Monday, October 12, 2009

Awards Dinner

Every now and then I find myself wishing I ran a food blog.

I mean, really, who doesn’t love a well-assembled food blog ? Descriptive prose combined with some compelling shots of the ingredients and the cooking process seems like a sure fire way to get virtual crowds lined up every day to see what you’re serving up. I, for instance, devour Shauna Ahren’s posts over at Gluten Free Girl, despite the fact that I suck down gluten like a sixth grader on a pixie stick. I don’t even like most of the ingredients her dishes require—but I love the blog. Great writing and good shots seem to render actual consumption of the fare a moot point.

I once read a captivating, blow-by-blow concerning the makings of the signature Rueben-like sandwich of a northeastern town in a glossy magazine, and I could literally smell the fresh bread and taste the tang of special sauce. By the end of the article I was ready to grab my keys and take off on an all-night road trip. And I don’t even eat beef.

So I thought I’d invest today’s post in a dry run, a sort of testing of the waters to see if I’m up to the task. Let’s walk through a recent making of one of my signature dishes-- a bona-fide award winning recipe that snagged an honorable mention in what may have been a national recipe contest in which I received this cookbook as a prize:

Let me clarify that my recipe does not appear in this volume, as this book focuses on spicy southwestern fare, and my winning dish was stromboli.

So here we go…brace yourselves for that oh-so-important cooking-in-progress shot:

oops! I mean:

there--that's so much better, isn't it?

Here, I was called upon to perform one of those on-the-job quick fixes when my Labrador may have sampled—er—an object may have punctured my dough:

(the less-than-compelling clarity of this shot was the result of having my camera in the wrong mode. But I think in this case, it adds a nice touch.)

Ready to go in the oven!

Ready for the pages of Bon Appetite, don't you think?

So, there you have it—me as a food blogger for the day.

Sadly, it seems likely that my best work doesn't happen in the kitchen. My guess is that I place in the contest because other people actually had to assemble my recipe for judging, thereby eliminating presentation as a factor—because, I promise you, it is tasty! You can see for yourself, because, like every good food blogger, I’m including the recipe at the end of my post.

But first…my title promised that this was an awards dinner. I bet you thought that was some sort of cheap reference to my recipe-win, but no…there are official award issues to which I must attended.

Holly of 504 Main bestowed upon me the honor of the Over the Top Blog award.

I am truly honored, as Holly is definitely an up-and-coming blogger to watch these days. Over at her blog you’ll find a perfect blend of entertaining, kids, and style. Even better—you’ll never feel like a stranger. Holly is both a wonderful virtual hostess at her place and the perfect guest when she visits you at yours.

As is the custom, it is now my duty to pass the honor along to a couple other bloggers.

Although Joy of Joy to the Blog has a rather nice stash of accolades in her “awards cabinet,” (undoubtedly because she's interesting, honest, and funny!) I did not happen to see this one in stock. So I’m passing it along so she can add it to her collection.

I’m also passing it along to Amanda of A Silvertongued Serenade. I just because acquainted with Amanda’s blog over the weekend. She writes not only about college life and lattes, but also shares thoughts that reflect her bigger dreams of becoming a writer. ..and I’d like to encourage her by sending some followers her way.

(note to recipients: best I can tell, the only "rules" governing this award is to link back to the blogger who awarded it to you--in this case, yours truly :) and to pass it along to an indeterminate number of fellow bloggers.)

So without further delay, let's get back to that stromboli recipe:

You'll need:
Frozen bread-1 loaf for every 2 stromboli
1 16 count pkg. sandwich steaks
4-6 slices provolone cheese per stromboli
aprox ½ cup pizza sauce per stromboli
6 Tablespoons chopped onion
olive oil

Thaw frozen bread on counter (can be done day prior to use). Cut loaf in half, flatten and shape halves into two oblongs. Sauté onions in olive oil. Cook sandwich steaks in skillet, chopping apart into pieces. You will use aprox.4 sandwich steaks per stromboli. Divide sautéed onions and spread over dough. Place 1-2 slices of provolone cheese over top of the onions. Top each oblong with 3 tablespoons of pizza sauce. Add meat, cheese, and sauce in layers Wrap the sides of the dough around ingredients and fold to seal. Fold ends over top of the seal and turn over. Cut three slits across the top of each stromboli and brush with olive oil. Bake on cookie sheets in preheated 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until browned. Two stromboli serve 4-6 people.

Note: This recipe is extremely flexible as various meats and cheeses can be substituted to suit individual taste. I've used chicken, salami, ham, pepperoni, mozzarella, and velveeta, and they all turn out great. I also often sauté peppers in with the onions.

Oh—and one more thing….those cinnamon rolls steaming invitingly at the top of the post? My only involvement was firing off some quick shots before I helped consume them, and then uploading the image so this post would look all food-bloggy.


Amandasaurus said...

Haha I won't lie, when I got to your blog today, I thought the thing you said was for me was the picture of the cinnamon buns. Cruel temptation!!

Merci beaucoup for the award! Much more exciting than cinnamon buns, and lower in carbs, too.

Jen said...

I love it! However, I was confused by the comment at the end about the cinnamon rolls.. perhaps a small typo.. and your post is missing one important food blog element.. advice! So I have a question to help you get that part of your blog going.. I often make strombli with the frozen bread loaves. Do your your loaves require the rising process? If so, is this a step you skip? And the loaves I buy must be smaller because I don't think half of one could make a whole stromboli? What brand do you prefer?

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters said...

Hey, Amandasaurus! Sorry for the sticky bun tease, but I'm glad the award is better :)

Jen--great catch on the typo! A little cutting and pasting action gone bad.

OK, let's talk bread here. I am not fussy about the brand, I even use store brand loaves from time to time, which is really saying a lot because I don't use store brand stuff very often. I buy the kind that will make a whole loaf if just simply baked we're dealing with a loaf's worth of dough here which is definitely more than enough to wrap around two strombolies. Are you buying mini-loaves, by any chance? The loaves actually rise as they thaw, so there is no extra step there.

I hope this answers your question, if not, then let me know! I appreciate your comments!

Jen said...

Well.. currently I've been using store brand... with two options for thawing/rising. It suggests allowing it to thaw and then rise which depending on how much time I have usually means leaving it on the counter for about 12-18 hours. It is a regular size loaf they are not mini loaves, but maybe its my rolling technique. I'm not sure. I may also just be making one really big stromboli. Usually one is enough to feed about 4 people or two with leftovers (If Steve is having his usual amount, then its about 3 people.. lol). Next time I make one I'll take a picture and post it to show you!! A couple christmases ago I got a pampered chef pizza stone and I love the crispness it gives on the bottom.

Erin M. said...

your post made me incredibly hungry. I was also relieved to see that someone else can rival the mess I make in my kitchen anytime I'm cooking anything. love it!

Rook No. 17 said...

My friend Holly at 504 Main sent me over. You can add food-writer to your list of many talents. Your stromboli looks delicious. I've never made one, but certainly will give it a try. I'm already daydreaming about yummy combinations: spicy italian sausage and red pepper, or maybe a little spinach, feta, kalmata nod too Greece? I'm inspired. Thank you!

Charisse and Holly said...

Yeah...I don't think you have a career as a food photographer. LOL Loved the post. Holly at

Joy said...

Well thank you very much! I can always find extra space for another award in my cabinet.

Did you happen to dust when you were in my cabinet, by chance? Everything looks so nice and bright! ;o)


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