I bought my copy of Date Night In
, the new cookbook by food blogger, Ashley Rodriguez
, a little over a week ago, and to say I am obsessed with it would be a massive understatment. I open it no less than three times a day to stare at the beautiful photography and marvel at the simplicity she brings to making things that often sound more challenging -- like friend chicken and homemade hamburger buns. I've made both of those recipes so far, and have also tried my luck at the Pickled Peppers, Salted Chocolate Chip cookies, Yeasted Belgian Waffles, and Ricotta Cheese.
As you can see, I'm only teaching part-time right now. My schedule is relaxed and I am taking full advantage of it.
Yet, part of the beauty of this cookbook is that it both inspires and dares us to keep coming back to the kitchen -- even when things get crazy. The premise of Date Night In is that Ashley and her husband found themselves with jobs and children and little time to connect. They started dedicating one night a week to creating elaborate meals that they would share together in an effort to strengthen their relationship and reconnect. It's a record of some of their favorites with step-by-step directions for prepping most of the dishes days in advance.
I'm finding that it makes cooking a lot more manageable when each dish is planned ahead and broken into two separate stages. With these hamburger buns, for example, I was able to mix the dough on Saturday, and then let it slowly rise in the refrigerator over night. On Sunday, all I had to do was form the dough into balls, place them on a cookie sheet, and cover them in egg wash/sesame seeds before popping them in the oven. I prepped the hamburger patties on Saturday, as well, so that on Sunday evening, I could easily toss them in the cast iron skillet whenever we got hungry.
Granted, I know I am married now and that this cookbook is geared toward an audience of love birds, but to all of my single friends: there is absolutely no reason why you couldn't use it and love it too! Most all of these recipes make enough for multiple servings, so I say grab the book, ignore all the gooey love stories -- or be inspired by them, depending on how you are feeling that day ;) -- and invite your girlfriends over for homemade pizza, or perfectly crusted fried chicken, or Spring Vegetable Green Curry with HOMEMADE CURRY PASTE!! That will probably be my next recipe to try . . .
In the meantime, give these hamburgers a shot. The burger recipe is all mine, but the buns are from Date Night In. The only thing I did differently is that I used Instant Rapid Rise yeast instead of Active Dry Yeast because that is all I had in the cupboard. The two yeasts are basically interchangeable, except that instant yeast requires warmer water to active it-- typically, around 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Homemade Burger Buns
MAKES 8-12 BUNS, DEPENDING ON FINISHED SIZE
1 cup warm water (120 degrees, if using instant rapid rise yeast)
3 Tbsp. milk
2 tsp. active dry yeast, or instant yeast
2 Tbsp. honey
1 large egg
3 1/2 cups bread flour
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
Neutral oil, for brushing
Start this dough the day before you plan to use it. In the bowl of a Kitchen Aid or stand mixer, whisk together the water, yeast, and honey. Let it rest a second so that the yeast has time to activate and the temperature cools down. Next, whisk in the milk and egg until fully combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Attach the dough hook to the stand mixer and then add the flour mixture all at once. Mix for 5 minutes on medium-low. Add the butter and then mix for another 2 minutes. The dough should be soft, smooth, and kind of sticky. Dump the dough into a sealable container that allows plenty of room for it to rise. Place it directly into the refrigerator and leave it there over night.
When you are ready to bake the buns, remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide into 8 or 12 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball by covering the dough with one hand and gently rotating that hand in a circular motion. As your hand is moving, use your fingertips to tuck the edges of the dough under itself. Do this on an unfloured countertop with lightly floured hands.
Place the rolled buns on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the buns lightly with a neutral oil (I used grape seed oil), and then cover the tray loosely with plastic wrap to prevent the dough from drying out.
Allow to rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. water
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk together the egg, egg yolk, and water. Once the buns have doubled in size, carefully remove the plastic wrap and brush the buns with the egg wash, then sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the buns are golden on the top and bottom, rotating the pan once during baking. The buns should feel hollow when gently tapped. Cool on a wire rack.
1 lb. ground beef
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
Sliced onions (optional)
Sliced raw milk cheddar (optional)
Combine ground beef, garlic, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes in a large bowl and mix it with your hands until fully combined. Form the meat into 4 patties of equal size and shape.
Place the patties in a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Cook for about 3 minutes, and then flip to the other side and cook for an additional 3 minutes. (Cook less if you want a more rare burger, and cook a little longer if you want the meat to be well done).
As the burger cooks, it will release quite a bit of fat and juices. I threw several slices of raw onion inside the pan and let them saute alongside the meat. If you'd like to add cheese to the burgers, add it during the final 2 minutes of cooking time and let it melt on top.
Additional Topping Ideas: arugula, avocado, sliced tomato, ketchup -- that's what I used on mine, anyways :)