(Mock) White Castle-Like Sliders

In collecting recipes to add to my ever-growing binders of cards, clippings, scraps, and scribbled recipes, I found another new one to try: White Castle-Like Sliders

We don’t have a White Castle anywhere in Madison, much to my dismay. However, it makes it even more of  a treat when we are visiting the Twin Cities and indulge in some of their steamy, oniony burgers. We don’t do this every time we go there because there are so many other places to sample deliciousness from. But when the craving drives us – we’ve indulged (and sometimes felt less than healthy following the indulgence). I have seen frozen White Castle burgers for sale at the grocery store, but I’m not big on frozen fast foods and have not tried them.

The recipe looked interesting, and regardless of the authenticity of the flavor, I figured it the family would be down with eating them.

I purchased my beef at Walmart, and went for the fattier 80/20 that the recipe calls for. I actually followed a recipe. Fancy that! The buns, however, were a little more tricky. I found some mini buns that were called “dollar rolls” – but they cost $3 per bag of 8. No thanks. I found some ciabatta buns for about the same price and there were 12 in there. Because I was doubling the recipe (which makes 24), I figured I’d need 2 packs and could quarter the rolls. It was a decent bet, but then I noticed some mini sub-like rolls, a 24-pack, for the same price. The decision was easy. Actually, I probably put too much thinking into it, as I do EVERYTHING, but when I shop it isn’t always about the product or finding the right one, it’s also about the money. The sub rolls were the most cost-effective.

Armed with all the ingredients, I headed home to take on the recipe.

It is a very. Easy. Recipe. Really, it is. The original site has lots of pictures and step-by-step instructions, so I won’t go into that. I’ll just share how my experience went.

I used a baking sheets rather than a baking dish. In fact, I used two. One large one and one half sheet. They worked fine, fitting side-by-side in my oven. I sprinkled the cup of flakes down on the sheets, then patted the beef on top. I had 5lbs. of beef (a little more than the recipe called for, but I’m SO glad I went ahead with that extra pound – more on that in a bit). Because the onions spread around when you pat the beef on top, I tried to “sprinkle” the beef around the sheet, then pat it all in like play dough. It was the worst part. Ground beef doesn’t exactly sprinkle. I made do, and patted, patched and coerced the beef until it covered the entire bottom of both pans. After that, they went in the oven.

Shock and horror when I pulled them out and notice the teensy, tiny rectangle of beef floating around in the pool of fat (removed in picture below). Besides gently patting the beef with a paper towel like the recipe said, I had to first drain off the over 2 cups of liquified fat, then soak up the rest with towel. It was truly disgusting. A little tricky, too, because I didn’t want to lose my precious rectangle of beef. I started to have serious doubts that I would pull out 48 burgers from the little beef sheet.

Patience.

Cheese time. I had white cheddar. In my head I could hear the kids groaning about my substitution. They prefer yellow (even though it is just dyed cheddar). I topped the meat with the cheese, popped them back in (it takes very little time to melt, FYI) and then stared at the huge bag of rolls that I had not begun to cut. Following the cheese-topping was a crazed kitchen dance of me slicing pickle spears (I skipped out on buying sliced pickles – spears sliced in mini triangles are fine) and quartering the sub rolls that were not cut to being with — all with hope of serving White Castle(ish) burgers that were still warm.

It was exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. I did not get many pictures, due to the frantic pace at which I worked.

I wouldn’t say they were a “hit” – or maybe they were a hit, just not out-of-the-park hit. They were definitely interesting and something out of the ordinary. Rarely can you duplicate a restaurant food, but just make a similar version of. That’s what these were. If you did not know what the attempt was, you might say, “Wow – these are kind of like White Castle” – but you certainly would not mistake them for the original. That said, they are close enough that if you have had WC you would smile at the homemade version, noticing the similarities. Wait. I kind of just said that. Whatever. I think in reality, these were too fresh, and the bread too meaty (I would go with a different bread). Today when I warmed one (OK three) in the microwave for lunch, my mouth was thinking they were closer to the original. A couple days old, and bread spongy-steamed from the microwave, they were closer to tasting like real deal WC junky fast food. I mean that as a compliment, but there’s no way to extract that from it, is there?

Oh – and, interestingly enough – I got 47 burgers out of them. I’d forgotten how small those little patties really needed to be. Not much bigger than a regular pickle slice.

At any rate, these were a fun try. I could definitely see making them for a group – although I’d rather not be doing the latter phase of production with anyone but family around to witness it. I’d make ahead. I also think I’d be a rebel and use less fatty beef next time, too.

 

Weekend Wrap-Up (Pancakes)

It is still, technically Monday. Not too late for a weekend wrap-up.

We did a lot this weekend. Friday night we went out with my brother, Frank’s cousin and a couple friends. It was a long night, but a nice time. We covered lots of ground, had plenty of fun, and finished the night off at a favorite Mexican restaurant with a delicious platter of shared food.

Saturday I woke up and made pancakes. Mmm. Later, we bummed around and then stopped at an anniversary celebration (parents of a boy on Dante’s soccer team). Got to catch up a bit with folks we don’t always see. Then it was home to watch some television with the family.

The next day we went to an impromptu soccer tournament, local festival where we played BINGO and the kids played some cheap games to win cheap toys. Oh, and I made waffles Sunday morning (they didn’t turn out so well).

Nice weekend. But back to the pancake-making. My mom’s been making buttermilk pancakes for the boys for lunch the past few weeks on occasion. She’d watch them (actually, she’d entertain them) for a few hours while I went in to work, and they would delight in some of her “famous,”  “best-ever” pancakes. I’ve been requested to make them at home, but keep forgetting to get the recipe. So I had to improvise. A try at it last week left me with some not-so-good ‘cakes. But this recipe for Buttermilk Pancakes was a keeper (not only is it a keeper, but it introduced me to Google’s Knol, which is pretty darn cool).

My favorite eggs.

What happens when you get too cocky…

What happens when you pay attention… (this is Lootie’s batch, he has a syrup-love)

For Franny and Dante, who love chocolate chips.

It was a yummy recipe, with great instructions (read the instructions, if you like making pancakes… I like his way of mixing in 1/2 of the dry to wet, and then mixing in the rest of the dry). I tried using it for waffles and it was a bummer; didn’t work. But that’s OK. It makes delicious pancakes. Will have to make a point of getting my mother’s Famous, Best-Ever Buttermilk Pancakes recipe to compare.

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GIVEAWAY – Good-As-Money

I have 2 coupons to give away, courtesy of Eggland’s Best Eggs (they sent me some for me and some to share).

(1) for a  Free carton of Eggland’s Best Eggs
AND
(2)  50¢ off coupons for Eggland’s Best Eggs

Simply leave a comment here telling me what you’d use the eggs in and I’ll pick a random winner on Friday. Make sure you use an email address I can contact you with. 🙂 Yup, that’s it. You don’t have to follow me, you don’t have to blog about it. Just leave a comment so I have a way to contact you.

Chocolate Pudding

My mom frequently made pudding for desert when we were kids. She would spoon it into the Buffalo China bowls, or glass dessert dishes. The combination of the dishes and the pudding are imprinted in my memory.

Glass dishes.

Wanting a simple desert I could make from scratch, and also to create the same memory for my own children, I decided to give homemade pudding-making a try. There are all kinds of recipes for chocolate pudding on the internet. Liking to keep things very simple, I chose the chocolate pudding recipe from Hillbilly Housewife. It uses simple ingredients to achieve a delicious desert.

Buffalo China bowl filled with pudding.

The kids absolutely love the pudding. I haven’t used another recipe yet, since this one has been a hit. I double the batch so we can have it for dessert more than once.

The pudding cooks up pretty quickly, and is edible as fast as it cools. One of the interesting aspects of making pudding is that it is reminiscent of soapmaking. The pudding, when ready, resembles the step in soapmaking when the soap comes to a trace. Yum.

Pudding “trace.”