FESTIVUS DINNER ROLLS

A post dedicated to all the Seinfeld fans…  😉

Sometimes in a meal a bread grabs the spotlight.  Think about the glory of a rustic sourdough boule beside a bowl of lentil soup, or a slice of pain Poilane beneath a golden cheesy layer of Croque Monsieur.  But during a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner feast the breads accept a more humble place.  Small rolls, soft and unpretentious, are the best choice. This recipe was published in Fine Cooking magazine in 2001, with Abigail Johnson Dodge behind it, which means it is flawless. You can make and shape the dough a day beforehand, place it in the fridge, and bake it while entertaining your guests on even a very busy cooking day.

CLASSIC DINNER ROLLS
(Abigail Johnson Dodge, Fine Cooking 2001)

18 oz. (4 cups) all-purpose flour
1 package (2-1/4 tsp.) rapid-rise yeast
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
4 oz. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter
3 large egg yolks

Place the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in the bowl of your KitchenAid type mixer, mix to combine. Put the bowl in the mixer stand and fit it with the dough hook.

Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan, stirring gently until the butter melts, and the temperature reaches 115F to 125F. Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients in the bowl, add the egg yolks, and mix with the dough hook in low speed until everything forms a shaggy mass. Increase the speed to medium high and mix/knead for about 8 minutes.

Remove the dough from the bowl, shape it into a ball, grease the bowl lightly with oil, and place the dough back inside, covering with plastic wrap. Let it rise until doubled in size (45 minutes if using rapid-rise yeast, a little longer for other types of yeast).

Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Turn the dough onto a clean work surface (no need to flour; the dough is soft but not sticky) and gently press to deflate. Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces, form each into a ball, and place in the pan, with the seam side down.

Cover the pan with plastic and let the dough rise until almost doubled, about 30 min. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375°F. Remove the plastic and bake the rolls until they’re puffed and browned, about 20 min. Serve warm.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: To make  this recipe in advance, cover the rolls with plastic wrap right after shaping and place them in the fridge.  Next day  remove the dish from the fridge, let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours, and then bake the rolls at 375 F.

I brushed the rolls right before baking with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with a couple of teaspoons of water), because I like the shiny look it gives to the bread.  However, you can also bake them without it, as the original recipe suggests.

Warm from the oven, these rolls are perfect to soak up that last bit of gravy on your plate. And they can return the next day sliced in half, for mini-turkey or prime-rib sandwiches, a holiday tradition in many American homes!

If you are hosting a big Christmas or New Year’s Eve dinner, these rolls will be a nice addition to your menu. They are very easy to make – even if you are a rookie bread baker – and absolutely delicious.

I am submitting this post to Yeastspotting.

ONE YEAR AGO: Lebanese Baked Kibbe (one of my favorite recipes ever!)

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

HOLIDAY DOUBLE-DECKER

One post, two recipes…   It’s the holiday spirit! 😉

A few years ago I began using the 7-6-5 method to cook pork tenderloin, with all varieties of rubs, glazes, and marinades.  It’s a nice approach because once you memorize those numbers, you’ll have no need for the recipe, and you’ll always have perfectly cooked pork tenderloin.

Shortly thereafter it occurred to me that chicken breasts are so similar  in fat content and overall texture, so why not  “7-6-5 them?”  Well, I’m happy to report that the idea was a success.   Several times I’ve grilled chicken breasts  with this technique, and it leaves meat tender, moist, and perfectly cooked.

7-6-5 GRILLED CHICKEN BREASTS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

4 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
for the marinade (substitute any recipe you like)
:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T fresh orange juice
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Whisk the olive oil, vinegar and orange juice vigorously together into an emulsion.  Add the dried thyme and red pepper flakes and whisk again.  Place the chicken breasts in a bowl and pour the marinade over them, coating well.   Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.

Remove the meat from the marinade, season with salt and pepper and place on a very hot grill, covered,  for 7 minutes.   Turn the meat over and continue grilling for 6 minutes.  Without opening the grill, turn it off and let the meat stay inside for 5 minutes.   Place the meat on a serving plate, tented with aluminum foil, let it rest for 5 minutes.  Slice at an angle and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This is a basic method, with which you can use any marinade or rub you ‘re fond of.   I like to start marinating the chicken early in the morning before leaving for work, so that dinner is a no-brainer: all it takes is 7-6-5 minutes, and a side dish or two.   Like Brussels sprouts and roasted butternut squash!

Which brings me to the double-decker,  Shredded Brussels sprouts.  My  husband insisted that a post solely devoted to Brussels sprouts would scare away most, if not all my readers!  I am sure my readers are very loyal (fingers carefully crossed), but in fact this poor veggie ranks way low in any popularity contest.   So, allow me to share with you a GREAT way to prepare Brussels sprouts, and I ‘ll bet that even the sprout haters in the audience will enjoy it…

LEMONY SHREDDED BRUSSELS SPROUTS
(adapted from Martha Stewart.com)

1-2 pounds of Brussels sprouts
2 T olive oil
2 T water
zest of 1 lemon
good squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Thinly slice the Brussels sprouts with a knife or the slicing disk of your food processor. Heat the olive oil in a skillet until very hot, almost smoking.   Add the sliced veggies, the water, season with salt and pepper and cook,  stirring every once in a while until the sprouts become tender and develop a few brown spots.  Add lemon zest, mix, and squeeze a little lemon juice all over and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Sometimes a different way of processing a vegetable will substantially improve its taste.  Prepared this way, Brussels sprouts have a pleasant texture ( don’t overcook them!), and a bright, fresh flavor from the lemon juice. It’s perfect alongside roast chicken, pork, or a thick piece of grilled salmon.

Brussels sprouts are low in carbs, and loaded with vitamins A, C, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, magnesium, and fiber.  They are good for you, so, give this recipe a try!   😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Baked Shrimp and Feta Pasta

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

PEPPERY CASHEW CRUNCH

Last weekend I made these spicy nuts for a get-together in our nano-house, to watch the Oklahoma x Nebraska college football game. A nail-biter of a game, fortunately with a happy ending for us OU fans.  Anxiety is a lot easier to take if you have something to munch on…   😉

The pepper coating gives this nuts an unusual look, but once you grab the first one, you will be going back for more, deliciously addictive they are.  You can substitute almonds, walnuts, in fact the original recipe called for whole, blanched almonds, but they did not have them at the store, I went with cashews instead. Extremely simple to prepare, with just the right balance of salty, hot, and sweet. Great recipe!

BLACK PEPPER CASHEWS
(adapted from Bon Appetit, 1997)

1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 tsp water
2 cups whole cashews
1 Tbs ground black pepper
2 tsp salt

Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and butter the foil to prevent the nuts from sticking.  Heat the oven to 350 F.

Melt the butter in a skillet, add the brown sugar and water, mix until the sugar dissolves.  Add the cashews, mix them carefully to coat with the butter/sugar, lower the heat and cook, stirring often, for a few minutes, until the coating thickens slightly.  Meanwhile, mix the ground pepper and the salt in a small bowl.

Add half of the pepper/salt mixture to the cashews, mix gently.   Working quickly, transfer them to the prepared baking sheet, pressing with a spatula to keep them in a single layer.   Sprinkle the rest of the black pepper/salt all over, and bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.  Let it cool over a rack, then break the nuts apart, storing them in an air-proof container (they won’t last very long, they tend to mysteriously disappear).

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Folks in the cooking forum Eat.at raved about this recipe, and their enthusiasm was what made me try it.  Plus, I tend to like contrasting flavors, so the idea of mixing brown sugar, salt, and pepper immediately perked my interest.   I imagine other seasonings   could work too: a little hot paprika, ground cumin… definitely worth experimenting.

ONE YEAR AGO: Ossobuco Milanese (one of my favorite dishes!)

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

REVISITING SPRING

I am fully aware that Spring is long finished, and that every year I commit the exact same sin: buying asparagus from a far away place, just because I can’t resist their charm at the grocery store. Locavores, forgive us. We love asparagus too much to wait for several months…

This is a very simple way to prepare them, but looks elegant enough to make a weeknight dinner special.

ASPARAGUS BUNDLES WITH PROSCIUTTO AND PARMIGGIANO
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

asparagus
prosciutto slices
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese, shaved

Make a bundle with a single-serving amount of asparagus.  Cut 2 slices of prosciutto in half or thirds lengthwise, forming small ribbons.  Wrap them around each bundle and place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.   Drizzle a little olive oil over it, rubbing it around the surface with your fingers or with a silicone brush. Season lightly with salt and pepper (prosciutto is salty, go easy on the salt).

Bake in a 400F oven until the asparagus are starting to brown on the edges – 20 to 25 minutes.  Add shaved parmiggiano and bake for a couple of minutes.  Sprinkle extra black pepper right before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Roasted asparagus are always showing up as a side dish in our home, the addition of prosciutto is a nice variation.  We enjoyed it with a delicious grilled salmon and white rice.   I did not give credit to a particular source for this recipe, because I’ve been making it for years, I probably saw it in some publication long time ago.  However, it’s so simple that it hardly qualifies as a real recipe…   I’ve made it with regular ham  and it works well too, but I prefer the extra-bite the prosciutto provides.

ONE YEAR AGO: Basic Sourdough Bread

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine