Saturday, April 20, 2019

Rosie Makes Sticky Buns.

Who doesn't love sticky buns?
Over the years, I've made a bunch of 'em
and I think this recipe rates right up at the top.
There's a twist to the recipe.
Instead of making a 9 x 13-inch baking dish 
full of rising, pull-apart buns,
these are individual buns, made in muffin tins.
And they're delicious.
 Sticky Buns
1 package yeast 
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened, cut into pats
2 eggs
about 4 1/2 cups flour - give or take
1 tsp kosher salt
3 TB unsalted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 TB melted unsalted butter

For the dough:
Rosie Note:  You can use whole milk instead of skim and cream.  I never have whole milk on hand, but I always have skim and cream, so that's what I use.  And I tend to go heavy on the cream.  Because more fat is better, right?  Actually, if you want to approximate whole milk using skim and heavy cream, you'd use a scant 1 oz. cream to 7 oz. skim.  (Or 1 1/2 TB heavy cream and the balance skim milk to make one cup.)

Heat the milk until lukewarm, not hot.  Pour into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the yeast, sugar, and butter pats.  Mix at medium speed a minute or so to break up the butter.  It will look curdled.  That's normal.   Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add the flour (1/2 cup or so at a time) and salt, beating at low speed  until incorporated, 4-5 minutes, scraping down the side of the bowl.  There's a bit of play in the amount of flour.  You don't want the dough too sticky and you don't want it too stiff.  You want it juuuuuusssssst riiiiiiight. 

Turn dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until almost doubled, about an hour.

Heat oven to 325°.
Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

Working on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 9 x 18-inch rectangle.
 Or around abouts.
Brush the 3 TB melted butter over surface of dough.
Mix brown sugar with cinnamon in a small bowl and evenly sprinkle over dough along with the chopped pecans.

Beginning at the long side, tightly roll up the dough.  Cut the log into 12 equal pieces and place into muffin cups, cut side up.  Brush tops with remaining 2 TB melted butter.  Cover and let sit in a warm place for about an hour.

Bake 25 - 30 minutes, rotating at halftime, until golden brown.

Make the syrup:
4 TB unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup cream

2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup toasted pecans, crushed

In a small saucepan, melt butter with sugar and cream.  Bring to a simmer.  Stir vanilla into syrup.  Remove from heat.  Spread pecans on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant.  Cool pecans, place in a plastic bag, then run over with a rolling pin to crush. 

Remove buns from muffin tins, place on a serving dish, and spoon syrup over top.  Sprinkle with toasted pecans.

Now, for the step by steps:
Mix warm milk and cream with yeast and sugar.
Let the yeast proof.
Yeast is hungry.  It wants to eat the sugar.   Carbon dioxide and alcohol will be by-products of this little meal.  That means the mixture will get all poofy and bubbly.  That means the yeast has "proved" it's alive.  If the mixture doesn't get bubbly, dump it and get good yeast.

Add in the butter and process away.

Then work in the eggs and flour and mix until it all comes together in a nice, elastic ball of dough.
And yes.  There's wiggle room with the flour.
Roll it around in an oiled bowl, cover it, and let it rise.

Roll out on a lightly floured work surface and brush with melted butter.

Sprinkle on cinnamon and brown sugar mixture.

Sprinkle on pecans.

And roll up.

Cut into 12 equal pieces.

Set into muffin tins and brush tops with melted butter.

Let rise.

Bake until golden.

Let buns cool a bit, remove from tins, and pour the syrup over top.

And pour.
And pour some more.
Let 'em soak up any syrup that spills over.

Sprinkle toasted pecans over top.

Then, sit back and gaze upon your creations.
Admire them.
You may drool a bit.  That is allowed.

Dig in!


Saturday, April 13, 2019

Rosie Makes Shrimp Spring Rolls.

Welcome to one of my favorite meals - shrimp spring rolls.
Simple.  Light.  Colorful.  Full of flavors and textures.

They're fun to make and each time I make them,
they're a little different.  Just depends on what's in the fridge.

Preparation is key.
Have everything ready to roll.
Today, I'm using bamboo green rice which I get at the Spice and Tea Exchange in the Scarborough Lane Shoppes in Duck. 
You can use sushi rice, but I like the green.  It's pretty.
It's a short grain white rice infused with fresh bamboo juice
which turns it green and it stays sticky after cooking, which is what you want for sushi.
Whatever rice you're using, prepare it according to package directions, drain it, then sprinkle a tablespoon or two of sushi vinegar or rice vinegar over it, and fork it around to mix well.

Slice the shrimp.
And prepare the vegetables. I julienned stacks of carrot, cucumber, scallion, and multi-colored peppers.  Then I chiffonaded some herbs - basil and mint - and chopped some cilantro.
A julienne cut is a very thin, matchstick cut.
A chiffonade cut is a cutting technique in which you stack the leaves, roll them up tightly, then slice
long curly uniform strips.  A chiffonade is pretty and, dare I say, elegant.
Also, have some soft lettuce leaves - Boston or Bibb - ready to use, with the ribs cut out.  Spinach works also.

Your ingredients are not etched in stone.  If you have bok choy, asparagus, yellow squash, zucchini, cabbage, radish, you could certainly use them.  And if you happen to have a jar of pickled ginger in the fridge, try some.  Bean sprouts, alfalfa sprouts - any type of sprouts.  Also, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots will work nicely.

One caveat - do not overstuff your rolls.  Too fat and they get hard to work with and a bit sloppy.  You don't want them more than an inch in diameter. 

Rice paper can be found in the Asian section of your supermarket.


Here's what it looks like.

I take a plate, pour warm water in it, then set the rice paper in the water for about 20 seconds.
You want to soften it so it's pliable.  Don't leave it in the water too long.  It will stick to itself, sort of dissolve, and you'll end up throwing it out.

When the rice paper is ready, spread it out on your work surface and start adding your fillings.

I put the lettuce down first, next a bed of rice, then the shrimpies.
If you want to put a few drops of soy sauce on the rice, I won't stop you.

Lay down the strips of vegetables and the herbs.

And roll, tucking in the ends.

Ta da!

Keep rolling until you use everything up.

Now, for the dipping sauces.
I'll give you the ingredients and the "thereabouts"
and let you figger it out and tailor it to your tastes.

Dipping Sauce #1
juice from 2 1-inch cubes ginger
1 garlic clove, pressed
3 TB soy sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 TB mirin
1 tsp sesame oil
sliced scallions
toasted sesame seeds

I put the ginger cube in a garlic press and press it, scraping a bit of the pulp off to use in addition to the juice.  And FYI, if your ginger cubes are first frozen, then nuked for about 25 seconds, you can get more juice out of them.

Combine all ingredients and taste-test.  Adjust accordingly.  If you want more or less of a certain flavor, go for it.

Dipping Sauce #2
4 TB cider vinegar
2 TB honey
diced cucumber
chopped red onion
toasted peanuts, chopped
sprinkling of red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients and taste-test.

For serving, I like to slice my rolls on the diagonal.


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Rosie Makes A Lemon-Lime Pie.

Sometimes, you just want pie.
And I've got just the pie for you.

This pie, or some form of it, has been floating around coastal areas for years now.  It's sort of a mix between a lemon meringue pie and a key lime pie and is adapted from Chef Bill Smith, of famed  Crook's Corner restaurant in Chapel Hill, NC.

Not overly sweet, and with an abundance of lemon flavor, this pie is distinguished by its salty cracker crust.  The crust is not a traditional sweet pastry crust.  I used a combination of both Saltines and Ritz crackers.  Some versions of the pie call for whipped cream on top, but I wanted to use up some of the leftover egg whites, so I opted for meringue.  As for the citrus flavors, I used a combination of both lemon and lime juice, along with some lime zest. You could opt for just lemon, or lime, or orange, or a combination thereof.  Those Cara Cara oranges are in season now and are really good, so you might want to give them a try.

As for the meringue topping, I only used half of the egg whites, saving the rest for individual Pavlovas.  And if you happen to have one of those little butane torches, it comes in quite handy for touching up the meringue.

Set oven to 350°.

For the crust:
1 sleeve Saltine crackers
1/2 sleeve Ritz crackers
3 TB sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened but still chilled, cut into small bits

Place crackers and sugar in processor and pulse away until you get crumbs.
Add in butter pats and process until ... crumbly.

Press into an 8-inch pie pan.
Chill for 15 minutes, then bake about 15 minutes at 350°, or until the crust starts to color a bit.
Let crust cool.

Rosie Note:  Be sure to press well along the bottom sides to thin out the crust there.  It has a tendency to build up in the "corners" and you don't want it thick there.

Now for the filling:
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup lemon and lime juice (That turned out to be 3 lemons and 1 lime.)
zest of one lime
Beat yolks, one at a time, into the condensed milk, then beat in lemon and lime juice.  Stir in zest.  Combine completely.  Pour into shell.  Bake for 12 minutes at 350°, apply meringue, rotate pie, bake for about 6-7 more minutes.

While the pie is baking, prepare the meringue topping.

Meringue Topping
4 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
Use half of the meringue for the pie topping.  Save the other half for Pavlovas.
You could make lovely fruit Pavlovas with whipped cream:

Or you could make this wonderful pineapple Pavlova roll-up.

While the pie is baking, beat whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form.  Beat in vanilla and sugar until stiff peaks form.  After 12 minutes of the pie baking, remove pie from oven and decoratively swirl half of the meringue over top, spreading to edges.  Return to oven and bake 6 or so more minutes so filling will set.  Remove from oven.  If meringue needs more browning, run pie under a 450° broiler for a couple of minutes or use a cooking torch to finish it off.

Chill pie completely before slicing.

Here are the step-by-steps:
Lightly browned crust ready for filling - condensed milk, yolks, and citrus juice.

Beat away!  One yolk at a time.

Beat in the lemon and lime juices.
Pour into prepared, lightly baked crust.

Ready for oven.

Start on the meringue.
You want stiff peaks.

Bake pie about 12 minutes, then apply meringue.
Using HALF of the meringue, swirl it around on the partially baked pie.
Make those cute little tips and swirls.

Return to oven to finish baking.
If you need to, take a torch to the meringue to finish it off.
Let cool completely before slicing.

Add some fruit if you like.