Breakfast Honey Buns

This morning treat will scratch your itch for cinnamon rolls without any refined sugar. The dough itself is unsweetened, relying on a honey goo in the bottom of the pan to take it from yeasted bread to breakfast dessert. Do you tend to overindulge on sweets in December? This gives you a special treat to enjoy with your coffee that isn’t too much. (I may never make traditional cinnamon rolls again.)

I adapted this recipe from Baking With Less Sugar, a book that I’m really enjoying (and one that I featured in my recent gift guide.) I’ve tweaked the ingredients a bit and the timing – I always think it’s easier to do the prep the night before.

honey bunsBreakfast Honey Buns

Dough:

2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 c. vegetable oil, olive oil, or coconut oil
1 c. warm water

Goo:

8 tbls. unsalted butter
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. cream or 1/3 c. half and half
1/2 c. water
1/4 tsp. salt

Filling:

2 cups hazelnuts
6 tbls. soft unsalted butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. cardamom
a sprinkling of fresh nutmeg
1/4 tsp. almond extract

  1. Combine the dry dough ingredients with the wet. Knead by machine or hand until the dough feels supple.
  2. Leave to rise for an hour in a warm place.
  3. Make the goo by combining all ingredients in a small sauce pan over low and whisking until homogeneous. (Yes, it will look pretty thin, but don’t worry, it’ll work out.) Set aside to cool.
  4. The filling is best prepared by pulsing all of the ingredients in a food processor until the nuts are your desired size, but you can definitely chop the nuts and incorporate the butter by hand.
  5. When the dough has risen, roll it out into a long rectangle. Smear with filling, leaving about a 1/2 inch bare on one of the long sides. Roll up tightly and gently, sealing with the bare edge. Cut into 12 equal buns.
  6. Pour the goo into a 9×13 inch pan. Spread evenly and place the buns in the pan, keeping a space between each bun to allow for rising and baking.
  7. Seal with plastic wrap or lid and pop in the refrigerator.
  8. In the morning, uncover, and place in a cold oven. Set the temperature for 400F and allow the buns to come to temperature with the oven. Start your timer for 25 minutes when it hits 400F.
  9. Enjoy warm!

Notes:

  • To make and eat right away, increase the first rising time to 2 hours and, after forming the buns and placing them in the goo, let rise for another hour.
  • For our small family of three, I prepare the recipe using two square pans and freeze the second pan for a future weekend.
  • If you’re looking for a sweeter treat or more complete tips for making a roll, check out Cinnamon Rolls Your Way

Slow Cooker Pork with Plum Jam

cold plum treeRemember those summer days when we were rolling in plums? The tree is cold and lonely now, but our shelves are WELL stocked with plum jam. Let’s just say, one can only eat so much toast. We wondered if there was a savory way we could use up some jam. An answer presented itself when we brought home From a Polish Country House Kitchen from the library. After salivating over many of the winter appropriate recipes in the book, we began to notice a pattern. Apparently there are a lot of plum trees in Poland and many of the dishes involve prunes. What thrifty people. Upon the book’s suggestion, we adapted a recipe to include plum jam and used the slow cooker instead of the oven to ease our schedule. I hope you’ll find this easy, tasty dish comforting for your winter evenings. The jam will give you a little sweet reminder of sunny days.

plum pork roastPolish Style Pork Roast with Plum Jam

2.5-3 pound pork arm roast (or a comparable piece of pork)
1 large clove garlic
2 tbls. dried marjoram
2 tbls. olive oil
4-8 ounces plum jam
coarse salt, pepper
1 1/2 c. water

  1. Rinse the pork, pat dry, and cut a deep pocket in the side of the roast.
  2. With a mortar and pestle, grind marjoram and garlic together to form a paste. (Alternatively, you can mince and mash with a fork.) In a small bowl, mix this paste with about 2 tbls. olive oil, 2 tsp. coarse salt, and many grinds of pepper.
  3. Rub this paste all over the meat and inside the pocket. Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour. (Overnight would work just fine, too.)
  4. After the meat has rested, fill the pocket with jam. Tie it closed with butcher’s twine.
  5. Heat a skillet over medium high. Brown the roast on each side (even the ends) for about 1 1/2 minutes each side. Place the roast in the slow cooker and deglaze the pan with the water. Pour this and any scraped browned bits from the skillet into the slow cooker. Cover and cook at least 6 hours.

plum pork roast 2Note:

  • To make tying a little easier, lay your string out in rows on a plate. Then, place your roast on top of it. Bring strings together and tie.
  • We served it with cabbage, beans, and sweet potato one night and mashed potatoes the next. What a great, simple winter meal!

Blanched Vegetable Salad with Basil Parsley Vinaigrette

parsley basil vinaigeretteGreen beans, new potatoes, fava beans, and basil are all ingredients that delight me when they begin to show up at the market. Living in the midwest, I used to feel that it was finally summer when I saw corn and tomatoes. Here in Washington, it’s the green beans that I wait for. And this year, at the beginning of this season, I discovered a new delight. Have you tried the parsley from Tani Creek? It’s like none other. You’ll want to add it to dishes as a main ingredient, not just a garnish, as it is often relegated. Adapted to our climate, this “awesome tasty” heirloom variety has a pedigree which you can read about on the farm’s website while you peruse their seeds for sale.

Here’s a spunky salad that features parsley prominently. (Feel free to substitute it for the basil entirely.) It does take a bit of time to prepare. Think of it as a potluck show off dish. Or, make a big bowl of it on Sunday and smugly take it for a hearty lunch all week.

Salad:
1 pound new potatoes
1 pound green beans
1/2 pound fava beans (That’s the weight for the beans after being removed from pod.)
6 slices crispy ham, optional (See note.)

  1. Put a medium sized pot of water on to boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Set aside.
  2. Wash and slice potatoes into about 1 1/2 inch pieces. (If very small, you may not need to cut the potatoes. Yum!)
  3. Add potatoes to boiling water. Salt. Cook for 25 minutes.
  4. While your potatoes are cooking, attend to your green beans. Take the ends off the green beans and cut into large bites, about 2 inches long.
  5. Prepare fava beans by removing large beans from pods.
  6. Use a skimmer or slotted spoon to remove potatoes to ice water bath. When cold, remove potatoes and place on a dishtowel. Pat dry.
  7. In the same water, boil green beans for 2-3 minutes, tasting to see if they are the consistency you might like. Follow the same procedure as the potatoes – ice water, then towel.
  8. For this dish, boil fava beans for 2 minutes. After chilling, remove the skins.
  9. Place all the vegetables in a large bowl and pour vinaigrette over. Add crispy ham, if using.

Vinaigrette:parsley basil vinaigerette
1/4 c. fresh parsley leaves, packed
1/4 c. fresh basil leaves, packed
3 tbls. champagne vinegar (or other gentle, white vinegar)
2 tsp. mustard
2 garlic scapes (or one large clove of garlic)
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
a few grinds of pepper

Add all ingredients to food processor and process until smooth.

Notes:

  • We always pick up a ration of Hitchcock Deli meat for the week – turkey, beef, ham, bacon. Occasionally we might be overzealous in our order and have a little leftover at the end of the week. Crispy ham is a remedy to this problem. Take ham that’s been in your fridge for awhile, crisp it up at 450F for 5-6 minutes and voila – a yummy crunch for pasta, eggs, or salad.
  • Feel free to play and add other seasonal veggies that you might prefer, of course.

 

Creamy lemon mint salad dressing

creamy mint salad with blueberriesBaby lettuces from our deck garden. Mint foraged from between the weeds in the front yard. Island blueberries. What a refreshing summer salad!

salad greens, washed and dried
the juice of 1 lemon (1 tbls.)
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1/2 c. half and half
about 2 tbls. chopped fresh mint
a handful of blueberries

 

  1. In a jar with a lid, shake salt and lemon until the salt is dissolved.
  2. Add half and half. Shake.
  3. Mix mint with salad greens.
  4. Toss your desired about of dressing with salad greens.
  5. Top with berries.

Getting through the Dark Days: Two Potato Gratins

Always grateful for our boxes of storage potatoes, onions, and garlic from Laughing Crow Farms, winter is naturally the time to indulge in those ingredients. Betsey’s potato varieties are all tasty and different. I like to use the Alby’s Gold for gratins, the German Butterball for mashing, and the Red Bliss for roasting. (Of course this is just a matter of personal preference – they’re all interchangeable per your taste.)  As with any dish, when you start with really high quality, fresh ingredients, assembling even the simplest of recipes scan result in something wonderful. If you’re used to buying the ubiquitous grocery store varieties, choosing a few new potatoes from your local farmer will elevate your meal, even if it’s just a baked potato! Do get out, brave the elements, and explore the potatoes at your winter market.

hasselback gratin

Isn’t this a beautiful gratin presentation? When it’s dark and winter, who doesn’t want a dish of baked potatoes for dinner? Here are a few variations for you to work through.

Turning the potato slices on their sides creates a whole new look for this standard dish. Find the recipe here. I adapted it only by reducing the amounts and baking it in a 1/2 quart gratin dish (pictured). We found that this was just the right amount for a family of 3.gratin

For a similar look without all of the cheese and cream, I’ve also had success with this version.

And lastly, I will never shrug off my favorite recipe for scalloped potatoes. Give it a try using the ‘sideways’ potato technique.

Guest Post: Squash and Veggie Sandwich Bread

squashThis month’s guest post comes from Rebecca K., island mom, artist, and home baker. She turned wintertime’s abundant storage squash into a healthy staple for her family. Thank for sharing, Rebecca!

Squash and Veggie Sandwich Bread

EVERY MOTHER NEEDS TO KNOW! Your children will eat and enjoy vegetables, given they can be properly hidden. This bread is loaded with nutrition from veggies to whole grains. If any of your children eschew the goodness of veggies, keep them well-stocked on this bread. The recipe is a modification of Small Potato’s Oatmeal Bread recipe, so follow the steps of that description with a few tweaks.

4 tbsp. melted butter
2 tbsp.—1/4 cup brown sugar (depending on taste)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
1 cup rolled oats
¼ cup wheat bran
¼ cup nonfat dry milk
2 generous tbsp. vital wheat gluten
2 ½ tsp. instant yeast
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 ½ cup pureed butternut squash*

  1.  Mix the melted butter and brown sugar together until the brown sugar is incorporated.
  2. Add in the dry ingredients and mix together.
  3. Ensure your squash puree is lukewarm and mix into the bread. If you have a good mixer with a dough hook, I just let it do the rest of the job and set it on a low setting. Let it go at it for about 5 minutes. This is where you have to watch the dough a bit. You want it to be soft and a bit sticky but not so much as a sweet bread or cinnamon roll dough…it should hold its form and ball up. Depending on the water content of your squash puree, you may need to adjust your flour content by 4 tbsp. to achieve the right consistency.
  4. Oil your bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise 1 hour than punch down dough, roll out into a rectangle and roll to fit in your loaf pan.
  5. Cover and let rest for about 1 hour.
  6. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Bake bread for 40 minutes then cool on wire rack.

*Rebecca’s notes:

  •  I have also done a mix of pureed carrots and squash with great success.
  •  I always keep butternut squash stocked in our house because it is so conducive to use in many breads. I’ve used it in cinnamon rolls, waffles, and pancakes and not seen any reduction in the rate of family gobbling. Just assume it is equivalent to most liquids you might use and substitute.

Roasted Vegetable Party Platter with Thyme Vinaigrette

Please pardon me if I brag a little about my new favorite party trick. It’s just so…beautiful.

roasted veg platter

This dish went together super fast and was a crowd pleaser. With the bits and pieces left from our generous Tani Creek Farm Fall CSA and starring some of Laughing Crow‘s potatoes, I was able to put together an appetizer in under 30 minutes without having to buy a thing. This healthy option can hold its own on the table next to all the breads, cookies, and cheesy concoctions.

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Scrub veggies with a vegetable brush. Slice, if you like. If using squash, halve, remove seeds, and slice.
  3. Group each vegetable by type on a parchment-lined baking sheet.(Wrap beets in foil so that they don’t taint everything else with their vibrant red drips.)
  4. Drizzle on olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake for 25-35 minutes. Begin to peek in around 20 minutes. You may want to use tongs to flip harder to cook vegetables (like carrots and parsnips.)
  6. Garnish with greens and herbs.
  7. Serve at room temperature with a dressing for dipping.

roasted veg appetizerThyme Vinaigrette 

In a jar, add 1/4 c. sherry vinegar (or other mild choice), 3/4 c. olive oil, 2 tsp. whole grain mustard, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, and 1 tbls. fresh thyme leaves. Shake. (This will keep on the counter at room temperature and gets even better as the thyme steeps.)

For this platter, I used parsnips, small carrots, turnips, beets, potatoes and delicata squash.