Sunday, January 31, 2016

Pizza Egg Rolls

I'm a big fan of cocktail party foods - little noshes that can be enjoyed at all kinds of gatherings from tailgates to fancy parties. No silverware required. I really like homemade egg rolls and one technique paired with different fillings can provide lots of flavor combinations.

I usually purchase egg roll wraps (available in your grocer's refrigerator or freezer section) but you can substitute homemade pasta sheets cut into squares. Deep frying produces the crispiest skin, but the rolls can also be baked.

I filled these rolls with pepperoni, salami, home canned pickled banana peppers and mozzarella cheese and a side of pizza sauce for dipping. Other tasty fillings could include:

  • Any combo of your favorite pizza toppings
  • Taco meat, cheddar, jalapenos with a side of salsa or sour cream
  • Corned beef, sauerkraut and swiss cheese served with Thousand Island dressing
  • Pulled pork or chicken with cheddar cheese and chopped dill pickles served with BBQ sauce 
Prepare filling. In addition to salami and mozzarella,
I added pepperoni and pickled banana peppers.

Combine flour and water. Mix to a smooth paste. Set aside.

Make rolls: Place wrap with corner pointing towards you.

Place fillings in the center.

Fold bottom corner over filling.

Fold side corners over filling.

Roll wrap up so folded corners are inside.

Using your fingertip, place some of the flour mixture on the
tip of the final corner. Fold corner over wrap to seal.

Roll remaining wraps.

Carefully lower rolls into oil heated to 350 degrees. Cook until
golden brown, turning once. Rolls can also be baked.

Crispy outside, cheesy and savory on the
inside. Serve with pizza sauce for dipping.

Pizza Egg Rolls
makes 10 rolls

10 egg roll wraps
30 pieces pepperoni
10 slices salami, cut in matchsticks
3/4 cup pickled banana pepper rings
1/3 lb mozzarella cheese, cut in matchsticks
Pizza sauce for dipping

To seal rolls:
1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp water

Peanut oil for frying

Combine flour and water in a small bowl. Mix until smooth. Set aside. Place three inches of peanut oil in a deep pan on top of the stove. Heat. Use a candy thermometer to determine when oil reaches 350 degrees*. While oil heats make egg rolls.

Place three pieces pepperoni in the center of a roll. Top with 3-4 salami pieces (matchsticks), 3 pieces of cheese and a few pepper rings. Roll up and seal with flour mixture. Set aside until all rolls are made.

Carefully place egg rolls in hot oil. Cook for three minutes, turning once until golden brown. Drain in paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Let cool slightly. Serve warm with pizza sauce for dipping.

*To bake rolls, omit oil and place rolls on a baking sheet. Spray rolls lightly with cooking spray. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 12 minutes.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Baked Oatmeal

Don't let the name of the dish put you off. It's not boring, or even the same as stovetop or microwaved oatmeal. In fact, baked oatmeal is a breakfast game changer. Seriously. It's that good.

I often eat oatmeal for breakfast - instant oats cooked microwave or granola. Often referred to as a "superfood", the whole grains are satisfying and hold me until lunch. However the texture can sometimes turn out too gooey and just plain unappealing.

This baked recipe keeps the grains separate and toothy. The addition of eggs and baking powder adds protein and a bit of lift that provides a unique texture somewhere between a loose cake and a moist granola. Best of all, I can whip it up on weekends and refrigerate for a fast, satisfying weekday breakfast.

You can alter the recipe to your tastes: adding more/less sugar, omitting the spice or adding others seasonings like nutmeg, citrus peel or vanilla. You could also make a savory dish by omitting the sugar and adding grated cheese and chives to the mix. Since my husband and I both enjoy this dish, I keep it pretty simple so we can customize with our own toppings, including fresh & dried fruits, our homemade fruit sauce, nuts, or even a fried egg.

Combine oil, eggs, sugar and cinnamon.

Mix in oats,  milk, baking powder and salt. Pour mixture
into a 9"x9" and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven. Golden and toasty. All the grains are separated.

Good enough to eat plain but I like it with a
splash of cream and a few pecans. 

Baked Oatmeal
Adapted from Around the Table
Serves 6-9

½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup milk
2 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine oil, eggs and brown sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. Mix well. Mix in oats, milk, baking powder and salt.

Coat a 9×9 pan with cooking spray. Pour out mixture in pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve immediately, pouring milk or cream on top of each serving. Add fresh or dried fruit and nuts if desired.

Refrigerate leftovers. Reheat briefly in microwave before serving.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

No Knead Crusty Bread

Before I found this recipe most of my fresh bread making was limited to weekends. Between the kneading, rising and baking the time investment usually meant breadless weeknight meals. This recipe changed all that. Why do I love it so?

It comes together fast: I just mix up the ingredients in my stand mixture and transfer to a rising tub. No kneading required.

You can leave it in the fridge until you're ready to use it: The dough can sit...wait for it... seven days in the fridge. It will rise and fall. Don't worry! Just enjoy the 3-4 loaves of fresh bread each week.

It tastes good: I've made this bread a lot and it always turns out well - crackly crust, nice crumb and depending on how long it's been in the fridge, a sour tang. I sometimes swap out some of the all-purpose for whole wheat flour for a nutty flavor.

I can make different sized loaves: Since it's just the two of us, I like a smaller loaf that we'll eat in a day, rather than a larger loaf that can go stale. I mean, I'll just bake another loaf the next day. That's right fresh bread every day!!

When you're ready to bake bread, just pull a hunk of dough from the bowl, shape into a loaf, let rise for an hour and bake. Easy peasy.

Mix the ingredients. The dough will be wetter than traditional bread dough.

Place dough (without kneading) into a bowl to rise. I use a plastic bucket with a lid.

I was in a hurry, so this dough was refrigerated for
 only two hours. As you can see it nearly doubled in bulk.

The risen dough will be a bit drier, but still sticky. Remove
1/4 to 1/3 from the bowl and form into a loaf. Return
the rest of the dough to the fridge for later use.

I make round loaves. Place the formed dough onto parchment.
This enables you easily slide it onto the hot bread stone. 
If you don't use a stone, place formed dough onto a sheet pan. 

Let the dough rise for one hour. Make two 1/2 inch cuts before baking.

While bread is rising, preheat oven and stone. I use a pizza steel, similar to a stone.
Heat an oven-safe pan along with the stone. When you're ready to bake, add a cup
 of water to the pan. The resulting steam will create a crispy, crackly crust.

Bake until deep brown, 25-35 minutes.

Look at that crust!! 

Nice crumb. Great for paninis, garlic bread, toast and sopping up soup and sauces.

Or just add butter!

No Knead Crusty Bread
From King Arthur Flour
3 cups lukewarm water
7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (32 oz by weight)
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons instant or active dry yeast

Note: The flour/liquid ratio is important in this recipe. Measure flour by sprinkling it into your measuring cup, then gently sweeping off the excess. Most accurate of all, and guaranteed to give you the best results, measure flour by weight: use 32 ounces.

Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix and stir everything together to make a very sticky, rough dough. If you have a stand mixer, beat at medium speed with the beater blade for 30 to 60 seconds. If you don't have a mixer, just stir-stir-stir with a big spoon or dough whisk till everything is combined.

Transfer dough rise to a large greased bowl. Cover and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Then refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, or for up to about 7 days. (If you're pressed for time, skip the room-temperature rise, and stick it right into the fridge). The longer you keep it in the fridge, the tangier it'll get; if you chill it for 7 days, it will taste like sourdough. Over the course of the first day or so, it'll rise, then fall. That's OK; that's what it's supposed to do.

When you're ready to make bread, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour; this will make it easier to grab a hunk. Grease your hands, and pull off about 1/4 to 1/3 of the dough — a 14-ounce to 19-ounce piece, if you have a scale. It'll be about the size of a softball, or a large grapefruit.

Plop the sticky dough onto a floured work surface, and round it into a ball, or a longer log. Don't fuss around trying to make it perfect; just do the best you can. Place the loaf on a piece of parchment (if you're going to use a baking stone); or onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sift a light coating of flour over the top; this will help keep the bread moist as it rests before baking.

Let the loaf warm to room temperature and rise; this should take about 60 minutes (or longer, up to a couple of hours, if your house is cool). It won't appear to rise upwards that much; rather, it'll seem to settle and expand. Preheat your oven (and baking stone, if you're using one) to 450°F while the loaf rests. Place a shallow metal or cast iron pan (not glass, Pyrex, or ceramic) on the lowest oven rack, and have 1 cup of hot water ready to go.

When you're ready to bake, take a sharp knife and slash the bread 2 or 3 times, making a cut about 1/2" deep. The bread may deflate a bit; that's OK, it'll pick right up in the hot oven. Place the bread in the oven, and carefully pour the 1 cup hot water into the shallow pan on the rack beneath. It'll bubble and steam; close the oven door quickly. Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until it's a deep, golden brown. Cool and slice.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Easy, No Knead Cinnamon Rolls

I love breakfast foods. My weekday routine usually consists of fast options like homemade granola and yogurt, fresh fruit, oatmeal and occasionally a frozen homemade waffle reheated in the toaster. Weekends are a bit different. Sunday mornings we move at a slower pace and sometimes indulge in a brunch of sweet and savory dishes, juice and lots of hot coffee. (For me - the hub doesn't drink coffee. I know. Weird.)

These rolls are a favorite for a couple reasons. Although this is a double rise recipe, the first rise happens in the fridge overnight. Mixing up the dough the night before means I can actually get up at a decent hour and still enjoy sweet rolls before noon. I also like that the dough doesn't require kneading. Just mix, place in a bowl and toss in the fridge. Easy peasy.

I've suggested a few fillings below, but feel free to add your own ingredients. I especially like the orange-spice combo. Traditionalists will appreciate the cinnamon-sugar filling and hedonists will like the chocolate filling. Feel free to add your own touches. I like pecans or walnuts in the mix, as well as dried fruit.

Feeding a crowd for brunch? This recipe easily doubles.

Begin by proofing the yeast: combine yeast and warm water in a small
bowl. Let stand for  couple minutes. Don't worry - it's supposed to look weird. 

Combine dough ingredients. Dough will be wetter than traditional bread dough.

Do not knead dough. Place in a greased bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.

On a floured surface, roll dough to a 12 x 18 inch rectangle. Spread
with 1/4 cup softened butter and sprinkle with desired topping. 

I used the orange-spice filling and added pecans and candied orange rind.

Roll up dough beginning with the long side. Slice into 12 rolls.

Place rolls in pan, cut side down. Cover
and let rise until doubled, about one hour.

One hour rise time. Looking good!

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-22 minutes.

Combine glaze ingredients and drizzle over rolls. Brunch is served!

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from Taste of Home
Makes 12 rolls

1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
1 large eggs
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided

Spread dough with 1/4 cup softened butter. Top with choice of filling.

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. grated orange peel
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. each ground cardamom, ground cloves and ground allspice

Dark Chocolate: 
2-oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely grated 
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. baking cocoa
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup half-and-half cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. In a large bowl, combine eggs, butter, sugar, salt, yeast mixture and 1 1/2 cups flour; beat on medium speed until smooth. Stir in remaining flour to form a very soft dough (dough will be sticky). Do not knead. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate overnight.

Combine filling ingredients and set aside. Turn dough onto a floured surface. Roll to an 18x12-in. rectangle. Spread the 1/4 cup butter to within 1/2 in. of edges; sprinkle evenly with sugar mixture.
Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam to seal. Cut into 12 slices. Place in a greased 13x9-in. baking pan, cut side down. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. 

Preheat oven to 375°. Bake 20-22 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool slightly. Meanwhile combine glaze ingredients until smooth. Spread over warm rolls.