Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Daring Baker - March 2012 - Dutch Crunch Rolls!

Yikes! I'm late posting again! Oh well, here goes!

Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!

How delicious was this challenge? Yes, I know, rhetorical question, Ina Garten Style.

I love dutch crunch bread, and this challenge was perfect for me. I was first introduced to dutch crunch rolls in Sacramento, when I was working for PW (no, not pioneer woman...). I loved these rolls - soft on the inside, and a crunchy coating on the outside. So, what a great chance to make them.

I stuck pretty close to the recipe, and I'm really glad I did. For all the variations my wonderfully talented daring bakers used, check this out. I am always awed by their amazing creativity - and their ability to put those plans into action. I think I have a lot of creativity as well, but lately haven't had the motivation to actually put those into action.

I was lucky enough to find rice flour in the bulk section of a not so far away grocery store, and it's a good thing, too. I had tried this in the past - but with home made rice flour, and with glutenous rice flour - both met with disaster. So, take it from me - don't use glutenous rice flour, it doesn't work.

The second part of the challenge, I don't have a picture for. Leave it to me to not read the directions until I'm already a few days late from posting. Ugh...this is annoying me as I speak. I *hate* *hate* being late with anything, yet lately, my motivation to be, well, myself, seems to be completely absent. I must work on it. I could blame the weather, but it's typical Pacific North West - rain, rain, rain - so that's not it.

Anyway, I made a great hamburger with these rolls. The fresh soft rolls were the perfect thing to use as a hamburger bun - I may never buy them again.

I encourage you to visit other great daring bakers, as well as download the recipe for these great rolls. Even if you don't put the crunchy coating on them - the roll recipe is definitely a keeper. It's quite a piece of art.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Corned Beef and Vegetable stuffed cabbage rolls

One thing I miss the most about Southern California is the beautiful abundance of fresh produce, and all the great farmers markets. Oh sure, they are Farmers markets here too - they are just seasonal.

I'm on a vegetable kick lately. And, yes, that is a lot of veggies on my plate. But, it's a really tasty dinner! This is kind of like a traditional boiled dinner all wrapped up in a cabbage roll. And, yes, before you ask, this filling would be great in an egg roll wrapper (with just a touch of spicy brown mustard added). I may have to try that.

If you don't want a traditional corned beef and cabbage boiled dinner, this is a nice light option. You can buy precooked corned beef, and get all the flavor of a nice dinner.

For a .pdf of the recipe, click here. And, Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Corned Beef and Vegetable Cabbage Rolls
10 cabbage leaves*
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into small dice (about 1/3-1/2 cup)
1 small onion, peeled and cut into small dice
1 stalk celery, cut into small dice
½ cup finely chopped cabbage
1 large or 2 small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into small dice
2 T. olive oil
2 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 ½ cups corned beef, finely diced
3 t. pickling spice (optional)
2 cups low sodium chicken broth or water
Preheat oven to 350. Heat 1 T. olive oil in a medium saute pan. Saute onions on medium heat until lightly translucent, about 2 minutes. Add carrot, potato, celery, 1 t. salt, and ½ t. pepper to the saute pan. Saute 2-3 minutes, until just beginning to soften. Add corned beef, cabbage, remaining oil, remaining salt, and remaining pepper to the pan and remove from heat. Let cool 5-10 minutes, until it’s cool enough to handle.
Lightly spray a small square baking dish (9x9 will work, and a pie dish will work in a pinch). Once mixture has slightly cooled, roll 1/3 to ½ cup of mixture into prepared cabbage leaves, putting the rolls snugly together in your baking dish once rolled. Combine pickling spice and chicken broth and pour over finished rolls, broth should just cover rolls.
Bake 45minutes to 1 hour, until vegetables and cabbage are tender. If you want a nicely browned top, during the last 15 minutes of cooking, remove some of your broth so the tops of the rolls are not covered.
If you would like a sauce with your cabbage rolls, I suggest spicy brown mustard.
*A note about the cabbage leaves. They can be tough to remove from the cabbage head without a little help. Most people that make cabbage rolls boil a large pot of water, immerse the entire head of cabbage for 1 minute, then peel off 1 or 2 leaves of cabbage.
I’ve found an easier way. I core the cabbage with a paring knife, then gently peel off the leaves. They are still fairly rigid, and need to be softened. I do this in the microwave. I place all the leaves in a microwave safe dish and microwave for 1-2 minutes until just soft. I’ve found this to be a bit easier than a huge pot of water. It can be tricky to peel off the cabbage rolls, but after the first one or two, it gets much easier.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fun with coconut caramel

If you've read my blog in the past, you know my complete obsession with coconut milk. I've used it in an awesome cake, cheesecake, frosting, curry pie, pretty much everything.

However, my all time favorite use for coconut milk, or, as I learned with this experiment, cream of coconut (which is just more condensed version of coconut milk - and the kind I'm talking about here is sold in most Asian groceries as creme of coconut or coconut cream, the unsweetened version), is coconut milk caramel. I've made it a few times, and I love it. However, I really wanted a thicker version, so I tried it with coconut cream.

Boy, was I wowed! It's thicker, richer, and perfect for what I have planned (I will unveil that soon). In the mean time, here's a recipe for a rich coconut milk caramel.

And, just in case you need an extra incentive to make this, I offer you 2 ways to use it...although my favorite recipe is with a spoon, or warmed over ice cream.

I have pictured what I call coconut caramel mousse. It's not really a mousse, it's just 1 cup of heavy cream, and about 1/3 to 1/2 cup caramel. Whip the cream to soft peaks, then fold about 1/3 into the caramel to lighten it. Add the rest of the whipped cream, and let chill for about an hour before serving. It's great. It's even better with sprinkled candied ginger and/or chopped pecans.

The second item in the picture are coconut caramel cups. I just rolled some pie dough out (I cheated and used some I had bought), cut it with a 1 1/2" fluted cutter, and placed the dough in a mini cupcake pan. Add 1 t. coconut caramel, and bake in a 350 oven for about 15 minutes. I like to top this to candied ginger as well. The caramel is so rich, the ginger really cuts through the richness and gives you a nice contrast.

For a printable recipe for the caramel, click here.

Caramelized Coconut Milk

1 14-16 oz can cream of coconut (the unsweetened version - just the coconut cream)

1 ½ c. brown sugar

1 t. vanilla

1 t. powdered ginger

In a small crock pot, combine cream of coconut, brown sugar, and ginger. Put temperature on low, and stir every hour for 6-8 hours, until dark brown and a bit thicker. Turn off and let cool, stir in vanilla. Will keep in the refrigerator in a sealed container for approximately 2 weeks.

If you don’t have a crock pot, combine all ingredients except vanilla in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook on low heat for about 4-6 hours, stirring every hour, until dark brown and a bit thicker. Turn off and let cool, stir in vanilla. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for approximately 2 weeks.