Friday, April 29, 2011

Chocolate Bread Pudding

So you didn't get a super pretty plated picture. That's what happens when I want to eat it so I just hurry up and snap a shot ;) Idler's in Paso has a cooking demonstration once a month. I learned this simple recipe there. I've never liked bread pudding before. It's always been more like soggy bread to me. But this is like a dense underdone brownie. So good. I added walnuts but feel free to omit them or change them to another nut. Experiment with it, that's what makes this such a great recipe.


1 One pound loaf of day old bread
1 cup sugar
3 cups milk
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups chocolate syrup
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup nuts


Cut the bread up into small cubes or use a food processor. In a seperate bowl, combine sugar, milk, eggs and syrup. Whisk until well combined. Add the bread "crumbs" and gently stir until well coated. Add nuts if you'd like, reserving about half for the top.

Pour into a greased 13x9 pan. Sprinkle the top with chocolate chips and remaining nuts. Push them down into the bread slightly with a flat palm.  Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees in a water bath (place the 13x9 pan in a larger dish or cookie sheet and fill with water until halfway up the 13x9 pan)

Cool slightly and serve with ice cream, whipped cream and more chocolate syrup.

Braised Beef

This was one of my all time favorite braised beef recipes. It's simple and the meat turned out beautifully. So tender and moist. The potatoes were really good too. The entire meal, braised in one pot, for hours. Easy and so yummy.


Extra-virgin olive oil, for sauteing and drizzling
4 onions, very thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
3 pounds chuck, bottom round or top sirloin steak
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 to 5 starchy potatoes
1 (32-ounce) can Italian tomatoes, sliced or roughly crushed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating
A few fresh basil leaves, torn
1 loaf ciabatta, for serving


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat with a thin layer of extra-virgin olive oil. Add the onions, and garlic to the hot oil and sweat them until very soft and very light caramel in color, 20 to 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and reserve.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add a thin layer of oil to the pan. Pat the meat dry and season very liberally with salt and pepper. Brown the meat to a deep brown all over, 12 to 15 minutes.

Peel the potatoes and very thinly slice them lengthwise into planks. Slice the tomatoes working over a bowl to catch their juices.

Arrange 1/2 the onions over top of the meat, season with salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon thyme. Arrange 1/2 the potatoes over the onions and dress the potatoes with a liberal drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, about 1 tablespoon, salt, pepper, rosemary, and a handful freshly grated cheese. Top the potatoes with 1/2 the tomatoes and their juices, and season with salt and pepper. Scatter a few leaves of torn basil. Repeat the layers. Do not add basil to the top layer of tomatoes.
Cover the pan and roast the meat in the oven until very tender, 4 hours. Cool and store for make-ahead meal.

To reheat: Reheat, covered, in a preheated 325 degree F oven until warmed through, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Take off the lid of the pot, drizzle the top of the meat with oil, sprinkle with cheese, and broil to lightly crust the top. Cut down through the layers of the potatoes, tomatoes, and onions to portion the meat, serve in shallow bowls with crusty bread and pan juices.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

All Day Pork Roast with Apple Chutney and Sweet Mashed Potatoes

And yet another Rachael Ray 5 in 1 recipes. These are usually all the new recipes I try these days. But this is one of the reward meals. The pork roast bakes in the over for 6, that's right SIX, hours. So on your cook day, you season this one up first and toss it in the oven. Later in the day, you pull the rest of it together. The pork was so tender and juicy. The chutney was kinda meh, but as Chad put it, we're not "chutney" people. The sweet potatoes were really good, even without the orange zest it calls for. And the aspargaus is another simple saute with butter, salt and pepper. I wasn't brave enough to try the chard.


1 (5-pound) bone-in pork shoulder
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 medium onions, sliced
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and sliced
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 ribs celery, sliced
5 to 6 fresh bay leaves
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup white wine

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 Fresno chile peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, grated or minced
6 medium Braeburn or Gala apples, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup dark amber maple syrup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt
Freshly grated nutmeg

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup chicken stock
Juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 very large bunch red chard, stemmed and shredded
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg


From 6 hour pork, cook your way through the day with slow-cooked, braised, and simmered comfort foods.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Score the top of the roast in a crosshatch pattern about 3/4-inch apart. Rub the salt, pepper, fennel, and thyme into the pork skin and set the pork into a roasting pan. Roast about 30 minutes, or until crispy on top. Cover the pork tightly with foil and reduce oven to 325 degrees F, and roast about 4 hours.

Remove the pork from the oven and set onto a cutting board. Spoon off most of the fat from the drippings and add the onions, garlic, carrots, celery, bay leaves, salt, and pepper to the pan, and stir to combine. Set the roast on top of the vegetables and cover again with foil, roasting for 1 to 1 1/2 hours more.

Meanwhile, start on the spicy apple chutney and side dishes.

For the spicy apple chutney: Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a saucepot over medium to medium-high heat. Add the onions, chiles, and ginger to the pan and cook to soften, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the apples, dark brown sugar, thyme, maple syrup, cider vinegar, lemon juice, a little salt, and nutmeg. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, until a thick sauce forms. Adjust the seasoning and transfer to a serving dish.

For the sweet potatoes: Cover the sweet potatoes with water in a pot over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, and cook until tender. Drain and return to the hot pot. Mash the sweet potatoes with orange zest, chicken stock, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve.

For the chard: Heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and saute until just tender, about 5 minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Remove the pork roast to a carving board and cover with the roasting foil to tent. Skim the fat again, and then place the roasting pan over medium-high heat on the stovetop. Deglaze the pan with stock, and wine, and stir for a few minutes with a wooden spoon to scrape up all drippings. Strain the sauce and pour it into a serving bowl or gravy boat. Serve the pork with the spicy apple chutney, mashed citrus sweet potatoes and sauteed chard.

Cook's Note: Use the leftovers to make pressed sandwiches on ciabatta bread with extra-sharp white Cheddar cheese and leftover spicy apple chutney.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Portuguese Fisherman's Shrimp and Chorizo

The recipe says shrimp, but I say chicken. I can't eat seafood, so I easily altered this recipe, changing the shrimp to chicken. I was hesitant about the kale, but it was very good. It holds up well to long cooking and doesn't become really soggy like I imaged it would have. The recipe wants you to add the shrimp in the reheating process. This is because the shrimp is delicate and won't hold up to long heating without dreadfully overcooking. But since chicken does well simmering in liquid for long periods, I added it in the begining instead of when it was reheating. This is a very simple "chop and drop" recipe.


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces chorizo, casing removed and chopped

1 starchy potato, peeled and chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped or thinly sliced

1 Fresno or Holland pepper, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

1 small bunch flat-leaf kale, leaves stripped and chopped

Freshly grated nutmeg

1 (15-ounce) can chick peas, drained

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes or diced tomatoes with chiles

3 cups chicken stock

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, deveined and stemmed

Juice of 1 lemon

Portuguese rolls, for serving


Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat, add the chorizo and render 2 minutes. Then add the potato, onion, carrot, garlic, chile pepper, thyme, and bay leaf, soften 5 to 6 minutes. Wilt in the kale and season with a little nutmeg. Stir in the chickpeas, tomatoes, and stock into the pot, bring to a low boil and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Cool and store for make-ahead meal.

Heat the chorizo and vegetable sauce base to a low boil, when ready to serve. Add the shrimp and cook until pink and firm. Add the juice of 1 lemon and turn off the heat. Serve the shrimp and chorizo in shallow bowls garnished with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and warm Portuguese rolls alongside.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Make Ahead Meal - Mexican Beef Stew

This was a great stew. Served with charred tortillas and wedges of lime for squeezing on top. The color is beautiful. My favorite part, besides the bacon of course, is that it calls for large cubes of meat instead of the traditional hamburger. 



6 ancho chiles
2 cups beef stock
Vegetable or olive oil, for drizzling
4 ounces smoky good quality bacon, chopped
2 pounds beef top round, cut into bite-size chunks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
About 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
About 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
About 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (12-ounce) bottle Mexican-style lager beer (recommended: Negra Modelo)
1 (14-ounce) can whole, diced or crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
1 tablespoon honey
Juice of 1 lime


Sour cream

Fresh cilantro leaves

Warm or charred tortillas or rice

Black beans


This dish is a Chili con Carne made with stew meat rather than ground chuck. It is pretty enough to entertain with and made with top round rather than bottom, so it's lean enough to feel good about eating.

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Stem and seed the chiles and place in a pot with beef stock over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently to reconstitute. Cook's Note: Use a little water to supplement if stock alone will not cover peppers.

Heat a large Dutch oven with a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat, and add the bacon to the pan and stir until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon. Pat the meat dry, season with a little salt and lots of black pepper, then add to the bacon drippings and brown evenly to caramelize the meat. Brown the meat in 2 batches if necessary in order not to crowd the pan. Remove the meat and add another drizzle of oil, if necessary. Add the onions, and garlic and soften a few minutes. Stir in the cumin, coriander, cocoa, cinnamon, and cloves, and stir to toast the spices and combine. Deglaze the pan with beer and evaporate.

In a food processor, puree the softened peppers and stock with tomatoes. Pour into the pot, slide the browned meat and bacon back in, and drizzle in the honey. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven for 2 1/2 hours or until the meat falls apart with a fork. Cool and store for a make-ahead meal. Reheat over medium heat and add the lime juice just before serving.

Garnish with sour cream and fresh cilantro leaves, and serve with tortillas or rice and warm black beans

Monday, April 25, 2011

French Chicken in a pot with Druken Au Jus

Are you ready? We're going on a recipe streak. I have several pictures of meals on my memory card. Because of our upcoming vacation, the card has gotta be emptied and I'd rather put the food pics straight to my blog. They're the biggest reason I take them in the first place! And Chad seems to like making fun of me ;)

So our first recipe is a French Chicken. Again this is from Rachael Ray's 5 in a day show. But instead of this being a make ahead meal, this is the reward for your day of cooking. The chicken was delish. I altered her potato recipe a little. I didn't use the cambert cheese, just butter and milk. I did use the turnip though. I gave the potatoes a nice flavor, but not too noticable. Also a great texture. The green beans I simply put in boiling water just short of being done, strained then sauteed with butter, salt and pepper very quickly.


1 (4-pound) whole chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 rib celery and green tops, chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and sliced
2 small sprigs fresh rosemary
1 large fresh bay leaf
2 pounds starchy potatoes, peeled and chunked
1 medium turnip, trimmed and chunked or 2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
1 cup milk or chicken stock, warmed
10 to 12 ounces ripe Camembert or 1 small individual wheel
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 bottle dry white wine (about 1 cup)
Juice of 1 lemon


Remove the giblets, then wash and dry the chicken. Tuck the wings back and underneath the backbone until they stay in place. Season liberally with kosher salt or sea salt and lots of black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat.

Add 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil to the hot pot and brown the chicken breast-side down first, turn using a wooden spoon or closed tongs placed in cavity.

Once the bird has browned on both sides, remove the chicken to a plate and add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary, bay leaf, salt, and pepper, and cover the pan. Sweat the vegetables to make a little pan juice, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place the bird atop the vegetables and cover the pot. Transfer to the oven with the rack at the oven bottom, and roast about 1 1/2 hours, until a thermometer reads a minimum of 165 degrees F at the thickest part of the bird.

About 15 to 20 minutes before the chicken comes out of the oven, place the potatoes and turnips in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook to tender. Drain, and mash with milk, and ripe camembert cheese. Season the potatoes with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, to taste. Cover and turn off the heat to keep potatoes warm.

Place the chicken on a carving board and cover with foil.

In a large pot, bring a few inches of water to a boil for the green beans. Salt the water, and boil the beans 5 to 6 minutes for tender-crisp. Drain and dress with butter.

Pour the pan juices and scrape the solids through a strainer into a bowl and return the pan to stovetop over medium heat. Press down on straining solids to collect all of the pan juices. Add the wine to the hot pan, and scrape up the drippings. Pour in the juices and reduce over a rapid simmer for about 10 minutes to concentrate the flavors. Add the lemon juice and turn off the heat. Transfer to a gravy boat or serving dish.

Carve the chicken and serve with pan juices, potatoes, and beans.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Easter Egg Hunt Playgroup

Thanks to a wonderful group of mommies, Keegan and Reece were able to practice their egg hunting skills last weekend. They had a great time. And Keegan is now obsessed with eggs. I can't wait to give them their Easter basket. And the hunt is going to be tons of fun!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Make Ahead Meal - Brisket with Sage Polenta

Mmmmm  Brisket. Brisket is a great meat for a Make Ahead Meal. This five pound brisket actually made several meals outside of the recipe. The leftovers were used to make shredded beef with mashed potatoes and gravy, and also shredded beef tacos. Chad even got some lunches out of it too. LOTS of meat. And if you get a good price on the brisket, you can't beat the deal.


1 (5 to 5 1/2 pounds) lean beef brisket
Sea or kosher salt and coarse black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium onions, halved and sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
4 fresh bay leaves
A couple pinches ground cloves or allspice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
2 cup chicken or beef stock
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
16 oz precooked Polenta tube
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 pound sliced mixed mushrooms
8 to 10 leaves fresh sage, very thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chicken stock plus 1 cup whole milk or 3 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter, optional
1 cup watercress or upland cress, arugula or fresh flat-leaf parsley tops, for garnish, optional


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Season the meat liberally with salt and pepper. Add a couple of tablespoons olive oil to a large Dutch oven, a couple of turns of the pan, and heat over medium-high heat. Add the meat and brown all over, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the meat from the pan and drain off meat fat if any accumulates. Add another turn or 2 of the pan with extra-virgin olive oil. Add onions, garlic, bay and season with salt and pepper, cook to tender 8 to 10 minutes, add in a few pinches cloves and stir in the tomato paste 1 minute. Next stir in the wine and deglaze the pan, then add the stock and canned diced tomatoes and stir to combine. Settle the meat back into the pot and cover. Bake 1 1/2 hours, then uncover and bake 1 hour to reduce the liquids, then place the cover back on and cook until very tender, 1 1/2 hours more.

Remove the brisket to the carving board and cover with foil to keep warm.

Reduce the sauce a few minutes, simmering gently, uncovered to thicken a bit.

Heat 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat and add garlic and mushrooms, cooking until very tender, season with salt and pepper and stir in sage. Bring the stock-milk mixture to a boil in a saucepot and add the polenta. Whisk the polenta 2 to 3 minutes until it pulls away from the side of the pot. Add the butter, if using and fold in mushrooms.

Slice the brisket and serve with sauce over polenta with mushrooms. Cool half of the brisket and store for later in the week. Scatter a few bitter greens over the top for an optional garnish.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The backscratch

Everyone loves a good back scratch. But more than likely no one loves it more than Reece. Whatever he is in the middle of the world stops for the back scratch. We have employed this tool to our advantage. Best way to get Reece to calm down when he's upset - Back Scratch. Best way to get Reece to fall asleep - Back Scratch. Any place, any time. Reece loves him some back scratch. One of these days his foot is gonna start bouncing.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chicken Egg Noodle Casserole

About three times a week, Chad has to work late. So I am in charge of trying to make dinner and keep two boys from killing themselves. Not the easiest task, especially when you're stuck in the kitchen for long periods of time. You're forced to choose between  burning dinner and keeping peace. What ends up happening is screaming "LEAVE YOUR BROTHER ALONE" from the kitchen several times. Much to stressful.

Then last weekend, while sorting laundry, I had turned the Food Network on. Rachael Ray came on and I usually don't like watching her shows but this one had a good idea. Make dinner for five nights in one day of cooking. This was my AHA moment. I could spent half a day at the begining of the week making meals that essentially just had to be thrown in the oven or reheated. TAA DAA!!! Yummy dinners and less stressful evenings!!

Week one went wonderfully. This Make Ahead Meal (MAM) was Chicken Egg Noddle Casserole. I think when I make this again, I will add more salt and make more sauce. But the result was very yummy!

This made enough for all four of us to eat and some leftovers for lunch later.


1 small head broccoli, trimmed and cut into small, thin stalks and florets
2 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast, fat removed
1 medium onion
2 fresh bay leaves
1 pound extra-wide egg noodles
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter
2 rounded tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
A few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped
2 egg yolks
1 cup white or whole wheat panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
1 cup shredded mozarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
A handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped


Place a large pot of water on to boil. Salt the water and cook the broccolini until tender. Remove to a plate. (do not discard water) When the broccoli is cool enough to handle chop it into bite-size pieces.

Place the chicken in a few inches of the water with a peeled quartered onion and a couple of bay leaves. Bring the water to a low boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and gently poach the chicken 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the extra-virgin olive oil in skillet over medium heat and saute the onions and garlic until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the broccoli to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat off pan.

While the onions cook, heat the butter in a medium saucepot over medium heat, whisk in flour 1 minute then whisk in the milk and season with salt, pepper, freshly grated nutmeg, and thyme. Thicken 5 minutes then whisk in a little of the sauce to the egg yolks to combine, then add the egg yolks back to the sauce and whisk to combine, turn heat down to the lowest setting.

Cook's Note: If sauce becomes too thick, add a splash of chicken poaching liquid and turn off the heat.

Shred the poached chicken with forks or dice poached chicken into small, bite-size pieces.

Preheat broiler.

To the large pot of boiling water, add the egg noodles. Cook the noodles according to package directions for al dente. Drain the noodles very well and add them back to the hot pot. Stir in the broccoli, chicken, and sauce, and then transfer to a casserole dish. Place the casserole in the middle of the oven and broil 3 to 5 minutes until bubbly and brown. Cool and store for make-ahead meal.

To serve the casserole, heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Mix together the panko, Gruyere, Parm, and parsley. Place the casserole on a baking sheet in upper half of the oven and bake 30 minutes, add the topping and bake 15 to 20 minutes more, or until brown and crispy on top.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The First Project

Well he's got all the tools, so he's gotta use right. We found a kit at Lowe's to build a bird house. This should work out perfect. We have a great tree in the backyard that we can hang it from.  Of course, Dad (and a little bit of Mom) had to help him along but Keegan really enjoyed building his bird house. We've got it all built, now we just need to paint it. That's a other project, and mess, for another day. It would also help if I could remember to buy birdseed one of these days :D

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Better than Boxed BROWNIES

I tried these brownies a few years ago and have been making them regularly ever since.  It takes just a few extra minutes versus a boxed brownies but the results are fantastic. The recipe includes a frosting/glaze that you spread on while the brownies are still warm. The brownies become these ooey gooey mound of Delicious chocolate. Try it out and it will be your new favorite recipe!


1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder


3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners' sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan.

In the microwave, melt 1/2 cup butter. Stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.

To Make Frosting: Combine 3 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons cocoa, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 cup confectioners' sugar. Frost brownies while they are still warm.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The tool box

Last week Chad and I took a trip to Lowe's searching for some small items for the house. While we were wandering up and down the aisles dreaming of what we would like in our house, we came across a small shelf that had projects for kids. I've been meaning to sign Keegan up for some of those project classes that Lowe's offers but I can never seem to remember to do it. We found a cute bird house project and thought it would be perfect. We also found a begininers tool set with an apron, a small hammer, and goggles. Chad was sold. As soon as we got home, Chad disappeared into the garage. About 20 minutes later, he came back into the house carrying a large tool box. He had put together Keegan's first tool box out of small tools and a large simple tool box. It was adorable. I had as much fun watching Chad present his gift to Keegan as I did watching Keegan go through it. The love of tools, regardless of how much they get used ;), had been passed down.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Parker House Rolls

I love making bread. Mostly because I love eating bread, but that's only part of it. Way back in November, I was putting together my Thanksgiving Dinner menu. Because of my love of making bread, I knew I wanted to make the rolls for dinner but I had a problem. Family. My family is huge. If I was going to have the time to do any other part of the dinner, I wouldn't have the time to make individual rolls. But I still wanted that sweet warm bread that was not only easy to make for a large group, but easy to serve. I found my answer in the Food Network magazine. Parker House Rolls. And the way the recipe was set up was perfect (Thank you Alec!) The "rolls" were assembled as one large tear apart loaf. They came out amazing. The dough is sweet, but the kosher salt on top, along with a pat of soft salted butter, counteracts the sweetness nicely. I have made these rolls several times since Thanksgiving and they are always a hit.


1 1/4-ounce packet active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
7 1/2 to 8 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus softened butter for brushing
2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling


Bloom the yeast.

Measure out 1/2 cup warm water and check the temperature: It should be between 110 degrees F and 120 degrees F (comfortable bathwater temperature). Sprinkle the yeast into a large bowl, add the warm water and whisk in the sugar. Let sit 1 minute (it should bubble and froth slightly), then gently stir in 1 cup flour. Set aside near the stove while you prepare the dough.

Make the dough.

Mix the melted butter and milk in a mixer with the hook attachment on low speed. Add the eggs and mix until blended. Scrape in the yeast mixture and mix until incorporated. Add 6 1/2 cups flour and 1 tablespoon salt; mix until the dough forms a ball, 2 to 3 minutes, adding up to 1/2 cup more flour if the dough is too wet and sticky.

Let it rise.

Brush a large bowl with softened butter. Transfer the dough to the bowl, cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place, 2 hours to 2 hours, 30 minutes. The dough should double in volume.

Shape the dough.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dust a clean flat surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Flour your hands; gently press the dough into a 16-by-8-inch rectangle, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick (don't use a rolling pin).

Cut the dough.

With the short side in front of you, cut the dough in half lengthwise with a floured knife. Then slice crosswise into 12 strips.

Shape the dough.

One at a time, fold each strip of dough unevenly in half so the top part slightly overlaps the bottom half, then tuck the overhang underneath. Place the rolls seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet in 3 tightly packed rows. (If making in advance, wrap the baking sheet tightly in plastic wrap and freeze up to 3 weeks.)

Bake the rolls.

Bake until the rolls are bursting at the seams and golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. (If frozen, bake 25 minutes at 325 degrees F, then 10 minutes at 375 degrees F.) Remove from the oven and brush with softened butter. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.