Monday, November 29, 2010

Easy and Delicious Refrigerator Dinner Rolls

Holiday dinners do not seem complete without fresh, hot dinner rolls.  There is something about their yeasty fragrance mingling with other holiday aromas that beckon you to the kitchen, enticing and teasing.  They are a promise waiting to be fulfilled.

This no-knead dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to four days and they make some of the lightest, most flavorful, pleasantly sweet,  rolls you've ever tasted.  I have used this recipe for ages and have yet to find one that I like more.  This recipe makes 24 rolls, but you do not have to use the dough all at once, so you can have fresh, hot rolls for several days in a row.

To have ready for your meal, allow time to roll and form the dough and rising time and then time for baking, (generally allowing an hour for rising time, depending on how warm your kitchen is).

I made this recipe twice this past holiday.  For the family holiday, I had taken the dough out 90 minutes beforehand, to form and to raise the dough, but at the end of an hour when the dough needed to go into the oven to bake, the rolls were only three-quarters risen in the pan.  In desperation, I went ahead and baked them anyway, and thanks to the heat of the oven,  the rolls finished rising fully and beautifully. 

The second time I made them, I took the dough out 2 hours ahead of time, formed them, and allowed them to rise.  This time they started to over-rise.  I put the pan of risen rolls back into the refrigerator to slow them down and took them again when it was time to bake.  The rolls did not over proof, and once again, the rolls were gorgeous and light.

The original directions say to use a 9 x 13" pan and make 24 rolls.  However, I found that the middle rolls remained doughy and needed an additional 5-10 minutes of baking time.  I have had much better success using 2" inch high x 9" round cake pans and making 12 rolls in each pan.  I think they would be gorgeous baked into cloverleaf shape in muffin pans as well.

Refrigerator Dinner Rolls
(makes 2 dozen rolls)

1 cup warm water (105* to 115* F)
2 packages active dry yeast (not instant)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (may need more or less depending upon humidity)
additional melted butter for brushing on finished rolls, if desired

In a large bowl, combine the water and yeast and let the mixture stand until the yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the butter, sugar, eggs and salt. 

Beat in the flour, one cup at a time until the dough is too stiff to mix.  Cover and refrigerate anywhere from 2 hours or up to 4 days.

Grease a 13" x 9" baking pan.  Turn the chilled dough out on a lightly floured surface.  Divide the dough into 24 equal-sized pieces.  Roll each piece into a smooth round ball.  Place balls in even rows in the prepared pan.  Cover and allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 375* Fahrenheit.  Place rolls in the oven and bake until they are golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.  Brush the warm rolls with melted butter, if desired.  Break rolls apart to serve.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Maple Syrup

Have you ever mentioned that you didn't like something, say Brussels sprouts, and that person would listen thoughtfully and say with great self-assurance, "Well, you'd like the way I make it."  

I have yet found that to be true.  There is no way you can pretty up tofu or okra, for example, and make me believe that I like it.

Ole Sweetie-Pi loves bacon.  He loves maple syrup.  He positively loathes Brussels sprouts.  There is not enough bacon or maple syrup on the planet to make him think he is going to eat  those gorgeous green globes of goodness.  Me, however, I love them, and I really loved them served like this.  The maple syrup added just a perfect amount of sweetness, and who doesn't love the salty goodness of smoked bacon.  Total YUM!

I found this recipe on the Boston Globe  and as far as I'm concerned, it's a keeper. 

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Maple Syrup

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven at 400* Fahrenheit.  Have a large rimmed baking sheet (cookie sheet) on hand, set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts with the remaining ingredients and spread the mixture in a single layer on the baking sheet. (It might be helpful to line with a sheet of tin foil for easier cleaning afterwards.)

Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, turning several times, or until they are tender and caramelized and the bacon is crisp.

NOTES:  I made this for Thanksgiving Day, and because I have only one oven and was using it for other baked goods as well, I did not "roast" at the suggested temperature. I just put the ingredients (minus the salt as I felt the bacon would be salty enough) in one of my oven to table dishes and baked at 350* Fahrenheit for 45 minutes, along with other dishes I had going.  I did not get the deep caramelized color or the bacon crispy, but the wonderful flavors where there, and I was able to have everything ready at the same time. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Chicken Pizza Bake

Back in the day, I used to work part-time as one of the bakers in our local super Wal-Mart.  Behind  the biparting doors was the incessant, loud beeping of the ovens; tall, heavy racks of breads and pastries being rushed about; heavy boxes of frozen dough being broken out and proofed; the clatter of bread pans along stainless steel tables.  There wasn't a lot of time for socializing, just run, run, run, and yet in spite of madness, one of my co-workers, Mary, managed to share this recipe with me.

This recipe is easy, has standard pantry items and is so good!  Ole Sweetie-Pi, who thought he was going to turn his nose up at it (doesn't like the idea of "chicken pizza"), went back for seconds. 

Chicken Pizza Bake

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks**
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 15-ounce can stewed tomatoes
3 teaspoons oregano**
2 teaspoons chopped parsley**
1 teaspoon onion powder**
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 finely chopped fresh garlic clove**

Preheat oven to 425* Fahrenheit.  Have ready a large casserole, baking dish, or oven-safe Dutch oven.

Place chicken in baking dish.  Combine the remaining ingredients together and pour over the chicken.  Bake, covered,  for 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with sliced mozzarella cheese and the pizza toppings of your choice, such as black olives, mushrooms, pepperoni, green pepper, etc. 

Continue to bake, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden brown.

NOTES:  This recipe is quite forgiving and amenable to changing for personal preferences.  There's only the two of us, so I used 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut up into good sized chunks.  Personally, I'm not a big oregano fan, so I reduced the amount of oregano to about 1 1/2 teaspoons, dried.  I  had fresh parsley so threw in a small handful.  I don't keep onion powder, but I did have dried onion and used maybe a couple teaspoons or so, perhaps more, smiles.  I rarely have fresh garlic, instead keeping those jars of minced garlic and tossed in a half teaspoon, depending on whim and how big I think my clove of garlic is that day.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Banana Bread II

This weekend three bananas, mottled with ripeness and oh-so-fragrant,  sat on my counter top.  I knew what I must do with them and yet I could not. 

You see, it's like this.  I cannot tell you how long I've looked for a simple, delicious, banana-y banana bread.  For-evah, I think.  Years, most assuredly.  I won't kid you and say that I've tried dozens of recipes; at the most I've probably only tried half a dozen.  For some time now,  I settled on a recipe that a coworker gave me; it's good, but not quite it.  I know you know what I mean.  Then  I discovered a recipe from King Arthur Flour and while I really like this one with its whole wheat goodness, I've longed for something that, truthfully, is made with white flour, the standard of my childhood. 

I have found my new go-to banana bread recipe.  It's a no-thrills, no-frills recipe, no nuts, no spices, just a little vanilla and lots of banana flavor and deliciously moist.  I think part of the success of this recipe is due to the banana and sugar being combined before the flour is added, giving the bananas and sugar an opportunity to marry and be happy,  and when the dry ingredients are finally added, the banana flavor is well dispersed.

And may I just point out one thing to you?  I am so pleased about this.  My bread baked nice and level, no raised hump with a gaping crevasse down the middle!  I owe this to a hint that I read on one of your blogs.  My apologizes ~  I do not remember who passed along the tip, but I've successfully used it several times, and it is this:  if you are using a dark aluminum baking pan (my are heavy, dark, restaurant quality pans), reduce the heat by 25 degrees Fahrenheit, same as if you are cooking in glass and follow the directions for cooking time.  The dark pans absorb the heat, browning the outside edges faster than the center, causing the center to swell and heave.  So, whoever posted that tip, thank you!

Now, here's the recipe.

Banana Bread
(Simply Recipes)

1/3 cup melted butter
3 or 4 ripe bananas, well mashed
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch salt (equals about 1/8 teaspoon)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Generously grease and flour an 8" x 4" baking pan and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

In a large bowl, mix the butter into the mashed bananas.  Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla and mix well.

Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.

Add the flour, and mix to combine all.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and place in preheated oven for about 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean.

Cool on rack.**  Remove from loaf pan before slicing. 

**I let my loaf sit in the pan for about ten minutes and then removed from the pan to allow it to finish cooling on the rack.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Apple and Date Turnover

I want you to come to my kitchen just so I may serve you a steaming hot cuppa and a generous slice of this simply outstanding apple and date turnover. Our mouths will be so full with the sweet, cinnamon-y, apple-y, hint of date flavors that there will not be room for words nor will we want anyone to break into our reverie as we enjoy and savor. 

Apple and Date Turnover

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour,  plus extra for dusting
375 gram package all-butter puff pastry **
½ tsp cinnamon
2 eating apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
2 pitted dates, finely chopped
25 gram (6 1/2 teaspoons) sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten, for brushing
If you are using frozen puff pastry, allow time for thawing before proceeding and follow the directions on the back of the box for rolling it out. 
Preheat oven to 400*Fahrenheit.  Place a baking sheet in the oven.
Lightly flour a work surface and roll the puff pastry into an 8" x 12" rectangle. 
In a medium sized bowl, mix the apples and dates, 1 tablespoon flour, sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.  Spoon over one half of the pastry, leaving a border around the edge.
Brush the edges of the pastry with a little of the egg.  Fold the other half of the pastry over the filling, pressing the edges of the pastry together, sealing well.  Slash the top with a knife and brush with the remaining egg.
Place the turnover in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up the pastry and then carefully lift and place onto the hot baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Drizzle with icing if you wish.
**My Notes
Because the puff pastry has to go into the freezer before baking, I used a sheet of parchment paper, floured, as my work surface. By doing so, I was able to move it from the counter, to freezer, to baking sheet.
This recipe is pretty forgiving.  The puff pastry I used came in a 495 gram box (so my rolled out pastry was larger than 8 x 12; I didn't measure it, but the length equaled the length of my cookie sheet) so I increased the filling amounts.  I used 5 apples (using a mixture of 3 Granny Smith and 2 MacIntosh; my apples were smallish), and increased the number of dates to 8.  I also increased the flour to 2 tablespoons, and the cinnamon to 1 rounded teaspoon.  After sealing the edges, I trimmed them with a knife to neaten it up. 
I used a simple confectionery sugar glaze:
Mix together:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Gradually add
1 tablespoon milk, a teaspoon at a time
Continually stirring until desired consistency is achieved.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pumpkin-Cranberry Bread

Hello.  My name is Katy.  I stalk Coleen's of Coleen's Recipes recipes.  Virtually everything she makes I want to make too.  I can't help myself. 

This is another of her keeper recipes.

Oh my word, Coleen wasn't understanding the adjective moist when she described this delicious bread. It is super-moist!  I loved the seasonal use of ingredients, pumpkin and cranberries, as well as the generous use of spices.  No one miserly teaspoon of cinnamon here!

I only did a couple of things differently.  One I cut up the cranberries before adding them to the batter.  Two, I froze the second loaf for later.  No sharing.  Mine, mine, mine.

Pumpkin-Cranberry Bread
(Coleen's Recipes)

Grease and flour two 9"x5" loaf pans and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350*F.

Have ready two large bowls.  In the first bowl add and whisk together until well blended:

3 cups all purpose flour
3¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoon salt

In the 2nd bowl, mix until well incorporated:
3 cups granulated sugar
(1) 15 ounce can pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling!)
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
½ cup orange juice
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (added separately)

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with spoon until just moistened.  Gently stir in the cranberries.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pans and bake 60-65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cook in the pan for about ten minutes then release from the pans and turn them out.  Wrap the hot bread immediately in plastic wrap, covering tightly, allowing the bread to cool completely in the wrap.  This is the secret to making this bread super moist!