Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Refrigerator Rolls

I have had another bread request. This one was from my other son. This is a great recipe to have in your repertoire because the dough can be made up to 4 days before the rolls are baked. Also it only needs kneading for 1 minute. This recipe comes slightly changed from Sunset Favorite Recipes I, the original edition. and makes 2 dozen soft sweet rolls. I think the flavor is somewhat better if the dough doesn't sit longer than 2 days.

 Refrigerator Rolls
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1pkg yeast (=2 1/4 tsp=1/4 ounce)
1/4 cup warm water
3 eggs, slightly beaten
4 3/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
Scald the milk and pour it over the sugar, salt, and butter in the bowl of a mixer. Let the mixture cool to lukewarm. Meanwhile soften the yeast in the warm water. When the milk has cooled mix in the softened yeast and the eggs. Gradually beat in the flour. Cover the bowl with the dough with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until it begins to puff, about 30 minutes. Punch down, cover again with the plastic wrap, and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours. Punch down again and knead the dough on a lightly floured surface just until smooth, about 1 minute. Return the dough to the bowl, covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 4 days. Divide the dough into quarters. Divide each quarter into 6 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Place 8 of the balls into one of 3 buttered 8" round baking pans, evenly spaced. Cover the pans and let the dough rise in a warm place until almost doubled. (The original recipe says you can cover the pans with plastic wrap and refrigerate for another 3 to 4 hours at this point, but I haven't tried doing that.) Bake at 350º for about 25 minutes or until browned.
Leftover rolls make great little sandwiches when filled with turkey and cranberry sauce.

My Mother's Cornbread

My son needs my cornbread recipe and it is really my mother's recipe. I have no idea where it came from, but it is what we have always had in our house. It is good and it is easy. Can't ask for more than that.

Cornbread
1 cup corn meal
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, softened
Sift the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter. Lightly beat the milk and egg together and then stir into the dry ingredients until they are just mixed. Do not stir anymore than that. Bake in a buttered 8" square pan in a 425 º oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
I always make corn bread in my food processor. I dump in the dry ingredients, process, add butter, process, add liquids, barely process, and voila, the cornbread batter is ready to go into the pan.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Tuscan Bean Soup

I found this recipe in Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Vegetables and tweaked it a bit. It is a great hearty soup that makes enough to easily feed 8. There were 6 of us and I had more than enough left over for a dinner for 2. The original recipe called for farro but when I pulled the bag I had out of the cupboard, bugs had been snacking on it and so I threw it away. Instead I used a similar but smaller ancient form of wheat from France called petit épeautre. The orginal recipe also called for red pepper flakes, I used piment d'Espelette instead. I meant to add kale to the soup, but in the end I forgot to add it. I think it would be very good in this and it would also add a color contrast. I also increased the amount of vegetables in the soup.

Tuscan Bean Soup
2 cups dried beans of your choice
1large onion, diced
2 small leaks, just white part, sliced
1 large carrot
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
5 small tomatoes, peeled and diced, canned if you are making this out of tomato season
a couple of sprigs of thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp piment d'Espelette (you may use a pinch of red pepper flakes instead)
2 or 3 slices of good smoked bacon, diced
6 cups chicken stock
grated parmesan cheese

1 cup petit épeautre or farro
salted water

Soak the beans overnight.  Cook all the vegetables except the tomato in the olive oil in a large nonreactive pot over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until they are translucent. Drain the beans and add them to the pot along with the tomatoes, bacon, piment d'Espelette, thyme, oregano, and bay leaf and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock, bring the soup to a boil and then lower the heat until the soup simmers. Cover leaving the lid ajar, stirring from time to time. When the beans are almost cooked, after about an hour, add the salt. Cook for another 15 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, cook the petite épeautre or farro in a second pot in salted water that covers it by a couple of inches. I used 1/2 tsp salt in the water. When the grains are cooked, after about 40 or 45 minutes, drain them. they should be a little al dente, not mushy. When the beans are cooked, stir in the grain and simmer for another 10 minutes. I served the soup with grated parmesan.