The Ultimate French Dip from Best Regards Bakery & Cafe
Sometimes a small picture is not enough, so here you go. We had to retire this wonderful sandwich during the Summer, but it is now back on the menu, for good! Why, you ask? Well, the way we make our French Dip, it takes quite a bit more effort to make. The au jus itself takes 10 hours to make! The ultimate French Dip has 3 components, which is what trips up most restaurants, even the expensive steak houses.
- Meat: Obviously it needs to be tender, but it also needs to have plenty of flavor. Some joints will even boil their meat to get it tender. Not us, we slow roast chuck roast for many hours so we can have the best flavor possible and yet be super tender. You could use a thin sliced ribeye, which would be much faster and easier, but we don’t think it packs as much flavor as the chuck.
- Bread: Most places will use a simple hoagie bun, but those get soggy and have no flavor at all. We use a classic French Baguette, that we happen to bake daily. You get a wonderful, crusty roll that will stand up, even after getting dunked!
- Au Jus: This is where other restaurants fail miserably! Most places just use instant au jus or the stuff that comes in a can, which tastes like salty brown water. We make ours from scratch and it takes us about 10 hours to make! We could probably sell shots of our au jus!
Oh yeah, that beautiful amber liquid in the tall shot glass is not beer, but our au jus! Wow! We will not be serving our au jus in a shot glass, as cool as it looks because you will not be able to dip, double dip and dip some more.
Berkshire Bacon BLT
Some of us are lucky enough to remember when food was grown and raised for flavor and quality rather than speed and lower costs. Think back to those ugly heirloom tomato’s, fruit and yes, even meats. Pork has been the worst, in my opinion, as factory farms replaced the smaller family farms that raised field hogs. As the big producers sought out time and money savings they selected breeds that grew faster, leaner and in smaller spaces. This is what led to the quick decline in Berkshire hogs starting in the 70’s & 80’s.
You see, the Berkshire pig is the one you may remember for your childhood, seeing on some farm, all black with white points (nose & feet). They were hardy and active foragers meaning they were great out in the field, which made them inconvenient for factory farms. This great bread dates back over 350 years to old England and has been here in the US since the early 1800’s.
In Japan it is know as “Kurobuta” or black pig and has been cherished for its flavor and texture for many years. So, what do they know that we have forgotten? Berkshire pork has amazing flavor and texture that you will notice at first taste.
We have learned over the years to try and look past the label and learn the substance of every situation. In this case, the Berkshire is worthy of the hype. Oh, by the way, when we were testing our BLT’s we discovered that not everyone toasted their bread for their BLT. Most people have to toast when using the cheap, grocery store bread as it won’t hold up to the bacon. We tested it both ways and were surprised to find that we like the taste of the BLT without toasting. You can have your choice of Artisan Breads and insist we toast as well. The Berkshire bacon is so good, we do not drown it with may or cheese, but you can add if you wish.
Six years ago, Toby Tobin talked me into creating a brand new cookie for every season. Fall of the first year I asked Toby what his favorite Fall dessert was. Without hesitation he said home-made apple pie, but not the whole pie. He wanted a cookie that tasted like that part of the crust where the juices bubbled up and caramelized on top. Sure, I can do that!
I love having layers of flavor and texture is pretty important as well. I start off using apple butter from Louisburg Cider Mill and saigon cinnamon. Obviously I use King Arthur flour and European butter, but it still needed something else. Then I found a German apple liqueur, by Berentzen. Just imagine an apple version of limoncello. This give the cookie a smooth apple aftertaste that lurks in the background.
Toby, being Toby discovered how to take this one step further. Heat up the cookie about 10 seconds in the microwave and put a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and you have the best Apple Pie a la mode you have ever had. His favorite is Eddy’s Slow Churn, Caramel delight.
Trivia #1: 1st printed reference of Apple Pie was in 1590, “Thy breath is like the steam of apple pyes”
Trivia #2: 1 in 5 American’s admit to eating an entire pie by themselves.
Trivia #3: Worlds largest Apple Pie was 18 feet across and 18 inches deep.
Cranberry Orange Cookie
What to celebrate next was tough and my wife quit talking to me for a few hours (about the special), but that was ok, I survived! The Cranberry Orange Cookie was the first Cookie that we invented, so to speak. A little over 10 years ago we had several cookies that we were baking for our Gift Baskets, but wanted something unique to Best Regards. While attending the Fancy Food Shows, we were always on the lookout for flavor combinations that while strange at first glance, really work. We tasted a chutney (I think) that had cranberry & orange together and we thought that this would make a great cookie, if we could get the texture just right.
This is the first recipe where we really went out on the limb with new techniques to get the perfect texture, aroma and flavor. All three really come together in this Cookie, unlike any other. When you try it for the first time, be sure to smell the cookie when you first open it. If you have ever been to Florida and enjoyed a tree ripened orange, our cookie will remind you of the misty aroma as you first start to peel it.
We used to joke that if someone were to walk in and tell us they were going to a meeting with Oprah, this is what you want to take with you. While you may not know Oprah, if you have any customers, friends or family that you want to impress, buy some Cranberry Orange Cookies and rock their world!
Trivia #1: Cranberries are one of only 3 fruits native to North America (the others are blueberry & concord grapes)
Trivia #2: Cranberries got their name from German & Dutch settlers that thought the cranberry flower looked like a crane, thus it was first called the CraneBerry.
What to celebrate first was really pretty easy. The Chocolate Chip Cookie. It was out of desperation and a concern about quality that led us to try and bake our own cookies. In the process we discovered, to our shock, that I have a talent for creating recipes. Go figure!
After the tragedy of 9/11 we entered what we all thought would be the worst recession we would ever see. You see, the first 8 years of business we traveled to the Fancy Food Shows in NY & SF to seek out the best cookies, chocolates, snacks & nuts to put into our Corporate Gift Baskets (another story and another special). Late 2001 & 2002 we found that several of our vendors started cutting corners and began using cheaper ingredients, like margarine instead of butter. We decided to take control of our future and bake our own Chocolate Chip Cookie to include in the thousands of Gift Baskets we shipped out every year.
I collect cookbooks and can work the internet like no one and I found 56 different recipes for Chocolate Chip Cookies. Variations included different flours, sugars (cane, brown, corn syrup), fats (margarine, butter, shortening) and chips. After a couple of months baking, I narrowed it down to the 3 best cookie recipes and asked the big boss (my wife) to taste test the 3 and pick one.
As only a wife can do, she liked the flavor of #1, the texture of #2 and the appearance of #3. I asked which one she wanted and she just repeated herself and told me to figure it out. During the next couple of weeks I discovered that I had a talent for creating recipes. I created a cookie that had the flavor of #1, the texture of #2 and the appearance of #3. An amazing treat that we now call our Signature Chocolate Chip Cookie.
About the cookie: Ingredients are extremely important, not everything, but important. We use a European butter, instead of margarine or regular butter. European butter has about 3% more butter solids than regular butter and is creamed longer and smoother. For those of you that think that 3% is not much, that is basically the difference between whole milk & skim milk! We also use a Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, the best vanilla in the world. The price of this vanilla went to over $400 a gallon for a year, thanks to Cyclone Gafilo striking Madagascar. Twice!
Our Signature Chocolate Chip Cookie is huge at 4 ounces, about 4 inches across and about 1/2 inch thick. To celebrate we will offer up this Signature Cookie at the best price ever!
• Huge, 1/4 lb Signature Chocolate Chip Cookie. Reg: $2.75, Special: $1.99
• Normal Sized, Chocolate Chip Cookie. Reg: $1.45, Special $0.99
• Pricing good Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday, June 19-22
Trivia #1: On average, there are 83 chocolate chips are in our 1/4 lb cookie.
Trivia #2: Our single largest order for 1/4 lb Cookies was 5,316! Whoa.
Woo Hoo! We have made it 20 years! Yep, this wonderful business that my beautiful bride started 20 years ago in our basement is turning 20 years old! We have to admit, the recession of the last 4 years has been brutal. With the encouragement of friends, family and great customers we have continued to re-invent ourselves to remain relevant.
We decided to celebrate the same way we have made it this far, by celebrating with you! We will have 20 Promotions in 20 Weeks to celebrate our 20 Years. We are still ironing out some details, but each promotion will celebrate something that was critical to us getting where we are today. I know that more than a few of you have been with us for most of the 20 years and will enjoy this tasty trip down memory lane. Thank you all very much and be sure to tell your friends and family to sign up for our email newsletter, some specials will be short and sweet.
Thank you very much for making this all possible. Treat yourself, friends and family or how about we all grow our businesses and treat your customers!
History: No, there is no corn in corned beef. The name comes from way back before refrigeration when they salt cured meats to extend shelf life. Back then, the salt came in large chunks, about the size of corn kernels, thus it was called corning meat, or salted beef. As time went on and different curing methods came into practice, the name continued.
Why is it Pink?
This is easy, chemicals. Potassium nitrate, potassium nitrite, saltpeter, sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite and pink salt (colored pink because it is toxic if ingested directly). These are all very similar and pretty much do the same thing. They all retard the growth of bacteria, which is important if you are cold smoking or dry air curing the meat at temperatures in the danger zone. These also have the side effect of coloring the meat pink when it is cooked. Some time ago, manufacturers realized that people have been conditioned to like pink corned beef.
Are Nitrates/Nitrites Safe?
Maybe, depends, sometimes. How is that for an answer? There are some nitrites that occur in vegetables like celery in high amounts (but slightly different). Overall, if used properly, in moderation, it is probably ok. Personally I still love bacon and will still eat certain brands that have a clean taste. If you smoke/cure bacon and don’t use nitrates/nitrites then it is a pork belly, if you use it, then it is bacon.
Why does BRB Corn our own Beef?
The same reason we make everything from scratch, we love to taste what we are eating, not the chemicals. We did all the research and tested brining our own briskets (corned beef). We also purchased some commercially corned beef and cooked them all up identically for taste testing. Long story short, we all loved the clean flavor profile of our “cleaner” corned beef. Part of it may be that we take our time and brine for 7 days. Most commercially brined meats are injected with needles, soak in a vacum for as little as 2 hours and packaged for sale. I personally can’t say if our taste better because of the long brine time or lack of chemicals, but either way, this is how we roll.
Why isn’t your CB Shaved Thin & Piled High?
You can’t shave real, unadulterated meat that thin. Try it at home, you can’t do it. Think about it, those meats that the deli’s & grocery stores shave thin all come in round tubes. Have you ever seen a cow or a chicken shaped like that? No, they are highly processed and include some kind of thickening agent like tapioca so they can re-form it into a more efficient tube that can be sliced really thin and really fast. Looks pretty, but read the ingredients some time. Again, this is who we are and how we roll.
Tell me what you think, right, wrong or mis-guided?
Our new Belgium Rye Bread has been one of my most difficult recipes to develop. The primary reason is that I have always hated rye bread. Why, you ask did I work on this? Toby Tobin of course! Back in October Toby told me that he really wanted a good Corned Beef on Rye for March. He knew it would take a while for us to perfect the bread, so he gave me plenty of notice. I knew that I really wanted a sourdough, or naturally leavened bread so I started the Rye culture right off the bat.
The next step that I always take is research. I play amateur anthropologist and search out the history and tradition of rye bread. The origins go back to Eastern Europe and diverges from there. Something very important to note is that rye flour is full of character and is quite good for you. But… it is very difficult to work with as a bread baker. Long ago bakers lowered the percentage of rye flour to about 25% and just used regular bread flour for the rest. This was much cheaper, easier and faster to make, but it was too bland and basically tasted like regular bread. Then someone figured out that if they put caraway seeds in it, it would have a very strong flavor profile.
Meanwhile, Steven Pauwels, the Brewmaster at Boulevard Brewery here in Kansas City came in to try our Beer Cheese Soup. If you have not tried it, like most of what we make it is very special and features the 80 Acre Beer from Boulevard. This very hoppy beer allows me to use a couple of cheeses that normally would be too strong in soup. Anyway, after sampling and loving the soup we got into a nerdy discussion about bread. You see, if you didn’t know beer is often referred to as liquid bread because there are so many similarities in the process. Long story short Steven asked me if I could make a good Rye Bread, like he used to get back in Belgium. I don’t want to give all our secrets away, but let’s just say that our Belgium Rye Bread uses the same malts (dark roasted sprouted barley) that several of the darker Boulevard beers use!
If you have avoided Rye Bread in the past, come on by and sample our Belgium Rye Bread. You may find out that like me, you dislike caraway seed, not rye! Now Corned Beef presented a whole different set of challenges! More on that in my next post. Oh, by the way, my favorite sandwich right now is the Toby’s Corned Beef on Rye Grilled Cheese. Rye Bread done right is pretty good!
We sometimes forget that many of our customers have only recently discovered Best Regards and don’t know the whole story about some of our products. Just in case you did not, know, but we do not use any mixes or buy any goodies, we make everything from scratch from recipies that we create. As you probably already know, or will soon know, every product we make has a unique story, a reason to exist.
Meet the Sweet, #1: Cinnamon Roll I have had a life-long obsession with Cinnamon Rolls. Whenever I traveled for business in my previous life (pre-Best Regards) I would look for local, boutique bakeries and try their CR, looking for the ultimate CR. In all my travels, the best that I remember was from TJ Cinnamons, from here in KC. In all honest, like that huge fish you caught 2 years ago, the memory kept getting enhanced. I have always wanted a CR good enough that you could eat it without icing, but I wanted the icing so good that you wanted to do a shooter. I liked the idea of Sticky Buns, but I can’t eat pecans. Last but not least, the bread had to be amazing!
It took me over a year of testing, but I finally came up with the Ultimate CR. The bread is our own recipe, which we let rise for 3 days before rolling into a huge gooey CR. Second, it has to have plenty of goo, with just a bit of tang, so it tastes almost like a caramel sauce. Third, I had to find a way to keep the goo with the CR, which is why I bake them in those special brown baking cups, made in France. Fourth, for the icing I use a Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla to add just enough flavor to finish off our BRB Cinnamon Roll.
We barely glaze our CR with icing for those of you that want to enjoy the CR. Originally these huge CR were $3.49 each, but we have now permanently lowered the price to just $2.99! Don’t forget you also get a 10% discount if you order at least a dozen of anything at BRB.
The Ultimate Grilled Cheese
As much as I love sweets, I need more, but my standards remain high. When we first moved to our current location here in OP, we dreamed of baking world class bread. You see, we inherited the most wonderful bread baking oven in the world for baking Artisan Breads. It took us about 7 months to reach a level of competence good enough to sell our own breads. Shortly thereafter customers came back with stories of these amazing Grilled Cheese Sandwiches they made. Unfortunately for several months we would pass on the comments to others, but never seemed to get around to trying it ourselves. Every Friday we would have a Sandwich day, maybe even a panini day in the back for employee’s, but not the Grilled Cheese. Big mistake!
Several months ago we had a couple of customers educate us on the Art of Grilled Cheese. Think KC BBQ, low and slow is the key. Like pancakes, you can’t really do this on a stove top, but a griddle works best. If you take less than 8-9 minutes, you went too fast. Long story short, we did a lot of experimenting, mastered the art and created a pretty cool system. You can come in and custom design your own personal Grilled Cheese. Start with the bread (french country, rosemary or multi-grain), choose from 15 different cheese options (up to 3) and pick up to 4 optional add-on’s like avocado, bacon, tomato and more. We did the math and there are over 1,680,000 different possible combinations!
Come out, give us try and create your own. Tell us about it and we may add it to the menu and name it after you!
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