Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Buttermilk Rolls and Sourdough Bread

Michael is a having a pot luck at work tomorrow (Christmas day), so I thought a batch of buttermilk rolls would be a good addition to the pot.  The recipe is from the website http://www.thefreshloaf.com   I changed it a bit and added a couple of tablespoons of butter to the recipe.

Buttermilk Rolls
(Makes 12-18 rolls)

6 to 6 1/2 cups bread or all purpose flour (750grams)
1/2 TBSP salt
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast or instant yeast or 1 15 gram cake of fresh yeast
1 TBSP warm water
1 3/4 to 2 cups buttermilk (I used 2 cups)
2 TBSP butter, melted
1 TBSP honey (you can be generous here)

Glaze:  1 egg beaten with 1 TBSP water
Topping: sesame seeds, poppy seeds or grains(cracked wheat or rolled oats)

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.  Combine the warm water and yeast in a 2 cup measure and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Add the buttermilk to the yeast to the 2 cup mark and stir to combine.  Melt the butter.  Pour the yeast, buttermilk, butter and honey into the flour and mix well.  If the dough is too sticky add more flour, if too stiff, add water or a bit more buttermilk.  You want a shaggy mass of dough that is kneadable.  Knead by machine or hand for 10 minutes to produce a smooth pliable dough.  Using a TBSP of vegetable oil, oil the large bowl and place the dough in it, turn the dough over to coat it completely with a thin film of oil.  Cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap, set the bowl aside and allow the dough to rise for 90 minutes or until doubled in bulk.  Divide the dough into 12 to 18 equal pieces( I usually go for 15 equal pieces that I measure on my scale to be sure they are of equal size).  Shape each piece into a neat ball and place in a well greased pan (I use some butter or shortening for this) with rolls touching each other.  I use a 9 x 13 pan to hold all the rolls and make 5 rows of 3 rolls each.  Some folks use a springform pan. 

Let the rolls rise until doubled in bulk (about 45-60 minutes).  Meanwhile preheat the oven to 425F if using a metal pan, or 400F if using a glass pan.  Once risen, mix the glaze and brush lightly over the tops of the rolls, sprinkle the topping.  Bake 25-30 minutes until the rolls are firm and make a hollow sound when tapped.  Serve warm or bring to your event and reheat.  Enjoy!

Next up, San Francisco sourdough - here are the two loaves after preshaping.  Next they will be given a final shaping placed in brotforms (bannetons) and put in the fridge for an overnight rest, baked tomorrow morning.
The loaves after baking --

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A New Recipe for Me - Pasta Frolla

OK, well it's not completely new, I've made Pasta Frolla before but always used the recipe from the Il Fornaio Baking Book.  Of course most of my cookbooks are packed away, including this one and Michael wanted some apricot jam pockets(faggotini di Albiccoca).  We love the little pockets of tender sweet dough stuffed with a bit of apricot jam.  Not wanting to disappoint him(or myself for that matter), I found a recipe for Pasta Frolla online on the Washington Post's website.  I just mixed up 1/2 a batch (2 lbs. of dough is too much!) and it's resting in the fridge for about 1 hour or so until it's ready.  I'll cut out 2 1/2 inch biscuts from the rolled out dough then place a small dab of jam in the middle of each one, brush some beaten egg around the edges and fold over to make a half moon shape.  Then, I'll brush the half moons with some more beaten egg on the top and bake for 10 minutes or so at 375F.  We'll see how they come out.  I have great hope for this recipe, it may even work as the dough in my Mom's lost recipe for Italian Pineapple Nut Cookies, we shall see.  Here's the recipe as found from chef Nick Maligieri -

Pasta Frolla

This is the basic dough you can use to make four other recipes: Chocolate and Vanilla Sandwich Cookies, Dulce de Leche Crumb Bars, Holiday Cutouts and Infasciadedde (Sicilian Twists); see separate recipes.

Italians use pasta frolla to line pans for baking a variety of pies, sweet and savory, and to make simple sugar cookies and all sorts of elaborate filled cookies. Using it as a base for bar cookies is simply an extension of its pan-lining capabilities.

The dough is best made in a food processor, but you can also make it by hand, rubbing in the butter and incorporating the eggs with a fork. You'll have to knead handmade dough a little to get it smooth; just don't overdo it. Pasta frolla can be made and refrigerated 3 to 4 days in advance.

Yield: 2.2 pounds of dough

·                                 4 cups flour (spoon flour into a dry-measure cup and level off)
                     2/3 cup sugar
·                                 2 teaspoons baking powder
·                                 1 teaspoon salt
·                                 8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
·                                 4 large eggs
·                                 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (may substitute 1 teaspoon each vanilla and lemon extracts)
·                                 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon or orange zest

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pulse 3 or 4 times to mix. Add the butter and process 10 to 15 seconds or until it is finely mixed into the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and zest. Pulse a few times, until a ball of dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Form the dough into a fat cylinder and use immediately, or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the faggotini di albicocca, roll the dough out 1/4 inch thick, cut out 2 1/2 inch circles, place of dab of apricot jam in the middle, paint the edge of the circle with beaten egg and seal tightly to form a half moon.  Do this with each 'biscut'.  Arrange cookies on greased cookie sheet or parchment paper on cookie sheet giving them at least an inch between cookies.  Brush the tops of the cookies with beaten egg before baking 10 minutes in a 375F oven.  Watch the cookies to ensure they do not burn.  Let cool a minute on the pan then remove to a cookie rack to complete cooling.  You may dust them with confectioners sugar before serving or just enjoy as is. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Lower Fat Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Today I'm baking 2 loaves of San Francisco Sourdough Bread (recipe from http://www.thefreshloaf.com) and tomorrow I will make a double batch of spinach pachadi.  Pachadi is an Indian dish that features any vegetable cooked with onions and a chile pepper, then mixed with yogurt and a spice mixture.  It's very tasty and when made with spinach always reminds me of the tasty spinach and artichoke dip that you can make and place in a hollowed out bread 'bowl'.

The only problem I have with the classic version of this dish is it has LOTS of fat in it, given that it uses sour cream AND cream cheese.  Pachadi uses some oil but also yogurt as the dairy which even at full fat strength is less fat than the classic. 

Here's the recipe -

Spinach in Yogurt Sauce (Spinach Pachadi)

Makes 6 servings (as part of a large meal)

Pachadis are lightly cooked South Indian salads, often involving yogurt. This was my grandmother’s recipe, and it remains a feature of my core repertoire because it’s so simple and unusual at the same time. This recipe is part of our menu for Sadhya, a South Indian feast.

Published in Gourmet Live 01.18.12


  • 3 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 pound spinach, coarse stems discarded and leaves finely chopped
  • 1 small fresh green chile, such as serrano, Thai, or jalapeƱo, slit lengthwise with stem end intact
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (not Greek-style)
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 10 fresh curry leaves (optional)


  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over medium heat until it shimmers. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 7 minutes. Add spinach, chile, 2 tablespoons water, and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in yogurt.
  • Heat remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a small heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then cook mustard seeds until they begin to pop and/or turn gray, then add cumin seeds and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until cumin seeds brown, about 30 seconds more. Add curry leaves (if using), covering skillet immediately for a few seconds, then stir spice mixture into spinach mixture. Season with salt. Serve warm.


  • Indian ingredients can be mail-ordered from Kalustyans.com.
  • Chile can be removed during cooking when the dish is spicy enough for your taste.
  • Spinach-yogurt mixture, without spiced oil, can be made 1 day ahead and chilled. Reheat before proceeding with recipe.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Last CSA Box of the Year From Eatwell Farm

Tomorrow, Wednesday, marks the arrival of the last CSA box for the year from Eatwell Farm.  Every year Nigel and crew take a much deserved 2 week  'break' from packing our weekly boxes.  But, fear not, they have a great end of year box planned  as follows -

Young Lettuce
Crocodile Spinach
Champion Collards
Florence Fennel
Bok Choy
Celeriac (the celery was damaged in the freeze)
Wakefield or red cabbage
Watermelon Daikon
Diane Sweet potatoes
Early Washington Navels
Satsuma Mandarins
Watermelon daikon is back! Yay, I love this stuff, sliced thin and pickled.  It keeps forever.  We were just running low so this came just in time.  Crocodile Spinach is great just steamed, be sure and wash it well (at least 3 times) to get rid of all the dirt (Nigel is literally giving away the farm!).  I love collards and sauteed onions seasoned with cumin, turmeric and a bit of serrano chili paprika(grind up some dried serranos from Everything Under the Sun).  Pork chops or sausage on a bed of cabbage, onions, maybe some carrots? and apples is a great winter meal.  Fennel sliced thinly on top of some of the lettuce with shredded carrots and some of those pickled watermelon daikon slices would make a yummy side dish.  Celeriac trimmed and boiled with some white potatoes is also a good side with some roasted chicken or lamb chops.  Bok choy always is welcome in our house for a shrimp or chicken stir fry.  Of course, we just roast sweet potatoes, unless you're up for a sweet potato pie for Christmas dessert.  Lastly, let's not forget the navel oranges and mandarins - great for snacks or in Michael's lunch pail. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Deliciousness From Eatwell Farm

This week's CSA box from Eatwell Farm includes --

Spinach: We are famous for our dirty and very tasty spinach. We grow savoy varieties which have the best flavor but the wrinkly leaves are much harder to wash. I believe the effort is well worth it. A few years ago we grew flat leaf (easy to wash) and our regular savoy varieties and members resoundingly said keep growing the savoy spinach. Store in your crisper.

 Romaine or Red Leaf Lettuce: Store in the crisper in a plastic bag.

 Green Curly Kale: It is sweeter now that we have had some frost. Often this is used for decoration in meat or fish counters. This is young and delicious and deserves to be eaten. Store in the crisper

 Tokyo Salad Turnips: The greens are looking worse for wear after so many days of freezing weather. Remove the tops and store in the crisper.

 Arugula: A few holes from bugs earlier in the season. These have met their maker with the cold weather. The arugula is tasty and great in salads or sandwiches. Store in the crisper.

 Carrots: These are from Terra Firma. We have carrots planted but they will not be ready until the early spring. Certified organic as is all our produce.

 New Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes: We planted the potatoes at the end of August. The yield per plant is low but the flavor is great and you can see how fresh they as you can rub away the skin. Store in the crisper.

 Wakefield Cabbage: I had a customer at the market that asked if these were ‘‘any good’’. I said if he bought it he would not buy another green cabbage again. Very flavorful in coleslaw or light steaming/ stir fry. If we run out of these you may have a regular green cabbage.

 Leeks: We grow a European variety called Tadorna which has a long white shank. There is a very special planting machine that dibs a deep hole to plant the leeks to get a maximum white shank. Unfortunately we do not have the $25,000 for one of those. Even so they are pretty amazing. Store in the crisper.

 Satsuma Mandarins: From Bill Crepps in Winters. The paperwork of organic farming drives Bill crazy so he is not certified. That does not change how he farms. The taste tell us he is organic and I have known Bill for many years.

 Navel Oranges: From Nacho at Twin Girls Farm, certified organic. They are certified organic and pack for a wholesaler called purity so that is why you may sometimes find these labels on fruit from them. I asked for small fruit responding to members with small children who sometimes cannot eat a whole orange.

 Butternut Squash: I like to fill the oven then take the flesh out of the skin and store in a container in the fridge to use throughout the week. Delicious.
Enjoy the great bounty and vitality of the food from your farm.

Yum, spinach and leek quiche with gruyere cheese will be a welcome item on the menu this week.  I really like the kale last week cooked with cumin, coriander, turmeric and onions, that and the sweet potatoes will go well with some roast chicken.  Arugula salad with mandarin orange slices and blue cheese, always delicious.

A salad featuring thinly slice turnips, some shredded carrots and blue cheese sounds good as well.   Some sauteed cabbage with apples and onions is also good this time of year as a side dish.  Lastly, the butternut squash will get roasted and used in some more butternut squash raviolis.  We devoured the last batch and need some more in the freezer. 

Lots of good things from Eatwell Farm. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cookie Baking 2013 - Let the Games Begin!

I'm a day behind schedule but it took me awhile to get in the Christmas cookie baking mood.  Today, I'm ready to go - first batch of anise/almond biscotti have completed their first bake.  Just have to slice them and toast them in the oven.  I'm doing the biscotti first, then the gingerbread men, then cherry winks, mint surprise cookies, peanut butter blossoms and last taralluces. 

Every year this activity is a tribute to my Mom who baked cookies every year and sent them to my sister and me without fail.  Thanks for the wonderful memories, Mom.  A toast to you, Merry Christmas!