October 12, 2009

Cinnamon rolls


Well, my dishwasher is fixed (yeah!), and so I'm playing around a bit with my new stand mixer before I leave for Hong Kong. I've never tried to make cinnamon rolls before, but I found them quite easy to make with my mixer. The recipe I used is in the book Family Meals by Maria Helm Sinskey. The rolls sit overnight in the fridge - I started the process around 8 pm (although Picky was a little disappointed that she was going to bed and not helping me make them - I guess I'll have to start earlier next time...).

I made the dough in the mixer (a process that only took 15 minutes) and then let the dough rise while I watched a few episodes of Dexter with my husband. He snapped some pictures of me while I rolled out the dough, sprinkled the sugar, and rolled it up. I was getting a bit embarrassed, you can tell. He was saying things like "Talk to the camera, Baby". It's no wonder I was turning red.

My hair was straightened earlier in the day by my wonderful hairdresser Danielle, so I look like a different person. Picky seemed to like the new look at first, but then kept saying things like "you're not my mommy when your hair is straight" until I finally agreed to give it a wash the next morning. Everyone calmed down after that. Change isn't always good around here.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temp.

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

To make the dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle the yeast over the water, allow to bloom for a few minutes, then whisk until smooth. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm spot, about 30 minutes. (That's about how long it takes Daddy to put Picky to bed. If we're lucky.)

Add the eggs, sugar, salt, and the remaining 4 cups flour to the yeast mixture. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and knead on medium speed until smooth, 10-12 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours, or 2 episodes of Dexter.


(yes, I'm wearing my daughter's hair clip. My straight hair was falling into my face in a way that I wasn't used to...)


(Here I am giving my husband the "one-eyebrow raise" which indicates that he just said something particularly embarrassing...)


(Look at the veins in those hands - should have been a farmer)




Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish (I used my lasagna pan). Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Roll out into a 15 x 10 inch rectangle. Brush with half of the melted butter, leaving a 2-inch wide strip uncovered on one long side. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the butter. Starting at the long side covered with sugar, roll up the rectangle snugly and pinch the seam together. With the seam facing down, cut into 10 equal pieces. Place the pieces, cut side up, in the dish. Brush with the remaining butter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the refrigerator overnight.


(This is the same look that Picky gets on her face when she's concentrating...)





The next morning, remove from the refrigerator and let rise until half again as high, about one hour. (If you're really lucky, make your husband do this step while you stay in bed - you deserve it!) Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. (if you forget to set the timer, like me, you can tell it's done when it starts to smell really good). Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Spread vanilla glaze over the warm rolls and serve.

vanilla glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

In a small bowl, sift together the sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, milk, and vanilla and stir into the sugar to form a smooth paste.



October 6, 2009

Apple Oven Cake


I have a large bag full of apples sitting on my kitchen floor. I should have more, really - I do have 8 apple trees on my property, but only a few of them are producing apples, because I don't really know how to prune and take care of them. Anyway, I do have apples, and I've been trying to figure out what to do with them - my husband won't eat them unless they are cooked (he thinks he's allergic to them - is this common?). He doesn't like apple sauce at all. Picky will sometimes eat apple sauce, but not with any regularity, and she won't touch apples in their natural form. Everyone will eat apple crisp, but that gets old for me after awhile, and my scale doesn't like it either (it keeps protesting by going a little higher each time I visit...). So I've been on the lookout for apple recipes.

I saw a recipe on Pioneer Women for skillet apple cake, and that sounded promising. On further investigation, however, I realized that there was a bit too much butter in that recipe. A bit. And then I remembered that a recent Sunset had a recipe for Apple Oven Cake, and I went sorting through all of my summer magazines to find it (It was actually in October - go figure). What I found is a kind-of apple pancake that you make in a cast iron pan. The butter content is much more reasonable (3 Tbsp as opposed to almost 2 sticks), however I wouldn't really call this a cake, exactly. It was fast to make, and I love the way it puffed up on the sides in a surprising way. I over-cooked it a bit, and I only had it in for 12 of the 15 minutes they suggested. So the edges were a little burnt. But it still tasted lovely, and the apples were all caramel-y and wonderful. The only thing I changed was the type of apple - it called for 1 sweet apple, such as Fuji - well, the apples from my tree are tart - baking apple tart. It tasted great - I would suggest that you'd be better off with a golden delicious or granny smith, here. But, maybe I'm mistaken. I have to admit that I generally prefer tart baking apples to sweet ones. Picky seemed to like it just fine too.


Here it is, from Sunset Magazine, October 2009:

Apple Oven Cake

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 sweet apple, such as Fuji, peeled and sliced
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup each flour and milk
  • 1 tbsp each fresh lemon juice and powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 425
Melt butter in a 12-inch ovenproof frying pan over high heat.
Add brown sugar and cinnamon, swirling to combine
Add apple and cook until just starting to soften, about 3 minutes
Meanwhile, in a blender, whirl together eggs, salt, flour, and milk
Pour egg mixture into pan and bake until puffed and brown, about 15 minutes
Sprinkle with lemon juice and powdered sugar.

Oh, yum! It was gone so fast...I may have to try again tomorrow, and see if I can make it perfect...


October 2, 2009

Southwestern corn and potato soup

I keep forgetting about this soup. It really is one of the tastiest soups I've had - but it's in a cookbook that I don't use that much, and so I forget about it. But I had lots of corn in my CSA box this week, and I happened to have limes and cilantro in my fridge...and sweet potatoes too... you can see why I thought of this soup. Anyway, my mom liked it so much, she made me promise to put it on the blog, so here it is. Be sure and serve it with lots of lime and cilantro, cause that kind-of makes the whole thing. Squeeze some lime juice into your bowl, don't just use it for pretty. The book I got it from is called Moosewood Restaurant Low-fat Favorites by The Moosewood Collective. I have a bunch of their books, and I really like the recipes, but I don't use this particular book that often - maybe I should give it another look...


Southwestern Corn and Potato Soup

  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 small fresh chile, seeded and minced (I left this out - it shouldn't really be that hot, but I didn't want that to be the reason Picky wouldn't try it)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 cups vegetable stock (I used homemade chicken stock)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin (mmmm, I love cumin...)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, diced (about 2 cups - I peel it)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped (ok, ok - I didn't have red...I used green instead - is that wrong? It still tasted good...)
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • salt to taste
  • lime wedges
  • finely chopped cilantro leaves (you know, I didn't chop them at all, and thought it was great...)



In a covered soup pot, simmer the onions, garlic, chile, and salt in 1 cup of the vegetable stock for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are soft. In a small bowl, make a paste with the cumin and a tablespoon of the stock, stir it into the pot, and simmer for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and the remaining stock and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the sweet potatoes soften. Add the bell pepper and corn and simmer, covered, for another 10 minutes, or until all of the vegetables are tender.


Puree about half of the soup in a blender or food processor and return to the pot (or just stick your immersion blender in and give it a whir...). The soup will be creamy and thick. Add salt to taste and gently reheat on low heat. If desired, serve with lime wedges and top with cilantro.

I could see adding cooked chicken and making this a one-pot meal. I served it with bean and cheese quesadillas (just cheese for Picky). She served some of the soup to herself, carefully squeezing some lime on top and adding a sprig of cilantro. Then she ignored it and ate her cheese quesadilla. At least it's making it onto her plate now, that's progress, isn't it?


October 1, 2009

Soup weather! - Gougeres

I'm really enjoying the cooler weather. I love to wear sweaters and long sleeve shirts, and I really love soup. Soup is warm and comforting, there are endless variations, and you can get away with vegetables that would never be eaten in your house on their own. Picky likes a few different soups, but I can't just throw anything in a pot and expect her to eat it, yet. Still, the soups she will eat invite some variation - she loves "martian soup" which is pureed, and I can basically put anything in it as long as it comes out a lovely green color. I usually put in some kind of spinach-broccoli-parsley-potato combination. No beet greens - the red parts turn it a nasty goose-poop color. Although Picky still ate that batch, I'm pretty sure. Anyway, since Picky won't eat every kind of soup I make, and I don't want to limit myself to making endless pots of Martian Soup, I try to make some kind of bready side-dish that she will like. Sometimes it's just that - bread. Sometimes It's quesadillas or grilled cheese sandwiches. Sometimes cornbread. If I have just a little extra time - gougeres!

Gougeres have been described as savory cream puffs without the cream. Or you can think of them as free-form eggy p
opovers. There are countless recipes out there for them, which is interesting since they only have 6 ingredients, basically. Some books (like Joy of Cooking) make them sound really hard to make, but I haven't found that to be the case at all - the one important factor seems to be (like in the case of popovers) to have a really hot oven. It's always a good idea to check the accuracy of your oven with an oven thermometer if you can. Also, if you set the oven about 25 degrees over the suggested temperature, and then turn it down to the correct temperature once the gougeres are in the oven, you can be sure that you haven't lost heat by opening and closing the oven door. This works with any kind of baking. Other than that, you just need a strong arm to stir the batter. I'm wondering if you could do this in a stand mixer - I just got one recently, so I don't know all of the possibilities yet, but it seems like you could.

This particular recipe for gougeres is from my book Whining and Dining by Emma Waverman and Eshun Mott. It's a nice simple recipe that has worked for me consistently.


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere or other hard cheese (I, of course, use extra-sharp cheddar)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine milk, butter and salt in a medium pot over medium heat until butter is melted. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Immediately remove pot from heat; add flour and stir vigorously until mixture is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the pot. Reduce heat to low. Return the pot to the stove and beat for another 30 seconds or until dough has formed a smooth ball. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
Beat 4 of the eggs into dough, one at a time, beating well to incorporate before adding the next one. The resulting dough should be shiny and soft. Stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese. Use a soup spoon to scoop batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, making 8 to 10 mounds, each 2 inches in diameter. Beat remaining egg and brush over top of gougeres. Sprinkle tops with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.DSC_0121


Bake for 20 minutes or until gougeres are brown, crisp and cracked. Turn down oven temperature to 350 and bake for another 10 minutes to dry them out so they don't collapse when removed from the oven.