest of the flour, and more if needed, to reach what looks to be a proper cookie dough consistency (remembering it’ll firm up more once FULLY cooled).

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Leave to cool on the counter even further, folding in your Chips or other Mix-ins when ready (I split it in half and did a Regular and White Chocolate batch!). I’ve found I prefer the Minis when going for this new fusion, as the larger chunks just created these concentrated pockets of gooey chocolate which, though awesome, can override the other flavors I’m trying to shine very easily.

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Move to the fridge to chill down at least 2 hours or overnight; apparently the originator of the Brown Butter Cookie follows a technique of storing it a minimum 48 hours before cooking. I’m not sure what exactly is happening to it at that time, but there’s probably some logical reason for it.

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For ease of storage and portioning later, wrap dough completely in plastic, patting or rolling out to an even thickness that you’d like for your cookies (I go about an inch at least). Squeeze and adjust the sides ‘till it’s rectangular and store.

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When close to ready, transfer to your freezer for at least 30-45 minutes beforehand; this step really helps the cookie keep its height and softness when baking so it doesn’t turn into a thin puddle, though if that’s what you’re looking for (it does make a nice crispy cookie), then go ahead and bake for room temperature. Turn oven to 375F, slice the desired amount and size from your dough block with a handy-dandy pizza cutter (this can be done ahead of time before freezing), and space cookies out on a Parchment or Sprayed baking pan, and cook 10-13 minutes, turning the sheet around halfway in.

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Remove, transfer to a plate while it’s still soft and hot, and enjoy with a large glass of ice cold milk. Or on its own, it’s a pretty damn good cookie. A soft, more subtle note of the banana paired with soft, gooey rich chocolates, both bolstered by the gentle nutty, almost spicy aspect the brown butter imparts. All of this held in a baked dough that feels halfway between a cookie and actual banana bread. It’s a fun little taste factory.

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Hopefully your first attempt at this turns out more ideally focused than mine, though I’m sure the final result won’t be too complaint worthy either way. Good Luck in all your own upcoming culinary inventions and Good Eating them!

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Jake’s Street Grille

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https://twitter.com/JakeStreetTruck   

https://www.facebook.com/JakeStreetTruck?fref=ts    

http://www.jakescitygrille.com/

Main Location: Minneapolis

             After a miniature torrent of new trucks which are trying to start up or sound like they’re from a restaurant, we finally have another mobile operation that’s (gasp!) actually BASED off one! (well, these guys and Falafel King… but that’s really more of a deli chain…)

             Expanding from the Triple-D-made-famous Jake’s City Grille, Jake’s STREET Grille hits the… ummm, street, in flame-covered glory. With multiple locations under their belt already, it seems Jake’s has decided to take their attitude and shove it in the middle of our Food Truck lineup. And so far, one can’t argue that they don’t stand out (at least as far as colors go).

             One of the closest trucks we have to a “gastropub” vibe, Jake’s picks some of their favorite and most Street-worthy items from the varied and bar-based Restaurant Menu; along with a couple new twists of course. Top of the list includes their all-famous Jakewings, and Cajun Tilapia or Lobster/Shrimp Tacos. Following these are some Jake Burgers turned Mini, a popular Chicken Cobb shoved in a big Pita, their favorite Chowder, and a homemade Cookie! I actually got a picture of it!

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              Then one of the employees decided they wanted to pose for me…

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              So yeah…

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              It was a bit of a rainy day the time I actually visited, and luckily for customers they have their very own awning! And not just that miniature tent often used in farmer’s markets. After placing one’s order AWAY from the truck, customers can then take their ticket up to the window to hand in-person, where we can clearly view the highly cramped and crowded kitchen. Half of the space being taken up by the big man Jake himself (or someone else who got their picture taken with Guy Fierri…).

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Food: 9

               I had to of course get the two items named after the restaurant, the Wings and the Mini Burgers! I would have liked to get the Lobster Tacos, but they’re a touch out of my price range. Did get to take a picture of them though:

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               An interesting looking “Taco,” if I have to say so. If anything it sort of reminds me of a Mexican-inspired “Lobster Ravioli” that so many high-end restaurants like having on their menu to use up knuckle and other tasty lobster meat. Considering the quality of the other foods I’ve received, the flavor combinations, and the noted grill marks on the tortillas (flour, but it’s not a traditional taco filling or wrapping anyways, so I’m okay with it), I think we can assume a good level of quality to these.

              Wings were sticky, sweet, tangy, with that nice little “spicy wing” flavor in the background. Grilled to a juicy tenderness, the black skin imparting that nice little smoky flavor to the rest of the sauce. Other than a possibility of a couple wings being too “fatty” (I know, it’s weird to say about wings… but they actually might not have been cooked enough for a little more fat to render like it should), it was a very enjoyable and delicious experience.

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              Sliders are certainly something. A mosaic of sesame over the buns, its inside toasted properly before being filled with the cheese and fried onion-covered meat. Though medium-well, an overall sense of dryness is notably absent, most likely helped by the “JakeSauce” flavoring the burger (can’t actually see or feel it; almost like it was soaked in… so good), which is very BBQ-ish in nature. Onions are nice, crispy and spice-flavored of course. Though I would definitely not compare it to some of our Best Truck Burgers, as a burger-based-slider its flavors stand loaded and high.

              As for the fries: crispy outside, soft in, not SPECTACULAR compared to the street’s best but no negative qualities. Very SOLID and well-made potatoes. Just need to eat them soon after ordering or risk softening. I’m not sure about the Cookie, but it’s handmade and certainly LOOKS delicious…

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Holdability: 8

              Based off a restaurant as it is, most of this stuff isn’t exactly clean. Not necessarily sit-down food, though; with a single basket one easily only need both hands. However, wings are quite the messy, sticky beast; they even come with wetnaps (which I accidentally tossed, agh!), which one could say is quite nice for those wanting a messy meal on the street but still needing to get somewhere. The unique roll on the Tacos are actually quite perfect for the street, with little to no worry of fillings spilling out. Though I find the pile of salsa on top sort of odd and out-of-place for any street-food item (at least the Tomatillo and Guac were in cups…).

              I DEFINITELY want to give special mention and props to their Salad. Still, still, I do not understand those people who go all the way out on the street, to a Food Truck in all its Foodie-based “Eat me with your hands” glory, and order a SALAD of all things… I mean seriously you can get that anywhere. However, Jake’s is the first place that has actually taken their salad and shoved it into something like a pita wrap (and boy did that shove a LOT of it into a BIG pita). Not only has this created an item salad-lovers can eat while walking, but they’ve transformed one of the most boring of items (a Cobb) into something fully indicative and representing of Food Truck items. In fact, I’m somewhat considering it for “Toe Ring” nomination.

                Other items hold themselves in similar levels of two-handed-ness. The chowder itself comes as a nicely-sized paper bowl which THEN put into a cardboard basket.

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Price: 9

             There are a couple higher priced items, but unlike certain other trucks Jake’s has a fantastic VARIATION, offering a great range of different prices so one can find the right fit if needed. Whether this be a $5 Chowder, $12 Lobster Taco (which actually costs LESS than the at-restaurant version, unlike a certain other Lobster-item I know), or everything else in between, all of it seeming pretty right on the money with what they offer.

Speed: 8

             Slightly above average speed, not surprising considering the full kitchen behind the window.

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The TOE: 9

            Though its restaurant ties are clear in their menu, Jake’s attitude and personality shine in the same way as the best Trucks. Their menu may not be united in a singular style or cuisine, but each item shows an excitement and “Signature” to it that others easily miss. Not to mention the fact they’ve actually put some effort in insuring most of their offerings tie well into the Street Scene.

                        Service: +1.5

               I refer to the picture of the employee posing for the cookie. Fact is these guys are fun, energetic, and practically make the visit an experience.

                         Tally: 44.5/50

                       

Final Thoughts

            Probably the best truck so far for those who want that “restaurant experience” without sacrificing the ability to eat while mobile. Also one of the very few places (Moral Omni the other) that I find it not only acceptable, but I SUGGEST one get the Salad – Chicken Cobb in Pita.

            Most items are definitely of great suggestibility. Lobster Taco should be tried for those willing and able to spend the extra few bucks. On the lower-priced end, the Chowder looks amazing, easily in the same league as AZ’s Gumbo. The Wings are great, but only for those who don’t mind the stickiness. Mobility wise, both the Mini Burger and Cajun Tilapia Tacos fit the bill, I probably suggest the taco more; it looks amazing, I really want to go back to get it.

                Which in itself speaks to the quality; there are very few trucks that I have any real urge to go back repeatedly. Vellee and Potters are among the small group, and now Jake’s entered the list.

                 One final note, for those who looking to get a cookie on the street, I would certainly say this is one of the Trucks to grab it from.