Once we hit the full throttle of fall and the holidays start stacking up around each corner of the calendar, I get the itch to bake. Of course, there are the requisite cookies, pies, and cupcakes but when it comes to breads of any kind, I mostly steer clear. That is, until now. So what’s with my sudden interest in bread baking?
It is due in no small part to a great new book out right now, called Make Ahead Bread, by my friend and former Virtual Potluck colleague, Donna Currie.
Donna’s new book takes you by the hand and makes it all seem so easy and fun, whether you’re a novice or a semi-regular baker, a full-force wheat belly or gluten-free glutton, she will get you excited about the idea of bread baking. (Plus, there is a totally freaking AWESOME giveaway below bound to make lots of people happy!) (more…)
A homemade Ethiopian meal: Kitfo, Raafu, Fuul on freshly made Injera
Here in Portlandia, a city resplendent with good food, we have our choice of tasty Ethiopian restaurants. In fact, we have so many that I choose a different one, depending on the item on the menu I’m most craving and who does that item best. If I want the yummiest Fuul (or I’m in a hurry and want a quick but awesome buffet), I go to Enjoni Cafe — plus they have this very cool coffee ceremony that is totally worth it. If I want the best Kitfo in town and a great family feeling, I head to Dalos (here’s my reviewfrom my days a food critic). If want lamb and spot-on lentils, I hit Sengatera Ethiopian Restaurant and if I am dying for a great chicken Sambusa I go to Horn of Africa. (And that’s only half of what Portland has to offer in Ethiopian fare.)
But sometimes, you just want to hang out at home (or your budget requires that you hang out at home) and for those times, I decided to embark on a bit of Ethiopian home cooking in my home. Today’s post will be injera but in the days that follow, I will supply you with the rest of these knock-out, homemade recipes for Kitfo, Fuul and Raafu (as pictured above.) (more…)
Warm, freshly baked blueberry muffins with sweet cream butter
Sometimes the weekend comes (especially Sunday mornings!) and you just want a little something special. Something sweet and baked and satisfying — something that makes you feel like a kid again. Blueberry muffins can do that for me — well, GOOD blueberry muffins can. (more…)
What? Wait? Did I say, “corn dog muffins?” OK, I did — but did I really say, “Gluten-Free?” (Yes!)
“No way,” you say, “there’s all kinds of fillers in hot dogs and usually that means wheat.”
Not when you use hot dogs that are filler and preservative-free (no nitrates or nitrites and no MSG — YAY!) and the great thing is these corn dog muffins taste every bit as decadent as their recipe title sounds (sans the gluten-free moniker.) I made them as something a little different for lunch one day and with a hubby and a young son in the house, for whom hot dogs are always a welcome sight, it felt like a no-brainer. (more…)
California Olive Ranch
By now you’ve seen my “Host Page,” for the Virtual Potluck Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch. I love doing these promotions, and not just because we get to try out some truly fabulous products (gratis) but because, as a foodie I absolutely adore seeing what everyone else comes up with using the same ingredients.
Same Ingredients, Same Recipes? No Way!
Inevitably, yes, there will be some similar recipes but they are NEVER exactly the same. Cooking, for those who truly love it, is like creating art, or loving someone, or leaving your fingerprint behind — there’s always an inimitable piece of you in there. And knowing that always makes me smile.
Bob's (Actual) Red Mill
So when charged with 12 of us making 4 dishes (one each week for the month of January) and given the same ingredient pairings each week — we didn’t skip a beat and decided to jump in with both feet. (You should all know that we do not discuss what we’re doing prior to posting — so the fact that are recipes differ to such great degree is a testament to the creative cooks I’m working with here and I hope you will go to the host page and visit them all — because if you don’t you’ll be missing out on a KILLER GIVEAWAY!!
That’s right, Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch are giving away an ingredient prize package each week — on each blog! That’s 48 recipes and 48 chances to win — pretty great chances. (See details below)
So what did I make for the first week? (I’m glad you asked.)
Good Health and Good Fortune for the New Year
Since we’re kicking this promo off in the New Year I tried to think of a dish that had New Year’s connotations but that just made me think of Chinese New Year, which made me think of dim sum and once we get into dim sum, then it’s all over.
But seriously, the idea for these rolls came from my love of dim sum. Oh, how I adore those lovely little chewy sesame balls filled with red bean or lotus paste and topped with crunchy, nutty sesame seeds. No dim sum visit is complete without satiating my yearning for shrimp (loads of it) and for great Hum Bao — both steamed and baked. Not only are the doughy (Hum Bao) or chewy sesame balls delicious and both savory and a little sweet but they are also filled with the most wonderful surprises — it’s like a gift and a dish. What’s not to love?!
But I needed my own twist, because sesame rolls are made with rice flour and I would be using BRM’s Hard White Whole Wheat Flour and COR’s Arbosana extra virgin olive oil. This week’s oil, as assigned, was to be Arbequina (and that’s what you’ll win if you get the prize this week) but I chose to go with the Arbosana because of it’s peppery notes and greater complexity.
The recipe for these rolls is rather basic (some might say bland) which is why I wanted a more flavorful oil to take center stage, without overwhelming it, the way sesame oil would, when coupled with sesame seeds, upon the canvas of hard white whole wheat flour (which you’ll find is surprisingly light and supple when used in baking, as compared to your average whole wheat flour.)
In any case, because of the flour and oil flavors, I decided to fill my light and fluffy, Asian-inspired Sesame Rolls with cheese — yes, I said it — cheese. I know this may not seem a typically Asian choice for these buns but trust me — it works!
As for the cheese, I used shredded Gruyere (I had it on hand) and it was lovely, but I could easily see Mozzerella or cheddar working equally well.
Cheesy Asian-Inspired Sesame Rolls Recipe
- 3 cups Bob’s Red Mill Hard White Whole Wheat Flour
- 1.5 tsp Bob’s Red Mill dry active yeast (their yeast is the best by far!)
- 1/4 tsp honey
- 1 cup warm water (110°F)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup soy milk (or regular milk whatever you drink)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup California Olive Ranch Arbosana Olive Oil
- 1 cup shredded Gruyere, Mozzerella or Cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Prepare the dough:
Combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve. Set it aside 5 minutes or so, until the mixture gets bubbles.
Mix flour and salt in mixing bowl with dough hook. Add milk, egg and olive oil, mixing on low. Slowly add the yeast mixture, on medium speed dough is mixed, increasing your speed at the end until a ball forms and pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl about 2 to 3 minutes.
Coat a glass bowl with olive oil, and set the dough to rest in the bowl, rolling it around to coat it in the olive oil. Cover and set to rise in warm place, until it has risen and doubled in size — 1 hour.
Form and bake the rolls:
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Fill a small bowl with the exterior olive oil and pour your sesame seeds on a lipped plate. Coat your hands and a round spring-form pan (like the kind used for cheesecake) with olive oil.
Punch the dough down and pull off a piece about the size of a golf ball. Flatten the dough enough to make a hollow for your cheese to reside. Place a tablespoon of shredded cheese in the center and gather the edges around it, twisting and pinching the dough together like you would to seal off the end of a balloon. Holding the tapered end closed, dip the smooth side down, into the olive oil, then roll into the seed mixture, never letting go of the sealed end. Place the roll, sealed side down, in your pan, working from the outer edges in. Repeat with the remaining dough, filling your pan and nestling the dough balls tightly together (this will keep them from unraveling.
Bake until golden, 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before removing the outer springform ring. The rolls will be pillowy soft, with melted cheese nestled in the center (NOTE: Some cheese may escape from a roll or two but no matter as it won’t go far– a neighboring rolls may be wearing it!)
A Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge Giveaway
Each week, the VP bloggers will challenge you to find (and use) the secret code word of the week, posted in the contest tab labeled “Virtual Potluck” on the California Olive Ranch Facebook page.
Each blogger will pick a single winner per week to receive a pack of the featured products from Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch.
That’s right- four weeks, 12 winners each week! That’s like 48 chances to win! The more blogs you visit the more chances you have to win~ so what are you waiting for?! Let’s get cooking (and eating!) A Tasty and Healthy New Year!
For more information on how you can win– visit the host page for links to the other sites!