Month: June 2012

Snickerdoodles

 - by Elizabeth

These are best made if a couple of grandchildren can be around to help you douse the balls of dough with some cinnamon-sugar and put them on the cookie sheet.  Barring that, you can always place the cinnamon-sugar mixture in a bag, drop the balls of dough in that way, then put them on the cookie sheet.  Shown here is a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.  If you don’t have that, just lightly grease the pan for the first batch, then keep cooking along.

Snickerdoodles!

from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion book

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 1/2 cups sugar
scant 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups flour

Coating:
1/2 to 1 cup sugar
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

In a mixer bowl cream together the shortening, butter, sugar, vanilla and baking powder, beating until smooth. Add the eggs, again beating until smooth. Add the nutmeg, salt and flour (mixed together), scraping the bowl occasionally.

Mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl (or a large plastic bag).

Roll the dough (about 1 Tbls each cookie for regular size, double that for larger cookies) into balls, then roll it in the cinnamon-sugar (or toss it lightly in the bag, very gently). Place on prepared cookie sheets and bake for 8 minutes (10 minutes for the large), or until golden brown around the edges. Cool on rack and store in air-tight containers.

Yield: about 7 dozen cookies.

Buttermilk Rolls

 - by Elizabeth

I was casting around for a buttermilk roll recipe, as I had to do a luncheon for seventy people and I wanted to order the local bakery’s buttermilk rolls, but alas, the tight budget prevented that option.  This one did the trick, as it has a good “heft” and bite to it, as well as that slightly tangy taste that buttermilk gives.  I’d make it as written once, then if you wanted to cut that flavor, I suppose you could up the sugar by a tablespoon or two, but you’re on your own for that variation.  This one is a little odd because it calls for yeast AND baking powder AND baking soda, but I suppose the soda’s there as a companion to the buttermilk; I always see them together in my recipes.

Can I remember where I found this?  Nope–one of the mindless tired nights trolling the web, but there aren’t too many buttermilk rolls out there that you’d want to make.  This one has the notation that “they got it from their neighbor” and “it doubles and triples well,” but my mixer could only handle the single version (I know because I tried the double.  Don’t do that at home) but after I figured out the logistics, I was on my way.  If you measure the dough (see below), each batch makes about 18 rolls.  As breads go, this one’s an easy one.

One last thing.  Don’t use the bread machine yeast as it has dough conditioners in it.  In my experience (strictly anecdotal) I think it makes the bread go stale faster.  Try for the regular kind. (Sorry about the blurry picture.)

Ingredients
2 cups buttermilk (100-110 degrees F)
2-3 packages dry yeast, or about 2 1/3 Tablespoons dry yeast granules
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 – 6 cups flour (I used the full six cups of flour)

shortening, for baking sheets
cornmeal, for baking sheets

Directions
In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a heavy duty mixer, dissolve yeast and sugar in warmed buttermilk.  Add 1 cup flour, and beat until smooth.  Allow to set for 5-10 minutes, until mixture starts to foam and bubble.  Add salt, baking soda, baking powder, and olive oil.

Stir to dissolve, and add 3 more cups flour, 1 cup at a time, and mix until smooth. If using mixer, replace paddle beater with dough hook.

Add fifth cup flour, 1/4 cup at a time, while kneading; dough will still be rather sticky.

Add sixth cup flour, 1-2 Tbsp at a time, while kneading dough, until dough is no longer too sticky.  I used nearly the full amount of 6 cups flour.

If using mixer, dough will begin to form a ball around the dough hook.  If kneading by hand, dough will no longer stick to bowl and hands too much, though it may still be slightly sticky. Use more or less flour as necessary to reach this state.  Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to oil top of the dough.  Cover, and let rise in a warm place, 80-90º F, until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes.

Punch down dough, and knead by hand for about a minute to incorporate surface oil.

Here’s where the measuring comes in.  Divide dough into one-ounce pieces, about the size of a large walnut, for small rolls, or two ounce pieces, a little larger than a golf ball, for normal size rolls.  I used a scale and made 2 1/2 ounce pieces, which yields about a 3″ diameter roll–a good sandwich size.

Shape pieces by hand into smooth balls, as shown above, by pulling the dough around to the underneath.  Then roll them around underneath your hand on the counter.  The resistance of that surface is needed. Alternatively you could use a glass-topped stove, or a large smooth cutting board, but no flour.  Apply some slight pressure downward as you roll the ball under your hand.  When you feel it kind of come together, stiffen up (my husband said they felt “cold” in his hand) and when turned over there is a little dimple, they are ready.  Check out the video, above.  I figure it’s about 20-25 circles of the hand that does it.  No need to count–figure out what it “feels like” and go for that.

Place about one inch apart on greased cookie sheets that have been sprinkled with cornmeal.

Brush the rolls with cold water, or mist them using a spray bottle. I forgot this step once, and the world didn’t end.

Rising rolls, covered with the souvenir dishtowel from Zabar’s in New York City

Let rolls rise in a warm (80 degrees F+), draft-free place for 30-45 minutes, until doubled in volume.  A good place to do this is your oven: if the oven has a pilot light, just place the baking sheets in the oven. If you have an electric oven or one with an electric ignitor instead of a pilot light, turn on the oven for 45-60 seconds, and turn it off before placing the baking sheets in the oven.

Remove the baking sheets from the oven, and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake rolls for 16-18 minutes, checking after 16 minutes, until a medium, golden brown.

Remove rolls from baking sheets, serve immediately, or cool to room temperature on wire racks if you plan to freeze them.  If you are going to freeze them, place cooled rolls in plastic freezer bags, preferably double bagging them.

To reheat, thaw for about a half hour, and heat in a 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes.

This recipe makes about 60 mini-rolls or 30 large rolls, or 18 even-larger (2 1/2 ounce) rolls.  Here’s the little sandwich we made for the luncheon, using 1 1/2 ounces of lunchmeat (or about 3 pieces of  thinly-sliced Hillshire Farms pieces of turkey).  Since we were making these a week ahead, we slipped them into ziploc sandwich bags, then into larger bags.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1 (1223 gram–I think this must be the smallest roll; I didn’t check)
Servings Per Recipe: 1
Calories 99.0
Calories from Fat 15   —     15% Daily Value
Cholesterol 0.6mg
Sugars 1.6 g
Total Carbohydrate 17.7g  —  5%
Protein 2.8g

Baby Greens and Quinoa Salad

 - by Elizabeth

On our regular Friday night date, we went to California Pizza Kitchen to share a salad and a mushroom pizza, our usual.  But CPK had a new salad on the menu, and I came right home and tried to duplicate it, with a couple of twists.  Since I didn’t measure too many of the ingredients, a lot of this is sort of “throw a little of this in, then throw a little of that.”  If you want the original, head to CPK, but this is a good approximation.

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
Cook the quinoa in the water, according to package directions.  Rinse under cool water, then drain.  Alternatively, you could cook the quinoa ahead of time, then chill it before use.  It also freezes very well. [Check other salads on this site for more detailed directions on how to cook quinoa.]

Place the quinoa in the bottom of a large sloping bowl, suitable for tossing a salad.  Douse the quinoa with some dressing: you can use any vinaigrette from this site, or any purchased light vinaigrette would do.  For this salad I used Brianna’s Real French Vinaigrette and added a splash or two of red wine vinegar, as I think the ratio of vinegar to oil is a bit too low in many commercial dressings. I buy both of those things at Ralph’s.

 To the bowl, add the following:
About 2-3 cups baby greens, loosely chopped
1 large tomato or three medium on-the-vine tomatoes (from Costco), chopped
1/2 small jar of sun-dried tomatoes (about 2 ounces, from Trader Joe’s.  The variety I chose were already cut into strips so I just threw them in.)
1-2 ounces (about a handful) of toasted pine nuts (also from Trader Joe’s.  You can buy regular pine nuts, then toast them slightly either under the broiler and a watchful eye, or tossing them lightly in a non-stick skillet)
2 ounces feta cheese–I buy mine in a brick (keeps fresh longer) lop off about an inch worth and crumble it by hand
Chopped red onion.  I cut off 2 slices for a large salad, each slice about 1/4″ thick.  Then I chop those slices into a medium dice, of about 1/4″

Then I tossed everything lightly. Check for the salt/pepper balance.  I found it needed quite a bit more salt than pepper.  Since I always like to heighten the flavors a bit on grain salads, I used a light shake of cayenne powder, then tossed really well.  My cayenne is on the old side, so I use two light shakes.  To make sure I know how much is going in, I “shake” it into the lid, check (that I haven’t dumped half the bottle in), then sprinkle it over the salad.   Serve with a La Brea baguette, or some other fine piece of bread.

I think you could add some deboned rotisserie chicken to this, if you want to move it beyond vegetarian.  I always have some chicken in the freezer, ready to go, but it’s really a fine salad by itself.