Honey Butter Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

With tomorrow being Thanksgiving Day, it seems like baking some special little dinner rolls for the occasion would be in order.

Bread making has always been a carefully protected symbol of civilization. The Greeks would let only priests make bread — they reasoned that dealing with the ‘staff of life’ was the business of those trained in religious matters. The Romans, a practical-minded people, turned bread baking over to the Civil Service and enforced rigid sanitary regulations. In any case, it has always been an integral  part of history.

Pan or dinner rolls, a name given to small pieces of dough, shaped and baked in a pan with their sides touching. This prevents them from flattening out, instead springing upwards.

At our house we love pan buns. For some strange reason, both of us enjoy baked goods when they are very lightly baked rather than dark and crispy. Pan buns usually fit that description.

These PUMPKIN DINNER ROLLS  check all the boxes. For Thanksgiving, they’re just a little bit more special as well as being a suitable accompaniment for soups and stews during the fall and winter months. If you like pumpkin, I think you will enjoy them.

Honey Butter Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
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Servings
10 rolls
Servings
10 rolls
Honey Butter Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
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Servings
10 rolls
Servings
10 rolls
Ingredients
Dough
Honey Butter
Servings: rolls
Instructions
  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat milk & butter about 45 seconds. Whisk until butter has melted smoothly into the milk; add egg, pumpkin puree & whisk again to combine. Heat again about 15 seconds to warm total mixture. In a large mixing bowl, add remaining dough ingredients along with pumpkin/milk mixture.
  2. Combine & knead dough on a lightly floured surface 5-8 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Grease bowl lightly, place dough in bowl & turn to grease all sides of dough ball. Cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise in a draft-free place until dough has doubled in bulk.
  3. Spray work surface with baking spray, punch dough down & turn onto surface. Divide dough into 10 equal portions; roll each into a ball. Place dough balls into a sprayed, 9 x 9-inch square pan; cover with plastic wrap & place in a draft-free area until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a small bowl, melt butter & add honey; stir to combine. Before baking, generously brush the rolls with honey butter; reserving any extra to brush on after baking.
  5. Bake 15-17 minutes or until puffed & golden. After removing from oven, brush with any remaining honey butter & allow to cool slightly before serving.
Recipe Notes
  • For some extra 'butter' to serve with rolls, whisk together equal parts softened butter & honey until fluffy.
  • MAKE AHEAD OPTION:   Once you have the rolls in the baking pan, cover with foil & place in refrigerator overnight. When ready to bake, bring the rolls to room temperature & allow to rise about 45 minutes before baking.
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Fideua` — Seafood Paella with Pasta

In 2014, before returning home to Canada from a European holiday, Brion and I spent 12 days in the Dominican Republic. We stayed at a resort called Sanctuary Cap Cana. The beauty of the area was just incredible. This was a little ‘wind down’ to just enjoy a bit of sea, sun and sand. When we went to supper one evening, a chef was preparing a HUGE  pan of Fideau`.

Anyone familiar with Spanish cuisine knows about paella, the saffron-flavored rice dish made with varying combinations of vegetables , meat, chicken and seafood. It belongs to the list of the most popular Spanish icons like bullfighting and flamenco dancing.

  Fideau`, on the other hand is the lesser known dish but is very similar. Instead of using rice, it is made with short pasta and embodies a different texture. Both are cooked in a shallow, wide flat metal pan (paellera) which lets the starch cook evenly and the water evaporate uniformly. Good soup stock or seasoning sauce is a key ingredient to achieve the traditional deep flavor. Another important thing is to add hot water slowly at intervals while cooking to make sure the rice or pasta do not become too dry or too moist.

That was the first time either of us had heard about fideau`. It was a little spicy for me but Brion just loved it. This is my own version I made when we came home!?

Fideua` -- Seafood Paella with Pasta
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Servings
2-4
Servings
2-4
Fideua` -- Seafood Paella with Pasta
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Servings
2-4
Servings
2-4
Instructions
  1. In a 14-inch skillet or paella pan, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil on medium -high heat ; add fideo pasta. Sprinkle with salt & pepper; cook, stirring almost constantly until they darken slightly.
  2. Add broth, clam juice, garlic, salt & pepper, saffron threads (turmeric), Italian herbs, hot pepper sauce; simmer for 5 minutes. Add onion, tomato & peas; simmer about 10 minutes until onion & pasta are tender.
  3. Add shrimp & scallops; cook about 5 minutes, stirring gently. Adjust seasoning if necessary & serve with lemon wedges if desired.
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Bagels

Its always the story behind the food — not just the bit that we hold in our hands or put in our mouths that makes it so much more than just something to eat.

The origin of the bagel is still an issue for debate. Most food historians have come to the conclusion that the bagel is of Jewish origin. Apparently originating in South Germany, migrating to Poland and then to North America. This boiled and baked roll with a hole, has endured through the centuries not only because of its heroic legend. It also had the advantage of lasting longer than freshly baked bread due to the boiling process giving it an outer sheen and crunchy protective crust.

In the early 1950’s, Family Circle included a recipe for bagels. The copy read: ‘Stumped for Hors d’oeuvers Ideas? Split these tender little triumphs in halves and then quarters. Spread with sweet butter and place a small slice of smoked salmon on each. For variations, spread with cream cheese, anchovies or red caviar.

The morning combination of bagel, cream cheese and lox (smoked salmon), rose in popularity thanks to the advertising efforts of Joseph Kraft for Philadelphia Cream Cheese. It soon became an alternative to Eggs Benedict or the other Sunday trilogy of bacon, eggs and toast.

I remember being in California in the late 70’s and tasting a bagel with cream cheese & lox for the first time. The bakery/cafes were very popular little boutique restaurants at that time and  it was there that I acquired the taste for this glorious combination. 

Bagelmania, replaced, to a certain extent, the doughnut shops of the earlier 20th century. Their popularity was largely because they didn’t taste ethnic. To the bread and sandwich loving population, the bagel was simply a craving for innovation, but not different enough to appear ethnic.

In the 1960’s, preservatives helped create bagels that stayed fresh for more than a few hours and engineers created mixers that didn’t tear themselves apart trying to work the dough.

For classic bagels you require two ingredients that most home bakers’ generally don’t have in their pantries. One is high-gluten flour and the other is malt syrup. Both should be obtainable at natural food markets. If you can’t find high-gluten flour, use bread flour, preferably unbleached. Regular all-purpose doesn’t contain enough gluten to make a proper bagel. As far as the barley malt syrup goes, honey or brown sugar are acceptable substitutes.

All that being said, if you are still up for making a few bagels here is a recipe from cdkitchen.com you might like.

 

Homemade Bagels
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Homemade Bagels
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Dough
Water for Boiling Bagels
'Everything' Topping
Servings:
Instructions
Dough
  1. In a large bowl, stir together water, yeast & sugar. Let rise for 5 minutes. With a wooden spoon, stir in oil, malt & 1 cup of flour. Add salt then enough of remaining flour to make a stiff dough.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, knead for 10-12 minutes. Cover with a floured dish towel & allow dough to rest on board for about 15 minutes. Divide dough into 8 sections & form each section into a ball. Push your thumb through the center, creating a hole, (this method prevents the dough ring from separating as there are no seams). Place on a lightly floured surface, cover & let rest 15-20 minutes, rising about halfway & becoming slightly puffy. In a small bowl, mix all topping ingredients together. Set aside.
Water for Boiling Bagels
  1. Fill a large cooking pot 3/4 full with water. Add the malt syrup & salt. Bring water to a boil. Preheat oven to 450 F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. If desired, sprinkle with cornmeal. Set aside.
  2. Line 2 other baking sheets with a kitchen towel, set near stove. Reduce boiling water to a simmer & cook 2 bagels at a time (do not overcrowd pot). Simmer bagels for about 45 seconds on one side, then turn & cook other side for another 45 seconds. Drain bagels on the towel-lined baking sheet.
  3. Carefully place bagels on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Sprinkle bagels with 'everything' topping, leave plain or use a topping of your choice. Place in the hot oven, immediately reduce heat to 425 F., bake about 17-25 minutes. When almost baked, turn bagels over with a pair of tongs. When golden brown remove from oven & cool on a wire rack.
Recipe Notes
  • For a few sweet versions try cinnamon with raisins or use some dried blueberries or cranberries. 
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Pan Bagnat – The French Picnic Sandwich

HAPPY LABOR DAY!

Can you believe it — Labor Day Weekend already! In our part of the world it signals the last of those coveted summer days. Celebrated in Canada as a national statuary holiday week-end. With the many picnics, gatherings and what have you, this specialty sandwich came to mind.

The ‘pan bagnat’ originated in Nice, a city in the south of France that borders the Mediterranean. The name translates to ‘wet bread’ due to the fact that the traditional sandwich is filled with a ‘Nicoise’ salad. This salad generally consists of leafy greens, olives, hard cooked eggs, with the main proteins being tuna fish and anchovies. It is then dressed with a Dijon vinaigrette.

Although it is typically a French sandwich, it is enjoyed by people all over the world. Overtime, many variations to the classic pan bagnat have been made. For those not fond of fish, ham, chicken and salami are good alternatives. For the vegetarian, artichoke hearts, raw peppers, steamed green beans and shallots. The bread used is usually a round, hearty artisian style bread so that the texture is both crusty and chewy.

To make the sandwich, the center of the loaf is scooped out and the filling is layered inside. It is then refrigerated for at least 2 hours or overnight before slicing and serving. Once the flavors all meld together the taste is incredible, the perfect sandwich for a crowd.

Pan Bagnat - The French Picnic Salad
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Servings
8-10
Servings
8-10
Pan Bagnat - The French Picnic Salad
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Servings
8-10
Servings
8-10
Instructions
  1. Slice the bread in half horizontally. Remove some of the soft interior from both halves; removing MORE from the bottom half than the top. Brush interior of both halves with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil. (If you prefer, you can use mustard/mayo instead)
  2. Layer the meat & cheese inside the bottom half of bread loaf. Begin with ham followed by salami, chicken & cheese. Layer the tomato slices on top of the cheese, followed by the iceberg lettuce Drizzle the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil & the vinegar over the lettuce. Season with salt & pepper.
  3. Place the top half of the bread on the lettuce & press down lightly. Tightly wrap the sandwich in 2 layers of plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day. Sit something heavy on top.
  4. Unwrap the loaf; using a long, serrated knife, cut the loaf into 8-10 wedges.
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Honey Mustard Chicken Salad with Bacon & Avocado

Main course salads, properly thought through are a thing of beauty and ingenuity. Unless you have a dislike for ‘salad’ these are such a great meal option. I guess you could call it ‘all food groups in one meal’.

Having had a food service career, I recall in the 1970’s when the ‘Chef’s Salad’ was all the rage. Of course a decade before that was the self serve salad bars. This idea had started out as a way to keep customers busy until the ‘real’ food came. It was so well liked, people were making it their entire meal. The sideshow had now become the main event so a price had to be set for a ‘salad only’ meal.

Today, the main course salad is only limited by ones imagination. It can be based on ingredients that are already on hand, making the most of your pantry and leftovers in the fridge. Pick up a few fresh ingredients and you got a simple, yet sophisticated salad.

My main course salad choice is a HONEY MUSTARD CHICKEN SALAD with BACON & AVOCADO. Super good meal for the last day of August!

Honey Mustard Chicken Salad with Bacon & Avocado
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Honey Mustard Chicken Salad with Bacon & Avocado
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Instructions
  1. Whisk together dressing/marinade ingredients. Pour half the marinade into a shallow dish to marinade chicken fillets for 2 hours at least. Refrigerate other half of marinade to use as dressing.
  2. In a non-stick skillet, heat a teaspoon of oil & grill chicken fillets on each side until golden, crispy & cooked through. Once chicken is grilled, set aside & allow to rest.
  3. Wipe pan with a paper towel; drizzle with another teaspoon of oil & fry bacon until crisp. Bloat on paper towel after frying; crumble in to pieces.
  4. Slice chicken into strips & prepare other vegetables. Place torn Romaine on 4 serving plates; arrange the other ingredients on top. Whisk 2 Tbsp of water into remaining reserved dressing/marinade & drizzle over salads. Sprinkle crisp bacon crumbles over each salad & season with a little salt & cracked pepper if desired.
Recipe Notes
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Pita Pockets

From what archaeologists can determine, pita bread originated with peoples west of the Mediterranean. Pitas have been both a bread and a utensil throughout the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean.It is a rather  simple bread that could be made with limited technology. Pitas are cooked quickly at a relatively high temperature. The flat dough expands dramatically to form an interior pocket from steam. 

Pitas’ popularity is partially attributed to using the pocket like a sandwich bread. Many traditional cultures use the pita more like a soft taco or the pita is pulled apart into pieces and dipped in a variety of sauces.

The possibilities of being able to pack, dip or wrap whatever you choose in the pita bread is limitless. Their taste can only be appreciated when eating your pita with different foods that will compliment them.

Although pitas are enjoyed all through the year, they seem like an easy summer meal to enjoy.

Pita Pockets
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Pita Pockets
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
Filling
  1. In a large skillet, cook beef, onion & green pepper over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, garlic powder, cumin & Italian seasoning; mix well. Simmer, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes.
Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, bring all the sauce ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes. Spoon meat mixture into pita halves; top with sauce, tomatoes & lettuce.
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Salmon, New Potato & Dill Mini Quiche

It seems logical, since new potatoes and fresh dill are available, to make some of these special little quiche.

When I think of salmon, dill immediately comes to mind. One of the few herbs you can purchase fresh in the supermarkets year round. Dill is a very pretty herb with its feathery leaves or fronds. It has a fresh, grassy flavor that is often referred to as anise-like. A member of the parsley family, it can bring out the flavors of other herbs.

Dill is a commonly used herb in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. Fresh dill is often added to seafood dishes, yogurt sauces, vinegars, potato salads, fresh baked breads and soups as well as making a very gourmet looking garnish.

Quiche had become popular in England after WWII, but it wasn’t until the 70’s and 80’s that it really caught on in North America. Today we have many variations in our quiche fillings. There are also crustless recipes of quiche but some would argue that those can only be classed as ‘baked custard’.

Hot or cold, I have always enjoyed quiche. Brion probably could take it or leave it but I think this SALMON, NEW POTATO & DILL QUICHE  will be real tasty.

Salmon, New Potato & Dill Mini Quiche
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Servings
8 MINIS
Servings
8 MINIS
Salmon, New Potato & Dill Mini Quiche
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Servings
8 MINIS
Servings
8 MINIS
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt. Cut in white & yellow Crisco shortening until it resembles small peas. In a 1 cup measure, place egg & vinegar; combine. Add enough COLD water to fill cup. Pour all at once over flour mixture, mixing quickly, until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. This should only take a couple of minutes; DO NOT OVER MIX PASTRY.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Roll pastry out on a lightly floured surface. Cut 8 circles about 5 3/4" in diameter (providing your mini tart shell pans are 4 3/4" size). Line mini tart pans with pastry & place them on a baking sheet. Place a piece of parchment in each shell, fill it with dry beans & 'blind' bake pastry crust for 6-8 minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 325 F.
  3. Divide grated cheese between tart shells; slice cooked new potatoes over cheese. Top with cubed salmon fillet, green onions & fresh dill. In a small bowl, combine eggs, milk & spices; beat well. Carefully pour equally over each tart. Place in oven & bake for 35-40 minutes or until filling is set & slightly golden. Cool in tin before removing to serve. If desired, sprinkle tops with a little bit more shredded Gouda cheese.
Recipe Notes
  • Smoked or fresh raw, ground salmon can be used instead of salmon fillet.
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Bacon Turkey Burgers

Early turkey burgers were definitely not the most exciting of meals.      For most part, they were dry, tasteless, fat free patties with an unappealing beige color. In the 1970’s, people became aware of the fact that by substituting ground turkey for ground beef made a burger that was a whole lot healthier.

The ‘secret’ we all know, to cooking moist and flavorful turkey burgers is by adding enough moisture to replace the fat they lack. Eggs and breadcrumbs, traditionally used to moisten and bind are good, but a little imagination can add a whole lot more flavor as well as eye appeal. Before adding vegetables, saute them for a few minutes and use a heavier hand with fresh herbs if you choose to use them. Turkey burgers require delicate handling so a heavy, cast iron skillet or one of those ‘Gotham Steel’ copper grills you can place on your barbecue would work great.

I came across this recipe for BACON TURKEY BURGERS  on website called lisasdinnertimedish.com  It combines the turkey with bacon, zucchini and onion. I found it to be real good — not to dry with a hint of the smoky bacon flavor. Well worth trying.

Bacon Turkey Burgers
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Servings
8-10
Servings
8-10
Bacon Turkey Burgers
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Servings
8-10
Servings
8-10
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a skillet, cook bacon until crispy; drain on paper towel. Reserve 1 Tbsp bacon grease. Finely chop bacon, onion, garlic & shred zucchini. Heat bacon grease that remained in skillet & saute onion & garlic until tender.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients & mix with your hands until everything is combined. DO NOT OVER MIX as it tends to make the burgers tough. Form mixture into 8-10 patties.
  3. TO BAKE; transfer patties to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 F. for 15 minutes or until cooked. TO FRY: saute patties on a large griddle or in a large skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes per side, until browned. TO BARBECUE: refer to blog information above.
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Chicken Fajitas

When I’m working in the yard, summer always tempts me to spend less time in the kitchen. As much as I love to cook, I find the ‘gardener’ in me takes over. I can’t simply just go out and do a bit of looking. The first thing I know, there’s a little weed that needs to be picked or a plant to prune and that does it — I’m hooked for hours. Nevertheless, one thing for sure and that is the fresh air and exercise builds an appetite which brings me to a fast-to-fix meal.

Today, I’m thinking some chicken fajitas for our evening meal. Before I even go outside, I’ll do a bit of quick prep work, that way it will be a ‘no brainer’ later when I’m tired.

Technically, only beef was used in fajitas, but the term has become ‘blurred’ and describes just about anything that is cooked and served rolled up in a soft flour tortilla. The origin of the fajita goes back to Mexican ranch workers living in West Texas (along the Rio Grande on the Texas-Mexican border) in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s. When a steer was butchered, the workers were given the least desirable parts to eat for partial payment of their wages. Because of this, the workers learned to make good use of a tough cut of beef known as shirt steak. The first print mention of the word fajitas anywhere in the world didn’t occur until the 1970’s.

The chicken breast I’m using in this recipe is marinated for a number of hours making it nice and spicy as well as tender. This is a great little, quick and easy hand held meal.

Chicken Fajitas
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Chicken Fajitas
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Instructions
  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine 2 Tbsp oil, lemon juice & seasonings. Add chicken. Seal & turn to coat; refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
  2. In a large skillet, saute peppers & onions in remaining oil until crisp-tender. Remove & keep warm. In the same skillet, cook chicken over medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes or until no longer pink. Return pepper mixture to pan; heat through. Spoon filling down the center of the tortillas; fold in half. Serve with cheese & choice of other toppings.
Recipe Notes
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Chicken Kebabs

With the passage of time, Kebabs have managed to find a very significant place in modern day cuisines. Although kebabs have their roots in the Mediterranean and Middle East, they have been able to make their way around the world.

There is something special about warm weather and the smell of grill aromas saturating the air; it just seems to take food to a whole new level.

Tradition has it that kebabs were invented by medieval soldiers who used their swords to grill chunks of freshly hunted animals over open field fires. The word kebab means ‘fry’ but is also synonymous to ‘burning’. The first kebab dates back to 17th century BC, Greece. Akrotiri, a settlement on the Island of Santorini  was buried in volcanic ash which preserved the remains of many objects, etc. In 1967, the site was excavated and unearthed stone sets for barbecuing. The stones were carved to resemble long dog-like animals that would have slots for skewers to lay in. These were called ‘firedogs’.

The nice thing about this meal is that its simple and easy. I guess you could say ‘the pizza of the grill’. The picture at the end of the blog is a very common sight we saw in the streets of Ecuador. Brion and I were never brave enough to try them but it sure smelled good in the open air.

I am using chicken breast for my kebabs today. Nothing fancy, just good eating. Enjoy!

Chicken Kebabs
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Chicken Kebabs
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Instructions
  1. Cut chicken breasts into 18 lengthwise strips; place in a large resealable plastic bag. In another resealable plastic bag place green peppers, onions & mushrooms.
  2. In a large bowl, combine salad dressing, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce & lemon juice. Remove 1/3 cup; cover & refrigerate. Divide the remaining salad dressing mixture between chicken & the vegetables; seal both bags & turn to coat. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.
  3. Drain & discard marinade from chicken & vegetables. Alternately thread chicken & vegetables on 18 metal or soaked wooden skewers. Grill over medium heat for 12-15 minutes or until chicken juices run clear, turning & basting with reserved marinade occasionally.
Recipe Notes
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