No Knead Onion Rolls

No Knead Onion Rolls

The past week I was graced with the presence of family for a whole week. And while most of my friends don't talk to their family members but maybe once in awhile. I talk to mine almost daily. I think it's mostly so they know I haven't pulled a full Miranda Hobbes and am naked on my bathroom floor hoping one of my stoned neighbors hears my cries. 

But anyway, my family was in town for a visit. And while I may not have kids, a husband, or even a pet to use as bait, I do have food. Over a period of 6 days we worked our way around 1000 miles of North Carolina paved roads trying to squeeze in as much eating as possible. 

Between BBQ take out, fried chicken hideaways, and mountain breakfast we consumed our fair share of carbs. Which got me thinking about bread. Namely how much I love it, and why do we have it at every meal.

Wherever you go there is bound to be some version of bread offered before a meal. A basket of flatbread is always the most disappointing. And only redeemable if accompanied by some cheeses or compotes. Always appreciated is a warmed pre sliced loaf of airy sourdough. The trick then being whether or not to risk filling up before the meal arrives.

Down south you are often presented with a biscuit slathered in butter and jam. Just as pleasing as any of the aforementioned options. Most desireable with a bloody mary and eggs. 

As a child I recall seeing slices of Roman Meal being passed around the table. Occasionally a crescent roll or biscuit that involved beating a cardboard tube against the counter. Fresh homemade bread was not something I saw regularly. And it wasn't until I was balls deep in a variety of flours at baking school that I realized how easy and fulfilling it was to make my own bread. 

I love making my own bread so much that I once gifted it on a first date instead of flowers. In hindsight I should have given the flowers. I would have gotten more out of the marble rye. 

Living alone I don't make my own bread much any more. Only because I have a tendency to slice into it fresh out of the oven and not move until there is only enough left for me to make a sandwich for dinner with. However, when I do make my own I am mesmerized by the magic that happens and the happiness it brings. 

Flour, water, yeast mixed with some aggression related pounding of the dough and a few hours later you are in bloated bliss.  

This week I am in need of rolls. And have challenged myself to use everything in my freezer/cupboards/pantry before hitting the grocery store. So with half a purple onion and some poppy seeds I made the below No Knead Onion Rolls. With only slightly burned finger tips as I rushed to devour one fresh from the oven. 

No Knead Onion Rolls

Recipe from Real Simple

***only changes to the recipe I made involved using 1/2 of a large purple onion in place of the 3 medium suggested and sprinkling poppy seeds to the top of the rolls just before placing in oven

The Dead Dad's Club

Dumplings and Bean with Bacon Soup

Dumplings and Bean with Bacon Soup

A NOTE:
Below is a post from awhile back. I find myself reading it once a year on Father's Day. So I am going to share it once again. And you will probably see it next year around this time as well. It's a damn good recipe.

Today’s post is going to be short. It is a holiday for many and I assume there are meats being bought, hot dishes being prepared, and Jell-O salads firming in the ice box.

This is the time of year I steer clear of the card aisles, ignore the barrage of promotional emails that filter in daily and make a concentrated effort to not ask my co-workers what they have planned for the weekend.

Today is Father’s Day and I’m a card carrying member of The Dead Dad’s Club. Though the name of our club sounds harsh it is our way of memorializing our fathers. Most of us in the club agree our fathers had a sense of humor to support our sardonic group name.

We formed innocently enough one night over beers. The Fates had found it necessary to bring together different circles of friends that once seated and stories told realized they formed a human Venn Diagram whose common space was our departed fathers.

That night, though nothing was said, we had our own Hallmark-less, cookout-less, present-less, and fatherless Father’s Day. I will not speak for everyone at that table but I imagine for a split second we all held a mental memorial for the men who were half responsible for making us.

This Father’s Day I will spend time thinking of the men who taught us to make soup, who could play a mean accordion, who proudly served our country, who filled a station wagon full of kids and travelled cross country, who stopped to make history by being photographed on a toilet in the middle of a field, who built a log home, who could light up any room with his electrical skills, who took us to our first psychic reading, who made historical societies cool, and who knew that even after he was gone could make a difference to a medical school.

So this week’s recipe is dedicated to my father, Just J. In my mind this is a family recipe. It very well could have come from Good Housekeeping decades back. But only my father could make it a real family delicacy. It’s a simple soup. From a store bought can. But made to taste homemade because of who taught me to make it.

Just J’s Bean with Bacon Soup (aka Dumps)

Feeds me for about two days. Or a family of four for one meal




Pondering, Pork and (Walking Dead) Porn

Okay the food pictures are not mine (see gourmet.com or marthastewart.com) but I am sure mine looked just like that - ask the roommate. And I threw in some Walking Dead Porn (you can reach me here Norman)







Lets just say what everyone is thinking...this holiday season was not like the others. Thanksgiving became Black Thursday and Christmas became That Holiday Target Gave Away My PIN. 

At one point as I sat in my traditional corner of the living room to watch the offspring of more mature family members scamper around the tree I said to my cousin, “this doesn’t feel like Christmas”.  As she watched her own young children rip open the underwear that Santa had left, her response was to the point and oddly chilling, “it hasn’t felt like Christmas since we were their age”.

This was my first Christmas as a non-Christian, my first Hanukkah as a Jew, and my ONLY Thanksgivukkah: Jew Giving Edition. And because Sister is off saving lives with her new crew at the fire department we’ve moved some holidays around to better suit our needs. In the end it’s worked out much better for me. I would rather have the family Christmas closer to the weekend. There is nothing worse on Christmas Day than having to watch Kathie Lee and Hoda. Saturday morning cartoons are better.

And due to screwy holiday schedules at hospitals around the nation, my roommate and his family did not celebrate Christmas along with the rest of the world.  So to have some sense of Christmas Spirit in the form of dinner my roommate had his own parents over for some nosh the week before Christmas. I offered to cook instead of awkwardly sitting in my room watching The Walking Dead Christmas Special: Zombie Jesus. 

I sent my roommate out with an explicit list of what was needed.  And after he left the torture chamber he calls The Gym he returned with my goods. 

The evening’s menu was as follows:

French Onion Bites

Pork Roast with Winter Fruits and Port Sauce (non-kosher meat with a nice kosher-ish sauce)

Frisee Salad with Cranberries and Pistachios

Glazed Carrots with Orange and Ginger

Dark Chocolate Cake with Frangelico Buttercream Frosting and Dark Chocolate Ganache

A few notes on the ingredients - 

1. Please do not be afraid of talking to your butcher. He handles a lot of meat and loves to talk about it. Trust me. There is nothing better than having a large slab of meat wrapped up in a nice tight package being thrust at you with a passion. 

2. Like wine and underwear you should buy the middle of the road bacon. This past year I have experimented and bought the “sale” bacon (too thin and fatty), the “fancy” bacon (too expensive and not enough to go around), and the “middle of the road” bacon (I recommend a nice Black Label). 

3. Belgian Endive and just regular old non country exclusive Endive look completely different. Make sure you bring Google to the grocery with you. Be adventurous and by the Belgian. It's more fun.  

RECIPES:

PORK ROAST WITH WINTER FRUIT AND PORT SAUCE

Serves 8
Active time:1 hr
Start to finish: 3 1/2 hr


INGREDIENTS

For stuffing
¼ lb California dried apricots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
¼ lb pitted prunes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2/3 cup ruby Port
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
3/4 stick unsalted butter
1 tart apple such as Granny Smith, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

For roast
1(6-lb) bone-in pork loin roast (10 ribs), frenched, at room temperature 1 hour
9 or 10 bacon slices

For port sauce
½ cup ruby Port (I maaaaaybe used Blackberry Manshewitz)
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 ½ cups water, divided
2 teaspoons arrowroot

DIRECTIONS

Make stuffing:

Simmer apricots, prunes, and Port in a small heavy saucepan, covered, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.

Cook onion and shallot in butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add apple and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until apple is just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in apricot mixture and cool.

Stuff and roast pork:

Preheat oven to 500°F with rack in middle.

Make a pocket in center of roast by making a horizontal 1 1/2-inch-wide cut into 1 end of roast with a long thin knife, repeating from opposite end so pocket runs all the way through. Then make a vertical cut through center (forming a cross) to widen pocket. Push about 1 cup stuffing into pocket using a long-handled wooden spoon (you may need to stuff from both sides if roast is long). Reserve remaining stuffing for sauce.

Season roast with 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and put in a large flameproof roasting pan. Wrap with bacon, between rib bones, tucking ends under roast. 

Roast pork 20 minutes, then reduce oven to 325°F and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted 2 inches into center of roast (do not touch bone or stuffing) registers 155°F, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours total.

Transfer roast to a cutting board, reserving pan, and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 15 to 20 minutes. (Temperature of meat will rise to about 160°F; meat will be slightly pink.)

Make sauce:

Skim fat from pan drippings and reserve 1 1/2 Tbsp fat. Straddle pan across 2 burners and add Port to drippings, then deglaze pan by boiling over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. 

Strain pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids.

Cook shallot in reserved fat in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in pan juices, 1 1/4 cups water, and reserved fruit stuffing and bring to a simmer. 

Whisk together arrowroot and remaining 1/4 cup water until smooth, then whisk into sauce with any juices from cutting board.

Simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Carve roast into chops by cutting between ribs, then serve with sauce.

Cooks’ notes:

Stuffing can be made 2 days ahead and chilled.
Uncooked roast improves in flavor if stuffed, seasoned, and wrapped with bacon 1 day ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before roasting.

SOURCE

Gourmet Magazine, December 2008

FRENCH ONION BITES

Serves 36 hors d'oeuvres
Active time: 1 hr
Total time: 1hr

INGREDIENTS
  • 36 thin (1/4-inch) slices of baguette (from 1 baguette)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 1 garlic clove, lightly crushed
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 ½ cups finely shredded Gruyere (using a microplane, about 3 oz)


DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle
Arrange slices on a large baking sheet and bake in oven until golden, about 8 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, heat butter and oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until butter is melted, then cook onion, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, covered, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.

Uncover skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until deep golden, about 10 to 15 minutes more. Add wine and cook until entirely evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Discard garlic clove, bay leaf, and thyme. Transfer to a small bowl and keep warm, covered.
Preheat broiler.

Arrange toasts on a large baking sheet, then top each with a rounded teaspoon of caramelized onions and sprinkle generously with shredded Gruyere. Broil 3- to 4-inches from heat until cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes (watch carefully).

SOURCE

Gourmet Live, 22 December 2010


FRISEE SALAD WITH CRANBERRIES AND PISTACHIOS

INGREDIENTS 
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 head endive, trimmed and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large head frisee, trimmed and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup toasted pistachios, roughly chopped

DIRECTIONS

In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper.  Add endive, frisee, cranberries, and pistachios. Toss to combine; season with salt and pepper.

SOURCE

Everyday Food, November 2010



GLAZED CARROTS WITH ORANGE AND GINGER

INGREDIENTS 
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as safflower 
  • 2 pounds carrots, cut into 1-inch lengths, halved if thick 
  • 1 cup canned reduced-sodium chicken broth or water 
  • 1/2 teaspoon thinly sliced orange zest
  • 2/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add carrots; cook, stirring once, until beginning to brown, 2 minutes.

Add broth, orange zest, fresh orange juice, and ginger; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until crisp-tender, 10 minutes. Uncover, and cook over medium-high until carrots are tender and liquid is syrupy, 7 to 9 minutes more (there should be only a small amount of liquid remaining).

Remove skillet from heat; add butter, and swirl skillet until melted.  Season with salt and pepper.

SOURCE

Everyday Food, November 2008

Farts, "Family" and Food - Merry Christmas 2013

The Sexy Bearded Man is single - he does NOT come with the Pound Puppy

The Sexy Bearded Man is single - he does NOT come with the Pound Puppy

This past week The Roomate and I received a holiday card from a friend pictured with a dog and some dog friendly holiday greeting. We may or may not have been drinking some wine and decided that we too needed to spread some holiday joy. So with some creative use of the iPhone and the coincidental purchase of plaid clothing we got down to business.

With good intentions we ordered hard copies to hand out to people we think are extra special. But because Walgreens.com is not user friendly we have yet to receive them. For those of you lucky to get one I expect to see it on the Frigidaire next time I am over. For those of you who don’t get snail mail this electronic version is all yours – print it out, forward it on and make it your Facebook Cover Photo.

I personally love getting the holiday letters that take one family’s entire year's existence and condenses it to one page. With clipart.

I’ve added my own...Holiday Letter 2013

(I am not mailing this out. Times are tough y’all and this website is paid for):

Dear Friends and Family –

I do not have any kids that have done wonderful things at school or church or in the community. Instead I have beautiful man bag I bought from SSCY.com. I do love it so. It can be a tote bag, a backpack, a shoulder bag. It can fit a fun size person if need be. But it cannot fit a lap dog. I am not that kind of gay. I want a dog whose pile of crap I can use for fuel to burn should the end times come.

So my man bag is doing wonderful and is expected to excel in 2014.

I am still squatting with my bestie/landlord in SoMPLS. Our days are filled with retail misadventures in bustling downtown Minneapolis (that beeyotch Mary Tyler Moore has nothing on us). And our nights are filled with food centered shenanigans and various cultural outings, and lots of Big Bang Theory viewing in between. We continue to build on our 2013 resolution of drinking 52 bottles of wine in the year. We are ahead of schedule. Thankfully my man bag does not require me to get up and let it out to poo in the morning or feed it like a child, so massive consumption of wine is not a problem.

Tonight is bottle number 61. It’s a Shiraz.

Bottoms up! (P.S. Don’t ever scream that in a gay bar. It’s like yelling “FIRE!” in a movie theatre).

My travels this year took me on an old fashioned road trip with Sister to the exotic country of California. While there we took in sights (interactive gay strip shows in San Francisco…it was across the street from the best pizza that side of the Rockies), we walked it the path of Pee Wee Herman, and ate at a Wendy’s in Napa Valley.

I am wrapping up my second year of being sober. And by sober I mean not having a Diet Coke. I replaced that addiction with La Croix canned water. And then I replaced that addiction with Cinnamon Bliss Coffee Mate Coffee Creamer and my Sanka. Thankfully my addiction issues have not come up in therapy.

And I am back on just water for the most part. And wine.

MUST KEEPS GOALS!

My love life is still missing the “love” part. So if you know of anyone send him my way. I’ve also decided to invest in hand lotions. I think stock prices might be going up.

I was a little gassy and bloated in August. But then again it was State Fair time.

My beard is coming along nicely. I did not grow it to promote men touching themselves this past November. I promote men touching themselves all year long.

If there are more than two balls in the game, I suggest you see your doctor tout de suite men.

I also said goodbye to some dear friends. Serena, Blair, Chuck, Dan and Dorota all moved on. Thank you Netflix for bringing them into my life. They are missed daily.

This year wasn’t all beautiful man bags and luxurious beards. There were low moments in the half bath with a bottle of wine and dog eared copy of Martha Stewart’s Living.

There was that one drunken night where two bags of Ruffles mysteriously were missing the next morning (may have been in August). There was that one guy…

So this coming week we will gather with friends and family. We will stuff ourselves so full we question whether or not our next fart will require a change of underwear. We shall plow through to 2014. Take new adventures (with my man bag), try new foods, drink more wine, and take a chance or two. Let’s run head first into 2014 with reckless abandon and our seatbelts buckled. But let’s keep it real people.

Merry Christmas this week.

Happy New Year’s next week. And here’s hoping for some freakin’ great food next year!



Thanksgiving, Twin Peaks and Tradition

Thanksgiving 2012 has come and gone. And while I am sitting on the Davenport adjusting my pants to speed in the digestion of my breakfast pumpkin pie and absorbing Twin Peaks (thank you Netflix - always looking out for me you are!) I got to thinking. And we all know that thinking leads to trouble. 

Here's this weeks trouble...

When Thanksgiving comes around I am always in awe by the tales of tradition that get sparked when simply asked, "What are your Thanksgiving plans?". An American holiday, Thanksgiving is iconically one meal with variations on a food theme. Turkeys everywhere are cooked, brined, grilled, deep fried or served by some poor waiter who drew the short straw. Cranberries are boiled, sauteed, or shaken out of a can. Pumpkin pie is served watery, burned or out of the local bakery box. People go "home", refuse invitations or make tacos alone at home (this happens - I heard a first hand account). And when the question is turned back on me I have a different answer every year.  

I don't recall much of a traditional Thanksgiving. Christmas has always been celebrated with my mother's family. So, Thanksgiving was at times with my father's side. It was never at a paternal grandparent's house (those were mysterious apartments in "The Big City"). It was once at a corn field adjacent split level ranch in a Minneapolis suburb. Once or twice in a McMansion on the other side of town where the back brace I was sportin' for my scoliosis knocked out my cousins loose tooth. A few times at my mother's home. And my non family Thanksgiving with my Vermont "wife" and her first child, a sarcastic orange cat named Jeter who I'm convinced reprogramed the DVR while I was at work. But nothing that screams tradition like going to my mother's every Christmas for 30 some years. 

for fun - me in the back brace, sally jesse glasses, extra high waisted light wash denim and ALL that hair

for fun - me in the back brace, sally jesse glasses, extra high waisted light wash denim and ALL that hair

So this year when asked, "What are your Thanksgiving plans?" I answered truthfully that I was hosting.

In a home that is not really mine, but graciously shared. And with old and new members of the family. It was a small gathering. Only four strong. But I made a 22 pound bird. I needed to guarantee that myself and SAGL would be sick of turkey by the week's end.  The food person in me wanted to scour magazines and websites for new and improved versions of classic Thanksgiving recipes. It was when I heard Work Wife say she was making Pepperidge Farm stuffing because it would be otherwise missed I realized that my traditional Thanksgiving was in the food. And even though the venue had changed once again. And the with it the guests. The one thing that could stay the same was the food. 

I still scoured magazines and blogs. But looked for recipes that were simple and flavorful. Ones that I could write down on one note card and save again for later use. Or simply forget and fake it again next year.  

So my Thanksgiving tradition is CHANGE IN VENUE. Every year it's someplace different with different people. But the food stays the same. At least I eat it. That will never change. 

Some Thanksgivings past:  

2012 - Playing Buzzword with Sister, Sister's Husband and Just Joni. If Just Joni thinks you know the phrase she will just repeat the phrase progressively louder. Kind of like how you naturally talk louder to blind people.

2011 - Having my broken heart tended to by Joy and Kellen in the worlds tiniest kitchen in Midtown Manhattan. Joy popped my French Onion Soup cherry. I taught Kellen how to properly zest an lemon. And their friend Karen wove HBO like tales from growing up in Brooklyn. For a wonderful look at what this is like please see a post by fellow blogger Sherry Bronson regarding this year's Manhattan Thanksgiving 2012. And of course my take on it from last year - MT2011

2005ish - My first Martha Stewart turkey. Served on T.V. trays in my first apartment with Vermont Wife and a couple that broke up because he was cheating on her with his college professor. Ahhh...memories. 

Sometime in college - trekking to The Iron Range for a lakeside meal with my father's family. 

Earlier - My Uncle Tom shoving olives up his nose and making me laugh till it hurt.

1979 - My First Thanksgiving. I called Just Joni to get confirmation on this and her response was as follows..."oh my god you've got to be kidding me! It was at my mother's. I can tell you that it was a houseful. And there was no lack of food and smoke and drink."

I heard on MPR this week that Thanksgiving is a time of thinking "what if?". That we spend time thinking about last year and what would be different if a left had been taken instead of a right. I will never stop doing that. But now I look forward to my Thanksgiving tradition of change. And wonder with who and where my 2013 Thanksgiving will take place. Please submit suggestions or invitations in the comment suggestion below. Warm weather options will move to the top.  

Now to keep true to my food blog. Here is what I served for Thanksgiving this year...

  • Brie with Onion Jam and Cranberry Compote

  • Cream Cheese with Jalapeno Jelly and Crackers

  • "Accidental Turkey" (recipe below - but pretty damn basic)

  • French's Green Bean Casserole

  • Parmesan Smashed Potatoes (just add fresh grated parm and use heavy cream and REAL butter for cripes sake. How often do you really make smashed potatoes to muck it up with skim milk and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter But Kills Me Slowly Because My Body Doesn't Know How To Process Fake Butter In A Yellow Tub? Use the real stuff.)

  • Homemade Cranberry Sauce and White Dinner Rolls Thanks to a meal exchange program with Work Wife. I scored with rolls and sauce and her kids are hopefully binging on my cookies. 

  • Homemade Herbed Stuffing Just a mix of dried multigrain and white rolls I acquired over a period of a few weeks and dried. Mixed with some fresh herbs, olive oil, celery, onions and chicken stock. Topped with more grated parmesan.  

  • Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie We had a gluten free guest drop out at the last minute. I wasn't in the mood to make a new pie crust so I just used the gluten free one I bought at Whole Foods.  Here's a list of Gluten Free Bakehouse Products available at Whole Foods (click HERE not here)

Below are a few recipes that I "used". If I made changes I let you know after the recipe. 

Onion Jam

RECIPE FROM SHUTTERBEAN

Makes 1 1/2 Cups

Cranberry Ginger Vanilla Compote

 

Accidental Turkey

RECIPE ADAPATED FROM INA GERTEN Food Network

Happy Thanksgiving.  It's now time for Christmas cookies. 

Keeping one more tradition alive...

To recap this Thanksgiving I am thankful for:

1. Just Joni, Sister and Sister's Husband for being cool enough to come to me for Thanksgiving. 

2. SAGL for being cool enough to let me use his house once again for a social function.

3. Sassy Brooklynite Karen for being healthy!

4. My lack of cable keeping me from having to listen to Al Roker provide commentary on a parade that is happening nowhere near my present location.