Cheesy Cabbage Gratin

One of the food magazines that I subscribe to is Cuisine at Home. It’s a magazine that has consistently good recipes, easy to follow instructions, and great pictures. The latest issue is full of “comfort foods.” We love cabbage and the September/October issue has several cabbage recipes including a chocolate cake with cabbage and this cheesy cabbage gratin. I haven’t tried the chocolate cake with cabbage but I’ve made this gratin recipe twice since this magazine came in the mail. The first time I made it we had it with polish sausage. Most recently we made it a vegetarian meal with sliced tomatoes and corn on the cob.

There is red, white and green cabbage. Cabbage is closely related to broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Generally a head of cabbage is between one to two pounds. The perfect size for this recipe. I have a crock full of shredded cabbage right now that is working it’s way to sauerkraut. Each of the heads of cabbage I shredded for the kraut weighed between ten and twelve pounds. In the heat of summer cabbages can grow quite large…the largest recorded weighed in at a little over 138 pounds. You could make a lot of cabbage gratin with that!! Cabbage is a good source of dietary fiber and Vitamin K and C. It is economical and there are countless ways to prepare cabbage…stewing, frying, braising, pickling, fermenting. There are lots of great soup recipes that call for cabbage. If you like cabbage and bacon and cheese you will thoroughly enjoy this dish regardless of what you serve up on the side.

Ingredients:

1 head of green cabbage

2 T olive oil

Salt and pepper

6 strips of bacon diced

1 cup sliced leeks

1 T minced garlic

1 T AP flour

1 3/4 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 cup shredded gruyere cheese

1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

2 T lemon juice

2 T chopped fresh thyme

Ingredients for the Topping

1 T olive oil

3/4 cups fresh bread crumbs

1/2 cup shredded gruyere

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1 tsp minced lemon zest

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Peel off the tough outer layers of cabbage and cut the cabbage into eight wedges. The instructions recommended leaving the core intact to help the wedges hold together while roasting. I removed the core before roasting and had no problem. Place the wedges on the baking sheet, drizzle with the oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast for 40-45 minutes until the cabbage is tender and the edges are golden.

While your cabbage is roasting cook your diced bacon in a heavy skillet over medium heat until the bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon to a plate lined with paper towel.

Add the leeks to the skillet with the bacon drippings and cook over medium heat until they are softened. Stir in the garlic and the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute.

Stir in the cream and broth and bring to a simmer. Cook until the mixture begins to thicken, 6-8 minutes.

Off heat, stir in the bacon, gruyere, parmesan and lemon juice.

Set the cheese sauce aside and prepare the bread crumb topping. Heat 1 T olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the bread crumbs until they begin to toast up and transfer them to a bowl to cool for about 5 minutes.

Once the bread crumbs have cooled, stir in the cheeses and lemon zest.

Now you’re ready to assemble the gratin. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Arrange the cabbage in the dish, cut side down. Pour the cheese sauce over the cabbage wedges and sprinkle with the bread crumb topping.

Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and the crumb topping has browned.

Serve hot as side dish to pork loin, chops or sausage or as the main dish. Maybe even as a Thanksgiving side dish. Enjoy!

NOTE: I save crusts and odds and ends of stale bread In the refrigerator, grind them in my food processor and freeze them in zip lock bags. The bread doesn’t go to waste and they’re perfect for recipes like this one.

Apple Fritter Bread

A couple days ago my friend Patti brought me a bag of Wolf River apples.  I had never heard of Wolf River apples.  No one else I asked had heard of them.  I’ve made a lot of pies, apple crisps, and apple sauce over the years, been to numerous orchards, and I’ve never met a Wolf River apple.  So I went where all curious people go…the internet.  Apparently Wolf River apples are one of the stars of an orchard in Northport Michigan.  People are said to travel from Detroit, Chicago, and even oversees to taste the long forgotten apple varieties at the Northport orchard including the Wolf River.  These apples are use mainly for cooking and are notable for their large size.  They are not the best eating apple, but they keep their shape when cooked and need very little additional sugar.

I learned something new.  And perhaps you did too.  Now that  I had the apples I wanted to use them for something, and  the next morning I spotted a recipe on FB for Amish Apple Fritter Bread.  I doubled the recipe and made two loaves so don’t be confused by my photos.  The bread is excellent!  The recipe comes from Fadma Akir’s Homecooking Page so I must give credit where credit is due.  The recipe is for a single loaf.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup butter at room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups AP flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cups peeled and diced apple (tossed with a little sugar and cinnamon to coat)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and spray with Pam.  Peel and dice the apples and toss with just enough sugar and cinnamon to coat.

Measure out the brown sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

In a medium size bowl cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla.  (Remember, there are 4 eggs in the picture because I doubled the recipe.)

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir into the butter and egg mixture.  Stir in the milk.

Spread half of the batter in the prepared loaf pan.

Top with half of the apples, gently pressing them into the batter.

Repeat with the second half of the batter and apples.  Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture on the top.

Bake for 60-70 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack.  Mix the glaze while the bread is cooling.

Glaze Ingredients:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 T room temperature butter

2 T milk

1 tsp vanilla

Whisk together.  Once the bread has cooled for 30 minutes drizzle with the glaze.

NOTE:  I used 2 cups of apples per loaf.

The bread is very moist and kind of a cross between a quick bread and a coffee cake.  I used the Wolf River Apples but I think any good baking apple like Braeburn, Jonathan, Cortland or Northern Spy would work well in this recipe.

Chicago Style Giardiniera

This is still the Finnish Dish, but this is definitely not a Finnish recipe.  Giardiniera means “from the garden” in Italian.  It is a very common condiment in Chicago, thanks to the communities of Italian immigrants that made it popular.  Pickling and marinating is a good way of preserving produce.  In Italy, Giardiniera is considered an appetizer, and the vegetables are cut in bite size chunks.  I have made that style before and just stored it in jars in the refrigerator.  The olive oil solidifies in the fridge so you need to take it out and allow it to come to room temperature before serving.  Chicago style requires a fine dice on the vegetables and the Giardiniera is used as a topping on pizza, salads, sausages, brats, nachos, sub sandwiches and the famous Chicago style Italian beef sandwich. The version I made today would most certainly be considered the “hot” version.  The Serrano peppers are what kicks up the heat level.  I did use half Serranos and half jalapeños, and I seeded the jalapeños, so my heat level should be a little lower than if I’d followed the recipe exactly and used all Serranos.  According to the internet, in excess of a million pounds of Giardiniera are sold in Chicago annually.

The recipe I used was one my friend John shared with me.  He had just made a batch and that inspired me to do the same.    Some of the recipes I read used a different ratio of spices and vegetables but in the end they were all pretty similar.  If you want to use your Giardiniera as an appetizer vs a topping you could follow the same recipe and cut the vegetables in larger, bite size pieces.

Day One Ingredients:

1 pound Serrano peppers sliced in quarter inch thick rounds

1 pound jalapeños seeded and diced small

1 pound sweet red peppers seeded and diced small

1 pound cauliflower chopped into small pieces

1/2 pound white onion diced small

1/2 pound carrots peeled and diced small

1/2 pound celery diced small

1 cup of salt

Now it’s time to chop, chop, chop.  And remember to wear gloves when you’re working with the Serrano and jalapeño peppers.  Get out a large glass or stainless steel bowl to put the diced vegetables in.  I weighed all of the veggies as I chopped them.

Now that you’re done with the hot stuff you can take your gloves off.

White onion.

Carrots.

Sweet red bell pepper.

Cauliflower.

Combine all of the vegetables in your bowl and add the salt.  Stir well to mix.  Cover with Saran Wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The colors are beautiful!

Day Two Ingredients:

12 oz of sliced green olives with pimentos

1 cup of reserved liquid from the olives

2 T minced garlic

2 tsp cracked black pepper

3 T dried oregano

5 cups white wine vinegar

3 1/2 cups grape seed oil

Get your canning jars ready.  If you’re using pint jars expect to fill between 10 and 12 jars.  I used jelly jars (1 cup) and finished with 24 jars.  Wash your jars well and keep them in a 200 degree oven, on a sheet pan lined with a towel, until you are ready to use them.  Fill your water bath and turn the burner on because Day 2 is much faster than Day 1.

Pull your vegetable mixture from the refrigerator and drain off as much liquid as possible.  I used a plate to push down on the vegetables while I poured off the liquid.  Now, more chopping.  Reserve 1 cup of liquid from the jarred olives and slice the olives.

Add the olives, olive brine and all of the remaining ingredients to the chopped vegetable mix.  Stir well to combine.  Now you’re ready to bottle your Giardiniera and process the jars.

Based on the advice John gave me, fill the jars just to where the rim begins.  You don’t want the jars leaking oil while they are in the water bath.  Be sure to wipe the rim of the jar well before putting the lid on and screwing it in place.  Process your jars in the water bath for 20 minutes.   Remove your jars to a towel or rack and allow them to cool down for at least 12 hours before storing them. Check all of the jars to make sure that they have sealed properly.  If you have a jar that did not seal put it in the refrigerator.

NOTE;  Like I mentioned earlier, if you want to use the Giardiniera for an appetizer, cut the vegetables into bite size pieces.  If you want to make a much milder version scale the hot peppers WAY back and add more sweet peppers, cauliflower and carrots.  You can leave the olives whole.

I have a beef brisket in my freezer.  I think I’ll cook up that brisket and try to replicate a Chicago style Italian beef sandwich.

 

 

Butternut Squash Soup

There was a restaurant that my friend Jane and I used to go to for lunch on Tuesdays when we felt like splurging a little on ourselves.  On those occasional Tuesdays when we wanted to enjoy a nice cocktail or glass of wine with our lunch, and have consistently good food and service we would go there.   The atmosphere reminded me of an upper class, members only men’s club from another era.  Beautiful table settings and good wine and top shelf liquor behind the bar.  Lots of dark wood, big stone fireplace, dim lighting, comfortable chairs…a very formal appearance.  You expect to look around the corner and see a billiard table or library, and men in suits smoking big cigars with a snifter of bourbon to cap off their meal.  Obviously my only experience involving “men’s clubs” is from novels or movies, but I think the friends who have joined us there for lunch would agree with my observations and know exactly the place I’m talking about.  One of the things that we frequently enjoyed there was their butternut squash soup.  It was served with a few salted and chopped pistachios and a small dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche in the center.  It always tasted so good!  Everything we ate there was excellent but I really liked the soup.  I looked through a lot of recipes and came up with an amalgam of two or three recipes.  It doesn’t taste quite the same but it was good.  The leftovers actually tasted even better.  Fresh squash is plentiful right not so it’s a perfect time to make it.

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash peeled and cubed

1 medium sweet onion diced

1 cup of celery diced

1 russet potato diced

3-4 cloves of garlic minced

2 T butter

3-4 cups of broth (vegetable or chicken)

1 T fresh ginger minced

2 cinnamon sticks

8 oz package of cream cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Dice the potato, onion, and celery and mince the garlic.  Peel, seed, and dice the squash.

In a dutch oven, melt the butter and sweat the onion, celery, and potato.

Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.  Add in the butternut squash, the cinnamon sticks and ginger, and the broth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil.  Once it starts to boil reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour.

You want the squash and other vegetables to be nice and soft.  At this point you’ll want to remove and discard the cinnamon sticks.

Cube up the cream cheese and stir in.

Use an immersion blender to get a nice, smooth consistency.

If you feel the soup is too thick add additional broth.

Now you’re ready to dish it up.  I didn’t have any pistachios or creme fraiche so I used some homemade garlic croutons.  Enjoy!

NOTE:  After eating this soup I’ve decided the potato didn’t add anything significant so I will not use that component next time.  I did add another cup or so of broth to mine after blending.

My friend Jane and I decided that the soup we enjoyed at the “men’s club” had a little brown sugar or maple syrup and was sweeter than this recipe.  Also, the flavor of ginger is more pronounced in this recipe.  Adjust to suit your palate.

It’s not for everyone.  For some people the consistency would be off-putting.  My husband did not like it at all, but I didn’t expect that he would.  And I actually liked it best the second day which is frequently true of soups.  If you like butternut squash and if you like puréed soups I think you’ll really enjoy this recipe.

Pizza Sauce

It’s once again canning season.  I was really excited to find Roma tomatoes this year.  I had already canned two bushels for 90 pints of stewed tomatoes and diced tomatoes.  We love dishes with tomatoes and I go through a LOT of them every year.  But Romas make really good sauce so I had to buy another peck.  A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.  Does anyone else remember that??  It’s from a very corny Doris Day song.   I’ve made pizza sauce in prior years, but my friend Jane adds carrots to hers  for natural sweetness and a nice consistency, and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  I’m a little more heavy handed on seasoning than she is, but I really liked the addition of the carrots.  If you’re fortunate enough to find Romas I’d recommend using those but, if not, regular tomatoes will also make a fine sauce.

Ingredients:

16-18 cups of peeled, cored, and diced tomatoes

2 cups of finely diced carrots

1 large onion diced

6-8 cloves of garlic

3 T olive oil

3 T oregano

3 T basil

1 T garlic powder

1 T pepper flakes

1 T fennel seed

3 T kosher salt

1/8th tsp citric acid per cup of sauce

The first thing you have to do is core, peel and dice all the tomatoes.  One peck made two batches of sauce.

Peel and dice the carrots, dice the onion and mince the garlic.

Add the olive oil to a deep heavy kettle.  Sweat the onion, garlic, and tomatoes for a couple minutes.

Add the tomatoes and bring them to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce reduces and begins to thicken.

Add the spices and the salt.

Continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reached your desired consistency.  It’s not a fast process so you have to be patient.  My sauce simmered for a couple of hours. I used an immersion blender during the simmering process.

Once the sauce has reached the desired consistency you can start filling your hot jars and getting them ready for the water bath.  I used some cup and a half jars as well as some one cup jars.  Add 1/8th tsp of citric acid per each cup of sauce as you jar it.  Carefully wipe the rims of the jars before putting the lids and rings on.  Process in a water bath for 30 minutes. Allow your jars to cool on a towel or mat for at least 12 hours before storing them.

I saved a little more than a cup of sauce from the last batch and made us a pizza for dinner.

NOTE:  Let your own palate be your guide with the seasonings.  Taste while your sauce is cooking.  You can use pint jars if you prefer but I think the smaller jars are perfect for a single pizza.  If you do use pint jars increase the processing time to 40 minutes. This sauce is also good to use on pasta, a meatball sub, for dipping cheese bread, or on a veggie crepe.  Unlimited possibilities!

Three Sisters Salad

A few weeks ago I added a cocktail to my blog called the Four Sisters.  It was a cocktail that we “four sisters by choice” concocted and decided Four Sisters was a perfect name.  We enjoyed a couple pitchers that day and have enjoyed several since.  This is a salad called “Three Sisters Salad” that has nothing to do with our cocktail, although it would pair nicely.  The three sisters in this recipe refers to the combination of corn, beans, and winter squash, key crops of indigenous Americans.  The recipe is from the June/July 2020 issue of fine Cooking.  I improvised a bit, mostly out of necessity.  Since this pandemic started there are certain grocery items that are nearly impossible to find.  For instance, dried beans.  Who knew that a pandemic would cause people to hoard dried beans, but it must be a thing.  This recipe called for dried black eyed peas and gave instructions for cooking them with onion and garlic and some herbs.  Actually, even canned black eyed peas are hard to find.  I had always looked for them in the section of the grocery with the other dried and canned beans.  Even though they are called a pea they are actually a bean.  On a recent grocery run I found them in the canned vegetable section.  Right next to canned green peas, which are truly a disgusting thing.  These particular canned beans had a very pleasant smoky taste, if you like that sort of thing, and they were a really good, I thought, addition to the salad.

Also, although one of the three sisters is winter squash, this recipe called for zucchini.  And there is plenty of that available this time of year.

Dressing Ingredients:

3 T white wine vinegar

1 T Dijon mustard

I T maple syrup

1/4 cup olive oil

1 T finely minced jalapeño (I took the seeds out of mine)

Salt and pepper to taste

Salad Ingredients:

3 ears of corn, kernels removed

3 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced and separated

2 slender zucchini cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices and halved

1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves

salt and pepper to taste

Make the dressing and set aside.  In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, syrup, and mustard.  Continue whisking while adding the oil in a slow, steady stream.  Stir in the jalapeño and a little salt and pepper.

Slice the zucchini and green onions and tear the basil leaves.

Remove the corn from the cob.  Heat a heavy skillet over high heat and add the corn.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  Add the scallion whites, stir, and cook for another minute.  Transfer the corn and onions to a large bowl.

 

Drain and rinse the black eyed peas.

Add the black eyed peas to the bowl with the corn.

Add the zucchini and dressing and stir to combine.  Stir in the basil and oregano and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish with the scallion greens.

We enjoyed our Three Sisters Salad with cod poached in white wine, tomatoes and capers and fresh green beans.

NOTE:  Obviously, if you prefer, and if you can find them, you could cook the dried black eyed peas and add them to the salad.  The recipe calls for 8 oz. of dried beans (about 1cup).  Or, if you can find traditional vs the southern style black eyed peas, that would work as well.  Although, I must say, the smoky taste worked for me.  If you prefer you could use different beans altogether…lima, canary, navy, pinto.

The recipe called for a little less white wine vinegar (2 T) and less maple syrup (1 1/2 tsp).  I increased both a bit based on my taste.

This salad was great at room temperature or chilled.  I ate the leftovers the next day.

Shrimp Ceviche/Gazpacho

Since this pandemic began many of us have been spending more time than usual on social media and have been ordering more stuff on line.  I must admit, I am guilty.  I came across an ad for The Fresh Chili Company on line and the recipe for this shrimp ceviche.  The recipe sounded great.   The ingredients in their chili sauce are red chile purée, water, salt, granulated garlic, granulated onion and citric acid.  No chemicals or other ingredients that I can’t identify or pronounce.  So I placed an order for two jars, a mild red and a medium red. The turn around time was good and they kept me posted regarding my order.

Years ago my daughter gave me a book called 100 Words for Foodies.  It defines ceviche as raw fish marinated in lime or lemon juice with olive oil and spices and served as an appetizer.  Gazpacho is defined as a chilled soup usually made with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, and herbs.  So I’m not sure this recipe would be considered a true ceviche (although that’s what the Fresh Chili Company called it) because the shrimp is cooked when you add it to the other ingredients.  I guess it’s kind of a hybrid.  A little bit ceviche and a little bit gazpacho and maybe needs a name all it’s own.  I’ll have to think about that.  But, doesn’t matter what you call it, it was easy to make and very tasty.  Perfect for hot summer days when you don’t want to turn the stove or oven on and you want to eat something cool and refreshing.

Ingredients:

2 pounds of jumbo shrimp

1/4 cup Abuela’s traditional red chili sauce (I used medium)

2 stalks of celery sliced thin

1 English cucumber chopped

1/2 onion chopped

2 avocados chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

1/2 cup cilantro chopped

juice from one orange

juice from two limes

1 cup tomato sauce

1 cup V-8 or tomato juice

Salt and Pepper to taste

I used raw shrimp and peeled and cooked it, but there is no reason you couldn’t use shrimp that is already cooked.  And it also doesn’t need to be jumbo shrimp because you are going to chop the shrimp.  So, if you are using raw shrimp, your first job is to cook it and then chill it.

Chop all of the vegetables and the cilantro.

Juice your citrus.

Combine the chili sauce, citrus juices, tomato sauce, and tomato juice or V-8.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Dice your shrimp.  You can save a few whole shrimp for garnish if you’d like.

Add the shrimp and the vegetables and herbs to the tomato liquid, stir well, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Serve up your ceviche/gazpacho with a wedge of lime and a couple of whole shrimp for garnish.  We enjoyed every bite.

NOTE:  I was missing one key ingredient.  Avocados.  I almost always have avocados and last night I had none.  It was excellent without them butI think it would have been even better with them because avocados have such rich, buttery goodness.

Also, depending on your heat tolerance, you might want to add some jalapeño to the mix.  The medium chili sauce has a little kick but was perfect for me.  This recipe served three of us with enough left over for a couple more bowls.  It was actually quite filling.

As with all recipes, combine what you have on hand in your pantry and fridge with a little imagination.

 

Cinnamon Rolls

One of my favorite food magazines, and I have subscribed to several over the years, is Cuisine At Home.  I found this cinnamon roll recipe in the June 2007 issue and have been making them ever since.  They are best warm, right out of the oven, and most people love them slathered with cream cheese icing, except my dad.  The icing knife barely glazed the top of his roll but, he did love the rolls.  These have become our traditional Thanksgiving Day breakfast.  I make them the day before we’ll be eating them, cover them with press and seal, and refrigerate them overnight.  In the morning I let them come to room temperature while the oven is preheating, bake and enjoy!  My Cincinnati brother and sister-in-law and their family come by us the Saturday after Thanksgiving each year.  They’ve occasionally gotten to sample leftover rolls so, when I knew they’d be here last weekend, I decided to let them enjoy fresh cinnamon rolls instead of 2 day olds.  With all the bread making that has apparently been going on lately, if you have yeast, you need to try these.  You’ll be really glad you did.

Dough Ingredients:

1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) dry yeast

1 cup warm water (100-110 degrees)

3/4 cup whole milk

1/2 cup buttermilk

3 T sugar

2 T unsalted butter (room temperature)

5 cups of flour (divided)

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer proof the yeast in warm water for 5 minutes or until foamy.

While the yeast is proofing warm milk to 100 degrees in a saucepan over low heat.  Add the warmed milk, buttermilk, sugar, butter, salt, and 3 1/2 cups of flour to the proofed yeast.  With the paddle attachment of your mixer mix on low speed until combined.  Then increase the speed to high and beat for two minutes.

Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour.  Mix on low speed until incorporated , then increase the speed to medium.  Mix for 5-7 minutes or until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  If necessary add a tablespoon or two of additional flour.  Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

While the dough rises, butter two 9” round pans and prepare the filling.

Filling Ingredients:

3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/4 cup ground cinnamon

Soften the butter for the filling in a bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds.  You don’t want it to melt completely.  Use a hand mixer to blend in the sugar and cinnamon and set aside.  Do not chill.

Once the dough has risen, hook your fingers under the edges to release the dough from the bowl onto a well floured surface.  Gently press out air bubbles and sprinkle flour on the top.  Divide the dough in half and roll one portion into a rectangle about 10×16”.

Spread half of the filling onto the dough, leaving about a 1/2 inch border.

Roll the dough, jelly roll style, into a log.  Repeat with the second half of the dough.

Transfer logs to a baking sheet and freeze for about 10 minutes to make them easier to slice.  Slice each log into 6 rolls and arrange them in the prepared pans.

At this point I cover both pans or rolls with press and seal and refrigerate them overnight.  Or, you can cover with a towel and let them rise for one hour.

While the rolls are refrigerated or rising, make the cream cheese icing.

Icing Ingredients:

8 oz cream cheese at room temperature

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup heavy cream

zest of one orange

Beat all ingredients together with a hand mixer.

I put the icing in a container and let people us as much or as little as they want.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Once the rolls have risen, uncover and bake for 25-30 minutes.  If you refrigerated the rolls allow them to come to room temperature before baking.

Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Remove.  Ice.  And enjoy.

NOTE:  I use dental floss (not the mint kind) to slice the logs into rolls.  It makes for quick, easy cuts without flattening the rolls.

Pork Meatballs Asian Style

Since this pandemic has had us sheltering at home, most of us are doing a lot more cooking than usual.  And, if you’re like me, you keep trying to come up with new dishes to break the monotony.  Unless, of course, monotony is what you actually prefer.  I do know people who could easily survive on pizza or burgers or Mac and cheese as a steady diet. Yesterday I had a pound of ground pork thawed and was trying to think of something different to make for dinner.  I was talking to my daughter and she shared this recipe which they had recently made.  Based on what was available in my fridge and pantry I modified the recipe a bit, and I’m sharing my own take.  This was a quick and easy dish to prepare and packed a lot of flavor.  We devoured all but 4-5 meatballs!

Meatball Ingredients:

1 pound of ground pork

2-3 green onions finely sliced

1 inch of fresh ginger grated

1-2 cloves of garlic grated

3/4 cup of fresh bread crumbs

Add all of the ingredients to the pork.

Before you start mixing the meatball ingredients, cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Mix well and shape into 12-14 meatballs.  Place the meatballs on one end of the baking sheet.

Cut vegetables of your choosing into bite size pieces.  A generous 2 to 3 cups.  I used broccoli florets, sweet peppers, mushrooms, and pea pods.

Toss the vegetables in a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil or olive oil and put them on the other end of the baking sheet.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  While the oven is preheating prepare your sauce.

Sauce Ingredients:

1 T toasted sesame oil

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup orange juice

3 T hoisin sauce

3 T honey

2 T rice vinegar

1 tsp crushed red pepper (more or less based on personal preference)

Measure out all of your ingredients in a medium size heavy saucepan.

Bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat and keep it at a slow boil for 8-10 minutes until it is reduced by about a third.   Remove from the heat.

While your sauce is cooking, put the meatballs and vegetables in the oven and cook for about 15 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through.  At this point, ladle about a third to half of the sauce over the meatballs and return them to the oven for another 3-4 minutes.

Serve the meatballs, vegetables and sauce over rice.  I used brown rice with quinoa, but use your favorite rice.  I garnished ours with thin sliced radishes, green onion, and cilantro.

NOTE:  The original recipe called for ground chicken or turkey but I really liked the ground pork.  I think that beef might be too heavy for this dish but, as with all recipes, it’s all about personal preference.

You can use vegetables of your choosing; zucchini or summer squash, onion, green beans.  I did not have low sodium soy sauce so I did not add any additional salt and none was necessary.

Use garnishes of your choice including sesame seeds or a little fresh basil.  It all makes a beautiful plate of food.  Enjoy.

Challah

Challah is a special bread in Jewish cuisine.  It’s usually braided and is typically eaten on Jewish holidays and the sabbath.  I am told that the three strands of the braid symbolize truth, peace, and justice.  And the poppy seeds are said to symbolize the manna that fell from heaven.  Challah is very similar to a Finnish bread called Pulla which is what I grew up eating.  In fact, in one of my very favorite bread books, the breads are listed together along with the exchanges.  For pulla milk vs. water, sugar vs. honey, and the addition of cardamom seed.  Since this pandemic started, and as we have sheltered at home, I’ve been doing a lot more baking than usual.  There are only two of us sheltering in this house and I’m working on my fifth five pound bag of flour.  My daughter and son-in-law, also sheltering at home, have been doing as much bread baking as me, maybe more.  I recently had a copy of my fav bread book sent to them.

My grandmother made the best pulla.  She would make several loaves at a time and whenever anyone came to visit she would put the coffee on and slice some pulla.  It was a staple at her house.  When we were kids we called her bread biscuite…some kind of bad  Finnglish.  Actually, maybe not Finnish at all, but it’s what we called it.  My mother-in-law, Goldie, made the best challah.  All of her baked goods were amazing.  My husband remembers his mother making challah every Friday, covering the braids with a towel while they proofed, and saying a prayer over them.  Whenever we would visit her there was always challah.  I would never profess to baking like my grandmother or my mother-in-law but I sure love making the effort.

Ingredients:

2 tsp dry yeast

3/4 cup plus 2 T of warm water

3 1/2 cups unbleached AP flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 T honey

2 eggs beaten

4 T butter melted

poppy seeds (optional)

In a small bowl sprinkle the yeast into the water and allow about 5 minutes for it to dissolve.  Mix the flour and salt in a larger mixing bowl making a well in the center.  Once the yeast has dissolved pour it into the well and draw just enough flour into the water and yeast to form a soft paste.

Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and allow it to sponge for about 20 minutes until it’s frothy and risen.

Add the honey, beaten eggs, and melted butter to the flour well. Mix in the flour to form a soft dough.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic and shiny.  About 10 minutes.

From shaggy to smooth and shiny.

Put the dough into a lightly buttered bowl turning the dough once to coat the top.  Cover with your towel and allow the dough to rise until it is doubled in size, one and a half to two hours.

Once the dough has risen, punch it down and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes.  Divide the dough into three equal balls and, with your hands, roll each piece to form a rope about 16 inches long.  I weigh my dough sections out in an attempt to make them more equal in size.  Otherwise I end up with a fat strand and a skinny one.  Braid the strands together tucking in both ends.  Put the braid on a lightly buttered baking sheet or use a sheet of parchment paper.

Cover the braid with a towel and allow it to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.  Whisk together one egg yolk and 1 T of water and brush the egg wash over the braid.  Sprinkle with poppy seeds if you choose.  Preheat your oven to 350.

Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden and hollow  sounding when tapped underneath.

Cool on a wire rack, slice, and enjoy.  This bread makes excellent toast and French toast.

NOTE:  I think I have a little edge in the bread baking department because I always use my grandmother’s bread bowls.  I think she would be happy about that.

If anyone is interested in the bread book I referenced, the authors are Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno and the title of the book is Ultimate Bread.  Happy bread baking.