Why is it no one makes dinner rolls anymore? I understand the time crunch and lack of energy when you finally get home from work and then have to crank out dinner for the fam but weekends are the perfect time to stock up on these little luxuries that can be stashed away in the freezer to be enjoyed weeks later…maybe some evening when it’s dark, chilly and rainy. Well, this recipe is one of those kind of keepers. Soft and fluffy, slathered with warm butter and perhaps a drizzle of that honey you picked up at the farmer’s market, these rolls are a rare treat yet exceptionally easy to make. They mix and roll up quickly. There are two risings but the dough sits quietly in the corner while you go about your business.
The recipe makes 24 rolls so you’ll have plenty of leftovers to freeze, (and they freeze beautifully), or they can be served at breakfast as is or pulled apart and stuffed with a sausage patty or egg. The slight sweetness of this bread pairs well with a scoop of homemade chicken salad or spicy crab salad served in the opened middle. With cooler weather right around the corner consider stocking up on these little golden treasures. You’ll pat yourself on the back for planning so well!
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional if needed
1 sachet active dry yeast
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, melted, to brush on before serving
1 tablespoon honey, to brush on before serving
In the bowl of a stand up mixer fitted with a dough hook combine flour and yeast.
In a small saucepan combine milk, 1/4 cup honey, sugar, 1/4 cup butter and salt, stirring until all ingredients are combined and heated to 105° and 115°.
Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and beat until just blended.
Add the egg and beat the dough for 3-4 minutes until the dough becomes thick and soft and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It will probably be very sticky depending on the humidity in your area. If the dough is too sticky to handle add one tablespoon of flour to the bowl and beat another minute or so. If needed add another tablespoon of flour to thicken and continue beating.
Beat the dough until smooth and elastic about 5 minutes.
Place the dough in a greased bowl and turn to grease the top as well.
Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm corner to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Lightly spray 2 muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray.
Punch dough down and cut in half with a bench knife or large, sharp knife. Cover half of the dough and set aside.
Cut one half of the dough into 12 equal pieces.
Cut each of the 12 pieces into 3 equal pieces, you should have 36 chunks of cut dough.
With your hands gently roll each chunk into a small, fluffy ball and drop three into each muffin cup.
Continue in the same manner with the 2nd half of the dough that was set aside.
Cover both muffin tins and set aside to rise for 45 minutes or until double in size.
Bake in a pre-heated oven for 8-10 minutes or until slightly golden on top.
Remove rolls from the oven and cool for 5 minutes.
Mix the melted butter and tablespoon of honey until well incorporated. Brush on top of each roll.
Warm any leftovers in a pre-heated 300° oven for 5-7 minutes.
We are a house divided. Jimmy and James are Greek Orthodox and I am Roman Catholic. However, I’ve spent a great deal of time in the Greek church and nothing thrills me more than when I discover a new dish. Several years back while we were in Boston, we went to church with Jimmy’s brother, George. Jimmy and all his siblings grew up in the cathedral, with all the big city hustle and bustle of downtown. All the Greek families grew up in the church. The church was the religious and social nucleus of the Greek community. The cathedral’s youth group was enormous. All the kids went to the church after school and on weekends for pick-up basketball games, church dances and just to hang out. It was where most of Jimmy’s friends met their future wives and husbands. Here we were, years later, and as always, in the church hall after Sunday service. While my husband and brother-in-law caught up with old friends I strolled the perimeter of the coffee table. A pretty, little basket caught my eye as it held some sort of coffee cake or bread or maybe it’s cake…I didn’t know but I sure was going to try it out. It was life altering. Chewy on the outside yet moist and yielding on the inside, its mysterious, warm flavors caught me off guard. Turns out it was a bread called Artos, redolent with the flavors of the Middle East. At first bite I was reminded of the gifts the Magi offered the Christ child because of the heady fragrance of cinnamon, cloves and ground aniseed. I had to make it. I had to! Well, here it is. Artos is an easy bread to make but it is a bit messy and does require a little rising time. Well worth it if you ask me. The recipe can be doubled and I feel you may as well make two then you can give one to a friend or someone special. The recipe is adapted from Anissa Helou’s book “Savory Baking From the Mediterranean”. The bread is fabulous with almond butter or Nutella accompanied by a cup of tea or coffee. It’s great as breakfast or as a snack and is fabulous as sandwich sliced, stuffed with bananas and nut butters then grilled. Try it. You’ll amaze yourself!
These sweet yet salty crab cakes are every crab lovers dream. How many times have we gone to a shi-shi restaurant and hopefully ordered crab cakes which should be crunchy and buttery on the outside, pearly white, sweet but briny on the inside only to be served a couple of heavily doctored, gluey, deep-fried, fish-like patties? Gosh, I hate it when that happens. So many restaurants trash seafood, from overcooked tiles of fish or rubbery, heavily breaded fried shrimp to our loved crab. It was different when we were growing up here in Lauderdale. As a child, there wasn’t the selection of dining spots we now have available. Our grandfather, Grandpa, had moved here from Cleveland when our grandmother passed away. He, too, lived on the water and loved to throw out a dozen or so crab cages. Every two or three days he’d let me walk down to the canal with him and pull up the cages. Each cage had small, round floater tied with a piece of monofilament making it easy to haul up the cages and check our catch. Every crab cage had been baited with either pieces of mullet, their heads, bodies and tails, or raw chicken necks. I loved everything about it!
After strolling down to the water’s edge I would lie on my stomach on the dock while Grandpa pulled up the heavy metal cages. My job was to tell him if we had caught anything. If we had he’d continue pulling, if not he’d drop the heavy box back down to the muddy depths of the canal. Most of the time, though, there were sweet, luscious blue crabs. We’d throw our haul into waiting plastic buckets, always being careful not to get pinched, then walk back to his apartment where Grandpa would spend the rest of the morning picking the crabs. I wasn’t allowed because I guess my parents thought I’d cut myself with a knife…and I probably would have. The waters were clear back then and the meat that came out of those crabs was the sweetest I’ve ever had. Grandpa made a gorgeous crab salad and his bisque was magnificent.
I’m sharing with you my recipe for crab cakes. I think they’re fabulous and they taste of crab…nothing else. No crackers, mashed potatoes or breadcrumbs mixed in. No fillers here. The Panko crumbs and butter make a light and crispy coating allowing the crab meat to positively shine. Serve with a homemade remoulade sauce or simply with freshly cut lime wedges but either way I hope you enjoy them!
Y’all ever been in the South on a Sunday? Anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line? Because Sunday in the South means church, church clothes, (NO tank tops, flip-flops or shorts!), and relaxing with family over dish after well prepared dish of southern classics. When I was in school in Macon I was stunned by the array of vegetable dishes offered in friends homes not to mention the platters of fried chicken, smothered chicken, baked ham, roasted turkey or tenderloin of beef. Remember, Mama couldn’t and didn’t cook so in our house, growing up, Sundays meant a gorgeous table laid with glistening silver and china, beautifully arranged flowers and burnt food. Yep. Mama would serve food that was completely black and burned on one side. She’d just plate that zucchini, chicken, dolphin, anything charcoal side down and keep on keepin’ on. As a result, my time spent in girlfriends houses was filled with awe and wonder. Not because they had beautifully appointed homes. Heck, no. I had that! It was that I was continually astonished at the culinary epiphanies that hit me round every corner. Strawberry jam, BUTTER, fried chicken, iced tea…grilled cheese sandwiches. And Sundays in a Southern home meant side boards groaning under the weight of every vegetable imaginable, at least six or seven, and that didn’t include the biscuits and desserts. Most Sunday dinners included squash casserole and I soon learned there are good ones and there are bad ones, however, that is completely subjective. Some featured thick rounds of squash glistening with butter, the seeds leering back at me as if to remind me of Mama’s blackened attempts of zucchini and summer squash. Ugh. Her squash was the definition of gross. I must tell you, though, there is another method of preparing squash casserole which requires you to process the cooked squash mixture and the outcome is pure magic. Smooth but still with texture this summer squash casserole doesn’t even taste like a vegetable. Yes, the squash is sweet but the addition of onions and pepper-jack cheese gives it a savory, piquant twist you will positively love. It’s the only way I’ll eat summer squash. My hope is the next time you put out a big, Southern-style spread replete with English peas, black-eyed peas with snaps, collard greens with pot likker, candied sweet potatoes, tomato aspic, stewed okra and tomatoes, sweet and sour red cabbage and fresh shelled lady peas you’ll consider serving this glorious summer squash casserole.
1 cup plain Greek yoghurt, or any plain, thick yoghurt
8 ounces pepper-jack cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon olive oil
Pre-heat oven to 350°.
In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the chopped onion. Cook until clear but not browned.
Add the chopped squash and gently stir to coat with the oil and onions. Adjust the heat if needed so as to cook the squash but not to brown. Stir occasionally for the squash to cook evenly and for the juices to evaporate or cook off. You don’t want any liquid as that will cause the casserole to be watery. Cooking the squash may take as long as 15 minutes. That’s fine. Get rid of the water.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool 10-15 minutes.
While the squash is cooling mix the Panko with the teaspoon of olive oil and toss well that all the crumbs are covered. Set aside.
Transfer the squash to a food processor or blender and pulse until there are no lumps or large pieces of squash. Return squash to pan.
To the squash add the yoghurt and cheese and mix thoroughly by hand. Taste for salt and pepper.
Add the eggs and wine and stir well.
Pour the mixture into a greased 9 X 13 pan. Scatter Panko crumbs evenly over top.
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown on top.
It feels like fall, y’all! We’ve had major rain here in Lauderdale and the temperature has plummeted to 82°. It’s 3:00p.m. and the street lights are on…as well as the AC. Well, a girl can dream. And when I do, at times it’s of pumpkin. Nothing says autumn like pumpkin. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin cheesecake and, especially, pumpkin fritters. They’re like crunchy and soft bites of warm and sweet pumpkin pie. These fritters are quick, easy and cheap. You probably have all the ingredients in your pantry. It’s a great treat for your family or dessert for the casual drop-by company. There aren’t really any do’s or don’ts. After mixing it all up, letting the batter sit for a while undisturbed does enhance the flavor. And I found using a small melon ball scoop to drop the batter into the hot oil gives consistent size fritters which will cook evenly. They’re best served immediately after dusting with powdered sugar but I haven’t seen any refused the following day after preparing.
Great with a cup of coffee or hot tea, these fritters welcome all the spices you like in your pumpkin pie. Don’t care for cloves? Don’t add them. If you’re not a fan of powdered sugar, roll them in cinnamon sugar. And if you’d like to fancy the fritters up a bit, warm some caramel sauce and drizzle it over the platter as you’re serving them. You might want to try serving them with fresh fruit, such as strawberries or blackberries, which cut the richness and really add to the flavors of the pumpkin pie spices. Hope you enjoy them!
Yay! Fresh figs have hit the grocery stores and I, for one, am thrilled. The season is short so I grab them when I see them. I’ll figure out what I’m going to do with them later. My father’s father, Grandpa, used to put up different jams, though as a child I remember looking at a bubbling pot of figs and being completely grossed out. All those little seeds, millions of them…not going in my mouth! However, now that same memory of the same simmering pot is beautiful. And when sunlight hits those pretty, little jars of jars of jam they sparkle like Burmese rubies. I don’t have Grandpa’s recipe and that’s okay because I’m pretty certain he didn’t use one. Just kind of eyeballed it. This fig jam is gorgeous and easy plus it’s one of those recipes that works well simmering it less time or longer depending on the consistency you want. I enjoy my jam thick and chunky so I simmer it longer.
The white wine brings another fruity note to the pot. I use a Sauvignon Blanc but that’s what I drink. Feel free to use any good white wine you have on hand. The alcohol will burn off after its long simmer so there’s no need to concern yourself there. With the jam I had prepared I served fontina, fig jam and honey panini for dinner…with a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves. OMG. Alongside a big salad of baby greens, my boys were more than happy. Enjoy!
4 pounds fresh figs, stemmed and cut into 1/4″ pieces. I used equal amounts of Brown Turkey and Kadota figs
3 cups sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup white wine, I like a Sauvignon Blanc
1 cup fresh lemon juice
In a large non-reactive pot place the cut figs and both sugars. Toss lightly and let sit for 20-30 minutes so that the fruit will let out its juices.
When the sugar has dissolved in the juices of the figs add the white wine and lemon juice.
Simmer the jam, uncovered, over moderately low heat. You’ll see slow, fat bubbles, you don’t want a furious boil. Cook until the fruit syrup is thick and the figs are soft and have fallen apart, about 60-90 minutes. I go for 2 hours as I like my jam thick.
Spoon the jam into clean jars, leaving 1/4″ space at the top. Close the lids tightly and allow to cool completely before storing in the refrigerator.
Don’t kid yourself for one second about that drink. Don’t put your tankini away and hang onto that cute, little sundress. It’s.Still.Summer. But I know they’re getting a little snug…it may be summer and hot out but we still eat and drink all kinds of no-no’s. Hot wings, lobster mac ‘n cheese, $12.00 designer cheeseburgers with fries, fried chicken and biscuit all washed down with anything from ice cold beer to blender drinks with champagne. We’re all guilty of those indulgences. Except now we’re back from our marvelous vacations and things are getting tight. Even your fat shorts can pinch at this point. I was there and this is why. I’ve always been a bourbon drinker. I adore it. Neat or with rocks I really enjoy my Wild Turkey. Until one evening when I was pouring my second cocktail of the evening (!) and my husband mentioned in passing, “You’re not going to lose any weight if you keep drinking that. You might as well sit down with a bowl of ice cream.” Well. THAT certainly hit home. Right then and there I quit the brown. Several days later I wanted a drink in an awful way. I decided on a glass of wine. I’m not a huge fan; I mean, it’s okay, so my reasoning was if I don’t particularly care for it I won’t drink much. But after a month or so I realized I was downing two glasses a night, sometimes more on weekends. That’s a lot of wine which translates to a lot of sugar. Need we be reminded sugar converts to fat? I might as well have sat down to that bowl of ice cream. I had gotten bigger than ever. Men no longer looked at me when I entered a room. (I had always enjoyed that!) My face was full, my neck was no longer long and graceful and I had the DREADED belly fat. I looked like dump. Realizing I had to make a change was easy and I quietly went about doing so. A few years back I had tried the counting “points” diet and found it worked on me for only about six months. I wasn’t about to start that grind again. We are all fully aware we need a change of diet, practice portion control and exercise. You have to start somewhere and I knew what I had to do. I cleared all grains, ALL, from my diet. Yes, that’s rice, (not easy for this Latina), potatoes, pasta and bread. I cut out dairy which was not a problem since I had already switched from 2% cow’s milk to organic almond milk for my coffee. But the cheese! Oh, how I missed it! Pizza was a double whammy. Then I addressed the alcohol quandary. Bourbon is really not high in calories unless you drink a large amount. I thought I’d try tequila. No, wait! Don’t shut me out! I, too, couldn’t stand tequila and that turned out to be a large part of my solution. Many, many years ago while I was working temporary duty for Delta in San Juan I had the worst experience of my life after drinking waaaaaay too much tequila one night. I puked my guts out. I puked so hard I cracked a rib. And to add to my woes I passed out on top of my glasses and cracked them, too. That was over 35 years ago and I hadn’t had any tequila since that fateful night. I shudder to think. Bleah. Anyway, I figured there was probably some great tequila on the market now, smooth and rich, and maybe, just maybe, I could enjoy a bit with lots of fresh lime juice in a pretty glass packed with ice. And I was right. The key is in measuring. You have to measure whatever you’re drinking. Please believe me when I say you’re pouring a heck of a lot more than you think. You’ll be surprised if you pour then measure the amount you’re having EVERY NIGHT. Have one drink…just one. That’s all you need. And that’s another thing. You don’t need it every night. You don’t. At the end of the day when you’re ready to rip apart the first person who crosses you, well, fine, if that’s what’s going to keep you out of prison. Measure two ounces of tequila or vodka, add the juice of one whole lime or, if you’re having vodka add soda, and enjoy. But if you’re not that stressed remember this. Once you’ve lost any looks you once had, chances are you ain’t gettin’ them back. Don’t be so ready to give them up. Pour yourself a coconut sparkling water, (La Croix is my favorite), and sip on that awhile. Do yourself an enormous favor and stay away from beer, wine and mixers like tonic or coke. Your body will thank you and, come Fall, so will your favorite skinny jeans!