Friday, September 30, 2011

I apologize ahead of time - this is going to be a long post...and I am also sorry to say that it will have no pictures of my creations, I was a bit too groggy at 5.30 this morning to remember to grab the camera to take a picture of them just out of the oven.

So, this morning, the guys enjoyed giant cinnamon rolls for breakfast.
I have grown in my cinnamon roll making over the last few years - gathering tips from my sisters, and my mom.
I now have a couple different dough recipes to use depending on what is around in my kitchen, yesterday I made what I call the deluxe version, which involves milk and an egg.

Step 1:
1 package of dry active yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
1/2 cup of warm water
1/2 tsp sugar
dissolve yeast and sugar in the water and set aside,

Step 2:
1 cup scalded milk (cooled)
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
pour the milk over the oil, sugar and salt. stir till combined & sugar is dissolved.  If needed continue to let cool.

Step 3:
1 egg wisked
in a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture, milk mixture and the egg.  gradually add -

5 cups of flour
stir till all the flour is mixed in,  turn the dough out onto a floured surface and place the bowl over the top. Let it rest for 10 min.
After resting, knead dough till smooth and springy (using more flour as necessary - I find it to be a rather sticky dough). return the dough to the bowl, cover and let rise for 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

Step 4:
Roll out the dough into a large rectangle - large but not too thin!
Melt 1 stick of butter -  and spread over rectangle, pour excess into baking pan.
* a sweet trick I learned from Naomi:  put the butter in the microwave & almost just barely start to melt it so most of it is still solid just very very soft. It makes less mess that way when spreading onto the dough, and when rolling them up*
Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and brown sugar
and if you like - it's always fun to add raisins/ cranberries (my favorite)/ toasted nuts...

Step 5:
Roll the dough loosely into a giant log (roll up the long end of the dough), with a knife slice the log into about 1 1/2 inch rolls and place them into a 8 1/2 x 11 pan.
Don't squeeze them together - I generally do a 2-1-2-1-2 with the rolls, this gives them room to grow and (I personally think) helps them cook through properly.
I generally have overflow and need to put 3 of the rolls into a pie dish (this will depend on how thick you make the rolls).

Step 6:
You can now do one of two things
- cover them with plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator to bake later, I have stored them this way for up to two days no problem.  I take them out of the fridge 30 min - 1 hour before I want to bake them.
- bake them right away and of course, enjoy!

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes

and finally make an icing to go over the rolls out of confectioners sugar and milk - or I like to use half&half.

Friday, September 23, 2011

I did get these made in a timely fashion yesterday, I just didn't manage to get it written down.
I found this recipe in a cookbook I borrowed from the library, The Sono Baking Company Cookbook by John Barricelli.
This is about the third time I have borrowed it - I love the pictures and the recipes, but I have never actually made anything from it.  Today was the day!

I chose a recipe that would work with all the apples I have lying around my kitchen.

Apple Handpies:
2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs granulated sugar (I used brown sugar...)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of salt
2 Granny Smith (or cooking apples) cored & sliced
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 (14 oz) sheet of puff pastry
1 large egg beaten, for egg wash
1-2 Tbs coarse sugar, for finishing 

  • Preheat the oven at 425 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (not necessary but terribly convenient for clean-up).
  • In a saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, cinnamon and salt over medium-low heat, stir to melt the butter. Add the apple slices and the lemon juice. Cook, stirring often, until the apples are tender. Use a potato masher or fork to mash 1/4 of the apples to create a chunky sauce to help bind the rest of the apple slices. Set aside to cool
  • Roll out the puff pastry to about 1/8 of an inch thickness.  (these can be cut to whatever size and shape you fancy...for my purposes, I cut squares so I could have triangle handpies).  Cut into desired shape, brush around half of the rim of each square with egg wash then spoon in a generous amount of the apple mixture into the center of each.  Fold the un-egg washed side over the filling and press the edges together with your fingers to seal.  Place them on the prepared baking sheet, brush all over with egg wash.  Sprinkle with sugar and cut slits into the pies to let the steam out. 
  • Bake, rotating the baking sheet about half way through, until the pastries are golden brown - about 15 minutes.
I was delighted with how they came out. Next time I may try a different filling...pears? berries of some kind? anyway definitely a keeper.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Florence and I walk to the Library on a regular basis.
(I sometimes feel like I am live in sweet luxury because I have a library, a coffee shop and a second hand shop three blocks from my house.) 
When we went yesterday we looked through the tables covered with leftover books from the book sale this past weekend.
Florence found a book about all things red - nice colour my little girl!
I found Bill Cosby, Himself on VHS for .50 cents.
we don't own a VHS player, but...seriously how much fun would it be to watch.
I totally bought it.
Now I just need to find someone who has a VHS player and claim one of Nathaniel's free nights so we can watch it together.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

doing double duty

My sister-in-law, Kate, is coming over this morning for coffee. I decided to make the all time classic Newton scone that can do double duty for coffee this morning and for the guys tomorrow morning. 

I made the lemon poppy seed version.  While making them I was remembering how I would make these when living at 10 Montague with Aunt Gillian.  It took a few tries before I was able to figure out the correct conversion for butter - in England butter comes in blocks of 250 gms. I would borrow the poppy seeds from Aunt Gillian's spice shelf.  If I could manage, especially while they were fresh from the oven, I would bring 2 or 3 down to share with Aunt Gillian to have with her coffee, or tea depending on the time of day.
 She would always exclaim over them - then generously spread butter on the halves, which she said was the best way to eat a scone even if it did give her indigestion.

Newton's lemon poppy seed scone:
2 cups flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 cup butter (8 Tbs)
3/4 cup of butter milk/plain yoghurt/soured milk
zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 Tbs poppy seeds
  • mix dry ingredients, poppy seeds and lemon zest
  • cut in butter - using pastry cutter or food processor
  • mix in the butter milk, if using a food processor (which I have been using) dump flour butter mixture onto the counter or into a bowl and fold in the buttermilk. 
  • gently knead the dough 3-4 times then pat into a round about 3/4 inch thick
  • cut 6-8 pie slices and place on a rimmed cookie sheet
  • bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes 
for the icing -
2 cups powdered sugar - give or take a little for the right consistency
1-2 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp milk
1 tsp light corn syrup *optional* I sometimes like to use it to help harden the icing a tiny little bit
  • mix all ingredients with a wisk
  • ice the tops of scones (or entire thing if you desire) after the scones have cooled  
These keep for about two days if you put them in an airtight container, but are best eaten as soon as possible.

and if you are feeling indulgent, you might try your with a thick
spread of butter as recommended by Aunt Gillian.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Today smelled like Fall, the wind blew like Fall, the leaves in the trees rustled like Fall and the leaves on the ground crunched like Fall.  The temperature, not so much.  But I was still inspired.

Florence wore her new sweater from Gran, and I wore a tights under my dress.
I made oatmeal cranberry cookies with lots of cinnamon to take with me to visit a friend for lunch.
At lunch we ate winter squash soup, the squash fresh from the garden.
'I need someone to come pick some of the apples off my tree - are you interested?' my mother in law said in a phone message...Yes! we will be there. Right after Florence wakes from her nap!

Nathaniel came with us, we picked two big bags full. The apples are now sitting on my kitchen floor.
I am thinking homemade applesauce, apple cake, apple tart titan, apple muffins...hmm Fall has such a cozy feel to it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

hmm - so you probably thought I forgot - go on, admit it!

Tonight I am trying a recipe from Everyday Foods, a coffee cake muffin.
Something I love to eat but have never actually made. I think it is because I have a love-hate relationship with streusel toppings.  I love to eat them, I hate that every time I make it something seems to go wrong with it.

You can find all the details here on the Martha Stewart web page.

For the muffins- 
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup sour cream (I used yogurt instead)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
For the streusel-
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chilled butter
preheat oven at 350          butter muffin tins - this should make 12 muffins
  1. mix streusel together (I used the food processor) and set aside for later
  2. mix wet ingredients adding eggs last one at a time
  3. add the dry ingredients
  4. fill muffin cups half way with batter, put a spoonful of streusel into each cup then fill the cups with the remaining batter.  cover the tops of the muffins with streusel.
  5. bake for 25-30 min.

So I just pulled them out of the oven.  the streusel disappeared - stink! - I did however cut one in half for a taste. pretty yummy, but they did not look like the picture.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

friday morning treats

At 9pm last Thursday I was sweetly reminded that, well - it was Thursday night, & the next morning was Friday when Nathaniel had prayer at 6am with the guys.

I am so thankful that these men faithfully get together every week to pray - it is such a blessing and an encouragement to me to see them make prayer together a priority in their lives.

Wanting to show them how thankful I am - I try to make some sort of nice breakfast treat to eat with their tea & know, bless them in return.

More often then not, Thursday sneaks up on me as it did last week and I end up scrambling to whip something up.

When mom was here in July we chatted -

there are men who come bright and early to their house to pray with Papi.  We laughed together as she shared about the time she and Papi overslept while the guys waited patiently out in their cars - yes those mornings happen at our house too, waking with a start hearing a knock at the door!
We also talked about how we can encourage our guys to continue on in this worthy pursuit. 

I'm thinking about this -
one idea I have is to strive to get to bed at a decent hour on Thursday nights so it is not so hard to get up in the morning.  And, I realize if I really want to continue bake something nice for them to eat in the morning I Cannot be remembering it is Thursday at 9 o'clock at night.  The way it goes now, we never get to bed before 11.

To help me be diligent in this area of my life I am going to start sharing with you guys what I am planning on making for Friday morning.
And as I go along if you have any yummy recipes that are a hit in your house do let me know - I would love to give the recipe a go!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

a new love in the kitchen

mom brought me a cast iron skillet when they came to visit in July.

papi showed me how to season it, and mom made an an apple tarte tatin (from one of mom's favorite food blogs) in it for desert when we hosted my in-laws for dinner.

brilliant! I love, love, love it. I'm wondering what in the world I did without it all these years.
The other day, I found being cast iron skillet greedy when the thought flickered through my mind, "if only I had two skillets then I could...". hmmm.

truth be told, I have been enjoying thinking on how we discover things about ourselves. I remember going to a wedding shower while in college where the bride was absolutely delighted to receive a cast iron skillet - I sat there wondering who wanted a pan that you needed to season?  Now I understand.

Thanks mom for holding on to this cast iron skillet for months & months, and remembering to pack it into your car when you and papi drove up this summer. Its been such a blessing.