Archive for June, 2012
Given the choice, it seems most people will sin—at least when it comes to sticky, sweet cinnamon buns. I’m not talking wicked, immoral acts here, just perhaps a shameful throwing of cholesterol, calorie-counting restrictions out the window.
I taped a “Breakfast for Overnight Guests” segment for CT Style yesterday featuring my favorite Sinful Cinnamon Rolls from the Sweet Home cookbook. But, because these buns aren’t exactly for the calorie-conscious, I also included peach-raspberry smoothies and a summer fruit salad topped with Greek yogurt and homemade pistachio granola. I like to offer my guests options—especially if they feel one includes a walk into the Garden of Evil.
I hear so many gripes and groans about calories these days I thought that the folks on set would hone in on the fruit and avoid the carbs. Forget that. People were inhaling the buns and wrapping up more to take home. I could barely pawn off the fruit salad and smoothies however. Really, who can resist juicy raspberries and peaches in season? And I promise you, this granola is to die for. My kids eat it by the handful.
In defense of the WTNH staff though, they may be eating healthy options all week and these buns were a big indulgence, which leads to my thoughts on breakfast for overnight guests—make it a big treat.
Your guests will thank you for indulging them (as will your family). And just because the fruit didn’t go on set, don’t skip the opportunity to serve up a big bowl of succulent seasonal berries and melon as an accompaniment to cinnamon rolls. Plus the yogurt and granola add plenty of protein and fiber to the meal.
The granola recipe makes a big batch that can be stored in an airtight container for up to one month. This isn’t your typical clustered granola though, it is more of a sprinkling granola, which is why it works so well with fruit. There are no big clumps to compete with the fruit, just lots of crunchy goodness to enhance it.
There are many ingredients to purchase for the granola, and it does get pricey, but I find it’s well worth every penny. You get Omega 3s, Vitamin E, and lots of other good stuff that’ll make up for any sinning!
Soul-Saving Pistachio Granola
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1-1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1-1/4 cups raw pistachios
½ cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
¼ cup flax seeds
¼ cup toasted wheat germ
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup applesauce
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 325. Line two 11 x 17-inch baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, coconut, pistachios, pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds. Add the wheat germ and brown sugar and stir thoroughly with a spoon.
3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan combine the maple syrup, applesauce, and olive oil. Heat over medium-high heat until the mixture come to a simmer.
4. Remove from the heat and pour the sugar mixture over the dry ingredients. Toss thoroughly with a spoon to combine.
5. Divide the mixture between the two prepared pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Remove from the oven when golden. Allow to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to one month.
Makes 5 cups
Combine about 6 cups of seasonal fresh fruit in a large large bowl (i.e., peaches, melon, raspberries) and top with a dollop of Greek yogurt sweetened with honey and sprinkle with granola. (I add approximately a tablespoon of honey for every 1/2 cup of yogurt.) Serves 6 to 8
Summer Fruit Smoothies for a Crowd
2-1/2 cups sliced peaches (about 4 large)
2 cups raspberries
2 cups melon
3 cups ice
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 to 3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
1. Combine all the ingredients together in a blender and run until smooth.
Sinful Cinnamon Rolls
For helpful roll-making tips, click here to watch the CT Style segment.
Note: If you have a bread maker, I encourage you to make the dough in it, as directed below. If you don’t have a timer on your machine, you can still put the ingredients in and run the cycle before you go to bed. The dough will hold until the morning when you’re ready to roll it out. However, you can go one step further and roll out the dough and place the buns in the pan and refrigerate. Take them out the next morning one hour before you’re ready to bake them.
For the dough
1/4 cup very warm water
1 teaspoon plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 enevlope (21/4 teaspoons) dry active yeast
1 cup whole milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
11/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
41/2 cups unbleached white bread flour
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
For the filling
2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the frosting
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
11/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. To make the dough with a bread maker: Put all the ingredients in a 11/2- to 2-pound bread maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions with the following two changes: (1) Melt the butter and add with the liquid ingredients. (2) Replace the water with milk. Run the bread maker on the dough setting and when finished, turn out the dough onto a floured surface and skip to step 7.
2. If not using a bread maker: Butter a large glass or ceramic bowl in which the dough will rise.
3. Put the water in a bowl and add 1 teaspoon of the granulated sugar. Stir to dissolve. Sprinkle with the yeast, stir again to dissolve, and let stand for 5 minutes, or until frothy.
4. Put the milk in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until it begins to steam and bubble slightly on the edges. Lower the heat and add the butter, remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and the salt. Stir until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.
5. When the milk mixture has cooled, add the proofed yeast mixture, egg, and vanilla extract and stir. Add the flour and vital wheat gluten and continue to stir until smooth.
6. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for several minutes until soft. Sprinkle flour over the dough if it’s sticky and knead a few more times. Place in the prepared bowl, cover, and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.
7. Grease two 8-inch square pans with baking spray.
8. Make the filling: In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir until thoroughly combined.
9. Using a rolling pin, form the dough into a 16- x 24-inch rectangle. With a rubber spatula or knife, spread the butter gently over the entire rectangle of dough, leaving a 1-inch margin at the top long edge of the dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon mixture on top, avoiding the 1-inch margin at the top (you don’t want to butter or sugar the edge that will be used to seal the dough).
10. Starting with the bottom long edge of the rectangle, roll the dough tightly away from you toward the top. When you reach the top, press the clean edge into the rolled dough to seal. Using a sharp knife, cut the rolled dough into 1- to 11/2-inch sections. You should get 16 rolls. Place the rolls around the edges of the prepared pan (8 to a pan). Cover the two pans with dish towels and let rise a second time, about 30 minutes.
11. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the risen rolls for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.
12. Make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter. Beat for 6 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and beat for another 3 minutes, or until fluffy again. Add the vanilla extract and beat until blended.
13. Divide the frosting between the two pans, liberally spreading it across the top of the rolls as soon as they come out of the oven. Let cool for several minutes before eating.
Makes 16 rolls
There are definite benefits to prop styling for a cookbook shoot, as I did the week before last—see photo above. A lovely lunch like this and it’s hard not to love your job. The beautiful table was not part of the set, but spontaneously assembled leftovers served from a prop surface that sat on two sawhorses.
Those of us working the shoot were lucky enough to sample the many fine, mostly vegetarian dishes in this simply gorgeous setting.
I was absolutely taken with the abundance of colorful, crunchy veggies fresh from the farmer’s market on this shoot—and even more inspired to grow my own. I had all but given up on my garden this year. With the launch of Sweet Home this April, I got behind on many things, and unfortunately spring planting was one of them.
Although I had actually grown a number of things last year, my humble, three-bed garden looked like it had been abandoned for decades—fallen branches had unhinged the fencing, weeds had overtaken the entire space, and it was nearly impossible to get in the gate.
However, when I saw these luscious watermelon radishes, I thought, “It’s not too late, I can do this.”
Are these slices of pink and and creamy white gorgeous or what? Mixed with some mesclun, avocado, and a tossed with a light vinaigrette, you’ve got a perfect summer salad.
So this past weekend I motivated my girls—including our guest, a 15-year-old French student who is staying with us for a good stint this summer—to get out and garden with me. There was no time to waste, we worked furiously to get the beds ready for planting, and succeeded.
We will plant mostly lettuces, kale, other quick-growing crops, and of course—watermelon radishes. If you, too, would like to try out growing these beauties, check out the Sustainable Seed Company. They grow 50% of their seeds and have commendable green initiatives. And if you don’t have access to land, try planting radishes in a window box—these easy-to-grow seeds may just make you believe you have a green thumb. Oh how I wish I had one, but I’ve not yet given up.
I’ll keep you posted on the garden’s progress, and let you know how my radishes grow.
For now, head to the farmer’s market and grab up whatever inspiring produce you can find, from golden carrots to purple cauliflower, and eat it plain or lightly dressed. Following is a recipe for my most dependable, everyday vinaigrette (it’s worth the three minutes it takes to mix up…bottled dressings just don’t compare). It seems almost stupidly simple, but the secret here is proportion. Always keep a one to three—vinegar to oil—ratio and you can’t go wrong, your dressing won’t be too sour or too oily. For a slightly thicker dressing, replace the vinegar with balsamic glaze, which is a bottled balsamic reduction, and a great addition to any pantry. The glaze thickens the dressing and adds a hint of sweetness.
Makes enough for one very large salad
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze
6 tablespoons very good extra-virgin olive oil
2 heaping teaspoons Dijon mustard
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Place the vinegar or glaze in the bottom of your salad bowl and add a few large pinches of salt. Using a fork, whisk in the olive oil until it’s fully incorporated. Continue to whisk in the mustard. Finish your dressing with freshly ground black pepper to taste. Add greens to your bowl and toss.