Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls

This is an old recipe of my mom's. I'm pretty sure she got it from a Fleichman's Yeast package many years ago. It is incredibly easy, but also really good. I've tweaked it a little over the years. You mix these up the night before, the dough rises in the fridge, and then you shape them in the morning, let them rise, and bake. Perfect for brunch.

If you have a stand mixer, use it for sure. I don't, so I have used a hand-held mixer, but I've also just mixed it up by hand with a spoon.

4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

1 T instant yeast

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup water

1 stick butter, cut in pieces

2 eggs

1 tsp fiori di sicilia or lemon flavor

To make the cinnamon sugar filling, mix 1/2 cup sugar with a tablespoon of ground cinnamon.

Combine 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup sugar, salt and yeast.

Heat milk, water, and butter over low heat to melt the butter. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Add eggs and the whole-wheat flour, and mix again. Add enough additional flour to make a stiff batter. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, turn the dough out onto a floured board. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. as you work with one piece, keep the others covered so they don't dry out. Roll each piece into a 9x12" rectangle. Sprinkle dough with a generous amount of cinnamon sugar. Press it gently into the dough with your fingers, and then roll up the dough from the short side. Carefully seal the seam and the ends. Cut the roll into 1" pieces and place them evenly spaced into a greased 8" cake pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes; remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tamale Pie

Aaron was coming for dinner and I wanted something a little bit different, something I hadn't made in awhile.

First I made a batch of polenta (using my oven-bake method, of course), but I halved it. I'm not sure that was the best bet -- next time, I think I'd make a full batch and use about 3/4 of it. I added a lot of grated extra-sharp cheddar -- maybe 1 1/2 cup? -- after it came out of the oven.

Grease a gratin dish (or a plain rectangular or square baking dish) and spoon in the hot polenta. Spread it evenly around, and as far up the sides of the dish as you can easily manage.

While the polenta was baking, I prepared the filling:

1 large onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 T flour
1 cup bean broth (or vegetable broth, or water)
1 cup crushed tomatoes
2-3 cups cooked pinto beans
1/2 tsp oregano
1 cup grated cheddar (this is for the top -- in addition to what gets mixed into the polenta)

Sauate the onion till golden, then add garlic and spices. Stir constantly for 1 minute, then stir in the flour and continue stirring for another minute. Add the broth, tomatoes, beans and oregano and stir well. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then spoon into the prepared polenta "crust."

Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 30 minutes, covered, then 15 minutes, uncovered, at 350. You might want to let it stand for a few minutes so the cheese sets.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mashed potatoes and rutabegas with cheese and caramelized onion (or, oh, god, enough with the root vegetables, already!)

Yes, more root vegetables!!

One of my best childhood/cooking memories is of my paternal grandmother (who died last year at the age of 98). She made pierogi by the gazillion several times a year when the extended family gathered at her house. She taught my mom to make them, too, and hers were even better than Grandma's. Beautifully supple egg-noodle dough, encapsulating a cheesy, onion-y, mashed potato filling. (Grandma also made ones stuffed with "kapusta" -- which was a combination of canned sauerkraut and fresh cabbage -- also delicious, and ones stuffed with stewed prunes, about which, well, the less I say, the better.)

After filling, they're dunked in boiling water long enough to cook the pasta, and then fried in a pan with butter and served, brown and crispy, with sour cream and/or more butter. Heavenly.

My mother and I have made pierogi together, with the help of the pasta machine to roll out the dough (Grandma used a rolling pin, of course). They're fun, but incredibly time-consuming (not to mention highly caloric!)

I was thinking of these the other night as I made this root-vegetable mash for dinner.

Mashed potatoes and rutabegas with cheese and caramelized onion

(maybe) 2 lbs potatoes, scrubbed (peeling optional) and cut into chunks
(maybe) 1.5 lbs rutabega, peeled and cut into small chunks
2 medium onions, sauteed in 2 T butter until brown and caramelized
1.5-2 cups grated sharp cheddar
salt and pepper to taste

Mash everything together. Use a scraper to get all the butter and onion out of the pan and into the mash.

Notes: the rutabegas and potatoes should really be cooked separately, as the potatoes cook a lot faster. The rutabegas are easier to mash if they're cooked nearly to falling-apart.

The broth from cooking the rutabegas and the potatoes is great to save for soup.

I served this with these lentils.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Root vegetables for breakfast

I'm crazy, aren't I? Driven over the edge by a surfeit of rooty goodness from my Winter Share, apparently.

Not quite. In Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone (Deborah Madison, natch), there's a recipe I've been meaning to try forever, and I finally did. Really, it's so beautifully simple, it's hardly even a recipe.

Peel and thinly slice some parsnips (this is the most work of all). Melt 2 to 4 Tablespoons of butter over medium or even medium-high heat, and let it sizzle. Then add the parsnips, sprinkle with a little salt, and stir occasionally. Let them get a little browned around the edges. Dump them on a plate and drizzle on some maple syrup.

Really, a LOVELY dish, even for supper.