Sunday, March 25, 2012

dinner rolls with rosemary and flaked fluer de sel

(Sorry this photo is so crappy, but it's hard to take pics when you are busy and stressed while making food for 30 people!)

I made these rolls for another dinner I worked on with my awesome chef friend, Tom Call. He asked me to come up with some yummy and buttery dinner rolls. I went to my Go-To Baking Mentor (my mom) and asked what she would recommend trying. She suggested this recipe from Sarabeth's Bakery cookbook. I'm so glad she did! It looks like a lot of instruction, but it's pretty simple to put together. Plus, I added the rosemary and fluer de sel to try to make them a little more special. I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. For the dinner, we made these more of a "tasting size" in little mini muffin tins instead of making them in the two pans like in the recipe below. If you make them that way, I would suggest using a scale and weighing the dough. Each mini roll weighed about 30 grams.

Dinner Rolls with Rosemary and Flaked Fluer de Sel (adapted from Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours)

3 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup whole milk, divided
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, as needed
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, well softened
4 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary, divided
1-2 tablespoons flaked fluer de sel

Sprinkle yeast over 1/4 cup, 105° to 115°F, milk in a small bowl. Let stand until the yeast softens, about 5 minutes, then stir well to dissolve. Pour into the mixing bowl. Add 3/4 cup cold milk, the sugar, egg, and yolk, whisk to combine.

Attach the bowl to the mixer and fit with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed, adding 2 cups of the flour and the salt. One tablespoon at a time, beat in the butter, letting each addition become absorbed before adding another. Add another cup of the flour and 2 teaspoons of the chopped rosemary to make a soft dough that cleans the sides of the bowl.

Using a silicone spatula, scrape the dough into the center of the bowl. Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook. Knead on medium-low speed until the dough is supple, about 4 minutes. One tablespoon at a time, add as much of the remaining flour as needed for the dough to become smooth.

Generously butter a medium bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape the dough into a ball. Place the ball, smooth side down, in the bowl, and turn right side up to lightly coat the ball in butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Lightly butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Cut the dough into 18 equal portions (if you have a kitchen scale, each portion will weigh 2 ounces.) To shape into balls, one portion at a time, place the dough on an unfloured work surface. Cup one hand over the dough and move your hand in a tight circular motion, letting your palm gently touch the top of the dough. For each pan, arrange 7 balls inside the perimeter of the pan, with 2 balls in the center, spacing the balls equally apart. There will be space between the balls until they proof. Choose a warm spot in the kitchen for the proofing. Cover with a tea towel. Let stand until the rolls look puffy, about 45 minutes.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Remove the tea towel and spray rolls with water, sprinkle with the last two teaspoons of fresh rosemary and lightly sprinkle with flaked fluer de sel. Bake unti the rolls are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Remove from the pans, then separate the rolls from each other and serve hot.

NOTE: If you need to re-heat the rolls, generously sprinkle them with water and put them in a 350°F oven for about 5-10 minutes. Just keep a razor sharp eye on them so that they don't get too golden and dry out.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

re-post: wheat germ chocolate chip cookies

I realize I've done a few re-posts lately, and I hope that's not harshing on anyone's gig (I know that's a ridiculous phrase, however, someone said it to my friend once, and I thought it was amazing and therefore immediately added it to my vocabulary). I just like to refer to my favorites now and then, and think they deserve a double spotlight for their ability to stand the test of time. I originally posted this recipe without a picture so I added that, and I wanted to re-write some of the instructions, exactly as I make them, instead of showing what the original recipe was and how I changed it. I had changed it so much that when I'd refer back, I would occasionally miss a step. So here it is, exactly how I make them. These are pretty healthy for a cookie and definitely one of my all time favorite and most requested cookies. 

3/4 cup old fashioned whole rolled oats
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup raw wheat germ
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes (chopped finely)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped very finely chopped pecans

(Makes approximately 30 cookies)

Preheat oven to 400°. Grease cookie sheets or line with a Silpat.

Mix oats, flour and almond meal, in a medium bowl. Add baking soda, salt, cinnamon and whisk until mixed in. Whisk in wheat germ, flax, coconut and chopped pecans.

Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, egg and vanilla; beat until smooth and creamy. Add the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Chill the dough in a refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. The dough should be semi-firm before proceeding with next step.

Use a cookie scoop to scoop out dough and arrange, at least 1 inch apart, onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies, until firm around the edges and barely golden on top, about 9 minutes. Remove baking sheets from the oven immediately and cool the cookies for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks with a spatula to cool. 

NOTES: I think the cookies actually taste the best the next day. Also, the dough can be prepared in advance and kept in the refrigerator, tightly covered for up to a week. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

re-post: best ever sugar cookies

I first posted the recipe for these way back in 2007. They have been the standard, go-to sugar cookie for my family for a while now, and like I said before, the fluffiness and the hint of lemon really put this cookie over the top. They aren't the kind you roll out and cut into cute shapes, BUT they are the kind that you stuff in your mouth, with both hands. Repeatedly. So, I had to post again, just as a reminder to us all, that once a good recipe, always a good recipe.

1 c. butter
2 c. sugar

Beat in:
4 eggs
2 T. milk
4 t. vanilla
1 T. lemon extract (this slight lemon flavor really sets these cookies apart. it's not enough that a citrus hater would be turned off)

4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
5 cups flour

Chill 30 minutes to an hour. Form into balls then smash down with bottom of floured glass (about 1/4 inch thick, these cookies should be about the same thickness as those pink grandma sycamore's cookies and a little smaller in circumference). Bake at 375° for 6-8 minutes.

1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. shortening
1 t. vanilla
1/8 t. salt
4 c. powdered sugar
2-4 T. milk

(food coloring, as desired)

In large bowl, beat butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and salt. beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, scraping down sides of bowl. add 2 T. milk; beat at high speed until light and fluffy. Add enough additional milk for desired spreading consistency. **(This frosting may be made up to 2 weeks in advance and kept in and airtight container before serving. Bring to room temperature before serving)**

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

almond-maple granola clusters

I really love making and eating granola. I am a bit of a snacker, and I don't feel guilty when I eat granola—especially if it's homemade, hence the many posts of new granola recipes. I was looking for one that had the texture of those Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars, cause they are so great for an on-the-go snack, and I found this one from one of my favorite sites, Serious Eats. I like that it makes so much, and can keep for a long time, cause who doesn't love a time-saver? Also, the recipe is originally gluten-free, but I made this using wheat flour, and less salt than originally called for.

Almond-Maple Granola Clusters, adapted from Serious Eats
yield: makes about 7 cups of granola, active time 15 minutes, total time about one hour

6 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup (use the real stuff)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 °F;. Line an 18 by 13-inch rimmed baking sheet with a slipat or parchment paper. Set pan aside. In large bowl, toss together oats, almond flour, wheat flour, and salt. Pour canola oil evenly over the mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to coat mixture evenly with oil.

Combine maple syrup and dark brown sugar in a medium pot. Warm mixture over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about six minutes. Gently stir the mixture frequently. Remove pot from the heat. Add vanilla extract. Stir to combine.

Pour sugar-mixture over oat-mixture. Stir with a wood spoon to combine. At first, the granola will be thick and sticky. Continue stirring, breaking up an lumps of sugar/oats with the back of the wooden spoon, until the sugar-maple is evenly distributed.

Press mixture very firmly into prepared pan. Bake until golden brown and aromatic, about 45 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Immediately score granola into bars. (The granola might break into smaller pieces when scored. This is fine.) Allow granola to cool. "Snap" bars into bite-size nuggets. Store granola in a covered container for up to two weeks.

**Note from Serious Eats author: The recipe makes a generous amount of granola. If you don't have an 18 by 13-inch baking pan, divide the granola between two 13 by 9-inch pans. Squeezing all the granola into one 13 by 9-inch pan causes the granola to bake unevenly and the finished granola isn't crisp.