Monthly Archives: July 2010

“Best of 2000” Cinnamon Buns – End of July NaBloPoMo

First of all, thank you Ms. Kanis! You were always a wonderful, attentive, fair teacher who knew what she was doing!

This recipe came from a cooking class I took back in high school. No other cinnamon bun recipe, prior to, or post, this one, has impressed me as much. To me, these are truly the BEST. Not just from the year 2000 either.

Very few foods offer me the pleasure of wiping my brain clean, then flooding with the very taste and texture of it. I don’t often go, “WOW, this is GOOD.” Once was a pizza I ate in junior high, it tasted vaguely of butter. Don’t ask. Another time was during eighth period Culinary Arts, a single bite of cinnamon sugar encrusted brioche-tasting dough.

After I lost the recipe last year, I have searched up and down, in and out, for it. Finally, when I went back to Jersey earlier this summer I visited Ms. Kanis at my high school to get a copy. So so happy I have it again. It’s gem.

I think I can justify eating one for breakfast if it wasn’t glazed. Save the glazed ones for dessert, although the glazed ones are definitely better than the non-glazed. The taste of butter dominates in the glaze and adds an extra “oomph” to the bun. These are sticky, chewy, gooey. Everything you need in a cinnamon bun.

This remains one of the only recipes that I do not alter.

“Best of 2000” Cinnamon Buns
adapted from Ms. Kanis, WWPHSS, with much love and gratitude
makes 12 large buns

Dough:
1 package active dry yeast, or 2 1/4 tsp.
1/2 c. warm water
1/3 c. plus 1/2 tsp. sugar, divided
1/2 c. warm milk
1/3 c. butter, unsalted, softened
1 tsp. salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 1/2 c. to 4 c. all-purpose flour or bread flour

Filling:
1/2 c. melted butter, unsalted, divided
3/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp. sugar, divided
1 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
3/4 c. chopped walnuts, I toasted mine first
3/4 c. raisins, optional, we didn’t use it in class, and I’ve never used it

Glaze:
1/3 c. melted butter, unsalted
2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2-4 Tbsp. hot water

To make the dough:

  1. Combine yeast, warm water, and 1/2 tsp. sugar in a measuring cup and stir, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix warmed milk, remaining 1/3 c. sugar, butter, salt, and egg; stir well and add yeast mixture.
  3. Add half the flour and beat until smooth. Work in enough of the remaining flour to make a slightly stiff dough, it will be sticky.
  4. Turn out onto a well-floured counter. Knead 5-10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour to the work surface as needed to keep it from sticking. As Ms. Kanis used to say, “As smooth as a baby’s bottom, or as smooth as my grandmother’s cheek.”
  5. Place in a well-buttered bowl, cover and let ruse until doubled in bulk. You can place it in the fridge overnight.

To make the filling:

  1. Punch down the dough and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll out on floured counter into a 15 by 20 inch rectangle.
  2. Spread dough with 1/4 c. melted butter.
  3. Mix together 3/4 c. sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over buttered dough. Sprinkle walnuts and raisins, if using.
  4. Roll up jelly-roll fashion, starting from the short side, so you end up with a 15 inch. log. Pinch edges to seal and cut into 12 slices
  5. Coat the bottom of a 9 by 13 baking pan (I used two 9 inch round pans) with remaining 1/4 c. melted butter. Sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar. Place slices close together in pans. Cover and let rise until doubled. Once again, you can refridgerate overnight. For a treat in the morning!
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 23-30 minutes, or until nicely browned. Let cool slightly, then spread with glaze.

To make the glaze:

  1. Mix melted butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Add hot water 1 Tbsp. at a time until glaze is of desired consistency.
  2. Stir again before using.

If there is anything that makes me happy, even when I’m down, it’s these cinnamon buns. It fills your house with the comforting scent of cinnamon and sugar and your heart with happiness. Enjoy. 🙂

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Filed under Breads, Breakfast, Comfort Food, Pastries

Ribs for Lunch

Alas, we have come to the end of July, which means the conclusion of my National Blog Posting Month. I have posted every day for the past month, and I have enjoyed sharing both food stuffs and life stuffs with you. Although there were a couple days when I wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t have blogged, if not for my commitmend, I stuck it through, and I’m glad I did.

For this last post, I have no real food stuffs because, unfortunately, I’ve been out all day, to a company-sponsored BBQ lunch. Ribs was the main idea. Accompanied by the traditional potato salad, coleslaw, Boston baked beans, and a myriad of other sides. The meat was juicy but could have been cooked a tad longer, for more smokey goodness. I had strawberry shortcake for dessert, and make-your-own ice cream sundae for post-dessert.

Sadly, no other pictures of food since I have both an old camera and old batteries, which means the battery life is about 30 pictures. They are happily getting replaced soon.

I’m currently baking my brother a birthday cake. It will be in the shape of a soccer ball. Wish me luck! 🙂

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Filed under Meat, Uncategorized

Double Bean Fried Rice with Cashews

We always have leftover rice at our house. Always. It’s because no one like rice, except my brother. But my dad actually gets offended and yells at me if I give Franklin more rice at the dinner table.

That is why we always have leftovers.

Which is the blank canvas for a plethora of different kinds of fried rice. Lunch was fried rice with green beans and green soy beans (available at Asian food markets). Also toasted cashews, which adds a great nuttiness and crunch to every bite.

Double Bean Fried Rice with Cashews

2 c. leftover white rice, fluffed
1/2 c. whole cashews, coarsely chopped
1 c. trimmed green beans, cut in 1/4 inch segments
1 c. frozen green soy beans
1/4 lb. kielbasa sausage, diced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 green onions, sliced
2 Tbsp. oil
salt to taste

  1. Heat oil in a hot wok over medium high heat. Add green onions, garlic, and cashews.
  2. Toast, stirring, for about a minute. Add the sausage and brown for about a minute.
  3. Add the green beans and cook for about three minutes, or until tender.
  4. Add the soy beans and heat through. Finally add the rice and distribute evenly throughout the vegetables.
  5. Heat for an additional three minutes. Salt to taste.

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Filed under Chinese, Lunch

Baking with Carolyn

I had my chocolate fix today. It should last at least a week. My sister, Carolyn, made a large batch of large brownie cookies with me. Usually I don’t break out the box mixes, but it’s much easier for Carolyn to begin to learn about baking if we work with a mix.

And it was good.

When you prepare a brownie mix the normal and place humongous scoops of it on a cookie sheet and bake it at 350 degrees you end up with ginormous black forest dark cookies. These disks have wonderfully chewy edges that remind one of candy and meltingly tender centres. Oh yeah, they also pack an impossible chocolate punch. Even the most die-hard chocoholics will need milk with these cookies.

I am no die-hard anything, except maybe for kouign aman, so by the time I had my third bite I was quite deliriously reaching for milk. Then I had a tenth bite, a fifteenth bite, and so on.

If you love chewy brownies, these kick the chewiness up ten notches. Next time you make brownies, make them into cookies instead. You will not regret it.

P.S. Carolyn makes a great little helper!

P.P.S. She helped me whip up a batch of cinnamon buns too, so guess what we are having for breakfast tomorrow? 😉

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Filed under Bars and Brownies, Chocolate, Cookies, Desserts

The Best of BetterBaking.com

This is one of my favourite cookbooks, of all the ones I own. I think I was first drawn in by the most breathtaking photo of a cheesecake I’d ever seen. It looked moist and soft and creamy and luscious and sinful. It was an Oreo cheesecake, but the author, Marcy Goldman explained that it was renamed because the company mailed her, asking her to stop using the name because of copyright issues. She did, and pointed out that it was out there in print from countless sources in countless recipes. She had a point.

The book includes many little stories like that, related to the recipes. She also offers tidbits of advice and suggestions throughout the book. It’s just so useful.

I’d always been drawn in by her recipe of a pastry called kouign aman, it’s also on my wish list of things to make. She describes that she found it in a little pastry shop in Montreal. This didn’t strike me as anything special until earlier this year when I realized, after sxploring the bakeries in Montreal, where I’d moved to for school, that the bakery that I have come to love was the exact same bakery described in her book! What a wonderful coincidence. Kouign aman is my vice, well, one of them anyways. I encourage you to find some, if you could. After the first taste, there is no turning back.

I understand there is a new edition now with a few new recipes. I would be interested in seeking what new yummy things she has added. Who knows? Since Ms. Goldman is based in Montreal, she might mention another bakery that I frequent. I encourage you to check out her website also.

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Green Beans with Onions

If I could only eat three vegetables for the rest of my life I would choose:

  1. Broccoli!!!
  2. Green Beans or asparagus (although apparently asparagus makes one’s er, urine, smell funny…)
  3. Onions

And this dish has two of the vegetables on my list. Gotta be good right? At least to me it was. I like to cook green beans till they are a little soft, not crunchy at all. My dad claims that not well-cooked green beans, i.e. crunchy beans, are toxic, but I’m not sure he has actual proof for that. I just like the softer texture better.

I also used a little bit of bacon grease. I am fairly health-conscious, but bacon grease is good stuff. I actually have a tupperware of it in the fridge, mixed with Chinese sausage as well as Italian sausage grease. Might sound kind of gross to you, but a little pat of the thing melted in a wok does wonders on vegetables. You get a meatiness without using actual meat. Of course, if you are a vegetarian, skip.

This is terribly simple to make. Trim the beans, slice the onions. Melt the bacon grease, or add a couple tablespoons of oil. Add the vegetables and stir. Place the lid on and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring every few minutes. The beans will be tender and the onions soft. Great quick side dish!

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Filed under Dinner, Side dishes

Chicken Stir-Fry with Broccoli and Carrots

Here is a fairly classic stir-fry combination, at least around my house. You get kind of a tri-colour effect, green-orange-white, which is very eye appealing. The key here is to marinate the chicken briefly with cornstarch added to incorporate flavour and to promote tenderness. If you just slice and fry, the chicken breast will dry out.

Another very important thing is to fry the chicken first, then the vegetables, then add the chicken back to the wok. This prevents the chicken from becoming overcooked.

I used about one tablespoon of a Korean sweet chili sauce. It’s not enough to get a discernible increase in the heat of the dish, but it does give an anonymous sweetness and very very subtle kick to the dish. Feel free to leave it out if you don’t have the ingredient.

Chicken Stir-Fry with Broccoli and Carrots
serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as part of a multi-course meal

1 lb. chicken breast, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. light soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Chinese rice wine
generous pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. corn starch
1 crown broccoli, broken into florets
2 medium carrots, cut on a bias into slices
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
2 green onions, sliced
3 Tbsp. oil, divided
1 tsp. Sichuan peppercorns
1 Tbsp. Korean chili sauce, optional
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Mix together the chicken, soy sauce, rice wine, salt, and corn starch with your fingers. Set aside for 15 minutes, while you chop the vegetables.
  2. Heat a wok on medium high heat. Add 2 Tbsp. oil when hot. Add the peppercorns and toast for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the ginger, garlic, and green onions. Fry for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  4. Add the chicken, stir-fry until cooked, about 5 minutes. Be sure to separate all the pieces. Remove from the wok and set aside.
  5. Reheat the wok with the remaining Tbsp. oil. Add the chili sauce and fry for 30 seconds.
  6. Add the broccoli and carrots, toss in a couple Tbsp. cold water. Stir well and cover. Cook 2-3 minutes and stir again. Continue to add little bits of water and covering the wok until vegetables are cooked crisp tender. Salt to taste.
  7. Add the chicken back to the wok and stir together. Heat 2-3 minutes until all is heated through. Serve with rice.

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Filed under Chicken, Chinese, Dinner, Meat