Monthly Archive for May, 2013

Cinnamon Rolls

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I’ve always had a deep love of all things bread. It’s not a serious revelation, but rather a public acknowledgement that I have a vice that has a name and I am not ashamed of it. While I no longer eat bread on a daily basis I will ALWAYS devour homemade bread or desserts. It is definitely a form of kryptonite for me. Now that the white elephant is out of the closet, I can tell you that my love of breads further deepened when Siri lived with us. She had a way of making the most delicious bread with seemingly little effort; probably an inherent Norwegian gift.

As a child I often baked breads and desserts even more often then I cooked. After all, my mother was a great cook, but she would be the first to admit that she can only bake one thing — pumpkin cake. Like most things in life, when you sense an available slot that needs to be filled, opportunity knocks. I assumed the part time job of household baker. Most of my baking adventures were well received, but for me this type of baking was far different from the light delicate bread baking that Siri was famous for in our home. While it has been a number of years now since she has returned to visit us, we remain close via social media — Facebook and Instagram, the occasional Skype conversation — and she continues to see the fruits of her efforts unfold as I bake her cardamom rolls, cinnamon rolls, custard breads, and pizza.

I know for the first timer, breads and yeast can be a bit daunting, but I’ve kept this recipe simple and hope it will encourage you to experiment with it. Below are both the full and half version dough recipes. To test it out, try to the half recipe to garner your confidence and then make the full batch.

This recipe is one that I’ve dusted off from my archives to share. After all recipes like memories can only REALLY live when enjoyed and shared with others. Today, I want to share this recipe with you as I remain amazed at all the lovely readers I have that quietly follow my progress and restless fooding through the seasons.

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Special equipment: While I am certain you can hand mix this bread dough, it would change the weight of the bread because the dough is very sticky and additional flour would need to be added to counter the stickiness.

Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups warm water (110° F)

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup oil

6 TBS yeast

1 TBS salt

3 eggs

10 1/2 cups flour

Cinnamon-Sugar Filling

1/2 cup butter (1 cube), melted

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark)

1 TBS cinnamon

1 cup raisins (optional)

pecans or walnuts (optional), chopped

Icing

1/2 cup butter (1 cube)

2 dashes salt

2 tsps vanilla

3 cups powdered sugar

milk to desired consistency

Directions

In a stand mixer, mix together warm water, sugar, oil and then yeast. Allow to stand for 15 minutes.

Next add in salt, eggs and flour. Mix together for 10 minutes. Allow dough to then sit for 10 minutes.

Oil flat work surface, remove dough from mixing bowl and divide in half. Press out one half of dough into a rectangle of equal thickness. Spread with 1/4 cup of melted butter and then with cinnamon-sugar filling mixture, nuts and raisins if using. Roll up tight, but not too tight. Divide into 12 rolls and place on greased baking sheet with 1/2-inch sides. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Repeat with remaining dough. Allow rolls to rise until dough fills up most of the baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Prepare icing while rolls bake.Remove rolls from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Generously frost with icing while rolls are still warm.

Modifications

Chocolate Rolls: Add baking cocoa and a few drops of water to regular frosting

Cream Cheese Rolls: Add cream cheese to regular frosting

***Reduced Dough Recipe***

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup warm water (110° F)

1/8 cup + 1 TBS white sugar

1/8 cup + 1 TBS brown sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

3 TBS instant yeast

1 1/2 tsps salt

2 eggs

5 1/4 cup flour

Cinnamon-Sugar Filling

1/4 cup butter (1/2 cube), melted

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

pecans or walnuts (optional), chopped

Icing

1/4 cup butter

dash of salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

milk to desired consistency

In a stand mixer, mix together warm water, sugar, oil and then yeast. Allow to stand for 15 minutes.

Next add in salt, eggs and flour. Mix together for 10 minutes. Allow dough to then sit for 10 minutes.

Oil flat work surface, remove dough from mixing bowl and divide in half. Press out one half of dough into a rectangle of equal thickness. Spread with 1/8 cup of melted butter and then with cinnamon-sugar filling mixture, nuts and raisins if using. Roll up tight, but not too tight. Divide into 12 rolls and place on greased baking sheet with 1/2-inch sides. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Repeat with remaining dough. Allow rolls to rise until dough fills up most of the baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Prepare icing while rolls bake. Remove rolls from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Generously frost with icing while rolls are still warm.

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Banana Cake & Brown Butter Frosting

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When it comes to banana treats my family never tires of my drive to experiment. The challenge is that they love bananas so very much that in order for me to do some exploratory baking I need to go out and buy spotted bananas because it is impossible to find any around the house.

This cake has an almost dense brownie-esque consistency which is further enhanced by the brown butter glaze. Initially I was inclined give the cake a dusting of powdered sugar or even a cream cheese frosting but this creation received so many votes that I am turning a blind eye on the sugar factor. Despite my continual quest to reduce sugar intake whenever possible, I’ve opted to the ‘indulge, you only live once’ school of thought. After all, it is a woman’s prerogative to change her mind and it is important to exercise that right regularly.

Banana Cake & Brown Butter Frosting

Banana Cake Ingredients

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup Greek yogurt

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

2 cups (3-4 whole) ripe bananas, mashed

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Brown Butter Frosting Ingredients

1/2 cup butter

3 cups powdered sugar

2 tsps vanilla extract

3 TBS milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Coat a 9×13 glass baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine butter, eggs, yogurt and sugar. Beat with a hand mixer 1-2 minutes until creamy. Blend in bananas and vanilla extract until well combined. Add in baking soda, flour and salt and blend for another 1-2 minutes. If using walnuts, stir into mix.

Spread batter evenly into baking pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. When cake pulls away from sides of pan, remove from oven.

It is important to wait to ensure the frosting goes onto the cake 5 minutes after it is removed from the oven so that it spreads properly. In a large saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter. Watch butter carefully to ensure that it turns a delicate brown and does not burn. Once it reaches this light brown color, immediately remove butter from the heat.

Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Whisk together until smooth (it should be thicker than a glaze but thinner than frosting). Using a spatula, spread the brown butter frosting over the warm cake (the frosting will be easier to spread while the cake is still warm). To serve, cut into brownie-size pieces (2×3-inches) and serve.

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Bistro Focciacia Hamburger Buns- oh and a burger and aioli recipe too!

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I know that this may seem a bit outlandish to a few of you, but I implore you to try this focciacia recipe just once and then tell me you wish you could have one every time you eat a hamburger. No seriously. These are just that good. So deliciously distracting that my photography suffered on this post.


Bistro Focciacia Hamburger Buns

Note: There are a few specialty items you will want to have handy before you start this project: 1 stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, parchment paper or cooking spray, and a thermometer. While you can certainly do the necessary mixing without a stand mixer, having one saves quite a bit of time. And depending upon how versed you are with checking heat temperatures on liquids, an inexpensive thermometer from the supermarket can take away all of the guess work.

Bistro Focciacia Hamburger Buns Ingredients

2 1/4 cups 2% milk

1/2 oz instant dry yeast (2 Fleischmann’s Yeast packets or 1 1/2 TBS)

1/4 cup olive oil

5 1/3 cups flour

4 tsps kosher or sea salt

Note: You may want to also plan on french fries or my other favorite – parsnip fries. If veggie burgers suit your palate then I HIGHLY recommend these Black Bean Burgers. Two of my favorite recipes which could only be made more amazing by homemade bread.


Bistro Focciacia Hamburger Buns Directions

Coat two baking sheets with either parchment paper or baking spray. Set aside.

In a medium size pot, warm milk to approximately 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit. (Temperature is slightly warmer than body temperature.) Pour warmed milk into the bowl of the stand mixer, sprinkle the yeast over the milk. Add olive oil and whisk to dissolve the yeast. Add flour and salt. On low speed, mix the flour until it is incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure that all of the flour is incorporated. Increase the mixer speed to medium, for approximately 2 minutes, allowing the dough to come together well.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel and place in a warm place to rise until the size of the dough is almost doubled. After approximately 30 minutes, press on the dough gently with a finger. The dough should spring back slightly.

Divide dough into 12 equal portions and shape each portion into a ball. Arrange six balls per baking sheet. Brush lightly with olive oil and allow to set for another 20 minutes. Grease the palm of your hand with oil and gently flatten each ball until the top is somewhat flattened and resembles a bun.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the buns are a golden brown. If cooking both pans at the same time, for even browning it may be necessary to rotate the pans half way through the cooking time. Allow to cool completely before slicing. Toast lightly on a BBQ grill or in a toaster.

Note: If not using right away, wrap buns individually and freeze.

Aioli

Aioli Ingredients

1 tsp garlic, minced

1 tsp salt

1 tsp egg yolk

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup mayonnaise

Aioli Directions

Smash garlic on a cutting board with the side of a large knife, smear it around with a knife. Salt slightly. In a small bowl, add garlic paste, egg yolk and whisk together until smooth. Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the bowl whisking continuously. Then add the mayonnaise and continue to mix until incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Hamburger Patties

Hamburger Ingredients

3 plus hamburger or ground chuck (70% lean)

1/2 TBS pepper

1 TBS garlic salt

1 TBS Italian Seasoning

1 TBS Worcestershire sauce

Garnishes (optional)

red onions, thick cut and grilled

cheese, sliced (your favorite variety)

tomatoes, thick sliced

lettuce

aioli

Hamburger Directions

To grill onions, season with salt, pepper and olive oil. Grill in a pan, stirring regularly.
Spread the hamburger meat out into a shallow pan and sprinkle with seasonings: salt, pepper, Italian Seasoning, Worcestershire sauce. Mix well and then divide into 6 portions. Shape into balls and then flatten to desired thickness. If not cooking right away, refrigerate until ready to use.

To cook, place the burgers on the grill over direct heat. Cook about 3-4 minutes per side, turning once. Do not press down on the burgers with the spatula during cooking – this only squeezes out the juices, encourages flame-ups and dries out the burger.

Check doneness by peeking inside a patty with a spatula.

To assemble, cut the buns in half and lightly toast. Smear with aioli and top with grilled burgers. Add garnishes.

Tuscan Egg Stew

tuscan egg stew

In honor of Mother’s Day I am sharing one of my newest creations, Tuscan Egg Stew. It is not a recipe inspired by anything my mother ever made for me but rather it is inspired by her love of breakfast for dinner. She loved to find those little unconventional ways that she could make meals extra fun — like having a BBQ in the rain, dessert before dinner, and breakfast for dinner.

There is something so satisfying about egg dishes, whether for brunch or for dinner. Tuscan Egg Stew makes its mark and scales well for small groups. The combination of flavors reminds me of so many of my days in Florence that it’s easy to close my eyes and be transported back in time.

Three Generations Andy Warhol Style: Since my mother typically hates all pictures of herself, I have made this one a bit more artistic. She is pictured at her baby shower along with my paternal grandmother 'Ginny'.

Three Generations Andy Warhol Style: Since my mother typically hates all pictures of herself, I have made this one a bit more artistic. She is pictured at her baby shower along with my paternal grandmother ‘Ginny’.

Tuscan Egg Stew

Ingredients

3 TBS olive oil

1 clove garlic, pressed

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

8 cups swiss chard, coarsely chopped (if using frozen, substitute 1.5 lbs, defrosted and drained)

1 yellow onion, sliced

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp paprika

1 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed

1 14.5oz can Fire Roasted diced tomatoes (Muir Glen Organic)

1 15oz can white beans

3 cups vegetable broth

6 large eggs

Romano cheese, grated

Directions

Heat 1 TBS of olive oil in cast iron skillet, or heavy bottomed pot, over medium heat. When oil is hot add pressed garlic. Stir quickly until fragrant and lightly brown. Add swiss chard to pot, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Cook until wilted but still bright in color; approximately 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside. Wipe out skillet.

In same skillet, over medium heat, add 2 TBS of oil. When oil is warm, turn heat up to medium high, adding onion and sliced garlic; stir 3-4 minutes until onion is softened. Add cumin, paprika and stir another 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Lastly, add chickpeas, white beans and tomatoes; cooking until tomatoes start to caramelize and chickpeas begin to brown; approximately 8-10 minutes.

Add broth and bring to a simmer scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium; simmer, occasionally mashing some of the chickpeas with the back of a spoon or a potato masher. Cook stew 15-20 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Fold in swiss chard, adding in more broth slowly, 1/4 cup at a time, if sauce seems too thick. A small amount of liquid is necessary to properly cook the eggs.

Make holes in stew and crack eggs one a time into a small bowl and then transfer into one of the premade holes. Once all of the eggs are in place, cover pan with a lid to allow eggs to steam 5-7 minutes. Baste occasionally to ensure eggs are cooking properly. Eggs should be not be hard cooked but left with a small amount of yoke to make this dish take extra buttery when served.

Spoon Tuscan Stew into bowls and transfer egg on top. Lightly dust with Romano cheese, salt and pepper to taste.

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Disclosure: I received a Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes to cook with; no monetary compensation was received for this post. All opinions are my own.