Good for Company Archive

Sticky Sticky Buns

I bookmarked the recipe for these decadent buns the from the moment I got Flour. I always put it off – brioche takes time, and there are multiple parts, and it just seemed like a lot of work and pre-planning. I thought maybe Thanksgiving weekend would be a good time to try them, but was still on the fence until the day before Thanksgiving, when I scored some fresh yeast. The recipe says you can use dry or fresh yeast, but I had it in my head that I needed fresh – and everyone seemed to be out of it.

Fresh yeast aquired from a local independent market, I set out to make the buns. I originally planned on making the caramel on Wednesday and the brioche on Thursday, but quickly realized I could easily make everything on Wednesday so the dough was ready to roll out and proof for the second time on Thursday. The caramel in the recipe is easy to make and can be done up to a couple of weeks ahead. I made the cinnamon sugar filling and set it aside, and made the brioche in the stand mixer using the dough hook. I don’t know if it was the fresh yeast or if this is just the best brioche recipe I’ve ever made, but it was an object of beauty. Pliable and soft, easy to handle with just the right amount of stretch. It poofed up great in the refrigerator overnight, rolled out great on Thursday, but the buns looked a little lonely in the pan. It only makes eight, and they nestled into a 9×13 without even touching.

The second proof is supposed to be for a couple of hours on the counter, but I just stuck the formed buns in the refrigerator overnight, and Larry took them out about a half hour before they went into the oven the next morning. the original plan was for Brian to stay overnight with us as usual, but he had to go into work late Thursday night (boooo) so there we were, with eight sticky buns – the obvious solution was to throw together an impromptu neighborhood brunch (well, just Assana and Dan and Chris). So much fun! I threw a bunch of bacon in the oven and we dug in to the buns. They were amazingly good. The caramel is rich, not too sweet. I used Italian chestnut honey in it – not a delicious honey on its own, but it was terrific in the caramel. These are an absolute must for the next breakfast get-together we have, and we love the idea of having a casual, post-holiday breakfast.

For the recipe, go here.

  • Sticky Sticky Buns (Flour, p. 84)
Avocado Edamame Salad

Our friend Lisa was in town for a few days from Toronto, so we had planned to meet up for dinner. Then I realized I had everything on hand for a quick weeknight dinner. And Lisa is Vegan, but it seems like lately I’m always stocked up on fresh vegetables, tempeh and edamame.

This, of course, is our favorite way to eat tempeh. I’ve started cutting the tempeh up a bit smaller at Larry’s request, and it’s nice that way. I love the salty-spicy mix of the dish. I added our standard caesar salad (appropriate, since it was Lisa & Mark who gave me The Conscious Cook) and roasted Brussels sprouts – they’re available on the stalk right now. All they need is high heat, olive oil, salt and pepper.

At the last minute I decided to add the avocado and edamame salad. We had radishes from the farmshare, dug up that same day, and since I didn’t have scallions for some reason I just used sliced shallots. I liked the salad more than Larry did. It was easy to make, bright flavors and full of creamy avocado. The recipe is online at Joy the Baker, and even though Joy is primarily a baker, I’m glad she includes things like this salad on her site.

  • Black Pepper Tempeh (Super Natural Every Day, p. 141)
  • Caesar Salad with Focaccia Croutons (The Conscious Cook, p. 57)
  • Avocado & Edamame Salad (Joy the Baker)
  • Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • I had my doubts about this tart. Orange desserts are definitely not at the top of my list. I don’t drink soda and I’ve never been crazy about Creamsicles. Plus there are a lot of steps to putting the tart together. It needs time to chill at various points in the recipe and is probably best to get most of it made up the day before, whipping up the topping just before serving.

    The filling gets thickness from eggs and gelatin (this isn’t a vegetarian tart). I used Henry Weinhard’s Orange Cream Soda, and had a little sip before I added it to the filling. Yum. Orange cream soda is a different animal than Orange Crush. The tart dough also has a bit of orange zest in it, but not overpowering. And it’s only slightly finicky and baked up really beautifully. The topping is absolutely delicious, with just the right amount of orange cream soda and sugar added.

    We’re surprised and delighted to find how much we like this. It would make a great dessert for a dinner party – easy to do ahead, and unique so it won’t be forgotten.

    I baked this tart as part of the Baked Sunday Mornings baking group. To see the other entries and get the recipe, head on over to Baked Sunday Mornings.

    I’ve been relatively content with the Good Eats pasta dough recipe I’ve been using, but when someone suggested I try out Thomas Keller’s recipe, I was intrigued. It’s got a lot more fat than other recipes – 6 egg yolks and an egg, plus a bit of milk. Kathy and I set out to make it together. We made a well with the flour (we used 00 instead of all-purpose) and added the liquids, then I stirred with my finger while Kathy made sure the flour dam didn’t break. Then, she kneaded it. For a long time. And it was a gorgeous, silky dough. We pushed most of it through the pasta attachment to made bucatini, but it’s very elastic and sturdy and the machine had trouble getting out the last bit.

    Kathy suggested we just hand-roll the leftover dough. I’ve never hand-rolled pasta dough, but this dough is so easy to work with, it was a breeze. We rolled it very thin, then hand-cut it into fettuccine. This is my new dough standard, more work but worth it. And the bucatini all’amatriciana is outstanding.

    Wine: Williams Selyem 2007 Rochioli Riverblock Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley, California). I’ve never had a Williams Selyem I don’t like. This one is delicious, fruitier than last night’s Kosta Browne, and Larry liked it better.

    I’m in love with these oatcakes. They’re dense, slightly sweet and heartier than a muffin. I love them plain or with a bit of honey. I used all whole wheat pastry flour, but they can be made gluten-free by using spelt flour. I realized in the middle of mixing them up that I didn’t have any flax seeds, so I used a mixture of ground golden flax and chia seeds. I know, I happen to have chia seeds but no flax seeds?

    Find the recipe for the oatcakes here.

    I just love shortbread. I like that it’s rich and decadent without being fancy. It’s buttery goodness. And it’s super easy to make. This version is particularly easy, quickly coming together in the food processor. The recipe comes from Melissa Clark, food writer and author of the terrific book In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite.

    Melissa’s recipe is for a giant batch of shortbread, cooked in a sheet pan and serving 30-40 people. I love that the recipe is easily scaled – instead of using 5 sticks of butter, use 3 sticks or 2 sticks. The large batch can’t be made at once in the food processor anyway so she breaks it down into two batches that get hand-combined at the end. I made the batch with 2 sticks, using an 8-inch square pan. I’ve included the shorter recipe in this post, but Melissa’s full recipe can be found here. Perfect, and delicious. I love the combination of nutmeg and maple, and am thinking this recipe is a perfect vehicle for all sorts of different flavor combinations.

    I’m definitely keeping this handy for our next party – perfect cookie to serve for a crowd of hungry people.

    Maple Nutmeg Shortbread
    From Melissa Clark
    Makes about 25 small squares

    Ingredients
    2 sticks unsalted butter
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
    1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
    1 tablespoon Grade B maple syrup
    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    Instructions
    1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line an 8×8-inch baking sheet with parchment.
    2. Cut the butter into slices. In the food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, salt, and nutmeg. Add the butter, syrup, and vanilla. Pulse until mixture forms a moist dough. Dump dough on the counter next to the rest of the dough.
    4. Gently knead the dough until it is just combined. Press dough evenly into the prepared baking pan. It should reach all the edges of the pan. It might look like there isn’t enough dough but keep pressing it into place. Score the dough all over with a fork.
    5. Transfer to the oven and bake until golden and firm, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool completely, then cut into squares. Store in an airtight container.

    Our favorite restaurant in Reno is Daughter’s Cafe. We go there without fail every time we’re in Reno, sometimes multiple times. They’re normally open for breakfast and lunch, sometimes dinner, and for Sunday brunch. It’s just outside of downtown Reno on the West side, a couple of blocks from the river. Going to eat at Daughters is like going to someone’s house to eat – literally, because the restaurant is on the ground floor of a big house that the owner still lives in. And the food is terrific. Limited menu, not fast or inexpensive. There are usually a handful of choices, and whatever you order usually comes with some sort of homemade bread (or scone or biscuit), a salad and dessert. They serve excellent beignets, better than any we’ve had in New Orleans.

    I tend to get whatever’s vegetarian on the menu, but a few months ago I finally gave in and ordered the chicken paprikas that I kept seeing on the menu. My mom made a version of the dish growing up, and it was good – something she made a lot, especially for company – but not my favorite. Daughter’s version of the dish is fantastic. It’s her family recipe and is a soupy, creamy chicken stew that’s served over simple rustic dumplings. I went on and on about it to Larry (he wasn’t in Reno with me), and now that I’ve made it he agrees – it’s absolutely delicious. Her recipe can be found on her blog, but I’m including it here to include some revisions and clarifications. Both the chicken and the dumplings heat up great for leftovers, we just kept them separately stored in the refrigerator. I think next time I’ll use light sour cream to ease up on calories. I don’t think it’ll make a noticeable difference in texture or flavor.

    Hungarian Chicken Paprikas
    Note: for more gravy, you can increase the water and sour cream; just keep the ratio the same
    1 onion, chopped
    4 tablespoons butter
    1 tablespoons paprika
    3/4 tsp pepper
    1 tablespoon salt
    3-4 lbs bone-in chicken pieces
    4 cups water
    2 cups sour cream

    Brown onion in butter until soft. Add chicken and stir occasionally for about 10 minutes. Add paprika, pepper, and salt, and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Add water, cover, and simmer slowly for 30-45 minutes; until chicken is done. Remove chicken to cool, and whisk sour cream into liquid in pan and simmer to thicken. Remove chicken from bone and break into bite-sized pieces; return to sauce in pan. Serve hot over hot dumplings.

    Dumplings
    6 cups flour
    4 eggs
    3 cups water
    2 tsp salt

    Put a large pot of salted water on stove to boil. Combine all ingredients in a mixer bowl and blend until the mixture is glue-like. When water is boiling, drop small spoonfuls of dumpling mixture into the boiling water. Finished dumplings will float; stir and boil for about 5 minutes. Drain dumplings and serve with paprikas sauce.

    One of my friends from high school came for dinner tonight. I’ve known Mark for 28 years and have never cooked for him. Pressure! We had a really nice time, and I stuck to things that I had made before and could be put together at the last minute. One of my favorite appetizers is this chive dip. So simple and creamy with a perfect amount of chives. I also made up a batch of smoked trout dip, which is just smoked trout, creme fraiche and chives.

    I’ve made this chocolate cake before. It’s terrific, but not for the faint of heart. It’s never come together flawlessly, but frosting covers a multitude of sins. Sins in this case were an overly runny ganache, a layer that almost completely crumbled and a broken filling.

    • Chive and Pine Nut Dip with Sourdough Toasts (Gourmet, June 2005)
    • Smoked Trout Rillettes (Fine Cooking #42, January 2001, p. 44)
    • Sear-Roasted Pork Chops with Balsamic-Fig Sauce (Fine Cooking #71, May 2005, p. 40)
    • Arugula Salad with Grapes, Fennel, Gogonzona & Pecans (The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2008, p. 30)
    • Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta (Fine Cooking #57, May 2003, p. 86C)
    • Glazed Carrots (Fine Cooking #42, January 2001 p.24)
    • Cinnamon-Caramel-Ganache Layer Cake (Fine Cooking #96, January 2009, p. 86)

    Wine: 2006 Williams Selyem Weir Vineyard Pinot Noir (Yorkville Highlands, California)

    As far as candy bars go, Almond Joy were always one of my favorites. This tart tastes exactly like an Almond Joy, so I loved it. Larry? Not so much. He’s not a picky eater at all, but coconut is definitely not one of his favorite things. The recipe makes six small tarts, perfect for company. They’re really pretty and even though there are a lot of steps involved, they’re still pretty easy to make.

    The recipe calls for white chocolate in the filling, and a mixture of milk and dark chocolates on top. I used high quality chocolates: Amano white, Michel Cluizel milk and Valrhona dark. There’s not much else to the filling besides a bit of rum and the coconut, so quality of ingredients counts here.

    For the recipe, head on over to Baked Sunday Mornings!

    I do not like pumpkin. I can tolerate it sometimes if it’s baked into a cake or muffin or quickbread, but I don’t like it all baked into a pie or as a squash side or main dish. It needs to be hidden. But we had three sugar pie pumpkins in the pantry from the farmshare, and I can only make so much pumpkin pie from scratch (okay, I haven’t done it yet but I don’t plan on making more than one).

    This stuffed pumpkin is really easy and the recipe (written by Dorie Greenspan) is just an outline. I just followed the recipe as it was posted since it was the first time I made it, and it was really good. I think the cheese hid the pumpkin for me. Another bonus: this is a great presentation and would be fun to serve to guests.