Friday, April 22, 2016

Skillet Herb Rolls

When I got married, my mother gave me two things (besides advice!)--a large wooden bowl and a cast iron skillet.  Both have been used extensively and I can honestly say, no kitchen should be without them.

Griswold Manufacturing, founded in Erie, Pennsylvania, started manufacturing cast iron cookware in 1865.  However, it closed in 1957 due to financial difficulties and now many of the pieces have become collectors' items. In 1910, another company, Lodge started manufacturing cast iron cookware and is still in business in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.  Joseph Lodge started the family business that has gone through two World Wars and The Great Depression with products of quality that have become a choice of cookware today.  Besides the skillet my mother gave me, I have two smaller skillets, a pie-shaped divided skillet, a biscuit skillet, and several "corn" pans I use for cornbread.

The healthy benefits of cast iron cooking is widely known; 1) you avoid toxic fumes that accompany most non-stick cookware, and 2) foods cooked in cast iron can boost your intake of iron which is crucial for maintaining energy levels and strengthens the immune system.  There is a technique to cure your pan, but once that has been done, you have a wonderful non-stick pan that you can use for so many things.  My mother baked cornbread, fried chicken, made cobblers, and cooked our weekend breakfasts in hers.  There's so many more things you can do and baking rolls is one of them.

Skillet Herb Rolls
1/4 cup warm water (110F-degrees)
1 pkg. (2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
1/2 tsp. granulated sugar

The first thing in making yeast rolls is to proof the yeast.  This is done by mixing the yeast into the warm water with the sugar.  Let set until the mixture becomes foamy.  This should take 5-7 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a stand mixer, using the dough hook attachment measure the remaining ingredients:

2 2/3 cups King Arthur Bread Flour
3 T granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt or Bread Salt
1 T dried onion
1 T dried dill
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 cup 4% cottage cheese
Turn the mixer on Speed 2 and start mixing the ingredients.  Add the "proofed" yeast and continue mixing until the dough comes together.  It will be a bit sticky, but not to worry.  Turn the dough out onto a bread board lightly dusted with flour.
Use your hands to knead the dough into a smooth ball.  Place the ball in a large bowl that has been brushed with melted butter, right side down, then, turn it over.  Cover the ball with plastic wrap.

Let rest in a warm place for about 1 hour--I used my screen-in porch for this step since it was 79-degrees outside!

Once the dough has doubled in size, lightly grease the 10-inch cast iron skillet with melted butter.  Divide the dough into 12 pieces and form into rolls.
Cover the rolls once again with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes to rise a second time.
While the rolls are rising, preheat oven to 325F-degrees.  Brush the tops with melted butter and place in the preheated oven for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown.
These rolls were flavorful and wonderfully satisfying.  Thanks Mom for the skillet! Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Strawberry Brown Butter Shortbread Bar

I hate to mention, but we have strawberries out here in North Carolina at the Farmer's Market--I bought some on Sunday and decided today what I would do with them.
I love shortbread and even more the flavor of brown butter with its nutty essence, so why not put them together?  This is easy to make up, but it does have a little "wait" time after you brown the butter. The brown butter needs to go in the freezer for about 30 minutes to firm up again (but not freeze!).  These bars would be perfect with afternoon tea or your favorite beverage on the porch...listening to the birds and smelling the clean, fresh air of Spring!

Strawberry Brown Butter Shortbread Bars
1 cup (2 sticks) of cold unsalted butter, browned
1 pint Strawberries
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cardamon
2 1/4 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 large egg

Butter a 9" x 13" baking pan.  I happen to use a Springform version which makes removing the bars very easy!

In a sauce pan on medium heat, melt the butter.  Lower the heat and continue cooking until the butter foams.  This takes 7 to 10 minutes.  Stir the butter to make sure the "browned bits" get incorporated.  Remove from the heat and pour into a small, shallow dish.
Place this mixture into the freezer for 30 minutes.  It should be firm, but not frozen. In the meantime while the butter is setting, wash and cut the strawberries into 1/2-inch pieces.  You should have about 4 cups.
Preheat oven to 375F-degrees.  Sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar on the berries so they will macerate.  In a large bowl, measure the dry ingredients and whisk together.  When the butter is set firm, add pieces to the dry ingredients and use a pastry cutter (or two knives) to cut the butter into the mixture.

 Once the mixture resembles crumbs, add the egg to it and stir to combine.  It will still appear "dry".  Spoon about three-quarters of the crumbs into the prepared baking dish and press down slightly.  Use a slotted spoon to distribute the strawberries over the shortbread base.

Finally, sprinkle the top of the strawberries with the remaining one-quarter of the crumbs.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Remove and transfer to a rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Use a flat spatula to go around the edges and make sure nothing has stuck to the sides of the baking dish.  Cool completely, then cut into bars.  Makes 24 bars.

These shortbread bars are full of flavor and I can imagine trying other fruits too.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Mason Lid Cherry Pies & April's Give-Away Apron

In the South we are fixated on mason jars.  We used them for our Sweet Tea, Lemonade, Beer or in my case, Diet Coke, bake pies or cakes in them, and of course use them as vases for our flowers.  However, when I saw this idea on FaceBook, I thought, "why not!"  However, instead of the jars, the rings and lids were used.
So, Sunday's dessert features hand-held Cherry Pies.  Perfect for picnics as the weather gets warmer or dress them up with some really good vanilla ice cream.  Easy to make, starting with my pie dough.

Perfect Pie Crust
4 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cups shortening (I use Crisco Butter-flavored in sticks for easy measuring)
1/2 cup cold water
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 large egg

In a stand mixer, place all the dry ingredients and turn on low to combine.  While the mixer is running on medium speed, add the shortening, 1 T at a time.  Mix until it resembles "sand".  In a 2-cup glass measure, add the water, vinegar and large egg.  Whisk to combine.  Turn mixer on medium and pour the liquid into the dough, mixing only until it comes together in a ball.

Place dough on a lightly floured board and form into a log.
Divide the dough into fourths.
Flatten the pieces into round disks and wrap in plastic wrap.  If you're using the dough on the same day, refrigerate at least 1 to 2 hours.  However, this dough freezes well (for 6 months) if you place the wrapped disks into a quart freezer bag--label the date and you have pie dough when the urge hits you to bake:-D

To make the Lid Pies--I used a can of Cherry Pie Filling, but you could also make your own filling ahead of time.  Just make sure you cook your filling because these pies only bake 25-30 minutes.

Place the rings on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Make sure the lid has the "rubber" side down away from the dough.

Preheat oven to 375F-degrees.  Roll out the dough and use a round cutter, larger than the  ring, or trace around the lid using a paring knife, about 1/2-inch large than the lid.  Place dough inside the ring.

Spoon 2-3 T of filling into the center of the dough.  Have a small dish of water handy and use your fingertips to dip in and run around the outside of the dough.  This helps the tops to adhere to the base.
Roll out more dough and cut circles the same size as the ring.  Use the paring knife to make a few slits in the top.  Place on top of the pies and press around the edges.  Use a fork to press the edges and give a decorative look.

Finally, beat one egg with 1 tsp. water and brush on top of the pies.  Sprinkle the tops with Demerara Sugar.
Place pies in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.  

Allow to cool slightly.  The lid allows for the pie to be pushed up and released from the ring.  You can serve these as "hand-held" pies or on a dessert dish with a little ice cream.  Enjoy!

This month's apron is also from "The Little House on the Prairie" collection.  I loved the tiny flowers and the vintage look of this fabric.  Comment on any posts this month and you could be wearing this lovely apron!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

March's Apron Winner...

A quick post today to announce the winner of March's Apron; I didn't want to announce it yesterday for fear that someone would think it was an April Fool's joke!

Miss Jane is the winner of this lovely apron!  Please email me your address so I can get lovely apron off to you.  Tomorrow, I will post April's apron.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Banoffee Scones

Banoffee is the combination of banana and toffee together; a really good combination.  The first time I heard of this was while I was watching The Great British Baking Contest on PBS.  One of the contestants did a "take" on a Banoffee Pie for her entry and it sounded delicious.

Two chefs, Nigel Mackenzie and Ian Dowding claim to have invented this combination in 1971 in Jevington, East Sussex.  It was a take on an American dessert, "Blum's Coffee Toffee Pie that used dulce de leche and mandarin oranges.  Mackenzie suggested using bananas and it became a hit!  Consequently, the word "Banoffee" was entered into the English language and became synonymous with anything that tastes or smells like bananas and toffee.

I discovered this recipe in the latest issue of Sift magazine, produced by King Arthur Flour.  It can be found easily on the newsstand in your supermarket or book store.  Being a lover of scones this one intrigued me, but there is a whole section on Scones that may entice you even more--savory to sweet!

Banoffee Scones

2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour (plain flour)
1 cup King Arthur whole wheat/white flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2" pieces
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 medium banana, mashed
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
3/4 cup Toffee bits
1/2 to 3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425F-degrees (I use convection, so I preheated mine to 400F-degrees).  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, combine all the dry ingredients on low speed.  Turn the machine on medium and add the butter pieces.  Continue to mix until it resembles "coarse sand."   Add the toffee bits and mix once more.  Add the mashed banana and vanilla extract and mix on low.  While the mixer is running, slowly add the buttermilk--using just enough for the mixture to come together.  I actually used almost 3/4 cups and it may vary depending if you are in a dry climate!

Remove the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead just a few times to come together.  Divide the dough in half.
Roll each half into a 6" to 8" round.  Cut the round into six pieces.
Place wedges onto the parchment-lined baking sheet.  Repeat with the second round.  I actually brushed the tops of my scones with half & half, although the recipe didn't call for it, but I like the tops browned.  Bake in the preheated oven for 14 to 16 minutes...or until the scones are browned.
I decided I would like a glaze on these scones, so I mixed up:

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 T Light Karo syrup
1-2 T hot water

I used an off-set spatula to spread some glaze on the still warm scones.  Now all you need is a cup of tea/coffee, maybe butter or clotted cream, and jam.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Brioche-like Rolls

There's nothing better than the aroma of bread (or rolls) baking.  I remember this oh so well from when my mother baked.  I made these rolls for the first time a few weeks ago and they turned out so well that I decided to bake them again and share my recipe.  Easy!!

Brioche is a challenging dough for beginners, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy the wonderful texture of this dough.  I've taken out the step of allowing the dough to rest overnight in the refrigerator, but I don't think I took out any of the taste.  I know Pillsbury has been advertising on television "croissants" for Easter dinner, but wouldn't it be a nice surprise to your family not to give them something out of a can, knowing the preservatives that are inside!

Brioche-like Rolls
4 - 4 1/2 cups King Arthur Bread Flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk, slightly warm
6T unsalted butter, softened
3 egg yolks

1/2 cup warm water (110F-degrees)
1 pkg (about 1 T) dry yeast
1/2 tsp. granulated sugar

4-6 T butter, melted for brushing the bowl, baking pan, and tops of rolls

First, proof your yeast.  Whisk the dry yeast into the warm water and add the sugar.  Allow to sit on for 7-10 minutes.  It should appear "bubbly" or "foamy" if your yeast is active; if not, buy new yeast!

In a stand mixer, using the dough hook, add 4 cups of bread flour, sugar and salt and mix on low to incorporate.  Add the warm milk and your proofed yeast and turn the mixer on low (Setting #2).  While the mixer is running, add the egg yolks (save the whites for macarons!), then, the softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time.  The dough is soft, but should not be overly sticky.  If needed, at more flour until it comes away from the bowl.

Place dough on a bread board and knead until smooth.  Brush melted butter inside a large bowl and place the dough, right-side down, then flip it over.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit 1 to 1 1/2 hours until doubled.

Punch down dough and turn out onto the bread board.  Use a bench scraper to divide dough into twelve pieces.  Brush a 12" x 8" baking pan (I use my Le Cruset, but you can also use a glass baking dish) with the melted butter.  Roll the dough pieces into balls and place in the baking dish, leaving some room between the rolls.  Cover and allow to rise another 30 to 45 minutes (until doubled).
When the dough is close to being doubled, preheat over to 375F-degrees.  Brush tops of rolls once more with melted butter and bake for 18 minutes (or until golden brown).  Remove from the oven and yes, brush once more with butter to give a shine to the tops of the rolls.
See, easy and it doesn't have to come out of a can--Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Black & White Banana Bread

Hold on to your aprons...I've created another Banana recipe and this one is a winner!

This morning, I found five, yes five, bananas hanging on the rack and hubby says, "these are too ripe for my cereal."  Obviously, the speckled peels turns him off even though I know the banana is at its best.  What to do?  It came to me that I've never done a "marbled" banana bread, so an idea was born.

Black & White Banana Bread

3/4 cup Butter-flavored shortening (if you use the sticks, this is a simple measure!)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
4 large eggs
5 medium bananas, peeled and mashed
3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
2 oz (about 1/3 cup) bittersweet chocolate chips, melted

1/4 cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Grease and flour two 9" x 5" loaf pans (or use a baking spray)

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the shortening and sugar together.  Add the vanilla and mix again on medium speed.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

Add the dry ingredients and the mashed bananas (all at once) and mix on LOW speed just until incorporated.  Remove from the stand and use the rubber spatula to make sure all ingredients are incorporated.
Divide batter (I used the bowl from the mashed bananas to hold half of the batter).
To half the batter, add the cocoa and the melted chocolate and stir to incorporate.
I used scoops (one for the plain batter and one for the chocolate) to measure out the batter, alternating them.
Use a table knife to gently swirl the batters together.  As a final touch, I spooned about 1/4 cup of Nutella into a sandwich bag, cut a small hole in one side, then squeeze some Nutella on top of the batters before baking.

Bake in the preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes.  Use a cake tester poked in the center to check if it's done.

Interesting flavors in this moist bread and the addition of the chocolate was definitely a great idea...if I do say so.  Enjoy!