You Gonna Eat All That?

A fork in one hand, a pen in the other.

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Location: Virginia, United States

(Biscuit Girl)

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Lunch at work

Every month we have a staff meeting at work and to help make it more fun, several winters ago a (recently retired) manager started "Stone Soup" days. Using the premise for the old fairly tale of the same name, she would select a soup and list all the necessary ingredients on the kitchen bulletin board. Each of us would sign up to bring in one or more ingredients and on the morning of our staff meeting we made wonderful soup. But as the months grew warmer, soup lost it's appeal. We didn't want to stop this new tradition so we moved to other meals like salads one month, pies (savory and sweet) the next, followed by an informal "Tea lunch" complete with scones.

Last month, instead of bringing in ingredients, I opted to make dessert. And in the process may have inadvertently started another staff meeting lunch tradition. I made a devil's food cake with a caramel filling and chocolate ganache icing. It was apparently a hit because I asked about making dessert again this month and got a resounding "YES" from everyone. But what to make? I flip-flopped from chocolate bread pudding to truffles back to the bread pudding. Then I saw Scott's Cinnabuns. They looked yummy and easy plus just as I finished reading the recipe, a cinnamon role commercial came on TV. Was that a sign? Was someone subliminally saying, "Make the cinnabuns.........make the cinnabuns." I decided that would be the dessert for February.

Our soup this month was Chicken Enchilada with a side salad and corn muffins. Delish! And as with anytime we cook in the staff kitchen, the Library smells wonderful! Customers come in, sniff the air and their whole demeanor softens. Many times they'll ask about what smells so good and several have even asked how they can get a sweet job like ours where we can eat so well. I admit, it is great to see everyone on staff working together and having fun. As for the recipe, I forgot to get the recipe but will try to this week and add it to the post.
The Cinnabuns were so freakin' easy to make! Jim and I had just gotten back from TN the day before the staff meeting so I had to get to work on the cinnabuns as soon as we got home. I put together the dough and let it rise while we ate dinner. By the time we were done, the dough was ready to roll out, schmear, roll and cut. I place the rolls in a large baking dish and put them in the fridge over night. The next morning I carried them to work and let them rise on the kitchen counter until it was time to bake them. I got 18 little buggers out of the batch. I didn't ice them rather I made the icing and put it in a bowl so the staff could ice their own with as much or as little as they wanted. Sorry the picture of the iced ones is a bit fuzzy but trust me they were so good and there were none left over. These two pictured below went home to Jim.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

New York Bagels, Kaiser Rolls and Salt Sticks

I'm in Knoxville this weekend visiting my family and whenever we get together, food is high on the list of things we do. Whether it's getting everyone together to eat at a restaurant or at home, we always find time to spend over a plate of food. This trip, instead of cooking a big meal together, we baked bread. Specifically bagels, kaiser rolls and salt sticks.

Having New York roots, bagels are one of those foods for which there is only one true 'bagel'...a good NY deli bagel. Crusty, chewy and dense. Not like the ones you find in the freezer case at the stores or in the bread aisle which are usually light and fluffy. Blech.....

Finding a true NY style bagel is pretty hard to do in Tennessee and for that matter, not much in where I live in Alexandria has met my standards yet. But after reading several other fellow bloggers rave about the bagel recipe in The Bread Baker's Apprentice, I was curious enough to check it out. I got a copy of the book from the library (not hard to do since I work in one) and looked over the book. The first part of it is filled with basics of bread baking and I learned quite a few things. I also liked the look of the bagel recipe and about a dozen others so I went out and bought the book. That was a year ago. The poor book has been sitting on my cluttered bookshelves until just recently when I thinned out the collection.

Intrigued by my semolina bread, my brother and sister were interested in baking some bread this weekend when I came down to visit and I knew immediately that bagels would be on the list of breads to make. I also scanned a Kaiser roll recipe in the book and threw that one in the mix as well. My dad's favorite breakfast is fried egg on a kaiser roll and I wanted to see if I could re-create an authentic roll for him.

My brother and sister came by our mom's house yesterday around noon and we baked until close to 7:00. We had baked 8 salt sticks (which we also call snake sticks) and 8 kaiser rolls. We put together a starter for the kaiser recipe but decided to try another recipe my sister found that was for the salt sticks and kaisers, a two-fer! While on the small side, the taste was there. Next time instead of the dough being divided into 16, we'll divide it in 8 and just make salt sticks.

And we had two dozen bagels were sitting in the fridge awaiting a nice hot water bath the next morning before being popped in the oven. A sample bite of a salt stick and a kaiser left us pleased with our handiwork. We couldn't wait until breakfast. This morning we finished making the bagels and could hardly wait for them to cool before we tore into one, slathered it with butter and grunted our approval. These were NY bagels and they were damn good!

But we still had the starter in the fridge from the first Kaiser recipe. I decided to go ahead and make the rolls so we could compare the two recipes. I made them bigger as well so a whole fried egg can easily sit on the roll. They came out really nice and smell wonderful but we will wait til tomorrow morning to try them If I can wait that long.
As soon as I get home, I'll try to get the recipes posted as well.
Here are some more pictures of the bounty we baked:
Salt Sticks (aka Snake sticks)
Kaiser Roll


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Thursday, February 15, 2007


Sophie is always on the alert and not afraid to channel for her inner Doberman when she needs to sound or act tough. Not a single squirrel, person or any other moving object escapes her watchful eyes as she peers out our back windows. And you can always tell when she sees something, that fluffy tail goes from hanging down to a slow steady rise. Sort of a critter alert barometer.

Be sure to stop by Sweetnick's on Sunday to see more pooches in her weekly edition of Weekend Dog Blogging.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Osso Buco

Yesterday was Jim's birthday so I got busy in the kitchen making him Osso Buco. We've talked about making this for months but never got around to it. On Friday I saw some veal shanks on sale at the store and picked up a pack. When I got home I perused some of my recently thinned out cookbook collection and found a recipe by Tyler Florence the looked good.

It went together very easily and smelled incredible as it cooked. Sophie kept coming into the kitchen with her nose pointed towards the stove and sniffing the air like crazy. For that matter so did Jim!

I made some instant polenta to go with the dish, but really would rather try to make it the old fashioned way next time. This polenta, on it's own, didn't taste fresh. But once we poured some of the osso buco sauce on top, it tasted much better. Hell, stewed skunk would have tasted good with the sauce. It was rich, hearty and bursting with flavor. I think we dunked about half a loaf of bread into it. We also has some Brussels sprouts on the side.

I didn't make the gremolata as I realized too late that I didn't have all of the ingredients, but it really wasn't missed. The dish was so amazing and one recipe I will happily make again.


Serves 6 to 8

1 cup all-purpose flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 pieces of veal shank for osso buco
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 lemon, zest peeled off in fat strips with a vegetable peeler
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 bottle dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
1 (141/2-ounce) can low-sodium beef broth
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, hand-crushed

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 anchovy fillet
2 garlic cloves
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Put the flour in a large shallow platter and season it with a fair amount of salt and pepper. Get in the habit of always tasting your flour; once it coats the veal it is harder to adjust the seasoning. Dredge the veal shanks in the seasoned flour and then tap off the excess (extra flour will burn and make the dish off-tasting).

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat and hit it with a 3-count drizzle of oil. Add the butter and swirl it around the pan to melt. Sear the veal shanks, turning carefully with tongs, until all sides are a rich brown caramel color. Drizzle with a little more oil if needed. (Do this in batches if the shanks are big and look crowded in the pot.)

Remove the browned veal shanks to a side plate. There will be a lot of flavor left over in the bottom of the pot. You’re going to use that to create your sauce.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Using the same pot, sauté the onion, celery, carrots, lemon zest, garlic, bay leaves, and parsley over medium heat. Cook the vegetables down until they start to get some color and develop a deep, rich aroma. Season with salt and pepper; add a little oil if needed.

Nestle the veal shanks back in the pot. Pour in the wine and let it simmer down for 20 minutes, until the wine has reduced by half. Reducing is key for intense flavor. Add the beef broth and tomatoes and stir everything together. Cover the pot and put it in the oven. Braise for 1.5 hours. Then remove the cover and continue to cook for another 30 minutes. The sauce should be thick and the veal tender and nearly falling off the bone.For the gremolata, mash the pine nuts, anchovy, and garlic together in a mini chopper or with a mortar and pestle. Fold that into the orange zest and parsley. Scatter the gremolata over the Osso Buco before serving.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sophie Sous Chef & WDB

Sophie loves to sit here or just in front of the stove whenever we're cooking in the kitchen. We've affectionately nicknamed her "Sophie sous chef" when we're cooking. In this picture she's patiently waiting for me to drop a scrap of tonights dinner, Osso Buco. Today is Jim's birthday and I'm making it for his birthday dinner, along with some fresh made bread followed by German Chocolate Cake for dessert (his fav). Check back later tonight (or tomorrow) to see the finished dishes.

And if you want to see more pretty hounds, head on over to
Sweetnick's later tonight for this week's edition of Weekend Dog Blogging.


Semolina Bread

I just made the best looking bread ever! I was doubting myself there for a while but I kept going and when the dough was finally kneaded I knew I was on to something good. And this bread kicks ass.

Many years ago when I lived in Nashville, I discovered sesame semolina bread. It was love at first buttery bite. And every now and then I still get a craving for it. My most recent craving was sparked last while I was trying to get over a nasty little cold. I wanted something bready but couldn't quite put my finger on what I wanted. That's when I saw a picture of semolina bread called Pane Siciliano in The Bread Baker's Apprentice. That was all I needed to get the gears in motion. On Friday I was finally back among the living and we were in need of groceries so I headed to the store. One my list, semolina flour.

Last night I began to really look at the recipe for and realized it was going to take 3 days to put together. Rats. I didn't have have three days but I did see another recipe online that only took 2 days. So I struck a compromise by using the recipe for the 2 day version but shaped the bread like the Pane Siciliano.

But I wasn't quite sure how it would turn out when I first started. For one thing, the started didn't look right. It was too firm not loose like the recipe called for but I went ahead and set it to rest overnight anyway. By morning, it was about three times it's size but still looked too dense. I still plowed ahead and once I had the dough mixed and partially kneaded in my mixer, I turned it out onto the counter and began to knead it by hand. I knew almost immediately that what I had was spot on. After a few minutes of kneading I had what was just about the most perfect dough I've ever put together, silky smooth and elastic. An hour of rising provided me more confidence that the bread was going to turn out good. I punched it down, divided it into 4 parts and rolled it out, rolled it up then coiled it from opposite ends to form an "S".

Two loaves got egg washed and sprinkled with sesame seeds and the other two just got egg wash. A second rising and then they were baked.

The result: amazing! Half of one sesame loaf is already gone. Thankfully I now have starter on hand so I can make more in just one day!


1/4 cup warm water (105°F. to 115°F.)
1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
3/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons water, room temperature
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

2 1/2 cups warm water (105°F.°F. to 115°F.)
2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
3 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3 3/4 cups finely ground semolina flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
Additional semolina flour

For Starter:
Combine 1/4 cup warm water and yeast in medium bowl. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 10 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons room temperature water. Add flour in 3 additions, stirring well after each addition Stir until mixture has consistency of thick sticky dough, about three minutes. Light oil large bowl. Transfer starter to a bowl. Cover with plastic; let rise at cool room temperature until tripled in volume (starter will be slightly wet and thick), at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours. (Can be made 5 days ahead. Stir down starter, cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.)

For Bread
Pour 2 1/2 cups warm water into large bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Sprinkle yeast over; let stand until dissolved, about 10 minutes. Measure 2/3 cup starter (reserve remainder for another use). Rub between fingers, allowing starter to drop into yeast mixture (starter will be stringy). Beat until some of the starter dissolves. Combine flour, 3 3/4 cups semolina and salt in large bowl. Add to yeast mixture in 3 additions; beat until incorporated. Turn out unto floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes.

Oil large bowl. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic. Let rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Butter 2 heavy large baking sheets. Punch down dough. Divide into 4 pieces. Cover 3 pieces with clean towel. Roll remaining piece on floured surface to 14x8 inch rectangle. Starting at 1 long edge, roll up dough jelly roll style. Press ends and seam to seal. Coil the dough from opposite ends in opposite directions to form an "S" , repeat rolling and shaping with remaining dough pieces. You can apply an egg wash and cover the bread with sesame seeds if you like.

Cover shaped dough with clean towel. Let rise in warm draft-free area until doubled, about 45 minutes. Preheat your oven to 450°F. If you are using baking stones, let them sit in oven for 30 minutes once it reaches 450 to assure even heating.

Place 1 baking sheet on each stone. Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, alternating sheets between racks halfway through baking, about 25 minutes. Cool bread on racks. Makes 4 small loaves.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Something to hold you over...

...while I recover from a nasty cold. I hope to be back posting yummy recipes soon including this lovely rolled pork tenderloin we made a couple of weeks ago. The filling is spinach, Myzithra (also spelled Mizithra) cheese, and mushrooms.Today, with no sense of smell or taste, I bravely made beef stew. When Jim got home from work, he made cornbread (in an iron skillet, of course) to go with it. Didn't get pics but there are leftovers so I'll snap a shot then. It was warm and filling and just right for a cold night like tonight.

And those of you waiting your cookbooks, I will try to get them mailed this week once I feel better.

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