Lion House Rolls

November 19, 2012 § 4 Comments

A love affair? Maybe, but I guess I justify it since it only happens once a year. And, like me, you won’t believe you made these pudgy little suckers, nor will your guests. Yes, I know, bread is not exactly nourishing, but smothered with ghee or creamy butter, it sure is a perfect indulgence once and a while (i.e. once a year at Thanksgiving).  Lion House rolls are heaven. This is not my recipe but I’ve adopted it, made them the last three years and I must say, if every family chef made these buttery babies, we’d never have to rely on Pillsberry for pokable perfection ever again.

If you’re a visual learner, watch this Lion House video and get to swingin’ your dough!

Lion House Rolls
2 cups warm water, 2/3 cup nonfat dry milk, 2 tbsp dry yeast*, 1/4 cup white, granulated sugar, 2 tsp salt, 1/3 cup organic butter, plus 1/4 cup for brushing 1 egg, 5 to 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, organic butter for topping
*2 tablespoons are equivalent to 2 packages of dry yeast.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the water and the dry milk, stirring until everything is dissolved. Add the yeast to the mixture while milk mixture is still warm. Proof the yeast (let it dissolve and start to react before adding anything else) for a couple of minutes then add the sugar, salt, butter, egg and only 2 cups of the flour.

Mix on low speed until ingredients are wet and shaggy; turn to medium speed and mix for 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and add 2 more cups of flour (total of 4 cups added at this point). Mix on low speed until the ingredients are wet, then turn mixer on medium speed and mix for 2 minutes.

At this point, the dough will be stiff.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and knead in the remaining flour by hand.

Add approximately 1/2- 1 cup of flour and knead. The dough should be soft, not overly sticky, and not stiff. Note: It’s not necessary to use the all of the 5 1/2 cups of flour.

Scrape the dough off the sides of the bowl. Coat the sides of the bowl with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.  Turn the dough over, keeping it in the bowl, so it is covered with the oil. Coating the dough with oil ensures moisture won’t escape. Cover the bowl with a small towel and allow it to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size.

Dust a cutting board or the counter with flour to prevent sticking, and roll out the dough (see the video above). Roll into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick and brush with about 1/4 cup of melted butter.

You want to cut the rectangle into smaller rectangles that are 2″ by 4″.  If you make and “L” with your thumb and pointer finger, as it shows in the video, that will yield the right width and height to cut the rectangles.

Roll or flip them (like in the video) and place them on greased baking pans with the end of the roll resting on the pan. Cover with a towel so they don’t dry out as they rise. Let them rise until they double in size; this usually takes about an hour to an hour and a half (in a warm kitchen).

When they’ve risen, bake at 375 degree Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Serve immediately. Leftovers (although there probably won’t be any) can be frozen- they make a great base for bread pudding!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sugar Pumpkin “Hummus”

October 6, 2012 § 2 Comments

This is going to be quick; no convincing, no nutrition information or wordy phrases (sorry Paul) and it’s mainly because every second spent doing something other than studying alpha helices, beta-pleated sheets and amino acids seems kind of, I don’t know, unproductive. BUT we all have to eat so I might as well share one of my recent favorites.

I know, why didn’t we think of this before? Anyways, this can be used as a dip, a spread, a body mousse or a dressing and, can be made with other fleshy winter squash, nut/seed butters and spices. With that said, this lightly spiced pumpkin-tahina combo has been my favorite thus far.

I do have to mention that a creamy tahina (also know as tahini but I have had trouble calling it that since hearing Israelis throatily proclaim it tah-hina as if it’s a goddness of some sort) and pungent garlic are necessary here (since they are really the only ingredients). Cumin, sumac, nutmeg, black pepper, paprika or a touch of cayenne would certainly lend some character, but here is the base, you do the rest. Also,  I will give the recipe for homemade tahina, which is by far the strongest and most satisfying, but you can certainly fine some decent tahina around.

Oh by the way, I was joking about the body mousse thing…

Sugar Pumpkin “Hummus”

Hummus: 2 cups of sugar pumpkin puree*,  1/3 cup tahina,  2 cloves raw garlic,  about 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil and fine grain sea salt to taste.

*Roast a large, gutted pumpkin at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes or until soft then scape out the flesh. In a food processor, or blender pulse the pumpkin until sooth. 15oz of organic canned pumpkin works as well.

Tahina: 2 cups hulled sesame seeds, 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil or sesame seed oil and 1/4 tsp sea salt (or more to taste)

In a skillet, toast the sesame seeds one cup at a time until light brown and fragrant. In a food processor pulse the toasted seeds until they form a fine meal. Add the salt. While running the food processor, add olive oil in a stream, processing for about 15 seconds. Pour the tahina into a bowl and mix with a fork until there are no dry lumps. Taste and season with more salt if necessary.

Note: Freshly milled tahina can be stored in a mason/bell jar in the refrigerator for approximately 2 weeks.

In a bowl combine the pumpkin puree, tahina and olive oil. Mix until fully combine. Press (with a garlic press) or chop the garlic then add it to the pumpkin mixture. Mix well, and season with salt or desired spices. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

This recipe makes about 4 servings. It can be kept refrigerated in an airtight container for 4 days, but I guarantee it won’t last that long.

Black Quinoa, Pignoli & Tomato Toss

September 9, 2012 § 1 Comment

What do you do with a tomato beaten by the sun, scorched fiery red, with flesh so plump and juicy that it has folded over upon itself?

I found it cloaked with purslane beneath a mound of weeds while picking kale at my secret kale picking spot.  I got lucky, had it been there much longer it probably would have turned to mush, but its scarlet skin caught my eye. Tomatoes are delicious, but I only eat them in the summer because, well you know; they suck in the winter. First off, they are gassed red with ethylene gas made from petroleum. Secondly who wants to eat a cold, watery tomato when it’s snowing – I’ll take a warm, sweet buttercup squash over a mealy tomato any winter day. Anyways, a lot of the tomatoes we grow end up getting cooked down and jarred, so they can be used when the days are short and there is snow on the ground, but big ones like these require eating now.

Brandywine, Amish paste, Aunt Rudy’s paste, Pineapple Bicolor (my personal favorite), Sungold, Cherokee Purple, Black Prince, Cosmonaut Volkov, Green Zebra, Big Boy, Verde Puebla, Tomatillos, Jubilee, Rutger’s, Early Girl, Grandma Mary’s paste and Black Krim tomatoes made up this summer’s collection. I will miss going into the backyard before every meal, but I am relishing in it, using every bit of fresh food that I can.

So, while tomatoes are everywhere you should be throwing them into everything (unless of course you’re allergic to them, in which case I’m very sorry but you’ll have to sit this one out)! Here I’ve combine bright tomatoes with organic black quinoa, pignoli (aka pine nuts but pignoli sounds so much better), basil and a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice. This recipe is fast and delicious, it’s vegan, gluten-free and because it’s quinoa based, it is a good source of complete protein.  Oh, and it makes a convenient salad topper; keep it in your refrigerator and scoop some onto a bowl of hearty spinach or spicy arugula.

Black Quinoa, Pignoli & Tomato Toss

2 3/4 cups vegetable broth,  1 cup black quinoa,  1/2 cup pignoli nuts,  4 large tomatoes, any variety, diced,  1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped,  juice from 1/2  of a lemon,  1/2 tbsp dried mint, 1 tsp dried tarragon, black pepper and sea salt to taste and extra virgin olive oil

In a medium sauce pan over high heat bring 2 cups of vegetable broth and quinoa to a boil. Once boiling, cover and turn the heat down to medium. Stir every couple of minutes until the quinoa has absorbed all of the liquid.

If the quinoa doesn’t fluff up, but remains chewy add the remaining 3/4 cup of broth and continue to cook over medium heat until the liquid is gone and the quinoa is fluffy. When finished quinoa has tiny white strands that separate from the black part of the grain (see above).

When the quinoa is completely finished toss it with 1-2 tbsp of olive oil, transfer it to a serving bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until cool.

While the quinoa is cooling, dry roast the pignoli nuts in a cast iron skillet or saute pan. This takes less than 5 minutes. Once the pan is hot the nuts will brown and become fragrant; this means they are finished.

Chop the tomatoes, discarding the water and seeds in the center; this prevents the dish from being watery.  Julienne the basil and combine it with dried mint, tarragon, lemon juice and a teaspoon of olive oil.

When the quinoa has cooled toss in the basil dressing and the pignoli nuts. Season with salt and black pepper before serving.

Enjoy.

Sweet Kale Breakfast Salad

July 16, 2012 § 2 Comments

It makes sense to eat what the garden gives you right?

We are in the heat of the summer and finally the zucchinis are sprouting their phallic protrusions like it’s going out of style, the cucumber vines are spotted with petite yellow flowers that morph into miniature cucs, the nasturtiums are going wild, broccoli crowns royally spring up after every cutting, snap peas line the twirling tendrils, green tomatoes sun bathe trying to turn their sick skin ruby red, the chard is plentiful, garlic scapes emit their pungent fragrance and the kale isn’t stopping any time soon.

A small broccoli crown after a long rain.

A very fertile garlic scape, filled to the brim with seeds and flavor.

Russian Red garlic has purple cloves and deep flavor. This is an early bulb I pulled up last week – curiosity got the best of me. In the background are the first sungold cherry tomatoes of the season.

Large lilly-pad-like leaves of the edible nasturtium.

Along with the boisterous produce, eggs with yolks that are as orange as the sky at sunset are coming rapidly. The four chicks are growing faster than the purslane at the feet of my brandywines and I’m excited to figure out their sex. I’m hoping for no more than one rooster, but that would be some ridiculously good luck.

Good food is always plentiful in the summer as meals are always straight from the garden. It takes a lot to grow the food so to not take advantage of each morsel that comes from the rich soil seems silly. With that being said, I’m sure you can image how much chard and kale I’ve been eating, no? After eating greens for breakfast, lunch and dinner I guess it’s not surprising that I would start doing “crazy” things. First I started using nut butter to dress the leaves of the salad, next I added some fruit and then I went wild, mixing cacao nibs into my plate of Russian Red kale. Oh so good.

Here I used organic smooth peanut butter, half of a frozen banana and a dusting of homemade halva.

Not many greens can hold up well in a salad of this caliber, but kale is as hearty as it gets so experiment until you get the right proportions. Here I used organic peanut butter, a frozen banana and some homemade halva.

I guess it may seem strange if you’re stuck on the black and white idea that cacao = chocolate and chocolate = cacao but if you step out of the narrow-mindedness of typical associations, cacao is no more than a dried seed that belongs nestled between the chlorophylly leaves of your kale salad. Plus, cacao + kale = super food extravaganza. Together (2 cups kale and just one ounce of cacao nibs) they deliver over 1300% of the recommended vitamin K and over 300% of the needed vitamin A. Plus calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, B vitamins, essential fatty acids, fiber and more flavonoids than almost any other super food (think blueberries, wine, green tea, etc).

If that is not enough, both kale and cacao contain a significant amount of the amino acid tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin. Serotonin, found mainly in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals is known to promote feelings of happiness and well being (ever wonder why chocolate is magical?).  Now maybe you can see why it’s a good idea to start your day with cacao and kale, never mind just consume the stuff in general. Edible optimism.

This is not really a recipe per se, but more of a suggestion. I’ve used raspberries, blue berries, or strawberries and  if it’s really hot I substitute half of a frozen (organic/fair trade) banana. Depending on the fruit I use I interchange peanut butter with almond butter but anything works. Also, I’ve been breaking up pieces of homemade halva into the salad to give it more nuttiness – it’s a  nice addition and adds some extra calcium if you like halva. Toasted coconut or buckwheat granola also work really well with the flavor of kale. Remember, kale is bitter so taste as you go to make sure you like the flavor combinations.

Kale Salad

1 1/2-2 cups raw kale, chopped, 2 Tbsp nut butter,  1 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil,  1/2 cup fruit,  1/8 cup organic, raw cacao nibs or beans

Chop kale, toss it in 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Mix remaining olive oil with 1 tbsp of nut butter and mix with a fork until it’s homogenous. Pour the oil and nut butter mixture over the kale and toss.  Add nibs and toss until mixed. Add fruit. Top with the remaining nut butter and a sprinkling of nibs.

Share and enjoy!

Flavors of Spring in the Backyard

May 10, 2012 § 1 Comment

Finally finished with exams, my brain is free to wonder and to think creatively. Already I can tell this is going to be a summer full of good eats and of learning. Today, walking from my exam to my car I stumbled upon a humble hen of the woods, like I said, this is going to be a good summer (who is lucky enough to stumble upon edible mushrooms!?).

Hen of the woods are delicious breaded then pan fried. Be sure you wash them thoroughly to remove any dirt that has been embedded in the gills.

After a few days of much needed rain (and studying) the chatter of birds and the slightest brightening of the sky drew me outside to see what had come of the spring showers.

Chive flowers are edible, but be forewarned, they do taste like chives, maybe even a bit stronger. Toss them in a Cool Avocado and Chive Flower Salad with mixed lettuces, nuts, avocado and some micro greens.

This hearty, yet remarkably tiny, sage bush survived the winter.

Radish greens inter-planted with Russian kale seedlings.

Looks like what was planted has finally taken off. As for the sage, that will make its way right into some brown butter soon enough. Interrupting the cheery birds with his loud screech, our domineering (this is a nice way to put it, he has now attacked all of us) rooster sounded anxious to get out of his coop so I went to see what was going on.

Almost one year old, this laying hen is a Rhode Island Red.

You see, we’ve had to keep them in the coop lately because they get in the garden and yank up all the seedlings. So unless someone is supervising, these feathery creatures are going to be in one place, and one place only. When it comes to the choosing homegrown vegetables, or freshly laid eggs the choice is easy – I’ll take vegetables any day. Despite the fact that they’ve been hanging out on their branches in the coop a bit more than usual, they are still laying.

Well, less than one week until we’re (Shann and I) off to Israel and Greece. Now that will be an adventure.

Slow Food Snacking

April 28, 2012 § 3 Comments

Slow Food Snacking

Yes we, Slow Food URI, love local (Narragansett Creamery Ricotta) cheese with nasturtiums after some work in the soil. Nasturtiums are edible flowers with lots of possibilities; they can be tossed into a salad, served as tapas with cheese and crackers, stuffed, pickled or turned into butter to enhance its flavor.

Nasturtiums are like beautiful women; boldness is to be expected. With every bite of this seemingly delicate flower you’ll experience a water-cress-like bite that not even arugula can deliver.

Renaissance ricotta, nasturtium and a chive flower packed on a cracked black pepper, gluten free Glutino cracker.

Nasturtiums can easily be grown and can usually be found a farmers markets from spring to fall.

Stay tuned for Fiery Ricotta Egg Noodle post.

Dandelion Flower Fritters

April 18, 2012 § 3 Comments

Hear the word dandelion & almost instantaneously feelings of annoyance pulse through your body. In our world of green grass, Scott’s lawn care & petroleum based fertilizers we have been trained to loath the petite flower-mimicking “weeds” .

On that note, I decided to take advantage of the fact that none of my neighbors would mind if I yanked a few from their front yards (first I made sure no chemicals had been applied).  Weeding with a reward, what could be better?

These little fritters cook up best right after you pick the flowers so fry them as soon as possible otherwise the flowers wilt & brown quite fast.

Dandelion fritters with arugula & dandelion greens

This recipe is so simple & will surprise even the toughest critic (14 year-old Dorito-fiending boys). The mixture of flint corn meal & light brown sugar quickly fried creates a crispy coating for these somewhat tangy flowers. Oh, and a dollop of soft chevre on the side never hurts.

Serve the fritters with their greens & you’ll end up with a plate full of vitamin a, fiber & potassium. In fact, dandelion greens (& roots) are used medicinally to clean the blood as well as for their diuretic-like properties.

To enjoy the essence of the greens, keep them simple. Mix the them with canola oil & season with salt & pepper.

Yes, I know they aren’t exactly the most attractive dish you’ve ever made, but I guarantee that after you try these fritters once, they will find their way back into your kitchen every spring.

Dandelion Fritters

2 cups of dandelion flowers, with stems,  1/2 cup flint corn meal,  2 Tbsp organic brown sugar, 1/2 tsp baking soda,  1/2 tsp salt,  1/2 cup organic half & half,  large egg*, organic canola oil for frying

*I used a duck egg from the farmer’s market, but chicken eggs will work just as well.

Cover a plate with several layers of paper towels or napkins. Set the plate aside for later.

In a medium size wok or cast iron skillet heat 1 inch of canola oil over medium-high heat until ready to fry ( when ready, the temperature oil the oil will be 320-350 degrees Fahrenheit). Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine cornmeal, brown sugar, baking soda & salt. Mix well pressing out all of the clumps then add the half & half & the egg. Mix until smooth.

When the batter is smooth, dip the flower end of the dandelion into the batter until it’s fully covered. Carefully place the battered flower into the hot oil. Watch the flowers closely as they will brown very quickly. As soon as the fritter turns golden brown flip it over to fry the other side, remove it (with a slotted spoon) & place on the paper towels to soak off some of the excess oil.

Buon Appetito

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